A/N: It's done! The last chapter! After like five, six years? Wow.
I'll save most of my comments for the end. Enjoy!
"Let's go to the ocean."
TK had expected everyone to be surprised by his request, but he insisted anyway. It was something he needed to do, in the realm of light in the Digiworld, which felt so familiar to him. The others had initially just wanted to find someplace other than the battlefield to rest and figure out what next to do, especially given everything that had occurred over the last several hours.
There was too much that everyone needed to know, and it was best that they explain it all now, while the memories were fresh, before exhaustion and sleep overtook them. So, after some minutes of resolutely requesting that they make their way to the nearest coastal area, the others agreed.
Joe had split the last energy bar between Poromon and Yokomon, and somehow it was just enough for them to digivolve to their Champion forms. The trips to ferry the entire group to the ocean took a fairly short amount of time, as the nearest beach was not too far away; soon, everyone stood on a sandy shore that overlooked a beautiful view of clear waters and a long horizon.
TK was one of the last humans to arrive there. He hopped off of Aquilamon, gazing at the blue expanse before them, the images dancing before his eyes, the scent of salt and sound of waves more than the memories his senses remembered. Even the sand beneath his mud-caked shoes felt too familiar, as it shifted with each movement he made.
A solemn silence filled the beach as the others stopped to gaze at him. They knew of trauma – what kind, he had not yet spoken of, and even Kari only had what she had seen during the rescue – but they understood what effects the ocean had on him.
He glanced down at Tokomon, still in his arms.
"Give me a moment," he spoke kindly, kneeling down to place his partner down. He set Tokomon gently on the sand, running his hand over the digimon's furry back, taking in the warmth and security of knowing his partner was with him.
The digimon looked up at him, the concern showing in his eyes; TK smiled and nodded, then stood to face the water.
He ignored everyone watching. This was something he needed to do, before the association became too cemented in his mind.
His feet moved him forward, towards the water. The dry sand absorbed his weight, letting him sink down, forcing him to push off a little harder with each step; the sun shone down on him, warming his body even as the light breeze from over the waves cooled his skin.
As dry sand became wet, his footsteps left water-filled indentations as he continued. The roar of the waves rung in his ears, and he breathed in the sea mist filled air, taking in the salty scent that wafted up.
The sea before him was a beautiful, shimmering aqua blue.
Everything was different, yet it too similar. He could imagine the sight before him, but bereft of color and filled with a sticky, creeping sensation that left one feeling dirty and defiled. In another world, that was the reality, a place where a god of the dark sea controlled the waters and knew everything his influence touched.
But it wasn't always like that.
TK knelt down at the water's edge touched his fingers to the lapping waves. It felt cool to the touch, brushing sand and sea foam up around his hand, the water rolling gently past before receding away back to the sea.
There was no darkness here. It was just the ocean, its natural current and long waves nothing like what he had experienced in the other realm.
Relief flooded him, and he gave a mirthful laugh. In a rush of inspiration, he ran and dove into the water, letting it wash over his head and swirl about his body. Cool liquid flowed around him, and he rode the wave that pushed him back to shore. It was more cleansing than anything to him, the feel of it pulling away whatever leftover sensation of the corrupted darkness he still had.
His head broke the surface, and he stood again, wiping the water from his eyes as he breathed deeply. He could feel joy, blood rushing through his body, the waves sparkling beneath him with both power and support. There was no need for fear, worry, despair... just existence and being alive.
He heard someone step into the water behind him.
"Are you all right, TK?" came Kari's quiet, caring voice.
He turned to face her, feeling oddly light. "Yeah," he answered. "Great, actually."
She smiled gently, and he saw in her eyes how she seemed to understand why he had just done what he had. She knew because she had the same fears, had been pursued by the same enemies, felt the terror of being targeted by those who wanted to take advantage of the power she held.
TK shook some of the water from his clothes and hair, letting out a long, content sigh. He felt oddly at peace with everything in that one moment, as the sun shone brightly above them. This was the realm he knew, filled with the hope and joy that helped everyone stride forward. There was no longer a reason for him to fear, not in this place.
Kari glanced behind her, and TK gazed up the slope of the beach as Birdramon and Aquilamon glowed, reverting back to their Rookie forms. Everyone was there, settling into something of a circle as they made themselves comfortable in the sand.
"Shall we?" Kari asked, holding out her hand to him.
TK nodded and took her hand. It felt warm to the touch, firm, comforting.
"Yeah," he answered.
They jogged up the beach, joining the others. TK could feel the kind, but worried gazes of everyone, including his own partner, but he did not shy away; these were his friends, family, those who cared about him and wished only the best. After everything that had happened in the last several hours, they had good reason to be concerned.
He stopped by Tokomon, smiling as he released Kari's hand and picked up his oddly solemn partner. "Sorry about that," he said cheerfully, hugging the digimon to his chest.
Tokomon did not answer at first, his ears twitching as TK followed Kari up the beach to the others. "I'm glad one thing hasn't changed," he finally spoke, curling up in the crook of his elbow.
TK rested his hand on the digimon's back and gazed at the circle. He saw Kari step up to where Salamon had saved her a seat, next to Tai, who along with Koromon smiled when she sat herself down and pulled her partner into her lap. She glanced over her shoulder and beckoned for TK to join her.
On the other side of the gap sat Matt, Tsunomon sitting on the ground in front of him. TK made his decision and sat in the space between Kari and his brother, noting that Sora sat on Matt's other side, and he currently had Sora's hand gripped in his own, apparently still shaken by everything that had occurred.
He gazed at everyone sitting in the circle. Again, he felt so much gratitude for everything they had done, and the fact that all twelve pairs of them were present. They had come too close to losing friends, teammates, family; he could see it in their tired, weary faces that the events of the past day would not be easily forgotten.
As he saw them, he realized that no one knew quite how to begin.
"So," Tai finally spoke, laughing weakly. "I say we hear what happened with everyone, since we were pretty separated during the battle. Dunno who wants to go first, so... dive right in."
Everyone glanced at each other, unsure as to how best to begin. Several people shot surreptitious looks at TK, which he noticed, despite their best intentions.
He sighed, grimacing, as he held Tokomon a little closer to him.
"If it's okay," TK said slowly, "I'd like to go last."
The others gazed up at him, nodding in silent, but supportive understanding.
"All right then," Tai smiled kindly. "We'll tell what happened on our side first."
TK wanted desperately to know everything he had missed, from the other warps to the entire battle. So much had happened, and all he knew was what he had experienced and whatever he had managed to pick up from what the others said. Now, he wanted a full explanation of everything.
He knew the others also wanted to hear his story, but part of him wanted to shove the memories of the past other world away and bury them deeply where they could never be found. At the same time though, he remembered Jigomon's golden eyes, the stories of the Dark Ocean in the days before Dragomon; it was a lost world, one seemingly doomed to eternity as the remnants of a thriving center of life.
In fact, the more he thought about it, the more a particular idea formed in his head...
Beside him, Kari placed a hand on his arm, briefly, just as another sign of support. Then she turned to face the others. "Well then, where do we start?"
It took a long time for each person to through their experiences. Izzy told most of everything that occurred from the point where TK had been pulled into the Dark Ocean, up to when they began the assault on the tower, with some comments from the others, as well as personal accounts when the group had split in order to check the warps.
The stories grew more harrowing when they reached the battle.
As the group had been separated, most of what was told had been unknown to the others there. They heard how Mimi injured her head, the story behind Sora's knee, Ken's arm... the latter of whom apologized again to Matt and Joe for worrying them. To TK, the accounts just made him freeze a little bit more inside, knowing just what everyone had gone through. When Kari spoke of being attacked, how she must have passed out on the field, he nearly burst out in horror, realizing the sorts of things everyone had gone through.
He learned that Tai had jumped off of Greymon in an attempt to reach his sister. Kari had attacked the Spawn back with nothing but a rope. Izzy once fell off Megakabuterimon while in midair and survived by hopping off of flying Spawn on the way down. Joe was nearly hit by a giant explosion of stone and fire that left Zudomon's back scorched. The same type of blast was what had reduced Yolei and Aquilamon to their injured states. Mimi had, in a fit of anger, leaped from Lillymon, landed atop one of the Spawn, and used her digivice as a weapon to destroy it. The attack that trapped Cody had not been the first of its kind. Paildramon had in fact thrown Davis off and ordered him to hide at the realization of how dire circumstances had become. The details kept coming, and TK felt more and more humbled by what each person said.
Sora and Yokomon's story was chilling in how close everyone else had come to sharing the same fate. They had been fighting a great number of the merged Spawn – too many, coming from every single direction. One moment of distraction was enough for a few attacks to make it through the defense of Garudamon, and the rest had cascaded in. From Yokomon's description, Sora had been hit early on during the assault, and the digimon had then tried to protect her partner as they tumbled from the sky, with fire, lightning, stone, and shrapnel raining upon them. The impact with the ground knocked her out and caused her to revert to her current form. Sora had been unconscious long before then.
Then Tai began his account of scaling the tower.
TK had already known some of what had occurred, and hearing it in detail from those involved only served to expand upon what they had told him in brief in the midst of the fighting. He smiled at Matt's comment on Tai's apparent love of bladed objects, felt pride at Kari with how she had used her light in combat, gripped the sand at Tai's decision to stay behind, heard his heart beating when Matt had urged Kari to go on through the door...
"And then, we..." Kari's voice trailed off as she turned to TK, gazing at him unsurely.
He felt his hands close, gripping in tension as he remembered. Everything that had happened, the moans of the Spawn, the derelict buildings, the misty sea air, dank cell walls, clank of chains, corrupted darkness...
"I can take over from here," he spoke.
Everyone had to know exactly what Daemon and Dragomon had been planning, because it involved the delicate balance between light and dark, something that everyone was concerned about and dealt with.
He gazed at everyone's expectant, but supportive faces. They were ready to listen, to take in and understand what he had been through, and help him if he needed it. He grimaced slightly at the sight of Sora, clad in the jacket and still showing the signs of having gone through physical trauma; everyone there had risked their lives in the battle at the tower, in order to save him...
"So, should I start from the beginning, or from where Kari left off?" he asked.
The others looked at each other.
"From the beginning," Ken answered, closing his eyes. He absently rubbed the back of his neck, an action that sent a chill running through TK in a moment of clarity.
They need to know.
He took a deep breath to compose himself, and began speaking.
It was difficult at first, but everything came spilling out as soon as the initial barrier had been crossed. He had no idea how long he spoke for, but words just seemed to keep tumbling from his mouth, the description of his dreams, the darkness itself, to the abandoned world, his experiences, even thoughts and fears that he had been thinking while sitting in the dungeon believing he was going to die...
The others were silent when he finished at the point where he had awoken with Kari standing over him. He closed his eyes, exhaling, the memories of terror and pain fresh, brought to the surface and exposed. He could almost feel the water churning around him, the cold grip of the Spawn on his limbs, Daemon's claw clutching his head, the sharp edges of the cuffs at his wrists...
He heard someone move, and then felt a pair of warm, strong arms wrap tightly around him.
"I promise," Matt murmured, voice wavering, "I will never let something like this happen to you again. I don't care how old you get, or how strong you become. I will do everything in my power to help you."
But, you already have been...
"Just don't overdo it," he replied, returning the embrace and burying his head into his brother's shoulder. "I don't want to lose you either."
He remembered that though the experience would never go away, now was the time to focus on the present and the future. He would not let his thoughts linger on those moments of despair; here he was, his brother and his friends all around him, safe, away from the Dark Ocean. They had all survived.
"Guys," came Tokomon's slightly muffled voice, "You're squashing me..."
TK and Matt immediately separated, laughing a little and gazing down at Tokomon. The digimon took a couple deep breaths, looking up apologetically at having ruined the moment, but Matt just smiled and ruffled the fur behind his ears.
TK knew the others wanted to say something; they were both somber and angry at what had happened, and he recalled several times during his tale when Davis had nearly burst out in horror, or Tai had almost jumped up to shout, even Yolei and Joe... but they had stayed silent, apparently out of respect for the nightmare he had endured.
It seemed now that they wanted to say something, but Matt seemed to pick up on the fact that TK preferred that they move on. "Anyway, keep going," he nodded to his brother, returning to his seat and picking up Tsunomon in the process. "What happened next?"
TK glanced at Kari, who had turned solemn at his account of the Dark Ocean. He felt a hopeful tug in his chest and gave a weak chuckle.
The words were unspoken between the two of them, but understood nonetheless.
I'm okay. We got out, and everything's fine. That's all I need.
For now we remember. But we don't dwell on it; we move on for the future.
The rest of the story went more quickly, as several of them had been together and could explain more thoroughly what had occurred. TK noticed several people blinking curiously at his descriptions of Jigomon, and they stared in horror at what had become of the digimon, what he had done to allow their escape. Explanations of passage out of the tower made everyone realize just how much the addition of Wargreymon had helped them, but also of many strategic difficulties balancing power when space and allies were involved.
By the time they finally reached the end, as TK and Kari spoke of the light and how it had come through them, the sun had risen high into the sky and filled the air with warmth. Again, everyone was silent; it felt that the sheer amount of things that had happened were difficult to absorb, yet they had lived through it. The past day was now a new chapter to add to the countless other things they had done in all their time as Digidestined.
TK himself felt both lighter and emptier now that he had told his side of everything. It was a good feeling, being able to release and have that relief, not remaining under the weight of unspoken knowledge and grief.
The awe of the moment began to fade, and Davis suddenly spoke. "Uh, so what happens now?"
"I think," Tai began, gazing at the group, "we should come up with a plan as for what to do in case something like this happens again."
Everyone nodded in agreement, looking at each other solemnly. The flashes of red on their clothing, and distinct glances at Sora, Ken, and Yolei were signs that no one wanted a repeat of what had happened, but given the group's status as defenders of the Digital World, it was completely possible that they might have to fight in a full-scale assault just like the one they had won.
"Well, the first thing I'd like to say is that we already knew that humans are more vulnerable than digimon, and this entire battle more than confirmed it," Salamon spoke, years of maturity evident in her voice despite her current form. "And in a full-scale conflict like what we were just in... there's no guarantee we can keep you all safe all the time."
TK grimaced, remembering the words Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon had spoken to their partners in the clearing. From everything he now knew about the experiences of the others, he had to agree with Salamon's statement.
The others seemed to concur. "I guess that's been our greatest weakness in fighting," Izzy commented, a frown appearing on his face.
"But at the same time, it makes us stronger and fight harder, knowing we also need to protect you," Motimon added, looking up at his partner.
Izzy smiled weakly. "Yes... but going off of Salamon's point, what happens when even that's not enough? I think Sora and Biyomon are prime examples of this."
The two in question grimaced, glancing at each other.
"I don't really know what else we could have done though," Biyomon replied sadly, flapping her wings a little.
Matt winced. "That's not reassuring."
Sora gave him a kind smile and gently grasped his hand again, squeezing it.
"Hey, we came out of it okay, right?" she said to him. He exhaled shakily in response, staring down at the sand with a somber expression on his face.
She sighed, keeping her hand on his. "I was thinking back to what you guys were doing in the tower – weren't you and Tai able to fight off the Spawn with the weapons you picked up? And Kari did fairly well with that rope, and TK did okay with the hand axe..."
Matt's eyes widened. "Are you saying... we should all learn how to fight?"
Sora grimaced, turning towards the others. "If it keeps us alive, then... well, yes."
No one seemed to know how to respond to her statement. The digimon all clearly thought it was a good idea; Koromon and Tsunomon were exchanging knowing glances, while several of the others seemed to nod or shift a little in agreement. Salamon turned her head up to gaze at Kari, winking slightly.
"You were really good with that rope," she smiled knowingly.
The humans all looked at each other.
To everyone's surprise, Joe suddenly started chuckling.
"What's up?" Bukamon asked, blinking as he flapped his flippers.
Joe shook his head wearily. "It's just funny... when we first started this whole adventure, everything, we were just seven kids at summer camp pulled into another world with no idea what to do, and just trying to survive. Now here we are, having just won a huge battle, and we're planning procedures and methods to protect ourselves and become more efficient as a fighting force. It's strange, looking back on it all."
TK found himself sighing along with the rest of the older group. It was true, looking back on it... and the addition of the light, how they had fought back... it added another layer to everything.
"No kidding," Tai nodded, sitting back tiredly. "And here I thought we were pretty experienced in fighting, but this battle was enough to prove that we've still got a lot to learn. I'm all for learning how to fight, by the way," he added, grinning a little. "As insane as it was, I kinda' liked being able to fight back."
"Yeah, same," Matt agreed with an oddly pleased smile. "It felt pretty satisfying, and I didn't feel as helpless."
"Yeah. You were kind of awesome."
"It was certainly helpful, since we knew you guys could take care of yourselves some of the time when we couldn't be with you," Koromon piped in, sounding rather proud. "Both of you lasted a pretty long time without us, just fighting alone."
Several of the others seemed curious.
"I'm almost sad that I missed all of this," Yolei commented, pursing her lips.
Both Cody and Upamon started gazing directly at TK, as though examining him while slightly lost in thought.
"Regardless of that, it still looked like TK and Kari had the least trouble," the small boy spoke, his eyes shifting between the two humans in question. "If the rest of us could do the stuff they were doing, we could probably..."
His voice trailed off, as several of the older group suddenly began looking oddly wistful. Matt made a small gesture with his hand, his eyes on a far away as though focusing on something no one else could see, while the others smiled at each other.
"Yes, we definitely could fight alongside our partners," Mimi stated as she wrapped her arms around Tanemon in her lap. "And with Kari being able to heal now - "
TK and Kari looked at each other.
"Um, I don't think that's going to work," Kari spoke, a little bit pained.
Mimi blinked at her. "Why not?"
TK chuckled weakly. "Well, uh... we haven't been able to sense the darkness since that light went and saved everything. And I can't manifest the light any more..."
Everyone stared at the pair incredulously.
"So, wait, can you still heal?" Ken asked, directing his horrified gaze towards Kari.
She winced. "I wouldn't count on it..."
Both of their partners, as well as Tai and Matt, looked extremely despaired.
"It's... it's gone?" Salamon stared upwards, shocked.
"You can't use it at all?" Tokomon sounded outraged.
"Man, and I liked you two being all powerful," Tai shook his head wistfully.
"Yeah, it was really cool knowing you two could protect yourselves and fight back," Matt added with a touch of pride. "Seriously, the moment MagnaAngemon said he'd be fine having TK out fighting on the field..."
The dichotomy of two horrified digimon and two somewhat more contemplative boys struck TK as ironic and amusing.
Kari seemed to take it upon herself to explain. "Listen, it's not gone, it's just... sleeping, I guess, would be the word for it," she sighed, shaking her head wearily.
The others gazed at them with quizzical expressions.
"Well, can you wake it back up then?" Davis asked, tilting his head to the side. The light glinted off his goggles, and TK suddenly wondered how in the world that headgear had managed to survive all these adventures without breaking.
Kari paused, grimacing a little; TK quickly leaned over and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Try it," he suggested with a nod.
She glanced at him hesitantly, but lifted a hand and stared at it as though focusing. TK could feel something stir within him and try to move towards her; however, nothing else happened, and she sighed, lowering her hand.
"I think it might take some time," she answered, biting her lip. "But it's still there, and it responded when I called it, so we could probably use it again after we've given it time to recover."
Davis grinned and sat back.
"So just like the digimon then," he exclaimed, poking Demiveemon a little. "You guys'll be fine. I like this, being able to fight along with our partners. Maybe all us humans have super power too! Man, that'd be awesome. I'd wanna' fight with a big sword too, just like Tai!"
"Only when you're older and stronger," Tai pointed out with a wry smile. "It's heavy."
Salamon suddenly began grumbling, brows furrowed as she looked over to the side, behind Tai, at the large blade currently lying innocently in the sand. "You had no idea what you were doing, I'm still amazed you didn't accidentally hit any of us."
"Hey, he was awesome," Koromon countered defensively. "And he fought off those Spawn for a while by himself before I got to him."
The small cat-like digimon groaned, seeming much more like her Gatomon persona than anything else. "He still needs training if I'm going to trust him next to me. Matt was way better."
"Okay, before you guys keep going with this," Joe suddenly butt in, interrupting the two, "I've got a question for Tai. What the heck are you going to do with that thing?" he pointed at the large sword.
Tai glanced at the metal blade in the sand. "Well, I guess I'll take it home," he answered, scratching his head. "It did come in handy."
Kari blinked at it, then winced. "Mom and Dad are not going to be happy."
"Well, what else am I supposed to do with it? I can't just... leave it, not after it helped keep me alive."
Izzy tilted his head to the side quizzically. "That's... oddly sentimental of you."
"That brings up another question," Yolei started, grimacing as she glanced at herself and the others in their circle. "What are we supposed to tell our parents? I don't think our 'village in danger' story is going to cut it."
Everyone looked at each other as the circle filled with an uncomfortable silence.
"Well I'm just not telling them," Davis answered bluntly, hugging Demiveemon to his chest. "They'll just freak out and then never want me to come back to the Digiworld ever again."
Joe groaned and slapped his palm to his forehead. "That's basically the response all of our parents are going to have to this, and I was considering telling them, since my mom is probably wondering why she's missing so many energy bars right now." He grimaced. "I think they have a right to know; after all, they know about the Digiworld and our role in it, and they're probably wondering exactly what sort of emergency it was that forced us to stay here overnight."
That emergency being me, TK thought gravely.
He was thankful that at least his mother knew about his involvement with digimon, but he already dreaded the aspect of explaining everything that had happened. He doubted anyone would be able to hide the fact they had just fought in a momentous battle; knowing their current appearances, he expected that their parents might drag them to the hospital regardless.
"Okay, so you guys can choose whether or not you want to tell your parents," Tai sighed, resting his head on his hand. "Since everyone's families have different levels of understanding on what our role in the Digiworld is. Anything else for future battles?"
"Yes," Joe replied, glancing at everyone. He seemed older, more serious; TK recalled that he must have been worrying greatly during the entire conflict, being the one trying to treat injuries and keep people alive. "I'm going to state a few more things I think would be good," he continued once he had everyone's attention. "First, I think after we get some rest, we should write up our experiences with this battle and file it away for reference. That way we know what people did in certain situations and we can also figure out what's best to do, or not quite so good to do."
"I like this idea Joe," Izzy nodded firmly. "In fact, I think we should make this into a habit after whatever we do in the Digiworld. And we should send reports around – that way, everyone knows what's going on and we don't randomly discover that some town got burnt down and half the team went to help, like two weeks after it happened."
Tai frowned at him. "Are you still bitter about the whole Andromon and Kari thing?"
Izzy shook his head in exasperation. "No. That's not why I'm stating this. But now that you mention it, it might be nice to get updates on things quickly anyway."
It was again at this moment that TK wished he had his D-terminal with him, to read everything that he had missed. He guessed that the moment he did have it, he would see it filled with all the emails of the past day, even several from the last couple weeks, he imagined; he felt his tiredness cause him to lose focus and let everything move past him as Izzy continued to make his case, leading to some arguing amongst some of the older group, and finally to Tai throwing his arms up in the air and proclaiming that they would try it.
"Wonderful," Izzy nodded firmly, sitting back a bit. "Now that we have that taken care of, I'd like to ask a few questions, if you don't mind."
He turned to gaze sternly at TK, who blinked, half expecting something like this.
He shrugged. "Fire away."
Izzy rested a hand on his chin in thought. "This corrupted darkness – how different is it from regular darkness? What was it like when you could sense it? And the Spawn – they're directly connected?"
TK nodded, thinking back on everything. "Yeah... according to Jigomon, the Spawn never appeared until Dragomon began taking over the Dark Ocean. And Dragomon..." he unwillingly shuddered, remembering the sight of that being, though it was less than when he had told his story. "He's the source, and the corrupted darkness felt like him. It's like..."
He struggled to think of some way to describe the difference.
Kari seemed to note his difficulty, and decided to help. "It's thick, and it's a little warmer and more wet. It just... feels dirtier."
TK nodded in agreement, thankful for her input. "Yeah... kind of sticky and static too. Natural darkness doesn't feel like that, it's pretty clean."
The others looked at each other unsurely, as though the word 'clean' was not something they would normally use to describe darkness.
"So then, if this corrupted darkness is what we've dealt with in the past day," Ken began, eyes narrowing, "then what was it we fought in the past?"
TK shrugged helplessly. "Probably a mixture of both, depending on whether the Dark Ocean was involved or not. From what I know now, darkness isn't really a force purely for good or evil, it's just the element that evil likes to use. Like water," he added, glancing over at Joe and Bukamon. "It's neutral by itself, but depending on who uses it, it can be used for either good or bad."
Joe chuckled at that. "Nice analogy. Especially considering this was the Dark Ocean, after all."
Ken still looked unsure, something that TK noted. He whispered something to Leafmon, who still looked exhausted despite having returned to his Baby form rather than In-training, like all the others; his unease was noted by several of the others as well.
"So all the things we've seen," Biyomon brought up, glancing at Ken, then over to her own partner as well as Matt and Tsunomon. "With the Dark Ocean and everything – it's connected to this part of the Digiworld a lot more than we thought, huh?"
"I think it seeps through," Leafmon said morosely. Everyone turned to him as he closed his eyes. "It affects some people more than others... maybe that's why some of us were touched by it before others were."
"All of us have now," Cody shook his head. "I don't know what'll happen, but I bet all of us will be able to tell if something's up, if this ever happens again."
"About that," Tai started, turning back to Izzy. "Did Gennai email you back yet?"
Sometime earlier, after the battle but before coming to the beach, Izzy had emailed their old friend to thank him for the aid and also ask how the world barriers were faring. Having been involved in closing warps and trying to keep damage from the dark realm to a minimum, Gennai and his associates would know how stable everything was, and if to expect a similar crisis like what had just occurred.
Izzy shook his head, while Motimon blinked and crawled out of his partner's lap and began searching his pockets for his D-terminal. Izzy smiled in amusement, but otherwise addressed Tai. "I haven't heard anything yet, unless it's because the sound on my D-terminal is broken."'
"Don't think so," Motimon answered, crawling back into Izzy's lap with D-terminal in hand. "I don't see anything new."
Tai shrugged. "Well then. Guess we keep waiting."
At least this time, waiting isn't quite as painful, TK inwardly commented.
Ken still looked troubled.
"What's wrong?" Hawkmon, with Yolei, finally asked when his partner seemed to hesitant to do so.
Ken's brow furrowed.
"This bothers me," he began, looking up at TK in particular. "Daemon was in the Dark Ocean, and he was working with Dragomon. I'm – I'm sorry for all the things that he did to you, but I can't help but wonder, why, if he wanted the Dark Spore, and knew that I was involved in the battle... why didn't he come after me? And how come I wasn't a target, like you and Kari?"
Memories of a night filled with digimon, abducted children, evacuations, and an opening to the Dark Ocean rose within his head.
"That's a good question," Davis frowned and set his jaw. "Nice to hear that Daemon's all hunky dory with Dragomon, but then why wouldn't he want to go after his own goals too?"
His words kept everyone silent for a few moments, as everyone thought on it. It was a troubling idea, remembering the amount of power Daemon had held, and thinking about this other development.
TK however, remembering the horrors of the Dark Ocean and having seen Dragomon himself, felt that he had an explanation.
"I think the reason he wasn't coming after you," he spoke softly, "is because Dragomon was more focused on getting Kari and me. Maybe Daemon did want you, but Dragomon I guess... doesn't really have a need for the Dark Spore."
He did not have to explain further. Just his earlier descriptions and the shared experience of the corrupted darkness exploding from the tower was enough to clarify everything for the others. Despite the warmth of the day, a slight chill crept into the group.
Ken frowned, brows furrowing as TK's statement took hold. "That's rather frightening, if you think about it," he shook his head. "That Dragomon is powerful enough that he doesn't need to augment his strength with darkness, but chooses to do so with light instead."
"He took an element and corrupted it," Mimi shivered, both her hands holding onto Tanemon tightly.
"Corrupted darkness is too long a name," Demiveemon suddenly announced, sounding annoyed. "Can't we just call it something like 'Cordar'?"
"That sounds like the name of a planet," Bukamon commented off his statement.
"It might as well be," Tanemon interjected, surprising Mimi with her earnest reply. "I mean, it's another world, and it sounds like it's got different rules than what we're used to."
Upamon grimaced. "Scary."
The short conversation between the digimon had broken the solemnity of the conversation with its absurdity, and TK found himself chuckling, along with several others in the circle.
"Well, if 'corrupted darkness' is what Jigomon called it, maybe we should just stick with it," Cody sighed, poking his partner a little.
A beep cut through the sounds of laughter, and Motimon pressed a few buttons as Izzy smiled and watched the screen. Everyone turned to them, eager to hear what Gennai had to say.
A few moments later, both boy and digimon were too busy staring at the small screen to say anything.
"Uh, so what's it say?" Davis asked when Izzy's jaw slightly dropped.
He did not answer, leaving the others to wonder what had happened to cause this sort of reaction; then he suddenly twisted around to grab his laptop from his bag, leaving Motimon still staring.
"You tell them," he said as he pulled it out and opened the screen, apparently to check something that could only be seen with the hardware capabilities of a laptop rather than a small emailing handheld device.
Motimon slowly put down the D-terminal.
"It's sealed off," he stated. "The Dark Ocean. It's completely sealed off from the rest of the Digiworld."
TK sat in shock, along with everyone else in the circle.
"The light from Gennai did this?" Yolei finally gasped out after a few moments of silence.
"It wasn't supposed to," Motimon shook his head. "It wasn't supposed to be strong enough to do that, it was just going to push the corrupted darkness back and close that warp."
"And that means, since we all know there was something extra in that light..."
TK looked straight at Kari, who gazed back in disbelief. He was aware that everyone was staring at them now, awestruck by the realization of how exactly this could have occurred.
That's... this is... no way, no way that could have been because we were channeling it!
"You guys are amazing," Tai stated, eyes very wide, and perhaps rather proud. "Absolutely freaking amazing."
"It – it wasn't just us," Kari quickly protested, turning to the others as well, and TK knew exactly what she was talking about. "You guys helped too, I could feel that in the light – right, TK?"
He nodded vigorously. "Yeah, there was the power of everyone's crests and stuff like that..."
"There's a barrier," Izzy suddenly reported, staring at his screen as he apparently gazed at whatever Gennai had sent him. "It's similar to what we made with our crests, but apparently it's put together with the light Gennai sent, and mostly the powers of two crests in particular..."
TK felt his face go hot as everyone around them exploded in praise and amazement. No way. This can't have happened...
Except that it had. He remembered the feeling of standing in the middle of what could only be described as a storm, along with the sheer amount of power and energy flowing through him... in all honesty, he had no idea exactly how it had happened. Perhaps the workings of light and darkness were beyond him. But somehow, he and Kari had been involved, and the barrier had been created through them.
He saw the relief on Ken and Leafmon's faces, as they both seemed to realize that the Dark Ocean could never trouble them again; in his own heart, he knew that unless the barrier broke, they would never face another crisis like they just had. The Dark Ocean could not come after Kari, or him... it would no longer linger in his dreams, try to take him away...
He grinned and gave a loud victorious shout, joining in the celebration. Though no one rose to their feet, it did not stop them from crawling over to clap him on the back, or hug Kari, or cheer alongside others; it seemed miraculous, that an ordeal with the Dark Ocean could no longer occur.
The thought was brought by determination, more than anything else. If that was his choice...
A loud yawn from Tsunomon, who had been fairly quiet the entire time, brought about a silent pause and then another burst of laughter. TK smiled; he had to admit, he was tired, and given the beautiful day and the warm sun, could think of how wonderful it would be to just fall asleep, here on the beach amidst all those he cared about.
Tai stretched his arms, rubbing his eyes and letting himself yawn as well. "Okay then. Izzy, did Gennai want to meet with us?"
The boy in question shook his head. "Not today. He thinks we're tired enough as is; he wants to meet up sometime tomorrow after we've all rested."
Tai smiled. "That's nice of him. Well, decision time. We're all really tired, none of us slept well, and we're all just happy to be alive. Do we take a nap here first, or do we just go home?"
"Nap," came the response from nearly everyone.
TK concurred. He wanted to sleep, and from the pale faces and half-lidded eyes, the others could also use it. The adrenaline that had kept them fighting throughout the battle had dissipated, leaving them drained and in need of rest. Besides, it was a warm day and the location felt safe enough.
"But first," Joe began sternly, "we email our families to let them know everything's fine, that we're going to sleep, and that we'll explain everything when we come home." He gave Davis a pointed look at this statement, and the younger boy just groaned, rolling his eyes.
"But Tai said we could do whatever we wanted with that," he shot back.
"I'm telling my family. Both my brothers know what sort of things we've had to deal with, and I won't have to answer awkward questions when these clothes go through the wash," he motioned at his current appearance.
"Well, my family doesn't know as well, and I don't want them to freak out."
"Davis, everyone's family is going to freak out."
The two continued their argument, and TK almost wanted to smile at them, but he already had his own misgivings about explaining everything to his mother. She knew about the Digiworld, and had actively worked with the public to keep the Digidestined in relative anonymity after the defeat of Malomyotismon, and had even helped in terms of finding information and records... and she had known about his difficulty sleeping, having told Matt earlier... Matt...
He involuntarily froze, realizing he would be returning home, separated from his brother and everyone else who had just risked their lives and fought in this battle to save him and stop the corrupted darkness. As much as he wanted to see his mother, wash the salt, blood, and grime off, and sleep in his own bed, he felt a slight fear of those dreams, as well as a distinct need to remain close to at least one of the people who had nearly died that day...
Matt glanced at him, and smiled invitingly. "Hey, why don't you spend the night at my place?"
TK nodded immediately, oddly relieved. "Yeah, that sounds good. I'll do that."
The feeling was twofold. It was strange, having that need to have someone nearby, but on Matt's end, he probably still feared the fact that he had almost lost his brother, and wanted to stay together, if at least for one day.
He inwardly smiled, knowing how badly he wanted to see their parents, and that he still had to explain what had occurred, why he could not come home the previous day...
It would be great... if Mom could come too...
As the others pulled out their D-terminals to contact their families, he glanced back at Kari again. She had hers out, already typing, and he could not help but notice how weary and tired she looked. She noticed him watching and looked up at him.
"Everything's okay now, right?" she spoke, a soft glimmer in her eye.
He nodded back reassuringly. "Yeah. Better now, even."
She smiled, and almost reluctantly turned back to her email.
He might have sat there and continued to watch her had Matt not tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey," he proffered up his D-terminal. "I figure you should be the one to contact Mom. She wondered why you couldn't talk to her yesterday."
TK let out an uneasy chuckle and accepted it. "Yeah. I'll... I'll explain it to her later, but I'm sure she's worried."
At Matt's nod, he began his email. He saw his brother turn back to Sora, hand tightly clasped with hers; he noticed Tai join them, hugging Sora after everything they had gone through; the others continued to talk in low tones, the digimon beginning to fall asleep while their human partners remained sitting for a little while, though Yolei already lay herself in the sand, pulling Hawkmon close.
We survived... we're all here. And just in this moment, I'm glad I can be here with everyone too.
With one more glance over his email, he pressed the send button and decided to join the others in a gradual waning into slumber.
Perhaps it was the proximity to the ocean that woke him before everyone else. When he sat up, covered in sand but feeling warm and refreshed, the others still slept peacefully around him.
Judging from the sun, still high but no longer directly overhead, it was mid afternoon now. He almost returned to sleep, but the sound of the waves and his own, restless mind made him stay up, stretching and rubbing his eyes. His skin felt a little sticky from the dried salty residue, and his clothing stuck to him, which gave him more reason to move.
Yawning, TK pulled himself to his feet, leaving Tokomon snoozing quietly beside the others. He could already feel his muscles starting to tighten and ache in soreness, but he still decided to let himself wander off, away from the others and back towards the ocean.
He had no idea why he was doing this, wandering to the water and seating himself in the warm sand a little ways from the rest of the group. He stared out at the waves, his mind roiling over every single thing that had happened in the last several hours. Especially now, looking out at the ocean from his spot on the beach, events continued playing, and he saw them all, like an old tape that he might have watched over and over, knowing that he had lived it all.
But these waves were sparkling blue, kissed by the bright shining sun and covered with vague reflections of the slightly shaded yellow and purple clouds. It breathed energy, hope, and everything in the world that he held dear.
The stark contrast between this ocean and the one that had nearly claimed his life somehow gave him a sense of peace and longing. Whether it was longing for someone for him to talk to, or an unwilling longing for his stolen death, he did not know.
He sat there for a while, letting his thoughts wander and lose focus, the sound of the waves easing the troubles from mind. The breeze felt nice, cool, soothing... everything, it was so different, despite being fundamentally the same...
Once again, he remembered Jigomon's words back in the dungeon, how once the Dark Ocean had been a thriving place, the beings there living their lives as they did in peaceful times, sharing stories and laughter, celebrating in the moonlight and beauty of the faint light. It scared him to think that the fate which had befallen that realm could have occurred to the one he sat in now, an entire world at the mercy of the being who called himself a god.
Then he summoned up the idea that had sparked the moment they had escaped from the dark realm, the one that now, in his post-battle state only recovering from the ordeal, only seemed to grow.
He barely noticed when another pair of feet stepped up next to him, the figure casting a small shadow upon the sand.
"Can I join you?" Kari asked, both hands behind her back as she bent slightly towards him.
He smiled and nodded. "Of course."
She settled down beside him, stretching out one leg while pulling the other to her chest.
They sat in silence for a few moments, just gazing out at the horizon over the water.
"How is it?" she asked quietly.
TK released a breath, burying one of his hands into the sand. "It's... weird. I know there's no reason for me to worry about it any more, but remembering everything that happened... I don't think I'll be able to stop thinking about the Dark Ocean for a while."
Kari hung her head down, bringing her other leg up to her chest to meet the first.
"It's always there," she said softly, wrapping her arms around her knees. "That feeling that it's not over... that they'll call again, and you'll be pulled over. And the fear that next time, you'll never make it back, and the darkness will swallow you whole."
TK looked at her abruptly, recalling how much she had suffered because of the other realm. She knew exactly what was going through his mind, and what it would be like for him every time he heard waves...
She suddenly smiled, holding up her palm and gazing at it.
"Just knowing that the Dark Ocean's completely sealed off makes me feel a whole lot better though," she laughed, seeming at ease, though she curled up and rested her forehead on her knees.
Struck by a sudden urge to comfort her, TK gently reached one arm around her shoulders and pulled her toward him.
She tilted her head up at him. "Now I feel bad, after all this horrible stuff happened to you, yet you're being... you," she finished a little lamely, smiling weakly.
He raised an eyebrow. "I hope that's not a bad thing."
She sat up, resting her hand on his. "No, no... keep being you. And thank you."
They were both silent again, watching the waves while the others continued to sleep behind them. The gentle roar of the ocean echoed warmly around them, filling the air with an ambient sound of both power and movement; the sun sparkled off the water, light reflecting from the flowing surface.
It was a gorgeous sight, and TK felt blessed to be able to see it. He wanted this moment to last, for time to slow so he could absorb the scene and beauty of it all. And for him to be there with the ones he cared about...
"What do you think about that barrier?" he asked, half curious, half still in awe that something of that sort could have been constructed.
Kari sighed softly. "I don't know," she replied sincerely. "I don't know how we were able to help make it, just that we did... and since it was us, as long as we can still stand as who we are, that barrier can probably stay up."
He smiled. "Yeah. We just have to keep true to ourselves, I guess."
"True to ourselves..."
Kari's voice trailed off, and TK turned to her in concern. "What is it?"
There was a pained look on her face. "It's just... there are so many things that happened, and people did things I never expected of them. Ken running off even when he'd been hurt, Matt with his pole, poor Hawkmon when he had Yolei so badly hurt on his back... and Tai..."
She laughed darkly. "It's been a while since we fought side by side like this, and I guess having not done so made me think of him more as two different people than anything else. Him as a big brother, and as a leader. It scared me so much when he decided to use himself to buy us time to reach you... and I had no idea he had any worries about his ability as a leader."
TK closed his eyes. "I could understood where he was coming from. Being in that position, where one choice can be the difference between life and death, knowing that if someone dies then he's the one who bears responsibility... it's got to be hard on him."
"If that's the case, then he's been dealing with this for a while," Kari frowned, gazing down at her knees solemnly. "I mean, we were fighting for our lives a lot, back when the Dark Masters were around. And poor Matt..."
He shook his head wearily. "I know he had to be scared for Sora... and Tai... and me... when it's the people you care about getting hurt, everything just hits closer."
They were silent for a few moments, staring out at the calm waves.
"I'm sure everyone wants to do whatever they can to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again," Kari spoke again, sounding somber. "Or if it does have to happen again, that next time they're ready. I hope this light wakes up again soon," she held up her hand face-up, staring at her palm. "Because if anything, at least knowing that I can heal the others would make me feel better about it."
"It'll come back," TK assured her. "And maybe these powers, they'll pop up with everyone else too."
"And if they don't?"
"... combat training?"
Both of them laughed weakly.
"It sounded like you were really good, fighting on the field," he smiled, feeling proud of her. "Being able to fight back... it felt good. Insane and absolutely terrifying, but good."
Kari glanced back at the slumbering group, and TK saw a certain sword glinting in the sunlight. "I still can't believe Tai's bringing that home," she shook her head.
TK had to grin in spite of himself. "Your parents are not going to be pleased." Then he became serious again. "But yeah... even if we're not very strong, it's better than nothing, and if we can defend ourselves, then the digimon have a little less to worry about in case we get targeted."
Kari shuddered. "It's still scary to think that Daemon actually ordered the Spawn to focus on killing us humans..."
His mind suddenly turned back to that thought, the one which had formed earlier and now only continued to increase in strength. Combat... fighting... I have to become stronger, if...
He glanced over at Kari, still gazing out at the ocean.
"I like being here next to you," he suddenly spoke, gazing at her while thinking back to a dimly lit room covered in layers of dust. "Rather than having to talk through a mirror."
She nodded emphatically. "I agree. Especially now that you're not in danger... and all of us are here, together, and safe."
He suddenly felt a pang of guilt as his thoughts turned to that determined rage which had formed into the idea that now seemed to burn brightly in his mind. Almost instinctually, he withdrew his arm back to himself, his intense gaze focused on the sea, taking in each individual splashing wave and the sight of the level tide.
Kari could sense something off. "TK, what's wrong?" she asked, worried as she shifting her position.
He continued to stare out to the sea, not meeting her gaze. He wanted to tell her, but he was afraid of what he knew would be an upset outburst, a new wave of concern and worrying, the exact same reason why he knew he could not tell this to his own brother. But he felt that having been there, having been the one who saved his life, she would understand why he was making this choice.
"Kari..." he started hesitantly. Then he drew up his courage and said it. "When this light power is back, and I'm strong enough... I'm going back to the Dark Ocean to set things right."
He winced at her high-pitched response. "Shh, not so loud," he hushed her urgently. "I don't want anyone else finding out about this."
She stared at him, eyes wide in horror. "We just got you back!" she cried, though she kept her voice quiet. "You nearly died! And you want to go back to that place? Are you insane?"
"Probably. But I can't leave it like this."
He tried to convey all the sincerity he could into his words and his expression, letting her know how serious he was about this decision. Gazing at her face, he could see that she seemed almost hurt that he would consider throwing himself back into this sort of danger, especially as it was so similar to his decision not long before being pulled into the other realm not twenty-four hours earlier.
"You saw Jigomon, you remember what he did," he spoke, feeling the words coming and beginning to cascade out. "And I told everyone, of what the Dark Ocean used to be before Dragomon came. This world – our world – if the light earlier hadn't stopped everything, if we hadn't managed to help channel it, that's what would have become of this realm too. So much of that city was too similar to our home, and hearing from Jigomon what it used to be like; he told me about things they used to do, they used to watch the moonrise and play music and dance on the beach until dawn and hold festivals and throw seaweed balls at each other, I mean, it used to be a peaceful place, and look what it's like now, and with what happened there and what could have happened here, I can't let it go. I can't, I have to do something.
"I've learned... darkness by itself isn't evil, it's those who choose to use it as a tool to do evil that makes it seem like it. They could do the same for light... they were going to do that to me... and Dragomon's corrupted it, made it his, and really, I feel like it all just comes down to him as the source, and if we could find some way to stop him and return the Dark Ocean to what it used to be, I'm sure some of the digimon are in hiding somewhere - "
"I'm going with you."
TK stopped completely, blinking as Kari's words registered in his mind.
"What?" he said dumbly.
"I'm going with you," she repeated, a determined glint in her eyes. "After what happened with the Dark Ocean this time? You're not doing this alone. I'm not letting you."
He scratched his head guiltily. "I... well, uh..."
"You don't have to do things by yourself," she continued, looking oddly fierce and assertive. "I know you don't want anyone else to get hurt, but I have a personal reason to go too. And it's not just because of you."
Because she's been targeted too.
Normally, he would have wanted her to stay away from the Dark Ocean, safe and out of danger, but he knew better. She was a fighter, a teammate, a friend... they had known each other for so long now, he trusted her with his life. He wanted her at his side.
"All right then," he smiled, relief flooding through him. "We'll do it together." He chuckled a little. "I guess this means we're both insane now."
She laughed with him, a clear sound filled with mirth. "Yup. We are."
It felt strange how quickly that had been settled, but his mind seemed to accept it and keep going forward, running with idea after idea centered on this goal. It was something to focus on, something which he could use to cope with the nightmare of the previous day, and what he had at the time believed to be his final hours. Instead of constantly remembering that suffering, he would use it to prepare for the next encounter – one that would be on his terms, and not those of otherworldly evil.
"Our partners," Kari suddenly spoke, glancing back briefly at the pile of humans and digimon still resting upon the higher slope of the beach. She sighed fondly. "We're not leaving without them either."
TK nodded. "Definitely. I don't think we could do this without them. But..."
His eyes rested briefly on his brother, curled up with Tsunomon as his chest rose up and down with his steady breathing. Then he shifted his gaze to Sora, then Yolei, Tai, Cody, Ken, everyone... and he recalled the feeling of the corrupted darkness in the other realm, how it penetrated everything and lived as part of that realm.
"This is something I think only we should do," he stated, letting himself exhale some of the tension within.
Kari frowned. "No one else?" she quipped, one side of her mouth curving down. "Can we afford that?"
He grimaced. "Right now, no... but, this is more than me not wanting them hurt. It's a light thing. We stand the best chance of fighting and resisting what the Dark Ocean has in it."
She looked unhappy with his words, but seemed to understand. "The light... I guess it would be us, huh?"
"It's who we are," he answered, smiling sadly. "And we're the only ones who can, I guess."
"Then we'll have to be ready," she spoke, turning towards the ocean. Her face turned oddly hard, and he was surprised to see her so suddenly determined and motivated. "We'll have to train, learn how to use our light better... and combat, we'll need to be really good, in case we can't use the light... and we need to be able to support our partners in any way we can."
"But there's the barrier too," he added in, brows furrowing when he thought about it. "It's good that it's there, but there's no way I'm willing to break it, even in trying to go to the Dark Ocean to stop Dragomon."
"We're the ones who helped put it up in the first place," Kari quipped with a smile. "I'm sure we'll figure something out. Even if it takes years."
As TK gazed at her expression, he realized how different she seemed. There was an older, resolute quality to her demeanor that made her seem much more like her brother, someone tired of waiting and being the one in need of protection, and ready to move on the offensive. She had been targeted, her friends hurt, and she knew... she knew the reason why he had been taken. Her reasons and motivation were the same as his. His decision, his idea, had sparked something within her, a fiery hope that was an opportunity to end the threat once and for all.
The barrier that sealed their realm from the other was only something to stop the effects and power of a great evil, not the evil himself.
She smiled up at him, and he saw something in her eyes that seemed alive and ready. "Now I'm glad, actually, that you decided to do this. And - "
She suddenly paused, horror filling her face as she gazed at something that TK had apparently not noticed. "I thought that light healed everything!"
Now he panicked a little, wondering what it was that had been left unhealed.
She only continued to stare. "Your... your wrist..."
His eyes widened as he remembered the ritual, the ocean, the corrupted darkness, the tide... and he immediately lifted his hand to look.
There were three thin, barely visible red lines cutting horizontally across.
He immediately brought his other hand to the wrist, gently pressing down. He felt no pain, but there was an odd tenderness at each line. "Scars..." he whispered, turning his other hand over to check as well. He saw identical marks.
They looked at each other, the reality of it sinking in. The darkness, the battle, the struggle for life, all of it – it was there, shown on his skin.
TK clenched his fists. The scars were a distinct reminder of everything that had happened, the trauma, the remnants of a failed ritual... and what he was choosing to see as a sign of his resolve.
"We will free that place from Dragomon," he stated, gritting his teeth. "We'll restore it to how it used to be."
Kari gazed at him sadly. "TK..."
"I'm not going to feel sorry for myself," he continued, letting his hands fall to the sand. "I have to accept everything that happened and move on, because I don't want to be trapped in those memories. Besides, there's a new goal now, something I can focus on. I'm going to become stronger, and fight for that future."
He raised his hand again, ignoring the marks on his wrist. Instead, he felt within for the light that had erupted from him so easily, powered by his righteous rage in those dark moments. He thought of his friends, his brother, Patamon, Kari, the ones who had risked so much...
There was a tiny flicker of energy; then it settled once again into slumber.
TK closed his hand gently. "Yeah," he said softly, "I'll fight. To free that world... and protect everyone too."
Kari bit her lip, staring down at the sand.
"But how do we fight a god?" she asked quietly. "A god that can see and feel everything and has full control of an entire world?"
"I don't know," TK admitted, his gaze moving toward the ocean. "But this god is fake. He destroyed the life of a world to make it his, and he was going to do the same to ours."
The horizon, the glimmering waves, the bright, warm colors painted upon the landscape, the rumbling sea, whispering breeze, gentle tide, everything that echoed around them as signs of peace, life, hope, light...
Kari grasped his hand, squeezing it.
"We stopped him though. We survived the battle and everything in the Dark Ocean. And now..."
"We'll go back there," he finished for her, pulling her into an embrace. "We can do it. We can free it from Dragomon, return it to the way it should be. We'll do it together."
They smiled, knowing.
The light was alive within them.
"We'll be its hope."
To be continued in "The Will of Light"
A/N: Wow. It's been a great ride.
I grew enormously as a writer in writing this story - I don't think I even expected it to go this long, or for the story to reach the scale that it did. Considering that the previous three chapters on the battlefield were originally supposed to be one chapter - I was surprised it turned out the way it did.
Thank you so much everyone who's supported me over the years in writing this. I never expected it to be read as much as it did, and to be completely honest, I probably would have quit writing fanfiction had it not been for this story and everyone's support. So seriously, thank you. Thank you for helping me make it this far and actually finish this story.
Regarding the sequel, I don't know when I'll really begin to focus on it. I have started writing it, but there are several aspects to it that I still need to get figured out. Needless to say though, it will take place when TK and Kari are fourteen (they are roughly eleven in this story), and it focuses very strongly on them.
For Zenkyoshi readers, I hope you were able to pick out some of the hints in this chapter? I also hope I didn't make said hints too obvious or out of line.
Feel free to PM me with comments or questions! I'm happy to answer.
And now, for a short omake~
No one was surprised when they all fell out of the computer into a giant heap on the floor.
"Damn it Tai, your stupid sword..." Matt grumbled as he pushed the metal object away. Thankfully, Tai had had the foresight to bind the sharp edge so no one would get hurt by it when they exited the Digiworld.
"I still can't believe you're actually bringing that back home..." Kari groaned, shaking her head as she pulled herself out from under Joe. She turned back around in an attempt to fish Salamon out of the pile, when she suddenly stopped and stared at herself.
Sora clambered off of Yolei and dusted herself off. "Really I'm just thankful that we're all even going home – whoa."
All six of the younger group, whose clothes always changed when they went to the Digiworld, had had their clothing restored to those they had been wearing before entering it. Which meant...
The entire older group stared jealously, their own clothes ripped and tattered, looking very poor in comparison to their younger counterparts.
"This is so unfair," Tai groaned.