Hello again! This is just one of those ideas you get every so often that are too good not to put into writing…
This is the first of two parts—so far. It's rated G for a reason: No action, no romance, no violence/language/peril, just emotional drama at the moment, although it could become something longer and with a more definite plot. Whatever this fic turns out to be, it's twins-centric. Kouji and Kouichi have always fascinated me… you can expect that this won't be the only twins fic I write. ^^ So far it's just this and a somewhat-long part involving both onii-san and ototo-chan after it. I could turn it into a longer fic, I do have some ideas… but I suppose I'll fill you in on that once I have the second part fully written and revised.
And of course I need a disclaimer to ward off my pursuers…
DISCLAIMER: I, Raven Nightstrider, fanfiction author, am in no way affiliated with Digimon, Toei Animation, Disney, Sensation Animation or any such copyright. I do not have their permission to write or publish this fiction based on their work, nor do I claim ownership of any characters or elements of said work. This fiction was written and published merely for the sake of literary creativity and enjoyment.
*raises an eyebrow at a mob of shrieking, fleeing vampire lawyers* They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but they never mentioned garlic…
I guess it's either just greedy lawyers, halfelven writers/rangers with bounty-hunting wages to protect… or maybe both. ^^ Anyhow, read and njoi!
Half of My Soul by Raven Nightstrider
Part One: Extinguished
His legs were working at full speed without any of his control, carrying him to some distant place beyond the featureless grey horizon. Fear left an acrid taste in the back of his mouth as every one of his senses wailed urgency at him. His lungs screamed from the exertion of breathing, and yet he still kept on running, not slowing even a moment.
The disturbing thing was that Kouichi didn't know why. He had no idea where he was running, no clue what it was yonder that was so critical his heart was nearly bursting with anxiety. It was something bad, but that was all he could come up with.
But what? What? As he kept pressing on for no reason at all, memory seemed to be filtering back into his mind. Someone was hurt… someone needed him… but who? His heart slowly began to rise into his throat as his mind's eye flashed images of all he held dear. Mom, Kouji, one of the other Chosen… one of them desperately needed him, but who?
Kouichi turned his eyes to the terrain rushing forth to meet him once more, and a chill shot through his veins as he spotted a faint lump far in the distance, a dark shape that did not belong to the bleak landscape.
He was sure he knew what it was, but could not dwell on who it might be.
Panic welled up and threatened to burst his chest as Kouichi steadily approached. The image of the person sitting or lying motionless on the ground was drawing nearer. That was the only thing it could be. And whoever it was, wouldn't survive if he didn't get there in time… Now by his own will, he hurled himself forward into an all-out sprint of life or death.
Exhaustion tore at his chest and legs, but he could not allow himself to stall. Family and friends flashed before his eyes once again. Why couldn't he run faster…?
He didn't see the dark little object in his path until it was too late. He felt his left foot catch on it; the thing slipping under him and betraying his momentum. His heart froze as in slow motion, his mind's eye saw the jagged drop, the jutting stairs rushing up to meet him; he felt his stomach jolt and drop into emptiness and the very air roar in his ears as he began to soar and freefall to crushing impact and oblivion.
Kouichi was mildly surprised to land face-first in dry, choking dust rather than fracture his skull on unforgiving concrete. He lay stunned for two seconds before scrambling to his feet, hacking and spitting dirt out of his mouth. Furiously wiping the abrasive grains from his twilight-blue eyes, he crouched down to apprehend the thing that had tripped him up. There could be dire consequences all because of—
He was about to forget it and resume slogging on when his left hand snagged on the offending cloth. It felt like slightly rough cotton.
Kouichi picked it up and turned it over in his hands. His pupils suddenly contracted and the bottom dropped out of his stomach at what he found. It was a triangular piece of midnight-blue, almost black fabric, shot through with broad sienna streaks at regular intervals. The two acute corners were distinctly wrinkled and curled in under the main cloth in a loose knot, as though it were accustomed to being tied around something.
The word exploded in Kouichi's mind. It was Kouji. Kouji was the one who was hurt, the one he was trying to reach…
The one who's in mortal danger, his conscience hissed unpleasantly at him.
Panicking, Kouichi's head jerked up as he scanned the desolation. The dark lump—Kouji—was not far ahead. If he gave it his all, he might be able to reach him in a few minutes…
Clenching the fabric in his left fist as he scrabbled to his feet, he hurled himself forward once again, now pointedly ignoring his exhaustion as distress conquered its place in him. His legs and lungs felt like they were about to burn away into ashes, but he didn't care. This was nothing compared to what Kouji might be feeling at this moment. Why, why did he have to be so intolerably slow?!
As he approached at a maddeningly gradual rate, the younger twin's body came into clearer focus. Kouji definitely lay unmoving in the now not-so-great distance. Just seeing him like that, even though he'd learned that the bearer of the Light-spirits was somewhat prone to blackouts in certain situations, got Kouichi all sorts of bothered and he spurred himself on even further.
His insides stirred uneasily as he got even closer. He was about fifty yards away and even from that distance, Kouichi was sure that something was going very, very wrong. He could sense something foul underfoot. Maybe it was a trap. A trap, using his own brother as the bait… The older twin's ire raised several notches at the possibility. Trap be curst, he was not sacrificing the sibling he'd worked so hard and gone through so much pain to meet.
He had just almost reached Kouji and felt a tiny wave of relief soothe his palpitating heart that he'd closed the distance between them at last, when he was suddenly jarred to a stop as though he'd run into an invisible barrier.
Stunned, Kouichi reflexively tried to throw his arms back to maintain his balance—and was completely thrown to discover that he could not move any part of his body at all. Neither was he even leaning backward. It was as though some sort of supernatural amber had locked him in time and space: his right foot planted in front of him on the ground, his left heel uplifted as he had prepared to take another stride, his arms bent at his sides, his left fist still clutching Kouji's bandanna.
It's definitely foul play, he found himself thinking absently moments before he struggled to regain control of his body. But he had become a sentient stone statue, for all the good it did.
His eyes were already beginning to burn from prolonged exposure and dehydration—he was deprived of even the ability to blink. His vision swam, but it was still locked onto the hazy sight of his brother. Darkness began to encroach upon his mind, not unlike that awful period in the servitude of Cherubimon and his possession of the corrupted spirits. His mind began sinking into despair. Kouji was just feet away from him, needing his help, and yet he himself was succumbing to darkness right in the hour of need. It was too late—
Kouichi gasped as suddenly he felt life return to his body, and even as he sank back he tried to lunge forward—Satan take all these obstacles; he'd had enough. And yet, he only found himself jerked back and held still. His brain envisioned numerous ropes, vines and tentacles snaking around his arms, legs and chest, tying him down. His extremities certainly felt the grotesque, horribly unpleasant sensation of just that, and yet when he looked down there was nothing binding him. But the fact remained that he could not get to Kouji.
He put up a terrific, if futile fight to break loose from his spectral bonds, all while locking his gaze on the twisted body before him. Relief and puzzlement battled for supremacy over Kouichi's heart as he realized that there was no blood. So Kouji had not been mortally wounded; but then, why…?
Kouji lay twisted half on his left side, half on his stomach. Part of his ponytail spread out on his navy-clad shoulder blades like a tattered raven-feather fan. His left arm was curled beneath him; his right stretched out on the ground, blocking the lower half of his face, which was turned to the right. To Kouichi. But what Kouichi saw of it, he didn't like. Free of his missing bandanna, unruly black bangs partially obscured Kouji's forehead and eyes. But Kouichi did not overlook the slight frown that creased the other boy's dark brows, or the tightly shut eyelids. And his face should never have been that pale.
It was unbearable. Kouichi's heart and stomach twisted as one as he thrashed against whatever it was that held him prisoner. He was right there, and yet he could do absolutely nothing to intervene right when it looked like his brother needed him most. He was right there… and yet… he couldn't… The hopelessness of it all threatened to rip the boy to shreds.
And what if his twin no longer needed him… because it was too late?
"Kouji! KOUJI!" He knew he was shrieking his brother's name at the top of his lungs. His throat burned with the strain Kouichi was forcing on it as he yelled to the prone body on the ground not ten feet from where he stood helplessly, being invisibly held down to where he was… and yet he heard no sound come forth. He screamed even harder… and heard not even a hoarse whisper. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I'm dreaming… it's not real. It can't be real, that's why I can't move…
Yet while one half of his mind reasoned, the other was berserking. He swore voicelessly, cursing himself and his own helplessness, whatever was this accursed thing that held him back, Cherubimon for making him fight the boy who was now sprawled dead or unconscious at his feet, Lucemon and his Royal Knights for all the times they had tried and nearly succeeded in indelibly separating the brothers, his parents for divorcing and ensuring that neither had known of his twin's existence, Fate for doing this to them… He began to sob silently as huge tears spilled forth from his eyes. This rage was going to tear him apart…
Kouichi's gasp vanished into silence. The small frown on Kouji's forehead slowly smoothed away as his eyes fluttered fitfully open. He was… alive! Despite everything, his brother still lived… and the joy was suddenly plunged into infinite despair. By some blessing turned bitter damnation laid on his head, Kouichi found his senses sharpened beyond human ability, if only to double and triple his torment.
Through the haze of angst clouding his eyes, he dimly sighted in on the other boy's right arm moving, thusly revealing all of his pointed, frighteningly ashen face. It raised ever so slightly… stretching out just barely… in Kouichi's direction…
He saw the pain-dimmed eyes roving aimlessly before they locked onto his own. He witnessed the pale lips moving, speaking; he heard the boy drawing breath in labored, pitifully shallow gasps. He could hear Kouji, hear his faint, insubstantial whisper as though it had been spoken aloud into his ear. He could feel the despair and resignation carried by the words eat away at his heart.
The hand slipped softly to the bare, blank earth as Kouji's midnight-blue eyes glazed over infinitely.
Kouichi hardly had time to be startled at the sound tearing from his own throat as Fate now saw fit to release her prisoner and grant him mobility. The boy pitched forward and stumbled, caught completely off guard by the regained autonomy of his body. He gave his shocked mind not even a moment to recover as he threw himself forward, onto his knees at Kouji's side. Even as he did so, even as he turned the pitiful human bundle over and scooped him into his arms, he heard that one last sigh escape his twin's lips; he acutely felt that sudden shift in the other boy's weight as it took on a very different sort of heaviness.
The Kimura twin felt all the wind exit his body and leave him empty just as it had his brother. No. It—it wasn't possible. It wasn't… it couldn't be… Light and Darkness couldn't survive without each other. If the Light was gone, there was nothing to distinguish the Darkness from oblivion… Yet the last sensible neuron that remained in his raging brain, now suspended in time only by itself, relentlessly kept pulsing the cold fact back at him: Kouichi lived. Kouji did not.
The shuddering gasp pierced his lungs like a thousand knives as he was thrown back into the passages of time once more, and one tear after another chased each other nonstop down Kouichi's face. He desperately wanted to look away from Kouji's still, perfectly expressionless face as though that in itself were confirmation of his passing, and yet at the same time he wanted to search every feature of that motionless visage for even the most minute sign of life.
In any case, he couldn't tear his gaze away. Kouji's face was a mask of utter, oblivious serenity, an emotion Kouichi could not remember him ever exuding in the few months they had known each other. His half-lidded navy eyes, now dull as the parched grey land beneath them and void of the deep and sometimes veiled light they had always held in life, gazed sightlessly into the identical pupils of his twin's. Were it not for the haunting emptiness in those eyes, Kouji's expression might have tricked Kouichi into believing that he was only half-asleep, wrapped in his own thoughts.
Numbly, Kouichi smoothed the bangs back from Kouji's eyes, leaning over him. He gently rocked the boy in his arms, as though the slow, soothing motion would rekindle the light in the midnight depths and awaken him; the other half of his heart. A faint idea had begun to take root in his mind. From what the other Chosen had told him, the day they had returned to the Digital World they learned that Kouichi, following his debilitating fall on the subway stairs and his data being scanned by Lucemon, was lying comatose in the hospital with an apparent cardiac arrest. Nothing the doctors tried had worked, and death was imminent when Kouji and the others burst in.
Kouji hadn't spoken much of that particular event, other than wryly saying, "I don't remember crying as much as I did that day." But according to Takuya, Junpei, Izumi and Tomoki, the crying on a highly embarrassed Kouji's part had been the key to it all. From their account, Kouji, half-believing his brother to have died, took Kouichi in his arms and wept. Along with the power of the D-Scanners, Kouji's tears falling onto Kouichi's face had breathed the life back into him.
Kouichi unconsciously let his left hand release his brother and touched his own forehead, where he knew the tears of light had brought him forth from the perpetual darkness. Without knowing it he let his fingers fall on his right shoulder. A soft smile touched his lips despite everything—he could clearly remember the cold, stoic Warrior of Light sobbing his heart out into that same shoulder on that day. It was the only time he, or any of the Chosen for that matter, could remember seeing Kouji cry.
He became acutely aware of the tears trickling unchecked down his own cheeks. If his brother's tears had the power to restore light and life to him, there was no reason for it not to work the other way around as well…
Kouichi had to choke back a shuddering, gasping sob as he wrapped his left arm around Kouji once more, clutching the other's right hand as his own right supported Kouji's back. He inclined his head over the boy, deliberately letting the tears fall right onto Kouji's forehead.
"Come on Kouji…" he said softly, as though trying to coax his languishing soul back into awareness. "Please. You helped me so please, let me help you. You don't belong in the darkness. You're Light, I'm Darkness, we're brothers; we're meant to be together! Come on now, breathe. Live…"
More tears dripped onto the pallid forehead. Kouichi's heart rate began to pick up. Any moment, any moment now and Kouji's eyes would refocus on him, and he'd smile a little and make some dry comment about how much he scorned sentimentality. And they'd be together again, like they were always meant to be. Any moment now…
But minutes passed, and the Minamoto twin's blank face did not stir. Nothing happened.
Kouichi's brow creased in grief and frustration. "Come on! Wake up! Come back! I'm begging you, please…" And though even more tears dropped onto Kouji's face, nothing changed.
He unfeelingly lowered the boy back to the ground, not daring to breathe. What could possibly have gone wrong? Why could Kouji revive him, and yet Kouichi could not return the deed? What had he done wrong?
Junpei had said everyone's D-Scanners glowed when I woke up. We don't have our D-Scanners anymore… or maybe all of us have to be here… or maybe Darkness doesn't have healing powers and Light does… or maybe—maybe you were just unconscious and Kouji really is—
"Shut up," Kouichi moaned at the sibilant voice snaking through his mind. "Shut up! He's alive…!"
His protestations died on his lips as he looked to Kouji's face for confirmation. It remained motionless; a tranquil white mask of… death. There was simply no other way for Kouichi to put it without lying to himself. And the realization slowly, finally sank in: He's gone.
"K-Kouji?" he whispered. His reply was deafening silence, broken only by the hiccupping sob rising in his throat and threatening to escape, betraying his soul.
One last time he reached down and picked Kouji up to cradle him in his arms. All those times he had saved Kouichi… even after his twin had heartlessly tried to murder him under Cherubimon's insidious influence. They had saved each other, so many times… they had become so close, just as brothers—as Light and Darkness—were meant to be. And this was how Kouichi repaid him; how he ended it: he had been too slow. Too late.
"Too late… too late… I'm so—I'm so s-sorry," he whispered as it began to fully sink in. He stared into the blank, half-lidded eyes, probing them for just one flicker of light, of life. Nothing.
He released one hand to brush his fingers over the unblinking eyelids and close them forever. That singular act suddenly made it official to the part of his mind that still vehemently protested, that held out in the name of hope. He shuddered at the touch; no living being could ever feel so cold.
And yet he looked, beyond a shade of doubt, to be at peace…
His heart sank into the pit of his stomach as he gently ran his fingertips through the trademark ponytail and hugged his dead brother close. Yes, he was dead now. Even as half of him still insisted there was hope, it was much subdued as Kouichi realized there was no way around it. The tears began to flow freely once more. He was dead. Dead as in gone forever, beyond reach. Kouji Minamoto was dead.
Kouichi gazed unfocusedly over Kouji's head, at the ground. His vision, blurred with tears, barely registered the dark triangle on the ground. Holding his brother against him with his left arm, he reached out with his right hand and grabbed the bandanna he had dropped, willing himself not to look as his twin's head lolled lifelessly.
He started suddenly—he could have sworn he heard someone. Calling his name. Was it Kouji? It couldn't be… Kouichi shook his head furiously. Grief was overtaking his reasonability; he was hearing voices inside his head.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he gasped through a fresh wave of choking sobs, trying to drive the insanity out of his mind. But it kept calling with increasing insistence. Kouichi. Kouichi! Finally he gave up and gave in to his own raging emotions.
"Th-this is m-my fault! I'm s-so sorry! Kouji, I'm s-sorry, I know y-you're mad at me, I'm-I'm—"
Bandanna in his palm, Kouichi pressed the wrinkled fabric against his twin's dark hair, hugging his head against his shoulder and letting his own sink onto Kouji's. This time it was the older sibling's turn to do the weeping, and he did it with reckless abandon.
O.O; Honestly! It's not supposed to be that depressing!
Yes, I do have most of the second part written, I'll get that up once I'm finished revising it. Don't worry, I'm still working on 'Drifters in the Night Sky' although at the moment it's coming a little slowly. (Did I mention a major angst warning for the upcoming chapter of that one? No? *sigh* I can't believe myself…)
For now this remains a two-parter. I could string it out into another long action/adventure/angst, whereby it would morph into PG-13, but that' s up in the air and all up to you. If you would really like it, just tell me and I'll try to get it written, but don't expect much for awhile—I still have a long ways to go on 'Drifters in the Night Sky' and would like to get to a good spot on that before I start anything else. I have a terrible habit of starting something good and then leaving it off for something else and never getting back to it. I have some ideas for a potential long story, but as they contain spoilers for Part Two I'll leave them for the next time our paths cross…