Thanks for coming
He nodded, almost imperceptibly, to show that he was listening.
"I don't want to die."
He looked at her in surprise.
"I know, the others might call it being 'reconfigured' or 'deleted', but it's just dying, isn't it Joe?"
He looked up at the sky. He couldn't see any stars.
"The sky's different every night," he said.
She stared at him.
"Did you know that the position of stars change? And sometimes you can't see any of them. The cloud cover's different each night."
"It's still the same sky though," she said, a bit bewildered at this sudden change of subject. She felt annoyed at him for not listening. She wondered if he was going to make some philosophical point from the sky that tied into what she'd said.
"Guess so," he said, and then sighed. "Remember how the whole sea got reconfigured? If we win, the whole digital world will be reconfigured, I think. So that sky won't be the same sky any more."
His eyes behind his glasses were vacant. She felt angry at him for not taking her seriously, and suddenly leaned over to pull off his glasses.
"Hey, why'd you do that?" he snapped.
"Always hiding behind those glasses," she said, "weren't you listening to me? I said I didn't want to die. If you had any kind of feelings at all you'd say something nice to make me feel better, not just start rabbiting on about the sky!"
He didn't say anything, just took back his glasses without looking at her. He went to put them back on his nose, and as he wasn't looking, misjudged and dropped them in his lap instead. He remained silent and Mimi poked him.
"Hey! Joe! Are you ignoring me?!"
He turned his head to look at her suddenly, sharply, and then he was speaking, spitting the words out quickly. "Mimi, do you think any of us want to die? I don't want to talk about death! Can't you be different?"
"Different?" she asked, "what, you're saying I shouldn't say my sincere feelings just because YOU don't like it?! That's so selfish of you!"
He looked at her, her face screwed up in a pout as it so often was. Without his glasses, he saw her as blurry but he knew just how she would look. Indignant and huffy. Mimi, for her part, could see him perfectly - better than usual, because nothing was hiding his eyes.
She thought, irritably, that a perfect person - a reliable person, even - wouldn't have brushed her off like that. But then she realised he was afraid. Usually he wouldn't have any qualms about expressing his fear - in the loudest and most complaining way he knew - but now he was trying to hide it. Why?
He put his glasses back on and glanced, unconsciously, back at Palmon and Gomamon, who were still sleeping. Palmon, her webbed arms wrapped around the snoring body of... Gomamon. His friend, who couldn't die. He turned back to Mimi, who was staring at him with an openly inquisitive gaze. He was annoyed and wished she'd leave him alone and go to sleep. She showed no signs of doing so, though.
"Are you trying to pretend not to be scared for my sake, Joe?"
He blinked. He hadn't realised she was perceptive. But then, Mimi was good at picking up on sincerity.
"If I was going to stay behind with you," he said finally, "because you were... feeling bad... I shouldn't make you feel worse."
"You're scared of dying, aren't you?"
"Mmmm," he agreed, eyes half-closed. It was a stupid question, he thought. She couldn't possibly understand how he really felt about it. It wasn't just being scared of dying. It was nightmares every night, his friends meeting their ends in various terrible and violent ways. It was terror whenever a new enemy appeared, worrying, dreading that this might be the time when their luck ran out... it was not quite being able to believe that he could have some good friends, and then not have them taken away.
"We're a lot like each other, much as I hate to admit it!" said Mimi.
Joe rolled his eyes. "We're not like each other at all. What are you talking about now, Mimi?"
She shrugged, a little hurt at this rebuff, and not willing to volunteer any more.
Both of them looked up at the moon, a muffled, shapeless light behind the clouds. He yawned, and she glanced at his face, pale and thin in the dull light. She smiled. Maybe a perfect person would have ignored his fears to indulge hers, would have unconditionally listened to and accepted everything she said. It was okay if he wasn't perfect. Maybe it was better.
He lay back in the long grass and closed his eyes.
"Joe," she said finally, "thanks for coming with me. I... never wanted to be on my own. I just wanted to... get away from the death. You understand that, right?"
He smiled unexpectedly, little blades of grass tickling his face. "Yeah, as a matter of fact I do."
A sincere smile from Joe. It was the best she could have hoped for. Mimi lay back next to Joe, the two of them closer than before.
"Ew, this grass is sticking into my hair," Mimi complained. Joe smirked slightly. At least Mimi was still in character. Then she surprised him by using him as a pillow instead.
The two children both lay there, closed eyes no longer seeing the sky as the heavy clouds shrouded the moon completely.
"Thanks for sticking with me, too," said Joe suddenly, his voice muffled as at that moment Mimi's arm was over his face.
Neither of them bothered to open their eyes, but he could feel her smiling.