"Gone"

4. 'Missing'

"And if I sleep just to dream of you

I'll wake without you there.

Isn't something missing?

Isn't someone missing me?"

'Missing' Evanescence

"Kill them?" Ken asked himself quietly. "Do you hear yourself Ken?"

"It's the only way..." That little voice in the back of his head, insisted, "You heard what Yolei said. You have to break all connections to this world."

Ken sat up, uncharacteristically ran his hand through his chin-length hair and then pressed his palms to his eyes, as if trying to blot out the stinging harshness of this world around him. "You're right."

He climbed down his bed and padded across his room, where he sat at his desk. "The question is how to..."

"Kill them, are the words you were looking for."

Ken swallowed and nodded. "Yes, kill them." He suddenly stood up forcefully and wanted to scream, but kept his voice to a vehement whisper, "God, I am crazy. I'm talking to myself."

"Lots of people do that, but not many people have complex worlds inside their heads."

Ken turned to his door and walked down the passage to the kitchen. He listened hard for any sound coming from his parent's bedroom, but none came and he knew they were still sleeping.

He stepped into the kitchen and looked around. He began to search through the draws when he picked up a menacing looking carving knife. He brought it up to eye-level and the morning sunlight glinted off it as he turned it. He could see his blue eyes reflected in the blade now and dropped it in surprise. He'd had a quick gory vision of their bodies covered in blood and his hands stained with it.

"No." he mouthed, "I'll have to think of something else."

"Like what?" his inner voice asked.

"A Digimon...Devidramon aren't like other digimon and they are easily controlled."

With a good plan planted firmly inside his head, Ken marched to his room, scribbled a note to his parents about where he was and looked up at Wormmon who was still asleep. "It doesn't matter anyway." he said quietly, "It's better if he doesn't know."

Quietly as he could, he opened the portal to the Digital world and landed in the forest. He looked right and left and then began to walk. He was very wary of where he went though, he had by no means forgotten about the attack that had landed him in this situation in the first place. The light danced through the tress and the air was sweet, not at all reflecting Ken's mood. If it had being, it would be raining and the wind would be howling and swirling so violently that these calm and still trees would be uprooted. The sky would have been a steel gray and the air would be so thick it would be difficult to breathe. But he mused that it was funny how he had never seen the digital world when it was raining. Every time they had come, it was sunning and happy. Sure, in some places it snowed, but that was a seasonal thing.

He stopped suddenly, surprised at how fast he had traveled while he was thinking. He had reached a massive cave, which sat dividing the edge of the forest and the Server Desert. Cautiously, he stepped into the mouth and held his breath. There, lying in front of him was four Devidramon, asleep. "Good," he muttered to himself, "They're still here." and turning quietly, he left the cave and made his way across the Server Desert to a pile of ruins.

The base of the Digimon Emperor was literally a shell of its former self, but Ken did not need the shell, he needed something that was inside it.

Ken stepped forward and hesitated at the opening. Unable to feel his legs beneath him anymore, he dropped to his knees and then pressed his hands into the sand. "No." he whispered. "NO!" he screamed looking up to the sky, arching his back, his hands in fists. "I can't do this! Not after...NO!"

"Damn it Ken, pull yourself together. This is why you are sick, you're too afraid to deal with the things in your life! You need to do this, you have to do this, there is no other way. Now pick yourself up and go inside that base."

With a deep breath and a loud exhale; Ken pushed himself up off the sand and to his feet. Shaking, he stepped inside the fortress of bad memories and terrible mistakes. The base was in even worse condition after having been blown up twice, but Ken still, somehow knew how to navigate his way around it, until he found the control room.

He got down on all fours and dug around in the debris for a while before finally finding what he was looking for.

He pulled out a black, steel box and opened it. With a shaking hand, he picked up a dark, evil, Ring.

------

"What time where you thinking Ken?" Davis asked on the other end of the phone.

"I was thinking around noon. But we should meet at my place first so we can all go together and not get split up."

"Good idea Ken. Okay, I'll phone the others and let them know about the picnic."

"Thanks." Ken put the phone down and wiped the small beads of sweat off his brow. He felt sick to his stomach for two reasons. One, he felt extremely guilty and the other, was because his world was fading out around him and a new one was taking its place.

It was dark around him, must be the middle of the night. He sat up in his bed and pushed away the white sheets.

He stepped onto the cold tile floor and smelt the clinical air. Moonlight was flooding his room and he could see the city skyline dotted with lights of buildings. He turned and opened his door, he was a little surprised to find that it wasn't locked, but he guessed that he wasn't a danger to himself or anyone else, so they were a little slack about his security. His bare feet slapped the tiles as he made his way down the eerie passage, which was far less friendly than it was in the day. It was dark, save for the minimal moonlight creeping in through gaps in windows and doors.

Then he heard singing. It was distant but clear. He walked forward carefully, listening to the voice as if it were pulling him along. It seemed a bit out of place in the nightmarish corridor but at the same time, like it had been there all the time and he just hadn't noticed it, like it belonged to this night, to this dark world.

He turned into the common room and found the source of the voice. It was the redhead girl who had sung earlier. She was sitting at the barred window, staring at the moon and singing an operatic song that Ken did not understand but loved just the same. Her voice was full of woe and beauty. He did not know whether to cry or to smile.

She stopped singing and turned her head to profile, and then she looked back out the window. Ken wasn't sure if he imagined it or not, but he thought she had made a gesture to come sit by her. Regardless, he walked over and sat down next to her.

"You have a beautiful voice." He told her quietly.

"Thank you."

Ken looked at her face. She spoke. Ken was told that she never spoke and had only just started singing again. He decided not to say anything about this; he didn't want to be rude.

"You're awake." she stated. Her voice was quiet and melancholy.

"Sometimes." he replied.

"He misses you very much."

"Who?"

"Your brother. He visits you everyday."

"Really?"

She nodded gently, "He used to talk to you when you first came here, hoping that his voice would bring you back, but now he just sits quietly with you."

Ken didn't know how to re-act to that, so he hung his head and tried not to cry. "I want to get better."

"Me too." she whispered.

Ken looked at her face and she looked at his, "They put you here because you stopped talking?"

"Among other things, yes. People have different ways of dealing with things; it doesn't mean they are sick, it just means that they are different."

"If you want to get out of here, then why don't you start talking again? Like you are with me."

"Who said I wanted to get out of here?"

Ken inclined his head, "But you said you wanted to -"

"Get better, yes. I didn't say I wanted to leave here. My sickness is that I'd do anything to stay here. The doctors say that I'm self-destructive. I would rather be here than face the world out there and go living a life that will be nothing like the life I lost."

"People have their own ways of dealing with things." He mused.

"This is mine."

Ken nodded in understanding. He hung his head, "The only way for me to get better, is to...to kill the friends I have in my world."

"That can't be easy." She mumbled.

Ken looked at her and felt a wave of comfort. She understood. She knew that these were real people to Ken, not figments of his imagination and that getting rid of them would be the hardest thing he would ever have to do.

"I don't know what to do."

"Which world do you want to live in? One where your brother is dead, or one where he is alive, but can only see you during visiting hours?"

"At least I would still see him."

"Exactly."

Ken smiled weakly at her and felt reassured about what he had to do. He stood up and thanked her for her advice before the world around him vanished and he was sitting in his room.

He knew what he had to do now. He got up and walked to the bathroom and more directly to the medicine cabinet. He was setting his plan in motion. He opened it up and pulled out a bottle of sleeping tablets, then marched to the kitchen where he pulled out a small tub of vanilla ice-cream. He pulled open the draw and took a chopstick from it, setting the tub on the counter and began to poke holes in the ice-cream. Then he opened the capsules and emptied the sleep inducing drugs into the holes in the ice-cream. Next he took a spoon and using the smooth side, spread the surface of the ice-cream around to close the holes.

He grabbed a container and began to randomly fill it with cookies and chocolate and other foods.

The sound of someone knocking on the door filled his ears, so he stood up and walked to the front door. He checked the peephole first and then stepped back to let his friends in.

Davis, Yolei, TK, Kari, Cody and all their digimon walked into Ken's home and stood waiting in the living area. They all had similar expression on their faces. Ken avoided looking at them for two reasons. One, he didn't want to see the way their eyes told him he was crazy and two, because he was about to murder them all.

"So, how are you feeling?" Yolei asked gently and a little hesitantly.

"Better." Ken lied moving into the kitchen and grabbed the container and ice-cream. Then he moved back to the living area. "Is everyone ready?" he asked.

They all nodded and Kari lifted her picnic basket, "I brought some stuff too."

Ken smiled a little at that. Kari was always prepared with things like that, she was thoughtful that way.

"I brought a blanket, you know for us to sit on." Yolei added.

Ken nodded and felt his stomach sink. His friends were so special; it was hard to believe he was really going to go through with this. He just had to keep telling himself that they weren't real.

Once they were in the digital world, he led them to exactly the spot where he needed them to be, an area just on the edge of the forest and the Server Desert.

Cody helped Yolei open up and spread the blanket on the floor, while Kari and TK set up all the goodies.

Ken stood back a bit and held the tub of ice-cream. He looked down guiltily at the digimon and especially Wormmon. When he looked into those big blue eyes, he almost decided to pull back on his plan, but then those blue eyes reminded him of Sam and he pushed forward.

"Wormmon and everyone else," he said, "I brought ice-cream for all you digimon to eat, but you should eat it just over there, so you don't get any on Yolei's blanket." He stooped down and placed the ice-cream on the ground a couple of feet from the rest of the group.

"That was cool of you Ken." Davis grinned.

He nodded curtly and knelt down. Kari had just finished setting out all the food when Ken saw that the ice-cream was finished and the digimon were looking rather sleepy. He didn't smile, rather he took a deep breath and turned to the group, "Hey guys, before we eat, there's something I wanted to show you. It's these markings I found on that cave wall over there."

TK looked up curiously as did Cody.

"Really?" Kari asked.

"What kind of markings?" Yolei inquired.

Ken stood up, "Well, if you come with me I can show you."

They all nodded and followed Ken to the cave, which was very close to their picnic spot. Being a gentleman, he stood aside and let them all inside first, following at a distance behind them until finally he fell back completely and ran out the cave.

He sighed heavily as he pulled out a remote control and pushed a button. In seconds a Devidramon flew down and blocked the entrance by rolling a large bolder in front of the cave mouth. Then he hit another button and heard shrieks coming from the cave itself.

Ken burst out crying and fell to his knees sobbing.

Cries of, "Help!" and "Oh my God!" could be heard echoing off the walls followed by the most awful scream of the Devidramon.

Ken's stomach suddenly did back flips and he fell over and retched up his guilty feelings.

Was this really worth it? Was killing his friends worth living in a metal ward, where for the rest of his life he would never have a normal existence and he would have no real friends, not like the friends he had now. He would miss his brother, but he didn't even know if that was really his brother anyway.

Ken stood up and yelled frantically at the Devidramon to stop, hitting a button again. The creature moved the bolder once more and Ken sprinted into the cave finding his friends scared out of their minds while three large Devidramon stood tall but still over them.

"Follow me!" Ken yelled to them and some of them ran while others limped to safety.

He looked at them. Cody looked as though he might have a broken arm. Yolei's ankle looked bruised and swollen. Davis was sporting a broken nose and a horrible gash on his right cheek. Kari's shoulder had some bruising and cuts on it and TK had a deep and nasty looking cut on his leg.

"What happened to you Ken?" Davis asked breathlessly.

Ken hesitated, his voice suddenly gone.

"Did you know there were Devidramon in there?" he demanded.

Ken nodded just slightly.

"WHAT?" TK yelled.

"Let me explain…" Ken pleaded.

"This better be good." Cody narrowed his eyes at Ken, cradling his arm.

"The doctor in that other world, he said that the only way for me to get better would be to kill off my friends who were keeping me here. I missed Osamu so much that I guess that seemed worth it…but I was so horribly wrong. And I am so sorry."

They all stared at him not knowing what to say and then he broke down in front of them sobbing.

"I'm so sorry, I'm so, so sorry! I don't know what I was thinking. I am crazy, I'm sorry! Oh my God, I am crazy!"

"Ken…" Davis soothed, "You didn't know. It's not your fault, those digimon did something to you…you weren't yourself…"

Ken continued to shake his head and sob, while all the Digidestined looked down on him, glancing at each other every so often, not knowing what to say.

And in another world, Ken was sitting curled up in the corner of his room, his doctor, mother, father and brother all looking down on him sadly.

"I'm sorry," Ken's doctor turned to his parents and sighed heavily, "It seems he's retreated even further into his world. I doubt we'll ever be able to reach him now. I'm so sorry, but…he's gone."

Ken's mother gasped and buried her face in her husband's chest, while Osamu looked down sadly at his little brother, feeling completely useless and empty.

------

"How are you feeling, Ken?" Davis asked gently as he entered Ken's room and found him standing on the balcony.

Ken glanced at Davis and then at the horizon and shrugged, "Ashamed I guess. Embarrassed. I bet the others don't want to come near me now."

Davis shook his head, "They're just giving you space to figure things out, you know?" He gave Ken his famous smile.

Ken couldn't help but grin back.

"So…you're not crazy anymore?"

Ken turned to Davis and shook his head, "No, I am, but at least I know that now."

"Huh?"

"This world…when I needed sleeping pills, they were there. When I needed the ice-cream, it was there. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"Not in the slightest." Davis replied bluntly.

Ken laughed a little and then spoke seriously, "I needed those things to play out my plan and they were there. That's how I know that this is just the world inside my head."

Davis stared at him for a long time before finally speaking, "But Ken…didn't you want to be with Osamu?"

Ken gave him a wry smile, "I would have lived a half life in that world. I would have always have being 'sick'. I would have only seen Osamu during visiting hours, but here, I have friends who care about me, I'm…well, sort of normal and most of all…I'm happy here."

"You are?"

"Well, I'm happier here than I would have being there, I understand that now."

Davis continued to stare at him and then he shrugged, "Meh, I don't buy it, but you believe what you want. I mean, me? A figment of your imagination? How egotistical is that?"

Ken laughed and shook his head.

"You should keep this philosophy between us Ken, I don't think the others would like it much."

Ken nodded and caught Davis's infectious smile.

"So? You want to go play some imaginary soccer with an imaginary ball in the imaginary park?"

Ken chuckled and followed his best friend out of his room and outside.

He looked around, took in a deep breath and smiled. It was real enough for him.

------

(AN)

Okay, and I finally got it up. I'll admit that I was lazy and I just didn't want to proofread and edit this chapter. I'm sorry about that, I was really busy with a whole bunch of stuff.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed. Per, if I didn't say already, go ahead and translate it if you want but give me credit and I'd love to see a copy of it when you're done.

Eternity's Heir, I would love to see the lyrics of that song you mentioned.

As I have stated before, I got the plot idea from the episode 'Normal again' from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And the idea for digimon going after Ken was inspired by the story 'Meeting of the misunderstood' by kenandwormchanchicka, which just by the way is an amazing story that you should check out.