Matt wishes there was a simple, succinct explanation for the strange swell in his chest he’s been experiencing lately, but try as might to reason his way about it, he can’t. It’s an ephemeral emotion, slight and only a whisper of any emotion at all before it’s trampled down by his more clear-thinking mind. The ineffability of the feeling has him grasping at any means to push it away because even if he can’t thoroughly explain it, he knows it’s wrong.
He feels it most when he’s sitting in Tai’s apartment, whether in the kitchen or lounging in the living room. Tai just stands there at the stove mixing whatever he’s making or kneeling in front of the TV and Matt has to resist the urge to say or do something really stupid, something like telling him about the strange feeling he’s been having lately. But it only happens around Tai, and the implications of that observation are thoughts Matt isn’t ready to entertain yet.
They’ve been friends for over fifteen years now. So much has changed in that time but their friendship, he’s relieved to say, is one of the most solid things between them. Even if they had started out roughly, they’ve come to a point where they can consider each other brothers. Or at least, Matt would if it weren’t for the sudden strange feelings exploding in his chest.
Matt goes a month without mentioning anything. He should have known it wouldn’t be so simple as to just disappear.
They’re sitting on the roof of Tai’s apartment complex. Though the city’s light pollution has made it almost impossible to see anything in the sky aside from a sliver of the moon, they like to go up to the roof often and point at the satellites and blinking airplane lights, create moving constellations of Agumon and Gabumon. It helps, doing this. It helps them keep the images of their old friends in their minds, safe from the recesses of uncaring time.
On a raw September night, they find themselves on the roof once again. It had rained the whole week and Matt is loathe to be sitting on the ground, getting his jeans dirty. Tai shows none of the same concern—Matt can’t help but hate him a little for his nonchalance.
“I swear that cluster over there looks exactly like Garurumon!”
“No way Tai, now you’re just saying whatever comes to mind looking at a bunch of blinking lights,” Matt says, hiding a laugh behind his hand. Tai elbows him playfully before returning his gaze back to the sky, falling silent. Unable to help himself, Matt turns his head slightly and gazes at Tai’s open face. His eyes shine with happiness and his shoulders relax as he tilts his head back farther to see more of the sky’s expanse.
He looks so…ethereal. The city lights cast him in a soft glow that makes his skin glimmer and underscores his sharp features. Matt finds himself enthralled, utterly and completely enthralled. Without thinking, he lets his hand creep across the small distance between them and strokes his fingers across the back of Tai’s knuckles a moment before lacing their fingers together. Tai tears his eyes away from the sky to shoot his friend a small smile, one that Matt reciprocates.
“I know I probably don’t say it enough, but thank you Matt.”
“For—I dunno, everything. Being here with me, being my friend so long, putting up with me. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend all these years Matt. I’m just…really grateful,” Tai answers. Matt swallows thickly and looks away, feeling his chest swell with that familiar emotion again, this time strongly enough that he finds himself short of breath.
“I…right back at you,” he says. “I feel the same.” Tai’s fingers tighten around his.
Matt doesn’t know what he’s doing but he does something stupid, something he’s always been so good about not doing. Without stopping to think, he turns his head back to face Tai, hesitating only a second as he finds Tai once more looking at the night sky, before darting forward and placing a small, chaste kiss to the corner of his mouth.
Almost instantly Matt wishes he could take the gesture back as Tai tears his hand away from him and presses it over the skin Matt kissed. “Matt, wha—?”
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” Matt quickly interrupts. Tai shakes his head, suddenly leaning close to Matt. “What was that?”
Matt closes his mouth and turns away again, unsure what to say. He can confess about the feeling in his chest, but now doesn’t seem exactly appropriate, especially considering how confused he still is himself. He can chalk it up to temporary insanity, but he figures even Tai is smart enough to call him out on a lie like that.
“I’m sorry,” he says again.
What was that? It was wrong, that’s for sure. Not that anything too terrible happened, but that thought doesn’t comfort him much when he realizes someone else could very easily have taken that as—as cheating. Sora has always been one of the most understanding people Matt knows, but he doubts even she would take too kindly to finding out Matt’s been kissing other people, even if it was meant in a harmless way with a friend.
“It’s okay Matt,” Tai says, sounding more understanding than Matt thinks he should sound. He gives Matt a shy smile before avoiding his gaze by staring at his knee. Matt feels his chest swell once more, only this time more strongly than ever before. It’s with a feeling of slight apprehension however that he realizes he feels suspiciously like the way he used to feel around Sora all those years ago.
Shaking his head, he pushes that thought away. “Now that looks like Garurumon,” he says, pointing to a random place in the sky in a vain attempt to dispel his sudden discomfort.