Long Hours

Chapter One

By ShinobiWolf

            Yuki awoke to the beeping of her alarm clock. She sleepily turned it off and got out of her bed, thankful that she had gotten a new one. (The old alarm clock had a terribly loud buzzer and began to get on Yuki's nerves. Thus she "made it broken.") She slipped on her school uniform and brushed her long, white hair, pulling it into a loose braid when she was done. She packed her bathing suit and a towel into her book bag before going to the bathroom to finish getting ready. Once she was done, she went to the kitchen to grab a quick bite to eat.

            "Now when are you going to be back again?" Mrs. Hiramana asked, as she cleaned up her own breakfast dishes.

            "Between five and six."

            "Alright. Be sure to put on enough sunscreen, you know how easily you burn."

            "I'll be alright." She said goodbye to her mom and left her apartment. On her way down, she met up with Kimura Kouichi, her classmate and best friend who lived in the same building as her. They walked to school together every morning.

            The clock struck one during fifth period. Kouji copied down the equation from the board.

            F of x is equal to negative b plus or minus the square root of…

            He had to admit, he hated this chapter. It's not like it was hard, it was just, well, long. He did average at this class. Pretty much everyone was like that, except for Takuya. Was he above average? Well, to put it this way, he was currently zoned out and unintentionally drooling on his Algebra book. Kouji shook his head at the goggle-brain; he had gotten in trouble so many times for wearing his goggles to class, yet he still continued to wear them.

            Kouji tapped his pencil in anticipation. There were public pools a short way away from the school. It was nearly summer and the extreme heat wave urged the manager to open them early. That's where he and the others were going after school.

            The others… The others were his brother Kouichi, Takuya, Izumi, Junpei, Tomoki, and Yuki. They all had the ability to transform into Digimon, and had saved the Digital World more than once. They had never told anyone about it, not even their own parents. Of course, who would believe them anyway?

            Yuki stared down at the crystal clear water, at her reflection. At her light face and hair, and at her unnatural, violet eyes. Everything about her was unnatural. She shivered as she recalled a phrase that was said to her, ever so long ago. It was a phrase that haunted her nearly every minute of her life.

                        "…created you out of empty darkness…you're nothing more than that…"

            She calmly swished her hand through the water, shattering the reflection that she hated so much.

            "Not in yet?" Kouichi stood behind her. Yuki looked up at him. He and his brother were the closest friends that she had. Kouichi was the only one who she had told her secret.

            "No."

            Kouichi thought to himself. He knew exactly what that look in her eyes meant; he knew exactly what she was thinking. He also knew exactly what would keep her mind off of that subject. "Would you… like to go swimming right now?"

            "Maybe…" Yuki stopped stirring the water, her eyes widening as she gasped. She knew the all-too-friendly tone of voice.

            In the next moment she bit water. She fought to the surface, and when she stood, the water reached to her shoulders. And she stood stiffly; the water was absolutely freezing. Kouichi was kneeling by the edge, pleasantly smiling at her. She was cold, wet, and Kouichi's smirk didn't help matters at all.

            "Enjoying your swim?" He shouldn't have been kneeling so close to the water's edge.

            "Oh, you turd!" Yuki forcefully wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into the pool screaming. She held him under the surface for a moment before letting him back up for air. At first Yuki was a bit PO'ed, but she had to laugh just a little bit when she saw that Kouichi was mostly blinded by the black mop of wet hair that clung to his face. They were both quickly lost in a storm of splashing water and laughter.

            Kouji watched them from the other end of the pool, well, mostly he was watching Yuki. And without his knowing it, he absent-mindedly smiled. Perhaps, for a bit too long.

            "Oh, Kouji…"

            "Huh…wah?"

            "It looks like Kouji's interested in something other than swimming right now…" Takuya's voice was sly.

            "I have no idea what you're talking about." Kouji denied, although his cheeks were the slightest shade of pink.

            "I tell you what… I'll forget all about your 'whimsical gazing' at Yuki… if you can beat me in a race. From this end of the pool to the other."

            Kouji accepted Takuya's challenge, and positioned himself at the end of the pool. Takuya did the same, and fixed his goggles in front of his eyes. Izumi swam to the side.

            "On your marks, get set… " She raised her arm. "…Go!" She threw her arm down to signify the start of the race. Both kicked through the water with all of their might, but in the end, Kouji had reached the end first. Takuya removed his goggles with disappointment.

            "Fine… I'll forget everything…"

            "Yeah, you do that. It shouldn't be too hard." Kouji swam for the ladder. Takuya took a moment to process what Kouji had just said.

            "Hey! What's that supposed to mean?!"

            "It means exactly what I said." Kouji went to pull himself out, but slipped back into the water.

            "Not quite graceful today, now are we?"

            "Ah, shut up." Kouji successfully pulled himself out of the pool, and pulled his towel out of his bag. He paused as he dried off his face. He was so tired, more so than he should have been. But he hadn't been swimming since last summer, so that could have explained why. He shrugged it off, but relaxing on a beach chair seemed very appealing to him at that time.

            Later on, Kouichi and Yuki were walking home to their apartment building. It was nearly six and their parents were expecting them back any minute now. They stopped on the floor Yuki's apartment was on, one level above  Kouichi's. She hesitated before reaching for her door. She soon found that Kouichi had wrapped his free arm around her shoulders.

            "Yuki, listen… I know what's bothering you. If you ever need to talk to me, remember- I'm only a floor away." He smiled. " 'Kay?" His blue eyes were kind, and sweet. And his smile was contagious. He said goodnight and climbed the stairs to his floor. Yuki greeted her mother and went to bed.

            Yuki quit writing when she noticed that Kouji had fallen asleep on his notebook. She hoped the teacher wouldn't notice; he looked like he hadn't gotten any sleep at all last night. She went back to her work, but every now and then she would take a concerned glance.

            He was no better when it was time for lunch. He sat in the corner of the lunch room with Kouichi and Yuki, as he usually did. But after he had unwrapped his lunch, he only casually poked at it with his chopsticks. Kouichi paused before putting a piece of food into his mouth.

            "Are you okay?"

            "Yeah, I'm fine." Kouji quit playing around with his food and began to actually eat it, although it made him nauseous to do so. And he never said a word the whole time. Kouichi and Yuki glanced worriedly at each other before eating their own food. They knew something was wrong, but they just couldn't get Kouji to admit to it. Every time Yuki had glanced with concern at Kouji, he only smiled and assured her that he was fine. But she could never get rid of that nagging feeling inside of her.

            And Kouichi knew for sure. Whether it was because of the elements they each possessed, or maybe because they were twins, Kouichi could tell that the younger twin was in pain. And whether it was emotional pain or physical, he worried for his brother.

            And he worried more when Kouji never showed up for class after lunch. Kouichi excused himself to look for his brother. He searched every hall on that floor, until he passed the boys' bathroom.

            He knew that his search was over. He pushed open the heavy bathroom door, and heard a single, muffled noise coming from one of the stalls. The stall door was left open, and the faint smell of vomit slightly stung at Kouichi's nose.

            "…Kouji?" He heard movement from inside the stall, and the toilet was flushed. When the door opened completely, Kouji stood there, face pale.

            "What?"

            The principle tapped thoughtfully on his desk as he studied the more pale of the twins sitting in his office.

            "Well, you have to be taken home. Is there a parent that is available to pick you up?"

            Kouji hesitated.

            "…both of them work…"

            "Then I guess we'll have to contact one of them at work then."

            Kouji's face grew alarmed. He was miserable enough as it was, and he didn't want to drag either of his parents away from work just to run him home.

            "I can walk him home." Kouichi spoke up. "I can make up anything that I miss."

            "Are you well enough to walk, Minamoto?"

            Kouji nodded, secretly thankful to his brother.

            "All right, then. I'll call your parents anyway just so that they know you'll be home."

            Yuki looked with worry as the principle pulled the teacher to the side of the class. She was just within earshot.

            "Please excuse Kimura for being late, he's walking his brother home, who is in your class as well.

            "Kouji? So he won't be to class at all today?"

            "I'm afraid he probably won't be to class for a while. The poor boy looked like death…"

            Yuki closed her book. She couldn't stand to write anymore. Her heart just wasn't in it, not with Kouji so sick like that.