Kindness Won't Get You Anywhere
Epilogue - Later
by Meimi

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard disclaimers apply.

SHONEN AI WARNING: This is a shonen ai fic and contains within it romantic themes and hints of an intimate relationship between two male characters. If this disturbs you in any way PLEASE do not continue reading. And yes, I am sick and twisted, thanks for asking.

_____________________________________________________________________

"Stop hovering, Taichi!"

Takeru looked up from where he sat at the dining table and smiled at the scene playing out over on the couch. Hikari had collapsed onto it after stumbling out of the bathroom. They had all returned to the Yagami apartment to clean up to the point where they looked somewhat respectable. Hikari had been the first one ushered into the bathroom when it appeared she was strong enough to walk on her own again.

Taichi had waved Takeru in next when Hikari was through. The older boy was far more intent upon making sure his sister was okay than to pay attention to his own comfort. Takeru had been a little hesitant to leave Ken alone with them for any length of time, but figured that Taichi wouldn't really care about anything else but hovering over Hikari. Still, Taichi had had the sense of mind to get out some of his clothes for both of the younger boys to dress in while their clothes were being washed.

It was all a bit bewildering.

Now, Ken was the one in the bathroom and Takeru was left alone at the table with his thoughts. Though admittedly, he was using Taichi and Hikari to avoid thinking about pretty much everything at the moment. Hikari had finally gotten fed up with her brother's mildly smothering concern.

"I just have a headache, Taichi. That's all," Hikari grumbled as she shifted on the couch, throwing her right arm across her eyes to keep out the light. "It will go away a lot faster if you will just leave me alone."

"Fine fine. I'm just trying to help," Taichi muttered, scowling as he turned to walk away. Stopping in mid-stride, he looked back and asked one more time, "Are you sure you don't need anything?"

Hikari growled in supreme annoyance as she imperiously pointed her brother away from the couch and away from her, "Go. Away. Now!"

Taichi shrugged in defeat and shuffled over towards the dining table. He gave Takeru a weak smile as he yanked a chair out and plopped down in it. "So how're you doing, Takeru?" he asked cautiously after a few moments of watching the blonde stare down at the tabletop.

"I'm fine," Takeru answered flatly, still staring blankly down at the table. He knew Taichi was going to have questions, difficult questions. What he didn't know was how he would be able to answer them without saying too much. Because if he said too much and Taichi found out the truth of his relationship with Ken... well, he doubted the others would approve. They'd probably do anything they could to keep them both apart. He didn't want to have to fight about it. He just wanted to be with Ken.

"Uhuh." Taichi leaned back, lacing his fingers together. Curious, he cocked his head to the side and watched Takeru with hooded eyes. Never in the time that he had known the boy had Takeru been quite so withdrawn, quite so hesitant. Takeru had always been open about things, or at least had seemed that way. Back during their first time in the digital world, whether the boy had been peevish or upset about something, he had never seemed to hide himself like he was doing now.

Then again, now that Taichi thought about it, maybe he was finally seeing something that had always been there. That was a disturbing thought. It had never crossed his mind that Takeru wasn't as happy as he always seemed to be. Had they all been missing something? Shaking his head, Taichi carefully asked, "So Ken's the reason you haven't been around much. Isn't he?"

Takeru let his head drop at that innocent seeming question. Oh, it wasn't quite as bad as he had feared it would be, but it would swiftly lead to others, no doubt. He would have been better off trying to figure out his feelings on the day's events than having this little conversation. Sighing soundlessly, he closed his eyes and answered, "Something like that."

"Oh," Taichi said simply as he watched Takeru's reactions. Takeru just really didn't look like he wanted to talk about this. And Taichi wasn't sure whether pushing the matter might do more harm than good. If something was wrong, Takeru or Hikari or somebody would say something. Wouldn't they? This was so confusing. Shrugging to himself, Taichi finally decided to just let it lie for awhile. He could always keep a closer eye on Takeru, just in case after all. That way he wouldn't have to force Takeru into talking about something he obviously felt uncomfortable about.

"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to Takeru," Taichi murmured softly as he stood up, placing a reassuring hand on Takeru's shoulder. He smiled gently when the blonde looked up at him with wide, surprised eyes. "But you don't have to hide from us either. Okay?"

Takeru nodded numbly. He hadn't expected that. Who would have? Taichi hadn't ever been considered the most understanding of people. It just didn't gel with his personality. So this was a bit of a shock all things considered. Takeru was extremely relieved though. He hadn't wanted to lie about it or to veil things in half-truths. The extent of his relationship with Ken was just something the others really didn't need to know right now, if ever.

Content that that had been settled, sort of, Taichi reached up and scratched the back of his head. "I'm gonna go see if Ken's out of the shower yet. The hair is starting to itch like mad," he explained before turning around and heading down the hallway.

~*~

Ken stared blankly at a strand of hair hanging down across his face. It was ink-black in color, still wet from just getting out of the shower. The light glimmered against the water droplets clinging to his hair. There was something... something... something about the color, the play of light was familiar somehow. He couldn't place it though. It was only another memory that just wasn't there anymore.

Scowling in annoyance, Ken brushed the hair back and twined it behind his ear. He buttoned up the oversized, light blue pajama top Taichi had let him borrow, he already had the pants on, and silently berated himself for the fallacy of his own memories. He had been a fool to ever consider himself to be perfect. He had less of a handle on his life than most people on the planet. That wasn't exactly the symptoms of a perfect person, now was it?

Upon finishing his task, he quietly opened the bathroom door and padded out into the hallway. He glanced towards the living room and grimaced, Taichi looked to be having a 'talk' with Takeru. Not good. Oh, he was half tempted to go join in on the fun, but him joining in would probably cause more harm than good. Sighing, he walked into the bedroom across the hallway instead and settled down on the bed. Someone would come looking for him after the 'talk', surely.

Ken sat there in the silence for several seconds trying not to think. He wasn't successful. Inevitably, his gaze was drawn down to his wrists as if his pupils were metal filings to a magnet. He slowly drew the sleeves back and again viewed unblemished skin.

What had happened to him?

Why was he remembering something while he couldn't remember why he would have done it? And why didn't he have any physical reminders of something like that? Had it really happened? Or was his mind coming up with it to try and rationalize everything he had done?

Ken ran his thumb down the center of his forearm, where there should have been a very evident scar. He studied the images of that memory in his mind, turning it over and over again as if doing so would discern something he had yet to figure out. There was something about them, something that felt too real for him to brush them off as illusions. But that didn't explain why they were there, why they had happened. What had happened? He just didn't know.

The sound of someone clearing their throat drew his attention away, interrupting the flow of unending questions that were popping up in his mind. Ken dropped his arms down onto his knees, letting the sleeves fall back down, at the sight of Taichi leaning up against the doorjamb. He waited patiently, allowing the older boy to make the first move.

Taichi reached up and scratched uncomfortably at his hair again as he stared over at Ken. Ken, not Ichijouji, strange how in the space of an hour he could change his mind about something. Part of his mind was screaming at him not to be such an idiot, about how Ken can't be trusted ever. Another part was remembering a lonely boat ride through gray, misty waters. It was remembering all of the mistakes he could have made, all the mistakes he did make. It wouldn't have taken all that much for things to have gone badly back then.

Pushing off from the doorway, Taichi strolled forward into the bedroom. He pointed briefly at the pajamas Ken was wearing before asking, "So, they worked out okay?"

"Ah yes, they're fine." Ken blinked and looked down at himself. A moment passed before he looked back up and said, "Thank you, Yagami."

"That's good," Taichi murmured as he tilted his head to the side. Well this was certainly a loaded situation. With his insides knotted up so much, it almost felt like those first couple of confrontations he had had with Yamato way back when. Almost. "You can just call me Taichi, by the way."

Ken's eyes widened in shock. This was not happening. This was all wrong. He was the evil dictator. The boy who had kicked puppies for fun. He was the evil to be shunned after being defeated. He wasn't somebody the former leader told to call him by his given name. Finding his voice after the shock had set in, but nearly choking on the question, Ken asked, "Why?"

Taichi shrugged self-consciously. Now there was an interesting question he was even asking himself. He didn't really have an answer. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Placing his right hand gently ontop of Ken's head, Taichi repeated the words he had spoken to Hikari in hopes that that would be enough of an explanation, "We all make mistakes."

Ken just blinked and stared up at the older boy. There really wasn't anything he could say to that. It was the truth, no matter which way he looked at it. It was hard to accept though. His guilt was well deserved. Of that, at least, he had always been certain.

~*~

Takeru quietly tapped his fingers against the tabletop, his mind skirting around the issues at hand as he listened to hushed voices coming from behind him in the kitchen. Patamon, Tailmon and Koimon were discussing the merits of human cuisine. He would have laughed at it if there weren't other things floating around in his mind.

If Hikari hadn't figured out how to open up that portal to the dark ocean, he would have lost Ken... probably forever. Just thinking about it now made him ache terribly inside and it made it so hard to breathe. His feelings were so heavy.

He'd been so useless. If Hikari hadn't been there he would have fallen apart. He wouldn't have been able to think of anything to help. She had even done most of the work: programming her D3, opening up the portal and keeping it open, even to the point where she had been hurting herself to do so.

He was so useless.

Sighing helplessly, Takeru buried his face in his hands. He was going to start crying if he kept this up. That wouldn't be good. Letting this reduce him to tears would be silly. He could handle this. It hadn't been the end of the world, even if it had seemed that way for awhile there.

Feeling that he had himself under control again, Takeru crossed his arms and frowned as he studied his feelings further. It had physically hurt him when he had thought Ken was gone for good. In fact, the only time his feelings had ever come close to that had been after the Devimon battle on File Island. In those few moments when he had thought Angemon had died permanently had literally shattered his world. And while he had gotten Patamon back, it had still been a pretty terrible experience. He had never felt anything like that since until today. He hadn't even felt like that with all the times he and Yamato had parted in the digital world.

It felt like... It felt like... What did it feel like?

Sensing that he had almost figured out the answer, Takeru rose from the table and walked down the hallway in search of the subject of his feelings. He found Ken sitting alone in the bedroom across from the bathroom. Strangely enough, the raven-haired boy was staring down blankly at his wrists.

Ken looked up at the sound of shuffling footsteps entering the bedroom and smiled weakly at Takeru. He dropped his arms again as he had before speaking to Taichi, allowing the sleeves to slip back down over his forearms.

"Taichi in the shower?" Takeru asked before sitting down on the bed beside Ken. He tilted his head to the side in curiosity as Ken nervously twined his fingers together in his lap. Taichi hadn't said anything stupid on the way to the bathroom, had he?

"Yes," Ken answered simply. He wasn't sure what he wanted to tell Takeru yet. Then again, it wasn't like he could make any sense of anything yet. It was just all so confusing.

"He... didn't say anything stupid did he?" Takeru asked cautiously. He knew there were countless feelings of guilt lurking beneath the surface of his friend... Friend? Friend didn't seem to be the correct word for their relationship anymore. But he wasn't sure what was just yet. At any rate, no matter what guilt Ken might be feeling, he'd give Taichi hell if the older boy had said anything upsetting.

"No no no," Ken replied instantly. He didn't want Takeru getting protective for some perceived slight. Turning his head finally so that he could look directly over at Takeru, he tried to explain, "Well, he said something that's a bit baffling. I really need to think about it for awhile yet. It wasn't anything bad though."

"Oh. Okay then," Takeru said absently as he reached up to run his fingers through Ken's hair, still wet from the shower. He smiled gently when Ken unconsciously leaned back into the caress, accepting what comfort he could from the gesture.

Now that Takeru was with Ken, he allowed himself to think further upon his feelings. He wanted to protect Ken, but now he knew he wouldn't always be able to do that. He wasn't an all powerful paladin or even the gallant white knight. And he now realized that it was all right that he wasn't perfect. He wouldn't always know what to do. He wouldn't always be able to save the day every day. But as long as he could be with Ken like this, then everything would be fine.

He liked... no, loved this. Takeru's smile widened in pure delight as he finally figured out what he had probably been feeling for awhile now. "I love you," he whispered.

"What?" Ken whipped his head around, more shocked than he had been with Taichi's behavior. Takeru did not just say what he thought he did. Did he? Surely not.

"I love you," Takeru repeated with an indulgent smirk. He hastily put silencing fingers over Ken's lips when the other boy shook his head and seemed about ready to go into denial. "Don't," he admonished softly. "It has nothing to do with whether you deserve it or not. I just do."

Shaking his own head when Ken's eyebrows drew together in confusion, Takeru wrapped his arms around the reluctant boy. Leaning back slightly, he tucked Ken's head under his chin. "Do you remember what I told you before?" Ken shook his head, indicating that he had no idea what Takeru was talking about, and the blonde continued, "I told you that you didn't have to say anything or do anything. Well, you don't. It's okay. I do love you though. A great deal. That's all."

Ken closed his eyes, not trusting himself to speak, to not say something utterly wrong. That's all, indeed. He was trapped now. He could break it off, but he didn't want to, couldn't even really accept the possibility. He needed to be with Takeru too much now for that. He wanted it, craved it. Was it really a trap when he walked into it willingly, wanting everything the other had to offer and more? Truly, he was fool and Takeru was the gilded cage he refused to let go of.

Damn him to every conceivable hell ever created in the fearful imaginations of the human species. He liked this. Maybe he even loved it too.

_____________________________________________________________________

Aw, aren't they cute? And yes, Kindness is finished. Ken has such a bleak outlook on life doesn't he? Poor boy, it's just gonna get worse before it gets better. ::ahem:: This entire mess has been for the benefit of having Takeru speak those three little words. ::hee-hee:: And I really left some things hanging didn't I? ::cackles:: I told you I would. And yes, the title is contradictory on purpose. It's what Ken has believed this whole time and he gets proved dead wrong. I've got at least two more epics planned for this particular universe and probably a few one-shots. I'm gonna be so busy. Darkness (and no, that's not its full title either) will be next in this series, though I do have a vampire AU to get out first. I have to get that particular plot bunny out before it drives me up the freaking wall. Anyway, hope you liked. Let me know what you think... unless, of course, you don't want to. Your choice. I don't whine. No no, not me, never... well maybe, but just to friends who have to put up with me anyway. ^_~

 

Back   Forward