By: StrangeAffinity

A/N: Wow. I actually broke down and started writing a bit of Digimon again. I used to be known as Gemini5788 and Sundustphoenix, but under my new name I shall not fail to deliver my usual, plotless angstyfluff. This story could probably work with any pairing, with the exception of a few small things here and there, so if you don't like the pairing I've done (it is rather rare), go ahead and plug one in. It's not like there's any real point to this drivel anyway.

She wasn't one for spending time pondering. To her it seemed like a worthless waste of time that people could never conceivably do out of necessity. In her world there was only space enough to look forward, and to stay ahead of the game. Turn around or blink, and you may get trampled. Her life came in fact and figure, word limits and space confines ruled over by latest intriguing scandal, sloppy accident, or appalling death. She could hopscotch from one to the other, telling the stories using garish and thought-provoking language that meant nothing for her and sink back into being just another name in the staining black print beneath the headlines. In her world thinking about anything too long or too deeply was never a good idea. Because if she did, everything would seem horribly and inescapably wrong.

So why she brought herself here, of all places, she couldn't even fathom. It seemed almost as if her feet had simply refused to act in accordance with the rest of her body's wishes and walked off, leaving her mind a million miles away and never thinking to look back. Not even the freezing grey air or the blinding lace of persistent snow flurries could deter her. She had already concluded to herself that she must be mad, either that or sleep walking while she was awake, but neither deduction could make her feet slow down.

She'd walked and walked, across wet and musty streets clogged to the brim with dirt flecked slush and angry taxis. Winter seemed to give everybody everywhere a testy air of impatience. More than once she was jostled, shoved or almost knocked off her feet by grouchy city goers, bundled from head to feet in overstuffed clothes that only served to further congest traffic. The fact that she'd decided to make this excursion in tall black heels and only a thin slip of a coat was further proof of her madness. Thankfully, her walk only covered two blocks before she found herself at her destination. It was only after she stepped onto that snow-covered pathway that she allowed herself to breathe again.

The park she found herself in had a garden that was radiant in the summer. Being the only park in the entire city, it was always flocked with stranded city dwellers trying to get a glimpse of what the green world looked like on the outside. It was meticulously cared for, and covered a vast space of the city, so vast in fact that if she wandered to the very heart of it, she could almost drown out the sounds and smells of the city that enclosed her, and as long as she never looked up she didn't have to acknowledge the smoggy sky was even there.

In the winter the park went into a sort of hibernation, where it slept under its blanket of white and waited for spring to roll around again. No visitors came in the winter. Only fools like her braved the snow and cold to see beauty that wasn't even there. She was mercifully alone. The only things that surrounded her were the naked, crystal laden trees and shrubs. They presided over the mute garden on their pristine carpet of unblemished platinum like imposing figures of royalty. She had always thought them to be skyscrapers in their own right, a long lasting and hardy testament to the fact that nature could and would survive anywhere if it had a mind to.

A pestering gust of icy wind toyed with small wisps of her hair, blowing them haphazardly into her face and biting at the back of her neck. For the second time that day she found herself wondering why she didn't possess a good winter coat. A second breeze kicked up the snow at her feet and sprayed it without remorse into her nylon-covered legs like millions of tiny pins. Little shivers of cold ran down her spine, and she sank deeper into her thin jacket. Standing there was only making her colder, so she squared her shoulders and pursed her lips before trudging on, marring the perfect carpet as she went.

She wandered the park for a while until she came to her first obstacle. Suspended carefully on a crude chainlink fence to effectively block her path was a large yellow sign that barred entrance to the central garden. The message was unmistakably clear. 'Garden closed for the winter. Keep out.' Had she been the sensible sort she might have agreed with the sign. After all, there was nothing to see, and it was always possible for careless people to trample the flower beds buried under the snow. But she had already concluded that she was going slightly crazy, and its amazing how much freedom insanity brings.

Her body hoisted itself over the fence completely of its own accord while her mind embraced her newfound liberation with relish. This journey that had began pointlessly and still continued to be pointless now could be anything she wanted because she didn't have to care what she was doing anymore. Or where she was going.

It was grand, like some kind of daring adventure.

Once she was inside the garden she was afforded some protection from the wind by all the tall hedges surrounding it, and that being the case, she was able to take her time. She daintily maneuvered her way down what she assumed was still the path, always keeping vigilant to avoid the innocent flower beds or other pitfalls. All was quiet, save for the hiss of the wind scrapping over the tops of the hedges. The scene before her was just as bleak to the eye as it was to the ear. A lone robin perched on a withered stalk turned its head and peered curiously at her through its black button eyes. Then as she drew nearer, it spread its wings and vanished into the snowy sky.

The bench was the first landmark she saw in the whole desolate garden. It was a handsome bench of green grey wrought iron that could easily sit up to four people comfortably. It had seen its fair share of service in the summer. There was always someone looking for a place to sit and enjoy the garden. Sometimes it had been a group of boisterous children posing for a picture, or a pair of lovers who thought it to be the perfect place for a clandestine romance, and still other times an elderly man with his newspaper propped up in his lap and his coffee in his hand. Even if there wasn't any people to occupy the bench, there had always been the birds and the squirrels. They didn't discriminate between perches as long as they provided a clear view of the garden around them. Now however, the forgotten, the solitary sentry looked impossibly lonely under its white veil.

Absently, she dusted the snow off the bench before sitting. The metal was freezing to touch, but she settled into it anyway, embracing the shock of cold against her skin as if it were a arctic lake. She took the side furthest from the garden entrance. This was her bench, the one that overlooked a fountain surrounded by rosebushes, except now it was little more than a grey stone mound surrounded by dying, craggy thorns.

Snow scattered over her like a weightless layer of powdered sugar. She was dressed in black, like she'd just come from a funeral procession, but in a way, that was the way she felt about the office she had just escaped from. The contrast the snow created was stark, like piano keys or dominos. Nobody would come to look for her here, and even if someone did chance to see her, nobody would bother to notice her. On her bench she was invisible, and she loved it.

She loved the taste of first love. Everything about it was springy and sweet. She could take the tang and honey taste of it and savor it in her mouth until it almost made her sick was happiness, and even then, it was never enough. It was shy glances and stolen kisses, full of strawberry innocence. Everybody loved the garden in Spring. That was when people came there the most. The garden was filled with voices, and not a sour face could be found.

Summer brought with it a comfortable intimacy of love that remained strong through the years. It was a long-lasting season that many people never grow out of. It was ripe and spicy with hardly a hint of cold, until it tumbled into an aggravating and surprising autumn where the beauty began to falter. Love had already gone around full circle for her, and her summer was long gone.

Four years ago love shattered to pieces in her hands, and she could never hope to pick up all the tiny fragments. She couldn't say which of them dropped it, but the fact remained that some of the pieces of her heart were ground to a permanent powder now, as a result of too much careless trampling. Never again would the two of them be as they were, and never would there be another to fill the place he'd torn out of her. In a different world they could have disappeared into each other and never have to worry about the implications of drowning, but too many obstacles held them to the shore. In a way, it was their love for each other that did the most damage, holding them painfully and desperately apart because the alternative would hurt worse. Winter wasn't so bad once she got used to the chill.

The soft crunch of boots on snow indicated the presence of another. She looked up, only out of habit, to see who was there. She couldn't have cared less who it was, and was only slightly upset that her solitude had been intruded upon. If it was an authority coming to drag her out of the park, then so be it. If it was anyone else, they weren't likely to spare her a second glance. What she least expected was for the man on which all her thoughts were centered to step into view. Life was cruel like that. It always had been to her.

She saw him before he saw her. He was walking as if being out in the snow flurry didn't bother him in the least. Sauntering around with his hands jammed into the pockets of his massive trench coat, he created the impression to whoever saw him that he had stumbled into the garden completely by accident, despite the blatant 'keep out' signs and was now wandering aimlessly simply for the hell of it. She knew it was all a delicate deception. He meant to be there just as much as she had, although admittedly, not at the same time.

He hadn't changed that much since last she saw him. He still had his tall, imposing stature and the same scruffy brown hair that could never be tamed, no matter how hard he tried. It was a famous Ishida trait that he had passed on to both of his sons. Their sons. The only differences in him she could identify were the slight crow's feet around his impossibly expressive hazel eyes, and the cigarette he had propped nonchalantly between his teeth. The former, and effect of graceful aging that was bound to be echoed in her own face, the later, a result of a mental crumbling that she was partially accountable for.

He never used to smoke around her or the boys. She thought it was a vial, repulsive habit, so as an act of selfless devotion to his family, he quit and never touched a pack again. Now, it seemed as if the fumes were life's oxygen to him. He could never be seen without a cigarette somewhere in his general vicinity, puffing away as if all of his problems could be drowned in a stick of tobacco. It took a serious toll on his voice and his health, but that didn't seem to bother him. Smoking began after the divorce, and she liked to think she didn't know the reason.

She could tell that he recognized who she was the instant he laid eyes on her. His countenance faltered, but only for a moment. As soon as she blinked, he had reinstated his cool demeanor. He pretended not to be affected in the least at the sight of her, but she did notice, to her smug satisfaction, that he promptly put his cigarette out with his foot and guiltily attempted to disguise it by concealing it under a mound of snow. He was never ashamed of his habit around anyone except her.

He didn't want to believe it was her at first, but the more he tried to deny it the more he knew it could be nobody else. Nobody else would have come to that exact bench in the middle of winter just to stare at some wilted rosebushes. A more sensible man would have run away at the sight of her, but something compelled him to walk up, if only just to prove to her that he was good and over their shared past. That would be easy, because he was an excellent liar. The hard part was convincing himself that he was over her enough that he could walk past her without sparing a second glance.

She looked up, just for a second and that was all it took. One look into that familiar cornflower gaze, and he had to freeze and force himself to remember how to breathe. She wasn't heartstoppingly gorgeous or any of those other delusions he used to have about her. She always had flawlessly styled hair, even if it was a mousy brown color, and a pretty mouth to match, but she also had a pug nose, and her chin was stubborn. Her eyes made her beautiful. He used to live every day just to see the color, and now, he didn't know how he felt about them. Could it be that he couldn't stand to be without those eyes, or that he simply couldn't stand them?

He took a seat beside her without saying a word. Unlike her, he'd always been one to fade away into his thoughts, because he wasn't scared of his own mind, and now he was seamlessly lost inside his own pondering. She was often driven mad by his tendency to brood over facts that couldn't be changed, but now it made her wonder. How often did he think about her in his contemplations? Now that it was over, was it regret that he felt or relief? Then she knew that she never wanted to know the answer. Neither would satisfy her, and both would hurt to know.

There they sat, pretending rather unconvincingly to be two complete strangers, on opposite sides of a snowy bench, admiring a dead rosebush. Neither spoke, but there was a chemical undercurrent just below the surface of consciousness that extended across the rift between them. The familiarity was there, and it would not be ignored. To make up for this they contented themselves with crossing their arms over their chests and gazing off in completely opposite directions. If she thought about it too hard it was almost ridiculous, so she didn't.

"Those are some nice rosebushes, don't you agree," He commented suddenly and politely, as if he'd never met her before, never watched her come up the aisle, and never heard her say those haunting words.

"I do," She said.

He allowed for a long uncomfortable beat of silence before speaking again, partly because his throat was suddenly dry, and partly so the implications of her words could sink in. He could see the pain that twisted at her features, and it sliced him open in return, but he welcomed the feeling. He had been waiting for proof that he was still alive for far too long. He could tell that just for a moment she was fighting back tears that would inevitably freeze if she let them fall. With every rapid blink, she plunged in her knife, and he kept running back for more.

It was in that moment that he began to realize what he'd already known and could never admit. Just as they might die of love for each other, they were living to hurt each other, and neither of them could break the cycle. He loved the pain she caused him like a more sensible person might love an old family dog. Or did he simply love her? Or was there even a difference?

"They were more beautiful before," He looked into her eyes as he spoke, and there were too many double entendres to his words. More than could ever be caught and held onto.

She automatically knew which 'before' he was talking about. How could she not? And now he was daring her to admit that she remembered. It was fourteen years ago, but the memory was still as lucid now as it was then. They'd been on this bench before, in the springtime, he right where he was sitting now, and she in his arms.

It was there that he first kissed her, and she remembered it better than the date of her mother's birthday. He'd been twenty-two, getting ready to graduate college, and she'd been barely eighteen, just out of highschool. Their parents told them they were nuts, and they were, but it was wonderful anyway. She'd kissed other boys before, but his was a fire she'd never tasted. The attraction was unnatural and overwhelming, as if it had been planned since the beginning of time. Looking back now, it wasn't impossible to think that maybe it was.

Not a soul knew what had transpired there, besides him, her, and the rosebushes that had long since replaced when their purpose was served, and perhaps it was better that way. His parents resented the fact that she didn't come from a more reputable genepool, and her parents were convinced he was too old for her. The garden began a long two years of strict secrecy, of kisses stolen in dark corners and 'accidental' meetings over lunch. Then, quite suddenly, it ended back where it started. In the garden, with a proposal and a pregnancy that could no longer be disguised.

After their second son everything began to change. A vicious fate decided it no longer had any use for them, and fortune turned its back as they began to crumble. It was because of this that there was always a niggling thought in the back of every memory that both of them shared. Perhaps that kiss wasn't even meant to happen in the first place.

But then again no. If it wasn't supposed to happen, how could they explain the fact that without their sons, the human world would have been torn in two, and then blended into the digital world like ingredients in cookie dough. The art of it was torture most divine. The same world that seemed to demand this sacrifice was glueing them together and ripping them apart at the same time, and in saving this world they would effectively destroy their own.

"They were," She admitted softly in a voice that was the shade of her eyes. Then she paused to watch the cloud of condensation rise from her breath, "But that doesn't explain why we are here."

"Coincidence?" One of his eyebrows quirked, and a sliver of a smile appeared on his face, deepening the lines around his eyes and sending a ripple of loss through her.

It didn't occur to her that he was closer than before until her body registered the heat, and she realized with a startling jolt that they had both gravitated toward the center of the bench. She wanted to move away, but her poorly insulated body's desire for warmth betrayed her. One flickering glance into his dancing hazel eyes told her all she needed to know. He was all too aware of what was going on, and he wasn't bothering to stop it. It had happened before in this very spot, and it had happened every single time since. There was no reason to believe that the same wouldn't happen again if they let it.

She swallowed, "There's no such thing as coincidences," Her voice came out in a sandpaper whisper.

He could feel the cool warmth of her breath on his lips. It sent a long forgotten thrill through him that he thought he'd extinguished a long time ago. He could see every detail of her face now, right down to the snowflakes clinging to the tips of her ink black eyelashes. He didn't know what he expected to come of this sudden meeting, but whatever it was going to be, it was over before it even began. She shrank back and evaded his arms much like how he'd seen the cat react to his youngest son's attempts to grab him. She backed up into her corner of the bench, eyes wide with pain and longing.

"Suko . . ." He started, reaching out to touch her.

"Just don't!" She bristled like a cornered wolf, "Don't do this to me all over again, Haru. I don't know if I can survive going through it again."

"Maybe I can't either," He admitted, "But now I've decided I don't care. What is the point of doing a tango around this?"

Her eyes widened in disbelief. Strange that she'd forgotten how impulsive he was, or at least impulsive when it came to her. She'd seen him be a competent decision maker in most other circumstances. She was usually the one to jump the gun. She wasn't used to being the one to dissuade, and now she didn't know what to say.

"That's your problem," She insisted, refusing to look directly at him, "You're usually the smart one, but now you don't understand. We'll kill each other, quite literally, and it won't be quick or pretty."

"We've had it coming," He pointed out casually, "Everyone dies, and there's nobody I want more than you to be my murderess," That was the truth wether she liked it or not, "It's either you or lung cancer, and both will be slow. You said so yourself that nothing is coincidence."

"Yes, and I'd give anything to agree with you, but now I'm beginning to understand," He tried to move closer to her, but she leapt out of the bench and circled around it, putting the back between them, "It has never been about what we want. If it was, I wouldn't be talking to you like this. I would've loved you or moved on with my life, not be here trying to do both at the same time," As she spoke the pieces were beginning to slide into place in her brain, "We've been shown that time and time again, but I refused to see it."

"What do you mean?" He demanded, already not liking where the conversation was going, "If our relationship isn't about us, then what is this about?"

"Your sons!" She hissed, and then added softly, "Our sons. I won't put them through hell again just to give our relationship another go, especially if we know that is asking for trouble, and I'm willing to bet that if you thought about it for even a moment, you'd realize the same thing."

This stunned him into silence. He regarded her for a moment, and he found himself reaching the same conclusion she had. Whatever had brought them together didn't intend for it to last, and now the irony was screaming at him. Their sons, a product of everything their love had ever been, were now the very center of the wedge driving them apart, and that reality made it all the more indigestible. But if they'd never been in love in the first place the world would have ended. The interwoven brutality of destiny was a terrible and ingenious thing.

She was studying him with those eyes again. Her eyes always made him want . . . too many things, none for which were any good for him. Now that he knew the royal joke fate was playing on them, he understood that he was meant to dream of nothing else for the rest of his life. He was meant to always be hungry, and she was meant to always be tempting. He wondered if she knew this, wondered if she understood that she could very well drive him insane. He'd never stop loving her, and now all the love in the world wouldn't make a difference. He'd never have her back.

At last, she spoke, and he was glad to have his attention forced elsewhere, even the 'elsewhere' was hardly any better than his turbulent thoughts, "I can bleed to death over what I can't change, or I can accept the fact that I love you, but I'll hurt you, and you'll hurt me."

That said, she leaned over the bench and slipped a hand into one of his coat pockets. He raised a suspicious eyebrow and fought the urge to seize her by the wrist and drag her into his lap. Although the idea was very enticing, somehow he didn't think she'd appreciate the gesture, especially given the noble speech she'd just fed him.

When she drew herself up again, she had his green striped lighter and a new pack of cigarettes in her hand. He stared in wide eyed wonder as she flicked the lighter, deftly lit up a cigarette, and put it to her lips with practiced ease. She gave him a look that said, 'don't be so surprised' and took a long, slow drag. Then she stood there for a while, enjoying her nicotine and considering her next words.

"You shouldn't smoke," She told him finally, tossing the lighter and the smokes back into his lap, "It kills."

With that, she was walking away, leaving her very stunned ex-husband gaping in her wake. Later on, he'd convince himself that what he'd just seen was all a figment of his imagination, but for now he just picked up the pack in his lap and studied it. Nineteen. One missing. He was about to take one out and light up, when her parting words came back to him. It kills.

"I was counting on it," He muttered to himself. Then he was angrily crushing the pack in his fist and jamming it in his pocket. He looked out at the evanescing trail of her footprints, but she was already long gone, "Dammit Suko. You're gonna murder me one way or another aren't you." Damnity Damn Damn indeed.

Without her there, he found himself sitting on the bench, smokeless, for a long time, wondering if he had a strange, incurable addiction to things that could be fatal to him. For Yamato's sake and his own, he began to wonder if he could possibly manage to live without cigarettes.

And her.

She moved through the streets in the way that she had before, cold and alone, holding the lid closed on all her thoughts. Despite her confident words in the garden, she felt like she was bleeding to death, and surly everybody could see it in the snow. How many people could say that each time they found the love of their life they were forced violently apart, again, and again in order to protect to very fate of the world? She knew now that it could never be another way, but each time the wounds hurt just as bad.

The instant she entered her apartment she slammed the door closed behind her and leaned against it, as if that would keep out the string of detached memories of sights, sounds and smells that had followed her home. As if that would keep the conversation in the garden from replaying itself a million times over in her head. She put out the cigarette between her fingertips and reveled in the sizzling burn that pierced through her. Then she crumbled it into the garbage can, not really caring if it was that was a smart idea. There were worse catastrophes that could happen to somebody, and she for one could testify.

She shed her coat and hung it up on the wooden coat tree beside the door, methodically, trying to keep her hands from shaking and bring her breathing back to normal. It was only then that she began to take in her surroundings, distorted and only half conceived as the information wove its way around the avalanche of thoughts cascading through her. It was like looking through a fish bowl for something she couldn't recognize and didn't even know if she wanted to see.

The dark was thick with the artificial, yellow light wafting from the kitchen and the only sounds were clattering and scampering noises coming from the lighted room. From around the corner there came a boy of barely eight with scruffy hair that refused to fall straight and cornflower blue eyes.

How could she have missed it before? It was never about her and Masaharu. They'd been meaningless pawns put into play for no other purpose than to care for this boy and his brother. Nothing mattered more than them, and she'd live with a broken heart before she'd die and leave Takeru alone.

He looked at her with big innocent eyes and a perplexed expression. He couldn't even comprehend the subtle truth that his brother knew all along, and his mother was just beginning to realize. His parents were both the predators and the prey of each other by a natural design so perfect and precise that it left little room for doubt. Where their children were the destined, they were the doomed.

He took in her drenched clothes and saddened expression with one sweep of his eyes, "Momma? What's the matter?"

She shed her shoes and ran to him. To her knees she dropped, enveloping her son, her life, her everything in the fiercest hug she could give. Her arms locked around him, and she silently vowed to never let him go as long as she lived. Whatever great things he had before him in life, she'd always be there, protecting him with every last breath in her body. She showered his face with butterfly kisses and buried her head into his shoulder before he could see the emotion on her face. Confused, the fair-haired child of hope returned the embrace with the solemnity and wonder of a child who is starting to realize that even adults need comforting sometimes.

"Nothing," She murmured, wiping her tears before they fell, "It's just a little cold outside."