Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon
At the sound of the doorbell, Gennai pulled his attention from Tera, who was standing at the counter, juggling seven different prescription medications. It was January 2nd, Tera's second day out of bed since her release from the hospital. Gennai glanced back at Tera, who stared at the kitchen door anxiously. Aaron had still not returned from holiday with his family, and it terrified her.
"Finish up the first set now," he ordered. With a frown, she let two pills tumble into her hands. "You can finish the rest later."
She swallowed the pills with a glass of water. She wiped her mouth with the long sleeve of her flannel shirt and mumbled through the fabric, "But Gennai, I wanna finish this now. It gets too hard to remember when to take them again if I take 'em at different times."
"Tera, you know the rules." He beckoned her to follow him out of the kitchen, which she did. "You don't take medication unless me, Eli or Natalie is watching." He walked to the front door.
"Jeez Gennai." She threw her hands in the air. "It's not like I'm gonna abuse cough syrup." Gennai looked at her as he reached the front door. " Again."
He shook his head and opened the door, to reveal a twenty something black man standing on the front porch. "Cedric?" He announced slightly shocked. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tera slink back a couple of steps. "We weren't expecting you until tomorrow." He stepped back, letting Eli's brother enter. Tera sank back another step.
Cedric flashed an award-winning smile. "My mom got the date wrong. And I'm really sorry I didn't call myself. I've been so busy. It really isn't an excuse-"
"No it's fine," Gennai reassured. "You're always welcome."
The pair looked up to see Elijah wheeling himself up beside Tera. Cedric smiled again, not the warm smile he'd given Gennai, but an amused kind of grin. "Hey baby brother." He walked over to Elijah and hugged him with a hard pat on the back.
"Hi Ced." Eli's voice was a mixture of shock and distaste.
Cedric pulled away, unaffected by his brother's cold tone. He looked at Tera. "Hey spaz." He punched her in the arm.
"Hi Cedric," she greeted, holding her arm.
"I thought you were coming tomorrow," Elijah stated blandly.
"Mom, got the date wrong. My plane got in today." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tera trying to slink away. He grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her back. "Hey, where are you going? Let's have some 'family time'." She tried to wrestle away, but he jerked her arm.
"Ceddy, let go! You're hurting me!" She cried out. Tears built in her eyes.
"Ced, let go of her! She has to go finish taking her meds, right?" Tera nodded through the pain. "Let her go. Just wait for me in the living room."
Cedric released Tera and she tumbled to the floor. He threw his arms in the air and turned his back on the pair as he walked into the living room. "You've gone soft," he scoffed. "You used to mess around with her too. It's all fun and games, you know."
Eli looked down at Tera, sitting on the floor and nursing her arm. "Sorry Tera."
She shrugged. "Don't be. You didn't do it." She rose to her feet. "And I can still move it. It's not like last time."
"That's good "
"I'm gonna go." She glanced back at the doorway to the living room. "Later E." She disappeared through the dinning room door, still cradling her arm.
Eli turned his chair and slipped into the living room. Cedric stood at a bookshelf beside the TV. The shelf was full of books representing the diverse interests of the house's young residents; sports statistics for himself, Tai and TK, computers for Aaron, poetry for Tera and Sora, photography for Kari, fashion magazines for Natalie, and music for Matt and Taylor.
Cedric scanned the titles with mild amusement. He looked up. "Hey baby brother. What's happening?"
"Nothing really. Just trying to get through the holidays. It's been a rough year," Eli replied.
"Yeah, I heard. So spaz got sick again." Cedric shrugged. "Her own fault, rightly. What did the doctor say?"
"Bacterial pneumonia. Her lungs filled with fluid on Christmas Eve, she stopped breathing and we took her to the hospital. And it's not her fault," Elijah argued.
Cedric shrugged again. "Yeah, I guess."
"How about you? I heard you're going to open your own practice."
Cedric flopped down on the couch. "Yep. I figured I'd wait a few months first. Get some loyal patients."
"How are you going to afford that? You don't have any money," Eli reasoned skeptically.
"Mr. Brandow is paying for it."
"Your getting Tera's father to pay for it?"
Cedric nodded. "Actually, he offered. Right before he left for overseas. He suggested that I open my own practice, and said he'd pay for it." Cedric leaned over. "I have some very big news for you, which I'm actually not supposed to tell you, but I figured I should. But not here, not tonight." Elijah nodded and Cedric stood up. "I have to go, baby brother. I'm supposed to check into my hotel in a half an hour. I'll be back later tonight, I'll take you out for dinner."
"Alright." Eli followed him to the door. Cedric stopped with his hand on the doorknob and turned around. He reached into the inside pocket of his brown leather jacket and pulled out a small box. "Merry Christmas, little brother." He held the box out and left after Elijah took it.
"Why does he do that?" Elijah looked up to see Tera standing at the foot of the stairs. Elijah hesitated to respond. "Why does he always beat me up?"
"I dunno," Elijah answered. Tera shifted her weight uncomfortably and tugged her pants up to her waist as they started to slip. Elijah stared at the box in his hands.
"What did he give you?" He pulled off the top to reveal a golden medal. "What is it Eli?" She walked over to him and reached out a sleeve-covered hand. "Can I?" He nodded silently, voice suddenly lost as he stared at the medal attached to a short blue and white ribbon. She pushed back her sleeves and picked it up. "In honor of extreme bravery and selflessness, and in loving memory of the hero, fire fighter, husband, and father. Jonathan Leery will forever be remembered." She looked up at her stepbrother, who looked pained and saddened. "That's your dad, huh, Eli?" He only nodded. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek as a tear started to roll down. "Its okay Eli, don't cry." He hugged her and pulled her down into his lap. "Don't cry."
"Where'd you find it?" Elijah forced out, once they had gotten to the restaurant. The entire car ride was spent in silence, as he tried to think of something to say. Now they were sitting at a table at El Paso, one of the finer restaurants in town.
Cedric rested his arms on the table and folded his hands. "I've always had it. Mom gave it to me when I moved out. I figured I'd give it to you when you were a little more stable."
Elijah growled deep in his throat. "I looked for that for years and you had it the entire time?!"
Cedric slammed his fist on the table. "Yeah, I did! Don't give me attitude, Elijah! Do you think it would still be here? Either you or Tera would have hawked it by now."
Eli gritted his teeth. "We never did that."
Cedric rolled his gray blue eyes and grunted, straining to keep cool. "I didn't come to fight with you Elijah, but can you look at me and honestly say you never hawked any of mom's jewellery or dad's clothes to feed your habits? And I caught Tera! Don't defend her!"
Eli crossed his arms and looked away. "Why did you come?"
"Mom sent me."
"Mom thinks you should come home. She sent me to see how you're doing, to see if you're ready," Cedric explained. "You're not supposed to know. But if I tell her you're doing great, she's gonna have Gennai send you home."
"What?!" His arms fell to his sides. "I'm in the middle of my senior year. She can't be serious." Cedric shrugged. "You're serious."
Cedric scratched the back of his head and gave his brother a lopsided smile. "She means well. She just wants you home. Especially now that you want to go to U of A." Cedric cocked his head. "Why is that?"
Elijah tensed. Cedric wouldn't understand his reasons. "I just want to stay in Tucson."
"Why?" Cedric made a face. "It's hot and sunny, and all your friends are in Oregon."
Elijah sighed. "Correction, they're all dead or in prison."
"Actually, Jackson Norris is out on parole. He was looking for you."
"Jack's out?" Elijah shook his head violently. "No! I can't. Not again."
"Think about coming home, Eli. One way or another, I have to go home and give a report to mom. So just think about it. You could come live with me if you don't want to live with mom."
"With you?" Elijah said skeptically, but Cedric could still hear some interest in his voice.
Cedric nodded. "So you'll think about it." It was a statement rather then a question. "Good." The waitress walked up carrying their orders and they did not speak after that.
Tera lay on her bed, staring up at the ceiling, with one hand behind her head and the other resting on her stomach. Taylor lay beside her in a similar position. "So, what you're saying is Dawson is in love with Joey, who is in love with Pacey, who loves Joey but won't touch her because Dawson would hate him, but Dawson already hates him for stealing his other girlfriend, Jen, who later broke up with Pacey because she got bored and wanted some other guy who ended up being gay?" (I don't own Dawson's Creek, ehehe) Taylor nodded. Tera shook her head. "How do you watch that crap?!"
Taylor laughed. "It's not crap. It's a teen drama."
Tera rolled her eyes. "I get enough teen drama without TV. But whatever." A small grin spread over her face. "What about your teen drama?"
Taylor looked confused. "What are you talking about?"
"Matt!" Tera laughed and Taylor blushed. "Well? It's obvious there's something there! So?" Taylor hesitated to answer. "Has he kissed you?" Taylor nodded with another blush. Tera sat up and her mouth dropped. "What? Are you serious?! When? Where?"
"Only sorta," she answered in her quiet whispery voice, as her face glowed brightly.
"What?" Now Tera looked confused. "How do you sorta kiss someone?"
"He kissed me," she answered. "On my cheek."
"Oh," Tera laughed as she laid back. "You got me all excited over a kiss on the cheek."
They sat in silence for a minute. Then, "Tera," Taylor whispered. Tera turned her head to look at her. "I don't want him to kiss me."
"Why not?" Tera asked surprised. Taylor didn't answer, just looked away. "Hey, what's the matter? Is he treating you okay?"
"No no! He's treating me great. But "
"But what?" Tera pressed. "Taylor, I know you're trying to avoid telling me something. You do this all the time, but I'm worried about you. What's wrong?"
"I think I'm going too slow for him. I think he's frustrated with me," Taylor sighed.
"That's not it," Tera shook her head. "But on a side note, if he does care about you, then how fast you go doesn't matter. So what is it really?"
Taylor opened her mouth, but found her voice gone. She couldn't tell Tera, why, she didn't know. But she just couldn't. "I don't want to get into it. I don't, I can't."
"Does Matt know?" Taylor nodded. "I'm going to go and ask Matt later. Is that okay with you?" Taylor nodded. Tera lay back down and Taylor did the same. "Alright, I'll ask him." They sat in silence. "You know," Tera started with a smile. "Kissing's not all that bad."
Taylor giggled. "And how do you know? Have you and Aaron?" She teased.
"Once," Tera answered sadly.
"Why do you sound sad?" Taylor asked.
"It was right before he left," she replied as a tear trailed down her cheek.
"He'll come home Tera. You don't have to worry."
"I hope you're right Taylor."
"Right about what?" A new voice called. Tera shot up. Aaron stood in the doorway of their room, holding his suitcase and smiling slightly.
"Aaron!" Tera jumped over the side of the bunk bed and landed with a 'thud' before launching herself at him.
He dropped his suitcase and hugged her tightly. "Wow. I didn't know I was so missed. Maybe if I walk out and come back in I'll get a kiss."
"Stupid Aaron!" Tera laughed as she hugged him. "I missed you," she whispered.
"I missed you too, babe."
She stepped back and examined his face. He had a black eye, his lip was busted and his cheek was bruised. "What happened to you?"
"My brothers," he shrugged. "It's not too bad." She just hugged him harder, pressing her face into his shoulder. "Hey Taylor," Aaron greeted over Tera's shoulder. Tera stepped away as Taylor climbed down from her bed and Aaron gave her a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. She blushed. "Where is everyone?" He asked when she pulled away.
"Natalie, Tai and Sora went out with a bunch of their friends and Matt, Kari, and TK are downstairs watching a movie. Eli went out to eat with Cedric."
"Cedric's back in town?" Tera nodded. "Well, you're still in one piece so he couldn't have been too bad." Tera only shrugged "Where's Gennai?"
"He had an emergency," Tera answered.
"Oh," Aaron nodded. He licked his split lip subconsciously.
"Don't do that," Tera chided. "It'll get infected."
"Shut up!" He rolled his eyes in exasperation. Her mouth dropped and Taylor took a step back, but he took no notice as he grabbed his suitcase and left.
"What did I do?" She asked Taylor. Taylor just shrugged uncertainly. "I should go talk to him. You mind?" Taylor shook her head. "Alright, I'll be back later." Taylor nodded and Tera exited their room and walked toward the boys room. The door was shut. She knocked. "Aaron? Can I come in?"
"Go away Tera!" Aaron shouted.
"NO!" She screamed back stubbornly. "Aaron."
"I'm coming in."
"Leave me alone!"
"NO!" Tera opened the door to find the room completely dark. She glanced around in the darkness to see the outline of a body standing to one corner. She flipped on the light to see Aaron with his fist through the wall. A large dent appeared under his fist as he grunted and gritted his teeth in pain. "Aaron, what are you doing?!" Tera demanded.
"Licencia, chucha!" He ordered in Spanish.
"I will not leave, and if you call me a bitch again I will slap you so hard, you'll forget anything your brothers ever did to you! Aaron!" she snapped back. "What's wrong?" He started shaking. "Aaron?" He was using his fist as support, and it still sat half embedded in the wall. His head dropped. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head on his back. He tensed. "What's wrong?"
"It hurts, Tera," he shuddered. "It just hurts so much."
"What happened?" she whispered.
"No," he snapped.
"No what?!" she demanded.
"No, I don't want to get into it."
She sighed. "Aaron, please," she whispered. He met her eyes slowly, almost like he was scared. And nodded slowly. She pulled him from the wall and pushed him towards the bottom bunk, forcing him to sit on Tai's bed. He did so willingly, his head swaying like it was too heavy to hold. She sat down and picked his head up in her hands. "When was the last time you ate?"
He shrugged. "Day before yesterday."
"Damnit, Aaron! Why?"
"It was him! He-he kicked me out. I hitchhiked here. I had no money!" He explained in desperation.
"What?!" Tera shrieked. "Your dad kicked you out?" He gave a silent nod. "Oh god, Aaron," she whispered. "Your brothers didn't do this, huh?" He shook his head. She stood up. "I'm gonna get you something to eat, then you can tell me what happened, okay?"
"I'm so tired," he shook his head weakly.
"I know, but Aaron I want you to eat something. I can get you painkillers, okay?" Her brown eyes narrowed as she desperately tried to plead with him. He nodded. "I'll be right back." She turned to go, but a hand caught hers and she looked back at him. Without waiting, she kissed his sore cheek lightly and took off down the stairs.
"Tera, are you okay?" someone called from the living room, but she ignored it as she crashed into the kitchen. She rooted around in the fridge for a moment, ignoring the rotting meatloaf Natalie had made, Chinese food boxes and Mexican takeout bags, before pulling a plate of cold pizza out. Grabbing a bottle of water she bounded up the stairs once again, taking the steps two at a time. By the time she reached the top of the stairs, all her energy had worn out and she coughed her way back into the boy's room.
Aaron looked up at her, his dark green eyes sullen. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she lied through a sharp painful cough.
"Liar." He took the plate from her and all at once stuffed an entire piece of pizza into his mouth. He chewed fast and sloppy, his mouth hanging open, but he didn't care, nor did she. He paused and looked up at her after the second one; one slice was left. "You want some?"
She shook her head, sending hair into her face. "No, I'm still on a strict diet of soup and water. Anything else makes me really sick." He nodded and practically inhaled the last piece. "Feel any better?" He shook his head and his entire body swayed with the movement. She held out the water bottle and produced painkillers from her pocket. "Take these." He did as he was told and knocked back the pills. She sat down beside him. "Where does it hurt?" He grabbed the end of his shirt and hoisted it over his head with a grunt of pain. He let the shirt and his arms drop. A gruesome bruise clouded the smooth skin on his side. "He kicked you?" She asked softly. He shook his head, causing himself to sway again. "What then?"
"A baseball bat."
"What the fuck? What if your ribs are broken? We need to get you to the hospital!"
"NO!" He snapped. She silenced instantly. "It's bruised. My ribs are bruised, nothing I can't handle." He shook his head. "I'm just so tired. I just want to get some sleep." She looked unsettled. "We can talk in the morning."
"But Aaron-" She insisted. He just looked away and lay down on his unbruised side. She shook her head with a sad sigh. "Goodnight Aaron," she whispered, though he was already asleep. With that she stood up and walked out.
The phone buzzed in her ear as she patiently waited for the other end to be answered. Well, not exactly patiently. Her heart pounded violently and she felt like she was going to throw up. Her head spun.
"Hello?" a voice asked on the other end.
"He-hello?" She said quickly. "Is Zane there?"
"Yeah hold on. ZANE!" the voice replied. "Who's calling?"
"Alright, he's coming." The sound of the phone getting passed around could be heard, then, "Hello?"
"Zane," she forced.
"That's me. Kari, is that you?"
"Hey," he greeted. His voice sounded uneasy. "How have you been?"
"Not good," she whispered. "That night, the last time we went out, I don't remember a thing that happened. But my dad said I was drugged."
"He did?" Zane squeaked.
She steeled herself. "Zane, did you drug me?"
"No, I didn't," he answered quickly.
Her stomach flipped. "Zane, was I raped?"
"No. I caught Slick before before, you know."
"I'm sorry I got you mixed up with him, and I don't want to see you again."
"You're too young Kari. In three months, what we were doing would have been illegal. It was fun, but I just can't do it anymore. Sorry Kari. But first rule of life, don't get too deep." The other end clicked, indicating he had hung up. She let the phone drop after clicking it off. Getting up from her seat on the couch, she made her way up to her room, resisting the urge to cry. Zane was right, never get too close. So this was her fault...
She got to her room just as her tears overwhelmed her. She sank to the floor, unaware of another presence in the room, and sobbed into her hand. She tensed upon feeling two arms wrap around her. "Kari? What's wrong?" Sora whispered.
"Why am I so stupid? Why did I fall for him?" She choked out. "He touched me... and I let him..."
Sora stroked her hair. "What are you talking about? Who?"
Kari jumped away, "Don't touch me!"
Sora didn't move. "Kari, what's wrong?" She asked sternly.
"What's wrong?" Kari snapped. "What's wrong?! Everything is fucking wrong! Would you like me to narrow it down?" Sora didn't reply. "How about how no matter what I do, or how I avoid him, Tai still hates me and never looks at me like I matter. Or how about you, all high and mighty because your damn crest glowed, and how did you do it, you whored yourself to my brother!" Sora's face showed deep pain, but yet again, she did not move. "Or what about how these-" she held out her wrists. "-itch and acke and I just want to do it again!" She let her hand drop to the floor and finally tears built up in her eyes and she dropped her head. "Or how about how I almost got raped three months ago and I can't go through a night without seeing him in my mind making me wake up screaming." She rubbed her face with her hands and mumbled between them, "But 'he' wasn't who I thought."
"I know you hate everyone," Sora whispered. "And I know you hate the situation you're in. And you feel you can't trust anyone-"
"Don't tell me what I feel!"
Sora slapped her. "You need to stop and clam down. I know you're not going to talk to me, but you need to find someone. Because you CAN'T go around threatening to slit your wrists again." Sora stood up and yanked her to her feet. "You need to quit it with the attitude, you got me?!"
"I got you," Kari mumbled, staring at the floor. Sora grabbed her chin roughly, making her meet her ruby eyes. "I got it!"
"Good, until you can talk to me like a human being, don't!" Sora barked as she exited. Kari watched her go before collapsing into a heap of tears on the floor.
Matt sat on Taylor's bed with Taylor's head in his lap. Music played softly from Tera's radio as Matt hummed quietly. His fingers laced with hers as she closed her eyes, listening to him hum and he stroked her hair with his other hand. "Taylor," he whispered. He leaned over and kissed her on her forehead, causing her to flinch. She opened her eyes and smiled softly at him. "What's wrong? You seem off in your own little world." He cracked a grin. "More then usual."
She reached up and touched his face, running a hand softly down his face. He smiled and kissed her hand. "Could you talk to Tera for me?"
"Tera?" He asked, confused. "Why?"
"I need you to," she whispered desperately.
"Of course." She sat up and he stood up. He turned back, to touch her face softly, one of the few skin to skin contacts she was confortable with. He noticed that no matter how much time they spent together, she would never be truly comfortable with him. He turned out of the girls room and jogged down the stairs to the living room. Tera sat on the couch reading. "Tera." Tera glanced up from her book to see Matt standing in the doorway of the living room. His icy blue eyes locked with her's as he stepped in. "Taylor wanted me talk to you."
Tera's mouth fell open, confused, before she regained her thoughts. "Oh, okay." She set down her book and patted the cushion beside her. "Come have a seat."
He sat down and they sat in silence for a minute. "I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to talk to you about."
"Nothing, it's me who wanted to talk to you."
"Oh, what's up?"
"Do you love Taylor?"
His mouth dropped as he began to stammer. "I-I well, I mean." He stopped himself and met Tera's eyes. "I dunno." Matt laughed and shrugged. "Yeah, I love Taylor."
"Are you frustrated with her?" He shook his head, eyebrows furrowed. "She thinks you are." She shook her head, "but that's not what I wanted to talk to you about."
"What is Taylor hiding from me?" Matt clamped his mouth shut and looked away. "She said you could tell me, otherwise I wouldn't have asked."
"Why didn't she tell you then?" He replied, voice hard.
"Because she didn't want to talk about it." Again Matt didn't respond. "Matt, Taylor is my best friend. If something is wrong I wanna know. I don't know why she won't tell me, but she worries me."
"Taylor was raped, Tera," Matt barked out suddenly.
Aaron stood at the door to Gennai's study and knocked. The sound was loud in his ears, almost enough to make him flinch. "Come in," Gennai commanded from the other side. Aaron entered, slow with his movements. Gennai looked up from his computer and smiled. "Aaron! Welcome home! I was wondering when you would get up."
"I was just really tired," Aaron answered with a shrug.
"How was your holiday with your family?"
Aaron sighed and took a seat in front of Gennai's desk. "Saying it sucked would be an understatement. But that's what I actually came to talk to you about. I have been officially disowned. My dad doesn't want me back. So." He reached into his back pocket and produced a piece of paper. "I'm gonna leave."
Gennai took the paper and read it over. "Aaron, this is a foreign exchange application."
Aaron nodded. "Completely filled out, I just need my guardian's signature. So, you gotta pen?"
Gennai stared at the application. "Where is this for?"
"Japan. Tai gave it to me."
Gennai looked up at him, but couldn't quite find Aaron. All he could see was a beaten youth. "Are you sure you want to do this?" Aaron nodded. "How long would you be gone?"
"I leave at the end of this school year. Spend the summer learning Japanese and getting to know the family and then I come back at the end of school next year."
"So a year?" Aaron nodded. With a sigh Gennai signed. "What's with the sudden interest in travel?"
"My dad may have disowned me, but he's not done with me. At the end of the school year he's gonna come get me and take me to a boy's ranch in Benson." Aaron cringed. "I'm not going there. I'm getting the hell out." He looked at Gennai painfully. "You understand, right?" Gennai nodded reluctantly. "You'll send it then?" Gennai nodded again. "Thank you Gennai." Aaron stood up and left Gennai rubbing his forehead.
Aaron left Gennai's study at the same time Tera exited the living room, pale and looking sick. They both froze and met each other's eyes. "Aaron," she started. "Can I talk-"
He rushed past her, "Not now Tera!" He barked as he rushed up the stairs, leaving her confused.
Kari sat in the bathroom, blade pressed to her wrist. She had been sitting like this for over an hour. She couldn't do it....but she couldn't pull away. All she could do was sob.
Okay, once again, Cherry Seraphym thank you again for your beta'ing! I know I changed it around a bit. Hope its better. I'll catch ya'all later! Bye everyone!
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