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Fanfic » Anime » Digimon » Can You Hear Me? How to Fly's Last Part font size: (+) : (-)
Author: Artisan of the Written Word
R - English - Romance - Reviews: 44 - Publish date: 02-10-01 - Updated: 02-10-01 storyid: 206076

Can You Hear Me?

(How to Fly Part Twelve)

A/N: Okay, Gang. THIS IS THE LAST ONE!!! Some of you will be disappointed, some will be ecstatic. I hope this one is the best one. Let's get all of this over with.

DEDICATION: Well, there's Kari... Angel... Logan... Kimaru... All of the reviewers that have reviewed any of my stories... And to all of you out there who wish that something would happen and it finally does... I hope you are happy with the results.

DISCLAIMER: Um, well, duh. But for those of you out there who have absolutely no idea, I don't own Digimon. Really!

WARNING: ANGST ALERT! ANGST ALERT! This is probably THE saddest thing I will ever do. I don't know what couples will be in it, but you can bet on TAIORA. Okee-dokee. Let's get this show on the road, eh?

Last chance for you guys' questions (although I haven't gotten any. I'm not sure if I should be offended or pleased that I explained it all well enough.)

Grab the kleenex box, begin to read, and then review. You guys can tell me how much you cried or whatever. This is the last in the series, so I expect a bigger response than what I got with the others. THIS WILL ONLY BE ONE FIC! No extra parts or anything. In this story, they sound more American (such as the courtroom and stuff like that) than Japanese (that may be because I live in ARKANSAS, but anyway). In other words, try to stay with me. So, without further ado, you can read.

Can You Hear Me?

Conclusion to the How to Fly Series



Why did this happen?

Why do I keep living it over and over and over again?

Why do I have to keep suffering without you?

Why?

********************************************************FLASHBACK**************************************************************

"Hey, Sora! I'm home!" Tai called as he walked into their apartment. He smiled as he looked around it. Though they had been living in it for a year, it was still something that he was very, very proud of. It was a symbol of hard work and their love. They had gotten married when they were 24, but had moved into the apartment prior to that. As not to have a repeat of what had happened the last time they tried it, they had decided it was right to wait until their wedding night to tie the sacred bond that is supposed to last forever. They were now 25, and they both agreed that decision had been one of the best ones they had ever made together.

Tai had gone to college. He got through mostly for free because he played soccer for the school team, but had pursued a degree in law, something that surprised anyone that had known him as a dumb jock. It was something that he hadn't been really willing to do. Sora had known this and tried to talk him out of it, but he was firm. He had told her that he wanted to make sure she was going to be all right when they got married, and that's what he had done. Now, he was a lawyer. He had been for three years. Rocky at first, but, finally, they had made enough to get an apartment.

Sora, much to her own dismay, was always helping her mother in the flower shop. Tai had promised her that one day she would be able to do what she wanted. It hurt him deeply that she was such a smart woman, but she had to use it doing inventory all the time. That was something that a second grader could have done, and he felt bad that's all Sora had to do all day. Ms. Takenouchi took care of the flowers while Sora took care of the business. There wasn't much for her to do at the moment, but she always found a way to keep busy.

"Tai? I didn't expect you home so early!" she called from the kitchen. He followed the unidentifiable, yet delicious scent of food. He walked into the kitchen to find Sora leaning over the stove, checking one of her concoctions. She looked at him and grabbed a wooden spoon. "Get out of my kitchen, Kamiya! You weren't supposed to be home this early!" she said, brandishing the spoon as a weapon. Tai ducked and backed away.

"Alright, alright! I just wanted to give you a kiss," he said, making sad puppy dog eyes. Sora looked away, knowing that trick all too well.

"Give it up. I'm not stupid. You just want some food," she scolded, still not making eye contact with him. He rubbed his stomach.

"But I haven't eaten all day!" he wailed childishly. Sora rolled her eyes, but was still careful not to look at her husband. His eyes made her fall for his tricks every time.

"That's your fault. Now get out of my kitchen before I actually hit you with this!" she said, shoving him out.

"Fine! I can tell when I'm not wanted," he said, brushing off the front of his suit proudly. He heard Sora laugh.

"If you could, then you wouldn't have to be told to get out my kitchen all the time!" Sora had become extremely protective of that part of the apartment. Tai had often wondered if it was because she felt that the rest of the apartment was his because he paid most of the bills all the time.

"I'm going to go change, okay? I'll be right back," he called, running down a hall to their bedroom.

"Okay!" she called back. He dashed inside to go straight to his dresser, but something shiny on the wall caught his eye. He turned and smiled. It was a plaque that had been up on his wall ever since he had gotten it. He walked closer and read the inscription.

Taichi Kamiya

Most Valuable Player Award

His strive for excellence has done his team well.



He sighed. Oh, for the days when he had played soccer. To have that exciting feeling of the ball at his feet. All gone. Just an ever-fading memory. He sighed again, this time more heavily, and turned away from the plaque. It seemed to haunt him on that wall. It reminded him of a past that seemed all too imaginary. It was like a kid dreaming that he had hit a home run for his favorite pro team. The only difference was that Tai's dream had once been a reality.

He dragged a pair of old jeans and a green shirt out of his top drawer and smiled. That same green shirt that he had worn when he had told Sora how he had felt about her. That shirt had been worn the first day that they had spent the rest of their lives together. He sighed contentedly. It was amazing what memories a simple piece of clothing could bring back.

Tai quickly stripped down to his boxers and began to pull on his other clothes, all the while gazing at the walls around his bed. No wall was bare; Sora had made sure of that. All had either his or her trophies decorating them. Sora's had a variety of awards, from tennis and soccer to first prize at a flower show. Tai's, however, had his MVP trophy, an employee of the month award, and various soccer trophies ranging from when he was 6 until he was 22.

He finished getting ready and went to the bathroom to look in the mirror. He frowned. His hair was now shorter than it had been, giving it more of an appearance of a mop, not a bush. He missed it, but Sora had told him that she would love him any way he went. He ran out of the bathroom and down the hall.

"Sora, honey? Can I get something to drink?"

"NO! I don't want you coming in here!" Tai sighed impatiently.

"Well, I'm going in there whether you let me or not!"

"You and what army, Taichi Kamiya?" Her tone, though playful, was still deadly. Tai began to back away from that particular part of the apartment with mock fear.

"Okay, okay! Don't get hostile." He went to the table, a reasonable distance from Sora's war zone, and sat down. "Did we get any mail today?" Sora walked out of the kitchen, wiping her hands with a towel.

"It's on the bar. We didn't get any bills."

"That's good news. What did we get?" he asked, getting up from the table and lumbering toward the bar. Sora shrugged.

"I really don't know. One of them looks handwritten. I think it's from Matt, but I don't know why he'd write us, do you?" she asked. Tai shrugged.

"I dunno. He's a pretty big superstar, ya know. Probably too big for us poor commoners," he said with a smirk. Sora looked thoughtful.

"Matt's not that kind of guy. He told us that he'd always be there for us, and I believe him." Tai nodded.

"I suppose you're right." It was Sora's turn to smirk.

"As always." He looked up to see her walk back into the kitchen. He smiled, wondering what they were having for dinner. He looked back down at the letter in his hands. There was no return address, but the handwritten Taichi and Sora Kamiya seemed to have Matt's familiar touch to it. He opened it and took out a letter and began to read.

Hey you two!

Well, as you've heard, I'm on tour right now. It's getting kind of boring. Not the girls, you know, but I'm kind of homesick. How is Jun? Have you heard about her? I miss her a lot. I wish I could see her again, but it'll be another two months before I get to come home. So unfair. She hasn't got any new boyfriends, has she? I guess I'm just paranoid.

You may be wondering why I'm writing you instead of email. Well, I know you can't reply to this except by email, but I thought it was time that I sent you something that wasn't so... impersonal.

I wish that I could come and see you both. Are you two going to have some little Tais running around any time soon? If you do, be sure to warn me. One Tai is enough, but more than that is a disaster.

How are you? And Joe? Izzy? Kari and T.K.? Those two had better not be doing anything that they shouldn't. I'll come after them both. I miss you all so much it isn't funny. Especially Jun. Sora, please keep Tai from saying anything, but I think I'll propose to her when I get back. DON'T SAY A WORD!!! This is a secret. A very big one. Taichi, if you tell her, you will never see another sunrise. I swear it.

I'm going to get to see Mimi soon. We're going to New York in a week, so I'll be sure to give her my best. I might be able to take a vacation and stay there, but the schedule is tight. I think we need to have a big reunion some time, don't you two? It would be nice to see everyone again. Maybe even the new digidestined, even though we are closer than they are. Have you ever noticed that? We seem to know each others' thoughts, but then when you look at the new digidestined, it's like they are strangers to one another. Especially Davis. Is he STILL chasing after Kari? Talk about someone who needs to read another's thoughts.

Well, my time is up. We're almost to London. It's a dang good thing I learned English, huh?

All my love,

Matt

"You were right, Sora! It was from Matt. You won't believe what he had to say about Jun, either!" he called. Sora came running out and grabbed the letter out of Tai's hand.

"Is he going to propose to her?" she asked, but it was rhetorical. She was already skimming the letter. Tai waited until she found it. She suddenly squealed in delight. "FINALLY! I think Jun was going to give up on the boy. They've been going out for who knows how long. And to think he hated her when they first met. You had better not say anything, Taichi. If you do, Matt will have to beat me to strangling you, understand?" she asked, her tone maternal yet threatening. Tai nodded furiously.

"Yes, ma'am. Is supper done, Sora? I'm hungry," he said, rubbing his stomach again. Sora rolled her eyes.

"I guess I could read this at dinner. You didn't check the other mail, did you?" she said. Tai shook his head.

"Nah. I'll read them at dinner. I'm really hungry, Sora. Please," he said, whimpering. Sora beat him with the towel in her hand.

"All right! I got the point. Get the plates and stuff, okay?" Tai nodded anxiously and ran for the kitchen, Sora staring after him. "If he'd only show that much enthusiasm when I asked him to clean." She walked into the kitchen only to narrowly avoid becoming road kill to the eager Tai. She rolled her eyes and continued on her treacherous journey. She took one of the pans from the stove with an oven mitt and came back into the dining room in awe. Tai had already set the table, complete with napkins and silverware, and was sitting in his seat with his napkin tucked into his shirt with his own silverware in hand. Sora couldn't help but laugh at the sight. "I guess you were hungry." Tai nodded eagerly with a childish grin on his face. She set the pan down on the table and returned to the kitchen. Tai felt his mouth start to water as he looked into the pan. It was some rice, but he wondered what else she was bringing out. As if to answer his thought, Sora came out with a smile on her face carrying a casserole dish. She set it down on the table in front of him, and he felt his jaw scrape the floor. Steaks. Big, hearty, juicy steaks. Sora saw the look on his face and laughed. "Happy Anniversary, Taichi," she said and kissed his ear gently. Tai felt his heart jump into his throat. Anniversary???

"Thank you, Sora," he croaked. She sat down across from him, still smiling. He took his fork and was going to make a stab at one of the steaks when he heard Sora cough, as if to remind him she was there. He looked up at her with guilt written on his face, but Sora didn't seem to pay any mind. "What?" Her face dropped a little, but she maintained the smile.

"What did you get me? I mean, this is our one year anniversary, and all," she said, looking at him hopefully. He swallowed hard.

"Um, well, I was, well...." He swallowed again as he saw Sora frown. She looked hurt.

"You forgot." Tai put down his fork and waved his hands.

"No, I didn't forget. I was... just... going to give it to you later," he said. 'Nice recovery, Taichi. Why not throw in that you forgot, but you had something planned for tonight anyway, or just tell her you lied? She'll find out soon enough, anyway.'

"What is it?" she asked. Tai pulled at his collar. She wasn't stupid. She knew he forgot.

"It's a surprise, Sora! Just like you surprised me!" he said cheerfully. She narrowed her eyes at him, knowing full well that he was lying, but decided to go along with it.

"Okay, Tai." He gave her his famous lopsided grin and she smiled.

"Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to eat this delicious meal my wife cooked for me. Is that okay with you?" he asked, still grinning. Sora put up her hands.

"Don't let me hold you back," and indeed, she didn't. He dug in with all the eagerness of a starving dog in a butcher shop. She got up from the table, grabbed the letter from Matt, and sat down. She began to read with keen interest. She missed Matt. And Mimi. She still saw Joe, Izzy, Kari, and T.K. a lot. They all had frequent flyer miles to their apartment. Yolei, Davis, Cody, and Ken were busy with their lives, but always tried to make time for the rest. Sora often thought that if Tai and Sora hadn't of got married or had moved away that the digidestined probably wouldn't even remember each other.

"It's nice of him to send us a word or two, isn't it?" Tai asked with a mouthful of steak. Sora nodded absently.

Are you two going to have some little Tais running around any time soon?

For some reason, this question made Sora feel uneasy. She and Tai hadn't talked about children. It didn't seem to be an option at the moment. Sure, Sora could take care of any children they did have at the flower shop while Tai worked. They were financially ready, but otherwise, she wasn't sure. Was she ready to be a mother? Tai, who knew everything about Sora, including her reading speed, knew exactly where she was at.

"Sora, honey? Are you okay?" Sora jumped in her chair. Tai had scared her out of her train of thought. She smiled nervously.

"Yeah, I'm fine, Tai." Her eyes automatically fell back to the piece of paper in her hand. Tai figured that he needed to change the subject quick. He was almost absolutely sure that Sora didn't want to talk about children, and right now, neither did he.

"Hey, Sora? I've been wondering. What does aphotic mean?" Sora looked up at him thoughtfully.

"As in 'Aphotic Abyss' , you mean?" Tai nodded. "Aphotic means 'without light'. So basically, the band name means a bottomless hole without light." Tai stared in amazement as his wife. 'She so smart. She deserves a better life. She deserves something that uses her skill. Something that a two year old couldn't do.'

"Thanks. That's been like a burning question."

"No problem. Do you like it?" she asked, gesturing with her eyes to the dish in front of Tai. He nodded furiously.

"Yes! Compliments to the chef!!" he exclaimed. Sora smiled brightly.

"Thank you. Are you going to read the rest of the mail?" she asked. Tai nodded and got up, wiping his face with his napkin. He grabbed a stack of letters and walked back to the table slowly. He began to examine one of them carefully.

"This one doesn't have a return address. Here, you look at this one," he said, throwing the other one in his hand to Sora. She picked it up and began to look at it. The one Tai had in his hand was the one with no return address. Taichi Kamiya was neatly typed on the front, followed by his address. He opened it, eager to see who it was from.

"This is something about a convention. Something about flowers. Hmm. I might give this one to Mom. What's yours, Tai? Tai?" Sora looked at her husband, whose face had suddenly gone pale. "Tai? Are you okay?" she asked, now worried. His eyes were quickly scanning the paper again and again.

Freaks don't belong here. Our community doesn't need something like you in it. You are disgrace to humanity. You should be properly terminated. This is only a warning.

Leave while you still can

P.O.H.

Tai gulped and read it again. And again. And again. And again. P.O.H. stood for Protectors of Humanity. Damn them! They dared to make threats against him and his wife? Damn them to Hell!

"Tai? Is everything all right?" Tai looked up at her worried face and strained a smile.

"Everything is fine, Sora. Don't worry about it."

"No, Tai, everything is not fine. Let me see it," she said, reaching for the letter in his hand. He sighed and set it down out of her reach.

"It's from that Protectors of Humanity organization. They're just making empty promises, Sora. Please don't get worried. They're perfectly harmless," he told her firmly, but didn't believe what he said one bit. The only reason they hated him was because he was a mutant. He hadn't revealed his wings to anyone for over eight years. He had been a controversy, but soon it all died down and he was forgotten. One man, his name was not known to Tai, had began an organization by the name Neo Humanity. The organization had faced a fast down fall for fear that it was Neo-Nazi, which was basically true. Now, the organization had taken the new name Protectors of Humanity, a much more "civil" name for a thing that was anything but. Tai had been warned, but he didn't know how to avoid them. He would be persecuted anywhere he went, and Odaiba was the last place he wanted to leave. No, he wouldn't worry Sora. They weren't going to leave.

"If you say so, Tai," she said finally, but you could tell by the look in her eyes that she believed what Tai had said about as much as he did.

"Now, are you going to eat, or do I have to eat it all?" he asked, smiling brightly. She smiled back.

"I suppose I could help," she said. She began to eat with him, and soon they had eaten all of it.

"That was great, Sora!" he exclaimed as he leaned back in his chair. 'What are you going to give her, Tai? There's no way you can make up for this.' That made Tai think hard. He grinned mischievously. 'I could recreate our wedding night. I'm sure she'd LOVE that.' Sora looked at him suspiciously.

"What are you thinking about, Tai?" she asked warily. His grin widened.

"Oh, nothing." He got up and stretched. Sora got up and began to take dishes into the kitchen. He heard her run water in the sink to wash them, but she wouldn't do that if he could help it. He came into the kitchen after her, the grin on his face getting wider all the time. She saw him out of the corner of her eye and turned her whole body to him.

"What are you up to?" she asked. He shrugged.

"Nuthin'." She began to back away, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"I know better than that," she said, still backing away. With one swift motion, he swept her into his arms, mimicking how a groom carries his bride.

"Give me a little credit, Sora," he said, still grinning. She studied his face carefully. The teenager that she had fallen in love with, rather the kid she had fallen in love with, still existed inside this man who worked at an office all day. That little boy was still there. That teenager was still there. Taichi Kamiya had hardly changed. She giggled at the thought of a 12-year-old Tai in a business suit, which is what she saw him in every day. She loved him more than ever at that moment. If she could still see the boy she fell in love with hadn't changed, she was absolutely sure that their love never would.

"What? Are you going to whisk me away, Tai? Like a princess or something?" she asked. Tai shook his head. His grin faltering a little.

"No. Like a queen." She kissed him passionately. Without breaking the kiss, Tai began to walk toward their bedroom. He only paused to close the door with a kick of his foot.

Neither emerged from the room until the next day.

****************************************************************************************************************************

The result of that night of bliss became known to Tai two weeks later.

"Sora! I'm home!" he called as he walked in through their door.

"Hi, Tai! How was your day?" she asked, but she sounded distracted.

"It was okay. As good as any day at the office. Did you go see Joe today?" he asked. She nodded. She had been feeling pretty sick for a while. Tai had forced her to go to see Joe for a diagnosis. "Good. I'm going to go change," he said as he entered the dining room where she was sitting. She had cards in her hands. She looked to be engrossed in a game of solitaire, but she was handling the cards nervously. Her hands were trembling. Tai looked at her worriedly, but dismissed it for the moment. "Hey! I'll play you a hand of Spite and Malice after I change." Sora didn't look at him. It was like she was trying to avoid looking him in the eye.

"Let me finish this and I'll play you."

"Okay. I'll beat you this time!" he called as he rushed into their room to change. He waited to hear the response of 'In your dreams, Kamiya,' that she usually gave him, knowing full well that he couldn't play cards if his life depended on it, but this response never came. He quickly changed into some casual attire and ran back into the dining room with childlike energy. He sat down in front of her, gazing at her carefully with a lover's eye. The way her hair fell down in front of her face with only one strand tucked behind her ear. Her pale white skin that seemed to bring out the color of her eyes, reminding him of the brilliant flames of the digital world so long ago. Her gentle hands, able to move so gracefully, now moving in a nervous manner. It was all Sora could do to keep the cards in her hands. Not once did she look Tai in the eye. Her eyes darted from side to side across the fan of cards in front of her in an expert manner that came from hundreds of games. Finally, she threw the cards down, almost in relief that she didn't have to fight her trembling hands anymore, and began to gather them together. Tai reached out a hand and began to scoop them up with her. She smiled, but it was more at him than to him. She hadn't made eye contact with him once.

"Thirteen cards, right?" she asked. Tai looked at her strangely. He was usually the one asking her that kind of question.

"I think so. We'll just wing it, okay?" he asked, throwing her his best handsome smile. She didn't catch it. Her head was still looking at the cards in her hand. He cleared his throat as she began to shuffle the cards. "What did Joe say?" He was caught off-guard as the cards in Sora's hand splayed everywhere. At first, he thought it was her version of fifty-two card pick-up, but he knew better than that. The diagnosis that the doctor had given her obviously hadn't been the one she wanted.

"He said that..." She stopped. No, this couldn't be right. She couldn't be, could she? Would Tai still want her? Would he still love her?

"What did he say?" Sora sighed deeply.

"Remember that letter from Matt?" Tai rolled his eyes back in a thinking gesture.

"Uh, yeah. That one about Jun?" Sora finally looked at him in the eye and nodded. He nodded back. "Yeah, I remember. What about it?" She took a deep breath and held it.

"Let's just say that we need to warn Matt." Tai stared at her blankly. Sora looked back at him and gave a hopeful, yet helpless smile.

"Warn him about what?" Sora tilted her head in disbelief. How could Tai have become a lawyer? He wasn't smart enough to be one. She was practically spelling it out for him. Suddenly, recognition dawned on Tai's face. "Oh, about.... You mean you're... yo-yo-you're.....??? Are you?" She nodded slowly. Tai grinned proudly. "You mean I'm going to be a... a... a...-"

"A daddy?" Tai jumped up from his chair, ran around the table, picked Sora up out of her chair, and swung her around by her waist.

"I'm going to be a dad! I'm going to have a kid! Oh, Sora! We're going to be parents!" he yelled, still swinging her around. Sora laughed.

"I didn't expect this kind of reaction," she said calmly, but she was now feeling a little excited now. She had been filled with apprehension for some reason, but that was all gone. He put her down on the ground and hugged her tightly.

"I'm going to be a dad, Sora!" he whispered excitedly into her ear. She smiled.

"Shall we call everybody?" she asked. Tai nodded, but then smiled mischievously.

"Not until we celebrate," he said, his smile turning sly. She smiled evilly, signaling to a crestfallen Tai that they wouldn't get to "celebrate" for a little bit.

"Call Mimi, email Matt, then the rest. Then we can celebrate." She saw the look on his face and smiled a little bit more pleasantly. "Don't worry. I'll make it worth the wait," she whispered and kissed his cheek. Tai's face instantly became an ecstatic one.

"I've never been disappointed before," he said lowly. For the first time in a year or two, Sora blushed. He thought this rather strange since they seemed to blush around each other anymore, but he decided that it was nothing major. If anything, it made her more down to earth. Something he loved about her.

"Well, I don't want to keep you waiting long. You get the phone book, I'll call the gang over, okay?" He nodded and quickly ran to get the phone book, leaving Sora standing there with her arms crossed, a smile painted delicately on her face. "Now I know why I love you," she whispered.

**********************************************************************************************************************************

"Oh, Tai," Sora whispered as she leaned against his chest on the couch. She sounded troubled. He brushed her hair away from her face and looked deeply into her eyes.

"What's wrong?" he asked, genuinely concerned. Sora looked at him and smiled.

"I was just thinking about our child," she said, barely above a whisper. He nodded.

"So was I, in fact. Something on your mind besides that?"

"What if he or she isn't.... accepted, Tai?" He looked at her curiously.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked, confused. Certainly she didn't mean Joe and the rest. He remembered seeing Joe, Kari, T.K., Jun, Yolei, Ken, Davis, and Izzy rush in the door at once, asking what the heck the emergency was. Sora had told them with a nervous smile, and he remembered as the girls had squealed in delight and the boys smacked Tai on the back. Ah, but he should think that anymore, should he? Amazingly enough, they were men and women now, not children. But their friendship hadn't changed since childhood. In fact, all of their friendships had grown stronger. So much stronger.

Matt and Mimi had been upset that they couldn't be there personally to congratulate the two, but promised to be there soon. Mimi had taken the next flight, courtesy of Delta Airlines and Daddy's Visa card, and had met Sora with teary eyes of joy. The two had laughed, cried, and reminisced with Jun, Yolei, and Kari for hours upon hours. Matt sent Tai his word that he would try to be home soon as he could. That had been two months ago, and he still wasn't there. He had sent an email telling Tai that his word still stood, it was just being delayed a bit.

"That... P.O.H. thing, or whatever. What happens about them, Tai? They won't just... disappear," she said worriedly. Tai's face went from confused to dull indignation, which Sora noticed immediately. They had gone too far when they worried his wife. When they made his wife question her child's and her own safety, they had gone too far.

"They're making empty promises, Sora. We haven't gotten anything from them in months. You know that," he said, trying to push back his anger with a smile, even though that was as futile as telling the tide to go away. He had just lied to her in his dull fury. They had made him lie to her. Hadn't they done enough? Contrary from what he said to Sora, he had gotten multiple threats from them at work. It was enough to give him dull alarm because their threats had jumped from zero letter in eight years to fifteen in the last two months. She broke eye contact with him and sat up, clasping her hands between her knees.

"Not only that, but what if something happens to us, Tai?" He looked at her, his confusion renewed.

"Like what?" he questioned, leaning forward. She sighed.

"What happens if... you die? Or me? What will happen then?" she asked. Tai leaned back against the arm of the couch and sighed deeply.

"Then our child will still live on. One of us will still watch over him. One of us will still be here." She shook her head and looked at him.

"What if both of us aren't here?" He narrowed his eyes at her.

"Why so worried, Sora?" He became alarmed when her eyes welled up with tears.

"Because every day I watch you go to work and then I wonder if I'll ever see you again!" she said, her voice rising to a cracking point. She got up from the couch and put her hands in her hair. She closed her eyes as if trying to get herself to calm down. She began again, her voice unnaturally low in volume. "Because I can't go without you. What about our child? I want our child to have a father! I don't want them to have a life like I did. No father. Hardly any mother." She dropped her hands to her sides and opened her eyes to see a saddened Tai looking up at her. She opened her mouth to say something else, but she shook her head and closed her mouth.

"What? Go ahead and finish, Sora." His tone was fatherly, yet firm. Not what she wanted to hear from him. She wanted him to be Tai. She wanted him to talk to her like she was Sora, not his daughter or his mother or his sister. She had married him so he could talk to her like she was his wife, not like she was born into his family.

"I sometimes wonder if... if maybe we shouldn't have fallen in love like this. I mean, wings? Do you know how crazy that is? That you can't take business trips because if you leave, we both get sick?!? Do you know how crazy this is? How do you explain to a child that their father and mother are so deeply in love that their father has wings? How? How???" she asked, her voice high and questioning. He got up from the couch and looked at her compassionately, but she could see that deep inside, he was hurt.

"You don't. He or she will never find out unless they found out some other way and ask us. That is the only way. Yes, it is crazy, but how many people are in love like us, Sora? How many? Besides," he said gently, taking her into his arms, which she did willingly. "They won't get me. Ever." She pushed him away gently, catching him a bit off guard.

"What if they come after me?" she asked finally, her voice quiet. He looked at her blankly. Dear God! He'd never thought of it before! He had vaguely thought about them coming after him, but after her? After Sora? She was so... so... No. Not Sora.

"They won't. I'll make sure of it. If they come close to you, they'll pay." He hugged her again, his embrace full of love. She bled silent tears into his shirt, and he could feel it. He could feel her pain, and he began to cry with her. They bled together. He shuddered as she released a heavy sob.

"Oh, Tai! I'm hurting you, aren't I?" she asked worriedly, realizing that was another thing that they might have to explain. He couldn't hold back a wince and nodded. No use in telling her a lie.

"Don't stop crying, Sora. It'll be okay. Just let the tears go. I don't want you to be sad anymore," he whispered into her hair, his own eyes bleeding tears as well. She didn't hurt like he did. She had mild pain when he cried, but it wasn't much compared to Tai. "I promise that they won't come for you." He closed his eyes and breathed in her hair.

"I promise."

**********************************************************************************************************************************

A promise broken is as good as a lie.

**********************************************************************************************************************************

".... And if the defendant really wanted to hurt somebody, couldn't he have done a long time ago? The human dilemma is that there is always the possibility that we can do it, but the real question is not can I, but should I? Mr. Yomai didn't do anything wrong because he knew he shouldn't. Anybody can hurt another, but it all depends on if we have the conscience to do it or not. Mr. Yomai has a conscience, and that is what keeps him from being guilty. He has overcome the human dilemma that conquers all. I believe that we should give him credit for it."

Tai finished his closing statement and sat down. Mr. Yomai, a tall, gray-haired man with a round face, sat beside him. He looked at Tai hopefully, and Tai gave him a smile. They anxiously began the wait for the verdict. Finally, the jury filed out into their awaiting chairs. The defendant and the plaintiff rose to hear it.

"We, the jury, find that this case should be ruled in favor of the defendant."

"Yes!" Tai cheered. He shook hands with a grateful Dasi Yomai and turned around to shake the hand of his associate.

"If you keep getting these wins, you'll be a junior partner in the firm in no time, Taichi," Scott Ino said happily. Tai grinned, but his grin was cut short but some sudden back pain. He looked at his watch. The pocket watch that Sora had gotten him. He flipped open the silver lid and looked at the time. 6:30. He needed to get home. The pain in his back came again, and he became worried. That kind of back pain only came from one thing. That could only mean-

"I need to get home to my wife, Scott. I'm sure she's worried about me," Tai said quickly. Scott let go of his hand.

"Sure. I'll just report another win to be chalked up to our names, okay?" Tai smiled and nodded.

"Whatever. I gotta go, Scott. See you tomorrow!" he said as he rushed out the courtroom door. With speed he hadn't tapped in years, he ran to his office in a building across the street, grabbed some papers, and ran out the door. Later, he would be ashamed that he took time to stuff his papers in his briefcase, but he didn't know what was in store for him.

"Where ya going, Taichi?"

"Yeah, Kamiya! Where's the fire?" A group of employees asked as he ran by the water cooler. Tai ignored them easily and kept running. He got in the elevator and felt another jolt of pain hit his back like lightning.

"Hold on, Sora. I'm coming," he whispered. A woman beside him looked at him strangely, but he just smiled handsomely. She smiled back flirtatiously. He instantly read her look and shook his head. She looked at him quizzically. The door began to open, and he just made enough time to show her the wedding band on his left hand. She nodded in understanding as he bolted out the door. As he stepped out of the elevator, he could have sworn that the woman had sighed out of disappointment.

He ran out the door of the office building panting. Sora had warned him that not being in shape would catch up to him. As always, she was right.

Sora

Right, right. He needed to keep running. It took forever for the bus to come. Their apartment was within walking distance and certainly within running distance. With another burst of energy and speed, he began to run as fast as his legs would carry him. His soccer legs kicked into gear, and soon he was seemingly running faster than the wind itself. It was getting dark earlier this time of year, and the cold air was hitting him like razor blades. His back was popping every once in a while as if to remind him that either his wife was sitting at home crying her eyes out or he needed to visit a chiropractor. He hoped it was the latter.

His apartment came into view. He slowed down in relief, but the stitch in his side screamed, making him rethink the decision to stop. There were a few cars parked out front, but nothing out of the usual. He had no idea why he had looked there, but figured it was just paranoia. He began to run again and didn't stop until he had ran up all the steps to their apartment. He stopped outside their door and knocked. He knocked again after a few seconds of hesitation.

No answer.

"Come on, Sora! What's wrong?" he screamed through the door.

No answer.

He fumbled his keys out of his pocket and finally found the right one.

"COME ON, SORA!"

No answer.

He stuck the key in the lock and twisted with all his might, almost breaking the key in two. He stepped inside the door and closed it quietly, not sure why.

"Sora?" He began to look around him. The couch was turned over onto its back. The coffee table that had been in front of the couch was in a crooked position in the floor. He began to look closely. A pillow from the couch laid in front of the TV. What the heck had happened? "Sora!"

No answer.

"Sora?" His voice now shaky with fear. What had happened to her?

"Tai!" she screamed, but he instantly heard something like a slap. Where had her voice come from? The kitchen, he thought. He ran in that direction, past the overturned sofa in the living room, past the dining table, where a few chairs lay scattered on the floor and one was missing, and passed the counter. He walked right into the kitchen and stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes fell onto his beaten and battered wife. Sora was looking at him with hurt eyes. Her cheeks had red hand prints on them. She was tied to one of the dining table chairs, her legs bound to the legs of the chair and her hands tied behind her back. There were men standing behind her. Big men. Huge men. Tai read the emblem on their jackets and almost screamed in rage.

P.O.H.

"LET HER GO!" he screamed at once. One of the men slapped her across the face, apparently for the umpteenth time, making her hitch in a deep sob. Pain shot up Tai's back, but it had been dulled by the fury that was raging through his system.

"Another outburst like that and your little whore here might end up with a broken leg, kid," the man on the left said, but Tai had always believed that a real man didn't hit a defenseless person. Ever.

"Don't... ever... call her that," Tai's tone was so deadly that doubt temporarily flickered in the men's eyes, but it was only momentary.

"I'll call her what I want, you freak," the man, rather brute, said sullenly. Tai made a step forward, but was caught off-guard when the man on the right whipped out a knife from under his jacket and put it to Sora's throat. She closed her eyes and said nothing. Tai felt like he could have died at that moment, but he needed to get Sora out of this mess.

"Another step and your whore's blood will be on the floor, freak," he said, his tone deadly. Tai couldn't keep the fear from appearing on his face and backed away. "That's a good decision, Kamiya. She might have a chance to live now," he said with a sick grin as he lowered the knife to his side. Sora's eyes squeezed tighter, as if trying to keep back tears. She knew that the more she cried, the more Tai weakened. The situation didn't need to get any worse.

"What do you want with her? I'm the one you wanted," Tai said finally. The rage in his system had been replaced with a deep, maddening fear for Sora's life.

"Your weakness is our strength, no?" Tai looked at the man on the left strangely.

"There you are wrong. She is my strength, not my weakness," he said, as if challenging him. The man on the right, with speed that was not considered human, raised the knife to Sora's throat again.

"Don't cross him or me, got that?" he said, but it was more of a statement, not a question. Tai bowed his head in defeat.

"That goes for me, too," he said, but he did so under his breath. He didn't want to take any chances.

"I won't kill her unless I have to. I have specific orders to save her for the Boss. Something about personal business." Sora looked up at Tai, her eyes telling him that she had given up, that she was sorry, but she had just given up.

"Who is your boss?" Tai asked suddenly. His curiosity got the best of him.

"You're not in the position to be asking questions, monster," the one on the right said. It occurred to Tai that neither of them had moved since he had entered the kitchen. It was like they were glued to the floor. Unfortunately, that wasn't to his benefit right now. They were too close to Sora.

I'm so sorry, Sora!

"Why do you hate me so much?" The men looked at Tai with hard eyes, but he could see something of uncertainty in both of them.

"Because you don"t belong here! You're a freak! Freaks don't belong here! You deserve to be hated!" the man on the left shouted. The man on the right touched the other on the arm.

"Calm down, Hal. Don't tell him everything," he said lowly. Hal. What a great name for a thug. Tai looked at Sora and saw that she had her head bowed, as if preparing to give herself away. Like she was hanging her head in defeat.

Don't give up, Sora. Please don't give up on me.

"The Boss should already be here. We shouldn't be dealing with him! We should have already been out of here!" Hal shouted. The other one shook his head.

"Patience." That shut Hal up in a hurry.

"Please, just let her go," Tai pleaded. Hal looked at him and gave a demented grin.

"No."

"Please! She's innocent!"

"No."

She doesn't deserve this. She deserves better. She deserves so much more. Hold your head up, Sora. Hold your head above water. We can't afford to drown now. Not after we've been through so much. Come on and swim, Sora. Please.

Suddenly, the front door to the apartment opened and shut.

"What if that's not the Boss, Gray?" The other one was named Gray. Hal and Gray. A bunch of dirty thugs.

"Then we'll just have to kill, won't we?" Gray answered smugly. Tai shivered at the thought of it being Joe. Or T.K. Or even Kari. Gray dropped the knife away from Sora neck and stood back, actually moving from his spot.

"You won't have to kill anyone." Hal and Gray both looked past Tai and grinned.

"Hey, Boss," Hal said cheerfully. Sora lifted her head out of its defeated position with angry eyes. She wanted to see who had put her through this Hell. Tai looked for the same reason as Sora. Tai let out a gasp and Sora's eyes went wide with shock and terror, her jaw scraping the floor.

The man was an easy 6' 4", maybe even taller. He had a very strong build. The shirt he wore revealed that. The man's red hair and gleaming crimson eyes seemed to scream his relation to Sora, but his eyes were different. It was if the red in his eyes wasn't from heredity but something much more evil. Like hate or something. He had a beard that covered his chin and connected to his sideburns. His mustache covered his top lip in red hair. It was a little gray on the bottom, but it faded into brown and finally into red.

"Hello, Sora."

"Get away! Go away! No!" Sora began to scream, but was quickly silenced by a punch to her stomach. She doubled over, or as close to it as she could come with her current restraints, and began to cough up blood. Tai felt his heart break at the sight. A rage that almost sickened him came through, too. The child inside of Sora. What if they had killed it? Before it even had a chance to be born? The rage built to an almost uncontrollable level, but if he acted now, they might just kill her anyway.

"What are you doing here? People who have done what you have usually go out and hang themselves if they have a conscience," Tai growled. The big man laughed.

"Ah, Taichi Kamiya, the lawyer. Quite a turnaround from the last time I saw you. You talked about consciences in your closing statement today, did you not?" Tai's mouth dropped open. He was there???

"You leave her alone!" he shouted, not sure what had driven him to do that. He realized suddenly that the consequences to his sudden outburst could have cost him Sora's life. He felt ashamed that he had almost let her down and immediately shut her mouth. He looked at her only to see that she was looking at her father with angry, hurt, and horror-filled eyes.

Her father.

Mr. Takenouchi.

After eight long yet happy years without him, he comes back.

"Ah-ah-ah!" the demented man said, waggling a finger at him. "We wouldn't want to make our father-in-law angry, would we?" Tai cringed at the thought of being related to him.

"What do you want us to do now, Boss?" Hal asked, his eyes gleaming with admiration for his "boss" . Gray had a similar look in his own eyes. The Boss just grinned.

"Go sit on the couch and watch some TV. Anybody who comes to the door, take them down on sight."

"Yessir." Both of the men walked into the next room, talking and laughing as if they had just spent the last hour watching a football game, not torturing an innocent woman. After the two thugs had gone, Mr. Takenouchi turned back to his daughter with, what was this? Loving eyes? But this was not the kind of love that a man has for his daughter. It was something much more sickening.

"Hello, Sora," he said again. "Nice to see you. It's been eight years, has it not?" Sora just glared at him. "At a loss for words? Fair enough." Tai watched him carefully. If the man even tried to make a move on Sora, Tai would tear him apart. Even if Sora's father weighed at least 150 pounds more and was at least six inches taller. "I'm willing to answer some of your questions if you don't get too personal." Personal!?!? He was telling them not to get personal, yet he was holding Sora hostage and threatening Tai?

"Which of us do you want? You won't get her, so you might as well say me, which is who I assume you want, you jerk," Tai said lowly. Mr. Takenouchi laughed.

"Oh, I want her, not you. And call me Allen, by the way."

"Then why the whole P.O.H. thing, Allen?" Tai said his name with such disgust that he basically spat it out. Allen looked thoughtful.

"Is it easier to gain support against a mutant or a harmless girl?"

"Why would you need support at all?" Allen laughed.

"Though I hate to admit it, you and my daughter are very.... close to one another. It would be rather hard to kill one of you and deal with the other without a little help, no?" Tai didn't answer. Allen looked back at Sora, whose head was bowed in silent defeat. He walked over to her, kneeled his huge body, and put a finger under her chin. He forced her to look at him. "Isn't that right, sweetheart?" Sora felt a tear run down her face. She couldn't help it, but it all seemed so hopeless. Tai looked at her with a forlorn face. She was hurting him again.

"Don't give up," Tai mouthed to her. Sora felt sudden courage flow through her veins. That was right! She couldn't give up because it wasn't only her that she was thinking about anymore. Not only Tai, either.

Their child.

The child was their hope for the future, even though the child may have been hurt by the swift punch to her stomach. They couldn't give up now. Not after so much. Not after all they had been through.

"Answer me, Sora," Allen whispered. Sora met his angry eyes with her own. He wiped the blood away from the corners of her mouth with his right hand. "Answer me, Daughter." With sudden bravery, she spat a mixture of saliva and blood in his face. He howled in rage and stood up away from her. He brought his hand back and slapped her across the cheek, almost breaking her jaw. She cried out in pain and cried a single tear. Tai could hold his rage no longer.

"NO!!!" He charged at Allen, catching the deranged man off-guard, but it was futile. Allen stood still, and Tai simply hurt himself.

"Hal! Gray!" The two men lumbered into the kitchen at a turtle's speed. "Hal, I want you at the door. Gray, since you're one of the best men in the P.O.H., I want you to have a little reward," Allen said, looking at Sora on the last word. She didn't look back, however. Her head was pounding from the impact her father had given her in the head.

"Really, Boss? What is it?" Gray asked. He looked like he was in his early thirties. His hair was jet black, and he would have been rather handsome, but his hate seemed to make him look like a monster.

"Her. Take her to their bedroom and do what you want." At that, Sora looked up at him and shook her head furiously.

"No! You can't! Tai! Please!" she cried desperately. Tai felt the rage become thicker. And heavier. It increased to something monstrous. It was almost time to avenge. Almost. He stood in a silent stupor, seemingly stoic.

"She's a pretty girl. This ought to be fun," the black-haired man said with a pleasant grin. He untied her from the chair and picked her up in his arms. "Cooperate and it won't hurt."

"NO! Tai!!!"

That's when the rage began to flow.

"I'll kill you ONCE AND FOR ALL!" Tai screamed. Gray put Sora down unconsciously, caught off guard by the sudden outburst. Sora took advantage of the moment and kneed Gray where she knew it would cripple him for a while. Allen Takenouchi's face showed boredom.

"Really? I could have sworn that's what you meant to do a long time ago," he said, his voice heavy with sarcasm. Tai paid no attention to his remark. The fury was growing.

Thickening.

Becoming heavier.

Increasing.

Pulsating.

Living.

Breathing.

It was time.

Time to avenge.

Tai felt a burning sensation rip through his body, as if the fury was a mad dog snapping at all parts of his body. He threw his head back in pain, clenching his eyes. When the pain passed, he raised his head back and opened his eyes.

White spaces.

White spaces of fury. It was exactly like when metal becomes really hot and turns white. That was what was showing through in his eyes, and it scared Allen very, very much.

Though he never showed it.

"Very impressive, Taichi. This is why I have my supporters," he said with a satanic grin. Tai showed no emotion except for anger. With a sudden force, Tai's shirt and coat ripped apart to reveal the things that so many people hated him for. Loathed him for.

His wings.

"Jesus! I've never seen the likes of that!" Hal said, stupefied beyond words.

"His name is not to be said like that," Tai growled. Hal shut his mouth and took a step backwards. Allen glared at him.

"If you even try to get out of here, I will make sure you die, understood?" Hal looked at him in fear.

"Yessir."

"He's harmless, understand?"

"Yessir." Tai shook his head slowly, his white spaces seemingly burning a hole into anything that looked into them.

"Harmless is not the word that I would use at the moment," he said lowly.

"Don't listen to him, Hal!" Allen shouted. Hal nodded.

"Yessir!" he cried, but if he meant it to sound like he didn't believe Tai, he wasn't acting very well. Sora stared in admiration at her husband. Her lover. Her soul mate. She was in such admiration, however, that it didn't go to her benefit. While she was so busy staring at Tai in awe, she didn't see Gray start to move from his position on the floor.

"Make your PEACE WITH GOD!" Tai screamed as he charged at Hal. Hal, who was an easy four inches taller and at least 100 pounds heavier than Tai, began to scream like a frightened school girl.

"Please don't kill me! Plea-" He didn't get to finish his pleading because Tai had punched him in the stomach to avenge for what they had done to Sora and possibly their child.

"I'LL KILL YOU!" Tai screamed. His fury had become unleashed. Uncontrolled. The white spaces in his head began to burn whiter. "YOU HURT SORA!" He dove down on Hal and began to punch him mercilessly. Blood began to come out of Hal's nose and various other places on his body as he screamed for help.

"I'll hurt her even more!" At the sound of that, Tai looked up from a rather pitiful looking Hal to his wife. Gray had the knife back at her neck. "Make one false move and I'll kill her!" he shouted. Tai slowly got up off of Hal, but the white spaces in his eyes never faded. Allen smirked and lunged at Tai. Tai had been standing at such an angle that it would have been impossible to defend against the attack. In no time, Mr. Takenouchi's unnaturally strong arms had Tai pinned down on the ground with his arms behind his back. Tai struggled, but the weight on his back was too much. The wings, which were still in full view, zapped most of his energy. He couldn't fight back at the moment, but the rage was coming to a peak. When it reached that point, he would be able to fight. To avenge. "HAL!" Hal looked up at Allen with misty eyes. "Get over here now!"

"Ye-yessir. Yessir," he stammered as he scrambled over to the mutant and the psychopath.

"Hold his head back. I want him to see this." Tai's mind began to scream.

HE'S GOIN G TO KILL HER! HE'S GOING TO KILL SORA!

No! NO!! Tai bucked furiously under Allen's weight, but he couldn't get free. Hal held Tai's head off of the ground by his hair so he could look at his wife. Sora looked unemotional. It was like she knew what was coming. When Tai looked at her, his eyes beginning to water, he was surprised to see her smile at him.

'I love you,' she mouthed that to him, the smile being staying on her face the whole time.

"Sora! Fight it! Please don't give up!" Please don't drown, Sora! Please! You've got to swim! Fight the tide! Please!

"Gray."

"Yeah, Boss?"

"Do it."

"NOOOOOOO!!!!!" Tai screamed, the white spaces that served as his eyes burning to a blinding climax, but not even that distraction could postpone the inevitable.

With a flick of his wrist, Gray slit Sora's white throat with the knife.

"NOOOOOOO!!!!" Tai screamed again, as if he could scream loud enough he could stop it.

He watched in horror as a red slit appeared on her throat. Then the blood. Oh God, the blood. It began at a furious rate, as if the life force had been waiting forever to get out of her body.

Her eyes rolled back into her head. There was a sickening water-squelching sound, and her head dropped forward. The blood still seeped from the wound that had been given to her by evil hands.

Tai watched in shock as Gray grinned satanically and let Sora's poor body drop to the ground.

"Sora!" Tai sobbed. No! This couldn't be happening! "I cheated death! You can cheat it, too! Come on, Sora! Cheat death! Stay with me! Don't leave me!!!" But even he in his hysterical state knew that she was gone. His mind reeled for ways to tell him that it hadn't happened, but there was no way to avoid the truth.

Sora was dead.

"Ah, finally. One down, one to go," Allen said, grinning proudly. Tai began to cry relentlessly. The white spaces in his eyes faded back to the gentle brown ones that he had before.

"Take me then! I'll be with you soon, Sora!" he shouted hysterically, but was met only with a slap on his cheek. He quickly fell silent.

"Then again, maybe we shouldn't."

"No! If you take her, you've got to take me!" he screamed, but immediately knew that he had given away his weakness. He wanted to die. He wanted to be with Sora. He wanted to be with her. Tai stared at his dead wife's fallen body. Her slender figure now only a lifeless heap in the floor. They had killed her, and along with that, they had killed the unborn child that lay within her body.

"No, I think we'll make you suffer a little more. Gray, get another knife for Hal here and one for me. We've got some rather... painful work to do." Gray nodded and began to search around the kitchen. The area that Sora had once guarded against Tai which was now open for anyone who wanted to ransack it. He rummaged through a drawer and brought back two more knives. He threw one with impressive expertise to Hal, who caught it by the handle. He handed one to Allen. Tai watched in dull fury as Gray kicked at Sora's body to move it out of his way. Sadness sank into Tai's mind at how unjustly Sora had been treated and how he would have to watch her lie there in the floor. Now he was ultimately broken.

Broken.

Shattered.

Destroyed.

Wrecked.

Crushed.

Devastated.

"Sora..." he moaned as he began to cry silently again. It wasn't fair! A haze set down over Tai's vision, but he didn't care. It was over as far as he was concerned. It was so over.

"Holy Jesus, Boss! Look at that!" Tai vaguely heard Hal say.

"He really is a monster!" Gray shouted, cutting through the haze in Tai's mind. Through the haze, Tai was able to grasp a little understanding of what they were talking about.

broken wings something about broken wings bleeding wings without sora i bleed i'm bleeding i'm bleeding without her i'm broken without her broken broken broken broken broken wings broken hearted broken bleeding my heart bleeds without her I'm bleeding and sora i love sora I'm going to hurt without her

"He is a boy, not a monster. I think our little mutant is a little heart-broken. Isn't that right, Taichi?"

Is that my name? Am I called Taichi? Without Sora, I have no name. No purpose. I am nothing. I am the abyss. I am the aphotic abyss. No light to guide me, only a never ending hole to catch me.

"Sora..." Tai moaned again.

"But I've never seen someone dyin' do something like that! I mean, he's bleeding for cryin' out loud! Those-those wings are broken er sumpthin'!" Hal said incredulously, a heavy accent coming through in his voice. Allen frowned.

"Their love was something of a... new level, I suppose. His younger sister and another young boy have something quite similar, but not really the same thing. Where do you think his wings came from?" Allen asked. Silence.

"That's awfully poetic," Gray said finally. Allen nodded.

"Shakespearian even, but we need to finish what we came here to do. We won't kill him, understand?" Both of the other men nodded. Allen looked down at Tai, whose head now lay flat against the ground. "Did you hear that? We won't kill you, Taichi. Just make you hurt a little more."

Is Taichi my name? It must be. They keep calling me that. How can they make me hurt anymore? I already feel like my heart is about to die in my chest. How much more can God let me suffer?

How much?

"Who goes first?" Gray asked as he kneeled beside Allen, who still sat on Tai's back. He slowly got up.

"Hold him down!" Hal shouted hysterically. Allen shook his head.

"Watch." Allen got up, but Tai didn't move. With the steel toe of his shoe, he flipped the young man over onto his back. A wince showed on Tai's face, but it disappeared as quickly as it had come.

"He's not fightin' back!" Hal said. Allen nodded.

"Our little friend here doesn't want to fight. He just wants to die. Let's make sure we don't give him what he wants." Hal and Gray nodded like little children that had been waiting their whole lives for a prize. Allen kneeled back on the ground and held his knife tightly. "I'll go first."

Allen took his knife and put it against Tai's shirtless stomach. Gently, he began to press on it, as if seeing how much pressure it took to draw blood. Soon, the blood flowed over the top of the knife and Allen just smiled. With painstaking accuracy, he began to carve letters into Tai's firm stomach. Tai winced at the pain. Blood was everywhere. He watched as some of Sora's blood began to crawl across the floor, intermingling with Tai's on. As Tai began to hurt more and more, physically, mentally, and emotionally, he watched as their blood became one on the floor.

It was crimson.

The color of Sora's eyes.

Exactly.

Tai began to sob. The sobs jarred his body, but Allen didn't ever tell him to be still.

"There." Hal and Gray leaned over Tai's stomach to see what Allen had written.

"Aw, Boss. That's kind of cruel, isn't it?" Gray asked timidly. Hal just grinned.

"Good going!" he said in a congratulatory tone. Scratched out in bloody letters, barely legible, was:

SORA'S A SLUT

"Did you know that, Taichi? Did you know that your little wife was a slut? She was a whore? Did you know she cheated on you every day? Did you, son?" Allen asked, his voice rising into a crazy screech. Tai looked at Allen with hurt eyes and through his haze barely recognized his face.

he can't be talking to me sora was no whore sora would never cheat on me she loved me sora was an angel sora is an angel sora's watching over me sora loves me sora is my angel he's sora's father he's evil he needs to be stopped i can't stop him i'm not strong i'm weak without sora i need sora sora please come back please save me

"Carve him up if you want to, just don't kill him," Allen told Gray and Hal. Both men nodded eagerly and they began their dirty work.

****************************************************************************************************************************

Half an hour later, they were through.

Tai had blood all over his body. At one time, they had even taken stabs at his private parts. He had screamed, but his screams had only been met with their laughter. At various times, he wondered if anybody could hear him, but then answered himself with 'Nobody cares.'

"Let's get out of here, Boss," Gray said, wondering if anybody was ever going to come. Allen shook his head slowly, staring down at the mangled body that was once Taichi Kamiya.

"You forgot to get him for what you hate him for."

"What's that?" Hal asked, dumbfounded at apparently what his reason for torturing Tai could be.

"Cut his wings, you idiot." Hal nodded.

"Sure thing, Boss." Both Hal and Gray kneeled beside Tai, but this time, they began to hack away at his wings with their knives. They found it was easier to turn him over, so they did so and began to hack away at the thinnest part of them. He began to scream, but there was no one to hear his cries.

Every stroke with the knife felt like a new bone was being broken.

Every drop of blood felt like the last one to drip out of his body.

Every time he heard them laugh, he screamed again.

Every time he saw the color red, he thought of Sora.

i'm so sorry sora i'm so sorry i love you sora i'm so sorry

They were carving away at him like he was a Christmas turkey or something.

"One... more... strand," Hal grunted. "Aw heck." He pitched the knife aside and began to pull on Tai's right wing with all his might. There was a sickening snap and tearing sound as the wing came off. Gray did the same thing with the other, and soon, Tai was wingless.

How cruel it was to pull the wings off of a butterfly! How cruel it was to tear them off of a bird's back! How cruel it was to steal the wings away from Taichi!

"Damn! We can't take them with us, Boss! They're too big!" Hal cried angrily. Allen nodded.

"They are, aren't they? Let them wilt in their master's blood. That should give us enough satisfaction. Do it."

"But Boss-"

"No, Gray. Do it." Gray and Hal looked at each other and threw Tai's wings into the puddles of blood on the floor. "Now let's get out here before we're seen."

"But we're all bloody and people will suspect-" Gray started.

"Not if we hurry. Now let's go!" And without casting a glance behind them, the three men left Taichi in his own blood to die, and Sora already dead in hers.

**********************************************************************************************************************************

Just kill me, God. Please. I want to be with Sora. I need to be with Sora.

Three hours later, the bell rang.

Tai just laid there. He had lost too much blood to move, anyway.

"Hey, Tai! It's me, Kari!"

"And T.K.!"

"And don't forget Ol' Reliable out here. It's cold, Tai. Let us in. I just wanted to check on you and Sora. Come on, now."

kari t.k. joe kari t.k. joe kari t.k. joe

"Tai? You okay, Big Brother? We've got a surprise, or actually two for you! Come on! This isn't funny!" Kari shouted.

"Maybe we should go on in," T.K. suggested.

"Well, I've got to keep my word, so let's go on in," a familiar voice piped up. It was that of an old friend.

"Well, I need to see Sora. We all need a big reunion. If only Izzy would hurry up!" another voice chimed in. It was that of a long lost friend. That of a girl.

"You have a one track mind! Izzy's not the only one to be coming, you know," T.K. said.

"Everyone is," Joe said sternly.

"Jun!" one of the friends piped up. The others groaned.

"We know, we know. What's so important about you seeing her?" T.K. asked. The old friend just smiled.

"That's my surprise."

"Another surprise? You're just full of them today, aren't you, Matt?" Kari asked with a giggle.

"Well, I'm tired of standing here. I'm going in," Joe said.

"Let a woman handle this," the other familiar voice said.

"Since when did you become one of Charlie's Angels, Mimi?" Matt asked. Mimi just laughed, and Joe joined her shortly.

"I've seen her in action. You had better watch out for her." Mimi banged on the door, calling for Tai and Sora. Four figures suddenly began running toward them. It was Davis, Yolei, Cody, and Ken. No Izzy or Jun yet, but they had a little time to go.

"Alright. That's it." Mimi rammed her shoulder into the door and turned the knob at the same time. She was surprised to find it was unlocked.

"Wow. Did we miss something?" Davis asked.

"No. We're just trying to get inside," T.K. said, unconsciously taking Kari's hand in his.

"Well, I hope they like this surprise. Tai and Sora have been long due one," Yolei said. Ken nodded.

"Yes, I think so. Where's Koushiro?"

"You mean Izzy? He should be here soon," Mimi said. They all nodded.

"I haven't seen Tai and Sora in a while. I wonder how they are," Cody said thoughtfully.

"Knowing those two, they're probably cuddling next to each other or in their bedroom," Matt said with a broad grin. Kari's hand flew to her eyes.

"Bad thoughts! Bad thoughts!" Everyone laughed.

"Are we going to go in or what?" Mimi asked. Everyone shrugged and nodded. They all stepped inside Tai's apartment and heard the distant sound of someone calling them.

"It's Izzy!" Mimi shouted. She opened the door again and Izzy flew in.

"Sorry.... I'm.... late," he panted. They all shrugged it off. Another voice began to call, and they all knew it was Jun.

"Matt! Guys! Wait!" she cried. Mimi opened the door again and Jun flew in, her Matt-radar instantly zoning in. She rushed over to him and began to hug and kiss him. They all smiled at the reunited couple began to call for Tai and Sora.

"I know that they're home. The door was unlocked," T.K. said knowingly.

"Tai! Sora! Did they rearrange their furniture or something?" Mimi asked, looking at the couch that laid on it's back and the table that sat cockeyed in the middle of the floor.

"Something's wrong. Sora makes sure everything is perfect," Joe said worriedly. They all walked herded onward to the dining room.

"The chairs are all knocked over!" Davis exclaimed, never failing to state the obvious.

"Oh my God! Is that blood?" Kari asked incredulously, her eyes falling to the kitchen floor. They all looked and walked in that direction.

"TAI!!! SORA!!!!" Matt screamed. They all began to scream at the sight of the kitchen.

i'm alive i really am save sora wait she's dead no she's not dead she's not dead SHE'S NOT DEAD please don't let her really be dead please let it be a dream

"Sora...." Tai moaned.

"He's still alive! Joe! Check on Sora!" T.K. shouted. Joe rushed over to the fallen girl.

"Call an ambulance!" he screamed. Davis dashed for the phone while the rest stood in shock.

"Oh, Tai!" Kari cried.

"Speak to me, Tai! Come on!" Matt shouted at his best friend. This wasn't exactly the kind of thing he had in mind when he came here. Tai looked at Matt barely and managed to croak an answer.

"Sora's.... gone...."

With those two words, Tai began to sob. His body began to shake relentlessly.

"Hang on, Tai! You've got to! Hang on!" Kari cried, tears streaming down her face.

"Is Sora alright?" Mimi asked, her voice thick with sadness and hopelessness.

"I don't... don't think so," Joe said slowly, tears falling down his pale face. Izzy rushed over to Mimi and held her. Matt got up and went to Jun, whose hands were shaking violently. Joe just stood up and looked around him. Ken stood aghast, not believing what he was seeing. Yolei's face was twisted into one that was horror and grief stricken. Davis was almost ready to hyperventilate. Cody stood firm, but his emerald green eyes seemed like they were going to break with the tears they were holding back.

"Hang on, Tai! Hang on, Big Bro! Just hang on!"

In truth, Tai didn't want to hold on anymore.

Tai just wanted to die.

************************************************* END FLASHBACK*******************************************************

And that was how Taichi ended up here.

At Sora's funeral.

Droves of people Sora had met over the years came. All of her cousins from her mother's side and all of Tai's own family. Friends that Sora probably hadn't seen since her first day of kindergarten came, all spouting out apologies for Tai's loss.

He didn't care.

He stood there, in his best suit, staring at the casket Sora was in. It was inside the church right now, but soon, he thought morbidly, microscopic insects would be feeding on her once warm body six feet underground.

He didn't cry. Not at the beginning of the funeral, anyway. He looked around him and saw the digidestined, both old and new. Matt held Jun as her tears were renewed every five seconds. Matt's own eyes were glassy and their blue irises seemed pale and dim. Kari was comforted by T.K., but he looked as though he needed comforting himself. Both of them were in tears. Cody wasn't as easy to shake. His eyes, just as the day they had found Sora and Tai lying in the floor, held back his tears like a poorly made dam. Davis shoulders would rise shakily as he stared at the ground constantly, seemingly not able to grasp what they had just lost. Ken looked as he did when he had lost his brother. Lost. His heart seemed to break in a million pieces. He didn't understand why he felt this way; he had never been particularly close to Sora, but realized with a pang of guilt and sadness that he had been as close to Sora as he had been to Sam. Yolei cried, partly for how guilty she felt for not finding time for Tai and Sora more often than she did and partly for how sad she felt inside. Joe stood stoic. His face was emotionless except for the occasional tear shed for the girl that he had always wanted... but could never have. Izzy and Mimi stood hand in hand, neither crying on the other's shoulder. Izzy had loved Sora as a sister. In his mind, he kept hearing his parents voices talking about him being adopted while he kept seeing the scene where they had found Sora, dead in her own blood, and Tai, nearly dead in his. He kept thinking about how he'd lost another that couldn't be replaced. That couldn't be forgotten. Mimi just thought of the only "sister" that she had thought she had ever had. Yes, Yolei had been a good friend along with Kari, but who had always understood her quirky personality and girlish problems? Well, that one person was gone now, leaving Mimi dazed, confused, and scared.

And then there was Tai. Standing emotionless against the crowd. Joe walked up to his side and followed his line of vision to the coffin. He gulped involuntarily and looked back at Tai, whose eyes seemed to be like brown marbles. Just sitting there, serving no purpose. Joe leaned in closer to Tai so he would be heard.

"You've got to talk again, soon, Tai. We're all so worried," he whispered. Tai showed no response. Joe sighed and shook his head. "You're hurting Kari." Tai turned his head sharply to Joe and narrowed his eyes skeptically, as if saying I'm hurting, too. Joe bowed his head and stepped away. Tai slowly turned his head back to the coffin. The jail cell which held his angel like a spider in a matchbox. He closed his eyes, and a scary image of Sora banging on the inside of the coffin with all her might, trying to get out, trying to reach Tai. For a moment-

(get me out of here! Tai! I need you!)

-he could almost hear her voice calling to him. He opened his eyes with a jolt, but they were misted in renewed sadness. Renewed grief. He took a seat in the front row, Sora's mother sitting not too far behind him. Joe, Mimi, Izzy, Jun, Matt, T.K., Kari, Davis, Ken, Yolei, and Cody sat directly behind him. Tai watched with morbid thoughts as people dressed in black scuttled over to a pew and sat down. A priest sauntered up to the podium and heaved his broad shoulders. He was a younger man, but not too young. He may have been barely all of 35 years, but he showed that he was experienced. He opened his bible, bit his lip, and looked out over the crowd.

More like an audience. All we lack is the popcorn. Then they could just talk during it, making commentary on how much the priest needs a haircut, but still agree that the movie is good. Oh, what was the name of this one? I believe it was something about dying. Obviously! The other person would say. There's a dead person right there. And, oh! The peals of laughter that would rip out from that one! Tai couldn't stop thinking like this. It wasn't good for him, but he couldn't stop it. He just couldn't.

The priest began to speak, but Tai wasn't listening. He was just having flashbacks-

(i love you sora)

-of all the good times they had. Oh, how he missed her! It was really an inadequate word. Missed. That sounded more fit for someone in a soccer game. They missed the ball. No, she wasn't an object to be missed. He needed her. Quite simply put, he needed her. There was a physical need for her. He wanted to be inside her. He wanted to smell the aroma of her hair to make sure she was there. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to spend another night with her to where he could feel her with him. However, the mental and emotional need for her was overwhelming.

"... a friend, a wife, a best friend, a daughter..."

Tai heard the priest say these words and cringed. Daughter. Daughter to whom? She was Ms. Takenouchi's daughter, yes, but her own father had killed her! He may have not flicked his wrist with the knife in hand, but he gave the order. With a grin, too.

"She was to be a mother, but her life was cut too short to fulfill that fate."

Damn right. Her life. A candle. Snuffed out in the October air. October. That was when Sora and Tai had planned to treat the little kids in Halloween masks and candy bags in hand. They. As in them both. Together. That dream was gone. Gone forever.

The service droned on, Taichi and every other person there lost in their own thoughts. Finally, it was time to carry the casket out to her grave. Her tomb. Her resting place.

All of the people in attendance walked out to the cemetery and gathered around a whole in the ground that was soon to hold Sora. Finally, the pallbearers lowered the casket onto a contraption that would lower the box in gently, as not to shake its contents. Tai thought this and almost cried. Its contents were what was his wife. His wife. His lover. His confidant. His best friend. His angel.

The priest mumbled a prayer and continued on with his monotonous speech that made Sora sound like a 90-year-old librarian who had died of old age. Sora had been 25! She had been a part of the team that had saved the world! She had saved Tai before and others like him, and all the priest could say was that "she was a good person"?

Finally, the crowd began to dissipate. Soon, only the digidestined and Sora's own mother stood there.

"Oh God, Sora! I... I... don't know what to say to you now. If only... if only I could of made your life better. Just please remember this, Sora. I love you... with all that I am and I always will. You were an excellent daughter. Smart... funny... loving... Oh, Sora!" her mother cried. She began to cry relentlessly, her shoulder heaving with large sobs. She left, almost running from the grave that held her long lost daughter. Hardly any of the digidestined watched her go. They just stared at the hole, trying not to believe or acknowledge what it held.

Cody was the first to step forward.

"Hello, Sora. Or should I say goodbye? Your death, in a way, has turned my life upside down. I was the one with the sensible, practical head on my shoulders, but now, I'm so confused. Is this the fate that God has for all of us? Making others suffer? Is there a God? Why would He take someone that meant so much to us all? How could...." He paused, linking his hands behind his back. He was only a baby when his father had died, but it seemed like Sora's death had brought on both new pain and old. The sixteen-year-old closed his eyes and then opened them again, trying to compose the words he wanted to say. "How could God take away the person who held us all together?" Finally, the emerald gates that were Cody's eyes gave way to the flood behind them. "How could He take you away?!" he asked angrily. "You were the one that asked us to keep in touch with each other! You were the one that told me not to give up in school when it got tough! You were the one that helped me with my grades!" Cody clenched his fists tightly, almost bringing blood under the pressure that his fingernails were applying to his palms. He was older, stronger, and wiser than he had been, but sometimes primal emotions such as anger and sadness were enough to overwhelm even the level headed. "I don't really think God knows how much you mean to us. I really don't. With all the love I have in my heart right now, I promise that I will never forget you and that I will always come and talk to you. Though you may not answer me, I know you will listen." He wiped at his eyes, linked his hands behind his back, and bowed shortly. "Goodbye, Sora. Rest well." With that, he turned on his heels and began to walk past Tai, but stopped in mid-stride at Tai's side and looked up at him, the tears forming pools at the rims of his eyes. Tai made himself look the boy, who in all fairness should be called a man, in the eye. Cody's eyes switched back and forth against Tai's, as if searching the chocolate seas for a survivor. "I know you miss her, Taichi. We all do, but please don't forget that she's still in your heart. She never left you." Tai's eyes widened. He was not sure if he felt anger, sorrow, or just plain shock at the boy's words. Cody bowed briefly and began to walk back to the church. Tai stared at the empty spot where Cody had been and then back to the grave, his mind now lit anew with thoughts of Sora.

The digidestined, minus Tai, looked at each other. Davis sighed and stepped forward.

"Hey, Sora. I can't believe I'm here. I always thought that... Well, I never thought I'd see you gone so... soon, I guess. Now that you're gone, it's hard to believe it. Why is it so hard to believe anything anymore? I remember hearing you say that you didn't believe in yourself, Sora. I can't recall when, I just remembering hearing it. I remember that it made me feel so... so... I dunno... I guess it made me upset with you. I got mad at you. The one time I can ever remember doing it, either. All because you said you didn't believe in yourself. Man, if I could have only told you this when you said it, but I was too stupid to speak up. I know people have told you this before, but I want to say it now. All those times that you didn't believe in yourself and gave up hope, we all believed in you. Like Cody said, you held us together and that made you worthy of our belief and our hope, if you ask me. Not many people are that... that... strong. You were, though. Man, you were a strong person. I have heard what you have been through, and I have to say you are the strongest person I have ever known. If only... If only I had told you sooner!!! But no! Davis always has to wait until there isn't any more time! Why can't I just say what I mean before it's too late!" He was screaming now, but no one tried to calm him down. Sure enough, as Cody had, Davis made the fire in his heart go down, but didn't make it go away. "I miss you, Sora. I loved you like a sister because you were always there when Jun couldn't be. Yes, I moved away and couldn't come and see you as much, but that doesn't mean I didn't think about you, Tai, and the rest. I missed you all, and now, I miss you more than I ever thought possible. And I guess I will for a long, long time. Hey, one thing, though? Save a seat for me up there in Heaven, okay? And watch out for me? Clumsy Davis would be a job, but... I believe in you, Sora. And I always will." Stunned at the sincerity of Davis's words to Sora, all of the digidestined, minus Tai, gaped. Davis did not look up to see their faces however. His own face was long and full of sorrow. A single tears kissed his cheek briefly as it dropped to the ground. He brushed past Tai, only pausing a moment to look at Tai's weary and sad face. Without another look, Davis ran across the street to the church to meet up with Cody.

This time, the digidestined did not look at each other. It seemed to be the time for the younger digidestined to step forward. In other words, Yolei was next.

"I can't say much. The one time in my life that it could actually count for something, I can't think of anything to say. The first time I can remember you saying anything meaningful to me was the first day I met you. You told me that you'd always be my friend, and you kept that promise, all right. You were more than a friend. A best friend. You were always there for me and my boy problems, as many of them as there were." She giggled slightly, but her laughter turned into a sob as she put her face in one hand. Finally, she looked at the casket. "Now, I wonder if you can hear me. I hope you can, because I don't want this all to be meaningless. You were taken from us for a purpose. I don't know what the hell God has in mind, but it must be something great that He needed a person like you. What Cody said brought something to my mind, though. How could God take you away? I don't think any of us know the answer, nor do any of us want to know. You were a good friend, Sora, and somehow, I think you still are because I think you're still listening to me, somehow, somewhere. I hope time passes quickly, because I want to see you soon. Then we can catch up, you know? Just for old times sake when I used to come and visit with you for a week at a time." Tears fell out of her eyes at a quick rate, but she made no effort to stop them, knowing that now was as good a time as any to let them go. "I can't say I understood how you could be so nice all the time or how you could love anybody or how you could actually live with all of us trampling into your apartment at all hours of the day and night and still put up with us, but I don't have to. That was who you were, Sora, and in a way, still are. In our memories. I'll see you soon." Yolei managed to make herself smile, but she immediately put her head down and walked right past Tai, not even fighting with herself to look at him. He understood why. She was mad at him. Furious. They all were. He hadn't talked from the moment he had reawakened into consciousness in the hospital after they had found Sora. He also hadn't talked to the police. No one had demanded him to tell them yet, because they were all sure that the police would suspect Tai sooner or later, but he knew they would soon. It was soon in coming. Perhaps Joe would be the one to tell him that. He had been the only one so far, besides Cody, that had dared to talk to him like that up front.

The last of the new digidestined stepped forward. It was Ken. He didn't speak for the longest time, his pale face contrasting greatly with his handsome yet sad blue eyes and jet black hair.

"Sora..." he began finally. "That name means sky, does it not? Is that where you are? Are you on some cloud looking down on us? Are you an angel now? Do you have wings made of golden feathers and a soul that is now pure? I don't know the answer to most of that. Your name does mean sky. Rightfully so. The sky's the limit. You had no limits; we all know that." He paused, trying to collect his thoughts. He smiled vaguely, the kind of smile that gives no window into one's thoughts. "I don't know where you are. I hope to God that you're in Heaven. Where you belong. If you're on a cloud, I hope you don't see us down here. We're a pitiful sight without you. I know you'd want us to laugh and play around like we always did, but we can't without you. We just can't." No tears came to his eyes yet, but he was bringing tears to the eyes of the others around him. "As for being an angel, all I know is that you were one to us. You were an angel. Taichi knows that more than any of us here." Tai's head perked up at the sound of his name, his eyes narrowed, barely able to hold back tears. "He was closer to you than any of us could have dreamed," Ken continued, looking straight at Taichi. He looked up at the sky and smiled a more readable smile; that of a person who's desperately trying not to cry. "Wings of golden feathers. I believe you had wings of Kindness and Love. Compassion and Understanding. As for a soul that is pure, that goes without saying. I believe you were almost without sin. As humans, we all commit sins, but you were almost inhuman. Almost." He looked back down at the grave and closed his eyes slowly, taking a deep breath. "I miss you a lot. You were a beautiful girl. So beautiful and pleasant. Friendly. Loving. So loving. I was jealous of Taichi for having you, Sora. So jealous." Ken began to cry, but not with the loud vocalizations. No sobbing, just silent tears that barely kissed his face before falling to the ground. "You told me I had sad eyes." Tai narrowed his eyes at Ken, wondering what he was getting at. "They are still sad, Sora. They always will be. I lost Sam, then my heart, then you. I didn't really lose Wormmon, and I suppose my heart because I got them both back, but I think I lost you and Sam forever. And for the time being.... I believe I've lost my heart again." Everyone but Tai cried at this. They had all lost their hearts. "I still might take you up on the offer about talking to you. Just hang in there. I'm sure I'll use it soon. I hope to see you in Heaven..." He snorted laughter then added quietly, "I think I'm still going through Hell." He paused again, collecting his thoughts for the third time. "I love you, Sora. Find rest in thy slumber, for thou shalt find eternal peace in the arms of God." Ken sobbed loudly, finally losing all the composure that he had tried to keep. He turned and bowed briefly to the rest of the digidestined and then to Tai, who stood separately from the rest of the group. His back was turned to the church, so the digidestined were only walking by him because he was on their way. Yes, it was true. They were furious with him. He wouldn't talk. He wouldn't even tell the police who had murdered his own wife for reasons only he knew. That made them madder than anything. Ken put a hand on Tai's shoulder and frowned. "She deserves justice, Taichi. She at least deserves that." Then, Ken went to meet up with the rest at the church, where the people were finally beginning to leave by bus and by the few cars that had shown up with rich relatives and friends. Tai watched after him and showed no response other than that. He turned back, his eyes falling on the digidestined for only the shortest of moments and then back to the grave which held the only one he'd ever loved.

Now it was time to look at one another to see who was next. Then, reluctantly, Joe stepped forward. He, like Ken, seemed to be speechless at first.

"Hey, Sora. I hope you're all right, now. I hope that you've been taken care of... God, this is so hard." He took off his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt. "I don't know what to tell you. You know how I feel about you. I have told you before. I guess it never hurts to hear again, right?" he asked with a short laugh. He put his glasses back on, brushed his hair out of his eyes, and put his hands deep in his pockets. "You're a beautiful girl, you know that? Actually, you're a woman. The best one I have ever met and will have ever met, I'm certain. Do you want to know how I really feel?" Joe felt his voice crack on the last word, but didn't care. He needed to say what needed to be said. "I love you. Not as a sister. As I would have a soul mate." Tai looked at Joe, not with anger, but with sympathy and compassion. "I remember that I almost had you. Almost. God, sometimes I regretted not doing it, but I couldn't take advantage of you. I couldn't. Do you know how lonely I am without you? Did you know that I have nobody? Did you know I haven't dated a girl ever? Do you know why? Because you stole my heart, Sora. You stole it away from me!" he exclaimed. He was becoming angry with himself and overwhelmed with grief. "I wasn't in love with you when I was eighteen. No, I wasn't. I was in love with you when I was thirteen, true. I had the most amazing crush on you, but I had one on Mimi, too. It was just that part of my boyhood." He chuckled slightly at this, but the force in his voice soon returned. "But I'm in love with you now! I wanted to be with you! I wanted to be the one who knew that you were going to be waiting for me to come home! I wanted to be the one that could hold you in my arms every night! I wanted to be the one!" Tai's expression had not changed. He understood why Joe would have wanted all these things so bad because the feeling was unparalleled. "I wanted you! I wanted to be with you, Sora!" he cried, the tears beginning to pour. "I'm so lonely! I have no one! God made me to fall in love with you. God is the cruelest being to ever have existed! He made me to fall in love with you, but he took you away from me!!!" he screamed. The tears were forming a flood now, not just kissing his cheeks but covering them. "Why, Sora? Why?" he whispered. He rubbed his eyes with a sleeve of his shirt and sighed. "I couldn't show it before, but I can now. When it's too late to matter. Tai deserved you. Fate just wanted to play around with me, I suppose. I wish my heart would have been turned to stone a long time ago. I'm sure it almost was, but you almost certainly caused it to become soft and loving again. I love you so much, Sora, but I know this much... Tai loves you even more." Tai felt no tears run on his face. Cry, dammit! You're not heartless! Cry! You need to! Cry for Sora! But he couldn't. "Watch out for him, okay? And, please, save a seat for me up there? If I get there, that is. God may not be happy with me right now. Please, if I do make it, though, save a seat. I can't wait another eternity without you." Joe kissed his fingers, knelt, and touched the ground with it. "Rest well, Sora. Rest well." Joe got up, looked at the digidestined that stood aghast, and then at Tai, who looked like he was trying to keep from crying, but was actually doing the opposite. "She loved you more than anything. I know that. She always kept her word, Tai. She always kept her word." Joe then shoved his hands deep into his pockets, put his head down and kicked at some rocks, then continued on his way to the church. He walked slowly, clearly thinking about what he had just said, but he didn't know that everyone else was, too. He loved her so much. I'm sorry, Joe, but so did I. Tai turned back to the grave and sighed deeply, trying to make himself cry. The more he tried to make himself, however, the harder it became. Soon, crying seemed as possible as making Sora resurrect from her cold grave.

The digidestined did not look at each other anymore. It was like an unwritten order was taking place, and sure enough, Matt stepped forward, Jun close on his heels.

"Oh, Sora," he said slowly while looking around him and shoving his hands deep into his pockets. The sun was playing hide and seek behind the dismal clouds. Right now, it was shining brightly, but Matt knew that it would disappear again soon. "Well... I tried to keep my word. I came, but I was too late." He swayed a little on his feet. "I felt guilty because I couldn't come, but I promised I would. I kept my promise. For once in my life, I kept my promise. Remember that letter that I sent you? The one about proposing to Jun?" Jun's tears came to a screeching halt as she looked up so sharply at Matt that her neck popped. Everyone else's mouths dropped slightly ajar. Matt looked at Jun, smiling a little. "I was really going to do it. Under happier circumstances, it would have already happened." Jun tried to smile at him, but her mouth wouldn't work. She was too stunned, as were the rest of them. Tai almost smiled, but dark thoughts and painful memories cut off any chances of that happening. "You told me that she almost gave up on me. I knew that would happen, but she didn't, and... I love her for it, among many other things." Jun did manage a smile, but it's brightness was lessened by the tears in her eyes, which were ones not born of joy. "Sora... Do you know how many people gave up on me? Do you? Dad gave up on me a long time ago." He sighed forlornly. "He told me I couldn't do anything but beat on a guitar and I was going to pay for it one day. He said, 'Matt. I wash my hands of you. I love you as a son, but I don't know if I can believe in you anymore. I... I think I'm giving up on you.' Well, that's enough to put a cloud in a kid's sky. He said that to me when I was eighteen and going to graduate. The night before, in fact. I remember that night clearly, because that was the only time my father made me cry since Mom and he divorced. You heard me crying. Jun wasn't there yet. She was going to be, but she got caught in the crowd and couldn't get to me. You were the only one who heard me. At the damn graduation party, too. Right before he dropped me off. I was standing on the curb, crying like a three-year-old. You walked up beside me and told me to go on in, that I was missing the party. You saw my tears and I remember seeing... seeing the pain and agony on your face. Somehow, that hurt more than my father's words ever could have. You told me, 'Please don't cry, Matt. Please don't. I can't stand it when I see my best friend this way.' I told her what happened after the tears tapered off and you smiled. You told me, and I'll never forget this, 'Matt, no matter what he says or anyone says for that matter, I'll never ever give up on you. If you have a dream, follow it. I'll always have your back.' You don't know how much that meant to me, Sora. Jun's been there for me, but that one thing you said I believe has gotten me this far. Not the only thing, but the main thing. The relief of knowing you were always going to be there was enough to make me follow my dream. I followed my dream, knowing that you'd always have my back. You damn well kept that promise, Sora. You did. For that and everything else you did for me, I love you. It kills me to see you like this, but you know what? One day, I'll see you again, and that's enough to keep me going. And, I know that you will always have my back. Always." Matt sighed, made an absent wipe at his eyes, and shoved his hands in his pockets again. He looked at Jun, who stepped up beside him and smiled grimly.

"I didn't know you that well, Sora. I don't know what I can say that will rank up here with your best friends. I don't know if I was considered your best friend, Sora, but I do know that I considered you mine. When I almost gave up on Matt, when I thought that he'd never come home, you told me to hang in there. I'm glad you did, because now I can't see how I could live without him. Thank you, Sora. You helped me become a whole person, and for that, I'm proud to say you were- and still are- my best friend. I hope you rest well. Until the next time I see you, good bye." She linked arms with Matt and made an effort to smile at him. He smiled tearily, and they both began to walk back toward the church. Matt stopped near Tai and put a hand on his shoulder.

"You know, Tai, Sora always had your back, too. If she kept her word to me, I'm sure she'll keep hers to you. All those promises she made, Tai? She'll keep them. She'll keep them forever." He patted Tai's shoulder. Jun tugged gently on his arm and off they went to the church to meet the rest. Tai had a flashback-

(I'll never leave you)

-of the first time he had seen his pocket watch that she had gotten him on their first Christmas together. Some promises were meant to be broken, he thought, and almost felt his heart break again.

Mimi, Kari, T.K., Izzy, and Tai were the only ones left. Finally, Mimi stepped forward. She wiped her eyes impulsively and managed a teary smile.

"You know, Sora, when I was told that I was going to move to America so long ago, I fought with my parents for a week straight. There was no way I wanted to leave. I didn't want to leave any of you. The only life I had ever known was here. I had known that the move was a long time in coming, but it was so... so... hard to actually realize that it was going to happen until we were all at the airport and we were all crying. That's about how I feel today. There was not one bone in my body that wanted to see you gone. None of us wanted you to leave. You were a part of the life that I've always known and an important part of it, too. I'm sure everyone here feels the same way." Everyone nodded, even Tai this time, and the others were surprised to get a response out of him. Mimi saw him out the corner of her eye and continued. "I knew for the longest time that we all had to die. It's just a part of life, a very sad one at that. People die and leave us confused, hurt, sad, angry, and grief-stricken. But, even though I saw you dead in your own kitchen floor, I don't think I actually believed you were gone until today. Until I saw that you weren't going to hug me and ask me about everything that's happened anymore. You're not going to talk me out of all the crazy ideas I have and talk me into the more sensible ones. Not anymore. It's so hard to see you gone, Sora. It really is. I was the spoiled brat of the group. The one whose dad owned most of New York, right? The one who got everything she wanted. Let me tell you, Sora. I would have been worse if it wasn't for you. I would be a bigger brat. I would be 'Daddy's girl' to a point where nothing else would have mattered. But, for the first time in my life and certainly not the last, I didn't get what I wanted. I wanted you to live forever, so I could always talk to you. Yes, that is a selfish wish, but it's what I wanted. Daddy couldn't get it for me, and no one else can, either. You only exist up here," she said as she tapped her temple lightly, "and here." She tapped her heart. "Your physical form will never move again. That fact is a sad one to be acknowledged, but you're free now. You don't have to deal with all the persecution, meanness, and evil in this world anymore. I wait for the day when I get to be free, too, so we can all be together again." Mimi couldn't bring herself to say she loved Sora or that she'd never forget her. There was such a finality to those statements and Mimi couldn't bear to make it seem like she'd never see Sora again. Instead, she said, "See you later, Sora," and promptly walked away, the tears getting heavier with every step away from the grave. She brushed past Tai, glancing up at him and offering a grim smile, but nothing more. She looked at Izzy, who just sighed heavily, and she knew that he would meet up with her soon.

Izzy stepped forward now, not even letting a moment's hesitation go by. After he stepped forward, however, there was pure silence.

"There are so many things that I can do, Sora. You've said that yourself." He paused, glanced at Tai out of the corner of his eye, and then cleared his throat to continue. "I could... give you the statistics on how many ways you could have survived. I could give you the odds that the police would find the person who killed you... with or without help." Tai looked at Izzy, his eyes hard, yet deeply hurt. "I could give you the estimated number of people who believe in ghosts. I could give you the psychological name for all of our grief. I could tell you how many hours I cried when I found out that you were really gone... 16.4, give or take. I can hack into almost any database that might give us a little insight into why you were taken away from us." Izzy gulped. "But there are two things that I can never, ever tell you or do... I can't bring you back." His voice began to shake, tears falling down his cheeks. He was barely able to go on. The tears were making it hard for him to talk. "But I can't tell you how much I miss and love you, Sora. I can't. Words can't describe how much any of us miss you. There is no scientific measurement for that kind of thing. Sure, I could spout off equations at you and maybe I could figure out a round about estimate, but it wouldn't be right. There will be psychologists and scientists who will say that love and grief and anger all just little chemicals in our heads. That they're so small that they can fit inside our brains. Well, I'm telling you they are dead... wrong. The grief I feel is almost swallowing me. The anger I have in my body is almost enough to break me down. The love I have... Well, I have enough of that to love you and everyone else here. That is a lot. It takes a lot of heart. I miss you so much!" His voice was breaking down with sobs and tears. "So, so much, Sora! I never thought death would have this effect on me. Especially after I found out my real mother and father were dead and I was adopted. Yes, it hurt, but I didn't know them like I know you. I didn't know that they even existed until I accidently overheard them talking. But you, Sora. I knew you existed, and you still exist, but not where we all want you to be. You were supposed to stay with us. I imagined that some conspiracy would kill us all at the same time, you know? We became digidestined together, so I believed we should die as digidestined together. I was so wrong. So wrong. I have never been this wrong in my life. Maybe you set off a chain reaction, but I don't care. I'll be glad to die now. Just so I can get rid of this pain. Just to get rid of it..." Izzy wiped his eyes and tried to continue, but faltered. He took a deep breath and sighed. "I hope to see you in Heaven. Save me a good pair of wings. Watch out for me. I would trust my life in no other angel's hands... at least at the moment." He managed a small smile. "I love you, Sora. Sleep well." Finally, Izzy gathered enough will to make his legs move. He walked up to Tai and frowned. "Say something, Tai. Anything." Tai just looked at Izzy. "You're in there somewhere, Tai. We need you. Don't die on us. Please." With that, Izzy walked away with Tai casting a glance after him. Izzy knew what was happening to him, and Tai knew it. Somewhere inside the stoic physical body, Tai was dying. Shriveling up and blowing away. Izzy had just told him not to die spiritually, but Tai wasn't sure that he could reverse the process that had already begun.

Only Kari, T.K., and Tai were left. T.K. sighed and stepped forward, Kari close at his heels. She squeezed his hand before letting go. She loved him more than anything, and vice versa. It killed them both to see the other so sad. Literally. Their love was like Tai and Sora's after all, but their own was special in another way. Hope and Light were dependant on each other long before they had met, and only they knew it.

"Hey, Sora." T.K. made a small smile. Kari thought it brightened the day just a little bit. "You were my mom for almost a year. Remember that?" He paused and sighed deeply. "Of course you don't. You're gone. All of this happened so fast, you know? All I knew was that I was going to go see my girlfriend's brother and his wife, which are both my best friends, with the rest of the guys and we were going to surprise you. The next thing, I'm standing here talking to you in your grave." He paused again and shoved his hands deep into his pockets, a gesture that had been repeated by him all through the day. "What happened, Sora? What the hell happened? You were like my sister. I loved you almost as much as Matt. Heck, I did love you as much as Matt. You were my sister and he was my brother. I didn't care about my technical relation to you. You were my sister. Period. Now... Dammit, Sora! How did this happen? What happened to you? Well, whatever the hell happened to you, it affected us almost ten times worse! Look at us? Look at Tai! Look at Izzy and Joe and Matt and Jun and Kari and Mimi! Cody and Davis! Yolei! Me!" he exclaimed. Kari almost stepped at his side to calm him down, but thought better of it. T.K. never swore this much unless he was really upset, and there was no reason he shouldn't be. He had just lost his best friend. T.K. didn't speak for a moment or two. His hands flexed from fists to half fists, fists to half fists over and over again. Finally, his breathing became stable and he was able to speak. "I miss you, Sora. I miss you a lot. Who can I talk to now? Kari, yes. My heart will always be open to her. Always. But you were always there for me, too. I know there have always been others there for me, but you were always one of them. Now you're.... gone. I remember the one time that you looked at me like a man. I remember that day because that was the same day I almost got myself killed because of some... hysterical notion." Kari immediately knew the day he was referring to and frowned. That day had been replayed in her dreams continuously, but in the end, T.K. never made it. "You opened your heart to me. You trusted me with it. You trusted me. You loved me. I know you did, because the Sora I knew didn't let her feelings be known to someone she didn't have some kind of feeling for. You loved me, Sora. I'll be damned if I don't realize it when it doesn't matter, but I think I've always known it. You trusted and loved me. I think it's only fair that I tell you that I love and trust you, too. My heart belongs to Kari, yes, but part of me belongs to you. It always has. I love you, Sora Kamiya. I really do. I'll miss you until the day I see you. I hope I don't have to go long without seeing your face, however. Living without a friend like you is too painful. A best friend like you. A sister like you..." T.K. sighed and absently wiped at tears that had strayed from his eyes. "Good bye, Sora. Until we meet again." He made a small wave with his hand and stood stock still. Kari sighed.

"I'm not going to leave you, T.K.," she whispered. He shook his head and looked at her, smiling.

"I hoped not. Let me say something to him," he said, gesturing with his eyes toward Tai. She nodded and watched as he walked over to her brother, who didn't even acknowledge the boy with a glance. T.K. stopped beside Tai and looked at him with narrowed eyes. Tai still didn't acknowledge him. T.K. shook his head and turned to face Kari, linking his hands behind his back. He nodded at her to go on, and she nodded back. She stepped forward and sighed again, this time heavily and forlornly.

"Oh, Sora. I wish you weren't like this. I wish I could bring you back. I wish. I think I'd sell my soul for a chance to bring you back to make everyone happy again." She paused and then added under her breath, "To make Tai happy again." Tai looked at her, the tears finally seeping from his eyes. Finally, he understood why he hadn't been able to cry. He had been too devastated, broken, confused, dazed, grief-stricken, angry, sad, and lovesick to cry. Now, instead of calming some of those emotions so he could cry, he had reached a new level of emotions that allowed him to cry. He had become more broken, devastated, confused, dazed, grief-stricken, angry, sad, and lovesick. That may not have seemed possible, but wings sprouting from the back of a seventeen-year-old boy seemed impossible too, had it not? "I think there are two people out of all of us that actually had a chance at bringing you back. Tai and I, I believe, were those two people. I was a choice because of this God forsaken power that I have. I have the power to heal, destroy, and give life. Tai was the other because he was linked with you. Kind of like if he had stayed alive when you died, he could bring you back for simply living. But I'm not a possible choice anymore because it's been too long. He's not anymore because he died when you did. I think it literally killed him to see you go." Tai's tears began to fall at a more rapid rate. He was bleeding his heart dry, it seemed, but he didn't care anymore. Kari was right. He had died. His heart had died. His soul and spirt had died. He was gone. He was dead inside. Well, maybe not dead, but he certainly wasn't living. Kari sighed deeply. "I always thought I'd be the one that would die first." T.K.'s eyes filled with tears anew. That, he would be ashamed to admit, was what he had thought, too. It had plagued him for the longest time, but he never said a word about it. "I was always sick. You even took care of me in the Digiworld once. T.K., too. You were always there to take care of me, Sora... and now you're not. Maybe you're watching out for me... I hope, anyway. I hope that you are because it would be too painful to think that you could never be there for me again. That you could never... watch out for me again. I hope you watch out for me, Sora. Please, if you can. I wish I could have helped you, but hopefully you're in a better place now. I wish I knew someone who could shed some light on the subject of death, you know? Like why we have to die and make everyone sad and bitter. It's not fair," she said softly. "Life's not fair, though. It never is. Things never turn out the way they're supposed to. Well, maybe I exaggerated, but I think, if you're listening, you know what I mean." Kari paused and linked her hands behind her back. She broke the connection only to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear, but then she rejoined them. She gently rocked on her feet, like the child she used to be when she couldn't think of anything to say or got into trouble. "I never thought that I wouldn't have anything to say to you, Sora, but I think my time to talk has run out... At least for now, anyway. I just want to say that I love you like the sister I never had, Sora, and I hope that the next time I see you, it's in a better place and all of us are there. That way we can all be a family again. But, I believe, until that day..." Kari sighed and wrinkled her nose, trying to keep her tears back, but they came out anyway. With a large sob, she choked out, "I don't think we can live again." Finally, she broke down into large sobs and tears. T.K. rushed to her side and wrapped his loving arms around her shoulders in a warm embrace, whispering that it would be okay and that he loved her more than anything into her ear. She put her ear against his chest to hear the strong heartbeat and put her hand against him so she could feel his chest rising and falling. She grasped his shirt in her grip as the tears came harder and the sobs became louder. He just rocked her back and forth, gently kissing her and whispering into her ear. That was it for Tai. He began to sob even louder than Kari. At that moment, though none of them noticed, the sky grew dark, almost as if on the whim of an eclipse. Kari and T.K. looked at him, her own sobs not completely stopping but quieting down a lot.

Tai looked at his little sister and it almost looked as though he died completely at that moment. Like everything was given up in that one second..

It's all because of me! If I could have just gotten up and saved her! If I could have only been brave and strong! If I could only have another chance!

But all of Taichi's chances were gone, and he knew that. It was like it just became final when he saw his sister.

I'm causing everyone's pain! If Sora had a man she deserved, not me, she would still be alive and well! It's all my fault!!!"

Kari came running up to him and wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders and felt his body shudder with the pain and torture the sobs were bringing to his weakened, poor body. He had only eaten what the people in the hospital had fed him through tubes and nothing but. That had been almost four days ago. His body just wouldn't let him eat. They had kept her body for two days, poking and prodding to find any "clues", but Tai knew none would be found. Almost as if his mind was teasing him, he remembered that the men had worn gloves. Tai's own body had bandages everywhere under the suit, and almost everyone who had seen him before knew it. He was in pain, and his crying was only making it worse.

"Tai! Talk to me! Please!" Kari cried, hoping maybe he would open up and let it everything go. Let it all go. "Say something, Tai!" she sobbed. With a final cry and sob, Tai pushed her away, something that he had only done a few times in his whole life, but only out of playfulness. Now, it was out of almost deadly seriousness. She staggered backwards, a look of shocked surprise on her face as T.K. stood behind her, his own face covered in shocked disbelief in what Tai had done. "But Tai! Don't push me away! Look at me!" Kari screamed. Tai looked at her face reluctantly and tried to make her see that he didn't mean it, that he was just upset and wanted to be alone. After living with her brother for fourteen years of her life, she knew exactly what that look meant. "Come on, T.K.," she whispered as she took his hand and led him away. T.K. looked at Tai with something the 25-year-old man couldn't decipher. Was it anger or sympathy? Or both? Tai could have cared less if T.K. was feeling either. Tai turned his head away from T.K. and Kari so violently that he almost got whiplash, as if to make sure Sora was still there.

Indeed, she was.

Tai looked at the casket for some amount of time. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? He didn't think it had been that long, but he had no idea how long it had been. He opened his mouth and took in a deep breath of October air. There was a minute thought-

(just hold it hold it and don't let go just hold it until your lungs burst and then sora will sweep you away sweep you away)

-but it passed soon. He let out the breath and the thought blew away with it. He closed his mouth and took a deep breath through his nose. He felt a cool breeze hit his cheeks with a stinging force against the wetness. He let out the breath he had held in and closed his eyes. He took off his coat and threw it on the ground. After only a short pause he took off his shirt, revealing bandages and bruises all over his tanned body. He let his hands hang limply at his sides. He looked at the casket again and sighed wearily.

With a quick, shaky breath, Tai uttered the only word that would come to his mind:

"Sora..." he croaked, his voice sounding strained and cracked. It had been ten days since the last word he had spoken, so the foreign sound that had been uttered deep from within his throat had a reason. "Sora..." This time it was stronger, but still weak and strained, reflecting the present state of Tai himself. He took a deep breath and, without thinking, spoke.

"You lied to me." Part of him was so shocked at this statement that it wouldn't register what he had said, but part of him, a darker part that had come out only a few times in his past, knew what it wanted to say and was going to make Tai say it. He felt a sudden burn inside of him. It was a familiar feeling. It was his anger. And it was becoming an inferno for reasons unknown to Tai.

"You lied to me!!!"he screamed. The scream had been so loud and strained that Tai felt his throat tighten in pain, his ribs contract with a sudden squeezing motion, and him feel slightly dizzy. He slumped to the ground, the tears beginning again. "You lied, Sora! You lied!" he cried, his body shaking violently with the after-shock of his anger and the beginnings of his new found sorrow. He dug in his pockets with a sudden, shaky motion and jerked out a silver object that gleamed in the dark light of the cloudy skies. The pocket watch. "You said you'd never leave me! You promised, Sora! You promised!" The tears streamed down his face in continuous beads.

Finally, the part of Tai's brain that had been shocked with his first statement began to retaliate full force.

You're the one that promised that they wouldn't do anything to her! You're the one that promised that you'd never hurt her! You're the one that said that you loved her, but you let her die! Who broke their promises, Taichi? Who?

Oh, the truth that his mind spoke was almost enough to make him die right there. He had promised all of those things and so much more to Sora, but how many of them had he kept? How many?

"Sora, I'm so sorry... I'm such a.. a.. jerk... You can't even defend yourself, dammit! Look at me! I'm trying to... to..." He broke off with a large sob, his tears seemingly becoming heavier and heavier. "They took my wings, Sora. They took them away! They took what we had! They took you away from me! They wouldn't have if... if... if they knew how your eyes sparkle in the dimmest of lights or how your hair would fall in your eyes while you read or how you would take one hand and tuck your hair... behind your ear.... Or if they knew how white your skin is.... How delicate your body is... how those hands could make me tremble at their touch... if they knew how softly you could walk through the house, but I'd always know you were the-" Tai stopped mid-sentence. Someone was there. He could feel it. They were watching him, too. They were watching him closely.

Tai got up from the ground slowly, his bandages irritating the open wounds on his body. His body, especially his bare chest, became colder and colder, as if death itself was entering Taichi's body. A thought-

(sora)

-crossed his mind, but he dismissed it quickly out of skepticism and disbelief.

She's gone, Tai. Don't try to fool yourself.

As saddening of a statement it was, it was the truth.

"Who are you?" he demanded, looking around him. He didn't realize how weak he sounded, or, being the proud man he was, wouldn't have spoken at all. He felt someone watching him, yes, but it wasn't exactly like it was threatening. It was more comforting than anything. Like something that was lost had just been found. His mind suggested-

(sora)

-the same thought, but he pushed it away again, though not as quickly. He thought he was sure that it wasn't her; she was dead, but how could he be sure of anything anymore? Could he be?

"I know you're there!"

If you know I'm here, then why do you say I broke my promise?

What the heck was that? It sounded like it was inside his head, but it sounded... as crazy as it seemed, it sounded like... like... her. Tai's eyes widened and he became a little bit more excited about the situation.

"S-S-Sora?" he asked the air, his tone desperate and pleading. He looked around him with apprehension. Was this some trick his mind was playing on him? He was willing to risk it. His eyes scanned the casket, then left it quickly. If it really was Sora, her soul wouldn't be in there. There were rows and rows of tombstones, but he saw nothing that could be Sora.

I never left you, Tai. I will never leave you.

Tai's hands flew to his head. Were these just voices in his head, or his only love?

You can find me, Tai. Just look. Open your eyes and see me.

He was almost convinced that he was hearing things. He was a heartbroken man, and his mind was trying to tell him that the voice wasn't real. It was easy enough to say, but it wasn't as easy to believe. He closed his eyes and then opened them slowly in concentration. He gasped.

There she was.

Sora.

"Sora!!! Oh, Sora!" he shouted, his heart overflowing with joy and love. Tai began to run to her, but stopped dead in his tracks, realizing what was wrong with this picture.

She stood there, her hands hanging limply at her sides. She was naked; her purest form. He could see her beautiful figure, her red hair, her crimson eyes, her lips which had kissed him so many times and those hands. Those hands which had been delicate enough to handle roses with care, but strong enough to help be a mother for seven children in the digital world.

But she was a ghost.

"Sora...." Tai moaned, realizing that all he could do was look, but not touch. But how he wanted to touch her! He wanted to feel her close to him again! He wanted to know she was there. Why couldn't God, Fate, and Destiny leave him alone? Why couldn't he and Sora just be???

I never left you, Tai. Her lips moved, but the sound came from inside Tai's head.

"Please come back, Sora! I love you!" he cried. Sora's ghostly image looked pained.

You know I can't. It's forbidden.

"Don't tell me that! So many things were forbidden, but don't you remember how many of those things we did anyway? Remember how it turned out? We were in love!" he cried, not wanting to accept the truth to Sora's words.

We still are, Tai. We never stopped being in love. The ghost managed a small smile that was born more of pain and suffering than of happiness.

"Come back to me!" he wailed, still not accepting that Sora was gone.

Do you love me, Tai?

Tai looked at her blankly.

"Of course I do, Sora! I love you so much it hurts me! My heart... it's dying... I'm dying without you!" he moaned. Sora's face contorted in pain as she looked away from him, her ghostly red hair swinging ever so slightly. She looked back at him and he saw tears in her eyes.

Then let me go.

For a moment, the words didn't sink into Tai's mind. Slowly, their true meaning began to seep in, and Tai didn't like what she meant at all. In fact, he hated it.

"No! I can't let you go! I love you! I need you! I need you by my side! I can't go on without you!" he whimpered. Sora's ghostly hand reached up and tucked her hair behind her ear. She took a step toward him. Tai felt his heart jump from 60 to 100 in three seconds, but he stayed still. She took two more steps, moving ever so slowly. She was being so graceful. Tai felt mesmerized by her movements. She came two steps closer until she was within reaching distance. He stretched his hand out to her. All he wanted was-

( i just need to touch her)

-to know that she was really there. She glanced at the pleading, needful look in his eyes and stretched out her own hand, holding private hope that maybe, if they did touch, she could be with him again. She wanted nothing more than to be with the only man she had ever loved. Tai felt his heart speed from 100 to 150 as their hands became only five inches apart... three... one... They were hoping... needing... wanting... yearning for this to happen....

They passed right through each other.

As if to torture both souls even longer, their hands passed through each other. Sora's face contorted in such emotional pain that it didn't even look like her anymore. Tai felt his heart shatter again. It was as if his heart would rebuild itself time after time only to be shattered by another broken dream. He looked up at Sora's pained face with pain sketched into his own. She looked deep into his eyes, her crimson eyes transparent but just as effective as they had been when she was alive.

Just let me go.

Tai managed to keep the eye contact with her. He even made a small smile.

"But I can't, Sora. I... I love you..." he whispered. She smiled sadly.

Tai, stop this. Just let... me... go...

"If I let you go, I'll go, too. I can't live without you anymore." Sora's face became contorted in horror.

You can't kill yourself, Tai! People who do that don't go to Heaven! I can't live in Eternity without you! Don't do that to me! Sora seemed to scream in his mind. Tai's face remained neutral.

"I won't kill myself. I'll just... die," he said simply. She looked deep into his eyes.

You're making it worse, Tai. Just let me go! I'm not supposed to be here anymore. Just let me go and we can be together again.

Tai's face faltered. He felt hot tears building up in his eyes.

"Do you know what they called you, Sora? Do you know what your own father called you?" he asked suddenly. Sora's ghostly shoulders heaved slightly, a motion that would be caused by sighing. She didn't reply. "Look at this." Wincing, he ripped the bandage of his stomach. Sora's eyes shut tightly as she looked away. The skin on his stomach was ragged, but you could still make out the horrendous message Allen Takenouchi had left as a reminder of what had happened that day. "After what we went through, you want me to let you go? After what I went through? After what you went through?" he asked incredulously. With her eyes still closed, she turned back to face Tai. She opened them slowly.

Just let go.

"Do I have to?" he asked with a childish sort of tone.

We'll be together. He looked away from her.

I promise. He whipped his head back to her and managed a hopeful yet teary smile.

"Then I know it's true." She smiled at him, but it was so sad that it seemed to break Tai's heart all over again. He made another attempt to touch her hair, but recoiled when he remembered that he wouldn't feel anything but pain. She was there, but she wasn't. So close, yet so far away.

"I'll just have to let you go." The hot tears threatened to tumble down his cheeks. Sora's ghostly image tried to touch his cheek. He leaned into the hand, but it passed through his cheek with a chilling sensation. Suddenly, a strong wind began to blow. It made Tai's jacket and shirt whip in the wind.

I love you, Tai. Never forget.

The wind was blowing Tai's hair back. Sora's image began to fade away in the October wind. With an abrupt thought, Tai took as deep a breath he could and held it.

( i can't just let you go sora please don't leave me i love you so much please don't leave me again)

A pained and grief-stricken voice came through in Tai's mind.

Learn to let go. Tai. You're making it harder.

Upon hearing the grief in Sora's voice, Tai exhaled all the breath in his lungs. He saw red sparks come out of his mouth and watched as the wind carried them away. He saw that they looked like red fireflies. As they got further away, they faded into white, and soon, they were gone. She was gone.

But, if promises were to be kept, it wouldn't be forever.

Still, the pain of her really being gone hurt him so, so much. He wrapped around his arms around his shivering body and slumped to the ground again, beginning to cry.

When the first hot tear rolled from his cheek, the skies opened up and poured out rain.

The rain didn't stop for the next week.

And neither did Taichi's tears.

**********************************************************************************************************************************

"Please talk to me, Tai! Don't you know you're hurting all of us? We love you!" Kari cried. All of the digidestined, both old and new, stood at her side with similar concerned faces. Tai stood in his living room, his hands placed limply at his sides, staring at his sister blankly. He hadn't talked since to them since before Sora died, and didn't plan on doing it anytime soon. The group, out of worry and love, had been making individual efforts to pull him out of his depression, but this was the first time that they had all ganged up on him like this. Izzy stepped forward slowly. He wasn't very tall, but his voice had grown deeper, giving him a mysterious power to silence others when he spoke.

"Look at yourself. It's very likely that you're not eating. Why are you doing this to yourself? Why don't you just eat to make yourself better?" he asked. Tai didn't respond. His blank stare, one that would mimic a deer in headlights, remained on his face. Takeru stepped forward, his hand still latched with Kari's.

"We miss her, too. We loved her. We still do, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go on." Tai looked at the boy -man- with thoughtful yet hurt eyes. Joe stepped forward himself.

"T.K.'s right. We shouldn't... we shouldn't make ourselves suffer. We should try to make our lives better.... Even if it isn't possible, we need to make an effort. You need to make an effort," he said softly. Tai looked at him with the same expression he had given T.K.

"It's been a month, Tai. We know it's hard to live without her, but we all need to go on. It's very hard living without her. We know how you feel," Matt said after a period of silence. The expression in Tai's eyes changed from hurt thoughtfulness to blazing fury. The look was so heated that everyone unconsciously took a step backward. Excruciating silence followed.

"You... know how I feel? How can you say that???" he asked angrily. There was shocked silence, both from the sudden burst of words from Tai and the harshness of them. "Matt... Do you know what I saw? Do you know what it feels like to... to... watch as they slit your wife's throat? Do you? Do you???" he screamed. Matt said nothing while Jun clutched his arm impulsively. They were all in shock. "Do you know what they did to her? Do you know what they did to me? Do you know what he wrote? Do any of you know?" he asked, his voice growing dangerously quieter. They all exchanged confused glances. What was he talking about? Tai pulled of his shirt, making a small ripping sound as the fabric stretched to the breaking point. Kari shut her eyes quickly and looked away when she saw his figure. Where there had once been muscle, there were now ribs showing through his skin. He looked as though he had gone through a concentration camp. He was pure bone. Why was he not eating? Simple: that was Sora's kitchen, not his. She didn't like it when he went in there. Since she wasn't there to give him permission, why should he go in? His friends had invited him to dinner a few times and he had gone, but other than that, no food had passed his lips. "Look at me, dammit!" he screamed. Kari made herself look at her brother's poor, mutilated body. There were still bandages on his body where wounds had become infected. There was one large one that covered most of his chest and stomach. With one quick, furious motion, Tai ripped it off his body. Shocked gasps and muffled cries came from the digidestineds' mouths.

"How... how could anyone... write that?" Mimi asked herself aloud. Tai heaved his shoulders, which shuddered with dissipating fury. Ken's eyes narrowed dangerously.

"Anything human, don't you mean. Nothing with a heart can do something so evil. I know," he said lowly, his heart aching a little at the memory of his past crimes. He had atoned his sins, but the thought of all the evil that had once been in his heart was enough to make him regress to his former self: self-loathing and detached. But Sora, when she had noticed the look in his eyes and invited him to become a part of their "family", had helped him change that aspect of himself. And that is why her death had affected him so. Why it felt as though when things were going right that it was all going to fall apart all over again. Ken snapped himself out of his thoughts and turned his attention to Tai, who was seething with anger.

"He could... He... That bastard!!!" he screamed and slammed his fists into the nearest wall. Kari stepped forward, releasing T.K.'s hand to come to her brother. She placed her hands on his weary, broken face.

"Who, Tai? Tell us... Please..." she whispered. Tai leaned his face into her hands and put one of his own over hers. He shut his eyes, as though painful thoughts were plaguing his mind. He shook his head and drew out of her grasp.

"Please, Tai. Whoever did it deserves to be caught. A man must face the consequences of his wrong-doings," Cody said wisely.

"They can't catch him," Tai whispered, his eyes still closed in pain. Mimi sighed.

"They killed Sora, and you would rather let that man walk free?" Tai shook his head.

"No. I would rather kill that man with my own two hands." Davis' hands began to loosen and tighten instinctively.

"I know I'm not smart, but I know that you should want him to suffer for a long time, not just for a little bit. Send him to jail where he can't hurt anyone else, Tai," he said, trying to change Tai's mind. The 25-year-old man sighed, weary of suffering for his wife's murderer. The men that killed her did need to suffer.

"What kind of man would you be to just let him go, Tai?" Yolei asked suddenly, not sure if her usual blunt self was the best thing to persuade Tai, but apparently, it was. Tai's eyes were still clenched in a painful matter.

"He made her suffer. Sora didn't deserve that. She... She loved me... I loved her. I still love her. She didn't deserve any of this! She didn't deserve to die when she was afraid... scared... helpless... She deserved to die strong and brave... That bastard took it away from her!!!" he screamed. Everyone impulsively took a step back except Kari.

"Who, Tai?" He sighed.

"Her father."

There were shocked gasps and muffled cries all over again, but Tai didn't care. He had said it. He had done what they had asked.

He slumped to the floor and curled into the fetal position. He began to rock back and forth with all of his friends -family- looking on. Slowly, they all crowded around Tai and kneeled beside him. Kari wrapped her hands around her brother's shaking shoulders as the rest of them put a hand on his back or on his shoulders.

There they stayed, comforting Tai, being there for him, loving him, until many hours had passed.

Not one of them said a word.

**********************************************************************************************************************************

Tai... had had... enough.

The police couldn't find Allen, as he knew they couldn't. They kept asking him questions. Being a lawyer, he knew how the police worked, and he knew that they wouldn't quit until they had run it into the ground.

All of the digidestined, which their relations with each other were more like family than what they had with there biological ones, had tried to move on, but they just seemed to be falling apart. The chain had been broken. And to make matters worse, it wasn't the weakest link. It was one of the strongest.

All Tai wanted was Sora. He could feel death approaching him. He almost welcomed it, but remembered-

( people who do that don't go to heaven)

-what Sora had said and dismissed the idea.

In all truth, he hadn't been working on committing suicide. The simple truth was, without Sora, he was going to die. She had been inside him, and her death just took away that secure feeling that he had always had. If only he hadn't of been so stupid and just moved away when he had the chance.

But how can you leave a place you love and still be happy?

Sora was happy. That's all that mattered.

Was she really, though? He did remember her saying that she was so worried about never seeing him again, afraid that he would get killed and-

No, she hadn't been happy. She had been miserable the last few months of her life, and he knew it.

And it was all... his... fault.

Tai sat down at his kitchen table and sighed heavily. It was almost time to go. He could feel it. Almost, not quite, but almost. That was better than not even being close. He grabbed a pen and a piece of paper. With another sigh, he began to scratch out a note.



To all I hold dear and close to my heart, which is every single one of you:

I can't believe it has come to this. I never dreamed that any of this would happen, but whoever says truth is stranger that fiction was right. So, so much stranger.

Don't cry for me. Any of you. I'm weak. I'm tired. And I'm ready to go home. I'm ready to go home to Sora.

I know I didn't eat, but don't say I committed suicide. It's just not true.

Without Sora, I lost part of my soul, spirit, heart, and mind. You can't survive with only half of your body. You just can't. I remember when we were at the funeral and you all were giving your farewells to Sora, Kari said I died when she did. Little Sis, you were right. You always were. My Little Sis. You and Sora were the only sensible ones in the Kamiya family.

Excuse the teardrops on this paper. They are shed for how much I will miss you.

To all: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Really, I can't. You all mean so, so much to me. Izzy, Kari, T.K., Joe, Cody, Davis, Ken, Yolei, Matt, Mimi, and yes, even Jun. Sora loved you all. She never stopped talking about you. I think that if any of you had died, the effect would have been the same. I think Sora's death did set off a chain reaction. We're all going to die soon, I believe. I just came after Sora, that's all. Soon, we'll all be together. All over again. Please don't cry! This isn't a sad ending. It's not an ending at all. It's only the beginning.

I'm so tired. It's getting hard to write this. I really need to rest. Get some sleep, you know? I believe you all know the hidden meaning in that statement, but maybe it's best not to be so blunt- right, Yolei?

Oh, I love you all! I do! You are all so close and dear to my heart, I don't know what I would have done without any of you by my side. What would life have been like if we had never met each other? Well, I can say that I might already be dead. I might not have made it this far.

I love you, Sis. Never forget ya, Joe. See you soon, Matt. Take care of the cool man, Jun. Protect her, T.K. You'll find happiness soon, Ken. Never forget your heart, Davis. Believe in the impossible, Izzy. Don't ever let the world bring you down, Cody. We'll all be together soon, Mimi. It won't be long, Yolei. And to all of you: Remember who you love, and in the end, you will never lose them. Even if it seems you will, Heaven will await all of you.

Never, ever end it all by your own hand. Never. People who do that don't go to Heaven because they're cowardice and selfish. Be brave and strong.

I want to see Sora so badly. She is what I need now, but I'm sure I will need you soon. Oh, I need you now, but you can't be near me all the time. I need her most of all, however, and to her, my soul departs.

I don't know when they will find my body. I don't know when you will find this note. Just remember, I love you all. With what is left of my heart, soul, mind, and spirit, I love you all.

With all my love,

Tai

P.S. I can tell you for a fact that Sora heard what you said at her grave. I know she was there. I know because I felt her. I saw her. Please don't ever think that she wasn't there, because she was, and she loves you all just as much .

*********************************************************************************************************************************

Tai placed the note, rather letter, in an envelope on the table labeled To My Loved Ones.

"And I thought the hardest thing I would ever have to write would be a closing statement," Tai said with a small grin, wiping his tears away with a swipe of his hand. Time was drawing closer. He could feel it coming. His system was so tired; so weak. The time couldn't be much longer anymore.

He reached for his jacket to go out walking, but thought better of it. He rushed to his and Sora's room, opened a drawer, and began to rummage through it with the vigor of a bull in a china shop. He pulled out the green shirt. So worn and faded, but for every shade lighter it was than the original, there was more love in it. He took off the shirt he had been wearing and changed into the green one, the corner of his lips tugging into a smile. Almost time. Almost.

He turned and looked at the awards on the walls. How talented she had been! She was smart, funny, athletic, and gifted. So gifted. All Tai had were leadership skills and a couple of good feet for soccer. Yeah, there were the MVP award and the Employee of the Month award, but he could live without those. What he couldn't live without was Sora.

He walked to the front door of his apartment with a certain air of happiness that hadn't been with him in months. His mind was alive again, as if revived by the very thought of feeling Sora next to him again. His thoughts fell to their unborn child. His mind lit up with a question that he hadn't asked himself before:

Would he get to see his child?

What a wonderful thought! His child! He might get to see his child! What a wonderful, wonderful thought! He hoped it was a girl. A boy might be a little hard to take care of; especially if he was going to be anything like he had been. Then again, Sora had been able to take care of Tai later on, even though he was sure he had been a handful to her when they had been younger. He grinned his famous grin and walked out the door, closing it gently behind him. Sora used to scold him when he banged in close. He didn't want to be met with a scolding his first day in eternity. If possible, his grin got wider as he walked down the hall. A door labeled STAIRS was at the end of it. That was where Tai was headed.

That was the only way to the roof.

Tai approached the door and reached for the door handle. His hand rested there, his mind wondering what fate lied before him. Without anymore thoughts, he pressed down on the handle, opened the door, stepped through to the other side, and began to climb eight flights of stairs.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

Tai opened the door marked PERSONNEL ONLY: NO TRESPASSING panting and stepped out into the freezing January air. It was a startling change from his hot, sweating face, but it was welcomed. He began to take deep, long breaths and retained his smile. He put his hands on his hips and began to walk about the roof, having a vague sense of deja vu`, but he didn't want to think about that. The past few times he had gone anywhere near a roof, someone had almost gotten killed.

He walked to the edge and rested his arms on the railing, staring out over the sleeping city. Nighttime. He remembered once he had surprised Sora after she had gotten home from working in the flower shop. That had been their senior year in high school. He had taken her out through the streets of Odaiba, hand in hand, stargazing, whispering into her ear, and listening to the sweet sound of her voice as she said, "I love you, Tai."

I hope I don't have to wait long to hear that again.

He stuck his hands in his pockets and felt his right hand hit something a hard object. He grabbed it, pulled it out, and smiled. The pocket watch. The thing that Sora had given to him on their first Christmas together. The year that he had almost lost her, but their love had beat everything. Even death. He remembered cheating death. It had happened so fast. Nothing had seemed to happen. One moment, he was hugging Sora, telling he loved her with everything he was, the next he was being offered death. He had a hunch it would go slightly slower now. He didn't want to leave this world as much as he seemed to. He loved his friends -family- but he needed Sora. That's where he was supposed to be. With her. He examined the pocket watch with silver casing as it gleamed in the moonlight. It was so bright that it almost blinded Tai, but he made himself look at it. He put it back in his pocket and sighed. He felt the sudden urge to say something poetic, but his mind was blank. He tried to go on what little his mind could come up with.

"Sora?" Silence. He sighed again. "There will be a time when a second passes into the past, and at that second, I will become the past. I will be gone from a world where time exists. I will be gone forever to a place where I can exist with you. My heart is dying. I am dying, Sora. I need you with me; there is no doubt about that. You cannot come to me, however, so I must come to you. Time is of the essence, my love. Sora? Is it time, Sora? Is it time? Can you hear me, Sora? Can you?"

A strong wind began to blow, forcing itself into his lungs.

It's time. You learned to let go. You've suffered. You've gone through enough. I need you. I want you with me, too.

"Oh, Sora," he whispered, closing his eyes and feeling her presence within him. "You don't know how much I've missed you... How much I needed you..."

Who said I didn't? I've watched you every day and cried when I knew that it wasn't time for you to be with me.

"Take me with you, Sora. Don't leave me again," he moaned softly. He felt the wind swirl around him and brush his ears as a whisper would.

Then follow your heart, Tai.

He smiled. A genuine smile. He opened his eyes and saw the world again. There was a glimmer of light shining through the air.

Just follow your heart.

"I'm coming, Sora." He climbed onto the railing, his balance almost failing him. Finally, he stood tall. He looked out at the world with no fear in his heart, only hope. He slowly raised his arms into the air, mimicking a bird, closing his eyes as he did so. As he did, he began to see moments of his life. In a whirlwind, he heard their voices. His own mixed in there a couple of times, too.

"What's a best friend for?"

"I'm right behind you, Big Brother!"

"I hate to be the pessimist..."

"You're forgiven, Tai."

"Oh, leave this to a woman."

"I felt your love, too!"

"If only your brain was as big as your hair."

"I hope we can get home!"

"Cool! Now I'm one of the guys!"

"You're pretty cute, but that's what I think about all boys!"

"Isn't he just dreamy? Too bad about the hair, though."

"I'm honored to meet you, Taichi."

"I'll take care of you, Sora."

Then their faces. All of those whom he held so dear and near to his heart.

matt

kari

t.k.

joe

mimi

izzy

yolei

ken

cody

davis

sora... sora... sora...

Pictures of her flashed in front of his vision like a slide machine that was out of control. They were children, playing and laughing; they were adults, kind and caring. They were together. They always had been.

And they always will be.

Tai tilted his head back a little and smiled at the sky.

With his eyes shut, he began to fall.

He felt the wind around his body. Lifting him. Carrying him. He dared to open his eyes and look around him. What he saw both amazed and contented him.

His wings.

They were back.

This time, however, they weren't physical objects. They looked as though they were made of the aurora borealis. Shimmering lights that would put almost any rainbow to shame. Tai could have told you what they were made of.

Love and Courage.

He felt two hands, soft and pleasant, stroke his face with a touch that would only belong to a lover. They went from his face to his neck then on down to his chest. He felt them stroking the wounds that covered his body. He felt them become well. Healing. It was not only the touch of a lover; it was that of a healer.

Sora

He felt himself being lifted. The falling sensation stopped in his stomach as he felt himself being lifted.

Is it time, Sora?

"That second has passed, Tai. Time no longer exists."

That was Sora's voice! Oh, how sweet it was to actually hear it! But how come he could still feel the air around him?

"Am I dead, Sora?" The two hands that had held him up moved to his back. She was underneath him, now. Tai opened his eyes and saw Sora staring up at him with loving, tender, caring eyes. She shook her head slowly.

"No. You're alive now. And so am I," she whispered. Tai felt confused. She wasn't really alive, was she? He looked around him and then down. Then he saw something that he had always assumed few people ever saw.

His body.

It was still falling.

"Don't look, Tai. No one deserves to see the demise of their own body like that," she said softly. He didn't care about his earthly body anymore, anyway. All he needed was Sora, and Sora is what he had.

"Sora?" She looked at him and smiled.

"What is it, Tai?" He smiled sheepishly.

"Can I kiss you?" Her smile widened.

"Of course, my prince," she whispered. Their faces neared each other. They could still feel the other's warm breath on the other's face. Finally, Tai couldn't hold out any longer and kissed his wife with a passion that couldn't have been paralleled in an earthly body. He broke the kiss, but not regretfully.

"Fly on my wings, Sora," he whispered. Sora caressed his face gently, still giving him the sensation to shudder.

"We already were," she said softly. Tai put his face against her cheek. He realized that they were vertical in the air, but not that it mattered. He saw his wings as they grew brighter and brighter. He pulled her closer to him.

"Sora?" She hugged him closer.

"Yes?" He pulled his face away from hers, but still tried to hug her tightly.

"Can you feel me?" She looked at him, a slightly confused look on her face. "Can you feel my heartbeat? Can you feel my soul? Can you feel me?" She put her head against his chest and snuggled closer, stroking it with her free hand. "Can you hear me?" Sora brushed his chest with her lips and looked up at him.

"Yes, Tai. This is real. I'm real and you're real. We're together forever now. Let me ask you this: can you hear me?" Her eyes looked into his with love and kindness. Tai looked down at her, his chocolate brown irises penetrating her crimson ones. He concentrated very hard.

Tai could feel her hand against his chest.

He could feel her warm breath on his chest, despite the January air.

He could feel her body pressed against his.

And, best of all, he could feel her heartbeat.

"Yes... Yes, Sora... I can hear you... It's the best feeling I've ever had," he whispered finally. She smiled and took his hand in hers.

"Come on, Tai," she said playfully, tugging at his hand in a childish way. He grinned at her.

"Where are we going, Sora?" he asked innocently. Her smile widened.

"Home, Tai. We're going Home." Tai followed her, his wings of Courage and Love carrying him behind Sora, who seemed to be flying on her own terms.

Side by side, they went Home. Both happier and more in love with each other than ever before.

******************************************************************************************************************************

"Tai! Please open the door! It's us!" Ken yelled. Kari sighed.

"Please don't let anything happen to him," she whispered. Izzy elbowed her.

"Don't you have a key, Kari?" he asked. She nodded, but seemed hesitant.

"She doesn't like to use it unless it's an emergency," T.K. answered for her. They never went anywhere without each other anymore.

"I don't know about you, but I'd call this an emergency," Mimi said in back. "I want to see him before I go back to America."

"And I start my tour pretty soon. I don't want to leave without saying good bye," Matt said from beside her, Jun hovering at his elbow. Davis sighed.

"Something's happened. I can feel it." Yolei looked at him.

"I know what you mean. I think something has, too." Joe pushed his glasses up on his nose.

"I think we all have that feeling, but we just don't want to admit it," he said lowly. Cody stood stoic beside Izzy.

"Use the key, Kari. Stalling can only be of a disadvantage to us," he said softly. Kari sighed shakily and took the key out of her pocket. With a shaky hand, she began to aim for the key hole. Finally, she got it in after a trial of hit-and-miss and turned it. They all went in, not sure of what to expect.

"Tai?" T.K. called, holding Kari's hand tightly.

"Tai? Where are you? Are you okay?" Mimi asked.

"Come on, bud! Mimi and I have to leave soon!" Matt called.

No answer.

Kari began to pick up speed. He couldn't be gone. They had told him not to go anywhere without one of them to go with him, and he had promised to do so. He couldn't have gone anywhere. That's when the envelope caught her eye. She opened it and began to read.

"Oh no!" she gasped.

"What is it, Kari?" T.K. asked, worried that something had happened. Everyone followed him to the dining room table and saw her as she fought to keep her tears in.

"What happened, Hikari?" Ken asked. He had formed a habit of using everyone's real name.

"Something the matter?" Joe asked. She looked up at them slowly.

"He's gone..." she whispered.

"Gone??? Gone where?" Mimi asked hysterical.

"He can't of gone back on his word! Tai never does that!" Matt exclaimed.

"Sometimes a man's word has to be broken to protect others," Cody said suddenly. Joe shoved his glasses up on his nose again.

"Well, let's not jump to conclusions. Where did he say he went, Kari?" Kari looked at the floor as a smile began to creep upon her lips.

"Well, where'd he go?" T.K. asked. Kari abruptly shifted her gaze from the floor to his blue eyes and simply said:

"Home."

********************************************************************************************************************************

"Is this Heaven, Sora?" Tai asked, gazing around him in wonder. Fireworks were going off around them, bursting with light upon the white clouds, which seemed to glow in the moonlight. There was a perfect blue ocean beyond them. So the clouds were literally sailboats sailing on a blue sea. People with wings were all around them. Tai wasn't a freak anymore. He was among many, but his were the only ones that were made from the aurora borealis. Tai and Sora were sitting together, hand in hand, her back against his chest. She turned slightly to look up at him.

"Anything with you is Heaven, Tai." He looked down at her and grinned.

"And anything with you is, too." Sora smiled. Suddenly, her face lit up like she remembered something. "What is it, Sora?" he asked, slightly confused. She smiled even wider.

"There's someone I want you to meet, Tai," she whispered.

"Oh really? Who might that be?" he asked, not sure he wanted to ruin the private moment between him and Sora. He still couldn't get over the fact that they were actually together.

"Erin!" she shouted.

"Coming!" a voice shouted from far off. Tai looked around him, but only saw people watching the fireworks reflections in the water and in the sky. You really couldn't tell which one was reflecting of the other. Suddenly, a small girl appeared out of no where. She had red hair and brown eyes. She couldn't have been any more than four. Tai looked at the child quizzically and then at Sora, who was smiling brightly yet nervously.

"Tai, I would like you to meet... our little girl, Erin." Tai's mouth dropped open. "Erin, this is your father," Sora whispered to her, her smile growing more confident.

"Hi," the girl said, bashfully hiding behind Sora's leg. Tai laughed.

"Don't be afraid... Erin. Put her there, kiddo," he said, sticking out a hand to the child, giving her one of his world-famous grins. The girl smiled timidly at him and shook his hand. He stood up and held her hand, smiling radiantly. Sora smiled at the two.

"Now, don't teach her any bad habits, Taichi," she warned, but the smile still played upon her lips. Tai returned it.

"I would never dream of it. Right, Erin?"

"Right!" the girl agreed, even though she had no idea what they were talking about. Sora rolled her eyes melodramatically. Tai looked at Sora, his face becoming more serious.

"How, Sora?" he asked. Sora crossed her arms.

"When you let me go, I was able to come here. They told me I could have the child that I would never have had a chance of having even I had lived, so I did," she explained. Tai smiled tearily.

"Thank you, Sora. You don't know how much this means," he said, but then he seemed thoughtful. "How old is she?" Sora laughed at the look on Tai's face.

"I was wondering when you were going to ask that. Time goes much faster here. See, in the four months I was gone, Erin became four years old because for every month there, a year goes by here." Tai sighed.

* * *

"It's hard to believe he's gone, too," Matt whispered to himself as he and Jun stepped into the taxi that would take him to the airport.

"I know what you mean, Matt. Two best friends in the past six months. It's being hard on both of us," she said softly.

What if there is a chain reaction?

Then he would be happy. Jun had been around the digidestined and heard their stories enough to understand that there could be a chain reaction that would wipe them all out. She wasn't so sure she'd be upset if it happened. She had a hunch that if they didn't all die, they were all going to die inside soon enough. Jun was right. Deep inside Matt's mind, he didn't want to live anymore. As Tai had requested, he hadn't cried, but how he had wanted to! He had lost two of his best friends.

I hope I'm next.

Matt didn't want to nurse his broken heart anymore. He loved Jun, but the bond he had with his best friends was something that was almost deeper, and it was hurting him to keep living. He looked up to the front window and gasped at what he saw. Jun followed his line of vision and gasped herself. The taxi driver, who hadn't been paying more attention to the rearview mirror than the road, was fast approaching the railing of a bridge.

"Holy Jesus!" he cried as he spun the wheel away from the railing in a panicky matter, but Matt and Jun knew it was too late. Matt looked at Jun and smiled at her.

There was a chain reaction.

"Hang on, Tai. We're coming," Matt whispered as he felt the taxi slam into the water.

Hanging on to each other as tight as they could, they watched as the water began to seep in through the door frames and windows.

Taking a final breath, Matt and Jun let themselves drown.

* * *

"That means that I won't get to see the rest of them any time soon," Tai said forlornly.

* * *

Ken, Yolei, Davis, and Cody walked down the street with sadness in their hearts. Yolei had almost cried, but had miraculously prevented it from happening. Cody wasn't his usual "stoic" self that day, either. Davis was as he had been at Sora's funeral; unable to grasp what had happened. Ken was very, very upset. He had lost another. Tai had been like a brother, and Sora was as a sister. Now both of them were gone plus Sam. It was beginning to be too much. Ken was beginning to wonder if Taichi's advice not to end it all by their own hand was actually valid advice at all.

None of them knew it yet, but they were headed to the park. They seemed to be following their subconscious, and that's where their subconscious was taking them.

"GET DOWN!!!" they all heard someone scream. They all glanced at each other in alarm and began to run. As they ran into a clearing, they saw a man with a mask and a gun in hand. They digidestined looked at each other again, all wondering what was going to happen. A group thought-

( chain reaction)

-went through their minds and they all knew that it was happening. They moved into the clearing even further.

"Don't move!" the man screamed nervously. People were lying on the ground, crying in anguish over the situation. The masked assailant seemed nervous, as if he knew he had gotten himself in too deep. Cody stepped forward.

"Leave them alone," he said lowly. The masked man turned full body toward the sixteen-year-old boy.

"Don't make me do this! Please!!!" he pleaded. Ken stood beside Cody.

"There is a time when every man must atone for their sins. If you shoot us, you will have just that many more sins to atone for," he said. The masked man let out a strangled cry.

"Please don't make me do this!" he cried again. Yolei stepped closer to Ken.

"No one but yourself will make you do it," she said. She glanced at the people on the ground and made a movement for them to get away. A lady nodded and began to quietly herd her kids away, crawling on the ground.

"I'm warning you!!!" the man cried once more. Davis stepped out in front of all of them.

"We're not afraid. If it's our time, then may God grant us a swift death," he said courageously, taking another step on the last word. The man looked at them, the fear in his eyes greater than any of a normal man. He took a shaky breath. He was obviously crying. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

With a final breath, the masked man began to mow down the digidestined.

As the darkness began to take over, the chain reaction became four steps closer to complete.

* * *

"Don't worry, Tai. I'm sure it won't be long for them," Sora said, trying to comfort her husband.

* * *

Kari and T.K. walked hand in hand to Kari's apartment, quickly approaching the girl's door..

"Are you okay, Hikari?" T.K. asked. He only used her full name when he suspected something was wrong. She sighed and looked into his kind, caring azure eyes.

"I should ask you the same thing, Takeru," she said with a small smile. He smiled at her.

"It was just his time."

"I suppose. I wish he hadn't of gone like he did, though. He was such a strong man, and then he dies so weak," she said, her voice cracking slightly. T.K. gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.

"That's not true. He was still strong or he wouldn't have lasted that long. He didn't want us to see him suffer anymore," he whispered. Kari leaned her head against T.K.'s strong shoulder.

"He was still stubborn," she said sullenly. T.K. let out a laugh and Kari joined him. When the laughter died, Kari sighed. "T.K.?"

"Mmm?"

"What if there is a chain reaction?" T.K. stopped dead in his tracks.

"Then let's hope that it isn't as painful as Tai's was," he said sternly, not even looking at Kari. She squeezed his hand and he looked at her. "I meant that I don't want to go without you... or vice versa." She nodded.

"I understand that completely." She shuddered involuntarily. What if they didn't die together?

She didn't want to think about that.

She put the key into her door and walked in, but no sooner had they walked in and shut the door as they heard the fire alarm. She looked at T.K. in alarm. His face flashed concern, but then it became calm and serene, scaring Kari a little. The fear must have been written into her face because he smiled and cupped her face into his hands.

"Chain reaction," he said simply. Kari's fear took a more firm hold in her body.

"I don't want to die yet, T.K.!" she cried. He put his forehead against hers as her tears began to fall.

"Don't be afraid of what will come anyway," he said. Smoke began to billow under the door. Kari looked back at T.K. and closed her eyes.

"I love you," she whispered. He closed his eyes, partly from the stinging pain of the smoke against his eyes.

"Kari! Get out of there!" someone shouted outside. The two paid no attention.

"I love you, too, Hikari," he whispered.

They met in a kiss.

A kiss that melted into the fire.

And the chain began to close.

* * *

"But I love them all so much, Sora. It hurts not to be with them," Tai whispered, his face pained.

* * *

Joe walked home.

Alone.

Why did it have to be Tai, too? He was like a brother to me.

It was hard being alone. In a way, he knew what Tai had gone through, but he knew he really didn't have any idea.

Was Joe's love for Sora pure infatuation?

He liked to think it wasn't.

But the pure fact was that Tai and Sora were soul mates.

Sora and Joe were not.

I'm just going to be a lonely old man.

I'm the eldest and the loneliest. How... ironic.

No, that's not the right word.

The right word is painful.

Joe sighed and began to cross the street to his apartment.

Where he lived alone.

I hope there is a chain reaction. That way I can die and get away from this place. Get to see Sora... and Tai... and the rest of them too, if it is a true chain reaction.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depends on whom you're talking to, Joe had missed the changing of the stoplight in his venture across the road.

"Get out of the way!!!" someone screamed from the sidewalk. Joe looked up, startled, and saw a car coming at about seventy toward him. Joe looked up and almost smiled.

"You can't avoid Fate," he whispered. He stopped in his tracks, as prepared as he would get for the oncoming blow.

As Joe's life blacked out from the surface of the Earth, the chain began to link.

Only two people kept it from being that way.

* * *

"I know how you feel, Tai," Sora whispered, a single tear forming in her eye. She missed the rest of them, too, possibly even more than Tai.

* * *

"Are you sure this is a good idea, Mimi?" Izzy asked. Mimi giggled.

"It was your decision to come with me," she said with a smile as he looked up from his computer screen. He blushed slightly.

"Yes, I suppose it was, but how could I resist?" he asked, blushing even more. Mimi let out a high-pitched flirtatious giggle, unable to control herself. He smiled nervously at her, and finally, the almost screeching sound came to a halt. He looked out his airplane window and sighed.

"I miss Tai, Mimi," he said suddenly. Mimi put a hand on Izzy's, putting the latest issue of Cosmopolitan in her lap.

"I miss him, too. I've begun to miss Sora a lot more lately," Mimi said. He looked at her, willing her to elaborate. "Well, I miss not being able to talk to her and team-tease Tai like we used to. I suppose I took her for granted... and Tai." Izzy nodded.

"We both did. We all did. I guess we learned what's here one day won't necessarily be here the next, right?" Mimi smiled sadly.

"We had to learn it the hard way, though," she said forlornly. Izzy looked thoughtfully at her. He managed a teary smile and began to look at his computer screen. Mimi, desperate to change the subject, leaned over Izzy and looked at his computer screen. "What are you writing, Izzy?" She saw a slight red hue color his cheeks.

"I'm retyping the letter from Tai," he said quietly, almost inaudibly. Mimi frowned.

"I see. Is there anything you're looking for in particular?" she asked. Izzy's brow scrunched up, signaling to the self-proclaimed Princess of Pink that he was in thinking mode.

"I keep falling back on to this 'chain reaction' part. What if there is a chain reaction?" he asked her. She looked startled.

"You're asking me? I can't decide what shoes to where in the morning and your asking me that?" she asked skeptically. He smiled wanly.

"Like deciding between pink shoes and pink shoes is a hard choice," he said. She stuck her tongue out at him and went back to her magazine as he gazed at her startling beautiful features. He shook his head, as if shaking away a daydream, and began to type and examine again.

Their peace was interrupted by the upset sound of a stewardess up in front and was followed by a show of violent turbulence..

"What's going on?" Mimi asked Izzy, unconsciously clutching his hand.

"I don't know," he said quietly, not sure whether he was more stunned by the scream or the show of affection from Mimi. Suddenly, the air masks in the overboard compartment fell out in front of Mimi's and Izzy face. They glanced at each other, scared and alarmed.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic. This is a safety precaution. I repeat, just a safety precaution. Please resume to normal activity." But, soon enough, the voice came back over the intercom. "I'm sorry to report, but this is an emergency, I repeat, this is an emergency. Please use all equipment demonstrated at the beginning of the flight in the proper way. Please remain hopeful and may God be with us."

"God... This is like the Titanic," Mimi said lowly as the people around her began to cry and scream. She looked at Izzy's shocked face.

"I think that Tai's 'chain reaction' is beginning to take place," he whispered. Mimi looked at him, dull horror written on her face.

"Do you mean it's our turn to die?" she asked finally. It was getting harder to hear each other over the cries of the hysterical people around her. He gulped and squeezed her hand, trying to give the affirmative answer that his voice could not. She sighed. "Well damn. I was hoping to hit the fashion show in New York with you, but I guess we can't." Izzy smiled at her valiant effort for humor.

"Damn is right. You always told me I needed fashion sense, then this happens. Just when I found someone to show me fashion, too," he said sullenly, but his eyes were becoming misty.

"Don't cry, Izzy. I'll still be with you," she whispered. She leaned over into his seat and kissed him gently on the lips. Izzy kissed her back, softly and gently. He may have been 24 years old, but it was still his first real kiss, and he wanted it to be memorable. Though it wasn't her first kiss, Mimi kissed him for all she was worth, hoping to get the point across, as he had hoped to do, also.

The point was well taken from both, and they could feel the love from the other radiate through their bodies.

As the plane hit the water with enough force to almost liquify all of the passengers inside, Mimi and Izzy life-light disappeared from the Earth.

And the chain was complete.

* * *

"But something tells me we won't have to wait much longer!" Sora said excitedly, looking past Tai and smiling. He looked behind him to see what she was looking at and felt his jaw hit the ground.

Running toward them came Mimi, Matt, Joe, Izzy, Kari, T.K.., Ken, Davis, Yolei, Cody, and, of course, Jun.

"YOU'RE ACTUALLY HERE!!!" Tai yelled to them. They ran up to him, all smiling.

"Yep. That chain reaction kind of, uh, got us all at the same time, I guess," Davis said. Tai laughed.

"Well, tell me about it later. In the mean time..." A firework bursted in the air, creating a colorful array behind him.

"Welcome Home!!!"

*****************************************************************************************************************************

As Kari had predicted, and as all of them had known in their hearts, they didn't live until they were a family again.



A/N: Well???? Yes? No? Maybe? Not a chance? 1 star? Five stars? No stars? Give me something, you guys! I worked my tail off on this.

Well, that was the end of the How to Fly Series. Hoped you liked it. (Like the ending, Logan? Just checking...) To all my faithful readers, thank you! Love you guys!

Okay! If you guys liked this series, I have got something that is way, WAY original coming up. It'll be a whole new series called "By Unseen Forces". Watch for it under Romance because I think that's what I'll have to do for you guys to actually see it. Or you can put me on Author Alert. I think that's the only way you guys can see anything I write anymore.

PLEASE R AND R!



-Whit a.k.a. Artisan of the Written Word.