Melody: Hey everyone! (coughs and sneezes) I think I have a cold….

Izzy: No surprise there, Einstein.

Matt: What'd you expect? You've been writing about cold weather, and it finally caught up to you.

Melody: (Sneeze) Anyway (cough) here's some thanks to my readers:

Writers Applause:

Thanks to: JuMiKu, aerisphoenix, Yumi Stern , takari freek, TheFoxGirlKitsune, ShadowFoxFolk

Disclaimer: Forlorn Melody owns nothing but her box of tissues and her dwindling supply of cough drops.

Melody: Congrats, you're near (or at) the end of the story. I'm debating whether to put up an additional chapter. And if you missed the showing of Runaway Locomon on Toon Disney, shame on you.

Darkness Chronicles: Icefilled Darkness: Chapter 11: Thaw

Real World X: Lamar, CO, USA: Mountainside Ranch: 6:36 PM

The Tamers stared at the red and yellow lights of the ambulance as it screeched to a halt in front of them. Meanwhile the Digidestined, including Willis and Jael, stared in wonder at the sight nearby. Laying on the ground unconscious, in nothing but a beige sweatshirt and jeans was Sam Ichijouji. Cautiously Davis and Ken moved towards the former Accuser and kneeled down beside him.

"Uh….we'll catch up later." Ken stated to the others.

They nodded and turned their attention to the paramedics wheeling Rika into the back of the ambulance. Her unconscious frame bounced on the stretcher as it hit the edge of the vehicle. Ryo nearly flinched with empathy. He was the first to follow Rika the paramedics onto the ambulance, after her father. The paramedics didn't respond to Ryo's presence, but after looking at his reflection on the metal wall of the vehicle, Ryo realized why. Rika's father and he looked a lot alike. His attention moved back to Rika.

The paramedics scurried around the small space, doing all they could to better the girl's condition. So far though, they didn't seem to be helping. Rika's condition hadn't changed. Ryo held her hand. He guessed it was because if his exhaustion, but Ryo found his focus moving away from Rika again. This time it drifted towards her father.

Tora Nonaka's condition had already improved a little. Ryo could see some of the vibrant red returning to the man's strands of hair. The lines on his face remained, but his eyes had changed back to their normal, vibrant color. Not to mention they seemed more active, less pinpointed. It only made Ryo hope that Rika's condition would improve as well. He fought to keep his eyes open, but soon the exhaustion from the adventure won him over.

Real World X: Lamar, CO, USA: Lamar Asylum: 7:01 PM

The yellow-white fluorescent lights illuminated the near empty hallways. Nothing could be heard, except the low pitched hum of the lights hanging from the ceiling. This place screamed "old" to any visitor. But two visitors, staring at one of many window panes lining the hallway, didn't seem to notice the sorry state of the said corridor. They focused on what was on the other side of the window.

Sitting in an uncomfortable-looking chair was Sam Ichijouji, except he seemed quite comfortable…too comfortable. Sam had his arms folded lightly across his chest and his head was cocked slightly to the side. His eyebrow was raised and his mouth hung in an amused smirk. "So, how are you doing Kenny-boy?"

Ken shivered. Even though his brother, or what was left of him, was surrounded by padded walls, Ken couldn't escape the feeling that Sam could break out at destroy him at any second. With a deep breath, Ken composed himself. "I'm fine, Sam." The fear still lingered, but he was beginning to feel some pity towards his brother. Sam had gone completely insane, or maybe he always was. It was something Ken probably wouldn't know for years.

"That's fantastic. When are you going to check me out of here, Kenny-boy?"

Davis's hand shot to Ken's arm. "Don't do it Ken."

Ken held back tears. "I'm sorry Sam." How could he tell their parents? Should he even try? For years they had thought, Ken had thought, that Sam was dead. Yet reality couldn't have been much better, I'm sure they'd love to hear that their favorite child has been off in another dimension torturing people for the past few years.

Sam exploded from his seat. "You can't possibly leave me here!" He pounded on the glass. "I'll—I'll…." The former Emperor threatened as Davis and Ken walked away, the latter with his head hanging down. Ken could hear the shouting give way to whimpering. "Please, Kenny-boy, don't leave me. Please…."

When they were out of hearing distance, Davis stopped and faced Ken, putting a friendly hand on his shoulder. "You gonna be okay?"

"I think so." Ken answered, looking tired.

"Let's go then." The goggled leader replied, smiling.

Real World X: Lamar, CO, USA: St. Luke Hospital: 7:09 PM

In a different hospital, just down the street from the Asylum, the emergency room held its usual chaos. What was unusual was the amount of visitors clustered around one of the gurneys (not to mention the strange creatures that accompanied them.) How all of them had bypassed the desk, and hadn't been kicked out yet, none of the doctors could discern. Neither did they bother dismissing the teenagers themselves. They had too many people to save.

Finally though, one doctor waved them off into the waiting room. As they left, the doctor examined the victim. She didn't seem to have any wounds whatsoever, aside from a few harmless bruises. The girl had the warmth usually connected with live human beings, but something about her seemed so…dead. Checking her pulse, the doctor confirmed her suspicions: the victim, Rika Nonaka, had no pulse.

At his announcement, a heard of nurses crowded around the hospital bed. Most of them had medical instruments in their hands. Each furiously worked to better her condition, almost independently. Occasionally the doctor would remind them of certain things, but mostly he kept his focus on the girl. Every procedure went normal until….

"Doctor? We have a problem." The nurse just to his left remarked.

"I know that Nurse." He replied exasperated. If there wasn't a problem, would this girl be in an emergency room right now?

"It's a different problem. I don't think this girl has a heart, sir."

At first, the doctor found himself rolling his eyes, but then he jerked to face the nurse. "What?"

"Her heart, sir. I can't find it on any of the screens."

His eyes followed the tilt of her head. The nurse was right, the ribcage was visible, but the heart wasn't. "Have you checked to see if the machine's working correctly?"

"It was just maintenanced yesterday."

Not believing his own words, the doctor replied. "Check her blood type, and check available donor matches."

The nurse nodded and exited the room. Meanwhile another drew Rika's blood. After the first nurse returned, they compared their samples and nodded. They had a match. Both of the nurses were about to turn to the doctor and inform him of their findings when they chimed "But how is she still alive?"

Quite serious the doctor replied. "I don't know."

Real World X: Lamar, CO, USA: St. Luke Hospital: 8:16 PM

His eyes stung when he opened them. Ryo blinked them open and shut several times before he straightened in his seat and stretched his arms. Then he remembered what happened. Rika was in trouble. She was sick, and she might not make it. Right now she might even be dead. Closing his eyes briefly, Ryo tried to push the thought from his mind. None of them needed this right now.

"You okay?" Ryo looked down to see a purple dinosaur looking up at him in concern. At least Monodramon wasn't destroying the waiting room tables. He had a tendency to do that.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Ryo lied. He felt horrible, but Ryo wasn't about to tell anyone about it.

"Okay." Thankfully, the little Monodramon believed him.

Growing impatient with the small talk, Ryo stood up. He walked towards the huddle of doctors by the door. In the center stood the head surgeon, and Rika's father. Great, now Ryo had slept through most of the stuff he actually cared about. Leaning closer, Ryo listened in on the tail ends of their conversation.

"But there has to be another way." Rika's father, Tora, pleaded.

"I'm afraid there isn't sir. The girl is in a coma, few people ever wake from those." The doctor replied gravely, pushing a conspicuous clipboard in Tora's direction.

Tora shoved it back. "I can't do this to her, I'm sorry."

Exasperated, the doctor returned the clipboard to his nurse. "I'll give you half an hour." He opened the door to the hospital room Rika was in, and left the scene.

Meanwhile Rika's father stared in the doctor's wake. His expression half glared, half gaped in shock. Finally, with a great sigh, Tora Nonaka entered the hospital room. At seeing his daughter hooked up to so many machines, his eyes softened. He clutched his chest, he felt like is heart sank into his stomach. As if Rika would shatter if he came too close, Tora slowly made his way towards the bed. With his hand Rika's father caressed her cheek. It felt colder than usual. I never should have left you behind, Pumpkin. Forgive me. I hope your mom does too. Tora would have spoken the words out loud, but he couldn't find the strength to.

He couldn't cut the power to the respirator could he? The doctors said there was no hope. But, the doctors had said that before. Maybe, just maybe, Tora could find that man that first gave Rika her new heart. What was his name again? Shibumi? Who was he kidding, Tora and the others were in a whole other dimension than Shibumi. Right now, Tora remained Rika's only hope. If only he knew how he could help her, besides keeping her alive. Those doctors had some nerve, asking for more money. How was he supposed to know that life came at a price? Tora shrugged, everything cost something nowadays.

Then he heard footsteps enter the room. Rika's father turned, and realized that the doctors and nurses hadn't returned, but Rika's teammates and friends. He smiled. Maybe they could save her. A second glance told him otherwise. Their expressions were just as bleak as the doctors. The boy, was his name Ryo?, lead the group of teenagers inside. Determination mixed in with his look of despair. Taking his place at the side of the bed opposite of Tora, he stared at Rika mournfully. Stealing a glance at her father, Ryo asked "She's not coming back is she?"

"Don't say that Ryo!" Takato retorted from the area just beyond the curtain.

Tora could feel his heart in his throat, he cleared it before replying. "I don't know, Ryo. I just don't know." Water threatened to spill from his eyes. It really was hopeless. As much as it hurt to say aloud, Tora couldn't allow Rika's friends to be uninformed. "The doctors recommend removing life support, unless we want to pay $150 a night to keep her alive."

After converting dollars to yen in their heads, each of the teenagers widened their eyes in surprise. A long stifling silence followed, most of the Tamer's either staring at the floor, at Rika, or at her father. Finally, Kari spoke up, "Isn't there anything we can do?"

Henry glared at her, "Do you have $150 lying around?"

As tears threatened to fall from Kari's eyes, Ryo found himself shaking. He hated to see people fight, verbal or otherwise. His eyes never leaving Rika's face, Ryo muttered. "So there really is nothing we can do."

A thick white silence hovered over the room. Some, like Kari and T.K., found themselves shaking at the realization. Others, like Ryo and Davis, glared in defiance. Then there were those, like Takato and Yolie, which stared at the ground in hopelessness. Wishing someone would protest, and hearing none, Tora Nonaka made his way towards the breathalyzer machine. His fingers remained hidden inside his fist as he moved towards the power button. For a moment, Ryo believed the man planned on pulverizing the machine.

Finally, one by one, the fingers stretched out from security, and reached towards the red button. Ryo's entire world came crashing to a stop. He couldn't allow Rika to die, he just couldn't. She happened to be one of the best things that ever happened to him, especially since his mom had died. Right now, he didn't want to loose another person close to him, and he probably never would. Reaching down with his hand to touch Rika's cheek, Ryo wished he could tell her that he loved her. A single tear slipped down his own face, and sparkled before dropping towards the floor.

But the splattering contact never came. The tear just…vanished into thin air. No one noticed. He thought he only imagined it, but Ryo thought he'd heart a light, airy giggle sound out from a newly open window. Ryo turned to the sound, but only caught a translucent tail out of the corner of his eye. For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, he smiled.

Then Ryo heard the breathalyzer shut down. His eyes widened as his heart threatened to explode. Suddenly Rika sat up, knocking her oxygen mask across the room in the process. She breathed fast and hard, as if she'd just finished running a marathon. Her eyes seemed blurry, her focus elsewhere. Rika then stared at Ryo, appearing confused. After a long silence, she finally asked "Is there something you'd like to tell me Ryo?"

Ryo flustered, being unable to find words. His cheeks blushed like a red cherry. After a few awkward moments, Ryo finally found his voice. "Well…um" At least he started, before hanging his head.

"Come on, Romeo, it can't be that hard to say." Rika teased, weakly.

Great, she already had him figured out. Why torture him like this when she already knew? Of course, he must have looked cute when he blushed. The blush dissipated slightly, enough for Ryo to say a complete sentence. "I love you, Rika." Then the blush came back, with full force.

The crowd around them held silence in respectful awe, and then burst out laughing. This time Rika joined Ryo in being embarrassed. After he could breathe normally once again, Henry asked "Isn't it about time we went home?" At first the Tamers seemed excited, until they realized that they'd have to leave their new friends.

Then Davis quipped "Well, there's no way you guys are leaving without us. I want to see this TV show if I'm on it!"

"Yeah…it would be sorta interesting to meet the people who created the Digital World." Willis added.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" Takato asked happily.

"Only one problem, Goggle-head. How do we get there?" Rika retorted.

Takato sweatdropped. "Actually, I didn't think about that."

"No duh, Einstein—"A bright light cut Rika short. She shielded her eyes as the light show grew brighter. Tiny rainbows cascaded over every inch of the hospital room, until finally, it stopped. Rika lowered her hand from her eyes. True, she hadn't seen much of the television series, but she had watched enough to know who stood before her in long, cream-colored robes. "Genai?"

"Hello, your highness. Hope you're feeling better." The man greeted, unfazed by the rolling of Rika's eyes. He turned to address the entire room. "You're all probably wondering why I'm here." Genai received blank stares. "I heard you needed a ride…but first I need to deliver something." Pulling a string of brightly colored data out of the heart monitor, he wound it into a head sized circle. Then he gently placed it on Rika's head.

She gasped when it suddenly vanished. "What the heck is going on, Gennai?" Rika whispered, but she already had an idea in mind, and Gennai confirmed it by kneeling at her feet. The others in the room quickly followed his example.

"Crowning you, your highness." Genai replied softly, and then raised his voice slightly. "You see, you're the only one who can fight the powers of Darkness directly. Of course, your friends can be of great assistance." He glanced over at Ryo knowingly. Ryo blushed. After a few moments of silence, Genai spoke up once more. "Are you ready to leave?"

Rika looked around the room for agreement. She only found blank stares. Sighing, she answered, "I guess so."

"Very well." Gennai snapped his fingers. One of the heart monitors began to spazz out. Bits of data popped and crackled like fireworks as they swirled into the air. They massed into a giant ball that expanded until it hung flat like a pancake. Inside the pancake the teens saw…well, nothing. It looked like Gennai had ripped a hole in space/time. Most seemed unsurprised, nothing could surprise them anymore. Ryo stood least surprised, as if he'd seen it before. As soon as it expanded large enough, the Legendary Tamer stepped into it. One by one the Tamers followed him, and the Digidestined. Surprisingly, only Genai, Rika, her father, and Renamon remained.

Smiling, Genai snapped his fingers again. Rika smiled as well, she had her own clothes again instead of her hospital gown. Her father helped her stand up, and together they made their way through the portal. Renamon followed. Genai took one last lingering look at the room, and with two snaps, both he and the portal vanished.

Real World Y: Shinjuku, Japan: Hypnos Building: 10:31 PM

The room had no noise, though it had enough people inside to form a mosh pit. They could care less about rock concerts at the moment. Seconds after Sakuyamon defeated the Darkness, Hypnos had lost contact. All of them could only assume the worst, that Rika sacrificed herself. Jeri cried, and her puppet sniffled every so often. Kazu and Kenta stared at the screen dumbfounded, their mouths hanging open. Yamaki clicked his lighter open and shut. His assistants had a hand over their mouths in shock. Lastly the Monster Makers gazed at their computer screens dimly in defeat.

Then their eyes looked up to see a bright flash. After the green and purple spots left his eyes, Dolphin, aka Mr. Wong, saw his son. "Henry!"

"Fine. Don't say hi to me." Terriermon quipped.

Mr. Wong laughed. "Nice to see you too Terriermon." He then embraced his son. Henry leaned into his father's shoulder, holding back tears. It felt nice to be back at home.

"Rika?" Rumiko asked worriedly, holding a shaking hand to her mouth. She hadn't seen her daughter in days. Hopefully Rika would return with the others, hopefully. Her eyes darted to each face that came out of the portal, looking for her. Then the hole in space closed, and Rumiko gasped. No! She has to come back!" A tear slipped down her cheek as she turned away. The others gasped, but Rumiko didn't look.

"Mom?" A voiced ventured cautiously.

Rumiko's head jerked up. She spun around in time to catch Rika in a huge bear hug. Not surprisingly, Rika didn't hug back. "I'm so glad you're home, sweetie."

"Uh, Mom…there's something you should know." Rika gulped.

"What? It can't be that important right…."

"Rumiko, I think you should look up." Rika's grandmother pointed out.

Begrudgingly, Rumiko obeyed her mother. She gasped. A man stood before her that Rumiko never thought she'd see again, her ex-husband. After catching her breath, Rumiko managed "Hello."

"Hello, Rumiko. It's nice to see you." Tora smiled sheepishly. He'd never thought he'd see his ex-wife again either.

She nodded. Rika looked quickly back and forth between the two anxiously. Finally she looked at the ground as she walked away, folding her arms. Shaking her head, Rika wondered why she could ever hope that they'd love each other again. Years later, and she couldn't remember why her parents had broken up in the first place. A hand landed on her shoulder.

"Hey Pumpkin." Ryo greeted.

"Hey Ryo." Rika replied weakly. She sighed as she slowly turned around. Her arms wrapped themselves around Ryo and Rika rested her head on his chest.

"Things will get better, I promise."

"Since when are you the master of fate?" Rika asked smugly.

"Since I started loving you." They both blushed.

Meanwhile the Digidestined and the Monster Makers stared at each other in shock. It had been difficult enough to accept that Monster Makers' work in college had led to the creation of one Digital World, but two? How could that be possible? Yet, proof of that unreality stared at their faces. There had always been a possibility of parallel worlds. The Digidestined never would have thought that in another world, they'd be a fantasy. Even stranger, they were looking at the very people that supposedly created them. They almost found it too hard to take.

Everyone turned at the sound of a deep cough. There, just below the giant screen, at the base of the chair tower, stood a very calm and collected Yamaki. As usual, he clicked his lighter open and shut. To someone not used to it, the motion seemed a little creepy. "Now that introductions are over—"he started smugly "I think we have some important things to discuss." He seemed little surprised at the blank stares they sent back his way. Yamaki snapped his fingers and watched his assistants lower their chairs to his level and join him. His favorite redhead moved towards a nearby computer. She pushed a button at his nod of approval.

The screens overhead blared light at her touch. After the collective gasp from the onlookers, Yamaki spoke up once more. "To have such a collision on dimensions, the balance between light and darkness must have been horribly unbalanced." He waited to for Shibumi to join in the demonstration.

Shibumi studied the faces of the teens before he continued. Most of them looked at the screens in wonder, except for three. Those he had come to know as Kari, T.K. and Ken seemed to recognize the concept, as if they'd discussed it before. "Unfortunately, we're not sure if you righted the balance when you defeated Daemon."

Rika's eyes went wide. "How long until we know for sure?" She asked meekly. Ryo squeezed her hand, swallowing. Thankfully no one noticed. He dreaded Shibumi's next words.

"By the time we figure it out, it might actually be too late." The man remarked gravely. "Until then, all of you need to act normal. We don't need the entire world panicking over this."

"Besides…we're not sure anyway right? That something bad will happen?" Takato threw in nervously.

"Right." Shibumi answered in a whisper.

The room remained stifled in silence, until everyone heard a cry. "Wow! I can't believe I finally get to meet you guys!" Kenta squealed as he ran up to Davis.

"Geeze Kenta, could you get any more embarrassing?" Kazu whined as he pulled a pad and paper out of his pocket. Henry looked at him curiously until he saw the Tamer waltz up to Kari and ask her for an autograph.

The half-Chinese boy shook his head. "You never change, do you Kazu?"

"Why would I? I'm basically perfect, well…not as perfect as Ryo…."

"Kazu! Quit it, you're embarrassing me." Ryo retorted, blushing madly. He couldn't help but smile though. Nothing could raise his ego like Kazu and Kenta. Well…maybe Rika could, but only if she happened to be in a good mood. Speaking of which, Ryo could feel the soft hands grasp around his shoulders. The Legendary Tamer looked up to see both of Rika's parents glaring at him, Rika on the other hand seemed pretty content.

"You embarrassed Romeo?" She whispered coyly into his ear.

Ryo didn't answer. Instead he blushed a few red shades deeper. After a few moments, his savior from the awkward situation came. They didn't come waltzing in shining armor though. In fact, it shocked him to think about it, but his 'knights' arrived in black leather and heels. The other Tamers nodded in recognition, the remaining members of Violet Rebel had arrived, and they didn't look too happy.

"Where have you been, Nonaka? We've been waiting for hours!" The lead girl, with her curly black shouted from the center of the trio.

Rika paled and drew her arms away from Ryo. For the first time, Ryo heard her stutter. "What day is it?"

"The final competition day, duh!" A second girl shot back.

"And the judges won't wait any longer, if we don't leave now, they'll disqualify us!" The third added.

Rika's eyes widened. "I have to go." She stated hurriedly, as she rushed from Ryo to her band mates.

"Uh…okay." Ryo replied awkwardly. After a quick look around the room, he decided to follow his girlfriend's path. He might as well watch the performance. A quick glance to his friend told him that they decided to watch too. The more the merrier.

A short walk later, and they arrived at the convention center. Rika and her friends entered it too far ahead of the rest of them. Ryo had no idea where they went. He sauntered up to the gate. The ticket-taker looked at him curiously. "Hey. I was wondering if you've seen a cute red head and three other girls come by here recently?"

The ticket-taker nodded. "Just a few minutes ago? In fact, I did." He pointed to his left. Ryo and the others turned that way and almost started walking, but the ticket master stopped them. "But you can't follow them. One, I doubt all of you are in a band. Two, you need tickets if you want to watch the show."

Ryo and the others heard footsteps behind them. Just before turning around, Ryo took note of the ticket-taker's surprised expression. Yamaki had struck again. By merely giving the ticketmaster a nod of his head, Yamaki managed to get them through. Henry found himself unsurprised. This type of thing remained typical of the Hypnos leader. Without a second look, the Tamers and the Digidestined pushed through the crowds. After a few complaints and bruises, they had a decent view on stage. They reached their spots just in time.

On stage stood Rika and her band mates in all their rocker glory. Rika herself hid her exhaustion pretty well. Once she saw the cue from the judges, she made contact with her bass player. Together they strummed a chord…and the crowd went wild.

Melody: Finally. I thought I'd never finish this story. Don't get me wrong. I loved writing it. But…I'm glad I finished it before this coming fall. So…read and review. Speaking of which…..Karika 88 sent me the most reviews (a grand total of 6) And I had a total of 37 reviewers, of which Daidairo sent me the most helpful reviews. Both of you, if you're reading this: expect to get a PM from me soon about your rewards. As for my next story: Escaping Darkness, I might postpone working on that until I come up with more ideas (or if you send me some). Instead, I'll be churning up a Teen Titans ficcy. So….yeah. Until next time…God Bless!