Okay, this is my first time writing one of these. I've been bored, trying to find a job for the summer and this story popped into my head. I'm sure there are some conflicts between this story and Digimon: Adventure's continuity (Its been so long since I've seen them), but I hope they are all minute and don't distract from the story as a whole. Also I mix a lot of things from the Japanese and American versions, I know, I know, seems blasphemous to use American names, but really, I just include whichever ones I like (Like Jun being cooler than June and Davis being slightly less generic than Daisuke). These should all be minute also.
I've paired Tai and Jun mainly because I can take certain liberties with Jun's mostly undeveloped character and her maturation over the period of 6-7 years between Digimon 02 and this story. Also, I want to work with what the creator's gave me. If Sora's with Matt, then she's with Matt. I'll deal with it. I created Kuri because there weren't any other characters that intrigued me enough to give them the fourth main role. She's not me, or an extension of me. She's just a character I figured would help me spice up the plot a bit.
Notes on the first chapter: This chapter mainly focuses on character development and providing some back story for the past few years. The plot doesn't move too much, though I hope it does keep you readers intrigued. (Review and tell me, please). Without further ado, here it is.
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. I do own Kuri…and Kado, and Kin. And whomever else I've created.
Odaiba never seemed so bleak.
Tai Kamiya forlornly stared out of his bedroom window and allowed a soft sigh to escape his lips.
"I can't believe it. It's over." He muttered, "My last chance, my only chance. It's gone."
He reached over to the phone and pressed play on the answering service once again, just to be sure.
"Hello Tai." A calm voice greeted him. "As I'm sure someone has told you by now, Matt asked for my hand in marriage last night. I said yes." A long few seconds of silence followed. "I'm not requesting your presence at any ceremonies. You don't have to throw a bachelor party, or be the best man. There was once a time when I would've wanted you there, but after the other day, I just don't know. I can't believe you did that." She paused, her voice giving away her being on the verge of tears. "Tai, I thought we were friends. Friends don't do that to one another. I-I have to go…"
That was where the message ended. Tai stood, his finger hovering uncertainly over the machine. He contemplated deleting the message, but some small section of his subconscious just wouldn't allow him to do it. Instead he reached for his brown overcoat, sprawled carelessly on the bedroom floor. At the very least, he figured the message would serve as some clue to Kari as to why her brother hadn't returned home in the last twelve hours or so. After putting his coat on, Tai reached for his keys and exited the room. He needed to go somewhere for a while, to get away. He had no idea where exactly, but he knew it had to be far, just to give him enough time to pull his thoughts together.
The Digital Realm
Two figures stood in a rather small clearing, staring up at the humongous structure whose construction had just been completed.
"Do you really think anyone will go for this?" the smaller, younger one asked.
Gennai, the older one, stared up at the large building. Its style much resembled the expansive country mansions of the real world. The only difference being that it was easily ten times their normal size.
"The ones I choose will. I wouldn't go through the work of building such a large academy for nothing, Keyan."
"But, a one year term? Without seeing their family or friends?"
"Two weeks in their world."
"Still, you have to admit that it's pretty daunting at the least."
"Yes, it is." Gennai responded, somewhat agitated. "But in any case, this is no time to question our chances of success."
"You're right of course." Keyan answered solemnly
Her mentor softened his tone. "Don't worry, this new threat requires a different kind of combatant. The original digidestined were a roll of the dice compared to the current situation. The kind of people we pull in for this will be exactly what we need."
"I certainly hope so."
Tai had just put his keys into the ignition of his navy blue Tiburon, when a knock on the passenger side window disturbed him from his thoughts. He looked over, only to see the familiar countenance of his longtime friend Koushiro, "Izzy," Izumi staring back at him. He motioned impatiently for Tai to open the door, and upon being granted his request, asked him to start the car and turn on the heat.
"Come on Tai! It's freezing out there!" he pleaded, upon seeing the annoyed expression of his former leader's face. After acquiescing to the computer wiz's wishes, Tai simply stared at him as he made a show of warming his hands over the vents and rubbing them together.
"Can you believe it's supposed to be summer right now? I mean, this cold? It's almost ridiculous. If I were a meteorologist…"
"Yeah, well the mornings have been like this for a while now."
"I know, but still, this is just crazy-"
"Izzy, do you have a reason for being here?" Tai interrupted.
"Well, yes, not me exactly, but some of the guys-"
"Spill it, Izumi."
Izzy took a moment to compose his thoughts. "Tai, what the hell did you do to Sora?"
Tai groaned and allowed his head to fall upon his steering wheel with a thump.
"Look Tai, I'm not going to judge you, I mean, I still have no idea what happened exactly. What I do know is that Sora is extremely angry and hurt, and Matt seems about ready to kill you."
"She told Matt?" Tai's eyes widened in surprise.
"Apparently, now would you mind telling me what she told him?"
Tai leaned back in his seat and ran a hand through his usually unkempt hair. "I don't want to…" he began.
Izzy remained silent and Tai took in the young genus's unflinching façade.
"But I suppose I'm going to have to, at least to have some peace for myself."
He sat there for a while, staring up at his car's convertible ceiling.
"Well?" Izzy urged.
Tai sighed, finally resigned to the fact that he would have to do this. "Well, it all kind of started with Matt telling us of his plans to ask Sora to marry him…"
Days Earlier, Digital World: Digitamamon's diner
"So what do you guys think?" Matt asked, brandishing the new engagement ring he'd just bought in front of Tai, Izzy, and TK.
TK was the first to respond. "Wow, bro. I never would've pictured you as the marrying type, at least not this early anyway. She really means that much to you?"
Matt shook his head while grinning, "Man, you don't even know the half of it. She's like, my whole reason for being, sappy as that sounds. It just feels like the right thing to do."
Izzy was next, "Well, in any case, congratulations. Along with a very sarcastic thank-you."
"For the 'wonderful' ideas you'll be putting into Mimi's head."
"Oh please, Izzy, it won't be long before you're getting down on one knee and popping the question too." Matt said with a laugh.
Izzy only replied with a grumble. It was probably true. Ever since his effervescent girlfriend had moved back from America the two had been utterly inseparable.
Matt then turned to Tai, who had been unusually quiet for a while. "So, O fearless leader, what do you think of this?"
Tai, disturbed from his reverie, answered unsurely, "Huh? Oh, I don't know. I mean, you're only twenty Matt. Are you sure about this?"
"I'm as sure as I can be Tai. Do you know what it's like to be with someone you care about, you need, so much that you just know you can't ever be separated from them ever again?"
"No." Tai answered truthfully.
"Oh…well one day you will." Matt said, placing a hand on Tai's shoulder. "And when you do you'll understand why I'm doing this."
"Well, if you feel so strongly about it, who am I to stop you?" Tai shrugged, giving his closest version of consent.
Matt grinned. "Thanks Tai. That really means a lot coming from you. You've been her best friend for so long, I don't know if you should be my best man, or her bridesmaid.".
Tai considered him skeptically. It had been quite a while since they were all that close. In fact, this meeting was the first time he'd seen Matt in weeks, and he'd only seen Sora sporadically. But if he still supposed they were such good friends, who was Tai to argue? There was no disagreeing with someone as socially deluded as Matt apparently was.
"Now now, Matt, don't get ahead of yourself," Tai said, forcing only the slightest hint of a smile, "You haven't proposed yet."
"True," Matt agreed, "but there's no way she's gonna refuse. I can just feel it"
"I'm sorry," Izzy said, interrupting Tai's recounting of the events of that day, "but what does this have to do with anything? I was there you know."
"That's when I realized."
"That my last chance with Sora was about to pass."
"Tai, what are you talking about? Your last chance? Surely, you haven't still been pining for her heart after all these years. I mean, the possibility of you and Sora being together has decreased almost exponentially since she and Matt got together, and furthermore, you two have maintained quite a good platonic friendship since then. No way you'd jeopardize that for feelings you lost long ago, right?"
The plaintive look on his old friend's face was answer enough for Izzy.
"Oh…" he said in surprise.
"I never lost those feelings Izzy, I just hid them." Tai was holding his face in his hands at this point, as if trying to force an embarrassing moment from his memories. "The only ones who knew the truth were Agumon and Kari, to an extent, and, well… one other person."
"Well, as disturbing as that is, it still doesn't explain why Sora would like nothing more than to see you dead right now…unless." Izzy paused, stumbling on a sudden realization, "Tai, you didn't-did you?"
Tai kept his face down, and only nodded in response. "Yeah, I did."
"When? How?" Izzy inquired, "And although I realize your chances of success weren't high, how in the world did things go so badly?"
"Well, I planned it all out as well as I could. I took her to a movie, went shopping, you know, normal friends stuff. Then I took her to the tree."
"Yeah, it's this tree in the park that we used to climb as kids."
Izzy nodded. "Hmm, I remember that. You guys would climb up there and talk for what seemed like days. So then what happened?"
"She was really touched at that point. I even considered going back on my plans right then, but something just forced me forward, kept telling me that this was my last chance, you know? I just couldn't ignore it…"
"Wow, this is really nice Tai." Sora said as she sat with Tai on a park bench adjacent to "their" tree. "Sometimes I can't believe what a sweet person you can be."
The sun glinted perfectly off her radiant, crimson, mane as she looked up toward the old landmark. Her beautiful, petite, smile almost made Tai groan in frustration.
"Heh, thanks," he responded, unsure if her words amounted to a good thing. "I guess."
"It's a complement, Tai," she confirmed. "You can be so much like Matt sometimes."
"What?" Tai's tone was somewhat defensive. "How's that?"
"You're both so dense at times, maybe it's just a guy thing, but you and Matt are particularly good at it."
"Oh, yeah." They both sat there in silence for a while, enjoying the gentle breeze and sound of rustling leaves overhead, before Tai spoke again, "You know, in some ways I wish I was more like Matt."
"What? Why?" Sora asked, caught off guard by his statement.
"I don't know, I guess the way he lives allows him certain, um, perks."
"Perks? Like what? We've all become famous since the fight with MaloMyotismon, and god knows it's been especially hard to maintain any sense of anonymity since we turned eighteen." Sora laughed. "We're part of the 'Eight Original Digidestined,' remember? If everyone wasn't so busy with the discovery of a new species of beings and inter-dimensional travel, we'd never be able to have any privacy. I mean, yeah the Teenage Wolves are world famous, but hell, half their fans are there because they know Matt's an Original Digidestined. Even I'm willing to admit that its helped tremendously in my fashion design ventures, and TK's only seventeen and already writing for major magazines-"
"That's not exactly what I meant, Sora." Tai interjected before she could continue her rant. "It's not the popularity I envy, like I said, it's the perks."
She frowned in thought for a moment, "Well, what exactly constitutes a perk?"
"Oh, I don't know exactly, opportunities, lifestyle," he turned to look at her seriously, "people."
"Tai, are you okay?" She mockingly placed a hand on his forehead. "If you would just decide what you wanted to do with your life, you could have everything he does."
"Sora, I couldn't-"
"How many contracts have you been offered by pro soccer teams and turned down?"
"I dunno, five or six, but they only want me because of-."
"And how many universities offered you full scholarships only to have you refuse them?"
"Tai, it's been six years since we last battled the forces of darkness. When are you going to figure out that there are other things in life that you're good at?"
Tai finally placed a hand in the air to discourage her from going any further. "Look Sora, I'm not sure what I want to do right now. I know you and the rest of the guys are leaving me behind and I'm willing to accept that. If I had as much going for me as you all, I wouldn't just sit around, waiting for someone like me to get it together either."
"No, Sora. It's true. But it's still not the reason I envy Matt."
"Then what is?" Sora threw her hands in the air, exasperated at having this conversation in the first place.
Tai simply stared at the ground, "Isn't it obvious?" he mumbled.
"No, if it was, I-" A look of realization crossed her face, mid-sentence. "Oh no you don't."
"I can't believe this, you selfish…" Anger overtook her features. "FRIEND Tai, that's what you are to me. Nothing more, nothing less. Can't you see that I'm happy with Matt? Do you even care? After all these years, you bring this up now?" Her eyes began to water as she pointed a shaky finger at his chest, "This whole day was just a setup for this wasn't it? I can't believe you."
Tai, taken aback by her fiery response, cautiously chose his next words. "I'm sorry Sora. It's just, ever since that Christmas, I never received my chance."
"Tai, what makes you think I'd ever even want to give you that chance? I don't love you like that. I love Matt. I'm happy with Matt." She picked up her purse from the bench and stood up. Tears now streamed down her face as she ineffectively tried to wipe them away. Narrowing her eyes at Tai, Sora delivered one final, damning statement. "At this point, I don't know if I even like you anymore."
With that, she turned away and walked down the path heading out of the park, not bothering to take the bags from their earlier shopping trip.
"I-I'm sorry, Sora." Tai stammered, much too softly for her to hear.
"Wow, Tai. I'm sorry." Izzy said at the completion of the story.
"Yeah," Tai croaked, only vaguely aware of Izzy having said anything. "I never considered the fact that she could be completely over me by now. And she told Matt about it…"
"The proverbial nail in the coffin."
"Tell me about it. For someone bearing the crest of love to say she doesn't even like you…it's harsh."
"In a way, she was right about one thing, though," the genius continued, "You can't live off of our royalties forever, Tai. At some point, you're going to have to find something you can do. Live your own life, you know."
"Izzy, I've only found one thing I'm particularly good at that I actually want to do," Tai said as he straightened his rear view mirror, "and apparently it only comes along once in a lifetime."
He put the car into gear as a signal to Izzy that he was through with the conversation.
Izzy opened his door to exit. "Well Tai, with any luck, maybe Myotismon will come along in some new evolved form to once again threaten the world." With that sarcastic remark, he got out and closed the door behind him.
"We can only hope," Tai responded to himself with a sad smirk.
He then pulled out of the lot and accelerated towards parts unknown.
Izzy watched the car disappear around a corner. "Out of all of us, Tai," he said quietly, "I never thought you'd be the one to end up like this."
The Green Room
"Oh boy, here comes Kuri and that mutant 'thing' again."
A girl who looked to be about seventeen with what appeared to be a multi-colored pig on her shoulder approached the small throng of teenagers and digimon gathered in the abandoned Odaiba Works facility. Odaiba Works, a company which had specialized in the creation of many natural drinks, mainly made from tree bark and sometimes animal excrement, had long since gone bankrupt due to an abundance of pending lawsuits, leaving only this large warehouse behind as testament to its spectacular failure. The kids now referred to it as 'The Green Room', that is, a place where digidestened children could meet without the supervision of adults or the corrupting influence of 'battlers,' people who took advantage of the fact that the legality of digimon fighting was an issue still mired in the halls of legislation worldwide.
"It's a Patamon, idiot. Her color's just a little unique. You know, like your mental state."
"Kuri, it's blue, purple, and pink," said her antagonist, a young sandy-blonde boy who was of about the same age as she.
"Yeah, and you'll be black and blue, Kin, if you keep referring to her as it."
He gave her a flirtatious smile. "You know, it's sad someone could be so beautiful and yet so violent."
It was true that Kuri was beautiful. Her ebony locks draped perfectly over her shoulders, or they would if she didn't currently have them tied into a simple, and much more manageable ponytail. Either way, it served as a perfect compliment to her tanned skin, piercing jade green eyes, and petite physique.
"Yeah, it's also sad that someone like you could objectify me and not end up dead, I must be slipping."
It was also true that she could be very violent.
"Okay okay, touché," Kin finally gave in, "How are you doing today Peko?" he asked, turning his attention to the colorful Patamon perched on Kuri's shoulder.
"Just fine, jerk." The little digimon answered in much the same spirit as her partner.
"I see you have her trained well, Kuri."
Kuri smiled. "I didn't train her, she just calls 'em as she sees 'em,"
A chorus of 'oohs' arose from the many kids seated in the varied furnishings around the warehouse. Kin mumbled something under his breath and sulkily sank further into his makeshift recliner, effectively bequeathing this round of insults to his adversary.
"Go on and play," Kuri told Peko, gesturing to a group of digimon in the corner embroiled in a rather lively game of hide and seek, "I know you're dying to."
"Okay, thanks Kuri!" The Patamon shouted excitedly before taking off.
"So, what's new guys?" Kuri asked the kids languidly lounging around the room as she plopped down onto a old sofa herself.
"Nothing at all," a girl sitting directly across from her answered, "This has so far been the worst Saturday ever."
"I don't know about that Noriko," a boy next to her countered, "wasn't it on a Saturday that that Oikawa dude kidnapped you?"
"You know Jiro, I can't quite remember, but if so then I guess this is the second worst Saturday."
"Either way, what they're trying to say is that today sucks." Kin added with a roll of his eyes.
Kuri leaned back into her seat with a sigh. "Well, there's always the digital world…"
"Uh, no thanks," Jiro cut in quickly, "No more herds of rampaging Monochromon for me, thank you."
"That is such a 'Joe' thing to say," Kuri commented.
"Ouch," Kin said with a laugh, "some things are just uncalled for, Kuri."
"I don't mind being compared to Joe," Jiro said, "unlike that glory hog, Tai, he was always there for people who needed him"
It was a well-known fact among the Green Room kids that Tai was Kuri's favorite OD, or Original Digidestined, mostly due to her close relationship with his sister, Kari.
"Hey, Tai was always there when people needed him," Kuri said, " Joe's the one who ran off with Mimi that time for what we all know were, 'ahem', romantic reasons."
Jiro looked at her in surprise, "That wasn't what TK wrote in Chronicles."
"Kid, sometimes you have to read between the lines. Besides, we all know that the only real glory hog in the OD's was Matt."
"True," Jiro agreed. "Talk about a drama queen."
"Are you kidding?" Kin said. "At least Matt had a real reason for not following that blowhard Tai around like some robot."
Kuri rolled her eyes. "Yeah, he was fooled by a freaking tree."
Suddenly, an argument at the Green Room's entrance interrupted the kids' conversation.
"Sorry dude, but only people with digimon are allowed in here," Kentaro, the Green Room's portly door guardsman, boomed to a potential "invader" standing outside. "No exceptions."
Kuri got up and walked to the door to peer at the unfortunate kid who wanted into their club so badly.
"Kado, is that you?" she asked, recognizing the young boy from her apartment building.
"Kuri? Yeah it's me! I'm a digidestined now! See, I've even got a digivice and a digimon!"
Kuri skeptically peered through the crack at the kid.
"Kado, that's your dog, Raidon, with some kind of magic marker stripes drawn on him and in your hand is a calculator, a Casio to be exact." She opened the door further, "Exactly what kind of fools do you take us for?"
"I-I don't," he stammered, withering before her intimidating presence, "I just don't understand why I can't be a digidestined. What did I do wrong? Every day one of my friends gets a digivice and a digimon, but I just have to sit alone and wait. I'm tired of it. I-I just want to be a part of something."
Kuri considered him a moment before responding, "Sorry kid, them's the breaks." She made to close the door completely before something outside stopped her. Growing exasperated, Kuri flung the door open again, "Look Kado-" she began before seeing who exactly she was talking to. "Davis?"
Before her stood Davis Motomiya himself, leader of the "Second Wave" of digidestined, which had defeated the Digimon Emperor and MaloMyotismon. Though he wasn't a member of the original eight, Davis still commanded great deal of respect among most digidestined, which he usually tried to dissuade through his aloof nature.
"Kuri, let the kid in."
"But-" she gestured towards the ridiculously colored dog.
"What would Kari say about this?" He said with a lopsided grin. It wasn't often that one could win an argument with Kuri, and he'd found the surest method to doing so.
"Fine, you win," Kuri gave in, "Come on in Kado, and don't break anything." She shook her head as she watched him happily bound past her. "You know Davis, we have rules for a reason. We can't just let any kid with a mutilated canine and a graphing calculator come in here anytime they want."
"Sorry Kuri but, how do you say it? Those are the breaks."
"It them's and what are you doing here anyway? Shouldn't you be out stalking Kari or something?"
He looked at her crossly. "Funny, but no."
"Then what do you want?"
"I'm looking for TK. He and I were supposed to be practicing for a basketball tournament together and it looks like he's ducking out on his part. I can't reach him at his house or his cell, and he's not answering his email." He leaned his head into the green room, "and I guess he's not here either."
Kuri only responded with a confident smirk.
Davis eyed her suspiciously, "You know something, don't you?"
"Well, yes and no."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, I know where Kari is, and I know that wherever she is, TK's with her right now, so…" She allowed her voice to trail off as she feigned staring at something interesting on the ceiling.
Davis began to grow notably more agitated, "What? Where's Kari then? What are they up to?"
"I dunno. I guess you could go down to the park and find out for yourself if you really wanted to." Kuri had barely finished the sentence before Davis was out of the door and running down the street like a madman.
"What did you just do, Kuri?" Kentaro asked ominously.
"I just made someone's Saturday a bit more interesting." She replied, a satisfied smile playing across her face.
Only five minutes passed between Kuri's disclosing of Kari's location to Davis and his actual arrival at the park. His lungs burned in hunger for air. His whole body cried out for a moment's respite, yet he continued to stalk forward, searching. For the last few years everyone had told Davis that his pursuit of a romantic relationship with Kari was pointless, that she and TK were simply meant to be, that the crests of Light and Hope belonged together and were destined to be merged. He never listened to any of that. He needed only to look at Tai to see what would happen if he didn't actively seek the favor of the girl he'd fallen in love with.
Davis wasn't as dumb as everyone liked to think, he could see what they all took to be the "writings on the wall" and knew them only as signs of friendship. He saw the way Kari and TK often talked together and shared laughs. He saw the way they shared experiences, shared a past. But so did Tai and Sora, and Sora had decided to be with Matt, even marry him, as he'd heard earlier today. Kari just needed to know who he was, exactly how he felt about her. He felt all he could ask for was a fair consideration. And in the sense of fairness, he believed TK deserved the same consideration, as well.
Right now, though, he was purposely interrupting something important between TK and Kari. When a guy ditched helping you get ready for an important 3 on 3 tournament in order to get some private time with the girl with whom you were both seeking a relationship, all bets were off.
He stopped in his frantic searching for a moment to catch his breath. In taking a cursory look around he spied a familiar flash of blonde through one of the park's tall bushes. Walking up to the bit of foliage, he parted the leaves ever so slightly with his hands and peered through to the other side. Davis' suspicions were confirmed as he saw TK standing, noticeably taller than Kari, on one of the park's many bridges crossing a small, tranquil stream. The two were both eating ice cream, which only served to further irritate Davis. He could see that they were laughing about something but couldn't quite tell what it was. In order to discern what they were saying he turned an ear toward them and leaned further forward.
"I can't believe I still get ice cream on my nose," TK exclaimed.
Kari giggled. "You've been doing that since we were eight, silly." She walked up to him and dabbed if off with a napkin, "Lucky for you, it's still incredibly cute."
TK visibly blushed at her attention for a moment before switching the tables on her.
"Perhaps I'm just that irresistible to you." He said, slowly advancing towards her.
She pretended to be fearful, backing away while holding him at bay with an arm. Davis noticed something in the way she moved that told him there was more to this than met the eye.
"Perhaps," Kari finally agreed, giving him a seductive smile. The arm she had been using to hold TK away was then used to grab a portion of his collar and pull him closer to her.
When their faces were only an inch apart she whispered, "Or maybe it's me who's just that irresistible to you."
"Maybe." TK concurred. He barely got the answer out before the two joined in a deep and passionate kiss.
Davis was rooted to his spot in shock. He didn't have any idea what to do about this. He didn't have any idea what to think. He couldn't think.
When the two finally broke apart, Kari was the first to speak. "As much as I enjoy this, TK, it isn't why I called you here."
"Mmmm?" TK responded, still basking in the afterglow of their kiss. Kari smiled at his momentary ineptitude.
"I wanted to talk about Davis," she continued.
"Davis?" He asked, growing defensive. "What does he have to do with this?"
"TK, we have to tell him about us. I mean, I enjoy having my books carried to class for me, and receiving flowers and chocolates every other day, but it's beginning to become quite sad."
"Well," TK began, scratching the back of his head, "I kinda had to ditch practicing with him for our tourney next week to come here, so telling him today wouldn't be so good."
"I suppose not," Kari agreed. "But what about tomorrow? Maybe early so we can have a little time to ourselves later on?"
"Kari, you might be taking this a little too lightly. No one, especially Davis, likes to hear that they lost something, especially when it was to their main competition." TK said. "I don't think it's going to go smoothly."
"TK, as far as I'm concerned, there was no competition. Davis is just going to have to understand that just because you like someone doesn't mean they're going return those feelings." TK remained silent. "It was always you I wanted," Kari continued, "I'll admit, sometimes I used Davis to make you jealous." She smiled at the annoyed look he gave her, "But it was always you that I wanted to be with. Davis never stood a chance."
TK couldn't help but to grin, "Really?"
Kari took his hands into hers, "TK, the past few months have been the happiest of my life. I definitely know that I made the right decision."
Davis couldn't stand to hear anymore. He carefully slipped back out of the bush and started to walk back the way he came. He moved in a stupor, not knowing what direction he was going in or whether he was actually moving at all. Months? They'd been together for months? He was vaguely aware of the sounds of horns honking as he wandered across the street, stumbling over a curb, or dog, he didn't know. He couldn't help but feel betrayed by Kari. The callously nonchalant way she referred to his feelings for her, how she'd never felt anything for him from the start…how could she? She used him? That's all he was good for to her? All he ever wanted was a fair chance, to be treated better than Tai. Instead, he'd received worse.
Davis began to feel a stinging sensation in his eyes. He tried to wipe at the offensive tears before they could make themselves apparent. It was to no avail though, as they fell anyway. He continued to walk, his mind a volatile mix of depression and rage. He began to curse loudly, not caring who else walking the streets heard him. While anger clouded Davis' judgment, tears blurred his vision. To the point that he missed a certain digidestined with a strangely colored Patamon passing him on the sidewalk.
"Davis?" Kuri asked, not sure that the person approaching her was indeed the happy-go-lucky Davis Motomiya she'd come to know.
He simply brushed past her, at no point even noticing she was there, and continued his vulgar tirade down the street.
"What was that about?" Kuri watched him angrily depart down the sidewalk.
"I'm not sure," Peko answered. "But it looked like he was crying, Kuri."
Kuri started as she realized what must've happened. "Damn it." she exclaimed softly.
"When Kari said she was meeting TK at the park, I knew what they would be doing, but I sent him there anyway. God, what the hell is wrong with me sometimes?" She turned to look the way Davis had gone, "Man, he has to be hurting right now."
"Why?" Peko asked.
"Because of me and my big mouth." Kuri admitted sadly.
"Well, that's nothing new." Peko added smartly.
Kuri gave her an admonishing glare before turning her attention back down the street.
"Somehow, I'm gonna have to make this one up to him."
"I'm telling you, if I had a match, I'd light this all up and enjoy the blaze, Sparks."
Jun Motomiya had just finished stuffing the last of her "Matt Ishida and the Wolves" (They had dropped the "Teenage" some time ago) merchandise in her room's rather small, personal wastebasket. Since hearing about he and Sora's engagement she'd finally decided to get rid all reminders of him and what he once meant to her. She stepped back and took a look at her now surprisingly unchanged room. A few years ago, this act would've stripped it bare.
"I think that would be a fire hazard, Jun." Sparks, Jun's partner elecmon, advised, "but fun."
"I wasn't serious. Don't get any ideas."
Jun smiled at her little digimon, probably the best thing to happen to her since she discovered the Teenage Wolves, all those years ago. It was still a mystery to many how she'd actually received him. Only Davis, Tai, Kari, and Kuri were present when she first got her digimon and digivice. Davis had asked her to come on a trip to the digital world, she supposed in an attempt to bring her out of the depression she had fallen into upon Jim Kido's move to America. She agreed to go along with them, curious to see what the digital world actually looked like. It was when Tai had taken them to Primary Village during their tour that she felt called, pulled by something toward an area of the village filled with multicolored eggs. Apparently, one of the village's many resident caretaker elecmon had felt the same thing as she, because he tackled her as soon as she came into view.
At first everyone had been alarmed, thinking she was being attacked, but when he began to shout, "I found you! You finally came to me!" everyone knew that Jun had just stumbled upon her digimon partner. Everyone except Jun that is. She, as Kuri would put it later, "practically freaked" and got up, ready knock her little assailant into next week. It didn't take long for Tai to finally calm her down, as he'd developed a knack for knowing how to talk to Jun; the two were so much alike, after all. Still, it wasn't until she found a digivice, mysteriously slipped into her skirt pocket, that she finally began to understand what was going on.
Jun smiled in remembrance of that day. It was then that her crush on Matt became less acute. She'd actually been given something else to live for. Her infatuation had never completely faded though. Some minute part of her always held hope, however morbid it was, that his relationship with Sora would fall on hard times, and she would finally gain his attention. Of course, that was never meant to happen.
"What a fool I've been."
"What was that, Jun?"
"Nothing, Sparks." She smiled at the furry, fiery orange and blue colored rookie digimon as he attempted to pick up the trash can full of posters and newspaper clippings, only to fall over.
Stifling a laugh, Jun bent over and picked it up herself.
"I could've done that." Sparks insisted from his position on the ground.
"Uh-Huh," Jun headed for the kitchen with the laden wastebasket. As she began to remove the filled bag from the can, she stopped to stare out of the kitchen window.
The evening sun cast a shadow over most of Odaiba's skyline. Tall ornate structures towered hundreds of feet into the air, interspersed here and there by smaller, simpler apartment buildings. Jun had always loved the view here. It had been the apartment's biggest selling point when she and Davis had gone house hunting three years ago, after he'd started receiving royalty checks from TK's books and the various movies and TV shows made about the adventures of the digidestined. Since their parents were perennially out of town on business, visiting clients (and only propped in front of the TV when home), the two figured that they might as well move to a different place, where they wouldn't have to conform to the rules of people who were never actually there.
Overall, Jun had enjoyed the change in scenery, and her relationship with her brother had improved tremendously. But now, she really didn't know what was left. Her life had been going nowhere fast in the last couple of years. She had tried attending Odaiba University while majoring in newly created Digital Studies, but that had gotten old when she discovered that her "knowledgeable" professors didn't even know half of what Davis did about the digital world. Soon after, she quit school, despite a 3.8 GPA, out of frustration.
As it was now, Jun was a soul in limbo, abandoned by love, and forgotten by her friends in the Wolves fan club. Even her supposedly "best" friend Momoe, had gradually drifted away from her. She now only had a few friends, really; her brother Davis, of course, Tai, who she'd been concerned for and trying to call all day since hearing about Matt and Sora's engagement, and Kuri, who she had talked with steadily since that day in the digital world. Everyone else either fell into the category of "acquaintance" or complete stranger. She had no idea where to categorize Matt, but the looks of contempt he gave her every time they crossed paths told her he definitely wasn't one of the former.
It was like there was a subconscious division of power between them all, with Matt and Sora at one end, and she, Tai, and Davis at the other. Everyone else fell in the middle, well except Kuri; she probably leaned a little towards the 'good' guys. Jun smiled to herself. Not many really knew this side of her, the psychological, analytical aspect of her character that went unseen. She actually preferred it that way, better to be underestimated than vice versa, she'd always said. Jun stared contemplatively at the people walking in the streets below her, most of them heading home from work or window-shopping. They all seemed to have something to do, somewhere to be, things she could only wish for.
"What's out there for me?" she whispered to herself.
Jun's thoughts were abruptly broken by the sudden slamming of the apartment's front door.
"Davis?" she called, knowing her brother was the only other person with a key to the place.
"Yeah," he answered. Jun noticed that his voice sounded shaky, unsure.
"What's wrong?" she asked, walking into the living room, where he was already sprawled on the sofa.
He held his head in his hands, and for a moment Jun could almost swear that he was trying to hide tears. Davis tried his best to compose himself, removing his hands from is face only to expose swollen, red eyes. Although very concerned at this point, Jun waited patiently for her brother to explain what was wrong.
"She," he began, before taking a deep breath, "she chose TK." No further explanation was needed.
"Oh, I'm so sorry." Jun said, immediately rushing to his side to pull him into an embrace. A six year struggle for one girl's favor. Ended. Just like that.
They sat there a moment before Davis nodded and quietly said, "Yeah, so am I."
Jun tried her best to console her obviously hurting brother, but couldn't stop a rather sobering thought from entering her head.
Another one bites the dust.
Tai really had no idea where he was. He'd been driving through the Japan countryside for the last six and a half hours. Well, for four hours anyway. For the last two and a half he'd simply been trying to figure out the way back to Odaiba.
Tai impatiently tapped the blank screen of what was supposed his car's onboard GPS system. It had mysteriously stopped functioning a while ago, which left him in quite a bind. "Now I've got to start bringing maps when I do this," he commented ruefully, before taking a chance on a right turn. Peering upwards through his somewhat fogged windshield, Tai could discern a large billboard that read as an advertisement for Eclipse Cola. He smiled in recognition of the landmark that he'd passed many times in previous journeys.
"Okay, now we're getting somewhere." He said, applying more pressure to the accelerator. "This is probably the way back. Now I can start moving." Tai's euphoria only lasted a few fleeting moments, however, when he realized he really had nothing to rush home to. Accordingly, he eased his foot back off the gas and allowed the car to slow a bit, not caring how his mood swing affected the surrounding traffic. A depressed sigh escaped his lips. Abruptly, his broken GPS monitor began to flicker and started to crackle to life.
"Oh, well isn't that great," Tai cynically grumbled, "Don't work when I want you to, but now, when you'll be a danger to my safety, by all means, provide a distraction." He angrily reached over and began randomly punching at buttons in an attempt to turn the infernal device off.
"Tai, it took me quite a while to get into this thing, please don't turn it off." A voice emanating from inside exclaimed.
Many drivers on the Odaiba expressway had to suddenly hit their brakes as a certain navy blue Tiburon swerved completely across four lanes of traffic.
"What the hell?" Tai yelled, when he finally recovered from his shock and regained control of the car.
"Tsk, such language. Your manners were much more refined when you were fourteen." The machine retorted.
After a moment's thought, Tai was finally able to place the voice. "Gennai?"
"Gennai, what're you- I mean why-…" Tai paused, mouth agape, not really knowing what to say.
"I'm sorry Tai, I don't have much time to explain. In short, I am once again in need of your services."
As the implications of that statement dawned on him, Tai couldn't help but to allow the beginnings of a smile to creep onto his face, "Okay…what's up? How serious is it?"
"I can't tell you much," Gennai's tinny voice replied. "But here's what you need to know. There's a new threat to both of our worlds, which even I don't completely know how to stop. I can't even identify exactly what the threat is. I do know this, though. It combines the darkness of the digital world, and the evils of men in your own. This is why I have built the Academy."
"It's a place where I plan to train specially chosen digidestined to combat this new danger."
"And you want me to come?"
"You, and others like you, namely Davis. Look, Tai, what I'm asking of you is no easy task. The required tenure at this Academy is a year, maybe more."
"A year? Gennai, I can't-"
"I know, Tai." A picture that somewhat resembled Gennai wavered in and out of focus on the GPS screen. "That's why I've made sure that it only lasts two weeks in the real world."
Tai's brow furrowed. That didn't make sense. "Gennai, I thought the digital world had returned to its normal timeline a long time ago."
"It did, but with some help I've created a small scale replica of the digital world in another, lesser used dimension. We call it the Digital Realm."
"Okay, and what do we do in this 'Digital Realm?'" Tai questioned.
"Sorry Tai, I can't elaborate on that any further right now. You'll have to make your decision based on the information I've already given you."
Tai gave a frustrated sigh. "Okay."
"Good. I'll open a gate in front of Highton View Terrace at ten o' clock tomorrow morning. Pack lightly, all of your needs will be provided for, and make sure to tell Davis and any other digidestined you think will want to go."
"Okay Gennai," Tai answered, "Just one problem, Kari and I no longer live at Highton View. We've moved."
"Well, that is a problem," Gennai agreed. "Guess you'll just have to get up earlier, because that's where I put the gate."
Tai groaned, "All right. If I'm going, I'll be there."
"Very well. I have to do this quite a few more times tonight before I'm done. I hope to see you soon, Tai."
"Yeah. Me too."
The screen turned black when the communication ended and Tai pondered heavily on what Gennai had told him. A year, maybe more? Even if it was only two weeks in reality, that was still a long period of time to be removed from family and friends, or what few of those he had left.
Tai wondered if Davis would agree to come along. After all, the younger digidestined still had Kari to to devote his time and attention to. Well, as far as he knew, anyway. Tai could've sworn he'd seen his sister and TK becoming rather intimate on their apartment's sofa late one night a few days ago. There was once a time when Tai would've beaten the snot out of TK for even breathing on Kari, but her growing independence allowed Tai to trust her to make her own decisions. It was a much better alternative to risking losing her, like so many other friends he'd lost contact with, and it's not like TK was a bad guy.
Thus Tai had decided to ignore the affair, while keeping their little tryst a secret to keep from hurting Davis. Tai shook his head as he thought about the poor kid, falling headlong down the same path to heartbreak he had with Sora, and wondered if he'd actually be willing to make the trip to Gennai's realm while still in such a lovesick state. Without Davis, Tai knew there was a good possibility that he would be departing alone tomorrow, if he even went at all.
He dwelled on this possibility as he continued down the road back to Odaiba. This opportunity was exactly what he'd been waiting for, so chances were pretty low that he wouldn't be taking it, but what kind of threat could compel Gennai to go so far? He'd only gotten a small bit of information in their short conversation, but Tai could already tell that there was a level of organization to this venture that they'd never had in the past. Somehow, this seemed more serious. He pondered on that for about the next fifteen minutes, until the ringing of his cell phone interrupted his thoughts.
He stared at the device in bewilderment for a moment. No one ever called him except Kari, Davis, Jun, or some of the more self assured kids from the Green Room, the ones he'd actually had confidence in giving his number to. The number on the display wasn't associated with any of his contacts. Careful to keep his eyes on the road he picked it up and pressed 'talk'.
"Tai." The voice one the other end answered. He immediately recognized it as belonging to one Matt Ishida.
"Matt." Tai greeted, matching the Wolf's cold acuity.
"Tai, Sora and I had a discussion, I'm sure you know what it was about." Matt paused, allowing what he said to sink in, "We've come to a decision, and trust me, although Sora doesn't have the heart to say what I'm about to, it is a joint decision."
Tai said nothing and simply waited.
"Okay," Matt began after a moment, apparently thrown off by Tai's silence. "Tai, until you've done something of significance with your life we're requesting that you stay away from us."
Matt cleared his throat awkwardly. "Tai you're stuck in the past. You're failing to notice how the people around you are changing, while you're not changing yourself. You're still acting like the same eleven year old who helped save the digital world, trying to take things simply because you want them, fighting logic. I mean, how are we supposed to be friends when you're making moves on my fiancée? You need to examine yourself, man."
Tai couldn't believe this. Matt, the great blonde idiot, was psychologically evaluating him? He remained silent, too angry to give anything close to a legible response.
"Sora and I are in love Tai. If you can't see that, I don't know what kind of friend you are, certainly not one of ours." Another pause, "And if you're not our friend, you're our enemy. I don't treat my enemies too nicely, Tai." Matt voice grew deeper and more menacing as he continued. "And neither does the Wolves' protection staff."
Sora broke into the line before Tai could respond. "Tai, all we're saying is do something with your life. Get your mind off of me, do something constructive, find-"
"Okay Sora," Tai broke in, an anger he never thought he'd be capable of having towards her washing over him. "You're forgotten, if that's what you want."
"What? That's not wh-"
"And as far as my doing something with my life, I'll get started first thing tomorrow."
Tai hit 'End' on the phone without listening to anything else Sora had to say and smiled, briefly thinking of how regretful she'd be when he went 'missing' for the next two weeks. Not that he still held out hope of her discovering some long lost love for him or anything. None of that seemed as important now. He accelerated the car once again, now having a reason to do so.
It was time to put the drama aside. Once again, he had a chance to help save the world. He would go to recruit Davis, just as Gennai had instructed, and as an added bonus, Davis just so happened to live with Tai's favorite person in the world. For some reason, he really wanted to see her right now.
Kuri lay in her bed and stared at the ceiling. She'd been doing so for the past hour.
"Peko, do you think he's mad at me?" Kuri asked her digimon partner.
"I don't know." the Patamon replied, busily munching on a candy bar. "He's probably more mad at TK and Kari. Why do you even care so much?"
"Despite his obvious density at times, Davis is a good person, Peko. He's never really angry, even though he sometimes acts like it. If he's mad at me…"
"Then you must've really screwed up." Peko finished for her.
Kuri sighed. "Yeah."
Suddenly shouts from the next room interrupted their conversation.
"Why don't you just go to hell!"
"I did when I married you, you contemptible-"
Kuri covered her ears and shut her eyes tightly in an attempt to keep from hearing her parents' arguing.
"They're at it again." Peko noted sadly.
Kuri opened her eyes to look at a picture of her older brother on her nightstand. It had been three years now since he'd left them, precisely because of the reason she was now covering her ears. Their verbally abusive parents had finally gotten the best of him, and he'd moved to Australia to pursue an acting career immediately when he turned twenty-one. Kuri missed him dearly and despite the fact that he sent her secretive emails every few weeks, she couldn't shake the feeling the he'd abandoned her for a better life. She couldn't blame him though. Two parents and a vindictive younger sister were pretty tough to deal with.
Many people had tried to convince Kuri that she wasn't a mean spirited person, but she knew better, she'd inherited too much from the people yelling in the other room. Ultimately, she knew she was the proverbial last straw on the camel's back that had her chased her brother away. And, although unintended, she was the one that brought tears to Davis' otherwise untroubled face today. Kuri sat upright in her bed, removing her hands from her ears and allowing her parents' shouting to act as a background to her thoughts. Checking her watch, she saw that it was nine o' clock. There was nothing she could do about her brother at this point, but she still had time to set things right with Davis.
Kuri got up, walked to the closet and pulled out a light jacket.
"Where are you going?" Peko asked, watching her from the floor.
"Jun and Davis's place. You coming?"
Peko smiled flew up to Kuri's shoulder. "You know it."
Jun sat at the dining room table and watched her brother with concern as he blankly stared out the kitchen window. He'd gone in to get a glass of water and hadn't come out in the last twenty minutes.
"You know, Davis, that view's a killer." She said.
"You stand there long enough, and life won't even seem worth living."
Davis replied grimly, "It isn't."
"Oh come on Davis, it was just one girl."
"And Matt was just one guy, sis."
"You're right, he was. It just took me five years to realize that." She uttered sadly. "Davis, I don't want you to go through that."
"I won't Jun, I promise. Just give me a little time, okay?"
It took Jun a while to answer. "Okay," she replied.
He continued to stare out of the window and she continued to observe him worriedly.
After a few moments there was a knock at the door. Jun got up to answer it, since Davis gave no inclination of having heard it. She smiled upon opening the door.
"Hey Kuri, what's up?"
"Hey Jun," the ebony haired girl greeted in return. "Is your brother here?"
"Yeah, but I don't know if this is such a good time to see him." Jun noticed the patamon on Kuri's shoulder. "Hey Peko." She said offhandedly.
"Hi Jun." Peko smiled. She liked how Jun always spoke to digimon and treated them as individuals. Most people didn't do that.
"You know, Sparks is back there somewhere," she said, gesturing toward the back of the apartment, "Earlier he was saying something about you still owing him money from a poker game."
"What?" Peko exclaimed, "He owes me money! Why that little-" she took off into the apartment, grazing Jun's hair in her fervor.
Jun smoothed her spiky mane while giving Kuri an apologetic smile.
"I know what's wrong with Davis." Kuri said, unaffected. "It was all kinda my fault."
"I was the one who told Davis that TK and Kari were in the park together. I wanted him to see them… together."
Jun let out a small gasp. "Kuri, why would you set him up like that? That's not like you."
"Oh come on, Jun. That is totally like me."
"Kuri, don't start this again. How many times do we have to tell you-"
"I know, I know, I'm a good person." Kuri interrupted acerbically with a roll of her eyes.
Jun laughed, "You certainly try to prove otherwise, don't you?"
"Well," the younger girl sighed, "I suppose I could prove you right by apologizing to Davis."
"That would be a good start," Jun agreed, stepping aside and pointing towards the kitchen, "He's in there."
"Thanks, Jun." Kuri, said, fixing her with a sincere gaze before entering.
Davis saw himself waiting, hidden in the shadows, watching two figures in their elaborate dance of passion.
"Davis never stood a chance." She said, "I never had any interest in him whatsoever. He was like a gnat under my feet. In fact, I think I'll now take the liberty of shooting him through those bushes he thinks he's hidden in over there." The short, brown haired girl then produced a revolver from her purse and pointed it directly at him.
"Kari! No!" he shouted, just before she pulled the trigger and a projectile ripped through his chest. There was a bright flash of light, then Davis lay on the ground, writhing in a pool of his of his own blood, desperately moaning his attacker's name. She walked up to him calmly and aimed the weapon directly at his head. "Now, I end this," was all she said before squeezing off another three rounds.
Davis was shaken from his ridiculously disturbing reflection by a gentle tapping on his shoulder.
He turned around to stare into a pair of stunningly jade eves.
"Um, no," Kuri answered unsurely. "Drop the A and add a U."
"Kuri?" he said, vaguely recognizing her at first, then fully recovering from his stupor. "What're you doing here?"
"Wow, you're really messed up, aren't you?" she said, ignoring his question while peering at him curiously.
Davis looked at her with surprise, finding her audacity almost unbelievable. "Now I see," he hissed, "Came to see your handiwork, huh? Well, I hope you're happy." He turned to exit the kitchen.
Kuri reacted quickly by grabbing his arm. Davis whirled around to give her an angry stare. "Why the hell are you tormenting me? I never did anything to you, Kuri. We barely know each other. What kind of person gets so much out of someone's else's pain?"
Kuri hung her head shamefully, but still held on to his arm. "Davis," she began, her voice quaking, "I don't know what kind of person I am, but," she took a deep breath, "I am sorry for whatever role I had in causing your pain."
"I'll bet." Davis replied cynically.
"I am." She hung her head, allowing her ebony bangs to partially cover her eves. "I knew what they were doing at the park, but I guess I never thought through just how much it would affect you. I never think these things through-" She'd whispered that last part, more to herself than him. She sniffed and furtively wiped at her hidden face.
Davis immediately softened upon realizing how sincere she was. "I believe you, Kuri." Unable to stand the way she was humbling her usually strong demeanor before him, Davis used his free hand to tilt Kuri's chin up so that she could look directly into his eyes.
"I believe you." He emphasized. "And I forgive you."
She only nodded in understanding. The two stayed that way a moment before Kuri decided to interrupt the silence.
"So what're you going to do?"
"What do you mean?"
"You can't just let them get away with treating you the way they did."
Davis looked at her thoughtfully, "You know, I could've sworn that you and Kari were pretty good friends."
Kuri faltered, "Um, yeah, well, I'd like to believe that you and I could be good friends too."
Davis smiled, the first time he'd done so in hours, "You'd be right. So what does my good friend suggest I do about this?"
"Getting even would be the order of the day," Kuri answered, the wheels in her head starting to turn. This was truly her area of expertise.
Jun watched her brother and Kuri interact from her position at the front door. Davis seemed to have lightened a bit in his mood a bit since the two had first started talking.
They get along well she noted to herself. For a moment there, it had seemed to Jun that Kuri was there to do more than apologize, she couldn't put her finger on it, but there looked to be some kind of connection between the two that they had yet to realize. Davis and Kuri had never been close friends, but as she watched them Jun felt that if they ever did become closer, their inherent personality traits could really be mutually beneficial.
"You have to know this isn't safe."
Jun jumped back, startled by a voice from outside her door. She turned to look directly upon Tai's grinning face.
"Tai!" She exclaimed, before playfully hitting him on the shoulder. "Don't do that!"
He only shook his head in response. "Then start closing your door when you're not actually using it.'
"And where have you been?" she continued, "I've been trying to reach you all day."
"I've been out. Why didn't you call my cell?"
Jun placed her hands on her hips and gave him a roll of her eves. "I did! You didn't answer. And I sent you approximately eight million texts too."
"Wait what?" A look of confusion briefly washed over Tai before it dawned on him what had happened. "Oh wait, I took a drive out to the countryside that had me out of signal range for a while." He pulled out his phone and unlocked the screen. "They probably didn't show up until I got back in town."
A broad grin grew on his face as he perused the screen and began to read each of her messages aloud. "'Tai, are you okay?' 'Where are you?' 'Stop avoiding everyone.' Oh, I like this one, 'Answer the damn phone you idiot.'"
"That's not funny, Tai." Jun said, unsuccessfully stifling a giggle. She covered the phone with her hand to stop him from going further. "I was really worried about you."
Something about those words or the ever so slight pout she gave him melted Tai on the spot. "Thank you, Jun." he said, fixing her gaze. "Really."
"Yeah," she replied softly. "Well, I heard what happened."
"Yeah, well," Tai rubbed at a kink in his neck, "it got worse."
"What happened?" Jun asked, catching his implied significance.
"I got a kinda 'joint call' from Matt and Sora."
Jun's face washed with concern. "Oh, Tai, I'm sorry. I wanted to be there for you when you found out."
"No biggie." He replied almost automatically. "I've known for a while."
"And you've been carrying it around without telling me?" She reached for the hand he rubbed his neck with and held it. "Look, Tai, you've always been there for me these last few years, how do you think it makes me feel when you don't let me return the favor?"
"Come on, Jun." He said dismissively, "You know this kind of stuff just rolls off my-"
"Tai, don't even try to finish that sentence. You know I know you a lot better than that."
"Maybe I just didn't want you to worry about me." Tai said, finally telling some semblance of the truth. "And what about you? How are you dealing with it?" he asked, trying to turn the tables.
"Matt was just crush, Tai. A crush I've been over for quite a while...kind of. Sora was something very different for you. You've known her since childhood, seen all her faults and shortcomings, and yet you still wanted to be with her as much as a teenager infatuated with her favorite rock star." Jun couldn't help but to smirk at the comparison before becoming serious again. "For all intents and purposes, she was your first love, Tai, and although you won't tell me, I know you're hurting right now. I just want to be here for you, like a good friend should be."
Tai just stared at the ground, his hand still clutched in Jun's. Jun gave him a reassuring squeeze.
"You're really good at this," he finally said, "Have you ever considered being a therapist or something?"
"Oh please," she scoffed, "I have enough problems on my own, considering my life is going absolutely nowhere right now."
"I know the feeling."
"And then there's this whole thing with Davis."
"Davis?" Tai asked, reminded of the actual reason he'd come, "What's wrong with him?"
"Kari chose TK." Jun said matter-of-factly. "He found out on his own."
"Oh." Tai responded with a solemn frown. "How's he taking it?"
"About like you would."
Tai grimaced. "In other words, not well at all."
Jun shook her head in affirmation. "And how about you?"
"She is your sister, Tai, and I know you used to prefer she be with TK instead of my brother."
"Yeah, there was a time when I did," he admitted, "but Davis has grown up so much over the years, I honestly wouldn't have minded at all. He's a great guy." Tai nervously shifted his feet, "Does he need any um, comforting or anything?"
Jun smiled at Tai's usual social ineptitude in these situations and thought of how cute it was of him to still offer. "No, Kuri's handling damage control, and quite well, I might add."
"Kuri?" he said, eyes widened.
"Yeah, surprised me too, but something keeps telling me she's just the type of friend Davis needs right now."
Tai snapped his fingers, "Oh, that reminds me, I stopped by an Internet café on the way here and picked up another one of his friends." Tai put two fingers to his mouth and let forth a shrill whistle. Suddenly, two balls of orange and blue came streaking around the corner at the end of the hall.
"Veemon, Agumon!" Jun shouted happily, dropping to a kneel to greet the two digimon barreling toward her.
Veemon was the first to respond, giving her a hug. "Hi Jun! Is Davis here?"
"He's in the in kitchen," she told him. Before he could take off into the apartment she added, "Hey, I thought you guys were taking a vacation in the digital world."
"We were," Agumon replied "but Tai called us back here because of some kind of emergency."
Jun looked back to Tai seriously. "An emergency? Tai, what's going on?"
"He said he'd tell us when we got here," Agumon answered for his partner, while looking at him impatiently, "and I'm still waiting."
"Okay, okay," Tai said, his hands raised defensively in the air, "I'll tell you all inside. But Davis needs to hear this the most, so Veemon-"
"Don't worry, I'll get him!" Veemon interrupted, bounding through the door.
Tai turned back to the concerned expression on Jun's face. "Don't worry," he said, stepping inside the apartment with Agumon, "It's nothing that we can't handle. At least I don't think so."
"Okay, so the whole 'make her think you killed yourself in grief' thing is out." Kuri leaned back against the kitchen counter, going through potential revenge scenarios with Davis. "I can't believe you think that one's too harsh. It's pure gold in this situation."
Davis couldn't help but to laugh at Kuri's outlandish manner. "You're crazy, you know that?" He said between chuckles.
"And you're smiling," she replied, "You know that?"
Davis eyed her suspiciously. "So, you're telling me you wouldn't seriously do any of the things you just talked about?" He asked, skepticism apparent in his tone. "You were just trying to cheer me up?"
"Well, that's for me to know, and you to find out." She said playfully.
Davis regarded the girl in front of him for a moment. This was most likely the first time the two of them had had a real conversation without anyone else around. Davis felt guilty for not getting to know better Kuri earlier. She was so… interesting.
"Why haven't we done this before?" he asked, voicing his thoughts aloud.
"Done what?" Kuri asked.
"You know, talked."
"I dunno, maybe because you're such a cool, sincere person and I'm-" Kuri wavered for a moment. "Well, I'm me."
"And that's supposed to mean?"
Kuri sighed, "I'm just not the most socially apt person around. In fact, as you can see from today, I'm actually quite adept at pissing people off." She stopped talking with a dismissive wave, "I'm sure you know my reputation."
"I know what my sister and Kari have said about you, that you're strong willed, not mean."
Kuri gave him a non-believing look. "And what do you think?"
"I really don't know, I've never gotten to know you as a person."
She once again found herself staring at the floor.
"But what I do know is," Davis continued, "that you've made a damn good first impression tonight, and I'd really like to get to know you better."
Kuri looked up at him, curious as to his meaning.
"I didn't get the digimental of Friendship for no reason, Kuri. I know how to pick 'em" He smiled. "You're a good person, and I won't hear otherwise. You'll just have to trust me."
"Whatever it is that you see in me after all of ten minutes, I certainly don't."
"Then I'll just have to show you."
Just then, Davis was overrun by a ball of blue energy, which proceeded to tackle him to the kitchen floor.
"Davis!" it shouted, "It's so good to see you!"
"Veemon?" Davis stammered. "What're you doing here?"
"Tai brought me and Agumon."
"Tai's here?" Kuri asked.
"Yeah, he's in the living room with Jun."
"Veemon," Davis interrupted seriously, "Why did Tai bring you here? Is there something wrong?"
"Tai said there's some kind of emergency. I'm betting we have to save the digital world again."
"Veemon, you just came from the digital world, right?" Kuri said, "Did anything seem wrong to you?"
"Well, no, now that you mention it."
Kuri rolled her eyes, "I think we'd better ask Tai what's going on." She said, offering Davis her hand to help him up.
"I agree," he said, taking it.
After the four digidestined in the apartment were seated around the dining table with their respective digimon, Tai finally related to them all what Gennai had told him in the car.
Kuri, who'd been persuaded to stay by Davis, was the first to say anything after he'd finished. "I'm in."
"Kuri, did you hear what I said?" Tai said. "You'll have to spend a whole year of your life away from-"
"I know, I know. Blah, blah, blah." Kuri interrupted. She made the impression of a talking mouth with her thumb and forefingers. Davis laughed. "Look, the way I see it, this is an opportunity for me to do something good for once. I definitely want to go, whether you like it or not."
"Fine, you're in," Tai gave in, "if you get your parents' consent."
"Okay," she agreed, having no intention of telling her parents anything.
"It's good to have an extra person aboard," Tai admitted "but I think the one here Gennai was most interested in was Davis."
"I think she should go too." Davis said with a grin. "Good people should do good things."
Kuri crossed her arms over her chest and gave an irritated sigh. Damned if he wasn't a persistent one.
Tai fixed Davis with an annoyed glare, "You know what I mean."
"Yeah, I do. You know I'm down for whatever, Tai. If Gennai needs us, I'm going." He said seriously.
Tai then turned to Jun, "What about you? You think you'll be alright here for two weeks?"
"Yeah, I think I would, if I were staying." She answered sweetly.
"Come on Jun," Tai pleaded, "This could be dangerous. I can't just let everyone come along."
"I'm not everyone, I'm me," she countered, "and there's no way I'm missing a year out of my bother and best friends' lives. Plus, I don't exactly have any pressing issues to attend to right now."
Davis raised his hand to stop Tai from going any further. "You're not going to win this one," he said, "If we're only going to this Academy place, then we must be there to learn, not fight, which sucks to me, but also means that it won't be too dangerous for Jun to come along, anyway."
"Fine, whatever." Tai hung his head in exasperation, "Some leader I am. You guys are just running over me."
Secretly, he was glad Jun was coming. Over time she had become a very important figure in his life. In no way did Tai want to spend a whole year without her.
"Everyone at this table is a natural leader Tai," Jun explained, "we aren't looking to you for direction, like the other digidestined might have, just information."
"I'm sure Gennai will be thrilled to know that four versions of me are coming to the digital realm then."
Kuri could barely hide her blush at being called a natural leader and subsequently being compared to Tai. "Well, I guess it's decided then." She said, "What time do we leave?"
"Wait a minute," Jun cut in, "we're forgetting the most important ones here, our digimon. They do all the work and fighting." She turned to address the assortment of little creatures, sitting, or in Peko's case, floating next to their respective human partners. "What do you guys think?"
"Are you kidding?" Agumon answered for them all, "We're ready to go right now."
"Are you sure?"
"I feel insulted, even being asked that." Veemon said.
"Does that take care of everyone?" Davis asked
There was a pregnant moment of silence, as all parties in the room examined their dedication to the upcoming task, and their motivations for participating. None of them even remotely had reneging on their minds.
"That settles it then," Tai eventually said, satisfied, "We meet tomorrow if front of Highton View Terrace at nine thirty in the morning. The gate's supposed to open at ten."
"Aren't you going to tell anyone else?" Jun asked.
Tai replied, "No, I'm pretty sure Gennai was only expecting two of us. Four is more than enough."
"Also, you don't want to deal with anyone else." Jun finished for him.
"Yeah, that too." Tai added soberly.
"Look, I'm not going to go against your wishes and tell the rest of the guys," Jun stated, "But it's not healthy to just keep them out of the loop."
"I disagree, sis." Davis said, "I hardly want to see any of those jerks again, much less spend a year with them."
Kuri laughed now, realizing that those 'jerks' were only two people in particular.
"Hey, that's not funny." Davis protested.
Kuri ignored him. "I really don't care one way or the other," she said candidly, "as long as I get to go."
"The way Gennai spoke to me makes me think I'm not supposed to share this with a lot of people." Tai said, hoping to placate Jun.
"Uh-huh, sure," she said, non-believing, "I just hope you don't regret this."
Tai gave a sigh of relief, realizing she was going to let the issue drop.
"Okay, now the last thing he told me was to pack light. I assume this means he's going to take care of most of our needs." He looked at the two girls, "Davis and I won't have a problem with this, I'm sure, but you two…" he allowed his voice to trail off.
"That was an awfully chauvinistic thing to say, Tai." Jun said, giving him a glare of reprimand.
"You know what, you're right." Tai turned to Kuri. "Sorry, I shouldn't have assumed you would pack to the ridiculous extent that Jun always does."
Davis found himself having a hard time stifling his snickers at that. Jun turned her glare on her brother.
"What?" he asked with a shrug. "He's not lying sis. I should know. I usually have to haul your luggage around when we go on trips." He turned to Kuri. "I think I've legit thrown my back out like two or three times."
Kuri chuckled at that and shook her head.
"Ha ha," Jun deadpanned as she looked between the two males with crossed arms. "Point taken. I'll only pack essentials, if that pleases you."
"Well," Kuri began, getting up from the table, "If that's all, I think I better go home, pack, and get some sleep."
"And tell your parents about one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make in your life, right?" Tai added suspiciously.
"Um, yeah," Kuri said sheepishly, "Of course."
Davis rose from his seat also, "I'll walk you home," he offered to Kuri, "It's getting pretty late."
To everyone's surprise, she didn't resist. "Fine," she conceded, picking her coat up from her chair, "Come on Peko."
Davis turned to Veemon, "Well, aren't we privileged." He said, dripping sarcasm.
"You are." Kuri confirmed, heading towards the front door, "Now lets go." Only the slightest hint of a mischievous glint in her eyes told Davis that she wasn't serious.
He gave Jun and Tai a mock salute before heading out after his fiery tempered charge.
"See what I mean?" Jun said to Tai after the two had left. "He really acts natural around her. He's not trying to impress anyone or saying inappropriate things."
"Yeah," Tai agreed, "The only other person he acted that way around, besides us, of course, was Ken."
"Before Yolei came along and dragged him off to that college in Tokyo, anyway." Jun added. "And that girl's so self centered, I'm sure it never occurred to her that she was breaking up a pair of best friends."
Tai began to look at Jun admirably. She always managed to notice these little things- people's thoughts, how they connected with one another- that anyone else would completely miss. "You really should be a psychologist or something." He said teasingly, "Look at how much you like to analyze people. I bet you're in my head right now."
"You're right Tai, I am in your head right now," she said, leaning forward with a smile of mischief, "and all I can see is a singer just screaming to come out."
Tai's eyes widened in surprise. "I told you to never mention that!" he exclaimed. "I did that in strict confidence!"
"What's going on?" Sparks asked from his position at the other end of the table, where he was starting a game of Connect Four with Agumon.
"Nothing," Tai answered quickly.
"I wouldn't call your considerable singing aspirations 'nothing' Tai," Jun said, wearing a sickeningly innocent smile on her face. "In fact," she continued, "I think you sound quite good when you sing-" Jun was unable to finish her sentence however, as she was forced to run toward the kitchen screaming, with an angry Tai in hot pursuit.
"Now I'm really confused." Sparks said as he dropped a red checker into the game board.
"Me too," Agumon agreed, "I always thought Tai did a pretty good rendition of "Moon River" myself."
Jun neatly leapt over the living room sofa and spun around Davis' recliner before reaching the kitchen, which she planned to run through and continue around the apartment in a large circle. She was thoroughly surprised when Tai jumped in front of her from the other side. He grabbed her around the torso from behind before she could turn and run in the other direction.
"Ha! You made some nice moves, but in the end, no one escapes Tai Kamiya." Tai said between heaving breaths.
"Too bad the great Tai Kamiya is dead tired, because that could've sounded a lot more intimidating." Jun was barely able to get the words out before falling into a fit of laughing hysterics.
"Hey!" Tai shouted, turning her around to face him, "I demand an apology for your rampant disrespect."
"I-I can't," Jun stammered, "I'm laughing too hard!"
"You weren't laughing too hard to say that!" Tai accused.
"Yeah well," Jun backed into a counter and tried to catch her breath, "I guess I just don't want to apologize then, genius."
Tai advanced on her in mock menace, "You should," he said, sounding serious, "because some people tend to think I'm a dangerous person."
Jun was once again overtaken by a fit of giggles.
Tai, while trying to keep up his façade, couldn't help but notice how adorable Jun was when she was happy. He'd had such thoughts before. Many, many times.
"And I demand that you do this more often." He added, dropping the act somewhat.
"Do what?" Jun asked when she finally sobered.
"I would, if there was more to laugh about, like your ridiculous sayings."
Tai smiled, "Then I suppose I'm glad I can bring such joy to your world."
Jun looked at her 'aggressor' thoughtfully, "Anyone ever tell you what a sweet person you are, Tai?"
"Yeah, once," Tai said, "and then she went off to marry Matt Ishida."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Jun said, taking the obvious hint. For a moment their eyes met, and Jun saw none of the usual angst that was found in Tai's when they broached the issue of Sora and Matt's relationship.
Tai felt a pang of guilt for bringing up such a sore issue. "Don't be," he assured, drawing closer, "because right now, I'm not."
"You…aren't." Jun said, her breathing growing heavier. It was a statement more than a question.
"No, I have other…interests." Tai answered, his voice growing seductively deeper.
A crash in the living room diverted both of them from their conversation.
"I hate this game!" they heard Sparks shout, followed by the sound of game pieces being flung against the wall, and Agumon laughing.
"Damn," Jun muttered, "He doesn't take losing easily."
"Can't blame him. I'm the same way." Tai said, slowly backing away from her, "I guess we should go help clean up, huh?"
"Yeah," she agreed, silently cursing her digimon partner's terrible timing.
They both slowly walked into the living room where Tai began to immediately berate the two digimon for acting immature and started to help pick up the hundreds of tiny checkers scattered around the floor.
Jun just leaned against the opposite wall and slipped deep into thought. She was fully cognizant of what had almost happened between her and Tai in the kitchen. It had been brewing for quite some time. For the last year or so they'd been becoming much closer than friends normally would, talking with each other for hours on end, sharing secrets they didn't dare tell anyone else. If Tai ever told anyone that he thought Jun would make a good psychologist, they'd regard him as if he were crazy.
That was a side of Jun's personality she only ever exhibited around him, just like he only ever sang around her. She smiled. Or tried to sing, anyway. Then there was the way he held her as they watched a DVD a few weeks back, slowly stroking his fingers through her hair as she leaned against his shoulder. "Friends" didn't normally do that. Of course, Tai had acted as if it never happened days afterward. Jun never said anything either. She understood.
Tai was torn between two entities, and since he and Jun's relationship was largely based on their continuing failures in romance, he didn't want to do anything to risk losing her companionship. Thus, he religiously pursued Sora, until today's final heartbreak, that is. Now, Tai was something of a rogue state. Jun honestly had no idea what he wanted. She knew that she had some amorous feelings for him though, yet her days of wearing her heart on her sleeve were long gone. In order for her to ever pursue anything more than a platonic relationship with Tai, he would have to make a definitive move. She watched him as he flicked a checker at Sparks while the elecmon's back was turned and subsequently tried to blame it on Agumon.
Jun smiled once again. The two of them were so much alike that sometimes she "foolishly" indulged in believing that they were destined to be together. Her countenance became serious once more. It scared her sometimes, how much she liked Tai. She'd never fallen for a guy she knew so well.
Jun was pulled from her thoughts by the intrusive shouting of her elecmon. "What?" she asked, somewhat annoyed.
"You saw who threw it, right? Was it Tai?"
Jun put a finger to her lips and looked upwards, feigning thought, "Hmmm, I'm not sure."
"You know he did it." Sparks accused, "You guys always stick up for each other."
Jun put her hands on her hips indignantly, "Now how could you suggest that anything could come between the bond between a digidestined and her digimon partner?"
"If anyone could come between ours, it'd be Tai." Sparks suggested before casually strolling to the couch to watch TV.
Tai blushed heavily as he finished putting all the game pieces back into their box. He took a fleeting glance at Jun only to find her staring directly back at him. Tai paused as their gazes locked for a moment, a sort of rudimentary communication passing between the two of them. Their timid desires were almost palpable in the moment of silence.
"I-I think I need to go." Tai said finally. "We have a really big day tomorrow and all."
"Yeah," Jun half-heartedly agreed, "and we both need our rest."
"Yeah," Tai said redundantly while grabbing his coat from the table. He slowly put it on and chanced another glance at Jun. She was still watching him intently and Tai couldn't shake the feeling that she could see right through him, to exactly what he was thinking. With Agumon in tow, he walked to the front door. Jun followed them both. Tai stepped outside and turned around in preparation to say goodbye when Jun interrupted him.
"Tai, I know you're going through a lot up there right now," she said, indicating his head with a slight nod. "And I understand there are things that you may want to say right now, feelings you may want to express, but you aren't sure if they're real, or safe." She wore a look of sincere affection on her face. "But, as it is, we may be spending the next year of our lives away from this world, with one another. It's going to present a chance to create a new life, a new identity."
She reached out and once again held his hand. "Tai, you're going to have to make decisions about the person you want to be, and the people you want to be with." She unabashedly gazed directly into his eyes, searching their mahogany depths. "Just know this, whatever you decide, whatever you do," Jun slowly leaned up and without a moment's hesitation, placed a gentle kiss on Tai's cheek. She pulled back and allowed his mild surprise to bring a small smile to her face. "I will be here for you. I will be here with you. No matter what."
With that Jun slowly closed the door, never breaking her stare with Tai until the two inches of wood completely separated them. She then turned her back to the door and leaned against it, eyes closed in thought.
"God, I hope I did that right," she whispered to herself.
Tai stood in front of the apartment door in astonishment for a few minutes before finally coming to his senses and following Agumon down to his car. As he walked down the hall away from the door, Tai touched the area on his cheek where he had been kissed. It seemed the small gesture had ignited a firestorm of curiosity in his mind.
Tai had always known that he had certain feelings for Jun that weren't exactly platonic, but he'd always excused them as emotional acts of desperation in response to his lack of a romantic relationship with Sora. He reflected on how many times he'd imagined Jun's pert lips meeting with his own, pictured holding her lithe body in his arms, wiping the stinging tears of rejection from her eyes. He thought about that time a few weeks back, when he actually did hold her for a while, as they watched a DVD she'd rented. But he had been too scared to take it further, or even mention it, afterwards.
Tai found himself confused. Was he actually equating Jun with the girl he loved for so long because he was, in essence, settling for whatever he could get, or was there something real there? Something tangible that they both shared? Tai mentally admonished himself. Of course he was genuinely attracted to Jun. He knew her too well to think otherwise. He liked the way she studied people, cared for them. Jun was as much an active person as he. She didn't just look to see what to do; she did it. When Jun said she was there for someone, she was really there.
Whereas Sora was always willing to listen to a person's problems, Jun already knew what they were and had planned ways in which she could help. She also had a great sense of humor which closely matched his own. Sora was usually a more serious minded person, only laughing at the most obvious of jokes. Jun, however, was deliciously irreverent, often finding humor in the most dismal situations. She also used her natural athleticism as a joy rather than a tool. Sora usually entered tennis competitions and other sporting events of the like, she worked out at a gym, had a personal trainer. She never just ran for the fun of it, like Tai and Jun often did on routine walks around the block.
Tai surprised himself with all the comparative match-ups Jun was winning against his longtime love. Sora was a more subdued person. She lived within herself, hiding her emotions from the world, confiding in only a precious few.
"Just like Matt," Tai thought in realization. Jun, on the other hand, held her heart out for everyone to see, or she did before Matt broke it. Tai understood heartbreak well, what it was to hide his feelings because of fear. He knew what Jun was going through, and that she likely knew the same of him. They were so much alike that Tai wondered why he'd never noticed before.
He whispered the answer to himself, "Because I was blinded."
Tai began to understand how the aspect of compatibility played into one's love interests. This was why Sora had fallen for Matt; the similarities between them were obvious. But why had Tai wanted Sora to such an extent? Part of him had always known the truth, that whatever romantic feelings Tai originally had for Sora, however minute, were amplified immensely by the fact that she was interested in Matt. Envy could be a very motivational catalyst in men.
For most of these past few years, Tai had been pushed by a desire not to lose to his rival, rather than a genuine desire to be with his childhood friend. Had he really loved Sora at all? On some level, Tai determined that he must have. As Jun stated earlier, he did know her well. And he did have some amorous feelings for her after Matt forced him to look at her in a different light.
What Tai currently felt for Jun was exactly the opposite. This had crept up on him unexpectedly; there wasn't anything, or rather anyone, pushing him toward her. She was his friend at first, then his confidante, and eventually the only person who could truly understand him. The more Tai thought about it, the more he realized just how much he'd become smitten with Davis' sister. He absolutely loved her smile; perhaps because it was something she so often kept to herself. Anytime she bestowed one upon him, Tai felt as if he'd received a special gift. Sometimes he believed no one wanted to see Jun be happy more than he. Not even Davis. He felt that she truly deserved to be content for simply being the considerate person that she was. And, he realized, he wanted to be the one to bring her that happiness.
The icing on the cake was the way she accepted him for everything that he was. Unlike most of his other friends, Jun never urged Tai to "do something with his life." To the contrary, she always encouraged him to find himself before seeking out a place in society. She never rejected any aspect of his character. In fact, it was usually Jun who pointed out values in traits even Tai thought were harmful. Yet, despite all this, the prime reason Tai felt he was growing attracted to Jun was the fact that, unlike Sora, any amorous advances he made towards her, conscious or not, were usually returned.
Tai slapped himself on the head. "What an idiot I am," he said to himself, staring up at the door to the Motomiya's apartment from beside his car. "She likes me too."
Agumon stared at his partner, a curious brow raised at his strange behavior.
"Don't you realize?" Tai asked, knowing full well his digimon had no idea what was going on. "We're both too scared to say anything. We've been burned before, we don't want it to happen again."
Agumon was really confused now
Tai tapped his chin with a finger. "Up there, just now, she was telling me something." He half consciously unlocked his door and let Agumon in. "She wants me to make the first move. Why?"
Tai thought about the way he'd treated Jun over the last few months, making romantic overtures and dropping them in his pursuit of Sora, erratically being flirtatious and distant. In his confusion, Tai had been neglecting Jun's feelings.
"I've been hurting her." He realized. If Jun felt the same way about him as he was now discovering he felt about her, then her heart must have been in a severe state of flux over the past few months, as he unwittingly toyed with her emotions. Tai wasn't sure if the true attraction he was finally admitting that he had for Jun was stronger than what he had for Sora, but he did realize one thing; now that Sora was now officially "off limits," he had been given the opportunity to clear his mind and examine the congestion of ignored thoughts that had been festering inside it.
He knew that this thing with Jun could work out, or it could fail miserably. But one thing his experience with Sora taught him was that he had to try. No longer could he allow opportunities for love to simply pass him by. He knew what it was to stand on the sidelines and watch others take what he desired so much. Tai was determined not to let that happen again.
"Tomorrow is a new beginning, in more ways than one," he muttered to himself, half-smiling.
Agumon continued to look at his partner bewilderedly as they pulled out of the lot and headed home.
"You're kidding!" Kuri exclaimed.
"Nope. I swear, that's what he told me."
"Ken, the same Ken who's always so quiet and shy around everyone?"
"Yep, he said he wants to be just like Colombo, trench coat and all."
Kuri burst into a fit of giggles at Davis' tale. The two had been pleasantly walking and talking for a few minutes now, both holding a fitfully sleeping digimon partner in their arms.
"I can't believe the former digimon emperor now wants to be a detective." She said.
"I can't believe I still have no idea who Colombo is," Davis added.
They both shared a laugh at that before Kuri spoke again.
"It must be nice though."
"To have goals you know, knowing what you want to be, to do."
Davis looked at Kuri worriedly. "You don't?" he asked
"I used to want to go into acting, but not anymore."
"Things changed," she responded quickly, before turning the tables on him, "What about you, what do you want to do?"
"Man, you're going to think this is so stupid," Davis said, "Everyone else does."
"All I really want is my own ramen stand."
Kuri gave him a disbelieving look.
"Eventually I'll want to have my own restaurant of course," he continued, "but for now, a stand is the goal."
Davis waited, expecting the usual ridicule he got from the rest of the guys when this subject came up.
"Well, that's um, different." Kuri responded unsurely. "Mind telling me why you want a ramen stand?"
"I dunno really, I guess I just like all of the people you meet there, its one of the things I love to do most. My parents used to take foreign clients to the family ramen restaurant over on Kaiyo Way. Sometimes they'd bring me and Jun along and it was the most fun times..." He trailed off, wearing a wistful expression.
Kuri felt a pang of jealousy at him having such fond family experiences. "Good memories, huh?"
"The best. They travel a lot more now, but my folks get along great with people. Hell, they named me after their first client, an American who wound up helping them get their first home after they got married." Davis paused as Kuri gave the look of recognition most had when he would explain how he got his name, then continued, "I want to run a place that helps people from all over connect like that."
She gave him a small but genuine smile. "Davis, that's really nice. I mean it."
"You don't think it's dumb?"
Kuri shrugged. "Hey, if that's what you want to do, that's what you want to do. That makes it the furthest thing from being dumb."
The simplicity of the statement made Davis grin. "You really mean that?"
"Of course," Kuri answered. "No one really believed I could be any good as an actress either…" She stopped mid-sentence.
Davis watched her as she stared blankly forward for a moment.
"And," Kuri stalled, looking up for a moment. "This is my place."
Davis looked in the same direction and noticed that they were standing at the front gate to her apartment building. "So it is." He said, still waiting for her to continue.
They both stood in awkward silence for a moment.
"So, I guess I'll be heading in then." Kuri gave Davis a hard stare, telling him to drop the obviously sensitive subject.
Davis decided to give in for the moment. "Yeah. Well, I hope you don't have any second thoughts about tomorrow. I know it's such a huge decision and all, but I think it'll be so much cooler if you're there."
"Davis, you barely know me." Kuri protested.
"That's just it, I can get to know you."
"Are you sure you want to do that?"
"Definitely. Like I told you before," He said. "I have a sense about these things."
"Anyone ever tell you how creepy your persistence is?"
"All the time, but honestly, it's saved my life on a few occasions so I guess it all balances out in the end."
Kuri studied Davis' confident demeanor skeptically for a moment.
"We'll see." She said before turning and heading for her apartment.
"So, I'll see you tomorrow?" Davis said to her retreating form.
"We'll see." She repeated.
Davis frowned. "I can see I'm not the only persistent one here," He said to himself, before turning back towards home.
The morning's sunrise violently greeted Jun Motomiya. She squinted and put a hand in front of her face to block the offending light from her eyes while she tried to pack. She grunted as she attempted to close her duffel bag, alternately rearranging its contents and attempting to zip it up. The thing was massive. Almost as big as she herself.
Davis walked into her room wearing a smirk during one of her more vain attempts.
"I thought Tai told us to pack light." He said.
"Look Davis, I haven't met this Gennai personally and I really don't know him from my left foot so you'll excuse me if I want to make sure I'm covered."
After zipping it up she grimaced and tried to drag the large bag toward her bedroom door.
"Here," Davis offered, picking up one end of the bag, "Tai is going to be so pissed at you."
"Let him be. I'm not going into something this big unprepared."
Davis laughed. "So you straight up lied to him last night. That's great."
After they dropped the bag in the living room, Jun said to her brother, "You're acting more cheerful than I expected, considering."
"How could I be sad on a day like this?" Davis said, pointing at the window.
"Mm-hmm," Jun said skeptically, making a final check of her belongings.
"Okay, I'll be fine as long as I don't see either one of them for a while." He said seriously. "And this way," he hefted his own compact backpack to his shoulder, "I won't." Davis's smile returned and he even began to whistle as he walked around the apartment checking that all the faucets and lights were off.
Jun shook her head at him before staring at her bag. It was really… well, huge.
"Veemon," she called, looking around for the little blue digimon. If he digivolved to ExVeemon, he could carry her bag as if it were nothing.
Veemon must've known exactly what she was thinking, because he peeked around a corner and responded, "Jun, you know that it's against Green Room rules to digivolve without any good reason, such as-"
"Yeah, yeah, I know, such as sudden digimon attack or lives in danger." She finished for him with a sour look on her face. "I hope you're satisfied when I break my back."
"Well, I guess that would be an emergency," Veemon said thoughtfully, "So I could digivolve and fly you to the hospital if you wanted."
"You're welcome." He said, disappearing around the corner once again.
Jun rolled her eyes and waited for Davis to return. She could always play the helpless sister card to get him to carry this monstrosity.
Kuri tiptoed across her living room with Peko in tow. A good-sized bag was slung across her shoulder. She counted her steps; Only ten more to the front door.
"And just where do you think you're going?"
Kuri turned to look upon the weary face of her father
"Out." She answered.
"That's an awful lot of stuff for just going out."
Kuri didn't reply as he slowly trudged across the room and sat at the dining room table. He patted an open seat next to him and motioned for Kuri to sit there.
"Dad," she started to protest.
"Honey I just want to talk to you for a moment." He said, "You mind?"
Kuri sighed and reluctantly took a seat at the table.
"Honey, what is this all about?"
Kuri petulantly sighed again in answer.
"Look, if this is about your mother and I…"
"Isn't it always, dad?"
Yoshi Katsura shamefully stared at his hands, folded on the table.
"I know," he began, "it's hard to see this. But I still love your mother."
Kuri gave him a look of obvious disbelief.
"I-I just don't know how to tell her, or if I still can even. And I'm not so sure she feels the same towards me anymore. Maybe she sticks it out for convenience…"
"Dad, why are you telling me this?"
"Because I want you to know we still have hope. I'm not saying that it's going to get better for sure, but it can. I'm going to try."
"Oh, I've heard all this before." Kuri said with a roll of her eyes.
"I know you have, but I want to know what you think abo-"
"Why, all of a sudden, do you care what I think?" Kuri said, her eyebrows furiously furrowed.
"I just don't want you to go the way your brother did. He gave up on this family. I'm not about to let you do the same."
Kuri narrowed her gaze at her father. That was one hell of a line to cross this early in the morning. "Well, maybe you and Mom shouldn't have chased him off then."
"We chased him off?" The older man grunted indignantly. "You say that like it was some picnic putting up with you."
This was it. This was where the floodgates opened, where years of built up angst and bottled emotions would flow from Kuri in a torrent of scathing words of retribution that would finally force her parents to realize what they'd been doing to her over the years.
Instead, she gave her father a chillingly calm stare before slinging her backpack over her shoulder once again and turning towards the front door. Peko, who had been quietly waiting next to the front door during the conversation, flew to Kuri's shoulder.
"Kuri, I'm not going to let you do this, I can't." her father admonished
"Father," Kuri said coldly, "You have two choices right now. You can let me go now with the promise that I'll return in a couple weeks."
"Or, you could make me stay so I can end up like my brother, never returning when I finally do get a chance to leave this hellhole."
"Kuri, I'm your father. I'm not just letting you go God knows where anytime you wish."
"Let her go." A voice interrupted. Kuri's mother entered the room, looking only slightly less disheveled than Yoshi
."Sata, what are you saying?"
Sata ignored her husband and turned her attention to her daughter.
"Will you be with friends, Kuri?' she asked.
"Yes." Kuri said, her voice still holding its cold edge.
"And will you promise to call the moment there's an emergency?"
This time Kuri reluctantly nodded.
"Then go." Sata said with a dismissive wave.
Yoshi was startled. "Of all the dumbest-"
Sata turned to her husband. "You and I have our own problems Yoshi. Kuri needs time to herself; can't you see that? She needs to be around people who don't argue, who don't chase the people they love away. Yoshi, I'm sick of this and I can't take it anymore. We either work this out or we go our separate ways, but I'm not putting up with this anymore."
"Sata," Yoshi began. He sighed, not really knowing where he was going with it.
"She. Can. Go. Yoshi.." Sata said slow and deliberately. "If you really do still love me, you'll let Kuri go and help me try to salvage what semblance of a marriage we still have."
Yoshi looked at his wife, then his daughter. "I give." He said quietly. "Go Kuri, before I change my mind."
Kuri quickly got up from the table, giving her mother a nod of thanks. She headed for the door with Peko now hovering closely behind.
"I hope you're right about this." Yoshi said to his wife.
"I believe I am." She responded. "I've met a few of her friends before. They're good people."
Yoshi didn't look convinced.
"You want her to come back, right?" Sata asked.
"Yes." He answered.
"Well, I've learned that sometimes if you want them to return you have to let them go."
They both watched as Kuri disappeared through the door into the early morning light.
"Damn the man who invented the snooze button." Tai muttered to himself as he hopped around his room on one foot while trying to put a shoe on the other. A toothbrush dangled precariously from his mouth. Agumon, wholly unimpressed with the ritual, rifled through Tai's hastily packed bag while going over a checklist of items he knew they would eventually need. Tai hopped over to where Agumon sat and leaned over the bag, searching for something. Agumon looked up impatiently.
"I zheem my dishivische." Tai said. He held out one hand while biting his toothbrush and still working on his shoe with the other.
Agumon shook his head and mumbled something before reaching into the bag and producing the small electronic device. He handed it to Tai, who managed a muffled thank you before hopping back towards the bathroom.
Agumon went back to sifting through the bag when he heard a loud thud. He looked up to see Tai sprawled across the floor. Tai remained very still, fearing his loud misstep might have awakened Kari.
Agumon shook his head again. "I don't thing she's going to wake up, Tai." He said, "She was out with TK pretty late last night."
Tai rolled his eyes as he slowly picked himself up off the floor and trudged into the bathroom. He returned a few seconds later, teeth brushed, and wearing shoes.
"Are we ready to go?" he said.
Agumon looked at Tai sadly. He hadn't chastised or protected Kari in a long time. Not since the day she yelled at him and threatened to go live elsewhere if he didn't stop "butting into" her private life. Tai was a shell of the big brother he used to be, for fear of losing yet another important person in his life.
"Something wrong Agumon?" Tai asked concernedly.
"No, I'm fine Tai." Agumon said, handing him the bag. "Everything checks out. We're ready to go."
"Good." Tai picked up his car keys off his desk. He also picked up a small envelope with 'KARI' written on it and taped it to the front of his room door. "Lets go."
Jun and Davis stood outside Highton View Terrace, impatiently checking their watches. Davis was panting heavily.
"I can't believe you made me carry that huge bag." He complained. "Sometimes you can be the worst sister…"
"I love you too, Davis." Jun said sweetly before changing the subject. "I wonder where those guys are? We're down to 15 minutes before we leave."
"Knowing Tai, he'll probably barely make it on time, and from what Kuri told me last night, she may not come at all."
A familiar voice spoke up just then. "You shouldn't take everything I say so seriously."
Davis turned to see the girl in question walking around the corner with her trademark multicolored "batpig" on one shoulder and a backpack on the other.
"So, you are coming then." He said with a broad smile.
"Of course." She answered, "I never said I wasn't."
"What-," Davis started before stopping mid-sentence. Technically, she was right. "Well, that's good then."
"Where's Tai?" Kuri asked.
Jun, who was still looking at her watch, answered, "I don't know, but he better get here soon."
Agumon let loose another scream as Tai barreled around yet another corner at top speed.
"Quit whining Agumon, we're almost there." He said before braking, turning, and accelerating again.
Agumon breathed a bit easier as they seemed to be driving straight for a while. "This is crazy, Tai." He said, "How much time do we have left now?"
Tai looked quickly from the road to the clock on his dashboard. "Five minutes." He answered.
"Oh man," exclaimed the orange digimon, "we're not going to make it, are we?"
Tai answered, "Are you kidding?"
He jerked the steering wheel, turning, or rather sliding, the car a sharp 90 degrees and shooting across three lanes of traffic into a large parking lot. He took a speed bump at full speed before skidding to a stop in a space directly across from the entrance.
"We're already here."
Agumon sat frozen in his seat, eyes wide open in shock.
Tai got out of the car and reached into the backseat for his bag. "Come on Agumon, we need to get moving, you know."
Agumon finally started to shakily open his door. "I'm never riding anywhere with you again." He said.
Tai just laughed as he got out. "Well, you won't have to worry about that for a while." He locked the doors and took off at a run. "Let's go."
It was a solid three minutes of running from the lot to Highton View. Both Tai and Agumon were out of breath when the spotted their group waiting for them out front.
Jun was the first to spot Tai and Agumon walking toward them. "Finally!" she shouted, waving at them. "Hurry up!"
A broad, goofy smile spread across Tai's face. The effect Jun had on him had already changed since last night. "We're coming!" he shouted back.
Tai and Agumon exchanged greetings with everyone upon reaching them before Tai pulled Jun to the side.
"What is it?" She asked quietly.
Tai gulped down a few heavy breaths before speaking. "About what you said last night."
Jun flushed with color. "What about it?" she asked.
This time, Tai took her hand. "I understand now. And.. I'm sorry."
"Oh," Jun said, not quite understanding, "Sorry? About what?"
Suddenly, a bright light shot out from the wall adjacent to them. It was accompanied by a thunderous cracking as the wind around them began to whirl intensely. A large round circle of swirling light materialized on the wall. Arcs of electricity crackled around its perimeter.
"Enter, digidestined." Said a loud, deep voice, which seemed to come from all around them.
"I'll tell you later," Tai answered. "Right now, this is our ticket out of here." He beckoned everyone to follow him as he neatly leapt through the portal with Agumon. Jun and Sparks followed immediately behind him.
Kuri and Peko were next. Peko flew in while Kuri took one last look back at the world she was leaving behind before she entered. Her gaze settled on Davis and she gave him a smile. "See you on the flip side." With that, she leapt through the swirling doorway as well.
Veemon jumped through right behind them. Davis was last. He grunted as he struggled with his and Jun's bags and slowly trudged through.
After they had entered, the portal dissipated just as quickly as it appeared. A pair of shadowed eyes that had been watching from around the corner turned away.
"The game is on Gennai," said their owner. "You've played your hand. Soon we will do battle." He smiled to himself. "But in the meantime, I have my own work to do."
To be continued…
(AN: Please send reviews. I'd really like honest feedback on my writing style. Thanks in advance.
The next chapter should be up within the next couple weeks. It may be longer if I don't get reviews, because I really won't have much motivation to continue. 'hint, hint')