Disclaimer: Don't own Digimon, duh. This is a short story request from Knight of Loyalty. Hope I did it justice my friend. Takes place directly after the end of the Metalgreymon arc in Digimon 02. Please enjoy!
~Follow the Leader~
Davis raced across the soccer field for what felt like the millionth time that day. Before Tai and the others had left, he made the excuse of wanting to get in a little soccer practice before the day was through. For once, Davis was immensely grateful that Tai didn't invite himself along. The young leader just wanted to run around and blow off some steam.
The battle had been extremely emotional that day, and the adrenalin in his system was still running high.
"Stupid, just so stupid!" he thought to himself, pushing his way down the field. The ball spun wildly across the grass as he approached the net. "Of all the times for me to freeze up, and second guess myself-"
With a vicious swipe of his foot, he launched the whirling sphere towards the net.
"WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE THEN?!"
The black and white blur sailed right past the post, missing the goal completely.
"Damn it!" the boy yelled in frustration as he raced after it. Could he do nothing right today?!
"Davis... I'm hungry... " DemiVeemon whined from within the confines of his book bag. "Can we go home now?"
The spiky-haired boy came to an abrupt halt, gasping for breath. He leaned over and grabbed his knees. "Y-Yeah, Vee, in a bit. Just snack on those chips I left in there, okay?"
"But I ate those already!" the little blue digimon indignantly replied, popping his head up out of the bag's flap.
Davis pinched the bridge of his nose. "Okay, then check in my lunch box. There should be a granola bar left in there."
"I ate that before I even started on the chips!"
And with that, the last of Davis's patience shattered. "LOOK! I GET! BUT, NOT RIGHT NOW, OKAY?"
The small creature physically flinched at Davis's harsh words. His partner had never yelled at him like that before. "O-okay," DemiVee whispered dejectedly, dropping back down into the bag.
What had he done wrong? The blue digimon idly wondered, as suddenly, the sounds of quiet sobbing alighted his ears.
"Davis... I-" he said, popping his head back up, only to see his friend kneeling on the grass, openly crying. DemiVee's eyes went wide in surprise. Davis had seemed fine just a little while ago. But now, hot, stinging tears were freely streaming down his face.
Immediately, DemiVee leapt out of the bag and rushed to his side. "Are you okay? What's wrong?" It was a rare sight to see Davis cry. Normally, he was a pretty positive person; the living embodiment of laughter and joy. The only other time DemiVee remembered seeing him like this was when Davis thought Ken had captured his friends.
"I s-screwed up, Vee," he brokenly admitted through his tears. "Everyone needed me to step up today and couldn't."
DemiVee's blue ears drooped in sadness. "You're still upset about that? It's okay. You came through when it counted. You were scared of hurting Metalgreymon. We all know-"
But Davis wouldn't accept this. He sprung to his feet and glared down at DemiVee. "Don't you get it? I'm the leader! Tai was already distraught about what happened to Agumon. And what did I do? Freeze up and let Matt and TK do all the work."
"I ALMOST GOT YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE KILLED!" he practically roared in return. Davis knew he shouldn't be putting all this on his tiny friend. But the goggle-head was just so angry at himself that he didn't know what to do. He had been okay when Tai and the others were still around, but the reality of what had happened was beginning to settle in now. "Not to mention poor Agumon having to live with that pain."
The brunet shut his eyes tight and grabbed at his chest. " DemiVee, I- I don't think I can do this anymore."
The blue digimon's mouth fell open in shock. "What on earth are you saying?"
He blinked his red eyes for a second, before reaching up to the pair of goggles resting on his spiky head. "That Tai was wrong. I'm no leader."
Tightly, he took hold of the black band and yanked them off his head. He then pulled his arm back, as if preparing to throw. "A-And he can take his stupid goggles and-"
A pair of strong hands suddenly grabbed his wrist from behind, bringing Davis to an abrupt halt.
"What the hell are you doing?" came the shocked gasp of the last person he'd expected hear.
It felt like an eternity for his head to turn around and confirm, that yes, it was the infuriating blond. The raw hurt and dismay apparent on TK's face stunned him. Isn't this what he wanted? Why was he trying to stop him? Why did he care?
"Dude, let go."
The blond's grip only tightened. "No, you love those goggles. You'd never throw them away."
"What the heck are you even doing here?" he snapped in frustration. "I thought you left for the day!"
"Since Matt had practice, I decided to stick around and shoot some hoops in the gym," he explained with an edge of irritation. "Now, what's going on?"
"It's none of your business, TB." Davis's breathing became staggered as he tried to keep his tears at bay. "Now, leave."
TK's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Not until you tell me what's wrong."
For Davis, that was the final straw, he tore out of his friend's grasp. "You want to know what's wrong?! Everything, dude. Everything is wrong!"
Angrily, he shoved the goggles into the blond's face and shook them. "Starting with this! I'm not a leader! Okay, there! I said it! You should be the leader, not me."
After which, he shoved the pair into TK's hands. The blond simply blinked at him, completely taken aback. He had never seen his friend react like this before. Normally, he was cocky and over confident in his abilities, even when faced with tough criticism, but now...
"Davis... where did all this come from? I don't-"
The brunet took a deep breath and brought a trembling hand up to the side of his forehead. Clearly, in an attempt to calm himself before speaking again. DemiVeemon's huge eyes welled with tears as he waddled over to Davis. "W-What are you saying? T-That you don't want to be my partner anymore?"
His question made the brunet's eyes snap open in shock. "What? No! No, of course not DemiVee," he insisted, kneeling down beside his little friend. "I'm just... doing what's best for the team. We'll still fight with everyone like we always do. TA will just be calling the shots from now on, that's all."
"Oh..." the creature sniffed miserably, rubbing at his eyes. "I guess that's okay then." DemiVee then jumped forward and latched onto Davis with a desperate hug. "Are you sure that's what you want though?"
Slowly, Davis reached around and gave him a small pat on the back. "Yeah, it's for the best really."
TK shared glance of confusion with Patamon and then turned to address his friend. "Davis... I- I can't accept these." He held aloft the goggles in his outstretched hand, almost begging for him to retake them. "They're yours. Tai gave them to you," he stressed, blue eyes shining with the conviction of his words.
Davis simply let out an indignant snort. "Look, TK... I'm just finally facing the facts. You've been doing this a lot longer than I have. When stuff goes down, you instinctively know what to do, I don't. I almost got everyone killed today, not to mention what happened with Patamon-"
"You're being way too hard on yourself," he immediately interrupted, TK hadn't realized his earlier words had cut Davis so deeply. "I didn't mean-"
But the brunet merely shook his head and clung tighter to DemiVee. "No, you were right to yell at me today. A leader needs to keep a calm head and make the final decision for the entire group. Either I explode and go off on my own or I freeze up. I just don't have what it takes..."
TK was quiet for a moment. He had never heard Davis talk this way. All the blond had wanted was for him to be more mindful of his actions. To remember that when hard decisions needed to be made, Davis had to be the one who made them. He never expected his friend to react like this... to begin doubting himself.
As the blond slowly approached, Patamon glided off his head and landed next to DemiVeemon. The blue digimon let out another pitiful sniffle as Patamon engulfed him in a bat-wing wrapped hug.
TK knelt down and gently placed his hands on Davis's shoulders. "Yes, you do," he emphasized with a reassuring squeeze.
A bone tired sigh ripped through his friend. "TK-"
"No, you listen to me right now," he stressed, staring the brunet straight in the eyes. "It's true that you aren't... the greatest in those areas, yet."
Davis rolled his eyes and shook his head. But TK wasn't finished, "They're just something that you need to work on, that's all."
"But that doesn't mean you should give up being the leader."
"You are one of the strongest people I know."
His mouth dropped open in shock. "I-"
"And not for any of the reasons you think."
Davis gave him a disbelieving glance, but then waved for him to continue.
"The main thing you have to come to terms with is; that you are not Tai."
He snorted at this. "Well duh, Tai's awesome. Thought that was obvious. Even to you, TA."
The blond glanced up to the heavens for a moment and sighed. "That wasn't what I was implying. You're a different type of leader than Tai, but that doesn't necessarily make you bad."
As TK stressed this he gave Davis's shoulders another supportive squeeze. The blond knew, that if he was going to reach his friend in this state, he needed to be completely honest about how he saw him.
He just hoped it wouldn't all go to Davis's head. "You're a very unique person. I've... never met anyone who empowers and inspires others like you do."
A light blush formed across the bridge of Davis's nose. "Dude, seriously what-"
But the blond simply continued, "Tai is good at riling people up, pushing them towards a common goal. Whereas, you always see the best in people, and encourage them to discover their inner strength on their own. I, on the other hand... always assume the worst, and that's not how a leader should be."
Davis stared at him wide-eyed, searching for something to say. "TK that's just you being practical and-" he paused for a second, letting out a quick laugh of irony, "playing devil's advocate. I understand why you do it. It's your way of keeping the entire team safe so that we make the best decision."
"And that right there," he triumphantly pointed out to his friend, "-is something you are way better at than Tai."
"What?" Davis scoffed in response. "Of course Tai... list- Well okay, maybe sometimes he-"
"Ignores what everyone else is telling him and stubbornly pushes forward without addressing how the rest of the group feels?" TK offered with a raised eyebrow.
This statement was met with immediate protest, "Hey, now! He's not that-"
Again, TK chose to cut him off, "But, Tai used to be. That's my point."
A vulnerable and curious light danced in Davis's eyes. It was well known that TK and Kari didn't like to talk about their first trip to the Digital World very much. Davis found it surprising that TK was willing to do so now. Did that mean that they were finally starting to grow closer as friends? He hoped so...
While the spiky-haired boy pondered this, the blond elaborated on what he meant, "When Tai first became leader, he was extremely head strong. Trust me, it took forever for us to truly become a team. For a while, the only ones he actually listened were Izzy and Sora. Even then, it was only for things that were completely out of his depth." TK shook his head ruefully. "He and Matt fought constantly. And if Tai had only listened, Matt might not have..."
TK trailed off here, a far away look filling his eyes. This worried Davis, he didn't like where this was going. Honestly, it kind of scared him. What could have happened between Tai and Matt for TK to seem so... lost.
"Hey," the brunet offered hoarsely. "You don't have talk about it if you don't want to. I understand."
His statement seemed to snap TK back to reality. "Hmm? Oh, no. I just, Matt left the group for a bit. He was very depressed about something, and at the time, I had no clue how to reach him."
But the blond simply waved away Davis's other words. "Sorry," he apologized with a heavy sigh. "I'm getting off topic. The point I was trying to make was, that over time, Tai learned. Just like you, he has his strengths and weaknesses. Your strength is that you treat each of us as individuals. And you listen when we have a worry or concern. Every single one of us is important to you, and to the team as a whole. When worry or doubt comes up, you help us confront it and move on. And when the weight of what is expected of us becomes too great, you lighten the mood and remind us of why we're fighting."
Davis felt his face becoming hot again. Praise was such a rare thing for him to receive that he really didn't know quite how to handle it. For all of Davis's over the top bravado, deep down he wasn't very confident in himself or his abilities. He had always hoped that if he proclaimed how amazing he was for long enough, that eventually, it would become reality.
"Dude... none of that's very special," he replied with a small shrug. "I can still do those things and not be the leader."
The blond let out an exasperated sigh, and once more, picked up Tai's goggles and thrust them into Davis's chest. "You and Tai have a lot of differences, but the most important thing about you both is the same... and it's the primary thing a leader needs."
"And, that would be?" he asked with a confused blink, totally lost about where TK was going with this.
"To have the courage and resolve to never give up." Reaching out the blond grabbed Davis's hand and placed it on top of the discarded pair of goggles.
"Davis... I honestly have no idea how you do it. No matter the odds, you still stand and try and beat them. Every time you get knocked down, you climb right back up and try again. I... I'm not like that. There are times when it all becomes too much and, I simply can't..." he admitted solemnly, as unshed tears built in the corners of his eyes.
Hearing this made Davis's heart ache. He hated seeing others doubt themselves, to be lost and in pain. Everyone was important, and deserved to be recognized and acknowledge for who they were. "TK, of course you can. We're a team. As long as we stick together we- Hey! Why are you all laughing?" the brunet exclaimed at the end, as TK, Patamon, and DemiVee all started laughing at his inspirational speech.
"Because you're doing it again. And you don't even realize it."
"You're being the leader," he stressed, giving his friend's hand a gentle squeeze. "See? Goggles or not, it's part of who you are. And I know I can't speak for the others, but believe me Davis, even when I sometimes say otherwise; there's no one else I'd rather follow, than you." And with that, he left the shiny pair of goggles in Davis's hand.
He stared at them for a bit, feeling their weight resting in his grip. Sometimes, they were quite the heavy burden to bear. But if TK and the others believed in him, then it was one he would gladly take up once again. A ghost of his old smile returned, as his fist reflexively tightened around them. He made his decision. The brunet then glanced back up at his friend and saw nothing but faith and confidence reflected in his blue eyes.
And in that moment, Davis knew, that he could stand up and try again.
Author's Notes: Wow! That was a much harder piece to write than I thought it was going to be. I really wanted to explore a different aspect of Davis and TK's friendship than I did in "Ramen Soup for the Soul" Really hope you enjoyed it guys. And I especially hope you like what I did with the idea Knight of Loyalty! Thanks for the inspiration. Next out should be that Mimi chapter and then after that a Voltron one-shot is coming! Because OMG! It's totally my new obsession.
And as always! Please read and review!