It's the middle of June and there's a small box on Yamato's desk.
There's no note attached. Just a plain white box with a small red bow on top. The presentation screams simplicity, and yet Yamato feels like there's a polka-dotted Monochromon in the middle of his classroom.
He opens the lid with creeping suspicion, and lo and behold, four chocolate truffles sit together in their individual wrappers. Each one varies slightly in size and shape — one round and wide and another more egg-shaped. The cocoa powder is patchy on the exterior of one, and another sits in a small pile of the fine dust. The presentation isn't the best, but the message is crystal clear.
Someone's gone out of their way to make him homemade chocolates, and Valentine's Day just passed at the end of the last term.
He feels warm under the collar, and the heat creeps up his neck when he looks up to see some of his classmates staring, whispering amongst themselves and a few trying to glance at the box. They immediately stop once they're caught and at least have the decency to look embarrassed.
The morning bell rings, and he hastily closes the box and shoves it away into his bag, choosing to pull out his completed worksheets and textbook in its place. Out of sight, out of mind.
Everyone else has taken their seats right as their teacher enters the room, but he can still feel a few curious eyes in his direction.
He pays them no attention, directing all his focus on their first lesson of the day. Yamato spends the next few hours almost forgetting about the box burning a hole in his bag. Almost.
Despite the popularity with his band(s), Ishida Yamato has only ever received two direct confessions.
Or, maybe just one. Motomiya Jun was a special case. The mere thought of her intense Teenage Wolves fangirl days still sends a chill down his spine. Sometimes he still thinks he can hear her enthusiastic screams in a full crowd.
Besides Jun's overwhelming crush, on the opposite end of the spectrum was the only other person: Takenouchi Sora.
Her confession was something softer, shy -- a bit of fear mixed with determination. And he had accepted it that Christmas. Months later after spending more time together, they officially started dating. Things with Sora were good while they lasted. It was a little over a year into their relationship, right at the end of their first year of high school, that they mutually decided to call it quits. Yamato loved her, but they never managed to move beyond the handholding and sweet kisses from the early stage of their relationship.
It wasn't until after they had broken up that Yamato realized what it was. Things with Sora were safe. Comfortable. There wasn't anything wrong with that, but there was something missing. Sometimes when she would come over to study, or he would take her home after a date and kiss her goodnight right before they'd walk up to her door, she would look at him. As though she was hoping for something more. Like any moment would be a turning point. But it never happened.
He loved Sora, still does, but not in the way she wanted him to, and she deserves someone who wants her just as much.
Despite his earliest exposure to romantic love being his parents' failed marriage, there was still the smallest part of him that imagined how it would feel falling in love with someone and wanting to spend his life with that person.
"What do you have there?"
The all too familiar voice, one that has plagued his thoughts and daydreams for as long as he could remember, drags Yamato back from the depths of his thoughts, making him momentarily remember where he was, and his heart flutters.
Somehow Taichi manages to sneak up on him and already has his tray down at the seat right next to him. The rest of the cafeteria around them gradually fills up.
"That," Taichi points at Yamato's hand with his chopsticks before picking up a round battered vegetable. Today's school lunch consists of simple miso udon with mixed vegetable tempura and rice, which was also a telltale sign that Taichi forgot his lunch at home again. "Did you get a present?” he asks, wide brown eyes threatening to swallow the blond up whole.
Yamato mentally curses himself for being so careless to take out the box during lunch of all times, like none of his friends would see it out in the open like this. He should have just waited until he got home from school to mull over it in silence in the safety of his room, but it's unavoidable now.
So, he decides to be honest. "It was sitting on my desk when I got into class this morning,” he says casually, attempting to underplay it.
Much to his surprise, Taichi simply nods, chewing his food. "Did you-"
Both boys turn to see Mimi waving at them as she approaches their table, dragging Koushiro along right behind her. He looks a bit embarrassed as they pass by other tables with curious and amused stares.
Her eyes instantly zero in on Yamato's hands once they're within reach, and he knows there's definitely no escape now.
"What's that you have there?" she asks, taking the next closest seat to him, eyes sparkling. Next to her, Koushiro opens his laptop and takes out a bottle of oolong tea. "Is that a present?? You know my birthday isn't for a few more months."
"It was waiting for him when he got to class," Taichi indulges on his behalf, and Yamato shoots him a glare. Traitor. His so-called best friend has the nerve to feign innocence.
Mimi looks absolutely giddy. "A mystery present? From an admirer? Oh, I love this kind of stuff! Feels like something out of a sweet romance!" she gushes, hands over her heart.
"Hi everyone, sorry for running a bit late. I got caught up with some of the girls from the tennis club on my way here." Sora appears, taking the empty seat next to Taichi. "Did I miss something? What's going on that has Mimi so excited?"
"Yamato's got a secret admirer!" Mimi practically sings as she opens her bento. Yamato briefly wonders if there was enough miso broth served with today's lunch to drown himself.
Sora blinks, glancing his way and then at the box in front of him. "Really? What did you get?"
Mimi looks ready to answer, but stops herself short, and looks at the box, too. "That's right. What did you get?"
Without saying a word, Yamato releases a heavy sigh as he removes the lid and slides the box to the center of the table so his friends can see.
"Homemade chocolates!" Mimi cheers with a small fist pump into the air. "This is like one of those romantic anime specials come to life!" Koushiro hums in acknowledgement over the light taps to his keyboard.
Yamato expects their reactions, but winces anyway, and fights his need to get up and skip lunch altogether. His eyes roam over to his right, already anticipating the teasing, cheeky grins from his two closest friends, but that's not what he gets. In fact, it's the opposite.
Sora's looking at the candy with what can only be described as complete skepticism. Her eyebrows are raised so high they look ready to launch into space. And between them is Taichi, his eyes downcast at his soup as he takes one spoonful after another. It's almost like he doesn't even care, and his apparent disinterest bothers Yamato more than it should.
"What?" he asks, his annoyance slipping through the cracks of his tone, and that seems to snap Sora back to reality.
"It's nothing. They look good!" Sora waves him off, trying to change the subject. He lets it slide, for now. "Any clue where they came from?"
"Nope. They were already on my desk when I showed up this morning."
"I wonder why anyone would leave you chocolates out of the blue like this, especially since Valentine's Day is way over," Mimi wonders aloud, poking at the red bow. Yamato pulls the lid away, making her pout.
"Perhaps whoever did it didn't want to be overshadowed by all of the other gifts you would most certainly receive from other admirers. This person obviously wanted you to notice it."
All eyes immediately turn toward Koushiro as he gulps down more of his oolong tea. He appears flustered by the sudden attention for his comment, and his cheeks turn a warm pink.
"Aww, I had no idea you could think of such a romantic theory," Mimi teases him, leaning into Koushiro's personal space and causing his face to take on a full flush. "That's so cute."
The poor guy looks about ready to launch into a coughing fit when Sora speaks up again: "Are you going to try them?"
The question draws four gazes to Yamato and he stares down at the chocolates, somewhat hesitant. They looked fine, definitely not perfect, but the taste was a whole other matter.
"I'll try one for you."
Mimi openly gawks at Taichi as the words temporarily stun the blond. It's the last thing he expects to hear, but Taichi did often think with his stomach.
"You can't do that, they're not even for you!" she scolds.
Taichi rolls his eyes. "Well, if they're not good or been tampered with by some weirdo, I'd rather be the guinea pig than have Yamato be the one to get sick."
The table falls quiet and they eye each other warily. None of them can find a reason to change his mind because Taichi will probably do it anyway. He looks at Yamato, expectant, and he can't bring himself to argue against him for once.
"Just one bite," he sighs, pushing the box toward his friend.
Taichi reaches for the one that's a little more egg shaped than the rest and bites it in half without pause.
Yamato grabs his water bottle and takes a sip to disguise his blatant staring at Taichi's mouth. His best friend bites the truffle clean in half, and there's a bit of cocoa powder on his bottom lip. Yamato takes a big gulp when Taichi's tongue quickly swipes across his lip, cleaning up the excess left behind. He lifts his gaze and is immediately met with Sora watching him, and he feels like a deer in the headlights.
Something in her eyes looks knowing, and the lack of surprise or confusion makes him want to hide for being seen through so clearly in front of the rest of their oblivious friends.
Taichi makes an unpleasant sound between them, suddenly looking unhappy.
"What's wrong?" Yamato asks, concerned, secretly thankful for the distraction because now Sora isn't looking at him anymore.
"It's nothing serious," Taichi winces, swallowing down the candy. "You're gonna like these, Yamato. You prefer dark chocolate, right? This is way too bitter for me." He guzzles down a third of his energy drink to combat the taste.
For the first time that day, Yamato feels himself loosen up and smiles at Taichi's reaction. "And here I thought you could eat just about anything," he jokes, and takes the candy back.
The rest of lunch flies by, with Koushiro turning as red as the cherry tomato Mimi insists on feeding him from the bento, and Sora talking about the grand opening of an arts and craft store in Shibuya she's interested in visiting over the weekend. All throughout their typical lunchtime routine, Taichi doesn't say much of anything, opting to eat his food and offer the occasional quip instead.
When it's time to return to class, the five of them go their separate ways. Mimi makes plans to go by Sora's home after school right before she drags Koushiro back to their classroom, leaving the three older students to walk together.
"Do you want to come by for a while before you head to your prep class? Dad's working overtime again," Yamato asks, looking at Taichi.
Even when the other boy started taking his college prep course at the beginning of their final year, they still tried to work around it to hang out at Yamato's. Most of the time they spent it playing video games, watching movies, or doing as little homework as possible. Sometimes it was a combination of all of those activities.
They'd both been so busy with their own lives and activities—live gigs and soccer club, respectively—for the past few weeks, however, that they hadn't been able to spend much time together outside of school. It felt too long since Taichi was last over.
"Can't today," Taichi said, shaking his head. "Sora and I have clean up duty today after school."
Yamato tries to push down his disappointment. "Then how about Friday? You don't have class that night, right?" he tries again.
This time, Taichi nods. "Friday's good," he says. He flashes Yamato a sideways grin. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you missed me."
Yamato scoffs, bumping his shoulder. "Someone has to help you get through your science homework." He really does miss him, but he wasn't about to admit it – he'd sooner fight a Seadramon barehanded.
Sora laughs, shaking her head at them. "You two never change," she says.
She shoots Yamato a look and he knows what's coming next. "So, those chocolates must have really surprised you, I bet."
Yamato groans. "Enough about them, I've spent enough time talking about those things today."
He gets a shrug in return. "I know, but knowing you, you'll still be thinking about them even if we don't bring it up anymore."
Okay, point taken.
"Have you thought about what you'd do if someone confessed?" she asks as the three of them walk up the stairs to their floor.
He scrunches his nose a bit, brushing some stray hair away from his face. "I don't know," Yamato lies. "I guess I'll decide that when and if it happens.”
There's really only one person he likes right now and it feels pointless to be hopeful that anything can come of it.
(Even if Taichi is single and hasn't dated anyone, well, ever.
He tries not to overthink how the other boy rarely talks about his own romantic life or interests, how he's turned down dates and confessions.
Taichi has his own set of admirers—he hears the occasional hushed whisper—and it's hard not to understand why with his vibrant personality and warmth that reaches those around him so easily, even people harder to reach, like Yamato.
Not to mention his thighs, holy shit–)
Yamato clears his throat, and it dawns on him that part of their trio hasn't said a word. "What, you've got nothing to say about this whole thing? You've been awfully quiet today.”
It feels ridiculous to hope that Taichi's weird behavior means something. That maybe there's the slightest chance he could be jealous, that he doesn't like some mystery girl trying to woo Yamato, that there's the smallest possibility he might feel the same way...
Taichi stops, standing a few steps ahead of his two close friends as he leads the way back. Brown eyes meet blue, and Taichi actually looks confused when he stares over his shoulder. "What do you want me to say? I might tease you, but I'm not going to comment on someone else's feelings," he starts up the stairs again. "Whenever they decide to confess, you'll make the right choice. That's just how you are, Yamato."
Yamato stops altogether, momentarily stunned by the indifference in his words. There was no razzing, no jokes or cheeky, playful grin and somehow the lack of his friend's taunts did little to soothe him.
When they reach their floor, his friends wave him goodbye as they enter their classrooms. As Yamato takes his seat, he tries not to envision his admirer with bright brown eyes and a smile brighter than the sun itself.
The apartment is quiet when Yamato arrives home for the evening. He drops the plastic bag with his convenience store bento and green tea on the table and the noise almost echoes throughout the apartment. He doesn't feel hungry though.
Yamato wanders to his room and collapses on the bed. He stares at the ceiling, mind still reeling from everything that happened.
It's been one hell of a day.
His leg bumps something bulky before Yamato realizes it's his school bag. He jolts up like he's been stung.
The chocolates. They're still in the bag.
He leans down and digs through the main compartment, trying to remember where he put them, worried that they might have melted inside. Yamato finds the box, slightly crushed, under his emergency music kit filled with guitar picks and extra strings. Opening the box reveals they're perfectly fine and he sighs in relief, but quickly catches himself.
Was he happy that they didn't ruin anything or that the chocolates weren't ruined?
Yamato groans, dropping the box on his bed and flips onto his stomach to bury his head into his arms. He peaks to stare at the candies, sitting nice and harmless.
This shouldn't be bothering him as much as it does. They're just chocolates! Candy!
But it's not true. They're more than just candies. They mean something.
His eyes land on the only half bitten truffle in the box and Yamato feels his face grow warm. It's softened a little since lunch, but Taichi's clean teeth marks could still be seen in the dark chocolate. He reaches out, carefully lifting that single piece from the box. Cocoa powder rubs off on his fingers as he examines it closely.
It's like an indirect kiss if I eat this, right? The stray thought rolls through his head and Yamato instantly feels his face is on fire and he groans aloud.
"What the fuck are you thinking?" he asks himself, embarrassed. He feels so lame and he's grateful no one else is around to witness it. Dad's at work until late again. Gabumon is in the Digital World. Absolutely no one else is going to be home right now.
In his hand, the chocolate is starting to melt between his fingers.
Yamato isn't entirely sure when his feelings for Yagami Taichi became more than someone would feel for a friend, and maybe deep down they had always been there, between every dumb argument and the genuine fear of losing somebody who saw through the scared, misunderstood boy he was all those years ago. But he knew one thing for certain: with Taichi so ingrained into his life, he couldn't dare to imagine it without him. Perhaps that made Yamato greedy, but Taichi had that effect on him.
He swallows, staring at the bitten surface.
Without any hesitation, he lifts the chocolate, pressing the bitten surface down against his tongue and closes his mouth. He doesn't move, savoring the feeling as the chocolate starts to melt and grow softer. It's overwhelmingly bitter and dark, almost too much, but a subtle sweetness sinks in, trailing after and his taste buds are flooded with rich flavor as he chews.
He closes his eyes and he can almost feel the lips pressed against his, hungry, desperate, familiar but new, tasting of chocolate when he slips his tongue into that hot mouth and consumes the soft gasp that tries to escape.
When Yamato swallows it down, the bittersweet lingers on his tongue.
Three hours earlier
Tsukishima General High School
Two boys were wrapping up their cleaning duty for their classroom, gathering the last of the cleaning supplies to return before heading home for the day. There was a soft knock at the open door. It was a familiar boy from the neighboring class.
“Hey,” he said, “I think we’re the last ones around on this floor for the day. If you want, you two can head out and I’ll close up the room for you.”
“Seriously?” one of the boys immediately perked up, failing to keep the excitement out of his voice.
His classmate rolled his eyes. “Are you sure? It’s not too much trouble for you?” he asked, ignoring the way his friend glared at the side of his head.
The boy in the doorway laughed. “Totally. We’re almost done, so it won’t be any trouble. Besides, our room is right next to yours.”
The two students looked at each other, and soon they were gathering their belongings and heading toward the door.
“Thanks a lot, Yagami! If you ever need anything, I owe you one!” the first boy said, and vanished around the corner to the stairs.
“Thanks again, Yagami,” the remaining boy said, turning to leave, but paused before he got too far. “Say, were you able to find Ishida after all? I remember you came by looking for him this morning before class started.”
Taichi blinked, emitting a slight chuckle. “I didn’t, but I saw him during lunch, so it was no problem. I just had something to return to him. Thanks, though. Take care,” he added with a small smile and wave.
A moment later, Taichi was left alone.
He lingered by the door, glancing around the quiet hallway before slipping inside. His sigh filled the room.
Taichi made a beeline for the center desk alongside the windows. Yamato's seat was in a similar location to his own, only a few seats ahead from his spot in the very back. As he pulled a small, familiar-looking white box out from his jacket pocket, tied with a red ribbon, for once he was glad they weren't in the same class together.
He placed the box at the center of the desk, then after a moment's thought, slid it across the top so it was at the edge resting against the wall. It looked a little less obvious that way compared to how he left it this morning.
"You know, I didn't think you would actually do it," came a soft voice.
He didn't start at the words. Taichi simply shoved his hands into his pockets and sighed again, still staring at the box. "I really didn't think I would, either," he said. He turned away, walking back to where Sora stood just outside of the door.
She took a step back as he approached, allowing him enough space to enter the hall again.
"I'm proud of you for finally taking the plunge," she said, giving him a reassuring pat on the arm. She stared, silently regarding him before the corners of her mouth and eyes softened. "Just try not to drag this whole thing out with Yamato for too long, okay?"
"I won't," he said, and gave her a half smile that was both resolute and tinged with nerves.
Sora turned away, not waiting for his answer because they both already knew, and motioned him to follow as she walked back to their classroom. "Come on, we still have to wrap things up here before we’re free to go. Can’t have you be late for prep school."
"Yeah, be right there," he said. She disappeared back into their class.
Friday, he thought, sliding the door shut with a firm click and followed his oldest friend. I'll tell him Friday.