I read another fic like this one once…It was an AU, I think, because the DigiDestined had never met, but it still had the little twist that he was blind…It was a wonderful story, I forget who wrote it now, or even what it was called, but it was beautiful. So, after thinking about it for quite a while, I came up with this one, along those same lines but just…well, different…

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon, never have and never will.

Once Was Blind…

Chapter 1: The Fire

All was quiet in the computer room of Odiva Middle School. The sky was fading into the gentle orange of a sunset, the halls were empty and the trees outside the window were still green with new spring leaves.

With a flash and a few crumpled oomph's the a pile of teenagers came flying out of a computer screen and landed hard on the tile floor.

"T.A., get offa my back!" Davis complained from the bottom of the pile.

"It's T.K." the other boy corrected automatically. "And talk to Yolei, I'm pinned!"

"I'm trying, I'm trying!" Yolei muttered, as the group rocked and shook, trying to untangle themselves. "Kari, you've got your elbow in my stomach!"

"That's not me." Kari pulled out of the group and sat separate on the floor, trying not to laugh at her friends.

"Sorry. It's mine." Ken tried to readjust his arm but couldn't make it work. After several more minutes of struggling he and Cody pulled free at the same time, in different directions, and after that it was all a matter of helping Yolei up and letting T.K. get off of Davis.

"That's…painful, you know?" Davis muttered, popping a crick out of his back.

"Yes, but funny!" Upamon laughed, bouncing up to Cody excitedly. "You guys are so silly when you're all messed up!"

"Upamon, what have I told you about laughing at people?" Cody scolded, although he did still have the hint of smile on his face.

T.K. stood, straightening his hat, then felt compelled to move to the window. He opened it, leaning over the sill so he could stick his head out and taking a long, deep breath of the crisp spring air.

"Looks like we missed a rain." he noted, half to himself and half to the others. "Look, the leaves are still wet…and it smells fresh."

Kari came up beside him and took a deep whiff. "Mmm…You're right!" she sighed. "It smells beautiful!"

One by one the others drifted over, taking long breaths of the fresh air. They sat there a moment, enjoying it, then Davis noted the sun setting in the distance. "We better get home." he said, pointing. The others felt their stomachs growl and quickly agreed, packing their stuff up and departing.

T.K. lingered a moment, looking around the computer room. For some reason he'd been anxious that day, and it'd made everyone a bit nervous. Nothing had happened, but he did feel like something would…

Kari stuck her head back in. "T.K., Patamon, are you coming?"

"Yeah, just a sec." T.K. grinned, stuffed a yawning Patamon in his bag and started after her.

The group split up at the front gate. Kari and Davis went one way, walking Ken down to the train station before heading to their mutual building. T.K., Cody and Yolei started out together, but Yolei spilt off en route to her family shop and Cody had Kendo practice.

T.K. headed straight home, finally letting Patamon out of the bag. The Digimon popped up with a gasp. "Gah!" he spat out a ball of lint. "Why do you have to do that?"

"So people won't notice you." T.K. laughed, explaining it again.

"Can't I just drape my ears over your shoulders and you can pretend I'm your backpack?" Patamon complained, taking flight.

"You remember the cousin Suzie incident?" T.K. asked. "Take that times ten if we walked into a pack of kindergarteners!"

His mother suddenly stuck her head out of the kitchen and smiled. "T.K., you're home!" she exclaimed. "Just in time, honey. I was afraid you wouldn't be here when I headed to the store."

"Grocery shopping?" T.K. asked with a smile.

"Yeah…Went too long without it again…" Nancy sighed. "I'm turning into your father, always working so hard…"

She freshened her expression and looked at her son with a grin. "Do you need anything while I'm gone?"

"Nah." T.K. waved a hand down the hall and stifled a bit of a yawn. "I'm fine. I was just gonna go back and take a nap…"

"Alright, honey." Nancy pulled her purse over her shoulder, heading for the door. She paused a moment and kissed her boy on the forehead. "Have a good rest."

T.K. waved his mother out the door, then looked over at Patamon and grinned. "Are you gonna join me?"

"Nah." the orange Digimon yawned, curling up on the floor just to the side and up of the open living room window. "There's a nice sunbeam right here."

"Suit yourself." T.K. shrugged at his partner, then headed back for his own room.

No sooner was he curled under the covers with his eyes closed did something genuinely annoying happened. A van suddenly drove by his building, with a speaker blaring at top volume:

"This is an announcement from your neighborhood safety committee…" it proclaimed, shaking him awake a moment. "There has been an unusual rash of fires in the city today. Please be very careful, and do not leave any electric appliances running unattended. Thank you, and have a nice day."

"Yeah, yeah…" T.K. muttered, closing his eyes again. "Thank you, Neighborhood Safety Committee. Have a nice day…"

After a moment he drifted off. Patamon was already fast asleep in his little sun beam, and the house was silent.

Nobody, not a soul, noticed as a stealth figure slipped silently up the fire escape like a cat, not making a noise. There was a milk bottle in one hand, a lighter in the other.

"Ha!" the arsonist thought with a laugh. "Right next to the fire escape, too! Not that it'll be any escape…"

He flipped the lighter in full flame, putting it to the soaked rag sticking out of the milk bottle. It lit instantly, and flared up in a hand-held flame. He tossed it joyfully into the apartment, then hurried down the escape and away before anyone could notice him.

T.K., lying almost fast asleep on his bed, suddenly picked up an unusual smell. It was strange, but horribly familiar…

"Smoke?!" he gasped, sitting up. Indeed, he could see the black smoke slipping into his room through the cracks in the door. His first thought was not of his own safety, but that of his partner's. "Patamon!"

Without a single wild thought, he threw open the door into the blazing inferno. Everything from the living room to the hall to the kitchen was being eaten by orange flames, and smoke filled the air. But T.K. didn't care, he plunged into the blaze, looking for his partner desperately.

"Patamon!" he called, then coughed on the smoke. It burned his eyes until they teared, but still he wouldn't turn back. "Patamon, where are you? Patamon!"


He spun around. The little orange Digimon was flying towards him, but bobbing up and down, stumbling because of the heat and smoke. "Patamon…" T.K. gasped, catching him. The creature immediately went limp in his arms. "Don't worry…I'll get us outta here…"

He cradled Patamon in one arm, lifting the other up to try and see through the smoke. About halfway through the living room, stepping as carefully as he could, he tripped over something and landed on the floor, sprawled out.

"Just…a little…further…" he muttered, trying to pull himself up even though his head was spinning. "A bit…more…"

He heard a crack from above him. Looking up, he saw a large bookshelf from the wall finally collapse from the fire. T.K. rolled just out of the way, and it splintered to the ground, sending sparks flying. Burning hot ashes and live coals splashed into the boy's eyes. He let out a cry, suddenly left in the dark. He felt around on his hands and knees, stuck his right wrist in a blaze, yanked it out with a yell, and grew so dizzy from the smoke he couldn't do anything more. He slumped to the ground, still clutching Patamon close, and begging someone to save them both.

~ * ~ * ~

Kari and Tai had been shopping when they saw the smoke from a fire. They ran to see where it was, and with a shock realized it was the building that the Takaishais, the Inues and the Hidas lived in.

"Yolei, Cody!" Kari cried, running up to her friends. "Are you guys okay?"

"We're fine…" Yolei sighed, assuring her friend with relief. "We were both out when it started, and it's only on one side."

Nancy Takaishai ran up to them, looking around wildly. "Kids, have you seen T.K.?"

"No, Ms. Takaishai." Cody shook his head. "Why? What's the matter?"

"I can't find him anywhere!" the mother was desperate. "I went out shopping, and when I came back the apartment was all on fire!"

"That's your apartment?!" the others all gasped. The apartments in this building had been fortified so that if one burned, it wouldn't effect the rest of the building , except for the rooms directly above, below or to the left and right of it, unless left unattended.

"I think…" the mother turned her eyes to the blaze. "I think he may still be inside!"

She rushed forward, trying to get back into the building, but two firemen held her back. "You can't go in there, I'm afraid." one of them said. "It's starting to get out of hand."

"You have to let me go!" Ms. Takaishai cried. "My son is still in there!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but you can't." the other fireman said. "It's much too dangerous."

Tai looked up at the blazing building. The fire escape was almost untouched, and lead straight up to an open window. Before anyone could stop him, Tai had raced forward and scaled the escape.

"Tai!" Kari exclaimed. "What're you doing?!"

The answer was obvious to all of them: Getting their friend.

Tai pulled his winter scarf up over his mouth and nose, then dove head-first into the already-splintering glass of the sliding door. He stumbled into the fire and looked wildly around. "T.K.!" he called. "Can you hear me? Come on buddy, say something!"

"Here…We're here…"

Tai spun around. T.K. had managed to regain consciousness for just a moment, but the darkness still covered his eyes. However, he could still hear Tai's shouts and footsteps in the darkened ash. With a low, wounded voice, he managed to croak out his calls for help, sprawled out on the burning rug in the center of the living room.

"T.K.!" Tai gasped again, diving forward. He smothered the few small flames that had begun on T.K.'s clothes, then lifted the younger boy up and draped him over his back, carrying Patamon in his arms. "Just hang on, kid, I'll get you outta here. I promise…"

The kids, firemen and Ms. Takaishai stood clear of the burning building. They'd watched Tai disappeared into window of the apartment minutes earlier, and now they waited anxiously for any sign of motion.

"I'm going to be frank with you people…" one of the firefighters said in a low voice. "Those boys ain't got much chance of gettin' outta there alive."

"Would you shut up?!" Yolei yelled at him. "We've got a mother out here, you idiot, you don't need to…"

"Wait a sec!" Cody exclaimed suddenly. "Look there!"

Kari squinted at the dark figure coming out of the flame. "It's Tai!" she gasped. "And he's got T.K. with him!"

Tai managed to stumble down the escape, where the ambulance workers were ready to move the other boy to a stretcher. The others ran to him. "Are you okay?" Cody asked, out of breath.

"I'm fine." Tai gave a bit of a grin, although he did have a rather bad burn on his left shoulder. "It's…T.K., I'm worried about."

Ms. Takaishai was already at her son's side as the stretcher was being loaded into the back of the ambulance. He was only half-conscious, feeling around weakly like he was in a dark room. It was no surprise, you could tell by a quick look that his face had been badly burned.

"Mom…" he muttered, like a sleepwalker, groping for her hand. "Mom…"

"I'm here, honey." she whispered, holding his hand. "Don't worry, I'm here."

"Where…where's Patamon?" he asked, with the last energy he had left.

"I've got him." Tai called over. Patamon was already stirring, the Digimon's fast-healing gene working well, as usual. Tai handed the Digimon to his partner, letting him feel the soft fur. T.K. gave a bit of a smile, then he fainted from the pain.

Kari held her breath, watching the ambulance speed away. Tai's burn was being attended to, so she looked to him. "Will he be alright?"

"Don't worry." her brother assured her. "He'll be fine."