ANNOUNCEMENT: May 23, 2004 - The Quickedit thing took out all my deviders, so I went back and put a new kind back in. It should make more sense now, if you go re-read it a bit more.

Original A/N: Huh…Weird. Just another odd two-parter I thought up last night. I'm not totally sure where it came from, or why, but it's interesting enough…

BTW - I researched this very heavily. Not all of it shows in the writing, but I assure you, all of this is possible…And if you haven't actually heard of it happening, it may be theoretically…medical science fiction, at the very least. I haven't created anything that's insane or crazy or even unbelievably, although it is very rare. I made sure of that, especially since I'm following the path my father took last year with HIS case of it. So DO NOT rat me on any little details. You got that? Good.

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. Toei does. And, as much as I would want to, I do not own Kouichi or any of the others from Frontier. If I did, I would have made sure there was a Season 5...

Life Is But A Dream…

Chapter One: Internal Demons

"Kids…I don't exactly know how to tell you this, but…The reason…Kouichi collapsed today is because…he has…cancer."

It took a moment for that information to sink in. Then the five children known to a select few as Legendary Warriors began to bombard the woman with questions, all talking at once in a confused mess.

Cancer? Where? When did you find out? How could this happen? Why? Why didn't you tell us earlier? Why?


Koji slipped away from the group as his mother made her explanations. He leaned against the wall next to his brother's bedroom…the door was cracked just enough for him to see in. Kouichi had apparently regained consciousness, and was sitting up in his bed, looking quietly out the window.

Why hadn't they seen it before…?

The fourteen-year old had been acting rather strangely for the past month or so… which, according to his mother, was when they found out about it…He disappeared after school at least once a week, going off on his own, couldn't run in P.E. more often than not, and was sometimes seen by classmates taking some sort small, white pill.

Their mother was explaining everything calmly. A tumor the size of a quarter inside the muscle layers of his left breast, dangerously close to his lungs…Weekly check-ups at the hospital…chest pains…panic attacks…prescription pain killers…only one chance…

Koji sighed and opened the door, entering his brother's room quietly. Kouichi looked up as he shut the door behind him. "Hey."

"Hey." Koji crossed to pull the desk chair over beside the bed. He sat down, and for a moment there was silence between the two brothers.

"…I guess…mom told you guys everything, huh?" Kouichi asked quietly, staring at a fixed point in the quilt pattern.

"Pretty much." Koji muttered. Again, an awkward silence, then he spoke again. "Kouichi…why didn't you tell us?"

His twin didn't answer, so he pressed on. "We're all worried about you…Tak, Izumi, Junpei, Tomoki…When you collapsed on us back there…"

"I didn't want you guys to know…" Kouichi sighed, looking up at the ceiling. "At first, we thought it was nothing…Really, we did. The muscles blocked most of the scans, at first they thought it was just a small stress spot. But…then it got worse…I went back for a CT and they found it…"

"And you still didn't tell us?" Koji sounded a bit hurt. "You didn't even tell me."

"I'm sorry." Kouichi pulled a pillow close to himself, holding it tightly. Then he winced at the pressure it put on the tumor and shifted his weight a bit more. "I just…I just didn't want anybody to…you know, worry over me. It's bad enough on its own…If everyone knew…"

He fell silent, unable to come up with the proper excuse. Koji looked at him a moment, then reached over and pulled one hand free. "I guess I understand." he said quietly, giving it a comforting squeeze. "I wouldn't want it to be general knowledge either."

Kouichi squeezed back. There was again silence, and they could hear the faint muffles of the others talking outside the door.

"…How long?" Koji asked quietly.

"The doctors say there's an operation they can try next week." Kouichi whispered. "If it works, I'll be back to normal. If it doesn't…"

He didn't have to say it. Koji nodded in understanding, pulling his brother in for a hug. "That won't happen." he said seriously. "This has got to work…it has to."

. . . . . .

Dr. Kido sighed, pushing his glasses up his nose. He was an older man, but not too old…thirty-six at the oldest…with dark hair and eyes, very obviously med-school fresh. But he was the best expert the hospital had.

"I'm not going to sugar-coat this, Ms. Kimura." he sighed. "The truth is, even if this operation goes well, there is a chance that Kouichi could still die of either internal or surgical complications."

The woman drew in a short breath and pulled her son a bit closer. A week had passed since they had informed the others. In that course of time, they'd made all the necessary arrangements, including informing his teachers and removing him from school for the two weeks it would take him to fully recover.

Today was the day. Kouichi was now in the partially-reclined hospital bed, sitting up with his mother to listen to the reports. He was wearing one of the usual hospital robes, as well as his familiar blue pajama bottoms. And he was not feeling well at all.

"The best case, of course, is that the operation will be successful. In which case, we'll just hold him here until we're sure nothing's wrong, then you can both go home and get on with your lives." the doctor pushed his glasses up once again. "However, there is always the possibility that we may have waited too long…in which case, the cancer will have already have spread into his lungs. If that happens…there's nothing more we can do."

Ms. Kimura nodded. "I understand, doctor."

"Kouichi…" Dr. Kido turned, this time facing the patient himself. The dark-haired young man looked up at him seriously. "I must warn you…Whenever you go into any kind of surgery…especially anything this major, and so close to your vital organs…there is always a chance that you will die before waking up."

Kouichi gulped, even more nervous now than he was before. Dr. Kido gave him a kind smile, ruffling his hair like you would a small child. "I wouldn't worry too much, though…this is dangerous. But leaving that tumor on it's own would be even more dangerous."

He stood, checking his watch. "There's an hour or so before the anesthesiologist arrives." he sighed. "I'll be back with her. Until then…good luck."

"Thank you, doctor." Ms. Kimura sighed as he left. As soon as he was gone she reached over and ran her fingers through her son's hair, the way she had when the family had just been seperated, and the young toddler was frightened to be without his brother. "Are you sure everything's okay?"

"It will be." Kouichi nodded, feeling none too certain.

"Ms. Kimura?" the woman turned. A nurse, in the standard white dress and squeaky-clean shoes, was standing at the door. "I have some paperwork I need you to fill out…"

"Of course." the mother leaned forward, pulling her son very close. She took a deep breath, looking just as frightened as Kouichi felt, and kissed him on the forehead. "I love you, Kou-Kou."

Kouichi gulped at the use of his mother's old loving nickname. "I love you to, mama…" he whispered, hugging her tightly.

She left with the nurse. Kouichi leaned back against the partially-reclined bed, eyes glancing around the room nervously. The window across the room showed a dark sky, dotted with stars. It was a bit past 7 o'clock, according to what Dr. Kido said. His operation was scheduled for 8 PM, and the anesthesia wouldn't wear off until at least 9 the next morning.

There were a few objects dotting his bedstand…a string-tied group of origami cranes that his classmates had made, a small bouquet of flowers from his father and stepmother, and most importantly of all…the one thing he'd refused to leave the house without…a photograph of the six DigiDestined, taken the day after they had all returned from the Digital World.

He stared at it a moment with a gentle sigh. They'd all changed at least a little in the past three years. He and Koji, for one thing (or two things) had begun to look a bit more…similar. Koji was still an inch or so shorter, but Kouichi had grown his hair out a little. Now, for about a week after Koji got his cut, it was almost impossible to tell one brother from the other.

Tomoki had a bit of a growth spurt when he turned ten. Though still the smallest of the group, he was now only a head or so shorter than Koji or Takuya. And speaking of Takuya, he was now captain of a local soccer team that seamed to be going quite well. (win-to-loose ratio: 2-3. Not bad, all things considered.) After an embarrassing incident he refused to talk about, Junpei had been put on a diet by the school nurse that worked remarkably well…until they discovered that the 'fat' was only a very thin layer, and most of his bulk came from muscle. And Izumi? She'd probably changed the least out of all of them. Although there were a few things visibly…'developing', if you know what I mean.

He looked at it a moment, then his eyes were drawn to the date in the bottom right-hand corner. He stared. Then he mentally berated himself for being stupid enough to forget it.

The date was a week from now. Which meant that the anniversary was in less then six days, marking three years since they'd come back. Which meant that he'd be spending their annual get-together celebration right where he was…in the hospital.

There was a knock on the door, suddenly breaking him out of his thoughts. The smiling nurse from before entered, a wide grin on her face.

"Kimura-san." she called sweetly. "You've got another visitor before your operation…"

Kouichi looked up as his brother strode into the room, hands in his pockets and a calm smirk on his face. The patient sat up, smiling. "Koji…"

"Don't forget us!" Kouichi jumped a bit in surprise, as Takuya, Izumi, Junpei and Tomoki appeared from around the door.

Kouichi's eyes lit up. "Guys!" he gasped. "How the…I thought visiting was…"

"We wanted to wish you luck." Tomoki perked.

"So we kind told a bit of a lie…" Junpei continued.

"We all said we had some relation…however distant." Takuya laughed, a wide grin on his face.

"They figured out we were bluffing after Takuya tried to pass as an uncle's brother-in-law twice removed." Izumi giggled. "But decided to let us in anyway! Wasn't that nice?"

Kouichi smiled. The group gathered around, pulling up chairs and other things to sit on, or on the edge of the bed, or just standing if that was how they preferred, and they talked. For quite a while. Over everything but the operation. After about forty minutes, Junpei started to show off his newest magic tricks, throwing in jokes for good measure. But his mistakes were funny than the jokes, leaving them rolling with laughter.

The laughter was interrupted by a string of fierce coughing left Kouichi doubled over in pain, and gave them all a sharp reminder of where they were and what they were doing here.

"Still hurts?" Koji asked, rubbing his brother's back soothingly as it slowed.

"A…A little…" Kouichi leaned back against the bed. His hand drifted under his shirt, feeling the outline the tumor formed on his chest. It was raised just a bit, and ached under his fingers, pulsing ever the slightest with every one of his heartbeats. The muscles around it were terribly sore.

There was an uneasy silence. Then, Izumi's eyes suddenly lit up. "Oh, I nearly forgot!" she gasped, digging into her bag. "I brought you something, Kouichi."

She produced a small, round object, wrapped in a navy blue cloth, which she handed to Kouichi. "I've actually been making these for the anniversary, but…since you're going to be here, this is as good a time as any."

The boy turned the object over in his hands a moment, then pulled at the knot holding the cloth together. What was revealed was a small, white stuffed toy, hand-made, in what looked like the head of teddy bear. It was a SnowBotamon, much like the ones they'd taken care of in the Village of Beginnings, with big, friendly-looking blue eyes, and a small blue pacifier in its mouth.

"Izumi, you made this?" Kouichi asked, surprised. The girl nodded, grinning from ear to ear. "It's so…cute…"

"No joke." Takuya said, looking a bit confused. "Where'd you learn to do that?"

"My sewing class at school's been working on simple dolls." Izumi said proudly. "I decided it'd be cool to make some of the Digimon…'course the babies are the only ones I can do right now…"

She looked up in mid-sentence and drew in short gasp. "Oh, Kouichi, what's wrong?!"

Said patient was holding the small thing in his lap, looking down in attempt to hide his tears. But the droplets of water catching in his hair, as well as the gentle, almost unnoticeable sobs that racked his body, were obvious indicators.

"You're not in pain again, are you?" Koji asked, leaning forward to put a hand on his brother's shoulder. "If you want us to leave so you can get some sleep, we will…"

"No…" Kouichi croaked. "No that's not it…"

He took a deep breath, trying to compose himself. It didn't work, and two more tears streaked down his cheeks.

"I just feel…so stupid!" he muttered, clutching the bedclothes between his fists. "After everything we went through together…all the things we did…I shouldn't be afraid of something like this…" He wiped his eye on his sleeve. "But I am…I'm terrified."

"…Everybody gets scared, Kouichi." Izumi whispered gently. "Especially with stuff like this."

"I know I was!" Tomoki piped up. "Before I met you guys, I to get my tonsils out. I was so scared mom and dad had to carry me in while I was asleep!"

"No one's gonna blame you for being scared." Junpei added. "This is just as dangerous as anything we went up against, and this time you'll be going in alone…"

"No he's not." Koji insisted, reaching over to put his hand over his brother's. "We're all right here, aren't we?"

"That's right." Takuya's face spread into a wide grin. "And we'll be right here when you wake up, too!"

"…You guys…" Kouichi faltered a moment, then blinked his tears away with a smile. "…Thank you."

The door opened. Dr. Kido, and the anesthesiologist entered in, accompanied by two nurses who carried several pieces of equipment and a vial of a clear substance.

"It's time." Dr. Kido announced. "You'll have to leave now, kids."

One by one, with their various goodbyes and good lucks echoing in his ears, the group slowly left the room. Koji was the last one to do so, reaching over to gently take his brother's hand.

"You sure you're all right?" he asked tenderly.

"…As I'll ever be." Kouichi whispered back.

Koji gave his hand one last, comforting squeeze. "…Love ya, bro."

"Yeah…you too…" Kouichi murmured, and with one last smile, his brother was gone.

The nurses wheeled in various pieces of equipment…life support, heart monitor, surgical tools on a rolling cart. Dr. Seiko, the anesthesiologist, came up to him with the clear-liquid vial and a syringe needle.

Kouichi bit his lip, shifting back a bit uncertainly. Then he winced at the pressure it put on his tumor and relaxed a bit more. Unconsciously, he pulled the SnowBotamon doll close to him, and felt much better.

Dr. Seiko smiled at him, filling the needle. "Are you ready?" she asked kindly. "You might want to lie back.

Kouichi nodded and leaned back against the partially-reclined bed. Dr. Seiko rolled up his pajama sleeve and brought up the needle, getting dabbing his arm with a cleaner. "You'll just feel a little pinch…"

He closed his eyes and increased the grip on the doll, holding his breath a moment as the needle went in and out. She applied a small band aid and smiled. "There now. Now just relax…it'll kick in after a moment."

Dr. Kido approached, holding a clipboard. His eyes drifted to the toy the boy held, subconsciously assuring himself that he would see his friends as soon as he woke.

The Doctor smiled. "Would it make you feel better to keep your little friend around during the operation?" Kouichi looked up, a bit surprised. "A therapeutic item like that makes surgery much easier…decreases your blood pressure and lowers risk of problems. Many of the younger patients do the same thing."

Kouichi sighed and nodded gently, feeling the anesthesia kick in. The room spun a moment, and he pulled the doll closer to him as it all went black…


So…Whattya think? Did'ja like the little Jyou cameo I threw in? I've got something very…interesting…for the next chapter, don't worry. Very…Interesting…Next chapter may take a while, ideas are welcome!

Please review! Ja ne!