Legal Disclaimer: All characters within are the legal property of Toei Entertainment, or were inspired by such. This is done only for amusement.
Series Title: Fade In, Fade Out
Chapter Title: The Welcome Home
Romance: Ken/Daisuke
Rated: T

He was wrapped in warmth, and blankets. He noticed the warmth first, then the blankets, and then the fact someone was holding his hand. That alone made a difference in the way he woke up this time compared to all the other times before this.

He didn't move, though. He wanted to know what was going on first. All of his instincts said that was what to do right now, and he'd made a career out of listening to them. Why stop now?

Unfortunately, there didn't quite seem to be a way for him to find out what was going on. No one seemed to be talking, not anywhere that he could hear them at least. Whoever was holding his hand just kept on holding it. Their own hand was warm, and it felt very nice to be being touched like this.

Something began to flicker through the back of his mind, something about being touched. It hadn't always been nice. No, that wasn't it. It had been too nice. That had been what was wrong about what had happened. Part of what was wrong, at any rate.

A soft sigh slipped out of him before he could stop it, and whoever was holding his hand tightened their grip a little. "Daisuke?" The voice was warm and familiar, and his heart leapt when he heard it. He struggled to open his eyes, wanting to see if his memory had matched up to the voice properly.

Opening his eyes took more than a little bit of effort, but he wasn't going to give up. The voice, the way the hand felt in his, the pattern of the breathing near him, a small bundle of warmth that he noticed about halfway down his body, another one at the foot of the bed he seemed to find himself in...all of those were beginning to stir more and more memories in him. He couldn't put them in any kind of logical order, but he just knew what they meant, and he wanted to feel more of it, the sooner the better.

What they meant was that he was home, and safe. And loved. At last.

He cracked his eyes open at last, and the first thing he saw was almost enough to make him want to slam them shut again. "Curtains..." he groaned out, tightening his own grip on the hand in his. "Close...the curtains..."

Whoever was with him didn't move, but the punishing light went down to a more tolerable level. He took a few quiet breaths and tried to get his mind to work on a more intelligent level. This wasn't something he'd tried very often, but there was a first time for everything. Ken had taught him that. Or he'd taught Ken. It didn't matter; the point was, it was true.

"Daisuke..." the voice from before, Ken's voice, whispered his name again. He said nothing else, threads of fear wrapping all through that single word.

He took another breath. He was going to do this. "Ken..." There, he'd done it. It was a beginning.

Daisuke slowly lifted his head to look at Ken. Images of the young Kaiser who had been in his dreams stood side by side with other memories, memories forged from years of being friends and more. He could remember when Ken had suffered a rash of pimples when he was thirteen, and then they'd been racing one another in a growth spurt. He dropped his gaze just a little to notice a long scar on the hand that was still holding his, and reached over with his other hand to trace it a little.

"You got this...from a knife...someone tried to attack you once..." Daisuke remembered, bright blood splashing in his mind, and the memory of a coppery scent filling his nose. "It's been a long time, though."

Ken nodded a little. "We were fifteen. Someone didn't believe I'd...really changed." He tightened his hold a little on Daisuke's hand. "You remember, don't you?"

"I remember..." Daisuke smiled, and raised his hand to touch Ken's chin a little, staring into those eyes. Faint flickers of seeing them full of cold hatred and rage, the mockery that Mori had made of their past, went through his mind, and he pushed it away. He didn't remember everything, yet, but he knew this: this was where he wanted to be.

He leaned forward a little and brushed his lips across Ken's. It was soft at first, almost hesitant. Ken's response was just the same, as if neither of them really knew what to do at the moment. Then Daisuke did know. He pulled himself closer to Ken, wrapped his arms around him as carefully and as strongly as he could, and got to work catching up on two weeks' or more worth of missed kissing.

A slightly embarrassed cough from somewhere else in the room reminded Daisuke that as much as he might want to be, he wasn't alone with Ken right now. He rubbed at his eyes some and winced at the grit and dried sleep that he encountered. "Anyone got some water?"

"I'll get it," someone said, who seemed to be a little closer to the door than Ken or whoever it was that had closed the curtains. Daisuke nodded a little, not moving away from Ken at all. He'd spent just a little too long away from him in the first place. If he could, he was going to find a way to get them glued together for a few years.

He shivered down to his core as Ken's gentle fingers touched his chin lightly, caressing across his cheeks before dropping down to take his hand in both of Ken's. "I've missed you," Ken whispered, his heart in his voice. Daisuke decided the only way to answer that was to kiss again him. Talking would just be too much, at least talking about that.

"So...what did I miss?" It took a while before he actually had his lips free for talking. By then, a small bowl of water and a washcloth had been placed by Ken, and the blue-haired man was busily wiping at Daisuke's eyes to get them cleaned up. "And how long was I out of it? And who else is in here?" He stopped briefly. "I think that should cover most of it, so..."

Ken chuckled briefly, wiping at his own eyes for a moment. Daisuke preferred to think that it was because something had gotten in them to anything else, and Ken said nothing to the contrary. "You've been unconscious for about three days. Jyou and Koushirou examined you and those notes that Mori had in his base very thoroughly, so we've been expecting you to wake up sometime today."

Daisuke nodded a little, flashing back to seeing a disk being crushed in Mori's hand. "So what about my memories? That disk..." He knew he was asking extra questions, but he didn't care.

"They should all come back, in time," Ken reported, dabbing at Daisuke's eyes again so very gently. "That disk he destroyed was nothing but a fake, something to try and distract us and make us give up. Koushirou and Miyako are working on something that should speed up the return, some kind of alternate version of that drug he pumped into you. Koushirou's absolutely ecstatic at having the chance to learn how to reverse the Mushrooms of Forgetfulness."

"Not surprised. That sounds like him." Daisuke tugged away the cloth from Ken's hand and inched a little closer to him. "You haven't answered everything yet, though."

"Well, you can answer at least one question you had for yourself right now, I think," Ken told him and motioned over to the curtains. Daisuke glanced that way, and couldn't be that surprised to see Kondo Amaya and Pidmon there.

"Oh. Um. Hi?" He tried to figure out just how to say something to them. A dozen different memories of them both flickered through his mind, with just as many different reactions. He settled on the one that he was the most comfortable with. "You guys doing all right?"

Kondo shrugged just a little. "We'll be all right." She looked at Pidmon, then both of them headed towards the door. "We'll be going now, since he's awake. Thank you very much." She nodded lightly towards Ken as they passed him.

"Having some company was nice," Ken replied, nodding back towards them. "Thanks, both of you." At Daisuke's questioning noise, he explained, "We've all taken shifts to stay with you while you were out of it. Always in pairs. She insisted on helping out. We talked a lot." He hesitated for a moment, then went on. "There were things we had in common, after all."

"Yeah, what with being unwitting pawns of people too stupid to figure out going up against me is a bad idea," Daisuke teased. Ken laughed briefly.


Daisuke stretched a little, enjoying the feeling of being able to do so freely. "I feel a lot better than I did before when I was awake. You know, in Mori's place. I feel like I could actually walk and not fall over."

"I'd be surprised if you didn't feel like that," Koushirou told him from where he stood in the doorway. The redheaded genius had his arms folded over his chest and the most amused gleam to his eyes. "We've been making certain you got all of that serum cleared out of your system and as many nutrients as we could get stuffed into you. The Digimon were very helpful in bringing us fruits and other plant life that would restore your strength in the quickest amount of time."

Ken nodded in agreement. "But you're not going to be able to get out into a game of soccer or anything for at least another week or so."

"Great. Just my luck." Daisuke pouted briefly before something else occurred to him. "What happened to Mori?"

"Nothing's really happened to him, yet," Ken replied. "He and Unimon are being held in a Digital World prison for right now. Once we're certain you can return safely to Earth, we're going to take them there and hand them over to the police. He's already signed a full confession, so there won't be any problems with a conviction."

Iori's voice twined around Koushirou's body, his slightly smaller head peeking around at the same time. "I'd imagine he would most likely receive some jail time and a stiff fine for what he did. He'll be accused of abduction, mental abuse, and attempted murder."

Daisuke nodded a touch. That sounded about right. "I hope he...gets well." That wasn't exactly the best way he could think of to describe what was wrong with Mori, but it would do for now. A few good punches in the jaw would be nice and satisfying, for certain. Too bad I can't do that. At least not yet. There was still time. Who knew what might crop up between now and then.

"There's no certainty of that, but we'll make certain what happened, never does again," Ken told him, his hands tightening slightly on Daisuke's. He murmured softly, "I never want to wake up like that again."

"You and me both," Daisuke shivered, thinking of all the times he'd woken up recently to find himself in one strange situation after another. At least this one is reality.

A faint frown flickered across his face for a moment. Was this reality? Or was this somehow yet another trick of Mori's? I have to know... He barely realized that his fingers were tightening onto Ken's, until the other winced and asked, "Daisuke, could you please let up a little?"

"Oh! Sorry!" Daisuke released Ken quickly, flushing.

"Are you all right?" Ken looked at him a little closely, worry plain in his soft violet eyes. "You're nervous about something." A deeper frown curved his lips downward as he did so, then comprehension dawned. "This is real, Daisuke. You're safe. You're free. He's never going to bother you again, no matter what."

Nothing of what he'd dreamed had ever been like this. Daisuke fidgeted a little, then slowly pulled his hand away from Ken. "I trust you, Ken," he murmured, "but I have to check on something."

None of the three, or their partners, said anything as Daisuke reached up to feel around his neck. He checked first one way, then another, then slowly began to smile, the tension draining out of him.

"Looking for this?" Iori asked, offering a small tray. Daisuke looked over to see a small spread of silver shards. "This was all that was left after Stingmon's attack. Koushirou and Miyako wanted to study it, to be certain no one can ever use it to hurt any of us again."

"And we could use your help, Ken," Koushirou's voice held a tinge of reproof, but the former Kaiser only shook his head.

"No, Koushirou. Daisuke needs me right now. Maybe later, if there's something you two can't figure out without me."

Daisuke let the geniuses talk about whatever it was they wanted to talk about, and continued to feel his neck. Not feeling the collar, seeing the broken shards, and not feeling even the slightest hint of the collar around his neck was fast putting him on the track to 'this really is reality!'.

His stomach chose then to announce the fact that not only was he awake, but it was at well, and he looked to Koushirou and Ken. "Guys, I'm sure that's really fun for you to yak about, but I need something to eat. The sooner, the better. And something to drink. And probably a bath, and some clean clothes." He had barely even noticed what he was wearing, and now glanced down to see.

Then he looked right back up. "Bath and clothes, right after food, whose bright idea was it for me to be sleeping naked?"

No one said anything that might've begun to answer him, but the deep blush that crept up Ken's cheeks was all the answer he really needed.

"I'll see what Yamato's got cooking," Iori chuckled briefly. "He's been trying to keep his mind off things, so he's been pretty busy."

Daisuke frowned slightly, searching his mind. "Didn't something...what about Takeru? He was hurt...right?"

"Right," Iori told him, nodding. "He's going to be all right, though. Jyou took him to the hospital and got him patched up. He's probably going to be coming home tomorrow. Yamato stayed with him for the last couple of days; he just got back here earlier."

"Where is here?" Daisuke looked towards the window, trying to get a few of where they were. Tall digital trees graced the area, with a few bushes scattered here and there. "Oh, wait. Digital World?" They'd mentioned some things about that earlier, he recalled.

"Yes," Ken agreed. "We decided not to take you back there until you're somewhat more healed."

"Well, go get that food!" Daisuke waved imperiously the best that he could. This would've more than likely went over better if he'd had more control of his arms. As it was, he squeaked to find himself tilting over more and more. This isn't good.

What was good was the fact Ken caught him and gently pushed him back onto the bed. "You'd better be careful. You're stronger, but you still have a lot of recovering to do," he chided Daisuke gently as Iori slipped out of the door and out of sight, Koushirou following him.

"I can tell," Daisuke grumbled, getting himself more comfortable. Not that there was anything uncomfortable about being in Ken's arms, of course. "So just where are we? I mean, other than in the Digital World?"

"We're in a village about three miles from where Mori's base was," Ken told him. "It's inhabited mostly by Motimon and their Child evolutions. A couple of Tentomon, some Gotsumon. Their leader is the only Adult here, a Greymon. This is his place, actually. They've been letting us stay here once we figured out you were in the area."

Daisuke nodded, tugging the pillow behind him into a more comfortable position. "So what else happened? I mean...what was everything going on?"

Ken thought for a few moments, and Daisuke recognized his 'putting everything together coherently' face. As much as it bothered him, he stayed quiet. Can't interrupt. Want to, but can't. If he interrupted, Ken might never get around to telling him what he needed to know.

"Virtually everything that you saw was part of a program Mori had written to confuse and disorient you. Since you saw a modified version of himself, covered in a thin shell of what I was once like, combined with the fact you already love me," Ken flushed just at saying that, but didn't stop talking, "he was intending on convincing you that he was me. If his original plan had worked, you probably would've seen him as me for the rest of your life."

Daisuke thought he'd shuddered before. Now he really did, his stomach churning and demanding a revolt on the spot. Ken wasn't done yet, though.

"Anything that happened was meant to be random and varied, to assist in the confusion."

"It was working, too. I couldn't figure out what was going on for the longest time."

Ken nodded. "He was good at what he was doing. I can't even tell if that's natural to him, or if all of his anger and revenge has activated the Dark Spore copy in him." He tapped his fingers a little thoughtfully. "You probably also saw things that scared you." He glanced at Daisuke a little, as if for confirmation.

"You could say that," Daisuke shifted a bit, trying not to think of seeing his friends screeching and fighting each other. "More stuff to confuse me?"

"And to draw upon your fears and nightmares. He was there with us when we defeated BelialVamdemon, as you recall, and he would've noticed that you weren't affected by his spell. We've hypothesized that it's because you simply don't obsess over things." Ken smiled briefly. "Part of your charm."

Daisuke could feel himself turning red. Ken didn't say things like that very often.

"On the other hand, what he did to you had nothing to do with you obsessing or not obsessing. You can fear, just like any one of us."

"Never said I couldn't," Daisuke interrupted briefly and quieted back down at once.

"Right. He couldn't see what your fears were for himself, so he wrote the program so that you were shown them anyway. He was able to watch what you dreamed or visioned on his monitors, since he had you hooked up to a good half dozen machines most of the time. He would modify the program, and the serum, which worked together in a way that we haven't figured out all the details of yet, so things mutated and changed based on what he could see." Ken stopped again, his brow furrowed. "The best way to sum it up, I believe, is that he gave your mind the structure, and let it fill in most of the details on its own, but modified what he could to lead towards his own ends."

Daisuke considered that a few times. "You call that a simple summary?"

"No. I just called it a summary."

"And I'm calling this dinner," another familiar voice spoke up, and Daisuke and Ken both turned towards the door to see Yamato standing there, a tray with several dishes and four plates heaped high with food in his hands. "Nice to see you back, Daisuke."

"Good to be back," the redhead responded, and sat up even more as he started to reach for the tray. Ken tapped his hands lightly and shook his head as he himself stood up to take it. "Are you going to feed me, too?" Tingles of memory of the beginning, or what he had taken for the beginning anyway, when 'Ken' had eaten the sautéed mushrooms and ramen in the fortress while Daisuke had been helpless beside him stirred. Though what was on these plates was entirely different from that dream dinner. This had everything he'd ever imagined could go into a good dinner, and a couple of extras that he vaguely recalled seeing growing on trees during visits to the Digital World. Obviously native delicacies.

Ken just shook his head, amused at his question. "Of course not. You should be strong enough to feed yourself. And don't forget to eat those," he motioned to the two orange-shaped and grape-colored things on the plate. "That's what's been getting you stronger, and you're going to have to eat at least two at every meal until you're completely well. I've already fed you enough while you were out of it, so now it's your turn to do it for yourself." His eyes twinkled briefly, and another kind of memory slid into place, of long nights under the stars, arm in arm, feeding one another grapes.

We're going to have to do that again, very soon, Daisuke promised himself. He took the plate Ken held out to him and handed it neatly over to V-mon. The small Digimon's head came up at once, his eyes widening in joy.

"Daisuke! You're awake!" A single heartbeat of a pause. "And it's dinner time!"

Yeah, I'm really awake this time, Daisuke grinned to himself and rubbed the back of V-mon's head. "Yeah. Eat up, V-mon. Good to see you again."

He took the second plate Ken handed over, and soon all four of them were eating. Daisuke cleared off most of what he had before him in a matter of minutes, then stared at the fruits a little nervously.

"They're not going to hurt you, Daisuke," Ken told him. "Go on, try them. I think you'll like them."

Daisuke picked one up and squeezed it a little; it even felt a little like an orange, no matter the coloring. He peeled it carefully, then sniffed. The scent reminded him vaguely of roses, and wasn't exactly the most appetizing aroma he could imagine. Then he took one careful, almost hesitant bite.

He finished the first one off in record time, and was done with the second even quicker. "Are you sure it's only two per meal?"

"Yes, I'm sure," Ken laughed and shook his head. "You can have some more of everything else if you want, though. Yamato brought enough for at least two helpings for everyone." He considered for a moment as he took Daisuke's plate and started to fill it again. "But, you can't stuff yourself too much. I'd rather not have to haul you to the bathroom that often."

Daisuke grinned briefly. "Well, considering how fancily I'm dressed, I'd think you'd be honored!"

There was no dream that could counterfeit just how red Ken turned at that. Daisuke made a note of it. It would be fun to do it again and again, until it was so engrained in his memory that no one could ever take it from him again. He got to work on his second helping, noting that this one didn't have the two fruits with it. Apparently two per meal was exactly that.

Once dinner was officially over with and the dishes taken away, Ken stood up. "I'll go get your bath ready. You and V-mon can get reacquainted there." Before Daisuke could say a word, Ken laid a finger on his lips. "We can get reacquainted fully again when you're feeling up to it."

Funny, it didn't quite feel the same when he turned what had to be that same shade of red, if not a little deeper. But he wouldn't mind if Ken did it to him again, either.

Ken started for the door and Wormmon followed, one tiny claw brushing at his beak to get the last of some sauce from it. Daisuke watched him go for a moment, before saying, "Wormmon, thanks."

The insect Digimon paused for a moment and looked back at him. "For what?" He seemed to smile, the most caring and gentle look on his face. "It was my pleasure, Daisuke. We're all glad to have you back." He continued onward after Ken, and Daisuke leaned back in the pillows, a touch of a smile on his lips.

Yeah. He was home.

V-mon snuggled up into his arms as he relaxed, and Daisuke held him gently. "Anything else going on I should know about?" he wondered.

"I don't know, what did Ken tell you?" V-mon peered up at him through the crook of his arm. Daisuke managed a quick summary of everything they'd talked about, and V-mon cocked his head a little. "Can't think of anything else."

There were still a few things that Daisuke had questions about, such as how Kondo had found them and led them to where he was, but he could wait for those. There were probably other questions he didn't have the answers to yet, and he hadn't thought of them so far. Waiting didn't seem like such a bad idea, though. He knew he'd get them sooner or later.

"Bath's ready," Ken told him. Daisuke started to his feet at once, and the blue-haired man hurried over to help him. "Be careful. Remember what we said."

Daisuke rolled his eyes at once. Their fussing could get on his nerves. He was fine! "I can manage, Ken. I'm tough, you know that." He pulled himself to his feet by way of leaning on Ken and took a careful step. Everything seemed fine, and he took another step, then another. His legs felt just a little bit stronger than water, and he refused to admit that he was quite glad for Ken's strong arm to lean on. It just feels good to have him here in the first place. The real him. That train of thought kept him occupied, and not that much interested in noticing any of the other Chosen they passed except as vague shapes that waved and murmured his name until he made it to the bathroom and the steaming tub.

V-mon bounced up beside him once he was settled in, and began to chatter a mile a minute. Daisuke didn't even bother trying to pay attention to just what he was saying. There was no need; V-mon was just being happy that they were together again. Somewhere in the jumble of words, he got the idea that they'd split the search for him between Earth and the Digital World, with the Digital World slowly becoming more of the focus as they'd discovered more and more clues. Mori hadn't been quite as clever or neat in his abduction as he'd thought he'd been. The noses of the Digimon and the bond that tied him and Ken together as Jogress partners had helped them pin down his location more securely.

He carefully cleaned himself, noticing that he didn't quite feel as if he'd been two weeks or more without a proper bath. Mori had probably made certain of that, and it made him scrub even harder to get the feeling off of him.

I'm going to have a hell of a time making up all my classwork, he groaned. Just the thought of it was painful, until the thought of studying with Ken intruded on his mind. That made things much more pleasant to contemplate. True, they weren't taking quite the same college courses, but Ken had helped him before. He'd help him now. Assuming that his teachers would accept that he'd been abducted by a maniac and barely remembering anything they'd been doing in class as a viable excuse.

He really hoped that they'd find a way to get his memory fully back by the time he was able to go back to class. Though hadn't there been a report he'd been dreading? He hoped he could get away with artifcially induced amnesia as an excuse...

A prickle down his spine, and the feeling of being watched, sent him looking at the door. Once again, Ken stood there, faintly smiling that little smile that was just so completely adorable. "Are you done yet, or are you not yet finished getting wrinkled?"

"I think I'm done," he said and pushed himself to his feet. He felt a little steadier already. He was going to have to have more of those purple orange things, and soon. They were miracle-workers.

Ken wrapped a robe around him that looked and felt familiar on a level that his memories couldn't have forgotten on a bet. Ken bought this for me, for my birthday, he thought as he caressed it lightly. I remember...

"Which way do you want to go?" Ken motioned one way down the hall outside the bathroom once they were out there, the way that led to the bedroom. Then he motioned the other way, and Daisuke saw a wider room, something like a living room, and on the far side of it was an open door through which streamed sunlight and sweet fresh air, with that special tang that only the Digital World had to its breeze.

There was really no decision to be made, once he saw that. Daisuke turned towards the outside, his smile broadening as he saw even more of his friends and their partners, and revelled in the wonderful feeling of finally, ultimately, without a shadow of a doubt, being home.

The End

Author's Notes: Yes, this is the end of the story. Daisuke really is home, the dreams are over, and the good guys won. I know there's more than likely room for a sequel, but I haven't decided if I'm going to write one yet. I worked on this for two years, and I want to go on to other stories and finish them. But if a really good idea that I can't turn down comes up, we'll see what happens. Oh, and the punishment mentioned for Mori? I did research that in Japanese law. There really isn't anything set for what he did, but I think what I ultimately decided on would fit for the culture and the crimes. If I ever write that sequel (and I do not say that I will or that I won't), I'll go into more specifics on what it was.

Writing this was harder than I'd ever thought it would be. I have problems enough with endings, and writing this ending was worse than I could've imagined. Honestly, I hadn't planned for most of this when I began. But I'm glad to have brought it to a close, and I hope you're happy with it. I am going to do my level best to never rewrite this. Happy future reading!