Sunlight fell upon the wall;
the wall received a borrowed splendor.
Why set your heart on a piece of earth,
O simple one? Seek out the source
which shines forever.
Saturdays were always the same.
Soccer. Ramen. Homework. And if that was done in time, there was a chance for him to relax, which usually meant more soccer or video games for an hour or two before it was time for ramen again. He always came home late, smelling like miso and pork. He wished he had Saturday nights free to do what he wanted like the rest of his friends. At least they stopped by the noodle cart every week. Usually for free ramen. He was half convinced that was the reason he had so many. Friends that is. Or maybe he should just call them stomachs. He had a lot of stomachs.
"How are you still hungry?" Demiveemon moaned. His little blue body was only half visible under an empty bowl.
Ty Motomiya flicked broth off his rubber gloves, sprinkling his partner's face. "Because unlike you I haven't been sampling the merchandise."
"You ate three bowls for lunch."
Ah, he could always count on Salamon to call him out. Ty gave the pup a glare and sent broth splashing in her direction.
Haru reached over and snapped Ty's glove. "Customer." He bobbed his silky hair toward the front of the cart and the whistle on his neck almost dipped into a pot of boiling water.
The one good thing about Saturdays, Ty thought, was he didn't have to suffer alone.
"Welcome to Noodle Noodle Come Get Your Noodle," he droned.
Ty could picture his dad standing over the cart smiling. He always lectured about business with a grin. "Loud and Proud, Ty, Loud and Proud."
God, why was his dad such a dork?
The words practically melted into the air, sprawling across his ear drums as if they were taking a seat there. Ty stiffened and did everything he could not to make eye contact.
"Hi Aiko," said Haru. Amusement danced into his voice. It must be because he was used to her. Ty had no idea how anyone could get used to Aiko Ichijouji. "What can we get you?"
Her voice beamed. "An apron."
Ty looked up to find her leaning over the cart. He looked away. She was totally squeezing her boobs together on purpose and he was not going to give her the satisfaction of staring. This time.
Ever since he moved back to Tokyo, Aiko's biggest mission in life seemed to be to get him to blush. Her weapon of choice was an old photo of them bathing together, both sporting soapy mohawks, their digimon beside them, splashing away. Aiko was three and wearing a bubble bra while Ty stood in defiance to give the camera a full view of his tiny toddler penis.
Ty frowned at her cleavage. "Why?"
Poromon flew in front of his face. "Eyes in the sky!"
Ty flicked his wing, blushing.
"I'm taking over the cart for you guys," Aiko sang, still leaning. Her glasses were starting to fog from the steam. "Your dad is paying me double."
"What?" Ty whined. "Unfair."
"He said you guys are going to Digiworld."
Haru met Ty's glance and gave a shrug. They both pulled off their hair nets. Ty reached into his pocket and snapped on his goggles, nestling them into his hair. He hurtled over the back of the cart and shoved his apron into Aiko's waiting hands.
She pulled it on and it stretched tight over her chest. Ty blushed again and bolted as soon as DemiVeemon landed in his arms.
Aiko yelled, "Don't get eaten by the Tyrannamon!"
A slow thundering sound preceded a woman leading her partner Tyrannamon through the park. They both scowled.
"No offense," Aiko squeaked.
Ty practically skipped around its tail, staring in awe at its monstrous height. He was always stoked to see champion digimon in their world. Anything above rookie was such a rare sight, he almost forgot that a champion lived in his house. Gatomon didn't count though. She was cute and small, like a little momma cat who kept the her digi-kittens in line. It was a good thing she couldn't read minds. Her claws hurt like a champion.
"Oh, Haru!" Aiko called. She threw her hand out from her lips, arm flying with drama. "Blow a kiss to Mariko for me!" He couldn't tell through her fogged glasses, but Ty was positive she winked.
He gave Haru a nudge in the ribs. "Merry Mariko?"
"Don't call her that."
"Oh sorry. I meant Happy Hida."
Haru stopped and stared at him. He looked just like his mother when she scolded them: brown eyes squinting, mouth stretched thin. Even though Haru was a good head taller than Ty now, it was hard to take him seriously. He was such a softy. Even all that childhood trauma couldn't take the nice out of him.
"OW!" Ty winced as his goggles snapped back onto his forehead. He rubbed the forming welt and readjusted his hair. "I take it back."
"Take what back?"
"You being nice."
Haru rolled his eyes. "Stop picking on Mariko."
"She's so serious." Ty trotted ahead to avoid another goggle snapping. "And she looks exactly like her dad. It's weird."
"Says the pot to the kettle."
"But I'm a guy. I'm supposed to look like my dad."
"You're a clone."
"You really aren't nice."
They found Davis at the far end of the park, sitting under an enormous cherry tree. A blanket of pink petals spread across the grass, flying under Veemon's feet. He was juggling a soccer ball in slow motion toward Davis's spread legs.
"And Veemon jukes the last defender. It's all up to Motomiya now. The goal's wide open! Can she do it?"
Two tiny feet flew into the air and landed on the ball before it could fly into his crotch.
"Ahhhhhhh! And the crowd goes wild, wahhhhhhh! Did you see that move? Motomiya literally flew. Remember that name, ladies and gentlemen. Youko Motomiya. This girl is gonna lead Japan to the next World Cup, baahahahaha!"
Tiny squeals of delight lit the park when Davis rolled to his back, lifting a baby onto his shins, complete with airplane sound effects. His neck craned until he was looking at them upside down. "Ah, there's your brothers."
Ty caught the ball with the bottom of his foot and let DemiVeemon down to explore. He kicked the ball back to Haru and dove onto the grass to sweep his sister out of Davis's hands. "But who's your favorite brother? Huh?"
Youko looked up, her head of silky brown hair already curling at the ends, and immediately broke into tears.
"Not you," said Haru. He headbutted the soccer ball toward Salamon and the digimon all dove for it at the same time.
"Aw man," Ty moaned, "how do I make her stop?"
Davis jumped to his feet and ran a hand into his hair to free the flower petals stuck there. There was a little gray beginning to show just above his ears. "Try bouncing her."
Ty held Youko an arm's length away, moving her up and down by the armpits. "Not working."
"Don't shake her." Haru stole the baby out of Ty's outstretched hands and pulled her close enough to nuzzle her tiny button nose. "Ty's just a big klutz, isn't he?"
"Not nice. Mean. Possibly evil," said Ty.
Haru laughed. "So why are are we going to Digiworld?"
Davis finished strapping a baby carrier to his chest and lifted Youko from Haru's arms to put her inside. She instantly settled. "I'm gonna see if I can score some points with your mother. You guys are my wingmen."
"Ugh, Dad. No. Stop being a creep."
"I made us dinner." Davis grinned and shoved armfuls of bags into the boys' hands. "Carry it."
The digimon seemed to come from every direction to offer their help. Ty fed them an entire roll of Smarties he had been keeping in his back pocket to keep them from sneaking samples.
Portals to the Digital World were accessed in terminals. It was sort of like an airport, but smaller, and regulated completely by a small government agency dedicated specifically to Digital World relations, all thanks to their Uncle Tai, with some help from Izzy of course. The digidestined could still get their own personal access via digivice, but Kari always insisted they take public transportation. "We shouldn't be the exception anymore," she had said.
But whenever they used the terminals it was a spectacle. Anyone going to Digiworld knew Davis Motomiya and Davis liked to pretend he knew everyone. This time he was showing off Youko to anyone who would look. The food must have been cold by the time they made it through.
This part of the digital world was crawling with people. Some lived there, but most came to visit. It was beneficial to their partners. There was simply some sort of energy that the digimon tapped into in their natural environment and people from all over the world wanted to take the best care of their digimon. Which was why Kari Kamiya was there, teaching a class.
Once a month she took her students through the portal. "If you really want to understand your partner, you should understand their home," she said.
Ty could see a crowd of kids wandering through the sparkling fauna and flora with their digimon partners. For a lot of them who grew up in the city, it was the most nature they'd ever seen. Ty loved it here. He set Demiveemon down and he immediately started bouncing, taking off to dip in a nearby pond.
"Don't go too far," Ty said.
"I'll keep an eye on him," said Salamon, trotting after him with a sigh.
"Digimom," Ty called after her. She ignored him.
Haru raised a brow.
"Any digimon that evolves into a gatomon has mom written into their coding. Just ask Izzy."
Haru had started to roll his eyes when a familiar voice started calling his name.
"Here comes Happy Hida," Ty giggled.
Haru stepped on his foot.
"Happy Hida?" chuckled Davis. "Why didn't I ever think of that?"
Color crept on Haru's cheeks as father and son had a good laugh. "Hi Mariko," he said.
Mariko Hida was a couple years younger than Ty, but even the way she stood made her seem older. The only happy thing about her was the Upamon bouncing giddily in her arms. She pushed her long straight hair over her shoulder and surveyed them through thick bangs. "Are you here for class?"
"Nah, we're here to hit on my mom," said Ty.
"Okay..." Mariko blinked and Haru went pink again. "Do you mean Haru's mom?"
"Our mom," said Haru. It was probably the only time he'd correct Mariko.
Ty gave him a grateful slap between his shoulder blades. Totally nice. He leaned toward Mariko's ear, shielding his mouth with the back of his hand. "She loves him 'cause he's blood. She loves me 'cause I'm awesome." He winced when Davis's knuckles ground into his hair, knocking his goggles out of place.
Mariko smiled, actually smiled, when she caught sight of the baby on Davis's chest. "Wow, your sister is getting so big." She lifted Upamon so he could see. "Isn't she beautiful?"
Davis beamed. "Looks just like her mother."
Ty poked one of Youko's curls. "I think she's gonna have our hair."
"Thanks for boosting my self-esteem, Dad."
"Do you want her to look like your Aunt Jun?"
Ty's father stood up straight and his entire face changed, literally, as if it was lit by electricity. Somehow, even when they fought, Davis seemed brighter when Kari was around. Ty probably would never admit it, but it made him feel whole. He loved his little family. Even when it was just him and his Dad, he had been happy. But now, with Kari and Haru (and yeah, even squirmy Youko who stole all the attention with one coo) it seemed complete.
"Hello, Lady of Light. I made you dinner," said Davis.
Kari pursed her lips. "You know I packed something."
"And you know that I know you don't wanna eat it."
"It wasn't that bad."
"It was. It was really bad."
"I followed the recipe."
Davis shrugged. "Maybe it was a bad recipe?"
They all knew he was lying.
"I'm not a bad cook," said Kari. "Haru always eats my food."
Haru stayed very silent.
"Dad and Uncle Tai used to sneak me TV dinners."
"Don't worry, Kari," Veemon piped in. "I like your food."
Gatomon trotted up, observing her claws. "You like her mother's food too."
"That's half the reason I wanted to cook for a living," said Davis. "I knew when we got married someday I'd have to feed us."
Kari pinched his arm.
Davis gave it a rub, but even his mock pout looked like a smile. "When I showed your dad the ring, he started talking about his secret food stashes. Apparently it's an old Kamiya family secret. The men have been hoarding food for generations."
"Well Youko is going to break that tradition, aren't you, sweetheart?" Kari slipped her hands into the carrier on Davis's chest to lift out their daughter. "You're going to cook just like your daddy."
"You bet she will."
"So how is the noodle cart doing?" Kari asked after covering her daughter's face with kisses.
"Okay," said Haru.
"Slow," said Ty.
"Tokyo's gonna catch on to the awesomeness sometime, don't worry." Davis rubbed his knuckles against his chest. "Business is still booming in the states."
Kari settled Youko onto her hip. "Regret expanding?"
Davis took a step toward her to tweak his daughter's nose and his voice went low. It was the kind of voice that usually meant the boys should head to their room. "You know I love a challenge."
They ate dinner on a big blanket by the pond. Mariko and Upamon joined them. Davis had packed enough for two families, but all the leftovers went to scouring baby digimon who were just too cute to resist. It was picturesque: chaff from a nearby field turning to pixels on the wind, the bright forest mixed with street signs, crowds of people and digimon at peace. Ty dropped a grape into DemiVeemon's awaiting jaw and laid back, taking in the sky – the blue unlike anything on Earth.
Just when his eyes grew heavy, he felt a foot in his side.
His father was grinning down at him. "Points have been scored. Watch your sister."
Youko was plopped directly onto Ty's stomach, taking the wind out of him. "Geez."
Haru was twirling a soccer ball in hands. "Let's teach her a couple plays."
"She can't even walk," whined Ty.
Davis's toes found his side again. "Go."
"You pay Aiko twice as much as us and now we gotta babysit for free?" Ty hefted Youko over his shoulder and followed Haru into the open field, their digimon hot on their feet. "Unfair." He turned to give his father one last glare, but Davis wasn't looking. The glint of his wedding band shimmered against Kari's hair.
Ty shielded his sister's eyes. "Ugh, there are children here, Dad. Gross." He started to complain about PDA and getting a room even though he was smiling.
"I only have a few more minutes before my next class starts," Kari said when Davis pulled her down to lie beside him. She was beginning to wonder if setting their blanket by a thick veil of bushes had been a strategic move.
"Mmmhmm." He hummed, nose rubbing against her temple. "Just let me pretend like you don't." His lips pressed against the top of her ear, warm breath slipping down her neck.
Kari closed her eyes. "You are awful." She gave his chest a pat, pushing him back. "Ty's right. Children. My students."
A chuckle rumbled under her fingers. "You shouldn't look so sexy then."
"I'm wearing a turtleneck."
"A sexy turtleneck."
"And maternity jeans, I'm not kidding. They still fit."
"Just right. Stop. You're killin' me."
"Can't. The stretchy waistband is so comfortable."
His arms slipped around her waist. "Mmmm."
"Don't you dare kiss me."
"Kiss me then."
"Kari, let's make another baby."
"Youko is six months old."
He nipped her ear again. "I never want you out of these maternity pants."
"Then making a baby might be hard."
Davis laughed so loud that the kids looked in their direction, successfully halting any further indecent behavior. Kari kissed his cheek just so they'd stop staring.
"Y'know, it's crazy, but I think our dreams kinda finally came true." Davis was staring at the clouds now. They rolled by lazily, bright and white.
"You, teaching kids about digimon. Things are kinda peaceful now, right? I mean, the world's still a mess, but it's better. You're making it better."
Kari propped herself onto an elbow to look down at his face. There were a couple of permanent creases in the corners of his eyes, the same ones that wrinkled when he smiled. Warmth seemed to radiate between them. She ran her fingers into his hair, short and starting to pepper with gray. She could still picture him: six years old, his hair a ball of frizz, hunched over his desk, red crayon on his teeth, eyes wet with tears. She remembered him: a boy of twelve, standing against their enemy alone while everyone was distracted by their dreams, the man he'd become, pulled under the sea, who broke through worlds to find her.
"What's your dream, Davis?"
Later, when she was teaching her next class and Davis had joined their children in a game of soccer, Youko bouncing happily on his chest and digimon all around, Kari could still feel his warmth.
If she was the light, than he was the sun.
He was the energy that never stopped burning, even when the world had turned and all was cast in darkness. Even when she was diminished and dulled by clouds he was there, waiting for the sky to clear so they could shine again.