He sank down slowly on the bench, resting his chin on his hands and looking across the grass at the pond. Duckmon... no, ducks. He smiled at himself. It had been quite a while since he had looked at the scenery in his own world... Earth... was that his own world? Another world had belonged to him... and now he has somehow given that up to be one of billions, insignificant and unworthy... that delicious power... the thought of it now horrified him, but there was still a sort of terrible appeal, something dark and spidery creeping in his mind that he wasn't sure he could ever completely lose. The disease called hate
A little girl runs up to the water's edge, her mother smiling indulgently a few paces back. She is calling excitedly and pointing at the ducks, and then the mother gives bread to her child and she begins to feed the ducks.
Girl, did you know that you will grow up? You won't have time to feed ducks then. You'll have people making fun of you in school, you'll realise that your parents do not care for you, you'll be pushed to perform better and better, and it won't be good enough...
Girl, did you know that the world is a miserable and cruel place? And it is people like me who make it such a world. Did you know that this calm-faced boy sitting near you, looking like a kind and normal person, whipped other living creatures, beat them into submission? Did you know this person played cruel games with other people, tried to make a boy choose between his friends, tried to break him down? Did you know this person as good as killed his brother and his only real friend?
Your mother would not be smiling down on you so easily, so relaxed, if she knew how easily I could kill you.
Could I, now? After feeling that crest of kindness glowing inside myself? After that strange feeling inside myself, the response to that acceptance from Leafmon?
The thought repels me... the thought of ever doing anything again... maybe I could just sit here forever, and watch happy people, lovers strolling arm in arm, proud parents smiling benevolently, children playing ball games, girls walking and chatting, all without care.
None of them have seen what I've seen, done what I've done, been what I've been. Am.
Was it me? Seeing Davis' face, with mingled fury and pain... he hated me. Seeing Yolei's face, with mingled horror and shock... she hated me. Seeing TK's face, with mingled disgust and anger... he hated me. Seeing Kari's face, with mingled fear and incomprehension... she hated me. Seeing Cody's face, with mingled coldness and disapproval... he hated me.
All of them, looking to me as their enemy. I'm an enemy, I'm everyone's enemy. I watched them on my monitors as my enemies. They were bright and carefree and I could see the trust building up between them, as the distrust between them and me also built up.
I have been thinking. Was I given a second chance? The horrible coldness in me is gone... yet hating what I was, I remind myself of it over and over... seeing the memories in my mind, reliving them in my dreams... I have not been to the digital world since then. I don't want to. I don't want to do anything.
I have a digivice.
I have a Digimon partner. He is waiting for me now.
I have a crest.
I am a digidestined.
I am evil.
With any responsibility, with any power, comes accountability. Nobody accepted me for me. It was my achievements that mattered. It was the control I kept. I am the only perfect person, I said... I am the only perfect person... the perfect person, cold, cruel and unfeeling. Feeling is the weakest aspect of humanity, I said. If you care, you inhibit yourself.
If you don't care, you destroy yourself.
For all my intelligence, I did not realise these things before... that darkness within me... was it clouding me? Clouding these things that most people seem to recognise instinctively? I was unstoppable as a dictator, as a fighter, as a student, as a soccer player. But I have a lot to learn about being a human.
I can't help seeing the faces of the people who hate me. I don't want to be hated. I used to love it. Rubbed it into their faces, used my power to drive their hatred further into them, just as mine was embedded in me. But now my power is gone, and I want it gone, but how can I stand up against them now?
I feel weak. I don't want that either. Nobody understands me... I wish they could, almost. Is understanding enough? Even if they understood the real me, wouldn't they just reject that? The real me, it's not strong enough, the me without my accomplishments to hide behind, it's not worth knowing.
Living in this human world, it might be harder than I ever imagined. The weak humans, the 'imperfect' ones, they're all stronger than I ever was, because they live. I don't want to live. I want to hide. No, I want to have never been born. Then nobody I've met would have to hate. I don't want them to be full of hate, it will hurt them.
The little girl and her mother are gone. Now a few young boys are trying to drive a remote-controlled motorboat on the water. They are laughing and calling advice to the one driving it. The ducks are alarmed at the intrusion, and the boat seems to be constantly veering towards whichever bird it is closest to.
"Hey," I call to them, before I quite realise what I'm saying, "you shouldn't do that, you're scaring the ducks." My voice sounds soft and more gentle than I am used to. It is not the Digimon Emporer's voice.
The boy with the remote rolls his eyes and mutters something. But he stops chasing the ducks with his boat, I think. Why did I say anything? It was such a little and stupid thing. One of the ducks is standing only about a metre from me and looking at me. Aren't ducks supposed to be more shy than that? They say animals are a good judge of character, but this one obviously isn't.
I suppose what I'm looking at is a pretty nice sort of scene by most people's standards, and I can see every detail of it outlined now that I am more - or less - free.
It's hard, and I'm alone, and I have to live with what the Digimon Emporer did. Perhaps if the darkness that made me him were destroyed, I would be free. But I think there will always be this fear, this guilt, and this darkness tugging at me, slinking in the corners of my mind.
They all hated the Digimon Emporer, and I hate him too. That's the one thing we digidestined have in common.
"We" digidestined? I'm not part of a team. I was set apart, to be on my own. I was... a mistake, probably. The leaves are all together on one branch, the ducks share their pond peacefully, the children congregate and play together. I guess it's because of the hate that was in me, that I shared, that I am the only one alone here.
Wha-? Someone interrupted my thoughts. A hand on my shoulder. Who would dare to touch me? What? Davis?! Doesn't he know that hatred is contagious?
"Hey! Ken!" he says cheerfully, but I think he looks nervous. He puts both hands on the back of the bench and swings himself over to sit next to me. I assume that was his intention - he can't quite pull it off, and ends up with the bench crunched into his stomach. He looks ridiculous, his legs waving in the air, his face crushed against the seat and his arms flailing, trying to find a solid surface.
"Um..." I venture, and he squeaks something about not being able to breathe. This guy is weird. I grab him by the shirt and flip him awkwardly onto the seat. He sits there for a moment, breathing heavily and holding his stomach.
"Ahahahah," he says finally, putting one hand behind his head, "great impression to make, huh. You know I totally COULD have cleared that bench, I just sorta lost my balance for a moment."
I don't know why he is here, but something about his nervous babbling puts me at ease, a bit. I don't think he's here to threaten me. I don't know.
"First impression?" I repeat, probably sounding stupid.
"Well, you know," he says, "first time we've met where we had the chance to be friends, I didn't wanna mess it up or anything. I mean, I know you thought I was kind of an idiot and I didn't want you to, like, hate me or anything -"
How am I supposed to respond to that?! Chance to be friends? Hate HIM? Why is he looking at me like that? I don't understand how anyone can be like that. Can he have forgotten the Digimon Emporer that easily?
"Friends?" I say, weakly.
He nods. "Yeah, like for sure! Maybe you could teach me some of those cool soccer moves or something! I mean, not that I couldn't master them all on my own, of course, but hey, anything that'll help me cream the opposition even more won't do any harm, huh!"
I think he is babbling because I'm not talking back. But I don't know what to say. He knows me better than anyone, but doesn't feel the hate. Maybe there's something more powerful than hate... and maybe that's contagious too. And that's... love. That was that strange feeling!
"Were you looking for me?" I ask, almost... hoping?
"Actually, yeah," he says, and waves his D3 in my face, "see this thing? Ever since about a day ago, it started showing your signal like all the others! Isn't that cool? That proves you're supposed to be one -"
"Motomiya, a week ago I was the Digimon Emporer. Have you forgotten?"
He scratches his head and grins again. "Well, yeah, but that wasn't really you, right? I can tell you've changed."
Wasn't really me... he's right! It wasn't really me. It wasn't really me. The real me is different. The real me is not cruel. The real me might... be able to have a friend.
Someone believes in me... the real me, even if that me is weak and not a famous genius or evil ruler... that's the me he is talking to. And I can tell by the way he is looking at me that he is offering me something more special than power.
Something that, if I accept, will be harder than anything I've done before - being a friend.
He holds out his hand to me... he sounds so casual, like this is natural for him. "So, should we call it quits? Friends?"
I look at his hand. Then, I get up and walk away.