TAMERS FOREVER

SILENT SORROW: CONCERTO OF DESPAIR

Final Chapter

Prelude to Tomorrow

"Come on! Run out now!

To the land not shown on a map,

There's nothing to be afraid of.

The small heart, it is spilling with nothing but courage.

Sitting alone, in the rain, there's nothing in my pockets,

But I only look to the future."

Extract from "My Tomorrow" from the Digimon Tamers OST, by AIM. All rights reserved to their respective owners, year 2001.

As usual, darkness. Surrounded by shadows, the A.D.A.M room's only illumination was the dim glow of the immense glass vials. The liquid which flowed within them made the lights flicker and change, creating an amalgam of bright color in the ceiling and the obscure walls. It was almost a beautiful thing to watch.

Anyone who even bothered to enjoy the show would have noticed that a certain part of the room was never influenced by such lights. A rather small shadow that didn't allow light to reach that specific portion of the large laboratory. A rather small shadow, which corresponded to a rather small body. The body of the only human being in the room, trapped in the glass tube labeled as '7', located at the very end of the room. The body of a young, seemingly fragile girl with chestnut brown hair and almond eyes.

And, inside her prison for the body, her soul was free. More than her captor, mentor and creator could possibly imagine. And, in one of those journeys of the soul, combined with what she had heard from her creator, she found the truth. The secret to everything.

And so, Gabrielle…no, Takako, found happiness.

She knew everything. And what she hadn't discovered by her own will, Gennai had revealed her in his moments of overconfidence. She agreed with the old database in something. Everything would turn out as planned. The difference was that the 'Plan' was not precisely as Gennai had it in mind.

Not that Takako blamed him, though. His only mistake was being imperfect, and to be working under the command of an imperfect being. Because that was one of the lessons she had learned first, and one of lessons that surprised her the most.

Not even Gods are perfect.

God may not be perfect, but it sure is proficient. Takako thought.

She acknowledged the facts. Everything until that moment had gone as expected by everyone who knew what to expect. That is, no one but her and her creator. Not even Goddramon, the Dragon God, in all its greatness, had been prepared to what had happened. She had to give credit to the Third Angel, though, for understanding things so quickly, for a human.

Asmodeus and Chaos were dead, that she understood. That was what was supposed to happen, and what everyone expected. They died doing what they did best: fighting. Chaos fought because he is a fighter, and Asmodeus fought to protect his loved ones. Takako was proud of both of them. She had let go a few tears when she couldn't feel Takato's presence anymore. That, and she had smiled.

She had celebrated Takato's death, and the beginning of a new era.

It was funny, though. Against all expectations, Takato had managed to evolve to the next level. At last, Asmodeus and Chaos were one, and CHAOS was once again, a whole. The original source of all misbalances, condensed in the shape of a human being. Deus ex machina, the God in the machine. Adam-Kadmon.

No………no longer a machine, no longer 'something' else. Congratulations, my dear Takato. You're finally human.

Takato Matsuki was no longer. The DNA patch and the imperfect God were no longer. Now, only Adam remained.

Adam, the first man, became one with Lilith, the demon, and it was tainted with evil. Then, from Adam, Eve was born, and she, too, was tainted. But now, mankind is pure again. The new Adam has finally appeared.

Takako giggled in delight, and many bubbles exited her mouth and traveled their way to the top of the glass tube. Now, my dear Takato, we're more similar than ever. I'm glad to know that you, too, have found glory in God's love.

But she also knew that Adam had only walked a small step in the large road that would lead him to the Ascension as the new God. Since the beginning, as Asmodeus, he had received the blessing of the Higher Entity, and had exploited it to the fullest extent his body could handle, sometimes even a little more. But now that he had reached the state of perfect humanity………

Heaven is the limit, my dear Adam………

She sighed, once again filling the giant vial with bubbles. For the first time ever, she felt cold. For the first time ever, she felt uncomfortable with her naked body immersed in the liquid that kept her alive, the liquid that was her food, her water and her oxygen. And then, she understood.

The Universes, all of them, have reached a crossroad. Where Gennai's little plan separated from the Ultimate truth, the true path of Ascension meant for the only God. Where the path Gennai's Master separated from the path for the liberation of mankind and Digimon together.

It was the moment when Takako's life truly began.

She took a deep breath……and slammed her right fist against the glass, making a tiny crack. Her blood mixed with the semi-transparent liquid, and the first droplets began to escape through the crack. Her left fist followed the right, and then the right fist again, and the left.

The glass tube broke at her fifth try, with an explosion of sharp glass and flowing liquid.

Takako stood in her place, partially afraid of leaving the place which had been her home since her very birth. Being the first time she breathed air, she made some tentative gasps before getting used to it.

It was right there when she began to throw up, as her body began to accept the new source of oxygen, and proceeded to release that liquid which flooded her lungs. A few tears escaped her almond eyes, as her brain and nerves were overwhelmed with a feeling she had never experienced before.

Pain.

She sighed sadly, reminding herself that it was all for a better good, and covering her aching hands with each other, as a few drops of her blood fell to the floor with a soft 'plick' sound.

Once her brain settled down and realized that it was just exaggerating its own feelings, Takako slowly walked out of what remained of the tube number seven, carefully so as not to step on the sharp glass remains. And once the pain faded just enough, she was capable of sensing everything else.

The first thing she realized was that she was very cold, and the fact that her body was still wet didn't help. She silently cursed the air conditioner as she slowly made her way through the large room, not bothering to look anywhere else but the door. Besides, she knew that place by memory. It was not like she would find anything new if she looked around. That room hadn't changed at all in her life of a little over a decade.

However, things changed when her hand reached the door. Once she stepped outside, she would be free. She would be free and alone in a world she knew almost nothing about. What would she do? Where to go first?

For the first time ever, Takako was confused. So many things she wanted to know, places to see, feelings to experience. She'd have to learn, and it was then when she realized that none of the knowledge she had within her; as incredible, important and critical as it might be; helped her in this situation.

Of course, she had an immediate priority: finding clothes. Where to go from there?

Takako closed her eyes and relaxed. The Higher Entity, Takato's Ultimate form, had gifted her with abilities not even Takato had. Her purpose was to be a guide. A guide for anyone who needed guidance. It was her purpose as the Ninth Angel. Who'd she look for first? Takato, Takeru, or maybe DC, her 'sweet koibito'?

No………

Takako opened her eyes as the answer reached her. She now knew what to do. She had to start gathering the ten Angels for the Day of Liberation. After she got herself some nice clothes, of course.

With a long sigh, she looked at the laboratory, the A.D.A.M room, for the last time. She laughed quietly when she imagined Gennai's face when he returned. Then, her smile changed to a serious frown, maybe too serious for a twelve-year-old.

"I'm not your puppet, Gennai." She said to no one. "Neither was Asmodeus, and neither will be Adam. I'll make sure of it. The only puppet here……is you."

************************************************************************

"Cry, it's because we get hurt and get passionate that we live to the fullest.

Tomorrow will change, more, if you can face these tears.

There's no place to hide, now you've gotta fight.

History will change, because from now on

You've vowed to have no regrets.

You can destroy the weak you and be reborn."

Extract from "EVO" from the Digimon Tamers OST. All rights reserved to their respective owners, year 2001.

Slowly, very slowly, Rika regained consciousness.

She didn't open her eyes immediately; she was too tired to do so anyway. She preferred to calm down and focus on her surroundings, sense by sense.

The first thing she noticed was that her mouth was dry. She didn't remember the last time she had eaten something or drank water. Those made her realize the alien feeling on her left arm. And then the familiar smell of chloride gave her the certainty that she was in a hospital. She was safe. She could open her eyes.

And then, the light. For a few seconds, she was blinded by it, and she wondered just for how long she had been unconscious. Then, when her eyes got used to it, she recognized the familiar white of the hospital ceiling. She then looked to her right, very slowly, as her muscles complained with the slightest movement. White walls and a white door with a very small glass panel.

"Hello, Rika."

She immediately turned her eyes to the other side, following the familiar voice. Ignoring the cries of pain of her sore body, she met the smiling face of Henry Wong. She noticed that his forehead was bandaged, also covering his left eye. He also had several bandages on his face and his left arm. Both his right arm and leg were immobilized, which suggested fractures. The only reason she didn't make fun of his pathetic appearance was because she was sure she looked worse.

"H-Hey, Brainiac."

Henry smiled at her response…until his body cringed. "Damn……I can't even smile properly. Heh, I guess it's a good thing Terriermon's not here right now."

Rika didn't say anything on that comment. "What……happened to you?"

"What do you think? Daemon pretty much beat the crap out of all of us."

Rika frowned. "Us?"

She tried to raise her head to get a better look around. It was then when she noticed that her neck was immobilized. "Damn……" she said.

"Yeah…" Henry replied with a tiny smile. "I know you can't see them, but everyone's here, in this room. Except for Suzie, that is. She's………"

Rika noticed the sudden drop on the tone of Henry's voice. "What? What happened to her!?"

Henry sighed sadly. "Daemon beat her pretty badly. That bastard attacked her, and she's just a little girl! She's……I was told she's under intensive care."

"I……I see……sorry."

Henry cursed himself for not being able to swipe the tears away. "It's……it's okay. She'll be okay." He said, even if he didn't feel any confident.

"She'll be okay." A third voice said from further inside the room. "She's tough for her age."

"Ryo!?" Rika exclaimed while the Legendary Tamer walked next to her. He was dressed in a hospital gown, but he seemed to be okay, save for a cast wrapping his right leg.

"It's nice to have you back, Rika. And you should lower your voice or you'll wake up Jeri."

"Too late." Jeri's sleepy voice said from the other end of the room.

"Sorry." Rika said softly.

"Rika!? Oh, Rika, you're alright!"

"Of course I'm alright, Puppet Girl. Who do you think I am?"

Jeri didn't answer, as she was too busy shifting her body to a sitting position on her bed.

"Oh, but when we saw that you didn't wake up, we thought………"

"And just how long have I been sleeping!?"

Ryo chuckled slightly. "This would be the……what, twelfth day?"

"Thirteenth." A new voice said from right across the room. It was Kenta. "Oh……what time is it?"

"Time to wake up Kazu." Ryo said with a smirk as he slowly walked to the bed of the last Tamer asleep. Rika noticed that Ryo still had trouble walking. Unfortunately for the Akiyama kid, he'd never fully recover from it. Daemon made sure he would never be forgotten, that was for sure.

Finally, Ryo reached Kazu's bedside, and slowly leaned closer to the tall boy's right ear. "……HIROKAZU!!!"

"Waaahhh! OUCH!!!"

The yell made Hirokazu jump up, to which the body replied with an intense pain. While Kenta, Ryo and Rika laughed, Jeri and Henry didn't seem to find it funny at all.

"Ryo! Leave Kazu alone! He had it worst than most of us! It's a miracle he's still alive!"

Ryo patted Kazu's back, and Kazu's eyes grew the size of dishes. "Oh, come on, this guy is tough! Besides, what could have happened to him?"

For the first and last time ever, Shiota Hirokazu shot a deadly glare to Ryo, who replied with a huge sweatdrop.

Henry sighed, looking away from Ryo and Hirokazu. "Hirokazu got in the way of one of Daemon's Chaos Flare attacks. You wouldn't know because you were already unconscious."

Ryo immediately moved his hand away from his friend's back. "Ouch. Sorry, man."

Kazu's expression didn't change a little bit. Meanwhile, Kenta, too, had sat on his bed, and noticed Rika was awake. "Hey, Rika! You're alive."

Rika growled. "And how come every one of you thought I was dead!?"

Henry shrugged. "Well, you were the last one to wake up. Even Kazu beat you at it. Just what the hell happened to you?"

For the first time since she woke up, Rika's memory returned to that dreadful last battle.

"Diaboromon……lots of them."

Ryo sighed. "No wonder that you were hurt pretty badly when Yamaki found you. You might be able to take a lone Diaboromon, but a whole group? Just how many did you kill before they got you?"

"……five."

"Five!? Whoa……pretty impressive, Rika."

Rika, on the other side, didn't seem very satisfied with that. "Takato………I couldn't protect Takato………"

And then, she remembered. The very reason they were there in the first place. The reason she had not been in the battle against Daemon.

"Takato!!!"

Rika struggled to get up, but to no avail. She was still too weak. Her voice was strong enough, though. "Where is Takato!?"

No response……only Jeri's muffled sobs at the other end of the room.

"We……we haven't heard anything about Takato. Yamaki found you unconscious, and Takato wasn't there, it seems. We almost expected you to tell us." Henry said to Rika.

"We've been waiting for the doctors to allow visitors. Then maybe someone could answer all of our questions. Like Takato, for example." Ryo commented.

"Or Daemon………" Henry muttered.

"Daemon? What's wrong with Daemon?" Rika asked. "He's dead, right?"

Henry nodded. "That's……that's what I was told."

Rika frowned. "What do you mean!?"

"Daemon……defeated us, Rika. I was the last one to fall unconscious, and Daemon was just a little tired. When I woke up, Ryo and Kenta told me Daemon was dead."

"We don't know how that happened, though." Ryo said before Rika could ask.

"Do you think……Takato could have done it?" Jeri said.

Even if she couldn't see their faces (due to the fact that she was immobilized), Rika could feel their gazes turning towards her.

"I……I don't think so………he couldn't even walk by himself anymore, much less fight Daemon………"

She could feel the air getting colder in the room. Thankfully, answers were just about to come……even if they weren't the most pleasant ones.

"Hey……what's with the sad looks?"

"Terriermon?" Henry said expectantly. His question was answered when the small Digimon jumped on his immobilized right leg.

"Hey! My leg's not a perch!"

"Oh, Henry, Momentai!"

Everyone sighed, but Rika, who felt a shadow looming by her side. "Good to have you back, Rika."

"T……Takeru?"

"The one and only. Living on borrowed time, though."

Kenta was the first to snap. "Where the hell were you!? We could have used your help, you know!?"

Hirokazu could only nod in agreement. Takeru smiled softly and bowed apologetically. "I understand if you're mad at me, but I had to leave. I was needed somewhere else. Important stuff."

"What could be more important than this?" Ryo asked, while Rika was slowly getting the grasp of what had happened in her absence.

"I……was needed at the Eastern Quadrant. Daemon's forces were attacking pretty hard, and I……I just couldn't help it. I guess I still think of that place as my home."

Everyone understood and nodded in acceptance. "So……" Ryo continued. "…does this mean that we can have visitors?"

Takeru beamed. "Oh, yes! Your parents will come in as soon as I'm done with you people. I asked them to let me be the first to visit you. I thought that you might have some questions left unanswered……"

Everyone nodded again. "That was very nice of you." Jeri said happily. Takeru sighed. He hated to be the one to remove that smile off her face.

"…besides……I had to say goodbye." Takeru added.

A massive "huh?" followed.

"Yes, yes……my mission here is officially over, and there are some things I must do. I have to check how much damage Daemon's forces made in the other Quadrants."

"Are the other Digi-Destined okay?" Ryo wondered.

"They were a little rusted due to fourteen years since their last battle, but they survived. Some did worse than others, but they'll live through it."

Takeru didn't say anything else, and the Tamers realized that they didn't want to know just how badly things were at the Eastern Quadrant. And Takeru definitely didn't want to talk about it.

The blonde Tamer found a chair and sat against the wall next to the door. "Well……where should I begin? Oh, yes! Henry, your sister is out of danger. Still unconscious, though."

Henry let go a long, soft sigh. "Thank God. Thank you, Kazu."

Jeri smiled, relieved and Hirokazu simply nodded. Rika then understood that the Chaos Flare that hit Hirokazu was meant for Henry's little sister. It made her hate Daemon even more. Takeru cleared his throat to get the Tamers' attention once again.

"A formal ceremony for Daneel Randt will take place tomorrow. Those who have recovered enough to assist are invited."

Rika's eyes widened at the words. Looking at the Tamers' stern expressions, she made a mental note to ask what had happened to the Hypnos technician later.

"The funds for the rebuild of Shinjuku were approved a few days ago, and repairs are under way. It will be a while before your apartment is restored, Henry, but the government is willing to give you and your family temporary housing until your building is restored. You'll have to thank Yamaki for that later."

Henry nodded. "Thanks."

"The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is being rebuilt, too. I don't know what's going to happen to Hypnos, though. However, given the fact that Wild Digimon will still show up every once in a while, I guess the government will keep a close watch on you Tamers."

All the Tamers nodded, but Rika, who would have nodded if she could. Takeru sighed again.

"Well, and now I guess you all want to know what happened with Daemon."

Ears perked up at the mention of that name. At last, answers.

"I've managed to recall most of what happened from what Terriermon and Renamon have told me. Oh, Rika, before you ask, Renamon is okay. A little shaken, but she has almost fully recovered."

Rika sighed in relief, even if she hadn't really worried about Renamon in the short time she had been awoke.

"From what Renamon told me, she, Rika and Takato were ambushed by a group of Diaboromon as soon as you returned to this world. As for the events in the Digital World, I guess I'll let you share them with the Tamers whenever you're ready."

Rika nodded while a slight blush formed on her cheeks. There were certain things she'd NEVER share with the Tamers, that's for sure.

"Given that Takato was too weak to even move by his own will, Rika and Renamon fought the Diaboromon in one last attempt to help Takato escape. At the same time, the other Tamers were fighting Daemon several blocks away." Takeru continued.

Jeri nodded. "Daemon noticed some explosions nearby. It was then when we realized that Takato and Rika had returned."

Takeru nodded. "Yes, Terriermon told me that. Anyway, and I'm not insulting you, Rika, but, as expected, you were defeated."

"No offense taken." Rika said almost in a whisper.

"Meanwhile, Daemon defeated the other Tamers one by one. MarineAngemon was first, then Beelzemon, Justimon, Hirokazu and Suzie, Kenta, SaberLeomon and finally MegaGargomon. That's everything we know."

"WHAT!?" All the Tamers shouted at once, except Kazu, who said something to the likes of "MMHAFAT!?"

Takeru nodded. Of course, he was not going to tell them of Terriermon's last stand against Daemon, that's for sure. "Unfortunately, we don't know what happened to Daemon after you all fell unconscious. When the rescue teams found it safe to approach, there was no trace of his presence. You all were brought to this hospital and the Digimon stayed with your families while they recovered. Impmon is staying at Guilmon's old place with Calumon."

The mentioning of the red reptile brought Rika to the question she didn't dare to ask. "Takeru……….please…………"

Takeru looked at Rika, and the girl froze at the sight. Takeru was terrified. Then, the blonde looked at Terriermon, who simply looked away. Everyone else noticed the exchange, and they all feared the worst.

"No………" Jeri muttered as she waited for Takeru's answer. But Takeru simply looked down. He didn't want……he couldn't look at them as he gave them the news.

"Takato………Matsuki Takato is dead."

 ************************************************************************

"In my heart of hearts, I know that I could never love again,

I've lost everything…everything…

…everything that matters to me, matters in this world……"

Extract from "Komm, Süsser Tod", from the soundtrack of "The End of Evangelion". All rights reserved to GAINAX and King Records, 1997.

Rika saw the next days passing like a blur. She wouldn't remember much from them, only a bunch of faces, voices and places. She didn't see Takeru after that horrible day, but she did remember the moment he finally left. She remembered that Takeru wrapped his arms around her and, with tears on his eyes, said two simple words.

"I'm sorry."

She found no sense in those words, though. She didn't find any sense in anything from that day, anyway. After those last words, she only remembered pieces of moments, vague seconds, senseless chatting. She remembered hearing that Takato's parents were moving out of Tokyo. She remembered something about their house being destroyed and something about moving with some relatives in Nagano. She also remembered their faces when they were told of Takato's decease.

Watching their faces when they received the terrible news made her heart ache even more……if that was even possible.

The last time she saw the Matsukis was when they went to visit her. It seemed like Takeru had told them that she had been the one Takato had spent his last days with. She didn't clearly remember what they had asked her, and she didn't remember what she had told them. She might as well have revealed her feelings for Takato, and she wouldn't remember a thing. She did remember the last words Takato's mother told her before exiting the hospital room.

"Thank you……for looking after our Takato."

Thank you……words of gratitude. "For what?" Rika wondered. For not being able to protect him? For watching after him while his life slipped away from her? For not being able to save him?

She remembered when her mother and her grandmother visited her for the first time. Takeru had just left, and the horrible, horrible news were still fresh in her head. The look on her mother's face told her that Takeru had spoken to them before they entered the room. Rika's words did the rest.

"I couldn't……….I couldn't save him."

She remembered tears. Her mother's? Hers? She didn't know……she didn't want to know. She remembered Jeri's tears, though. And Henry's. And, unbelievably enough, Ryo's. And Terriermon's. And Renamon's.

She had never hated them so much in her life before.

Because, as a consequence of the icy shell that was once again forming on her heart, she firmly believed that they didn't deserve to cry for Takato. She, and only she had the right do that. Only she had spent his last days by his side. Only she had seen him for the last time, heard his last words………only she had seen his last smiles, his last tears. Takato had poured out his heart to her, and only her. Nobody but her actually knew Takato Matsuki.

Henry might be his sworn brother, and Jeri, Kazu and Kenta might be his childhood friends, but Rika, and only Rika had the right to cry.

His friends, his family……I don't give a damn……I was HIS……JUST HIS!!! And that gives me every right to mourn!

Kenta and Ryo were the first to leave the hospital. Then Jeri. A few days later, Henry, but the brainiac would visit her everyday, as he always went to check on Suzie. Finally, the day came for her to leave the hospital, leaving a lone Hirokazu to recover. If she were in a better mood, she might consider the idea of visiting him, but she left that to Kenta, Jeri and Henry.

And so, we find Rika in her home, slowly opening the door to her room. She knew that Renamon was nearby, but, honestly, she didn't care anymore. For some reason, memories had begun to overwhelm her as she walked through the familiar wooden floor.

She began to empty her backpack, which had all the things she had needed at the hospital. The first things that fell to the floor were her Digivice and her deck of cards. Of course, of all the cards which could have been on top, they had to be the Aegis card………

"I…I forgot to give you this…I was supposed to give it to you before the Contest…I thought it might have helped you…"

………and the Ultra-Rare Deluxe Sakuyamon card.

"I……I guess I don't need it anymore. I think it would be better if you kept it. It's a shame……I won't be able to see how you kick Ryo's ass with it."

Rika shook her head and looked away. "No……no! I WON'T cry because of that Gogglehead! I won't!"

"If I'm going to die, I want to do it without regrets. Rika Nonaka……………I love you."

"……………"

"Rika, do you………?"

"……………"

"Rika, do you l-"

"Yes."

"…………Rika……"

"I………I thought you already knew."

Rika fell on her knees as she found herself crying without being able to stop. "It's……it's not………"

A part of her still refused the idea. A part of her could still feel him close to her, as he had always been.

"It's not fair………"

No, it wasn't fair. Rika despised destiny, hated the world, as she had, once again, lost her source of joy.

"So……what now?"

"……will you be my girlfriend? Even if it's just for these few days?"

"My, you're bold."

"So……is that a yes?"

"………anyway……what am I supposed to do?"

"Well……you could start by kissing me."

"My, you're one bold Gogglehead!"

"Shut up and listen to a dying man's request."

"Stupid Gogglehead………stupid cute baka Gogglehead……………come here."

She could still feel the taste of his lips. She knew she'd never forget it. After all, the first kiss is important for a reason. The first kiss……something within her told her those kisses might as well be her only ones. The mere idea of being with another person………

……the crack her right fist left on the wall might give you an idea.

"It's not fair………I knew……I knew it would only last a few days……why did I have to say yes!? I should have……why did I have to like it so much!? Why did I have to enjoy so much……being with him?"

More tears fell on the ground, making the damp spot on the backpack's cloth even greater. "Why did you have to love me!?"

"Why do you love me?"

"…………"

"Why do you love me?"

"…………"

"Takato, why do you love me?"

"………because you are Rika Nonaka."

Any other answer wouldn't have satisfied her, no matter how romantic, specific of just plain corny it might have been. By using those simple words, Takato had said that he loved no matter what she had been, what she was or what she might become. It was perfect……it was beautiful. It was………unbearable.

"IT'S NOT FAIR!!!" She shouted at the top of her lungs.

Five seconds later, her whole family was in the room, looking at the most pitiful display ever. Rika was laying on the floor, shaking and sobbing with no control over her own actions. In her hands, she clutched the two cards Takato had given her as if they were her most precious possessions. Not even Renamon found herself capable of movement at the sight.

"I had……I had finally found……a reason……"

"Rika……" Rumiko muttered softly, as the first tear escaped her left eye.

"A reason……to smile……to be happy………I was happy! I was………in love………"

Those last words struck even more that the display Rika was showing to her family.

"Rika…oh, Rika!"

Rumiko finally managed to hold Rika, and the redhead tried to find comfort in her mother's arms, any traces of pride long gone.

"I love him………he taught me how to smile again……and he, he………he loved me, mom………"

Nobody knew how to respond to something like that.

"Everybody I love leaves me……first father, now……"

"Rika, please don't say that!"

"Maybe I'm not worthy of love………maybe I should have stayed as a heartless bitch………"

"Rika………"

"Maybe………it would have been better if I had never met him."

And it came. The pain. Horrible, indescribable pain. It had actually; physically hurt her to say those words. Not even she believed them.

"Oh my God, oh my God………it hurts……it hurts so much………"

"Rika……Rika!" Rumiko shouted in alarm as Rika, who had entered in a state of massive shock, slowly slipped away to unconsciousness.

"Rika! RIKA!!!" Rumiko shouted once more, now accompanied by Renamon.

Oh, Takato……I'm so sorry……I didn't mean to………I……I………

Rika's last thought before she completely fell unconscious was a very beautiful one.

At last, she realized……that meeting Takato Matsuki was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

***********************************************************************

"The things I longed for are still just dreams.

When I turn around there's always a voice calling me.

Wavering intensely in my heart, I might still make it after all.

I lift up my face and try believing in myself once more."

Extract from "Mirai" from the Digimon Tamers OST. All rights reserved to their respective owners, year 2001.

Nothingness.

The endless absence of matter. The lack of presence, the lack of essence, expression of emptiness, manifestation of an ungodly desire.

"Isn't this perfect?" The voice, which is one and many at the same time, echoed in Takato's mind. And I say mind, because the fleshy body no longer exists. Only the idea of 'Takato Matsuki' still persists to remain, alone in a universe of nothing else.

"P……Perfect? There's nothing here."

"Precisely." The voice replied. "That's what makes it perfect. There's no pain, no sadness, no remorse, no anger. No fear of rejection or failure. You don't have to answer to anyone. At last, you're truly free."

"Is this………death?"

"If that's what you want, then yes, it is death."

"B-But I don't want to be here! I want to live! If I'm not dead, then I want to live!"

"But what is to live, my dear son? You can still think, so you still exist. Isn't that enough for you?"

"…………where am I?"

"……………" No response. Takato insisted.

"Is this hell?"

The voice of the Higher Entity chuckled at Takato's comment. "Hell? No……the only hell that exists is the one you create. Daemon wanted the universes to be an endless hell for every life form. That was his purpose. Hell is not something that exists. Hell is something you create."

"Then……is this heaven?"

"Heaven? Does this look like heaven? Heaven is a word humans created to imagine a perfect existence, just like 'God' is a word humans created to imagine a perfect being. You are a God, Takato. Doesn't that make the world you lived in 'Heaven'?"

"It certainly didn't feel like one."

"But……weren't you happy there?"

This time, Takato was the one left without being able to answer.

"……how do I go back?"

"Why returning? Didn't you just admit that 'life' only brings pain?"

"I never……"

FLASH!

And Takato was in Shinjuku. Or at least in what remained of it. "I'm showing you what remains of the place you call home. Is this the place you want to live in?"

"………yes."

FLASH!

Back to the nothingness.

"But, isn't this place much better?"

"……how?"

"Here, here's nothing that could be a source of pain."

"But, I won't be able to feel any pleasure, either."

"You ask for too much, Adam. Pleasure without pain? Impossible. Just as balance is one with chaos, pleasure is one with pain."

"I'm still willing to go back."

"Even when the pain will be greater than the pleasure?"

"………you're wrong." Takato said firmly.

FLASH!

Images. Takato's memories swirled around him as if he were in a movie theater. Henry and Terriermon. Hirokazu and Kenta playing the Card Game in Guilmon's hut. Jeri and her sock puppet. Ryo and Rika, talking with Takato at the beach. And the Digimon, too. Talking with Renamon, one night in the Digital World. Guilmon, greeting him with a tight hug. Calumon eating sweets, and Impmon making fun of the park's pigeons. Ruki and Chaos, the first smiling and the second drinking a cup of champagne. His sister, Takako, she promised him…….

Rika……talking to Rika, hugging Rika, kissing Rika………

FLASH!

Memories. Unpleasant ones, this time. Leomon's death and the birth of Megidramon. D-Reaper and being forced to fight Jeri. SkullGreymon, BlackWarGreymon and ChaosGallantmon. The Nightmare. First with Justimon, fighting the D-Nightmare, and then with Sakuyamon, fighting the Nightmare's true form. Doumon, pulling her prank on the Tamers. Losing all hope, and becoming ChaosGallantmon for the second time, this time to kill the Tamers. And finally, Daemon, and all the pain he caused.

FLASH!

Once again, nothingness.

"I know……there will be more painful moments than happy ones. I'm sure of it. It's……my destiny." Takato stated. "But the few happy moments I've shared with my friends are more than enough to help me face the difficult times. It has always being like that, and I know it will stay like this. Because I have good friends."

"Friends?" the voice said mockingly.

FLASH!

More images. The day he met Henry and Rika. Kazu, Kenta and Jeri at school. Ryo and Rika playing the Card Game.

"They're only related to you because you are a Digimon Tamer, and you go to the same school as them. Take that, and you'd mean nothing to them."

FLASH!

Rika. Her gentle smile and her cool voice.

"I have Rika. She is important to me, and I am important to her, now I know that. We can be happy together." Takato said to the nothingness.

FLASH!

A child Rika crying loudly as a red-haired man walked away from her. The present Rika, smacking Takato's head and calling him names.

"A childish crush, which will wither and die with time."

"No……" Takato would have shaken his head…if he still had one.

"Her love for you is not real. It is a product of her desperate need for happiness, caused by the loss of her father at an early age. She's using you."

"NO! I WON'T BELIEVE IT!"

FLASH!

Nothingness.

"You have everything you need here. Absolutely nothing. Why don't you feel satisfied with this?"

"I……am the Vessel of God. The child of the Higher Entity. I should be able to have whatever I wanted. And I want to go back!!!"

"You're a God……whose childish mind is still unable to grasp such a complex concept. You're far from perfection, Adam. You've just attained the perfect humanity……don't be so proud of such a small accomplishment."

"……then……what am I supposed to do?"

"You're capable of much greater things. However, during these past couple of years, you've done nothing but play hero. And now, this is what you get for it. 'Vessel of God'………that's nothing but a title. And, at your current level of maturity, you're not even worthy of it. Why should I allow you to return, only to satisfy your childish feelings for a woman?"

"………………"

"You could live for eternity here, Adam. Why do you want to return to that world of pain and deception?"

"Because……I find pleasure in pain."

"Adam……"

"……the pain I will experience if I return is necessary. Pain is part of the path to Ascension, too. The pain they'll experience if I don't return would be unnecessary. The good of many overcomes my own good."

"Foolish kid, don't you know that, even if you returned to that world, you wouldn't be allowed to return to them?"

"I know."

"Then what's the point on suffering even more!?"

"Because the pain of solitude will be soothed by the certainty that, one day, I'll meet them again. For that, I'd go through every possible torture. After all, their pain is my pain. I want to return to them because………they're a part of me."

"I find no sense in your words, Adam."

"That is, indeed, the reason of my existence. To make the imperfect perfect. The perfect God shall only appear when it experiences the joys of human emotion. If I don't return, I……WE……will always remain incomplete. We could defeat Daemon like this, but the enemies to come will only be defeated by a truly perfect warrior. The Day of Liberation won't accept flaws. It will succeed, and bring happiness to every dimension, or it will fail, and every dimension will be like……this. Nothingness."

The void fell silent for a while, and Takato waited patiently for the words of his father.

"Even though you're at such a young age, your words are filled with true wisdom. You're indeed, my blessed one, and I'm very proud of you. However, there's something I must ask. Do you know that, if you go back to the world you were born in, you'll return to your previous level of mental development?"

"Indeed. And I do not feel worried about it." Takato replied calmly. "After all, every human goes through a similar situation. They have to go through puberty and adolescence before claiming maturity. I trust in my own potential to pass every test I'm forced to take during my teenage years, even if I don't have my full potential. I trust that my achievements until this moment are enough."

The voice of the Higher Entity laughed with enthusiasm.

"Oh, yes, yes………the death of Asmodeus has brought you to a level of evolution far beyond my expectations. My congratulations, Adam…no, Takato."

Takato would have smiled if he could. "I'm honored by your praise, father."

"Yes, yes………poor Daemon didn't stand a chance………"

**********************************************************************

"He who finds something worth living for,

finds something worth giving his life for."

Daemon laughed maniacally, and its loud echo reverberated through the destroyed streets of Shinjuku for long after he was done. Gallantmon Crimson Mode simply stared at his opponent, his helmet a perfect mask for any emotion Takato could be displaying at the moment.

"YOU are going to eliminate me!? Ha! You can barely stand! You're agonizing!"

Takato didn't reply. The more overconfident Daemon felt, the better.

"However, it's quite a surprise that you managed to reach a new form, Vessel of God. It's a shame that all the effort will be worth nothing, as you must be completely drained of energy."

"Hmph." Takato snorted. "I might have more surprises for you, Daemon."

Takato sighed. Ruki……Guilmon………

"Yes, Takato?" Guilmon replied happily.

What is it, Takato?

It took Takato a second to remember that Chaos would not answer him. At last, they were one. Even if it was only for one last battle.

You know……we're living on borrowed time here. You know that this will be our last battle together……right?

"………Guilmon is happy to be with Takato."

……you know I'm with you until the very end, Takato. Best friends forever, right?

Of course……so……we'll fight together, and we'll give it our best. Losing is not an option.

……for the future…

Yes! We'll fight to give our friends a bright future……even if we're not part of it. Let's make this battle……our last gift to them.

"Daemon, get ready to be destroyed!"

"Grr…..you talk too much, Vessel of God! Flame Inferno!!!"

"MY NAME IS TAKATO!!!"

In a second, Gallantmon's ten angelic wings grew to at least three or four times their original size and Takato used them to create a powerful gust of wind that reduced Daemon's attack to nothing more than little sparks.

"What!? Impossible!!!"

For the first time since he returned to the Human World, Takato actually smiled. "You'll have to do better than that, Daemon. Might as well attack now, right?"

Once again, with lightning fast speed, Gallantmon crossed the ten meters that separated him from Daemon and made a horizontal slash with his sword. Daemon rose high up in the sky. Takato looked up and smirked.

"I'm better than you at aerial combat, Daemon, you don't stand a chance!"

Much faster than the Demon Lord, Gallantmon flew vertically, surpassing Daemon and stopping when he was right above the cloaked fiend. Doing a full 360º turn in mid-air, Gallantmon's heels hit the back of Daemon's head, sending him back to the ground, raising a cloud of debris in the process. Takato didn't waste time with considerations.

"Aaaaaarrghh!!!" Mustering all of his strength, he threw the double-bladed staff Gallantmon Crimson Mode held with his right hand. Daemon, however, rolled out of the weapon's way just in time, and stood up to look at the sky, where Gallantmon floated carelessly.

"You should pay more attention, Daemon." Takato chuckled, pointing at the ground. Daemon looked to his left, where the staff, buried on the concrete, glowed with a bright white light, right before hiding in an explosion of holy energy that sent Daemon flying several yards away.

The weight of several fights finally beginning to tire him out, Daemon slowly stood up, groaning and cursing with a voice which was now little more than a whisper.

"How……? How can he have so much power?"

However, Takato seemed to have a very good pair of ears, because he answered Daemon's questions with utmost precision.

"You said it yourself. I am the reason you came here in the first place. If you absorbed my power, the power of the Vessel of God, you'd attain infinite supremacy. You said it, that you'd become even more than a God. Well, this is what you came here for. You're witnessing the power you were looking for. A power you'd never be able to control. Not just anyone can attain Godhood. And there are no shortcuts, Daemon. There's no secret trick for completion. Humans, as the fantastic creatures that they are, have the possibility of receiving the blessing of God. However, most of them are too blind to the truth, too tainted to what their imperfect bodies and minds show them, that they don't understand that the secret to perfection DOES NOT EXIST."

"No……"

"Daemon, you failed to understand that there's no such thing as 'perfection'. If a human lives a life of hard work, striving to become a better person every day, living each day to the fullest, and sharing his heart with those close to him, you know what happens when that person is going to die?"

Daemon didn't reply. Takato sighed slowly.

"That person realizes that he or she is not closer to being perfect than he or she was at the very beginning. However, the memories of the struggle for becoming better, the smiles of those he or she shared those memories with………in the end, that person will realize that what was truly important was the fact that he or she LIVED. Mankind must not struggle for a heavenly prize at the moment of death. The only prize is the joy of having truly lived. That is the real blessing of God."

"SHUT UP!!!" Daemon shouted angrily. "I don't care about your stupid preaching! I only care about being the strongest! I am the strongest, and your data will only make me invincible!!!"

Takato shook his head. "What you think is strength……you're mistaken, Daemon. You're only driven by your anger and sorrow. You'll never find true strength in such incorrect ways. The strongest is not the one with the most data. Look at me, Daemon. Technically, I should be dead by now. I'll probably die in a few minutes, anyway. But, at last, in these last minutes of epiphany, I've found the true strength. It lies in the satisfaction of having fulfilled my purpose. I have a reason to be strong, therefore, I'm strong. You only strive for an empty, static world, and the Higher Entity doesn't want that. Hence, you are weak."

"WEAK!? ARE YOU CALLING ME WEAK!?"

Daemon released another of his Flame Inferno attacks, but Gallantmon simply flew away from the unholy flames.

"Can I tell you a secret, Daemon? I don't believe in God."

"Wha-what!? What are you talking about!?"

Takato spoke, ignoring that he was using words similar to the ones Takeru had used a few days before with Ryo. But Takato had a few things to add.

"I don't think God exists, at least not as all those religions picture it, as some kind of……essence which rules over every single event. I believe in only one God……me. I truly believe that I am God. I have the power to destroy……"

As he said that, he raised his right arm, where a ball of crimson energy appeared. Suddenly, an energy beam appeared from the red sphere, blasting a building to the right of Gallantmon. In a few seconds, the building was nothing but debris.

"Yes, I have great destructive power. But I do have an even greater power: the power to create. Humans call it love. Love allowed me to create a Digimon partner, Guilmon, and a friend and partner, my dear Ruki. Love allowed me to forge strong relationships with my friends and family, and love allowed me to find happiness, by experiencing the love of another human being. My actions change the normal flow of events in the world, my decisions change history in one way or another; I am a determining factor in the history of this and every universe. Doesn't that make me a God? Doesn't that make every single human being a God? That is my only religion, my only creed. I believe in the power of humanity! I believe in the power of love!"

Daemon snarled. "Power of love………don't make me sick. Love won't save you today, Vessel of God!"

"For once you're right, Daemon. I have resigned to the fact that my days in this world are over. But death only brings a new beginning, and I'll make sure it's a good one! I'm taking you with me, Daemon!!!"

Daemon growled and looked behind him. At his feet he found the unconscious body of Jeri Katou. Immediately, a plan formed in his wicked mind. He extended his hand towards the fallen girl………until a hand in a crimson gauntlet with silver fingers stopped him.

"What the!?"

"Don't even THINK of doing that." Takato said with a voice that would make Rika shiver. Before Daemon could react, he received a powerful knee kick on his stomach. However, Takato didn't let him go, and immediately threw him towards one of the few buildings still standing. That didn't last much longer, though. However, Daemon didn't seem to mind being buried under tons of concrete and, with a big explosion and a piercing shriek, he got free from the debris that covered him. Gallantmon didn't seem too impressed by Daemon's demonstration, though. In fact, he had taken the time to recover his staff.

"Chaos Flare!"

"Invincible Swords!"

The two special attacks met halfway, and cancelled each other with a loud explosion. The shockwave was strong enough to take down the remaining buildings, and it sent the unconscious Lopmon flying away. Takato noticed, of course.

Damn it, we're too close! We might hurt them if we fight so close to them!

Gallantmon extended his wings and flew a good one hundred yards away. Daemon chuckled. "Running away? No……"

Daemon looked at the fallen Tamers and immediately understood Takato's intentions. "What a pity. To think that his worry for them will only cause their death."

He extended his right arm towards the unconscious Tamers and a fireball formed at the tip of his fingers. "Flame Infer……"

It was right then when Daemon lost his right arm.

Once the initial shock had passed, Daemon looked at Gallantmon, who looked like an athlete who had just performed a javelin throw. Then, he looked behind him, where Gallantmon's blade was stuck against a giant concrete block. Finally, he looked down, where his right arm now rested, separated from the rest of his body. And finally, he saw how his arm became spare bits of data, which was immediately absorbed by Gallantmon.

For the first time ever, the mighty Daemon cried in pain, shouting curses that would force me to switch this story's rating. Takato didn't paid attention to Daemon's cries, though.

"Serves you right. That's for all the pain you've done to them."

"DAMN YOU, TAMER!!! I'M GOING TO DESTROY YOU!!! NOT EVEN YOUR DATA WILL BE LEFT!!!"

Takato chuckled. "Now you're the one who talks too much, Daemon."

The Demon Lord lunged at Gallantmon, not minding the alarming amount of data that gushed out of his right shoulder. He tried attacking with his left hand, his sharp claws aimed at Gallantmon's face, but the Holy Knight easily dodged by ducking. Then, Daemon was swallowed by his shadow, disappearing under the street. Gallantmon tried to remain calm.

"Where is he………behind!"

He slashed behind with his sword, but he only hit air. It was then when Daemon reappeared. He hadn't moved from where he had disappeared. The short distraction was enough for Daemon to grab Gallantmon's arm, throw him away and attack him with one of his Chaos Flare attacks, which impacted right on Gallantmon's face. When Takato opened his eyes again, Daemon had disappeared once more. Gallantmon shook his head several times and struggled to get up.

Damn! I can't believe one single attack exhausted me this much! No, it can't be……I must be running out of time……I must force him to reappear……

Extending his wings, Gallantmon began to slowly rise in the air……until Daemon's hand came out of the street and grabbed his right foot.

"I got you, Vessel!"

Daemon tried to pull Gallantmon back to the ground………when he realized he was the one being pulled up.

"What!? Impossible!?"

Gallantmon's right leg, held by Daemon's hand, was more than enough to lift the Demon Lord high enough to be able to grab him with his arms and wrapping his legs around Daemon's waist. Daemon was trapped in the tightest bear hug.

 "What are you doing!?" The Demon Lord demanded.

"I'm running out of time, Daemon. I need to put an end to this……right now."

"N-no!!! Stop right now!!!"

"You know nothing you do will stop me."

Daemon did his best to force Gallantmon to let him go, but it was futile. The knight's grip was just too strong, and it just grew stronger when Takato began to channel his remaining energy for one last attack.

Guilmon……Ruki……for the future.

"For the future!"

…for the future.

"FINAL JUSTICE!!!"

And, with an explosion that would be seen in places as far away as Okinawa and South Korea, four entities: Daemon, Guilmon, Ruki and Takato Matsuki………ceased to exist.

******************************************************************

"Peace is but a shadow of death, desperate to forget the painful past…

…though we hope for promising years after shedding a few tears,

yesterday's sorrow constantly nears."

Kuja, from Final Fantasy IX. All rights reserved to Squaresoft, Inc. Year 2000..

Back to school.

Rika just let her feet do the work, as her mind was officially dead to the world. She knew people were looking at her. She couldn't care less. She remembered asking her mom to allow her to skip school for a few more days. Of course, Rumiko considered that her daughter had already missed attending classes for long enough.

She didn't know how, but she actually managed to find the way to her classroom. Of course, she was late. She had walked the long trek from her house to the school as slowly as humanly possible, overwhelming her brain with images, sounds and scents. Anything that would help her forget him……even if it were for just a minute.

She was ready to fulfill her punishment of staying outside the classroom. Hell, she was almost asking for it. However, Ms. Nami, who had already been informed of the news, decided to ignore Rika's delay and allow her to go to her desk.

Rika knew that all the eyes were on her as she literally slumped on her chair. The first thing she did, of course, was looking at the seat right next to her. The seat that, from that day, would always be empty. Even if a new student took the place, in Rika's heart, that seat would be empty.

She didn't know what to do. As much as she wanted to become her old, cold self, she found it impossible, as becoming the Digimon Ice Queen required renouncing to memories she refused to let go. She wanted to stop dwelling over his death, but she didn't want to forget him. And, of course, she couldn't just stay being the Rika Nonaka that Takato discovered in the Digital World: a Rika Nonaka who had found happiness. She couldn't, because of a very simple reason: she had lost the source of her glow. The cause of all her smiles. Not even being a Tamer seemed to have any sense anymore. After all, she had also lost the one person who ignited that need for competition that made her so strong.

Time passed and the class went on, and Rika was oblivious to it. She silently thanked God when the bell rang and everyone left for lunch. Looking down at her notebook, she only saw random notes and gibberish. With a sigh, she put the notebook in her backpack and left to the school's yard. She vaguely remembered ignoring Jeri's calls to join the other Tamers for lunch. She couldn't find the will to be with anyone else, much less the Digimon Tamers. Not anymore.

She ate only out of basic necessity. An hour later, if anyone asked her what she had for lunch, she would be unable to answer that question. She could only remember listening to the birds singing while she ate under the shade of a tree, and cursing Daemon for not blasting the school to smithereens. The bastard had destroyed 78% percent of Tokyo, why not the damned school!?

The bell rang again. Time to return to classes. Rika looked down, and noticed she hadn't even eaten half of her lunch. She threw the bento box in the trash can. Back to the classroom, back to the boredom, the reminiscence and the silent sorrow. However, she wasn't as oblivious not to notice that Jeri and Henry kept looking at her.

Why did Takato's death affect her so much? Why couldn't she just turn that page of her life and go on, like the others seemed to have done? Even Takato's parents had decided to go on, to start a new life in a different city.

She cursed life and love. She hated herself, for being so fragile regardless of her strong appearance. She hated the world, for not feeling the same pain she felt. And she hated Takato, for dying and taking her heart with him.

What's the point of love? In the end, love only brings pain. But, maybe………we humans like pain.

**********************************************************************

"You don't want to be left in the dark and misunderstood.

Well, what is the choice now?

What is it that you're going to do?

No more waiting around, this is your final decision.

It's time to put your life in gear and go straight ahead."

Extract from "Negai Kanaeru Kagi" (The Key to Granting Wishes) from the Digimon Adventure 02 OST. All rights reserved to their respective owners, year 1999.

"I knew I'd find you here."

Sora looked behind her to meet the piercing gaze of Mimi Tachikawa. No longer with a fetus living in her womb, the twenty-eight-year-old woman was slowly recovering her usual slender appearance which was men's delight and women's envy. However, the look on Mimi's face said that she was anything but happy with the change.

"What are you doing here?" Sora said, turning her head to face the grave of Taichi Kamiya once again. Mimi walked until she was right next to her best friend. She slowly leaned forward and placed a white rose on the stone inscription.

"I came from the hospital. I wanted to talk to someone, and Matt told me you weren't home. My instinct brought me here."

Sora sighed. After all, Mimi was the only one who knew of her secret, and the reason she visited the grave so often. However, the former tomboy didn't say a word. Mimi continued, not without doubting a little bit. She still wondered how she managed to keep the best-friend façade even after sleeping with Sora's husband, even if it had been a drunken woman's mistake. Of course, Sora didn't know yet, which pretty much was a good reason. Mimi knew she'd have to tell her one day. But she also knew she wouldn't bear with losing her best friend as well as her son.

"It's……been a while since the last time I came here. It's almost embarrassing."

"What?"

"Being here……with you. Not even Kari visits her brother's grave as often as you do."

Once again, no response.

"If…you want me to, I can leave."

"No, it's okay. I'm just……not used to talking here. I never talk when I come here, you know. I think a lot, though."

"About Tai?"

Sora looked at her best friend and, once she was sure there was no hidden meaning to Mimi's words, she answered.

"About everything."

Both women stayed like that for a minute, Sora lost in her own thoughts, and Mimi wondering what was in her friend's head. It surprised her when Sora spoke again.

"What did the doctor say?"

"I seem to be okay. Whoever did it knew what he was doing."

"It makes you wonder why someone would do something like that."

"Yeah……" Mimi said absentmindedly. Sora looked at her friend and immediately knew that Mimi was in pain. Sora couldn't imagine what she'd do if she went through a similar situation. Slowly, Sora wrapped her arms around her friend, who leaned her head on Sora's left shoulder. Sora didn't have to look down to know Mimi was crying. She had more than one reason to cry, but there is no way Sora could know that.

"The doctor……the doctor said I might……not be able to have more children……"

Sora let go a quiet gasp. "Oh……oh, God, Mimi, I'm so sorry…………"

Mimi sobbed in response. "Jeez………everyone has to bear my weeping……first Koushiro, now you………"

Sora didn't say any comments on that……and neither did she say any comments on the fact that Mimi had called Izzy by his full name for the first time.

"Mimi, it's okay to cry………"

It wouldn't be the first time someone cries in front of Tai's grave……I do it all the time.

An hour later, both women were sharing a cup of coffee in Mimi's apartment.

"I went to Koushiro's place yesterday. I told him that I had an appointment with the doctor today, and I told him that I was very nervous of the result. I sill don't know why I went to him of all people. He's never been much of an emotional guy, after all. Maybe that's why I went, because I knew he'd be completely honest, and he wouldn't waste his time trying to make me feel better."

Sora chuckled. "Yeah, I guess. Did he help?"

"Oh, yes, a lot." Mimi said while nodding. "He reminded me that what was really important was to look ahead and keep trying to seek happiness without forgetting the lessons from the past, or something like that. He said that whenever I began to feel like I wanted to cry, I should remember the joy I felt when I was told I'd be a mother, instead of remembering the sorrow of losing my son. I don't precisely remember when I began to cry. He didn't move from my side the whole time. I really began to respect him since yesterday."

Sora took a sip of her coffee and nodded. "And that's why you've started calling him by his name."

Mimi smiled in response. "Have I? I haven't noticed."

Sora eyed Mimi suspiciously. There was something Mimi hadn't told her, so she made a wild guess. "You spent the night at his place, didn't you?"

Mimi looked away, but the faint blush on her cheeks was enough of an answer. "Oh, but he was a perfect gentleman. I slept on his bed and he took the couch. He said it was no problem, and that he'd call in sick at the job if I wanted to stay for longer."

"Izzy, placing someone else before his job? It's going to rain money today."

"Sora!!!"

"Well, the guy's a workaholic."

"Oh, but you don't have to be so hard on him. He's a person who loves his job. Not many of those these days."

 "Okay, okay, I'll leave it at that. So……what else did you two do last night?"

"SORA!!!"

Sora waited patiently for Mimi's answer, amusing herself with her friend's blush. Sora had never thought a person could get that red.

"We just talked. We talked A LOT, actually. I had never seen Koushiro-kun talking that much before."

"Koushiro-kun?"

"Shut up. Anyway, we talked about pretty much everyone. He's very happy for Cody, you know. He says Cody needed it."

"I agree with him. Cody has always been a lonely person, even more than Izzy. That's not healthy. And Yui is a wonderful woman. They'll be very happy."

"Yeah………and I think Koushiro is happy because Cody chose him as the best man."

"Really? That's nice. So, when's the wedding?"

"They had to delay it one month. They'll wait until Cody's arm gets better."

"Of course. Do you want more coffee?"

"No thank you. But a glass of water would be nice."

Sora, who knew Mimi's house just as well as she knew hers, walked to the small kitchen to get water for the two of them. Mimi's voice reached her from the living room.

"Koushiro-kun told me about Joe, too."

"What about Joe?"

"It seems like me finally asked Davis' sister out. It looks like this last battle helped him more than harm……oh, thanks." Mimi said as she received a glass of water from Sora's hands. Sora smiled and nodded.

"Well, a near-death experience does that to people."

"I……guess. But Joe wasn't the only one who changed after all this." Mimi replied.

"Oh, of course not. I think this thing affected everyone of us."

"We're too old for that Digi-Destined stuff, huh?"

Sora chuckled. "Yeah……for a while I actually thought we were goners for once. Thank God Takeru and your Koushiro-kun still have it in them."

Mimi blushed slightly, but nodded in agreement. "We had completely lost the will to fight. But I guess we all did great in the end. Especially Ken and Kari."

"Well, those two have always been special. But that 'Dual Force' thing Kari did with Takeru was amazing. And Wormmon digivolving to Mega, too."

"And, speaking of the battle, how's Matt doing?"

"He'll be fine. He was pretty scared at the beginning, when we all thought he'd stay blind, but he's slowly recovering."

"That's good." Mimi said before finishing her glass of water.

Only after Sora was done with her water, Mimi spoke again.

"………Sora."

"What is it?"

"Do you think……we'll have to fight again?"

"Dear Lord, I hope not."

"But……what if we do?"

"Well, then let's pray Izzy can still kick ass like he did this time."

Both girls chuckled. "Well, he seems to have been working out lately." Mimi said with a giggle.

"I wouldn't know, you were the one who spent the night with him."

"SORA!!!" Mimi cried incredibly loudly, her face impossibly red. Sora simply laughed. It was good to be able to laugh again.

************************************************************************

"Take a chance!

Go faster than anyone else to grasp it.

Now heat up until you start to melt.

Show off the wings just formed.

At that moment, everything will begin, my heart."

Extract from "Kaze", from the Digimon Tamers OST. All rights reserved to their respective owners. Year 2001

With tired eyes, Takato slowly opened his eyes. His whole body was sore, so he didn't bother to get up. However, with the pain and everything, it had been quite a while since he had felt any better. At once, he could tell: he wasn't going to die anytime soon.

Slowly, he switched to a sitting position. He used his hands to gain impulse, and at the same time realized that he was in a grassy area. His head hurt a little bit, so he placed his right hand on his forehead. No fever. His mouth was dry, though. But incredibly enough, he didn't give a damn. His eyes quickly adjusted to the light, but Takato noticed that was because there was no light. He had awakened in the middle of the night.

He was alive. Things couldn't get better.

"Takato!!"

Well, maybe they could.

For the first time ever, Takato didn't mind being pinned to the ground by his Digimon partner, Guilmon. He was relieved to know that the reptile Digimon looked as healthy as the day they met. "Guilmon! How are you doing, buddy?"

"I'm okay! I was in a very dark place, but I wasn't afraid, because I knew Takato would come for me."

Takato couldn't help but flash a warm smile to his Digimon. "It's okay……everything's okay now."

"Yes! But I'm hungry, and Alice didn't have any food for me!"

"Huh?"

"Welcome back to the world of the living, Takato Matsuki."

Takato's brain didn't react quickly enough.

"Who are you?"

Alice McCoy flashed him an eerie smile. "Your new best friend. But, really, you should get dressed."

It was then when Takato realized that he was completely naked.

"Waahh!!!" He cried, using both hands to cover his private parts. Alice simply tossed him some clothes, and Takato sighed in relief. He was about to get dressed...when he looked at Alice, who looked back with a completely neutral gaze.

"WOULD YOU MIND!?"

Alice sighed and turned around to give Takato some privacy. A few minutes later, Takato was done……and there was a huge sweatdrop on his forehead.

"Let me guess……you picked these, didn't you?"

Alice simply smiled, and Takato didn't know if he was supposed to smile back or run away.

The only thing remotely similar to his old outfit was the blue t-shirt. However, he was now wearing black baggy jeans and black tennis shoes, as well as a black jacket, similar to Henry's. In other words, an outfit perfect for Chaos. To top things, he now had a set of black goggles with dark blue borders.

"I'm not saying that I don't like it, but……what happened to my old clothes?"

"They were destroyed in the blast that took out Daemon……as well as half of Shinjuku. The only thing that survived was this." Alice said, handing Takato the picture he took with Rika at the Digital World.

Takato sweatdropped and scratched the back of his head in classic anime fashion. Alice continued.

"I want to congratulate you on your successful victory against Daemon, as well as for your successful Ascension. On a personal opinion, I must add that you look quite attractive."

Takato could feel his jaw drop. It was mainly because he couldn't tell if she was serious. "O…okay. Thanks……I guess."

"Please follow me."

Takato did as told, considering that he had nothing else to do. Besides, he didn't recognize the place. Guilmon seemed to be in the same situation, as he sniffed the air around him with a puzzled look.

"Where are we, Takato?"

"You heard the dinosaur, Alice. Where are we? Why are you with me?"

"I am working by orders from the secret organization formerly known as the Triad."

"Formerly? What do you mean by that?"

"It seems that, considering the circumstances, the Triad has decided to dissolve. However, they made some final decisions before that. All of them to aid the destiny of the Vessel of God."

"Oh."

"The members of the Triad know as well as you that your return to this world is under the condition that you are not allowed to be near the Digimon Tamers until the time of the Prophecy comes near."

Takato nodded grimly. "Yeah. So?"

"So I am to stay with you until then. This way you won't be lonely, and I'll make sure you receive the proper education and training."

Takato sweatdropped. "Gee……how……nice from them."

Alice finally stopped in front of a big house with cerulean blue walls and white ceiling. Takato didn't recognize it, as he didn't recognize anything in that place.

"What's this place?"

"This is my house." Alice replied. Takato's eyes widened.

"B-But, this is………"

Alice nodded……and smiled. Takato resisted the urge to scream. "We are in the United States of America. And now, you shall accompany me to my bedroom."

Takato was so shocked that Alice had to literally drag him all the way to the front door. "B-But, Alice!"

"What is it?"

In a surprisingly bold act (for Takato), the Goggle boy grinned. "Don't you think we're going too fast here? Maybe after a few dates and stuff……"

"Takato."

"What?"

"Shut up."

"Okay."

************************************************************************

"Where there's a world with living things, bad things always happen.

But on the other side of bad, there's an equal number of good."

Yomi, from "Terranigma". All rights reserved to Enix.

"It was necessary." Goddramon said with a strong voice.

"Yes, but it's still kind of sad." Patamon replied.

They were in Infinity, in what would be the last meeting of the Triad. Strangely enough, there was one member missing.

"I guess this is for the better, right?" Patamon asked rhetorically.

"You know I would try to help you if I could, but I'm trapped in this place. Only a small part of me exists outside of Infinity."

"You know, I've always wanted to know what you mean by that. What is the part of you that exists outside of Infinity?"

Goddramon managed to smile a little bit. "That's my secret."

Patamon pouted. "Damn……I'm getting tired of all these secrets."

"So am I, Patamon, so am I."

Both Digimon sighed.

"When I thought everything was settled, Takato Matsuki surprised me again. He's quite a formidable being. I guess he's not blessed by the Higher Entity for no reason." Goddramon commented. Patamon nodded in agreement.

"But, now that you think of it, it makes sense. The time of the Prophecy, according to the last calculations from the Event Matrix, will come in approximately three or four years. If Takato died now, it wouldn't make sense."

"Death is nothing but a new beginning…………and we call ourselves guardians of the dimensions. There are so many things we ignore."

"We know absolutely nothing! We have no idea of what's going to happen." Patamon replied.

"Our only relief is that Takato will now grow up in an environment free of the inconveniences he had in Shinjuku."

Patamon nodded. "At this point, a relationship with Rika Nonaka would have been a problem."

"Right now, he must only focus on what the future has in store for him. Once he fulfills his purpose, he'll be free to do whatever he wants."

"But, what do we do in the meantime?" Patamon wondered.

"There's nothing I can do, trapped in this place." Goddramon replied. "I will search for suitable candidates for Omnivices, though. As for you and Takeru, you're more valuable as Digimon Tamer and partner right now. Besides, you must find more information on Project Asmodeus. We still don't know how Takato was created."

Goddramon sighed. He hated lying to Patamon, but it was necessary. He couldn't just give away the truth. First, because the search for the truth was part of the Prophecy, and second, because he was certain Takeru and Patamon would hate him once they found out.

"Ahh, Goddramon, still making up excuses, huh? Some things never change." A third voice echoed in the place, at the same time a third Digimon joined the two Triad members.

"Well, well, but if it is no one but the Savior itself." Patamon chuckled as Terriermon sat next to him. "Feeling better?"

"Yeah, I guess. I still get headaches every once in a while, but that's okay."

"You used too much of your power against Daemon. That was risky." Goddramon stated.

"A necessary risk, Goddramon." Terriermon replied. "Besides, it's not like I won't recover my power in time for the Ritual of Heavenly Liberation."

"Huh?" Patamon muttered. Terriermon sighed.

"The Day of the Prophecy! Gosh, what a bunch of ignoramuses."

"Well, excuse us! Not everyone here was created by the Higher Entity itself, you know?"

Terriermon chuckled. "Well, I guess so."

"Anyway, what brings you here? I don't think you came here just to make fun of us, Terriermon."

"Oh, of course not! First I'll share some of my infinite knowledge with you. Then, I'll make fun of you. Anyway, where's Lord Takeru?"

"He had something important to do at the Eastern Quadrant." Patamon replied.

Terriermon shrugged. "Oh well. Anyway, he knows most of what I'll tell you, and what he doesn't know, he'll eventually find out. He's got a cunning mind."

Terriermon fixed his eyes on Patamon. "So, how many Enlightened Ones have you found?"

"Five. Only one left."

"Wrong. There are ten Enlightened Ones. And where the hell did that name come from? If you tell me it comes from the original text of the Prophecy, then you must tell Takeru that he has to work on his translation skills."

"Oh dear……" Goddramon muttered. "Would you mind explaining that a little further?"

Terriermon sighed again. "See? That's what you get for focusing on the first two paragraphs, which speak of the six original crests. The thing is, the Ultimate Prophecy requires a power greater than the six crests. That's why, on the sixth page, it says…"

Hidden behind the bright beauty of the Sun,

And shadowed under the calm moonlight,

There are strength, splendor, love and innocence.

One who is innocence,

One who is true love and friendship,

One who is power and victory,

One who is healing and splendor,

One who is beauty and destruction,

One who is mercy and patience,

One who is true strength,

One who is justice and wisdom,

And One who is life and understanding.

Nine of them, and one from God.

Nine of them, and one who is God.

Nine and one, make ten.

Ten Archangels.

Together, as one.

Nine and one create one.

Only then, thirty-six wings of light shall bring forth the new world.

Ascension.

Redemption.

Perfection.

"……and that's pretty much the whole idea. You've found five, you have five left. But there's nothing to worry about, as one of them is like me." Terriermon explained.

"What do you mean 'like you'? Are you saying that one of the Archangels is a Digimon?"

"No, dummy! I mean one of them knows everything, just like me. One of them was created by the Higher Entity, and has been gifted with the knowledge of God. She'll make sure the Archangels are together for the day of the Prophecy."

"Then why do we even bother? If you have everything under control, then what the hell are we supposed to do?" Patamon wondered.

Terriermon shrugged. "You can look after Takato. While the Tamers think he's dead, you make sure he becomes stronger……and more stable."

*************************************************************************

"Open mind, someday I'll be able to open my heart.

Our story is also about fighting and hurting each other.

Open mind, someday I'll be able to love everyone.

Even the words that I can't get out well will become my weapons.

Open mind, someday I'll be able to laugh naturally.

Things that make my heart ache are messages to me.

Open mind, someday I'll be able to forgive everything.

Because I face the things I want to figure out."

Extract from "Open Mind", from the Digimon Adventure OST. All rights reserved to their respective owners.

It's a nice place to live. Takeru thought as he finally arrived to the small lake. He took a deep breath, and relaxed when his lungs were filled with clean air. He thanked God the Digital World hadn't been invaded by human machinery.

What are you thinking about?

Just wondering……how would it be to live without worries?

You know that such a thing is impossible.

That's not true. He has done it. And now we're here to put an end to it.

The place was easy to spot from Takeru's position. A small grey tent at the other side of the lake. A rope tied between two trees, probably for drying clothes. Takeru began to walk around the lake, slowly approaching the place. He had all the time in the world. Daemon was finally gone, Takato had reached a higher stage of Ascension, and everything was good in the worlds……for now. He might as well take a few days free. He had even left Patamon to do whatever he wanted for a while. Takeru guessed the little bat-pig was in Infinity, or probably checking on the Digi-Destined. As for Takeru, to hell with the Digi-Destined. He had everything he needed. That is, absolutely nothing. Completely alone……except for Pauline, of course. But he couldn't ask for better company.

As he approached, Takeru could get more details of the small campsite. The remains of a bonfire and a sleeping form which Takeru recognized as a Digimon. However, it would be a sound from the lake what would catch his attention.

A man emerged from the water and walked to the shore. He had what seemed like a harpoon on his right hand and half a dozen fishes on his left one. His body was perfectly tanned and incredibly well built, and as Takeru approached even more, he could see that the man was smiling, and his brown eyes had a fierce glow Takeru had never seen before. It was the look of a man who enjoyed every second of his existence. Takeru couldn't help but smile, and his smile grew even wider when he recognized the familiar shape of an Omniwatch around the man's right wrist.

And, of course, there was the hair. Takeru could recognize that hair anywhere, no matter that in that moment the aforementioned hair was completely wet and was falling down the man's face and a fairly funny fashion (just think about it!).

"Taichi Kamiya!" Takeru shouted. And the man froze.

Blue eyes met brown, and in a second, an avalanche of memories and feelings flooded the two men.

"It's been a while." Takeru said, stopping ten yards away from the almost-naked man, who, as soon as he recognized Takeru, felt his jaw drop and felt his eyes grow the size of tennis balls.

"TK!?"

"I prefer the name Takeru now, but I'm glad you recognized me after so long."

"Holy cow, it IS you!"

Three seconds later, Takeru's clothes were soaking wet, as their owner was trapped in a bear hug.

Oh, how touching……

Shut up, Pauline……

However, and regardless of his thoughts, Takeru found himself hugging back.

"I……I still can't believe it!" Tai said happily. However, his smile soon changed to a frown. "How did you find me?"

Takeru shrugged. "A little luck on my part. Besides, after fourteen years of wandering in the Digital World, it was a matter of time."

Taichi smiled and walked away, to wake his Digimon Partner. "So……how are you doing?"

"Definitely not as well as you, I can see. But I'm more than used to this lifestyle."

"So you never returned to Odaiba."

"I return every once in a while to check on the others, but you could say that I have no current living place at the moment. In fact, everyone else thought I was dead until a few weeks ago. Matt and your sister found me by accident. Since then, I've talked to them two more times, and that's it."

Tai shot Takeru a pleading look, to which Takeru replied by shaking his head. "They all think you're dead."

Tai sighed in relief, and Takeru smiled. "Tai, just for how long had you planned to leave Odaiba? I can tell that my leaving gave you the last push, but something tells me you had planned to leave even before I did."

Tai sighed. "Since the day MaloMyotismon was defeated. After all, nothing else attached me to that place."

Takeru nodded. "I guess our circumstances are not so different."

"Yeah, I guess."

Taichi shook Agumon's body, which slowly reacted. Taichi looked back at Takeru. "Oh, but sit down. Tell me everything! What have you been doing all this time?"

Agumon looked up at his partner with tired eyes. "Who are you talking with……TK!!!"

"Oh, my, that was quick." Takeru chuckled as the petit dinosaur wrapped is short arms around one of his legs.

"Hey, but that makes me wonder……where's Patamon?"

"Oh, well, I told him I needed to be alone for a while, so he left to who-knows-where. He's become quite the independent Digimon. He can even evolve by himself at times."

"Really? Whoa……so, tell me, what's going on in the world?"

Takeru whistled. "Man, that's a lot to tell. You'll have to be more specific. But what I want to know is how the hell did you get an Omnivice?"

"A what?"

"An Omnivice. Don't tell me you don't even know what that little thing on your wrist is."

"Oh, this? I don't know, it just showed up one day. My Digivice disappeared that same day. I can't even get this stupid thing to work, whatever it does."

Takeru sweatdropped. Well, some things never change………

Yep! He's still a klutz!

Pauline……he's not a klutz………he just sucks with machines.

He wouldn't recognize a TV from a microwave even if his life depended on it!

Pauline, now you're just exaggerating……and who are you to speak, anyway? This is the first time you've ever seen him!

"Well, my good friend, you better sit down, because we have a long day ahead of us." Takeru replied with a big smile on his face.

*********************************************************************

"We'll be together forever, forever, because we promised that setting sun

I want to see you soon, please convey that feeling

You unexpectedly dove into my lonely heart

You kindly wrapped up the things that hurt a little

It was the first time I felt so relieved so

I squeezed that warmth into my outside pocket; do you want to go walking?

We'll be together forever, forever, because we promised that setting sun

In lonely times, we can look at that lengthening orange

That setting sun will whisper, "It will be okay"

I want to see you soon, please convey that feeling

So that I can meet you with your very favorite

My best smile, I'll hang in through every day

We'll be together forever, forever, because we promised that setting sun

It might seem discouraging but we'll embrace the beautiful orange

"It will be okay" is what that setting sun taught us

If I really believe, that feeling will definitely reach you

We'll be together forever, forever, because we promised that setting sun

Even if we are far away, we'll still feel that same orange

"It will be okay" Because that setting sun connects us

Don't cry anymore, In the light of the love in our hearts

In the light of the love in our hearts."

"Yuuhi no Yakusoku" (Promise of the Setting Sun). Ending Song for the sixth Digimon Movie. All rights reserved to their respective owners.

The day was over, at last. There was no need for pretensions and lies anymore. With night comes freedom, and Rika is finally allowed to do and feel whatever she wants. And so, after a dinner she vaguely remembers eating, and some forgotten words of gratitude towards the cook, Rika locks herself in her room, that little place where she can be completely alone with her thoughts. Even Renamon respected the privacy that her room represents. The vulpine Digimon will only enter if she is asked to.

Rika doesn't even bother to get undressed. She just wraps herself under the sleeping bag……and cries to sleep.

And then she opens the eyes of her mind, and allows her subconscious to take over. It is then when she enters the world of dreams, the only place where she's truly free. The only place where she can do things the way she wants, where she can be whoever she wants.

The only place where she can see him again……until the day she forgets his face.

So, she dreams. She dreams of herself, watching the sunset under the shade of a tree. She's in the park, and she's not alone.

"I miss you." She says. Takato doesn't say a word. He just smiles. Rika understands, and leans her head on his right shoulder. After she lets go a soft sigh of pleasure, Takato answers.

"I know. I miss you, too."

Rika sets her eyes on the trees and the grass and the empty benches, normally occupied by couples engaged in lovey-dovey affairs. Of course, this is her dream, and in her dream she makes sure no one witnesses her moments of "weakness". In her dream, she can be as lovey-dovey as she wants. Because she's as human as anyone else, and humans have the tendency of becoming completely different people in their dreams.

"How am I……supposed to go on?"

"I think you already know the answer, Rika."

"But……I can't……not again………"

"Again?"

Rika looked away, hiding the tears forming in her eyes.

"When dad left, I felt something similar. I felt empty……alone. I had no reason to be happy, so I became a cold, heartless……"

"……bitch?"

*TWACK!*

"OWW!!!"

"Stupid Gogglehead………" Suddenly, Rika stood on her knees and kissed the place where she had just hit Takato. "Stupid, sweet, baka Gogglehead……"

Rika returned to her sitting position, content with the closeness and the warmth from both Takato's body and the last rays of sunlight, as the sun slowly disappeared under the horizon.

"I don't want you to become that cold girl again, Rika."

"I know……….then why did you leave me!?"

"It was necessary. The world needs me dead."

"But I need you alive! I don't want to love a dead person!"

Takato looked at Rika with a surprised look. Rika noticed, of course. "What?"

"You……said………it's the first time you………used THAT word."

Rika understood what Takato meant, and a pink blushed formed on her cheeks. "Gosh, you made me say it. Stupid Gogglehead……"

Silence. The first stars showed up with their weak blinking lights.

"Will you wait for me, Takato?"

"What?"

"Please……promise me……that you will wait for me."

A lone tear fell down Takato's cheek, as the boy was completely touched by Rika's words. Slowly, he placed his right hand behind Rika's head and untied the knot that kept her hair fixed in that…...unique hairdo of Rika's, letting her hair loose to caress the girl's shoulders.

"Why did you do that?" Rika said, almost in a whisper. Takato smiled that sweet smile of his.

"Because I think you look cuter with your hair loose, and……" he stopped to inch dangerously close to her. "……it's easier to caress your hair like this when I kiss you."

And they kissed, of course. Takato, being true to his words, delicately caressed Rika's hair with his right hand, while his left hand rested on her waist. Rika didn't do anything for or against the kiss. She was too lost in the taste of his lips; while she wondered since when did her dreams feel so damn real……and so damn good.

Finally……and reluctantly, boy and girl separated. Rika wanted to tell him not to stop, but she only managed to say something to the likes of "Mmmont……"

Takato chuckled, his smile never leaving his face.

"Now wake up. I left something for you to remember me. A memento of those wonderful days we spent together."

"Huh?"

Rika opened her eyes. She was awake, alone in her dark room. However, the little light the moon bathed her with helped her to guide her way in the otherwise completely obscure room.

It was then when she saw it. A white spot on the dark floor. She first mistook it for a piece of paper, but when she touched it she recognized it to be a photograph. She looked at the image and gasped, letting go of it. The photo slowly fell to the floor, but Rika didn't move, her eyes fixed on the image before her.

A photo of herself, being hugged by a certain Gogglehead, in a tropical paradise filled with beautiful flowers.

In a sudden rush of energy, she opened the bedroom's door. She was only met by the cold wind of the night. Rika sighed. However, it wasn't a sad sigh.

You never cease to amaze me, Gogglehead…………

Meanwhile, in a small bedroom of a small house in California, a Gate opened and a boy walked out of it with a smile on his face. Takato sighed and looked at the screen of his Omnivice.

Dream Weaver Code Deactivated.

Thank you, Ruki. You're really one of a kind.

Whatever, Takato. You weren't the only one who got post-mortem upgrades, after all!

Takato chuckled in response……but his joy wouldn't last too long.

"Where were you?"

Takato turned around to face... "A-Alice-chan! I thought you were asleep! Nice nightgown, by the way."

"Yes, you thought I was asleep. And don't you know flattery only counts when it's not flattery? And don't call me Alice-chan."

"Okay, you got me." Takato meekly said while he hid himself under his sleeping bag. Alice sighed.

"Takato………"

"I know, I know! I just……needed this. A closure, you know."

"No, I don't know."

"Oh well……you'll understand when you dump your first boyfriend."

"……………"

Alice said no more and returned to her bed. However, there was one last question nagging at the back of Takato's head.

"………Alice-chan?"

"……what now?"

"Are you sure your parents don't mind that I sleep in your room? With me being a boy and everything……"

"Grandfather. I live with my grandfather."

"Oh……anyway………does he……?"

"……he still doesn't know that you're here. I'll talk to him tomorrow."

"WHAT!? Alice! Alice………Alice! Don't pretend to be asleep! ALICE-CHAN!!! Don't make me go to that bed!!!"

"You wouldn't dare."

"Watch me."

And, while Takato Matsuki and Alice McCoy engaged in the first argument of many they'd have in the next twenty-seven months, Rika Nonaka silently cried under the Tokyo night sky. She cried, but a beautiful smile coated her lovely face. Renamon appeared next to her.

"Rika, is anything wrong?"

Oh, yes, there's something wrong. Rika thought. Takato's gone……my Takato's gone……but now, I feel that I can move forward…to the future…for him.

"No, Renamon, there's nothing wrong. I'll just…go back to sleep."

Renamon watched, confused, how her Tamer returned to the warmth of her sleeping bag. "Good night, Renamon."

"Good night, Rika."

Rika looked at the photograph on the floor, at the two smiling people on it. She'd pick it up tomorrow, and she'd get a pretty frame to put it in.

"Good night, Gogglehead."

"After an endless dream, in this world of nothingness

It seems as if our beloved dreams will lose.

Even with these unreliable wings, covered in images that tend to stay

I'm sure we can fly, oh yeah…

After an endless dream, in this miserable world

That's right; maybe not using common sense isn't so bad after all…

Even with these awkward wings, dyed with images that seem to stay

I'm sure we can fly, on my love"

THE END

To be continued in "Gospel"………

*******************************************************************

*******************************************************************

And now, an insanely large section of Author's Notes!!! Oh, and before I forget, that last quote is from "Butterfly", the intro song for Digimon Adventure.

Gosh, I'm done with Tamers Forever……FINALLY!

That took quite a while……*checks the 'Gospel' script……and sighs* Oh, no, I'm taking a vacation, that's for sure. Besides, I have to do some research before starting with Gospel. What is Gospel, you ask? Well, you didn't think I was going to leave things THIS way, right!? I'm not THAT mean! *Gets angry stares in response* Okay, well, maybe I am, but the point is, this story is far from done! If you thought Tamers Forever was big, you haven't read anything! Even if Digimon Tamers stopped being aired quite a while ago, their memory won't die! At least not until I'm done with Gospel, that's for sure!

Of course, that's your choice. If you're tired of that goddamn moron Daneel Rush and his stories, you might as well think of this as the ending, for it works as an ending just fine. On the other side, if you actually liked "Tamers Forever" and didn't review out of pity, then please look forward to Gospel. Believe me; I've had enough angst for quite a while. Gospel will have a much more upbeat mood (considering that the stigma of Takato's incoming death is finally gone), and will focus more on the action/adventure/comedy/drama/stupidity side.

Once again, thank you everyone for your patience, your fidelity and your valuable comments. And don't miss the Gogglehead and his friends, because they'll be back real soon! See ya! Ja ne! I'm so resting after this!!!!

Next on Tamers Forever: ……….oh, yeah, the series is over, right……silly me. But Gospel is here! Yay! No more excessive amounts of angst! From now on, lots of new adventures! Action-packed scenes! Silly teenager romance! Lots of comedy! New kick-ass Digimon! New characters! New Archangels and Omnivices! And your healthy dose of angst! Yay! Soon on fanfiction.net!!!!!

Daneel Rush (daneel_ff@hotmail.com)