Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.

A/N: I'm such a sap! Can't you tell? This is the last chapter, and I hope you all like the ending. Hurry! Go read and please review!

One World Away From Darkness

Chapter 20: A Friend Like You

Ken Ichijouji

After everything he had endured, Ken could do nothing but sob into his friend's shoulder. His whole body ached, and his emotions were completely out of control. It would be a miracle if he could function normally again after what had happened to him.

"I'll go check on the others," Angemon said quietly, standing up.

The angel crouched next to Davis and placed his fingers against the leader's throat, searching for a pulse. One by one he checked the rest of the group and finally sat back with a sigh of relief. "They're alive," he said softly.

"I thought you were sure of that before," T.K. joked.

Angemon laughed and sent his partner a warm smile. "Just making sure."

"Ken, look!" Stingmon suddenly shouted.

Ken jerked his head up, swallowed a sob, and stared around in amazement. The Dark Ocean was disappearing. Slowly the sand beneath them faded away in a mist of static and was replaced with a bed of green grass. Somehow he and all of his friends had ended up in a large field just outside of the digimon town.

"How?" he whispered, tightening his arms around T.K.'s waist.

"You stopped the darkness from entering your heart," T.K. whispered softly into his hair. "That's why you were able to defeat Daemon. That's why the Dark Ocean and the shadows disappeared. See?"

Ken felt T.K. gently run a finger over the back of his neck and sighed softly. It did not hurt at all.

"The bar code is gone," T.K. murmured. "You're free from the darkness, and I know you can keep it that way."

Ken wiped his eyes and turned slightly to gaze at Davis and the others. They're safe. The relief he felt was so overwhelming it almost crushed him and yet, at the same time, he felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.

"You saved them," T.K. whispered.

"Not by myself I didn't," he replied, his voice shaking. "You helped me, not just with our friends, but with all of it. I wouldn't have been able to defeat Daemon without you."

"What are friends for?"

Ken slowly looked up at him, and T.K. smiled. His friend's blue eyes sparkled in the sunshine, and the expression on the blond's face was one of happiness.

Feeling self-conscious, Ken quickly looked away. His tears had mostly dried up, but his emotions were still a jumble. He did not know what to think anymore. After everything that he had been through with T.K., and the words they had exchanged, it was hard not to be confused. The whole thing seemed like a dream, but the aches in his body proved otherwise. He had been through a terrible ordeal and had ended up pouring out his soul to the blond in front of him. He had never done something like that before, to such an extreme, and it left him feeling vulnerable. The good news was that he could no longer feel the taint of darkness, thanks to the crest, but he still felt a little afraid.

What did I do? T.K. knows everything! The worst part is that he knows exactly how I feel about him...

Ken's whole face heated up. He tried to pull away, but T.K. seemed to sense what he was thinking and held him tightly to his chest.

"Ken, look at me," T.K. said softly.

He couldn't. He wanted to, but he just couldn't.

The sudden feel of T.K.'s warm fingers against his cheek made him look up, and he found himself gazing into T.K.'s eyes which were filled with emotion.

"I know what you're thinking," the blond said quietly. "You don't have to be afraid anymore. I meant every word I said."

"T.K., I-"

T.K. held up a hand to stop him, and Ken broke off in confusion.

"Listen first," T.K. whispered, and Ken let out a gasp of surprise as his friend's golden head came to rest on his shoulder. "There are so many things I want to say. Ken, when I started having those dreams, I never realized it would come to this. Then, when I finally understood what was happening to you, I was so afraid."

T.K. fell silent, and Ken felt the blond pull him closer.

"I thought we were going to lose you. If we had, it would have been all my fault."

"No!" Ken protested, shaking his head in denial and getting a face full of silky blond hair. "T.K., you can't blame yourself. You-"

"It's true," T.K. interrupted. "I should have told you about what was happening to me a long time ago. I should have mentioned the dreams and the fact that I had heard Daemon's voice earlier."

"Why didn't you?" Ken whispered, gazing into T.K.'s tortured blue eyes.

T.K.'s arms tightened around his shoulders, and he let out a soft sigh. This was the kind of thing that he had wanted for so long, and it brought tears to his eyes. I can't believe this is happening to me. It feels so right. It feels the way friendship is suppose to feel.

"I wanted to," T.K. said quietly, and Ken was surprised to hear a slight hesitation in his friend's words. He gently rubbed T.K.'s back, encouraging the blond to continue.

"In the last four years, you've been so distant from me," T.K. finally said, his voice trembling. "I didn't think that you would want my help. I didn't think that you...liked me very much."

Those words ended in a shaky whisper. Ken was so shocked that he stared at T.K. with his mouth hanging open. When he did not say anything, T.K.'s face turned pink, and the look in those sparkling blue eyes became extremely vulnerable.

He thought that I didn't like him? But...but I thought that he didn't like me! How could I have been so stupid? How could I not have seen it?

T.K.'s shocking revelation left him feeling completely stunned. For the first time ever, T.K. was the one who seemed embarrassed, not him.

All this time we could have been friends, and I ruined it because I was too afraid to speak. I was too terrified to let my feelings show, and now I've ended up hurting both of us.

"T.K.?" he whispered.

T.K. slowly looked up at him. "Yes?" the blond asked, looking a little anxious.

For a moment Ken was tempted to run, but then he straightened his shoulders and looked T.K. squarely in the eye. His heart was pounding, and his hands were shaking, but this time he was not going to hold back.

I thought hiding my feelings from T.K. would prevent me from getting hurt, but it hasn't. In fact, it's only made the pain even worse, and I've ended up hurting T.K. as well. If I had known...

T.K. now appeared a little frightened, and Ken took a deep breath. I have to do this. Sometimes you have to take risks if you want to be truly happy. Besides, I can't hide my feelings anymore. They're too strong.

After what T.K. had revealed to him, there was no turning back.

"T.K.?" he whispered, his voice breaking. "Can I hug you?"

T.K. stared at him.

Ken's face turned bright red, and he quickly squirmed away from T.K., convinced that he had made a mistake.

His heart filled with terrible pain and sadness. He said he cared about me! Was Daemon right after all?

T.K.'s face suddenly filled with emotion, and the blond's azure eyes filled with tears.

"Ken," T.K. said, his voice trembling. "You're my friend. You don't have to ask me something like that. You just do it."

Ken froze, unable to believe what he had just heard, and stared at T.K. in shock. Then he promptly burst into tears, flung his arms around the blond, and hugged T.K. as tight as he could.

"Besides," T.K. said with a small smile. "You kind of already were."

Ken blushed and started to laugh as T.K. hugged him back just as tightly.

He sighed softly, his head resting on T.K.'s shoulder, and let his eyes fall closed. He could feel the warmth of the blond's skin soaking into him, feel the beating of his friend's heart, and smell the soap his friend had used earlier that morning in the shower.

"Did you really mean what you said before to Daemon?" he asked.

"Every word," T.K. whispered softly in his ear.

"You don't know how badly I've wanted this," Ken mumbled, referring to the hug.

"Yes, I do," T.K. murmured. "I know because I've wanted to do the same thing."

Ken felt T.K.'s arms tighten around his waist and smiled through his tears.

He pulled back slightly so he could look into his friend's eyes and rested his forehead against the blond's. "Now it's my turn," he said quietly. "When I started having those dreams, I didn't realize that the blond boy was you. You took my hand and offered to help me. In one dream, you told me about hope, and you saved me from the Emperor. I realize now that I never should have doubted you. I started to hear Daemon's voice, and then you started acting weird. It scared me. I thought it was because you had found out that the darkness had been haunting me, and that it had made you angry. I didn't think that you wanted to be near me, to touch me, because of the darkness. I was tainted, and I was sure that I disgusted you. I had convinced myself that that was the reason we weren't friends. I thought you hated me because of the darkness, and that you didn't want me near you for fear that I would corrupt you."

"Ken!" T.K. said in complete shock, and he gasped as T.K.'s warm hands came to rest on his cheeks. "I would never think that way!" the blond said in disbelief. "All I've ever wanted is for you to be close to me! You are not tainted, Ken! You're kind, pure, gentle, sensitive, caring, and a loyal friend."

"You don't hate me because I was the Emperor?" he asked, feeling confused.

T.K. smiled through sudden tears. "Ken," his friend whispered. "I love you because you were the Emperor and you defeated the darkness in your heart to become the sweet person that you are today. Don't ever be afraid to show me how you feel. I want to see your smiles, feel your hugs, and experience the true depth of your friendship. Don't be afraid to reach out to me, because if you don't, I'm the one who's going to be reaching out to you!"

Ken's lip trembled at those words, and he hugged T.K. close to him. "Those were the reasons why I never told you how I felt. I was afraid that you would stomp all over my feelings and push me away. That's why I kept myself distant and stayed away from you. I would not have been able to handle it if you had done that. I figured that at least if I stayed away from you, and didn't make you angry by telling you how I feel, then we could at least have a shadow of a friendship. It was better than nothing. You were always there so close to me, since we hang out with the same group, and yet you always seemed so far away. I hated it," he whispered.

"Me, too," T.K. murmured.

"T.K.," he said, his voice shaking. "I really do care about you so much. I love you for everything that you've done for me and for just being you. I'm sorry for ruining things. I made you think that I hated you, and that's why it's taken us so long to get to this moment."

"It's my fault, too," T.K. replied, a tremor in his voice. "I hid my feelings from you because I was afraid that they would make you hate me. That was a mistake. It made you think that I didn't care when I really did, and it made you afraid to tell me how you felt."

"Then we're both to blame," Ken said softly with a smile.

"You really care about me?" T.K. asked, his voice sounding small.

Ken rested his cheek against T.K.'s and smiled. "More than I could ever express in words."

"Thank you for saying all of those things," T.K. whispered.

Ken nodded, and his face grew serious. "There's something else," he said quietly. "When I slept over at your house, I found the book about dream interpretation in your bag. I thought it meant that you had discovered that I had been having dreams and that you knew about the darkness. It scared me because I thought that it meant you hated me even more."

"So that's why you seemed so sad last night," T.K. murmured.

"Later, by the fountain, I realized that you had it because you were having dreams."

T.K. remained silent, and Ken began to feel very uneasy. I shouldn't have told him that! Now he knows that I've been snooping and he's going to hate me!

"T.K.," he said in a rush. "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have snooped like that, but I was desperate to find out what was wrong with you and if it had anything to do with me."

"It's okay, Ken," T.K. said softly. "I'm not mad. In fact, I'm glad you found it. It played a huge role in helping us find each other. I would have done the same thing if I had been in your place."

"I lied to you that day when I told Davis that I had been in another bathroom," Ken said weakly. "I was in there with you, and I heard every word you said."

T.K. started to laugh and squeezed him tightly. "Oh, Ken. I really do care about you so much," the blond said softly.

Ken's cheeks turned pink again, and he hid his face against T.K.'s neck to hide his blush.

"Your uncertainties about me left you vulnerable, and Daemon used that to his advantage," T.K. said softly. "That's never going to happen again. In a way, this experience cleansed my soul, too. Suddenly everything that happened with Devimon doesn't seem so painful anymore..."

T.K. trailed off and suddenly pulled away from him, looking uncertain.

Ken smiled softly and touched his friend's shoulder. "T.K.," he said quietly to his friend's back. "I know about Devimon. I overheard Kari and Matt talking about him once. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but it just sort of happened."

"And here I thought you hardly knew a thing about me," T.K. said, his voice strained. "I guess I was wrong."

The sympathy Ken felt for his friend was almost overwhelming. "T.K.?" he whispered. "Did it hurt as much for you when you lost Patamon as it did for me when I lost Wormon?"

T.K. slowly turned back around to face him, and there were tears running down the blond's cheeks. "Yes," T.K. whispered back, and somehow his friend managed to smile. "But at least I know I'm not alone anymore."

Ken lifted his hand and gently wiped the tears from his friend's cheeks. "Me either," he murmured. "I always thought that you and I had nothing in common, and now I realize that there has been something all along."

T.K.'s arms slipped around him, and his friend's warm body settled against him again. "We'll help each other through it," the blond said softly. "It's not something a person can understand unless they've been through it. Our digimon are still alive, but the memory still hurts."

"You know more about me than I thought you did," Ken echoed with a smile. "And now we both know that someone else does understand."

"Yeah," T.K. whispered.

"Hey, T.K.?" he said softly. "You're really lucky to have Matt."

"I know," T.K. murmured. "And you were lucky to have Sam. He's not dead, Ken. As long as you keep his memory alive in your heart, he will always be with you."

"Yeah," he whispered tearfully. He did not bother saying more. He knew T.K. understood.

Ken reached into his shirt and pulled out the Crest of Hope. He slipped it around T.K.'s neck and placed his hand against it's soft glow. "Here," he murmured. "I think this belongs to you."

"It belongs to all of the Digidestined," T.K. replied. "It wasn't just my hope that helped defeat Daemon, it was yours, too."

"Hope rests in the hearts of the innocent," Angemon said softly.

The angel stood close by with Stingmon, and the two digimon had an arm around each other. They had both remained silent through the tearful exchange, obviously recognizing it's importance, and both were now smiling.

Ken smiled back at them and nodded.

"It's the same with kindness," Stingmon added. "It came from both of your hearts, not just one."

"Ken?" T.K. whispered. "If you ever need it again, you know where to find me."

"Thank you," Ken replied, his voice trembling.

He hesitated. "Um...are we real friends now?"

"Always," T.K. murmured.

"Forever," Ken whispered back.

Tears were running down his face, but they were tears of pure joy. T.K. was his friend, T.K. loved him, and he knew that everything was going to be alright. He buried his face in T.K.'s hair, almost bursting with happiness. Never again would he be forced to hide his feelings. Life was beautiful, and he knew that, this time,with the help of his friends, the darkness truly would be kept at bay. He also realized something else. Not just one heart had been saved today. Two hearts had been saved, and that was something worth fighting for.

Ken smiled as both Angemon's and Stingmon's arms went around himself and T.K.

"Thanks for everything guys," he said softly.

"You're welcome," Angemon laughed, ruffling his hair.

"One more thing," Stingmon said. "The two of you are never going to get rid of us that easily!"

"I'd like to see you try it!" Angemon snorted.

T.K. laughed and hugged both digimon tightly. "I know. We love you guys."

"Yeah," Ken said softly.

"Same here," the digimon replied.

"What the heck?"

All four of them turned at the sound of Davis's voice to see that the others were just coming awake.

Ken sent his best friend a fond look and exchanged a smile of amusement with T.K. Davis is going to flip when he finds out what happened. Knowing him, he'll mostly be upset about the fact that he didn't get to join in the big battle!

"What happened?" Yolei mumbled, rubbing her forehead.

"Did we fall asleep?" Cody asked, looking confused.

"I feel like someone hit me over the head with a baseball bat!" Veemon moaned.

"I second that!" Gatomon groaned.

Kari glanced around for a moment, and then her eyes widened with fear. "Something happened!" she gasped. "I felt the darkness before everything suddenly went black!"

"Kari, are you alright?" Hawkmon asked, sounding concerned.

Ken jumped as Kari turned to look at him and T.K. "What happened? Are you two alright?" she cried in terror.

Ken nearly fell backwards as Kari threw herself at him and T.K., her arms going around them.

Suddenly they were surrounded by all of their friends and digimon who were all talking at once.

"We're fine," Ken murmured.

Kari pulled back and the group fell silent, staring at them in shock.

Ken's whole face went purple when he realized why. He and T.K. still had their arms around each other in a tight hug, something their friends had never seen before.

"How come you didn't tell them everything before?" he mumbled to T.K.

"I didn't want them to worry," T.K. whispered back.

Ken smiled. "Me either."

"What's going on?" Yolei said weakly.

Davis gaped at them for a moment and suddenly started to smile.

"We love you guys," T.K. said softly.

That caused some more jaw dropping, and Ken almost laughed.

"You guys had all better sit down," he murmured. "It's kind of a long story."

"I bet," Armadillomon muttered.

T.K. turned to him and smiled. "Do you want to tell them or should I?"

"Lets both tell them," he said softly.

T.K.'s warm cheek came to rest against his, and his hands came to rest between T.K.'s shoulder blades.

T.K. sighed at the warm contact and slowly they began to tell their friends about everything that had happened to them.

As Ken sat there in his friend's arms, feeling safe, he realized the most important thing.

The wall that had stood between himself and T.K. was no longer there. In less than twenty-four hours, it had completely crumbled away until not even the dust remained.

The End