Welcome to the rewrite of Innocent Games. If you've read it before, the first ten or so chapters have been rewritten entirely. Brand new dialogue, scenes etc. The rest has been heavily edited. The story is overall the same. For example: I'm going straight dub here this time, so a few minor points in reference to names/nicknames are different than before.
If you are new, here's all you need to know: This story takes place approximately four years after the end of 02. I actually started writing this story before the end of 02 was released in the US (I know, this is old AF) so the epilogue is dismissed and every human will not have a digital partner.
Special shout out to Sonfaro who was a constant motivator and had pointed out ways to improve things when this story sucked. Talented author. Check out all his stuff here. There are so many more to thank – I love the digimon fandom, the majority of people are encouraging, respectful, helpful and fun to talk to. Thank you for helping me be a better writer.
I've seen worlds.
Before I knew that others existed, before I was torn from mine and forced to save another. Before the Digital World, I was sure they existed.
As a child, my mind teemed with magical places: a world where I could fly, another where I constantly wore a suit of armor (even in the tub) and got everywhere by riding a horse. In one, everything was blue. So blue that I couldn't tell the earth from the sky from the ocean from myself. But my favorite world was the one formed by fading memories: where my brother and I still shared a tiny room and I didn't do much but cry. I remember it in pieces: the legos spread across the floor, Matt's foot in my face when I snuck into his bed and turned in the night, the way we'd run to shut the door when our parents kissed, pretending like we hated it.
I sometimes wonder about the world Oikawa brought us to. If there were a way to get back there, if all those worlds could exist in a world like that.
I used to wonder if I was the only one who wondered.
Now that I'm here, I don't wonder at all.
i need u
The words had been sitting mockingly on his phone for more than an hour, waiting for a response. Matt frowned, finally left with nothing to do but answer. His college essay sat on his brother's desk, covered with comments in red pen (too poetic, too vague, this should be a semi-colon not a comma) all written in skewed pillars of scratchy scrawl. His eyes slipped sideways, across piles of books and crumpled paper to the disheveled bed. An arm slumped over TK's face, but his knees were pointing toward the ceiling and every now and then he had to readjust his feet to keep them there. Patamon had curled into a nest of blankets by his side, long furry ears masking his face. Matt turned back to his phone and hammered out a line with his fingers. Hanging with my brother tonight.
bring him with
Is your sister coming?
Matt could think of a hundred. Nope
i thought blondes had more fun ¬_¬
With a verbal groan, Matt's fingers found the bridge of his nose. Tai's name blurred across the screen of his mobile. He set the phone face down and fiddled with a box of cigarettes nestled in his pocket, fingertips dancing along the few that remained.
"Better leave them there," TK mumbled into his mattress. "Mom's gonna flip when she finds out you're smoking." He lifted his head and Patamon squirmed in his sleep. "Who are you texting?"
Matt pulled out a cigarette anyway, letting it linger against his lips. "Tai."
"You're not going to light that in here..."
"I'm going outside."
"Better brace yourself. An hour lecture. Minimum." TK watched as Matt stood. "You didn't tell her about Sora yet, did you?"
The cigarette bent between Matt's teeth.
"Make that two hours," said TK.
come on! Mimis back. i told her every1 would be there b a friend and act suprised
With a sigh, Matt closed the balcony door behind him. His phone went off again.
man up. u cant avoid Sora 4ever
I'm not Matt stopped typing and his thumb jabbed into the backspace button, erasing his words. He shoved the phone in his pocket and lit his cigarette.
your gonna come cuz im irresitable
Does your phone not have spell check?
its not smart
Sora bit back a smile and rolled her eyes.
"Are you sexting?"
Her whole face flushed. "Omigod, no. Mimi."
Noodles flopped in front of Sora's nose when Mimi pointed a pair of chopsticks at her. "You look like you're playing coy. Is it Matt?" Mimi grinned and the yakisoba retreated, sliding behind her pink lips with a loud slurp.
Mimi spoke with one cheek full. "Pretending you don't like the sexting."
"I am not sexting."
"You and Matt don't sext?"
Sora put her phone down. "No! What if someone read it?"
"Who doesn't enjoy some steamy literature once in a while?"
"She doesn't like Matt?"
"She doesn't like sexting," Sora hissed. She hid her face behind her hand when an old couple was seated in the booth beside them. "You did hear me when I said we broke up, right?"
"I'd rather live in denial." Mimi pouted when Sora glared. "Whyyyy? You guys are so cute together."
That was true, she guessed. Every picture of them was gorgeous. Matt was perpetually handsome, even when he was at his worst. Did he have a worst, really? His frown practically oozed sex. That definitely wasn't his worst: the brooding crease by his cheekbones and narrowed frosty gaze. His smile certainly wasn't. It was bright and charming, even when he was all awkward and embarrassed and his cheeks burst into rosy splotches.
Sora closed her eyes when her phone chimed with a new message. "I don't know," she said. "Maybe that's why."
"Because you guys are cute...?"
"Because we..." A piece of chicken was speared through by her chopstick. "Because we're perfect together." Sora concentrated on wrapping a single noodle around it. She swore she could hear Mimi's jaw drop.
"Well, that's stupid."
Sora looked up and found Mimi's mouth had puckered, like she tasted something sour. Her eyes narrowed and Sora's narrowed right back. "Thanks."
Sora groaned. "It feels like we're always trying too hard. We never fight." She sighed when Mimi raised her brows. "I mean about us. Our relationship. Shouldn't we fight about us sometimes?"
"You broke up with Matt because you guys don't fight about your relationship?"
"You're making it sound stupid."
"I'm just repeating what you said."
Sora flicked a straw wrapper at her and it barely fluttered. "I tried once. To fight with him. About the band. I acted like I was jealous of it, even though I wasn't." She laughed and Mimi took another big bite of yakisoba. "He just looked at me, you know, like he was trying to get me and then he asked if he should quit."
"Dead serious. He wasn't even mad. He said it didn't matter. Like music didn't matter more than me."
"That's really sweet."
"It's not. It's uncomfortable." Sora poked at her food and everything seemed to rush out of her in one breath. "I'm always uncomfortable. When its just us, I get... he makes me nervous – my stomach hurts, sometimes I can't even breathe."
"Sounds like a crush."
"It's exactly like a crush." Sora frowned. "For four years."
Mimi swallowed another bite of noodles and stared at her, hard. "You broke up with Matt because you've had a crush on him for four years."
"I just want to be friends again. I want to sit in a room with him while he plays guitar and not feel like I have to sing his praises. I want to work on a sketch without him telling me how beautiful it is. I want him to forget our anniversary. I want him to do something wrong." Sora's eyes sunk to her uneaten meal and found a notification on her phone.
"You want someone less perfect."
Nodding, Sora checked her messages. "I guess."
sora you dissapoint me. i left u the perfect opening and u blew it. so u coming 2 the party or what?
"Do you want to go to this party Tai's bugging me about?" Sora asked.
Mimi beamed. "Who do you think convinced him to go?"
"I call bullshit," Davis grumbled.
The pew pew pew of the arcade shooter quieted when Yolei stopped her relentless button mashing to raise a brow at him. It shot up like a question mark beneath her lenses, glaring with the countless lights of electronics. "What?"
Leaning against the side of an old pinball machine, Davis lifted his phone so she could see the text on his screen.
Ken took out another couple zombies before racking up his arcade gun. Davis huffed when Ken's name outranked his in the high scores.
Pushing hair behind his ear, Ken pulled his cell from his back pocket. "I have the same text."
Yolei hung up the gun she'd still been holding and grinned devilishly when her name climbed to the top of the screen. She flipped open her phone. "He sent it to all of us.
"It's bullshit," Davis spat. "Guaranteed. Mimi's in town, scheming. She probably stole his phone."
"It does say emergency," said Ken.
"Wait. No, Davis is right. I think he's bluffing." She pulled a crumpled piece of paper from her purse and attempted to smooth it. "Apparently Tai's class is lacking in graphic designers. I think someone did this in Paint. God awful."
She held up a flyer covered in ridiculously drawn confetti and written entirely in Comic Sans. "The seniors are throwing a graduation party."
Ken looked at his phone again. "Why would Tai invite underclassmen?"
"Because it's Tai," said Yolei. "He likes attention."
Davis frowned. "He's going to beat me up."
"Oh please, he messaged all of us."
"I'm not going," said Davis. Bullshit,he typed.
u got me emergency party
And then a second later, dont worry, im not gonna beat u up
Davis leaned forward, peering suspiciously around the corner to find a bunch of elementary kids gathered around the latest version of DDR. No Tai. He held up a finger when Yolei tried to talk to him. Thanks, he took him a while to hammer out the next line. Kari gonna be there? I need to talk to her.
"What is that supposed to mean?" asked Yolei.
Davis flinched and shrugged his shoulder into her chin, nudging her away. "Stop reading my texts."
"You were about to show it to me anyway."
True, but he wasn't about to admit it. "Mind your own business."
"Please, your business is everyone's business."
"No it's not." Davis looked to Ken for back up and was let down by a shrug. "Shut up."
"I didn't say anything," said Ken.
Davis huffed and showed Ken his phone. "What is this supposed to mean?"
"I think he's being purposefully elusive."
"So that I come? Or I don't? Maybe he forgot to leave me out of the message."
"I doubt that," said Ken.
"He knows it takes two to tango," said Yolei.
"There was no tango-ing," Davis snapped, trying not to sound disappointed. "We had a moment."
"With your tongues. While she was dating TK."
Davis reached into his hair to fiddle with his goggles before he remembered they were missing. He could still picture them, nestled in Kari's hair. He crossed his arms. "I know, I know. I'm an asshole."
"You just weren't thinking," said Ken. If it had come from someone else, Davis would've taken it as an insult, but Ken did this thing with his voice that was eerily soothing.
"Was that Kari's excuse?" Yolei's eyes went all squinty, the same way they did whenever she took off her glasses. Davis sorta wanted to steal them so she always looked that stupid.
"It was a moment," he repeated.
She was already ignoring him, fingernails clicking against buttons as she hammered out her own texts at breakneck speed.
Davis pouted at Ken and returned to Tai's message. It must have taken him a good five minutes to write back, because Ken was already winning against the next round of computer zombies. Tell her to come. I'll be good. You can even chaperone us.
His phone gave a pleasant chirp in return.
as if u had a choice
Davis started to respond when Yolei's voice squealed, "Oh! We're doing makeovers at Sora's!"
"We?" he asked.
"For the party. With Mimi. The girls," Yolei said. Before Davis could open his mouth again, she looked up from her phone to glare at him. "Kari's not coming."
He frowned. "Crap."
Ken gave him a small smile. "Whack-a-mole?"
"How'd ya guess?"
Green eyes scanned the words through thin metal bars. Ripping off his glove, Cody typed a quick reply. Where?
His fingers tapped impatiently on the end of a shinai while he waited for a response. "Sorry, sensei."
Removing his helmet, Chikara Hida gave a wave of dismissal and kicked back a swig of prune juice. His white beard came back glistening around a smile, wrinkles kissing the corners of his cheeks. "How is the Digital World these days?"
"Peaceful." Cody pulled off his own helmet and pushed strands of damp hair from his eyes. He looked over his shoulder to where Upamon was happily playing with his own mini shinai, his oversized ears swinging it around with strange precision. Cody's attention turned back to his phone and it felt suddenly heavy in his hand. "It's been a long time since we've had a meeting."
"We haven't seen anyone since I've been back," complained Upamon, suddenly dropping his weapon. He bounced across the dojo floor and flew into Cody's back, forcing him forward. "Are we having a meeting?"
"Sounds like it." His phone chimed and he peered down at the new message.
Bullshit, it said. A tiny avatar bursting with burgundy hair appeared beside it. Davis was grinning behind his goggles and shooting up what he must have thought was some sort of American gang sign.
Cody squinted at his phone, watching as Tai and Davis messaged back and forth.
"Is everything all right?" his grandfather asked.
"False alarm," Cody answered flatly. He gave Upamon's head an affectionate pat and typed out a quick message of his own.
Davis, you're in a group text.
His phone chimed again.
The phone slid under a pillow and a body slid under the sheets, further and further until it was just a ball at the foot of the bed. It gave a pitiful moan. "Please stop."
A door creaked open. "You could turn it off."
The lump shook, a pathetic vibrating that only ended when the smoothly tucked corners of the the comforter were yanked out from under the mattress, uncovering it.
Susumu Kamiya sat on the bed and gave his daughter's hair a rub. Chestnut strands stuck in every direction, clinging to the sheets.
Kari pulled the covers back over her head. "I messed everything up," she moaned, wiping damp cheeks into her mattress. "Even Tai's mad at me."
"He's not mad at you, honey. He's just brothering." Susumu laughed, just a little snort of appreciation at his own humor. "You know, like mothering, but he's your broth—"
"Got it, Dad," Kari moaned.
"Anyway, you didn't mess everything up. You're in high school, Kari. This isn't time for a serious relationship anyway."
"You mean any relationship."
"That's my girl."
Susumu's hand reached and slipped under her pillow. He started scrolling through her messages.
Kari peeked from under the covers. "Dad!"
"You don't want to read that. Or that." He stretched his arm away from her grabbing hand. "Protecting my daughter's virtue is my dadly duty. Please."
Kari found her nose smushed under his palm. "Stop looking at my—"
"Definitely not that. Wow. I'm gonna have a talk with his mother about that language. Oh here." Susumu released her face and handed her the phone. A row of texts had appeared, all accompanied by a grinning picture of Mimi Tachikawa, who (courtesy some good trick photography) seemed to be sporting Lady Liberty's crown.
"You should go have fun with the girls," Susumu said. "Get out of the house."
Kari looked up from her phone and frowned. "Stop fathering me."
"Too late." He patted her knee with a boyish grin. "Did that a long time ago."
im here. ur mom made dinner. its delish
"Mmmmm, Mrs. Izumi," Tai mumbled through a mouthful of dumplings, "dese are amadin'." He grabbed another between his fingers and offered it to Joe, who sat awkwardly beside him, knees knocking into the Izumi's coffee table.
Joe peered over his glasses at the food, moist in Tai's palm. "Let's leave some for Izzy."
Shrugging, Tai popped it in to join the others. The bedroom door opened.
"Iddy!" Tai swallowed. "Can I have your mom?"
Izzy's eyes, dark and lined with heavy shadows, flickered to the kitchen where his mother was putting together another plate. His attention turned back to Tai who seemed to be waiting for a serious answer. "No."
"I have some fresh bok choy and garlic," Mrs. Izumi said, carrying a tray into the living room. The smell preceded her and Tai's mouth started to water.
Izzy ignored him and turned his attention to Joe. "I'm going to make an educated guess and conclude the emergency's a farce."
"This is why I don't add you to group texts," Tai grumbled. "You ruin all the fun."
Mrs. Izumi set the bok choy on the table and Tai quickly snatched some up with his chopsticks, thanking her through a loud slurp. "Would you boys like anything to drink?" she asked.
"Could I take my dinner in my room?"
"Oh, well, of course, Izzy, but," Mrs. Izumi seemed to hesitate, her hands wringing together, "don't you want to take a break?"
"I want to show them what I've been working on," he said, rubbing a tired eye. "I'll go to bed after that."
"No way, emergency meeting, Izzy."
Izzy set his eyebrows until they looked like a big bushy V and Tai grimaced.
"Is everything all right?"
"Everything's fine, Mom. Don't worry."
"Okay, I'll just put this all on a tray for you. Tai, Joe, are you staying for—"
"No," Izzy said. "They have a party to go to." He pulled open his door, motioning for them to step inside.
"Aw man," Tai moaned, slumping into Izzy's office chair. His neck craned backwards, making it seem as if his large mop of hair was weighing him down. "Killjoy, that's what you are. I coulda boxed that up and taken it home for later. Do you know how hard it is to get a good meal at my house?"
Izzy pushed the chair so that it rolled away from his desk, Tai flopping with it. An array of screens were running in black and white, with code so tiny that Tai had squint his eyes to make out any of it.
"So what's got you too busy to make it to my graduation party? This is like a once in a lifetime opportunity, Izzy."
"No one went to mine," interjected Joe, stretching his legs as he sat on Izzy's bed. "Including me."
"Wrong." Tai snapped his fingers. "I went to yours."
Izzy tapped a couple of lines into the screen, his dark eyes running back and forth to double check his work. He looked haggard. His red hair was long again, sticking out in every direction in greasy clumps. Tai was about to ask when he'd last thought to take a shower when he spoke up.
"I'm replicating the data that existed in the world MaloMyotismon brought Davis's team into."
Tai sat up straight and used his feet to roll the chair forward. His eyes danced over the screens. "You mean Whoop-ass Wishing World?"
"That's what you named it?" Joe asked.
Tai gave a shrug. "Davis did. Made sense."
"WWW." Izzy's top lip curled with a hint of amusement, fingers still flying across the keys. "Because of it's connection to the Digital World, I've actually managed to extract a quantitative code that could potentially give us the power to create tangible spaces with the images in our brains: memories, dreams..."
Joe gave a heavy swallow. "You're kidding."
"Not at all," groaned a voice beside his rear.
Joe jumped, literally taking off across the room with a hand clutched over his breast when Tentomon appeared from under the covers.
"He's been working on it all night," Tentomon moaned, green digital eyes flickering sleepily. "And all day. And the night before that and the night before that..."
"So what you're saying is"—Tai gave a big grin and rolled up, bumping the back of the chair into Izzy's legs—"he needs a break. A party perhaps?"
Izzy was already shaking his head. "I'm not going, Tai. Do you have any idea what a breakthrough like this could mean? We can dream up"—he started to look a bit manic— "endless possibilities. This could mean a world of unlimited resources... we can literally create an entire world of unlimited resources."
"You must have weird dreams."
"He has no time for dreams," yawned Tentomon. "Never sleeps."
"Izzy, Izzy, Izzy," Tai tsked. He stood and threw an arm around his shoulders. "You gotta know when to quit. This isn't healthy, is it, Joe?"
Joe was already busy picking up an assortment of empty tea bottles from the floor. "I hope you're drinking water."
Izzy lifted his shadow-rimmed eyes to Tai's, squinting. "Breakthrough."
"Is this why you missed my soccer game Friday?" Tai pouted when Izzy gave a shrug. "You wound me."
A knock disturbed them and Mrs. Izumi slowly opened the door with a tray of food in her arms. There was enough for all of them even though they weren't staying. "It's so nice to see you boys," she said when Izzy quickly turned back to his screen. "It's been too long."
Tai deflated. "College applications, ugh."
In truth, they were only half the problem. It had been more than six months since he had attempted to get the group together. The older they got, the more complicated everything seemed to get. School was a given, relationships were just, ugh, drama... heck, even soccer was crazy. A quarter of the team was stressing over college scouts. Tai was over it. He hated complicated – the stress, everything-it was easier to avoid it.
"Just wait until you're in college," groaned Joe. "I don't even know why I'm here."
"Easy." Tai grinned. "Me."
Mrs. Izumi smiled. "I can't believe how much you've all grown." She set the tray down and the fingers on her hand twitched, just behind her son's red hair. It lowered suddenly when Izzy began to plug in another line of a code and Tai noticed the way her smile stretched when her eyes filled with tears.
Joe must have noticed too, because he started fumbling with his armful of empty bottles and excused himself, bolting out of the room to throw them into the recycling bin.
Izzy immediately stopped typing and turned to her. "I can't speak for Tai, but I'd deduce my growth has a lot to do with your incredible cooking." He rubbed one tired eye and forced a grateful smile.
"Please speak for me," Tai said, swiping yet another dumpling. He internally breathed a sigh of relief when Mrs. Izumi's face lit up, tears shining.
"I really appreciate it," Izzy continued. Pink welled into his cheeks when she kept smiling. "Thanks, Mom."
Her voice came out sweet and strangled. "You're welcome, sweetheart. You boys let me know if there is anything else I can get you." The door closed after Tai caught her wiping her eyes.
He turned to Izzy. There was a brief moment unspoken between them, a concern Tai wasn't sure how to voice: What's going on? Why is your mom crying? Are you okay?
Izzy turned back to his screen and Tentomon buzzed into the side of his leg, a not so subtle nudge. He leaned down to grab a dumpling from his partner's outstretched claw.
"I'll call you when I've reached a stopping point," Izzy said before taking a bite. His mouse clicked once, twice, and then he reached backwards without looking and rolled the office chair back in front of the desk. He took a seat and clicked again.
"Okay, I get it." Tai shoveled a mound of food into his palm for the road. "You're on a roll. Breakthrough. Yeah, call me when you decide to be cool again."
"A breakthrough that could theoretically save the world."
"Meh. Already did that. Literally." Tai put one last dumpling on his pile. "You make sure he gets a shower later, eh Tentomon?"
Izzy frowned while Tentomon gave an obedient salute.
Tai's fingers danced by his head in a weak imitation of Medusa's snakes. "Your hair, Izzy, geez. Shower! Water, food... life!" He tore into the dough with his teeth and spoke through a mouthful of pork. "You know Mimi's gonna be there, right?"
There was another light flush in Izzy's cheeks and Tai felt triumphant.
"Tell her I said hello," Izzy mumbled before taking his own bite of food. "How long is she in town?"
"A week, I think." Tai gave a shrug and headed for the door. "Life," he hissed, backing out of the room. "La-iiife." He could have sworn he saw Izzy start to laugh, just the slightest shake of his shoulders.
Joe almost ran into his back. "Where are you going?"
Tai popped another piece of food into his mouth. "To da pardy."
"What, that's it? You aren't going to drag him out by the collar and call him a pansy?"
Joe glared through his lenses. "Yet it's perfectly acceptable to do to me?"
"Can't do it to Izzy." Tai slapped him between the shoulders of his collared shirt, hard. "He's got a backbone."
The screen had gone blurry long before he finally quit. Izzy's face lowered onto the keyboard, crushing keys. Blank lines entered beneath the cursor until there was nothing left but black. It took a minute before he realized he'd fallen asleep.
Izzy peeled his sticky cheek from the back of his hand and robotically erased the lines until he was back to a screen full of code. He rubbed his eyes but the numbers wouldn't focus. Yawning, he saved his work and rolled his chair backwards.
"Shower," he mumbled, still hearing Tai's voice chiming cheerfully in his ear.
It had been a long time since Tai had been by.
Maybe it just felt long. Time didn't pass normally when he was working. Obsessing, Tentomon would say worriedly from his usual position on his bed. The digimon spent the rest of his time in the kitchen with his mom, worrying. Izzy cast a look over his shoulder as he trudged tiredly to the hall, catching the digimon snoring beneath the covers. Guilt crawled into his belly and he slowly closed the door behind him.
Izzy tried to shake it off. It would be over soon. The program was complete. It was riddled with bugs, a million different glitches that he couldn't seem to figure out, but the essence was there. The power to create, just waiting for his fingertips.
Turning on the water seemed mundane, infinitesimal in comparison to everything he could be doing. Necessary only because he was, unfortunately, still very human.
Izzy stared at himself in the mirror, his red hair was greasy and wild from endless frustrated tugs and long enough that it looked a miniature version of Tai's gravity defying mane. He attempted to smooth it and it stuck to his scalp in kinky waves. He gave himself a small sniff and his nose crinkled with disgust.
Sighing, he stripped and stepped into the shower. Code danced across his closed eyes, burnt permanently into his retinas, while the screen in his room slowly ate it away.
Inside his computer, the numbers collapsed. Code slipped from all sides of the monitor, funneling to the center of the screen. The whole room flashed, a distortion of a pixels, just a glimpse into the world beyond. Then everything went silent.
Months of work lost and in its wake, a black hole, just waiting for something else to come close.