Author's Note: I started this story way back in the day, before I knew anything about Japan and its culture. My ignorance has somewhat lessened, so I decided to go back and edit "Fine Art" so I wouldn't be as embarressed to see my name attached to it. Daisuke has always been one of my favorite characters, and Daisuke/Ken one of my favorite pairings, and hopefully this time around, I do the characters justice. Or, failing that, I can can the story suck less! Whoohoo! Aim high!
High school was as good (or maybe as bad, depending on how you looked at it) as all the shows and movies I'd ever seen on the subject. My uniform always felt tight around the neck, I had homework so hard I had to do homework for it in order to understand it, and my classmates walked around with dazed looks in their eyes, mumbling nonsense about entrance exams and being ronin. I was able to let all that crap slide - not only did I have Hikari in my class to help me with homework, but I also was free from the irritating fear of college. Motomiya Daisuke was perch on the edge of super stardom, and everyone knows that superstars just don't have time for an extra four years of education. I had the soccer team eating out of the palm of my hand - I was practically guaranteed a position on real, major-league team come graduation.
When our sophomore year began, I was looking forward to smooth sailing. With Hikari's smiling face to look forward to every morning, and Takeru's scowl awaiting me at lunch (haha, sucker! Bet you wanted to sit next to Hikari-chan, didn't ya?), there was no way I couldn't be psyched for my mandatory education (no way would my parents let my drop out of high school. They'd rather see me dead, those heartless bastards). And even if my uniform was a bit uncomfortable, I still cut a fucking handsome figure in it. Guys wanted to be me, girls wanted to be with me. A normal day in my life.
With my regular grin plastered on my gorgeous face, I strolled into homeroom, glancing around for Hikari. She smiled and waved when she saw me enter, and I waved back, dropping my backpack on my desk before sidling over. "Morning."
"Morning!" She replied cutely (Hikari did everything cutely, of course, but her smile was particuarly heartwarming). "I was just looking over the club list for this year. I'm thinking about joining the astronomy club with Miyako-chan, but the tennis club looks good, too, and I know that Sora had a lot of fun with them." She sighed, blowing some strands of hair that had escaped her adorable butterfly barret out of her face. "Or maybe the art club. I've always wanted to improve my drawing."
Darling Hikari, always bettering herself (as if that were possible. Hikari was perfect as far as I was concerned). "Damn," I said as I eyed the list, "Won't that make you too busy? Didn't you want to get a job, too?"
She sighed again and folded the piece of paper and tucked it away into one of the books she had stacked on her desk. "Well, I could use the extra money," she said slowly, "But, mostly," she pasued, looking quickly around before lowering her voice to such a soft volume that I had to lean in to hear her (not that I minded), "I want to make the most of my free time, now that I - that we - have some. The Digital World has finally settled down, and I want to make up for everything I missed in elementary school and junior high. We never really got involved with school. But now we have the chance to be normal kids, you know?"
I was saved from answering her questions by the start of homroom; never had I been so relieved to see our class president motion us to sit. I backed away from Hikari and flopped into my seat, responding absently to our president's orders. When the morning routine of greeting our teacher and waving my hand to prove I had indeed fulfilled the requirement of attending class had finished, I glanced sideways at Hikari, who was scribbling away in a notebook and chewing on her bottom lip. Did she really regret all the time we had spent in the Digital World? Did she think it was time wasted? I slouched forward miserably and bit back a curse. To me, our adventures together were the best moments of my life. How could they not be? I blew stuff up, became friends with monsters, saved the world on numerous occasions. Because of the Digital World, I had best friends coming out of the woodwork. I counted them off on my fingers: Hikari, the love of my life, Takeru, Miyako, Iori, Yagami-kun, Ishida-kun, and Vmon. And Izumi-kun, Kido-kun, Tachikawa-san, and Takenouchi-san. And Willis.
Not bad. And even dozen.
I pushed myself back up to a proper sitting position, and stared at the three fingers I had raised to count the final members of my group of friends. Ken. Ichijouji Ken might have well lived in America with Tachikawa-san and Willis; as close as we had gotten during our battles together and all the times one of us had saved the other, I always felt like Ken was intentionally distancing himself from me. He had gotten into a fancy-pants high school and used it as an excuse to avoid me at all costs, with the exception of the times I just invited myself over to his house to shoot the breeze with his mother until he came home. He was always glad to see me, at least, I always thought he was always glad to see me, and no matter how many messages I left on his cellphone or how many emails I sent him, he barely communicated with me. It was like pulling teeth, only less rewarding. At least when you pull teeth, you have something to put under your pillow (assuming that you believe in that sort of stuff). At least Willis called me back and sent me postcards.
Maybe I was holding on too desperately tot he past. Having a relationship with Ken as a kid didn't guarantee me one now that we were older. Maybe he wanted to let go of all that, like Hikari, and move on. Maybe the memories we had formed were weighing me down. Tying me up. Maybe they were an anchor, rather than a life jacket. Maybe staring at pool outside inspired terrible metaphors. I looked at Hikari again and nodded determindedly to myself. I'd join another club in addition to soccer. I'd let go of all that unnecessary crap that I'd been burdening myself with. I'd stop calling Ken. Well, I'd limited myself, anyway. Well, I'd stop bringing up the Digital World, anyway. When classes ended, I'd march behind Hikari and into the Art Club's clubroom. I'd sit down and whip out a pencil and I would draw until my fingers bled. Motomiya Daisuke would not be defeated by some stupid memories.
No matter how good they were.