Disclaimer: Digimon did not belong to me, does not belong to me, will not belong to me

Disclaimer: Digimon did not belong to me, does not belong to me, will not belong to me. Michelle does, as does the storyline. Anyway, pleas R&R, I will really appreciate it because it really boosts my confidence ^_~.

Looking Up

Another friendship fic. Sorry. I just like writing them because I don't feel there are enough out there.. Sorta a sequel to "Angel", but not very closely related.

RATED PG-13 FOR CHARACTER DEATH AND LANGUAGE.

Every minute, his breathing became slower.

The illness was taking over, and he could do nothing to help.

Never had he felt so helpless, so weak.

Why… the last time he felt this way… it must have been when Matt died.

Cody instantly choked at that thought. He never wanted to remember that again, and even though he hadn't known the guardian of friendship that well, his death still left an aching feeling in his heart.

But now… now he couldn't do anything, just like before. His friend, the one he had admired for so long and looked up to, was dying. Just like that, another Digidestined was leaving him, but this time, it was somebody he saw as a role model, a friend.

His green eyes scanned the hallway, and he didn't see anybody. No nurses, no doctors, no sobbing relatives and friends.

He was alone.

Good. He liked it that way.

Slowly, he pushed open the wood door and peered into the room. His heart jumped to his throat. His role model, his guide, his friend, who was sleeping… he looked so weak, frail.

Well, he was dying.

Cody took a deep breath, and for some reason, felt guilty. At least he still had the strength to breathe deeply, while his friend was slowly deteriorating, due to some incurable disease.

He should have been there, to help. Instead, he had been out of town, and when he finally came back after three months, a bombshell was dropped on him.

His friend was dying.

It was like a brick. There was no warning, no nothing. Nothing but absolute petrifaction of what he was hearing.

Anger spread through his system, like a plant taking root.

It wasn't fair!

Why him? Out of the six billion people on this planet, why did this disease have to take his friend? Why not somebody else, anybody?

He cautiously made his way past the dripping IV bottles, the tubing that helped his friend breath, the medical charts, the small machine that recorded the slowing heart beat.

Cody stopped in front of the hospital friend, not sure of what to do.

For so long, he had looked up to his friend, practically towering over the much shorter Digidestined. Now he… he was looking down while his friend was looking up.

His throat froze.

What was he supposed to say?

You've been a good friend, I'm sorry you're dying, see you in heaven?

He cleared his throat, hoping his friend would wake and see him.

Finally, he sat down in the chair next to the hospital bed that his friend was resting in, so fragile, and he was still unsure of what to do.

He wanted to scream.

Why?

But he couldn't.

There wasn't anything he could do.

He looked down at his friend.

This person, the one who had helped him every step through the Digiworld, even when he was still in the real world, was dying. He supposed he had to accept that, but he didn't want to.

At last, he gathered up his courage.

It's what he would have done for me, he chided himself.

"Joe?" he whispered hesitantly.

For a moment, it was as if Joe hadn't heard. Cody felt disappointed, and when he was about to lose all hope, Joe's eyes fluttered, opening slowly to take in the views. Joe smiled weakly when he saw the younger Digidestined.

"Hi Cody," he greeted, his voice barely more than a whisper.

Cody felt tears coming. The once strong guardian of reliability was now nothing more than a shadow of just mere months ago, when he was healthy and always living up to his name. Old Reliable.

"Joe…" Cody's voice came in nothing more than a squeak, and his voice cracked with the single word.

"How is Meems taking it?"

"Mimi hasn't come out of the house for a while. She still hopes there's a chance for you."

Joe sighed, which seemed no different from his current breathing.

"I wish she would accept it. But that was Meems all over it… never wanting to give somebody up."

"I don't blame her."

"I miss her."

"We miss you too, Joe."

"How long have I been here?"

"You don't know?" Cody asked, shocked.

"Can't… can't really tell anything apart these days. Can't tell if I've been here for a day or a year. I can't… I can't help but wonder… I wonder if this is what Matt felt when he was about to die."

"Joe, do you really have to think that way?" Cody asked, a bit sadly.

"It can't be helped."

Cody looked away.

"I'm sorry Joe."

"Sorry… for what?"

"That I wasn't here for you. I've been away so long… too long, and I finally returned after three months and now you're in the hospital. You're dying. I should have been there for you, to help you like you've always helped me. I wish I could have been there for you too, like all the others had been. I'm also a guardian of reliability too, you know."

"You couldn't have done anything, Cody. Don't… don't blame yourself."

"Are you really dying, Joe? No way to help it?"

"I'm sorry, Cody."

Cody wiped away the tears that threatened to spill, salty tears that would drip down and land slowly on Joe if he didn't prevent them from falling.

"Why, Joe? Why do you accept it so easily?"

Joe blinked.

"It's my time, Cody."

"Is that all you can say, Joe? It's my time?"

"Yes."

"I'll miss you though. I've always looked up to you. When we found the Digimental of Reliability, when I wanted to leave it, you're the one who helped me get past my guilt and take it. You were the one to convince me that I do deserve it. Nothing the others said could change my mind, but your words did. I can't forget that, and it was the beginning of our friendship. You taught me so much in that moment, not only about what lies are right and which are wrong, but other things. Remember, Joe? Remember that first time you gave me a lesson? Please tell me you remember!" Cody's voice was begging, cracking at every word and hope streaming through.

"Remember…" Joe repeated.

"Can't you remember, Joe? Can't you?"

Joe breathed in softly.

"I… I can't remember…" Joe's eyes were blankness, and the illness had been affecting his memory. Sometimes, he couldn't even recognize Mimi, his own wife.

Cody choked back a sob.

You're not 9 anymore. You're 22, and you have got to learn to accept… accept these things.

But… at the same time, how could Joe have forgotten?

That simple memory was one he had cherished for so long, never forgetting Joe's words that had instilled confidence and meaning. Like a blanket of security to hide away all the uncertainty and distress that threatened his mind and his esteem or morals.

"Try Joe! I can never forget it. It was then I knew you were somebody I could always rely on, not only as a role model, but as a friend. The way you always helped me… It's not something I could forget. You're my friend, and I'm not giving up on you. You never did.

"Give up, I mean. You never gave up on me, on any of the others, on yourself. And I hate that you're doing that now, accepting your fate so calmly. Don't you want to get up and do something about it? Or do you think it's already too late? Joe, why? Why are you so calm? Do you want death? Have you simply been waiting for it, and now I'm just a thorn in your side, keeping you from your goal?

"But that can't be it. Nobody wants to die. And I know you don't want to. How? Because Joe, everything you have taught me… everything. I now know you would be the last person not to embrace life.

"I looked up to you, Joe. I always did. It feels so odd for me to be looking down at you right now, when I've spent over ten years looking up to you, but now, I'm being forced to look down at you. And I don't like it. You should always be towering above me, and then I can continue looking up and feeling satisfied that I've had the chance to know you and have your friendship and guidance all the time."

For a minute, the two sat in silence, and Cody could feel his heart sink.

Had he heard a single word?

Any of it?

Or had he simply been there, coming in and out of a coma?

Not hearing, not understanding a single word that had come out of his mouth?

Suddenly, out of the blue, Joe's hand rested softly on Cody's hand, and Cody looked at shock into the black pools that were Joe's eyes.

"I remember now, Cody. I remember."

Cody just stared into Joe's eyes, his own green eyes brimming with unshed tears.

"Thank you, Joe. You don't know how much this means to me. Thank you," he whispered.

Joe smiled faintly, a ghost of his normal smile.

Then his hand fell back and Joe's eyes closed, exhausted from those few words and the small smile.

Cody sat there silently, watching the heart monitor as it charted Joe's heart beat, each line shorter than the one before, the steady beeping gradually growing slower.

He turned to stare at his friend. Not much had changed from the first time he had met the guardian of reliability, the shoulder length hair, the glasses, the poised and dignified look. Even so close to death, he had not lost the look of self-respect that Cody had admired so much.

He watched, as the line that was Joe's heart beat declined… until it was nothing more than a straight-line.

Cody shot up, and he looked down at Joe.

There was no doubt about it.

He was gone.

The sad thing was that he didn't look any different. He was still Joe, the friendly guy who had helped his friends through so much, and saved the world several billion times, perhaps complaining frequently along the way, but still there, always the same reliable Joe.

Slowly, Cody walked out, past the nurses that were to tend to their already gone patient.

* * * * 3 months later…

Cody lingered in front of the tomb stone.

Jyou Kydo*

1982-2009

Always there, through thick and thin.

Somebody to rely on

Will always be cherished in everybody's hearts,

As a friend, husband, and role model.

*I know I spelled his last name wrong. That's just how I spell it.

"Joe… what's it like. Death, I mean?"

Cody continued to stare at the tomb stone, his green eyes emotionless.

"Do you see Matt up there? If you do, give him a hi from me sometime."

Cody's eyes closed as he tried to stop the tears from falling.

"It's surprising that even in death, you can still teach me so much. You can still give me a reason for being a role model. It's quite amazing, now that I think of it.

"At the time, I didn't know it, but I did learn something from your death. You taught me to accept things, You taught me not to lose faith, not to lose control. And your death taught me the absolute finality of it.

"Sure, I might have learned those things from Matt's death… but I never knew him as well as you. He wasn't my role model, you were. You were the one I looked up to. Except at the hospital. The roles were reversed there, weren't they? For once, I was looking down at you while you looked up.

"And now, you're buried six feet under."

Cody paused and looked down.

Joe… that's where he was, wasn't he.

The wind blew gently against him.

"I could always rely on you, Joe. I'm glad I had the chance to know you. I really am. I don't think I ever appreciated anybody more than I did you. Not even my grandfather."

Cody stopped looking down and looked at the tombstone.

"Yet… even now that you're six feet under, you're still above me. Cause I know you're an angel now, Joe. There was no way you couldn't. I would be amazed if you weren't one.

"So… what can I say? I'm still looking up."

Cody smiled and walked slowly away, his gaze never leaving the heavens, scanning the skies with his green eyes for his friend, Old Reliable.

But he wasn't looking down.

He was looking up.

I don't think this one is as good as my last one, "Angel", but I've never really seen too many Joe and Cody friendship fics, although I have seen a romance. So here's my little Joe and Cody friendship contribution.

I hope you enjoyed.

Oddly, this fic took longer than "Angel."

It took me about 1½ hours to write and edit.

Well, I hope you still enjoyed it.

Please R&R, unless you're going to flame. As usual, you flame… and I will doubt your reading skills.