"Izzy! Where are you?"
Good grief! Izzy ducked down behind some convenient bushes and watched Yolei search for him. Doesn't she ever give up?
"Izzy, when I find you, I'm going to make you wish you were never even born!" the younger girl shouted angrily.
Just because I didn't want to let you kiss me? Izzy rolled his eyes. Please
Of course, he reminded himself, falling backwards into her bookshelf and then running out of her apartment probably wasn't the best way to tell her that.
"Izzy, you'd better help me clean up this mess or I'll..." The threat was left hanging.
Izzy crouched down even lower and watched until Yolei moved away. He let out the breath he'd been holding in and sank down onto the ground. "Boy, I thought she'd never leave!"
Izzy looked up, startled. "Oh, hey, Tai. Hi Kari. What are you two doing here?"
"Just walking around." Tai shrugged. "Who are you hiding from?"
"Uh... Yolei," Izzy admitted quickly. "She's mad because I knocked over a bookshelf at her house."
"You knocked over a bookshelf?" Kari repeated.
"How'd you manage that?" Tai asked, sounding amused.
"I fell back when she...trdtkssm," Izzy finished the sentence with indistinct mumbling, his face as hot as if he'd been burned.
"When she whaaaa?" Tai made a confused face.
"When she tried to kzmm," Izzy muttered, under his breath.
"She tried to what?" Kari asked loudly.
"KISS ME! She tried to kiss me, OK!?" Izzy bellowed at the top of his lungs.
"SHE WHAT!!!???" Kari and Tai both shouted incredulously.
"AHA!" Yolei pointed in their direction. "There you are!"
"Now look what you did!" Izzy complained.
"Yolei, how could you?" Kari shrieked.
"Huh?" Izzy and Tai said at the same time.
"Izzy's mine!" Kari continued, glaring at Yolei. "How could you try to kiss him?"
Izzy sweatdropped. "Oh no..."
"Yours!?" Forgetting about Izzy, Yolei turned to face Kari. "You've got some nerve! What makes you think he's yours?"
"He is mine! Isn't that right, Izzy?" Kari turned toward Izzy.
"Says who?" Yolei shouted.
"You and who else?" The two girls continued to scream at each other, ignoring the strange looks they were getting from others in the park.
"Uh, Tai?" Izzy said nervously.
"I think I suddenly have this urge to go for a walk downtown... How about you?"
Tai glanced at Yolei and Kari. "You know, that sounds like a pretty good idea..."
* * *
"Wow! Look at that!" Izzy pressed his hands against the glass of a case inside his favorite computer store. It's one of those mini-computers," he explained to Tai, who had joined him by the case. "You wear it like a watch, and the screen flips up, see?" He pointed. "I would give anything to have one of those."
"I'll bet they're expensive," Tai commented, looking at the watch.
"Not very... They're like those pocket organizers -- just for storing information." Izzy sighed. "But I could sure use it."
"Sounds kinda neat." Tai shrugged. "I've been saving up for a while. Maybe I'll buy one."
"Lucky." Izzy stared at the watch some more. "I'm flat broke, and I don't want to ask my parents for any more money. Especially to buy more computer equipment."
"Hmm. You know, I think I will buy one. Hold on a second." Tai went up to the counter.
Minutes later, the two were walking down the street again, Tai with the watch around his wrist.
"Hey Izzy?" the older boy said suddenly.
"Yeah?" Izzy glanced sideways at him.
"Do you... like Yolei? Or Kari?"
"Uh..." Izzy felt suddenly uncomfortable. "I don't know. I don't think I like Yolei, or I'd have let her kiss me, don't you think?"
"Sure, I guess." Tai shrugged.
"And Kari -- well, I guess I've never really even noticed her. Not that way, at least," he added hastily.
"Oh. Hey, um, you know what?" Tai stopped, and took off his new watch. "I don't think I want this after all." He shoved it into a surprised Izzy's hands. "Here. You have it."
"But Tai!" Izzy protested. "I don't have the money to pay you back! I can't just -- "
"Forget it." Tai grinned, a little lopsided. "It's a gift. From me to you." He looked away. "Look, it's getting late. I guess I'd better get home." He turned and walked away, leaving a very confused Izzy behind him.
* * *
What's gotten into him? Izzy lay on his bed, arms behind his head, staring at the ceiling. Why did he buy it if he didn't want it? And why did he give it to me? He could've just taken it back.
"It doesn't even make sense," Izzy commented out loud. "A gift? 'From me to you'? It's not even a special occassion!" He sighed. "I don't understand him at all..."
His mind, as if of its own accord, took on a new direction at that point, back to when Tai had asked him if he liked Yolei or Kari. Why did he want to know that? Well, Kari's his sister; maybe he wanted to know if I was going to end up dating her or soemthing!
Izzy laughed at that. Somehow, he couldn't quite picture himself with Kari. Or Yolei either, for that matter. It just didn't seem... right.
So what does seem right? Mimi? Izzy laughed again. "Maybe as soon as I develop an obsession with shopping and the color pink!" Still, he could feel some kind of connection. Not with Mimi, but with someone...
Right. That elusive someone. Izzy sighed. I know they're out there. Someone, somewhere, is meant for me. I just need to find out who. I think there will be a moment -- one perfect moment -- and I'll know.
His fingers lightly brushed over his new watch.
* * *
"In your dreams!"
"You let go!"
"AAGGHH!!" Izzy gave a loud yell, being tugged first one way, then the other. Both of his arms were caught, one by Kari and one by Yolei. "Both of you let go!!!" he shouted.
"Kari! What's going on here?"
Izzy looked up mournfully at Tai. "They're trying to rip me in half."
"Just because she won't let go!" Yolei accused.
"Why should I?" Kari shot back. "I saw him first!"
"You want to bet?"
"QUIET!" Tai raised an eyebrow at them. "You're both acting like idiots. Can't you argue without dislocating Izzy's shoulders?"
Kari and Yolei blinked, then guiltily dropped Izzy's arms. He shook them out, relieved.
"It's too late for this, anyway," Tai added. "You'd both better get home."
"What about you?" Kari demanded.
"I'm going to walk Izzy home." Tai shrugged. "It's getting dark out. He shouldn't be alone."
"I'll be fine!" Izzy protested. "I'm only a year younger than you are, Tai!"
"Yeah, but you're also shorter and skinnier," Tai pointed out. "And you never pay attention to anything besides your computer."
Izzy blushed, suddenly remembering that the reason he was out so late in the first place was because he'd been testing out his new watch. "Uh... well..."
"This way, brainiac," Tai said, grinning.
Izzy's apartment wasn't that far from there, but it was starting to get cold. He shivered.
"Uh... thanks for the watch." Izzy smiled, a little nervously. "It was nice of you to give it to me."
Tai shrugged. "Hey, no problem." He was grinning, a little.
"OK." They walked in silence for a while.
Izzy was starting to feel strangely content, just walking like that, without words. For some reason he felt safe in Tai's presense, and the older boy emitted a kind of warmth that Izzy sensed all through him. It was a good feeling; a comfortable feeling. It made him happy. So happy, in fact, that he was almost disappointed when he spotted his home right in front of him.
"Well... here's my apartment." Izzy turned back towards Tai, sorry that the walk had come to an end. "Thanks for walking me ho -- mmph!" His eyes went wide with shock as Tai pressed his lips onto Izzy's own. The older boy's arms pulled him into a warm embrace.
Izzy couldn't move. For a moment, he felt as if this somehow fit into the evening. It was almost like a part of the warm feeling he'd experienced earlier. That was why, for a moment, Izzy found himself unable to do anything but let it happen.
Only for a moment, though, and then his brain suddenly realized what was going on. Izzy shoved Tai away. "Wh-what are you doing?"
Tai flushed, then looked at the ground. "I-I'm sorry, Izzy," he said, almost helplessly. "It's just that tonight, I felt so close to you, and, well, I just couldn't -- couldn't help myself."
Things were starting to click into place in Izzy's brain. The watch... the way he asked about Kari and Yolei... He liked me all along! I'm such an idiot; how could I not see it before?
Izzy stared, uncertain, at his older friend. "What do you want from me, Tai?"
The other boy looked at him, surprised, and Izzy felt suddenly dizzy. Tai had been kissing him -- holding him... Why do I want him to do it again? What am I feeling?
"Wha... huh... I don't want anything from you. I just love you." Tai looked into Izzy's eyes. "Just let me keep loving you; that's all I want."
"Is -- is that why you gave me the watch?" Izzy asked, knowing the answer but wanting to hear it, all the same.
"Yeah." Tai glanced away, obviosly uncomfortable. "I bought it for you. But I knew you wouldn't let me, so I pretended it was for me."
Izzy shut his eyes tight, before opening them up wide, against tears. "You'd better take it back, then," he said in a choked voice, and pressed the watch into Tai's hand.
Then he ran into his apartment building and didn't look back.