Jian, Terriermon, and Lopmon rode home in the back seat of one of Yamaki's black vans.
"So, I might be in some trouble when we get back." Said Jian. "You two should be fine, I think. I didn't tell Dad about going to the digital world, so he won't be expecting you."
"Why not tell him?" Said Terriermon.
"He was really afraid that I would try to go back." Said Jian. "I think it's because of the time when Shaochung disappeared right in front of him. It makes sense that he would be worried about any of us getting lost in the digital world after that.
"So I left without saying because I didn't want him to worry… and because I didn't want him to try to stop me."
"He helped build Valkyrie though, didn't he?" Said Terriermon.
"He did. Although I don't think he ever really intended for me to use it." Said Jian. "I don't know for sure. He won't talk to me about it."
"Will it really be alright for us to return to your family at this time?" Said Lopmon. "I would not want our presence to cause any strife."
"It's fine." Said Jian. "I did all of this in the first place so that you two could finally come home. Just let me worry about my father."
"Moumantai." Said Terriermon. "I just can't wait to get back. You're going to love our place, Lopmon. It's got everything – rooms, furniture, windows, a kitchen with food, indoor plumbing. Just try not to set up any booby traps. That might not go over so well."
Lopmon glared. "That was never my intention. What manner of dangerous fool do you take me for?"
"Moumantai." Terriermon laughed. "Hey, you seem worried. What's got you down?"
Lopmon stared out the black-tinted window.
"Will Shaochung be happy to see me? Our time together was so brief, and our time apart so lengthy." They looked down at their feet. "Now that our reunion is imminent, I am forced to confront the fact that she may not care for my company as she once did. I'm sure we have both changed in our time apart. I fear our friendship will not be what it once was."
"Don't worry." Said Terriermon. "You're partners. I'm sure everything will be alright. Right, Jian?"
Jian nodded. "Yeah. I know it will."
The van pulled up to their building, and the three walked up to the front door of the Lee family residence.
"I'm home." Jian called out, as he walked inside.
"Welcome ba-" Jiang-yu, Jian's father, stopped mid-sentence. His gaze rested on the two small figures besides Jian, and a stern expression crossed his face.
"Ut-oh. He looks mad." Said Terriermon. "Should we do something?"
"It's fine." Said Jian. "I'll talk to him. Why don't you show Lopmon around?"
"Come on, Lopmon." Said Terriermon, taking his friend by the hand. "I'll give you the tour. Let's start by seeing what's in the kitchen!"
Lopmon nodded to Jiang-yu as Terriermon dragged them away.
"I apologize for showing up unexpectedly." They said. "Thank you for allowing me into your home."
The two digimon hurried off into the next room. Jian and his father stared at each other for a tense moment.
"You put yourself in danger again." Said Jiang-yu. "I could accept it when the fate of the world was at stake, but risking your life for this?"
"I had to." Said Jian. "Terriermon is my friend. I couldn't just leave him behind."
"Some things, you simply have to accept." Said Jiang-yu. "It's part of growing up."
"I can't grow up if you don't let me make my own choices!" Said Jian, his voice raising. "After everything I've done, how can you treat me like a little child?"
"You are still a child." Said Jiang-yu. "You're my child. That's why I can't let you needlessly put yourself in danger. If you got hurt, it wouldn't affect just you; it would hurt the whole family. What you did was selfish."
Just then, an excited shriek rang out from down the hall. Shaochung ran into the room, with Lopmon tucked under one arm, dragging Terriermon along by the ear with the other.
"Daddy, Daddy! Lopmon and Terriermon are home!"
Lopmon struggled in their tamer's grasp, trying to make a little breathing room in the crook of her arm.
"I respect your enthusiasm, but you must loosen your grip." They gasped.
"Moumantai." Terriermon said with a content shrug. "You get used to it."
Shaochung looked wide-eyed at Jian.
"Jian, did you go find them?"
Jian nodded, and Shaochung dropped the two digimon, and ran over to hug him.
"Thank you so much!" She said. "You're the best big brother ever!"
A moment later, she had picked up Terriermon and Lopmon again, and had run out of the room.
"Come on, you two!" She said. "Let's have a welcome-home party."
Jiang-yu sighed, and looked back at Jian.
"Well, your sister is very happy." He said, rubbing his forehead. "I'm grateful for that. Even so, you're still in trouble. Go to your room, and I'll decide on your punishment later."
Ruki and Renamon walked side-by-side back to their house. The low, evening sun cast long shadows as it crept closer towards the horizon. Renamon quietly marveled at the old, familiar streets and buildings, which had changed so little since they had last seen them. The sense it gave them was almost overpowering. They once wondered if they would ever set foot in this world, and now, they were walking home with their partner, as they had so many times before. The utter mundanity of it was, in this moment, the most precious thing in the world.
As they came to the front gate of the Makino's home, Ruki stopped, and turned to her partner.
"Listen." She said. "I didn't mean all of that stuff I said earlier. Well- I guess part of me meant it, but I know I shouldn't be thinking like that. It wasn't your fault we got separated, and I blamed you anyway."
Renamon nodded, but said nothing.
"So, here we are." Said Ruki. "I'll go tell Mom and Grandma that you're home, and find out when we're having dinner. You- You're going to eat with us, right? I know you don't like sitting with everyone, but it will just be the four of us this time."
"Don't worry." Said Renamon. "I'll be there."
"Good." Ruki smiled. "You should go take a bath first though. You can use my shampoo and conditioner if you want. You have a lot of fur, so it's okay to finish off whatever's left."
She walked towards the house, but Renamon didn't move. Ruki turned back towards them.
"Is there something wrong?" She asked.
"I hate baths." Said Renamon.
"Really? You're not a cat, you know." Ruki shot back. "Anyway, I didn't want to say it earlier, but you kinda stink."
After they had washed all of the accumulated wasteland dust out of their fur, Renamon had to admit that they felt better. It was easy to ignore the gradual buildup, but now that they were clean, they were starting to feel a little more like themself.
Dinner was a surprisingly reserved event. Rumiko and Seiko offered Renamon a warm 'welcome home', but made little fanfare of it. Rumiko talked briefly about her day at work, but aside from that, Renamon was able to enjoy the meal in relative silence. No one asked about their time spent in the digital world, for which Renamon was greatful. Those stories were tinged with danger, violence, and sadness, and would not make for light conversation.
Later, when all the dishes were cleared, when Ruki and Renamon had a moment to themselves, the two sat looking out at the small pond by the house.
"I hope that was alright." Said Ruki. "When I told them that I was going back to bring you home, Mom wanted to throw you a big party, but I told her you wouldn't like that. I told her we should just have a normal dinner. Grandma agreed. She said you seemed shy, and that you'd probably prefer something a little quieter."
"That is true." Said Renamon.
"I'm glad you liked it, then." Said Ruki. She stared down at her folded hands.
"Hey Renamon," She said, "while you were gone, I realized that I never even knew where you slept. Even though you're my friend, I never really treated you like a real member of the household. I guess there were a lot of ways I could have been more considerate towards you.
"Now that you're back, I want it to feel like you really have a place here; like you're really home. So I'll set up an extra futon just for you tonight. There are a lot of empty rooms in this house, so you can have whichever one you want, but… I'd like it if we didn't have to be too far apart. Even if it's just for a little while."
Renamon looked up at the clear night sky.
"Yes," they said, "that sounds nice."
They sat in silence for a while, enjoying the cool night air, and the soft chirping of insects all around.
"What's on your mind?" Ruki finally said.
"Nothing." Said Renamon. "I was just admiring the moon. I much prefer this sky to the other one."
"Geez." She said. "When did you suddenly become so romantic?"
Renamon glanced at their partner out of the corner of their eye.
"Who knows." They said.
Takato, Guilmon, and Takato's parents walked home from the Hypnos building.
"You didn't have to walk us home." Said Takato sheepishly. "It's not that far, really."
"We wanted to greet you and Guilmon as soon as you got back." Said Takehiro. "You're no so old that you can't go on a walk with us."
"I could have driven you home, if you hadn't made me leave Impmon's bike with Yamaki." Said Guilmon. "I can ride it now without getting possessed."
"Yeah, that still might not be so safe." Said Takato. "Do you know how to follow all the traffic signals?"
"Um, maybe. What're those?"
The group crossed the street, headed back towards the Matsuda bakery.
"Huh?" Said Guilmon. "Aren't you taking me back to Shinjuku Park?"
"Um, well," Takato said, scratching his head, "the Guilmon Home kinda got encased in concrete. Sorry, it's a long story."
"But hey, that means you get to come home and live with us! Pretty great, right?"
"That is, only if you behave yourself." Said Yoshie. "We're still running a business, after all. The last thing we need is a big digimon causing trouble."
"Yeah, no eating all the bread in the store." Said Takehiro. "I've seen how much you can put away. We'll be out on the streets in no time if you don't show a little restraint."
Guilmon laughed. "I'll control myself, I promise." He said.
He turned to Takato.
"We can still go to the park like we used to though, right? And can we invite Impmon? I want to visit him a lot."
"Wow, you two must be getting along better." Said Takato. "I never thought you'd be such good friends."
"Actually, we're boyfriends." Said Guilmon. He nodded. "Yep, we're super gay for each other."
"That's uuuuuuuh… unexpected." Said Takato. He quickly changed the subject. "I'll bet you have plenty of stories from the digital world. A lot of stuff must have happened, huh?"
Guilmon's smile faded, and his reply came quietly.
"Yeah." He said. "A lot of stuff. I want to tell you about all of it, but… not all of them are good stories."
"That's okay." Said Takato. "You don't have to talk about right now it if you don't want to."
"Right." Said Guilmon. "Maybe someday, though."
When they were close to the bakery, Takehiro spoke up.
"Since you're finally coming home, Guilmon," he said, "we're making a special dinner tonight, just for you. You can have anything you want, just name it."
"Anything I want?"
Guilmon put a claw to his chin, pondering. This was going to take some serious thought. He would have to have some Guilmon bread, of course, but what to go with it?
He was still puzzling over this conundrum when he walked into the bakery. He was snapped out of his pensive state, however, when the overwhelming scent of the place hit him.
It wasn't just the smell of sugar, flour, and yeast that caused him to stop in his tracks and sniff. Somehow, it smelled like home.
Guilmon was overcome with a sense of nostalgic longing.
"So," said Takehiro, "have you made up your mind yet?"
"Actually," he said, "the thing I want to eat more than anything right now…"
"Is some day-old bread."