Author's Note: Told ya I was working on this! Real Life just caught me for a little while - okay, a pretty long while. But my head's back in the clouds and my fingers are on the keyboard! Okay, a couple of notes: 1.) Daisuke is over Hikari, and has been for a while. She's just a friend now. 2.) Hikari and Takeru are not together just because 'they were supposed to be' or any crud like that. They're actually together for the purposes of the story, and will not necessarily stay together. 3.) Catherine's accent is kind of hard to do, and Floramon's even harder to capture, so bear with me. 4.) – I don't know Japanese marriage customs too well, so I just went with what I do know. Sorry if it offends you.
Poor Catherine . . . she has no idea what she's getting into. XD
"This is Paris? Doesn't seem that impressive to me."
"But we're still in the airport, Daisuke."
The Chosen looked down at his partner, slightly annoyed at V-Mon's statement. Daisuke wasn't in a particularly good mood at the moment: He was suffering from a nasty case of jet lag, he'd left his sunglasses on the plane, his arm was aching, and to top it all off he had been forced to sit through some American movie about pirates. Ignoring V-Mon, he glanced around the area, looking for the girl who was supposed to meet him here. He didn't notice her anywhere.
After getting his luggage and looking for . . . Catherine, Takeru had said? Daisuke decided to sit down and wait on her. She obviously wasn't here right now, and he was about to fall asleep where he stood. So he found a bench in a not quite so busy part of the airport, and sat down on a bench. He was asleep five minutes after he sat down.
"Daisuke, can I talk to you for a minute?"
Daisuke pulled himself away from his motorcycle and turned to face Hikari. She had tears in her eyes, and looked obviously upset about something. She looked like she might start crying at any second. Alarmed now, Daisuke gave her his full attention – something no one had earned in quite some time. "What's wrong, Hikari? . . . Is everything alright?"
"Yes, everything's fine. Just . .. perfect," she said, then stopped and lowered her eyes. "At least, it should be perfect. Everyone says Takeru and I are the perfect couple, but. . ."
He was starting to understand the problem now, so he nodded and turned back to his motorcycle, gesturing for her to go on.
"I don't know what to do, Daisuke! I don't think I want to date Takeru anymore . . . I don't think I love him. No, I know I don't love him. We're too much alike. But everyone keeps saying we're perfect together and he loves me so much, Daisuke! He tells me every day! I don't want to hurt him but I just can't keep dating him. What do I do?"
Daisuke blinked. "How long have you felt like this?"
Hikari winced. "Two years. I just can't bring myself to hurt him."
"You're going to hurt him a lot more if you keep leading him on like this. Trust me. You need to tell him, and soon."
"But I can't tell him! Daisuke . . . I'm afraid he's going to want to marry me, and I just can't do that! Can't you help me?"
Daisuke glared at her now. "No. You got yourself into this mess; get yourself out. I'm not going to come to your rescue."
"Daisuke, please. . . "
Daisuke's eyes opened to reveal half the airport staring at him. He grinned, embarrassed, then turned and looked at V-mon, who was insistently pulling at his shirt. The blue Digimon didn't say anything, just pointed towards an incredibly beautiful blonde racing towards them, completely out of breath, a Floramon keeping pace with her.
Catherine was running late. Incredibly late, and the reason was such a stupid one: She had forgotten what time her guest's plane was landing, had been an hour late leaving her house, had gotten a flat tire, and had been forced to have Floramon attack a man who just wouldn't take 'non' for an answer while she was replacing it. It was now nearly two hours since she was supposed to meet this 'Dai-skay' person. Luckily, she spotted the guy she was supposed to meet almost immediately, mainly because of the unique Digimon sitting next to him. She raced up to him and skidded to a halt, panting slightly.
"Oh, Monsieur, I am running so late! How do you say . . . Go-men na . . . say?"
Daisuke gave her a half grin and stood up, stretching.
"Close- It's Gomen Nasai, not say. You speak Japanese pretty well though. How'd you learn it?"
The blonde blushed, adding to the innocence her large blue eyes already showed. "Oh, it iz nozing, really. I just picked it up 'ere and zere. I didn't start studying it until I met your friend Takeru. I 'ope your trip was alright, and zat you were not too bozered by my lateness. . . I did not mean to be so late, I swear. If zere is anything I can do –"
Daisuke stopped her by holding up a hand, "Just get me to some place I can sleep . . . and something to eat, and you're forgiven."
Catherine brightened. "But of course! 'Ow could I show you around properly wizout introducing you to French cuisine? I know of a restaurant that 'as wonderful food. It serves Digimon too – Floramon and I go zere all of ze time. . . Floramon?"
The blonde paused, looking around for her partner. She found her chasing V-Mon around in circles, a furious look on her face. For his part, V-Mon looked distinctly confused. Catherine hastily grabbed her partner, who struggled in her arms for a minute before spluttering out a torrent of angry French. Daisuke looked down at V-mon.
"What did you say to her, V-Mon?"
"I don't know what made her so mad, Daisuke – I only called her an 'escargot'. . . What's wrong with your face, Daisuke – are you sick?" For as his partner was explaining, Daisuke's face twisted into a distinctly uncomfortable-looking expression. He held this look for about fifteen seconds before a twisted grin broke out on his face, and he spoke in a distinctly choked-sounding voice,
"V-mon . . . . do you . . . even know what. . . 'escargot' means?"
The blue and white Digimon looked up, his face blank. "No .. . I just heard it on T.V. and thought it sounded nice."
"V-mon . . . you called her . . . a snail."
V-mon blinked. "Oh. Well, that explains why she's mad at me."
Needless to say, Daisuke's first meal in France was a less-than-pleasant experience; however it was rather amusing when he looked back on it later. When they arrived at the restaurant, Floramon was still muttering angrily in French, while V-mon attempted to apologize without success. Daisuke fell asleep again on the way, and it took ten minutes for Catherine to wake him up. When they got there, they were almost not allowed in because of how Daisuke was dressed, but as it turned out, it was owned by Catherine's cousin, so she got all four of them in.
Then came the next big problem: The menus were in French. Daisuke, although he knew a few words in French, didn't have a clue what anything on the menu was; the same thing went for V-mon. The Digimon, however, let Catherine order for him. Daisuke, on the other hand, was stubborn.
"You do not want to eat 'zat, Monsieur. You won't like it."
"I'll like it. I like anything."
"If you zink so, I will not stop you. But I must warn you – that particular dish is not very popular."
" I doubt French food is that unusual, Cathy."
The blonde girl raised an eyebrow, curious at her guest's choice of nicknames. "Cathy?"
"You don't like it?"
"Non . . . it's fine. Just – different. I 'ave never been called zat before."
Daisuke grinned there, and Catherine found herself blushing. "It's about time someone did, then."
Shortly thereafter, their food arrived. Daisuke stared down at the food in front of him. It looked alive. While in his own country this wouldn't particularly bother him – he had seen more than his fair share of food that looked alive- this was different. Hesitantly, he poked at it – it jiggled, like Jell-O. Only it wasn't Jell-O. Raising a concerned eyebrow, Catherine watched as her guest oh-so-slowly took a bit, then immediately turned green and made a dash for the restroom.
V-mon, worried about his partner, looked up at Catherine and said, "It's not . . . poisoned, is it?"
Catherine couldn't help but laugh. When Daisuke returned a few minutes later, looking quite the worse for wear, Catherine smiled sympathetically.
"I told you zat you wouldn't like it."
Daisuke glared, "No I-told-you-so's – I get those enough from my sister. Now what do I eat? I'm hungry but there's no way I'm going to touch that garbage now."
Without saying a word, Catherine quickly scraped Daisuke's Jell-O imposter off to the side of his plate, and deposited two lightweight objects similar to very thin pancakes from her own. Unlike the Jell-O – which Daisuke later insisted snarled at him once or twice – These didn't look at all threatening. The Japanese teenager hesitantly tasted one, and then devoured both in five seconds flat. Catherine smiled at him.
"I zought you might like zese. Zey are very popular."
V-Mon let out a belch, "Oops, 'scuse me." Floramon whapped him upside the head with a disgusted look on her face. Daisuke watched the Digimon for a minute before he realized he had been spoken to.
"They do taste pretty good – What are they, anyway?"
"Crepes. Zey're very popular – in ozer countries too."
"Obviously," Daisuke said, then yawned. "Any chance of getting to sleep anytime soon?"
"Oh yes, of course. I shall take you to Monsieur Takaishi's 'ome as soon as we're done 'ere. 'E'll explain to you what 'e wants you to do sometime in ze morning, I zink."
At that comment, Daisuke's jaw dropped open.
"What do you mean 'what he wants me to do?"
Catherine blinked, apparently confused, "You came 'ere to work for 'im, did you not?"
A few minutes later, Catherine was informed by the waiter that she would have to get her friend off of the floor, because it gave the restaurant a bad image. V-Mon and Floramon paid no attention, caught up in their own little squabble.
Hikari sighed worriedly as she stared out the window. As Takeru came up behind her she sighed again and refused to look at him.
"Do you think Daisuke will be alright, Takeru?"
The blonde smiled and hugged her comfortingly, "I'm sure he'll be fine, Hikari. He's survived worse."
"But . . . it's so far, and he's all alone."
"He's not alone, Hikari – and besides, he can always come home."
". . .That's not what I'm afraid of. I think, Takeru . . . I think he won't come home."
The brunette sighed and leaned out the window slightly, her hands clenched tightly on the sill. A slight breeze ruffled her long hair, and tears glittered in her eyes as she gazed out at the lights of the city. Takeru's sapphire eyes were filled with confusion, and a slight bit of nervousness. This was not how he'd intended the night to go . . . He had so much planned – but Hikari obviously wasn't in the mood to answer any questions like what he had in mind. Still, it couldn't hurt to try. He just had to figure out how to get to that point. If only he weren't so afraid of her answer . . .
"He'll come home, Hikari. He'll come home, and he'll be more like he used to be. Isn't it worth it to get the old Daisuke back?"
"I guess . . . but I wish I knew why he changed."
"Maybe . . . do you think it had anything to do with his parents?"
Hikari nodded, "I do think it had to do with them. Takeru, I really think he. . . I think he blamed himself."
"I think so too. But Hikari, I didn't plan tonight to discuss Daisuke, even though he is our friend. I . . . wanted to ask you something."
Hikari's eyes widened. 'Oh no . .. What do I do?' She thought, starting to panic. Takeru, however, mistook her panic for nervousness and excitement. Her eyes watered as he took her hand and swallowed.
"Takeru . . ."
He smiled warmly at her, and pulled out a small box.
"Yagami Hikari. .. . would you . . .," he swallowed, blinking nervously, "Would you .. . marry me?"
Hikari started crying. She hadn't wanted to hurt him, but now she had to. She couldn't marry Takeru – she just couldn't! She couldn't torture herself – or him – that way. She felt foolish now, for letting it get to this point. There wasn't much she could do but say no and hope that their friendship remained true. . .
"Takeru . ... I - Gomen Nasai, Takeru, but . . . I can't!"
That said, Hikari lost it. She completely broke down and started sobbing. Takeru, his own heart shattered, still willingly held her as she cried all of her tears out. His own would come later, when he had time to cry. He didn't ask why she refused- he didn't need to. In truth, he had suspected for quite a while, but had said nothing, hoping he was wrong – that she did love him ,and that they would spend the rest of their lives together. Now he knew better. But what would he do with that knowledge?