Okay, I'd like to apologize for taking so long on this chapter. It's been more than a little hectic with migraines, deaths in the family, my sister's birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas coming up, and finally my being sick (which I still am, by the way, I can barely speak as it is).

I also would like to thank each and every one of my reviewers for, well reviewing! Especially GemmaniGirl who has read this story since day one. Thank you so much!

Notes about this chapter: Um, Gennai. I haven't the foggiest clue as to what the guy is, who the guy is, or how he does the merlin-thing (getting younger instead of older) so bare with me. I've only seen season 02 and really don't remember what they talked about in the episodes with Gennai and his clones (shudders clones, that's just wrong). The lowest Digital Plane comment refers to the 'core' of the Digital World in season 04. So Frontier's plane is one of the lowest planes. The Realm of Darkness is all mine. Take it for your own stories if you want. And finally, I gave the couples a little spotlight. Enjoy!

Also, it has come to my attention that a question mark next to an exclamation point no longer works. So whenever you come across a question that has an exclamation point at the end, it's because the question mark was deleted. Not because of an editing problem.

Anonymous Reviews:

DragonKitsune: I only get off to shower and eat, little sis? Who has been on for the past week 24-7? Hmm? I'm glad you're going to miss this. That means that I've written a good story. And if you really miss it, you can write a sequel! How about that? Lol, enjoy the last chapter sis.

For any signed review, I'll be messaging you.

Disclaimer: Own Digimon? Would I be jumping up and down for joy that I've finally finished this story if I did? I don't think so!

Chapter 23

The End

The building was collapsing around them. Individual stones or hunks of mortar, it all fell. They had to get out of here. Now.

Kouji didn't reflect on why he was holding Kari's hand. If he had, he might've wondered when he had first grabbed it. But now was not the time. They had to get out. Kari had to get out. His hand tightened around hers. The portal was just ahead. They had to make it.

Rika was scared. Not that she would admit it out loud, mind you, but that didn't change the fact that she was terrified that they wouldn't make it. That they'd be too late.

Rika jerked to a halt as she heard a loud rumbled above her. She glanced up to see a large chunk of mortar breaking away from the vaulted ceiling directly over her.

"RIKA! LOOK OUT!" screamed Renamon as her partner stood in shock, unable to move.

A warm hand curled around her upper arm and jerked her out of the way. The stone came crashing down. Rika shuddered and found herself burying her face into the shoulder of her rescuer.

"That was close."

At the low masculine voice, the muscles along Rika's back tensed. Slowly she turned her face to see that of Kouichi's. A soft blush dusted her cheeks as she stared up at him.

"Are you okay?" he asked concernedly. She nodded and he replied was a shy smile. "Then we better get going." He turned and began to run to catch up with the others. His hand stayed in hers.

Renamon smiled and flitted after them.

Almost there…got to make it…a few more feet…Davis repeated this mantra over and over as he skidded across the rubble-covered floor. Skidded was correct as mere seconds later a stray pebble slipped out from underneath his foot. Davis yelped in surprise as he found himself on a crash-course landing.

A hand gripped his forearm and yanked him back on his feet. Davis stumbled a bit before he regained his balance, causing the hand to slide down to his own. The brunette boy turned and stared at their intertwined hands. Likewise did the blonde girl. Their eyes met and a rosy hue stained their respective cheeks.

Without a word, Davis and Zoe resumed their sprint towards the portal, hands remaining locked together.

Jump up…skid left…twist right…it was the deadly dance of mayhem. Dodge falling stones…slither around towering mounds of mortar…hand in hand, Takuya and Yolei dashed for the swirling portal ahead. One after the other, the digimon and the children disappeared until only Takuya and Yolei were left. With a reassuring squeeze, they jumped…and were violently ripped apart.

"Fool! You possess no attack that can destroy me!" Lucemon shrieked shrilly.

Beelzemon clenched his right hand into a fist and brought it up to his waist. "Wrong, I've got one left." The Demon Lord made his move. Almost faster than the eye could see, he sprang forward and delivered a quick clout to the larva, sending him careening over the Dark River. Sparks of flame writhed out of his right fist which flew forward into an upper-cut punch striking air. "Fist of the Beast King!"

The attack hit Lucemon dead on. The creature screamed in agony as the flame created out of good destroyed the evil within.

Beelzemon sighed and dropped to the ground in exhaustion.

It was over. It was done.

Lucemon was no more.

"Hey c'mon buddy! Wake up! We're back!"

Takuya groaned and turned away from JP's voice, only to get a face-full of damp grass. The boy jerked awake. "Wha…?"

"Finally," muttered Kouji moodily.

Takuya squinted through the bright sunlight into his friends' faces. And then around them at the dense, dew-covered woods with the morning sun filtering through the leaves.

"What the…"

"We're back," Zoe whispered softly, unshed tears glistening in her eyes.

Kouichi shoved his clenched fists deeper into his pockets. "It's like we were never there…like all that never happened."

Takuya sat up, eyes widening as he recognized his surroundings. "We're back…in the Digital World!"

Tommy and JP shared a sympathetic glance concerning their friends' losses.

"Oh! Takuya! Tommy! Zoe! You're all here! We were so worried about you! You just disappeared! It's been days!"

The Chosen Children looked up and spotted Bokomon, Neemon, and Patamon running (or flying in Patamon's case) towards them.

"It happened," Takuya's voice was soft and firm. "It happened, and we'll always remember them."

Rika stood, staring at the swirling portal, arms wrapped around her self-consciously. "He's gone," she whispered. Jeri enfolded her in a comforting hug, leading her away from the others.

"She's right," Henry murmured thoughtfully. "I wonder why we were separated."

"Do you think that they might've gotten stuck on the other side?" Kazu asked.

Ryo shook his head. "No, I watched Matt and TK jump before me. I think…I believe…they're back home."

Suddenly, a purple blur flew out of the portal, cannoned into Terriermon, sending them both toppling off Henry's shoulder and to the ground. A split second after the purple blur exited out of the portal, the rip through time and space vanished with a shimmer of air and a gust of wind.

It was gone.

"Did ya miss me?"

Terriermon gaped down at the mischievously smiling creature beneath him. "Impmon! You're alive?"

The smile slipped and turned upside down. "You don't have to sound so surprised about it." Impmon scowled.

Takato laughed and squatted down next to him. "We're glad you made it out. Lunch's on me. You in?"

Impmon's grumbling tummy was enough of an answer.

"You all made it out. Good."

The Digidestined stared. They were back in the park, with their digimon, without the others, and Gennai was standing right in front of them.

A very young Gennai.

"What – How – You?" Tai sputtered.

"Gennai!" Izzy exclaimed.

Gennai nodded, "The one and only."

"You're young!" Tai choked out.

The man grinned, "Yes, but that is another story for another day. I was starting to grow worried. The Sovereigns and I had to pull quite a few strings to get you back. I apologize if the ride was a little rough. Now, I assume you have plenty of questions."

"Wait a second! Who's Gennai?" Davis asked bewildered.

"Tell you later," TK whispered as Kari spoke.

"Are we ever going to see them again?"

Gennai sighed, "Probably not. It was a tremendous task for Lucemon to create a portal that accessed two Alternate Human Worlds and one of the lowest Digital planes. If he hadn't managed to discover the Realm of Darkness, I doubt he could've done it. As a creature of evil, Lucemon could draw upon the negative energy emitted from the Dark Ocean and boost his own power. I'm afraid you won't see your friends again."

"The Realm of Darkness? What's that?" Matt inquired.

Gennai stroked his chin thoughtfully. "No one is entirely sure. It penetrates all of the Digital World, in some planes more than others. It is extremely hard to find, more often than not it finds you when you least expect it, and it is never located in the same place. I believe it is the source of all evil. At least, that's where evil comes from. Digimon that have gone missing have turned up days, weeks, sometimes months, or even years later twisted into a corrupt version of what they once were. Most end up mad. But over all, no information has been found on the Realm of Darkness."

"There were writings, characters on the walls," Cody said.

Gennai nodded, "I'm sure they could provide some clues at the very least. However, I doubt I shall ever see them."

"So what now?" Sora asked.

Gennai smiled, "For now enjoy your lives. The Digital World is safe again, thanks to you and your friends. Beelzemon destroyed the evil in Lucemon and now the good is residing in the Village of Beginnings. MaloMyotismon is gone and the balance of the two worlds is set right. If that is all, until we meet again Digidestined. Until we meet again."

The last Keeper of the Digital World faded from existence leaving the children and digimon alone.

"I think we'll see them again," Yolei stated suddenly, breaking the silence.

Joe glanced down at her, "How can you be so sure? Gennai says otherwise."

Yolei caught Kari's eye and winked, "Call it a woman's intuition."

I did it…I actually did it…I finished this story! I can't believe it! does a victory dance Thank you guys so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this story because it was torture to write! Literally, I hated it. Anyway, I am sorry to say that I have no more Digimon stories bouncing around in my skull. I do have a Yu Yu Hakusho / Harry Potter crossover that is on page sixty-something. I might put that up sometime. But for now, I promised my dad that I'd write an original story that I can publish. Yes, I want to be an author. So I'll be doing that mostly.

I hate to say it, but I think I'm actually going to miss writing this story. I hate it, I despise it, but I love the characters. I'll also miss all of the encouraging reviews. I think those are the best reward to a writer. Thank you all one last time. I'll miss you guys.