Ah ha! By popular demand, I present this! The sequel…that's right, sequel…to Mysterious Child! In other words, you gotta go read that story (if you haven't already) to figure out what's going on here. The end of this chapter is a little scratchy, so just live with me. If you have any ideas, just tell me! I welcome them greatly!

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. However, the children (both of them!) and their partners (two too!) as well as any knew Digimon that appear belong to be. Don't use 'em, okay?

The Future's Course

Chapter 1: Paradox

Hikaru scrambled forward across the grass, laughing wildly. "Can't catch me! Can't catch me!" he chanted.

"Oh, yes I can!" Carie tumbled after her little brother, giggling. "I'll get you, Hikaru!"

Kari smiled, watching her children chase after each other through the park. It was a family outing, which they did every week or so, just the four of them. T.K., her dear husband, was working on the picnic blanket in the shade of the tall tree she sat under. She was watching their kids as they played together. Next to her, the Digimon rolled around and played. Four of them now: Gatomon, Patamon, Gatamon, and a new one: Roarmon.

Roarmon was not Gatomon and Patamon's child. Actually, he was more of an adoption. He was a small white tiger with purple stripes and small white wings on his back. It'd been obvious he was Hikaru's partner eight years ago, when the child was born and Roarmon appeared out of no where with a white and purple D-3. But it was still rather curious about the whole thing…Back to the children.

Carie and Hikaru loved each other more than anything else, even though their personalities were so different. Carie, though fourteen, was always so laughing and care-free and almost never serious. Her hair had T.K.'s mess and Kari's color, while her eyes reflected her father's stunning blue. She acted more like a child than anything else. But maybe that could be expected, she'd never had much of a childhood in the first place.

Hikaru, on the other hand, seamed more eager to grow up. His hair was blonde, but smoother than his sister's, his eyes were the same stunning blue, and his cheeks held that rosy tint that made his mother so attractive. He was rather smart for a seven-year-old, with almost perfect diction (Carie, always running from one place to the other, hadn't learned all her vocabulary and such until she was nine or ten and still had trouble with words sometimes) and jumped at a chance to be grown-up. He was very serious and quiet amongst most people, but with his sister he could laugh and play like any other kid.

Kari smiled. Life had returned to normal, these last eight years. The first was mainly spent cleaning up the mess both worlds had been left in. Even in all that trouble, they still managed to have Hikaru. Carie had finally enrolled in a real school, Kari had taken up her teaching, and T.K. was free with his at-home novels to take care of their young son. After all this, they finally had a chance to be a normal, happy family…

"Kids!" T.K. shouted, "Lunch is ready! Come and get it!"

Hikaru looked up from his place, then raced back towards his sister. "Race ya, Carie!" he shouted, reaching her side.

"Alright, little bro." she grinned one of her silly, childish grins and took her place. "Ready? Set…Go!"

Hikaru raced forward at full speed. He was faster at a sprint, but Carie beat him on long runs. Sometimes she let him win just to make him laugh, or go into one of his angry little "You let me win!" pouts some kids are famous for.

But this time she didn't even make it to the end.

Hikaru turned slightly as he heard his sister gasping for breath. He only turned back, because his sister had a habit of faking a tired sickness to make him stop, gaining her a lead. But she was stumbling, suddenly pale, with stuttered breath.

"Carie?" he called. She stumbled forward and hit the ground, clutching her heart.

"Carie!" he scrambled to her side. "Mom! Dad! There's something wrong with Carie!"

Although it caused a panic every time it happened, the children's sicknesses were not unexpected. Both of them had, unfortunately, gotten their mother's weak immune system. It didn't matter what it was going around: the flu, a cold, pneumonia, tonsillitis… you name it, the caught it. Twice. But Carie, never learning the meaning of the words 'tact' or 'lying' was not the kind to hide her sickness or suffer in silence. And the fact that she had suddenly collapsed was terrifying.

Kari and T.K. were up and at their daughter's side in an instant. "Carie, honey, what's wrong?" Kari asked. "What's the matter?"

Tears were appearing in Carie's eyes. "It hurts…" she groaned. "Mom…It hurts!"

"We better get her to the hospital." T.K. urged his wife. "It can't be good when she collapses like this!"

Kari nodded, then suddenly she gasped. "Kari?" T.K. asked. "What's the matter?"

"I felt…" Kari whispered, clutching her daughter's hand. "Carie…I couldn't feel her for a second. It was like she just disappeared…just for a minute." she looked up at T.K. "Didn't you see it?"

T.K. shook his head. He hadn't seen anything. But he did know his daughter was sick, and she needed help.

He gathered her up. Although she had his height, Carie was remarkably light, weighing no more than about 120 pounds, simple for T.K.'s taunt basketball mussels to carry to the car, whispering the lullaby he used to put her to sleep with when she was younger.

Hikaru tugged at his mother's hand. "Mom?" he asked. "Carie is gonna be okay, right?"

Kari smiled at him, none too reassuringly. "Of course she will…" she told him, although she had no real idea. "She'll be perfectly fine…"

~ * ~ * ~

.

"Well?" Kari asked anxiously, squeezing Carie's hand on one side and Hikaru's on the other. Gatamon was curled next to her partner worriedly. "Is she okay?"

Joe slid his glasses up. "I…I don't know." he muttered. "I've never seen something like this before. She seams perfectly fine, but complains constantly of chest pain. But every now and then…well, it's hard to explain…"

"Maybe I can help, Joe."

The others looked up. Izzy was standing there, drenching wet. "It's raining." he muttered before anyone could ask.

"Izzy…how in the world did you know we were here?" T.K. asked.

"Gennai told me, believe it or not." Izzy muttered, setting up a silver and black laptop that replaced his old yellow one. "The old coot finally showed his face after all these years."

"I thought he was dead." Joe said in surprise

"Apparently not." Izzy pulled up an e-mail onto the laptop's screen. No one else could read what it said, but they recognized the timeline. But it was different. Instead of white on the marker that indicated their present time, it was pure black, stretching almost twenty years back.

"What the…" T.K. whispered.

"Why is it so dark, Izzy?" Kari asked. "It's…It's wrong…"

Izzy's face was dark. "It's the same thing that's hurting Carie." he muttered. "Someone from our time is damaging the timeline, causing a paradox so that Carie was never born…."

Kari looked down at her daughter, who was listening intently from the bed. She remembered it all, the past and Kari-mama. She remembered…

She wasn't there! She'd vanished! "Carie!" Kari gasped, and in a split second she was back, half-unconcious.

"See?" Izzy prompted. "She's flickering in and out of reality. If we don't get this problem fixed soon, she'll disappear altogether!"

"But if Carie doesn't exist…" Joe whispered. "Then…no one will beat Daemon, and we'll still be trapped!"

"Exactly, Joe." Izzy was dead serious. "So the one responsible for this must be a former Daemon supporter, gone back to prevent his 'master' from being defeated by Carie."

"What can we do?" Kari asked.

"Use the portal again." Izzy grinned. "Someone has to go back to the past, just about two years after Carie went the first time, find whatever's happening, then stop it. It's the only way, not just to save Carie, but to save everything!"

T.K. contemplated this for a moment, then stood. "Alright then." he said. "Patamon and I'll go."

"I don't think so, T.K." Izzy interrupted. "It's not that simple. See, if you go to the past, there's too much risk you'll make contact with your past self. We can't allow that to happen."

"But Izzy…" Joe protested. "Kari and T.K. made contact with their past selves when they defeated Daemon. Nothing happened then."

"They didn't actually touch them though." Izzy pointed out. "Or get within a ten-foot radius. There's too much of a chance that if we had contact with a past or future counterpart, we'd change the future in ways we don't want too. It could be disastrous.

"The only thing we can do…" he continued, shutting the laptop. "Is find someone else…other than one of us…and send them. Which means it has to be a child."

"But who, Izzy?" Kari asked. "We can't trust someone else, and Carie's too weak. There's no one…"

This whole time, Hikaru had been sitting and thinking. He was at his father's side, completely quiet as he usually was among people. But now he stood, on the chair so the adults could see him. "I'll go!" he exclaimed.

Kari jumped a foot, T.K. spun around, Izzy snapped his head up, and they all stared at the small boy. "You'll…You'll what?!" Kari whispered in shock.

Hikaru was determined. "I'll go." he repeated. "I'll save Carie"

Kari looked dangerously like she was gonna faint. T.K.'s mouth seamed stuck in the open position, he couldn't figure out what to say. Joe sat down in a chair rather hard. Izzy was the only one who managed to keep his head.

"Hikaru." he said calmly. "Do you understand what you're volunteering for? It's very dangerous."

"I don't care." Hikaru muttered. "I know what's going on. Someone has to go. Carie's told me lots of stories. I understand. I'll go."

"No you will not!" Kari cried. She suddenly rose to her feet. "Hikaru, I don't even wanna think what could happen to you! This creature could be dangerous! He could kill you! I can't let you go!"

"If you don't, neither of them can possibly survive!" Izzy protested. "Carie's got no more than a day left, maybe a few more, but only if we send someone now. Hikaru's the only choice!"

"Shut up, Izzy!" Kari snapped. "He's not your son!"

"Kari…" T.K. put a hand on her shoulder. "Izzy's right. We have no other choice now."

"But T.K.!"

"Listen, Kari." he turned her to face him, gripping both shoulders. "Would you rather take a risk to save Carie, or lose them both without ever knowing we had them?!"

Kari's head drooped. First looking at Hikaru, then at Carie, she finally nodded. "Alright then." Izzy stood, clapping his hands together. "Hikaru, my boy, you'll have to leave right away!"

Hikaru nodded. His mother crouched down and pulled him into a huge bear hug. "Be careful, sweetie." she whispered. "And take Roarmon with you, okay?"

"Of course!" Hikaru laughed as the little white and purple tiger flew up and landed on his head. "I'd never leave Roarmon behind!"

T.K. reached into his wallet and pulled out an old picture. Kneeling next to his son, he handed it too Hikaru. "This is an old pic of your mom and me, about the age you'll find us there." he explained. "That's who you have to look for, understand?"

Hikaru nodded. T.K., smiling, gave him a hug. "Good luck, son." he whispered so only they could hear. It always embarrassed the boy to have his father say he loved him.

"Thanks dad…" Hikaru whispered back.

After a handshake with Dr. Kido, Hikaru and Izzy turned to leave. That's when a weak voice came from the bed: "Hikaru."

He stopped and turned back. Carie was sitting up in bed. She was smiling at him. "You didn't think you could leave without saying goodbye, now did you?"

Taken slightly aback, he approached the bed. It was Carie's turn to give her dear little brother a hug, and as she did, she whispered something to him he didn't quite understand.

"Remember, Hikaru." she told him. "You've got a wonderful chance to be a kid. Don't waste it trying to grow up too fast."

With a flicker, she disappeared, then returned again a moment later. "Don't worry, Carie." Hikaru muttered to her as he left. "I'll find a way save you. I promise."