Disclaimer: This story is written for fun-purpose only. I don't own Digimon or the characters I use in this story; and no money is made with this fanfic.
Criticism: Always welcome, as long as it's constructive.
Summary: "In order to keep sane, I need to continue pretending. Because otherwise, my whole world would fall apart…" (Daisuke-centric)
Warning: Ehh…not beta-read. I could need a beta-reader, so whoever is willing and has time…send me and e-mail or tell me in your review! Thanks.
Notes: The idea for this fanfic has been in my head for quite a while now, and I finally started writing it down. Daisuke is, of course, the main character (what did you expect?), but this time, Jun has amajor role as well, simply because I like her.
Why the title? This will become clearer in the later chapters, so be patient. ;P
Now please bear in mind that I am living and working in Australia right now (for those of you who don't know it yet, I'm from Germany and English is my second language - which explains the mistakes here and then). I don't have access to a computer on a regular basis and updates can vary, depending on my time and mood. I always try my best, and I promise you that, but usually, I'm not a very quick writer.However, reviews tend to help...
Enjoy the story!
Chapter One: Little Dragon, make me proud
I always thought that my sister was strong. But when I saw here for the first time in the doctor's office, so small and pale, I realized that this wasn't true. She wasn't strong at all. Never was.
Neither am I. We are all just pretending, for the sake of others and for the sake of ourselves.
In order to keep sane, I need to continue pretending. Because otherwise, my whole world would fall apart – and I couldn't bear that.
"Daisuke, are you alright?" The worried voice interrupted his thoughts, and he blinked. For a moment, greyness had penetrated his vision.
"Duh." The brown-haired boy made a face and shook his head. "Yeah…yeah, I'm fine."
Takeru regarded him with a mixture of concern and amusement on his face. "You were kinda spacing out."
Daisuke smiled weakly. "I didn't sleep very well last night."
Hikari, who was busily devouring her lunch, sent him a scolding glance. "You shouldn't play so many computer games at night, Davis."
He laughed meekly. "Ah, yes, I know, but I simply couldn't stop…"
The two sighed in unison. "Davis…what shall we do with you? The exams are starting in two weeks, and you still haven't studied anything. Aren't they important to you?"
"They are." His smile never wavered, but his insides were breaking. "Just not as important as they are to you guys. And I have been studying!"
Not wanting to discuss this topic any further, he looked down at his lunch. Kitsune Udon, usually his favourite, but he didn't feel hungry today. In fact, he had stopped feeling hungry a long time ago. He was just eating because his body needed food.
Of course, he didn't tell that the others. No, he didn't want to worry them. They had enough on their plates with the approaching exams – the final exams of high-school, and therefore very important, since they would decide about their future universities and therefore careers. And it wasn't true that he didn't care. Hell, he wanted to do well in these exams, more than ever!
And he had studied, quite a lot…but he couldn't let the others know this as well, for this wasn't like his usual behaviour and it would make them worry and ask questions.
Daisuke couldn't need questions right now.
Feeling tired, he managed to gulp down a spoonfull of the soup. His stomach clenched together. How was he supposed to eat the whole bowl? He didn't feel hungry, not at all…all he wanted to do was go home and curl up in his bed. But that wasn't an option.
The others chatted happily among each other, whilst Daisuke stared off into space. Normally, he would join in the conversation, but today he simply couldn't muster up the energy.
He had stayed up late, but not because he had been playing computer games. His console was, in fact, collecting dust, because he hadn't played a single game during the last few weeks.
No, he had visited Jun and then he had been unable to sleep because…because he needed to sort out his thoughts, and then his parents were screaming again and he had tried not to listen, but it was impossible, and so…and so he had ended up crying and writing down notes.
Writing down what he thought had become an important part of Daisuke's life. Since he could tell nobody what was happening, his notebook was his only friend. And it was then, when he was sitting at his desk, that he could write down all the things that haunted him at night, everything that had happened, and all the sadness which made it more difficult to smile with each passing day.
The bell rang, and he nearly jumped up. The bowl of soup was still standing in front of him – untouched and cold by now – which made Takeru glance at him in surprise. "Aren't you hungry? Normally, no food is safe from you!"
"Well," he laughed sheepishly and put a hand behind his head. "Actually, I went to the supermarket before and bought quite a few sweets, so I'm not hungry anymore."
Hikari rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Davis, you're old enough to know that this is not healthy."
Daisuke grinned widely. "I know. But I simply couldn't resist – they had this special offer of…"
"Yeah, yeah, I don't want to hear it." Takeru waved it off good-naturedly. "Sometimes I think that you're a wandering stomach."
The tanned boy looked indignant. "Hey. At least I'm a good-looking stomach!"
Hikari and Takeru laughed, while Daisuke breathed an inward sigh of relief. Phew… rescued.He hated lying to his friends, but he really was running out of ideas how to evade their questions. So he continued to make jokes while they headed back to their classrooms.
The Kitsune Udon remained untouched on the table.
Pretending is an important part of everyone's life. We are pretending that we are nice, clever, smart, or self-confident…while in fact, everybody is haunted by his or her own fears.
Sometimes, I am pretending to be strong. Because I realized that when I pretend to be strong – pretend it for the sake of others, because they are relying on me – then I actually am strong.Pretending can change you and the world around you.
So maybe…maybe if I pretend that everything is fine, maybe then everything will come back to normal. Yeah. I just pretend that I am still the same Daisuke and that Jun is still the annoying sister I once knew.
Focusing on the classes became more difficult with each passing day. He really wanted to pay attention, but how was he supposed to listen when his mind drifted off all the time…
Daisuke sat in Math, staring at the black board, where the teacher had written an exercise, trying to make sense of the numbers. He had studied yesterday, had stayed up until eleven clock and tried to get these things right, but now everything was forgotten.
Frustrated, he looked at his empty sheet and then at Takeru's, who had nearly finished solving the question. Do it, he told himself fiercely, you promised!
And so he calculated, wrote, rubbed out, wrote again, until finally his whole sheet was full. Daisuke felt exhausted, but he was proud. He had done it all by himself, and he had come to a solution. Now he only had to hope that his solution was right.
He glanced at the blackboard and his face fell.
Wrong. The solution was wrong.
Tears sprang into his eyes and he blinked them back. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair! He made so much effort and still he was unable to get the equations right. How was he ever supposed to pass his exams like that?
He had promised that he'd give his best, but it seemed as if his best wasn't good enough.
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath. "Don't give up," he whispered to himself. "It only means that I have to study more."
The idea made him feel sick. It meant that he would have to skip soccer practise, the only thing that made him feel normal right now. The only time during the week when he could forget what was happening. But, as he told himself, it only was for a few weeks, until the exams were over. Only a few weeks. He could do that. He was strong.
come flying, come with me
stretch your wings and hold your breath
"Yay! I am so proud of myself!" Hikari announced and stretched her arms. "I solved it all by myself and the result was correct! At least all the studying is paying off."
"Good for you," Takeru agreed cheerfully. "I had it wrong the first time, but then I found my mistake and calculated again. Guess what, I mixed up a one and a seven!"
Hikari turned towards Daisuke, who was walking with them, backpack slung loosely over his shoulder. "What about you, Davis?" she asked kindly, well aware of the boy's hatred towards math.
He sighed. "I had the wrong result again."
"Oh." She looked disappointed. "Well, maybe it will work better next time."
"Yes." Diaukse replied grimly. "It has to."
Hikari blinked, surprised to hear him speak so seriously. Usually, exams and tests didn't matter to Daisuke. He had failed so many of them that he had gotten used to it by now, and usually he took it with good humour.
"Are you alright?"
He flashed her a quick smile. "Of course I am. I'm just determinded to do better the next time. I want to get it right at least once, so that I can boast to my sister about it."
Takeru laughed. "Of course. Math was her worst subject, wasn't it?"
"Oh, she wasn't bad at it, you know – actually she was quite good, she only played stupid so that the boys would help her solve the questions. You know Jun." Daisuke grinned. "She's always disappointed that I haven't inherited her skills for the subject." He flashed them a victory sign. "Sorry guys, I have to go now – the principal wants to talk to me again."
"Don't do anything stupid!" Takeru shouted after the retreating boy and received a smile in return.
Hikari watched Daisuke suspicously. She couldn't help it, but to her, the smile had looked a little bit strained. Forced. As if he desperately wanted them to believe that everything was okay. As if he was hiding something.
It all started…I don't know how long ago. Jun came home from the hospital because she had cut her arm during class, but what they told us was far more serious. Suddenly, everything changed. It came so quickly that I couldn't believe what was happening. From one moment to the next, my perfect little life was shattering to pieces. And there was nothing I could do against it. Absolutely nothing.
When Daisuke came home, he flopped down on the couch and hid his head in his hands. Nobody was at home, as usual during these days. His parents would either be at the hospital, at work or somewhere else…he suspected that they were hiding. Coming home was too painful for them, not with Jun's room so empty…
And so it was that the leader of the Chosen found himself alone nearly every day. Not entirely alone, of course. Veemon was still there. His faithful digimon partner would never abandon him, even in a time like this. Right now, said digimon was worriedly bringing him a coke. "Here, drink, Davis." He whispered. "You look weary."
"I am weary." Daisuke admitted, but took the soft drink graciously. "It was a long day."
"How did the math test go?"
The boy sighed. "Not good. I have to study more. I think I will skip soccer practise for the next few weeks."
"Davis…" Veemon started, for he knew how important soccer was to his partner. But Daisuke simply shook his head.
"No. The exams are more important. I promised Jun. I can't let her down, not now. Not when they don't know how much longer…" he looked away, trying to hide the tears in his eyes.
"You should tell them." The digimon said softly. "I'm sure they will understand. They are your friends, they will help you. You don't need to bear this all alone."
Daisuke laughed hoarsely. "Tell them what? That my sister is dying? That she's in the hospital and dying, right in front of my very eyes?" He sobbed freely now, covering his eyes with his hands. "I could never tell them that, never. I don't want them to worry, they've got enough on their minds with the exams. Besides, Jun wouldn't want me to tell them. You know her, she hates how she's…how she's fading…and I need to be strong for her, I need to pretend. How can I do that when my friends know what's happening?"
He shook his head again, this time more forcefully. "No, Veemon. I can't tell them, not now. I would break down if I told them, and I cannot do that."
"But you are dying inside." Veemon stated, eyes full of concern.
Daisuke was once again surprised how deceptive the digimon could be. He was the only one who could see right through Daisuke's façade, and sometimes he found that quite scary. "I'm strong." He whispered. "I have to be strong."
There was a determinded line around his jaw.
"And now I am going to study. I can't break my promise, you know." The boy went to his room, coke forgotten on the table.
Veemon followed him obediently. "Don't you want to eat something?"
"I'm not hungry." Came the distant reply, and then Daisuke was already hunched over his books, a sight that used to be rare, but was getting more common these days.
'Promise me…promise me that you are going to be good in your exams. I want to be proud of you.' She had said, with a sad flicker in her eyes. And Daisuke had nodded, had smiled and had given her the thumps-up. 'Of course, I'm going to be the best, just for you.'
A promise was a promise after all, and he was determinded to keep it, even if it meant doing the thing he hated the most. Studying. Sitting still. Reading books. Concentrating.
It wasn't easy for him, but he did it, because he had promised, and because he loved his sister, as annoying and weird she could be at times.
Illnesses are something that happens to other people. It never occurred to me that somebody I know…somebody I care for… could be victim of a life-threatening illness. But the resultats were genuine, and we could see it, could see her getting weaker.
At first, she stayed at home, but the visits to the doctor became more frequent. Then she had to drop out of school, because it was too stressful for her. And then came the day when the doctor announced that she had to stay in the hospital.
I nearly cried that day.
But I didn't. How could I? It was hard enough for her without seeing how distressed her little brother was. So I teased her and made jokes that she could flirt with all the doctors now as long as she wanted. And even though she was small and pale, she played along and for a moment, we were able to be normal again, just Daisuke and Jun, nothing else.
But then the nurse came and gave her an injection, and I realized once again where I was. I never was in the hospital before, with exception of the day where I broke my wrist during practise, but now I'm all familiar there. I know the nurses, I know the doctors, because I'm there nearly everyday, visiting my sister, trying to make it easier for her, trying to be there.
Hospitals. How he hated them. Hated them with a passion, for they seemed to be the very reason that his sister was being taken away from him.
Of course, this was a silly thought and he knew that. The hospital was there to help his sister. Still, everytime he approached the huge building, he couldn't help feeling hatred towards it. It was easier to hate the hospital. There was nobody to blame, nobody to hate, for how could one hate an illness?
Daisuke knew that he was being irrational, but sometimes it helped to give the building a deft kick. Just because. To vent anger and frustration. After all, it didn't hurt the building and he felt better afterwards.
He was standing in front of her room, bracing himself. Each time, he had to prepare himself mentally before he entered the room. He had to be strong, he had to pretend. Tears weren't allowed, no. Instead, he would tell jokes, would laugh, would play the innocent little brother and would show nothing of the pain he felt.
Taking a deep breath, he opened the door. "Heya sister!" he announced cheerfull and waltzed right into the room, as if he didn't care that he was in a hospital. "What have you been up to while I was being bored at school? Anything interesting?"
Jun turned towards him and smiled. Daisuke was once again shocked how small and fragile she looked. Her hair was becoming thinner; in the past, it head been a big bunch of spiky locks, like his own hair, but now there were only a few strands, hangin down into her face. Jun herself was thin as well – he could actually see the bones of her shoulders – and her skin was pale.
Yet she was smiling, and there was the same old sparkle in her eyes. "Well, there is this new apprentice doctor and I tell you, he's got the most handsome looks you can imagine…" she gushed, sounding so very much like her old self that Daisuke had to laugh.
"If I were you, I'd stop trying – I doubt that he'd want to go on a date with you." Daisuke grinned. "You being a weirdo and all that."
"Says who?" Jun's eyes twinkled. "May I remind you, my dear little brother, that you've yet failed to get a date yourself?"
"Yeah, but only because I haven't tried yet."
"Ah-Ah." She wagged her finger. "What about Hikari?"
Daisuke blushed. "That's a different matter."
"Ha, I bet you asked her and she said no!"
The boy looked at her indigantly. "I haven't asked her yet."
Veemon, who had been looking around the room in search for food, came to the bed. "Yeah, but he'd like to."
That comment earned him a glare from Daisuke. "Traitor!"
"Ohh, that's nice!" Jun clapped her hands together. "My itsy-bitsy Davishy is growing up, how cuuute!"
He simply rolled his eyes at her silly antics. "Yeah, whatever."
It was one of their rituals. They would both talk and fight as if nothing had happened. It made it easier for Daisuke and he suspected that the same was true for Jun. They had never been a very touchy family, and it was better to tease each other than to approach more serious subjects.
Like my sister dying, for example.
"So, how was your day?" He asked, pointedly ignoring Jun's begging eyes. Since she was in the hospital, she had taken an immense interest in her brother's love life, apparantly keen on getting him together with a girl. Since she liked this topic so much, Daisuke never told her that he wouldn't go on a date, even if Hikari came to his door with a bouquet of roses. Not now. Not when Jun was in hospital. How could he?
But she wanted him to enjoy his life, to go out with his friends, so he kept his mouth shut.
"Same old, same old." Jun sighed. "Doctors poking needles in my veins, nurses visiting, crappy hospital food and nothing decent on TV."
"At least you don't have to study for the exams." Daisuke sat down on a chair. "I'm getting sick of sitting over the books the whole day."
"They'll be over sooner than you think." Jun said and something else shone in her eyes. "Make me proud, Dai-chan."
He fidgeted in his chair. "You know that I'm not really good at doing this stuff…"
"Don't talk like that." Her face was stern. "You are as smart as the other kids, you only need to pull yourself together."
"I try…" Silence stretched between them. It was always like that. They would talk about usual stuff, normal stuff and then, when they came closer to what they were fearing, they stopped. Daisuke found himself unable to address his sister. How was he supposed to do that? 'Jun, I don't want you to die' ? That would be quite tactless.
On the other hand, she was always talking as if…as if she would be gone soon, and the boy hated her for that. Jun couldn't die, no! The doctors would help her, and after all, there was a chance of survival…he wouldn't give up hoping until the very last moment. Because…how was he supposed to live without his sister? How could he bear coming home to an empty apartment? How could he go on with his life while such an important part was missing?
Jun and Daisuke had never been actually close, but there was no need for that. They were siblings, after all; the other one was always there. Jun had been annoying most of the times, occupying the TV when he wanted to play games, stealing his cookies and making jokes about his non-existent lovelife. Still, she was his sister and deep down, he loved her dearly. How could he lose her? It just…shouldn't be.
"Where are Mom and Dad?" He asked, changing the topic.
Jun sighed. "They visited during lunch time, but they went back to work. They promised me to come around later this evening."
"Oh." His parents were taking it even worse than he. Or so he thought, for he didn't see them very often and if he saw them, they were fighting with each other.
"I'd better go soon. I've still got homework to do. And study." Daisuke gazed at the hospital room. During the last weeks, they had tried to make it as much of a home as it could be. Posters of Jun's favourite rock bands were hanging on the wall; near her bed was a CD-Player and a stack of her most favourite CDs, and there were magazines and books distributed over the whole room.
But all these things couldn't hide the fact that it was still a hospital room, with all the hospital equipment attached to Jun's body.
"Yes." The girl smiled softly. "I know. You don't really need to visit me every day, Davis. Go out with your friends, enjoy your life." Her smile wavered and for a short moment it looked as if she was going to start crying. "I so would like to go out and sit in the sunshine for a bit, before I…"
It took all of Daisuke's strength to keep himself together, otherwise he would have started crying as well. "Well, I promise that we both will enjoy the sunshine as much as you want when you're healthy again. Don't be silly."
They both knew that he was lying through his teeth, but they both were afraid to show it.
And so Jun wiped the tears away. "Yes. I'm sorry. I'm being silly. I really don't like this place, you know."
"I know." Daisuke whispered. "But you will be out of it soon."
He took a deep breath. "I have to go now. See ya tomorrow…and don't do anything stupid while I'm not here."
"Doing stupid things is your job." She called after him.
Daisuke just grinned at her and closed the door when he left the room. He stood there for a while, staring at the ground of the hallway and then started crying.
The sobs tore the heart of a nurse who stood there, watching him, but there was nothing she could do. Every day, young Motomiya Daisuke would visit his sister; and every day, he would leave the room crying. This was the only moment when he allowed himself to show weakness, when he let his guard down, because it simply became too much for him to bear.
Usually his digimon would be there, trying to comfort him, but even the little creature couldn't do much, for he was troubled by the circumstances as well. It was a heart-breaking sight.
I think the worst part is the fading. To visit her every day and to see how she becomes weaker and weaker, without me being able to do anything against it. I'm a fighter; I'm used to doing things myself. And seeing her going down like that without being able to help…is the worst thing that ever happened to me. I can see how pale she has become, how frail her body is, but she doesn't want me to know, and so I pretend that she's still the same old Jun, that nothing has changed…
But it is a lie and I know it and deep down, this lie is killing me. I don't know if I'll be able to pretend any longer. I have to keep it up until after the exams. Only a few more weeks. I can do it. I have to do it.
Someone give me strength.
To be continued…