Light of my friends
Things were really good after some weirdo reporter guy found Joe and told the world that we saved digiworld. After that, we digidestined all became stars! Don't you think I'm totally destined for stardom?
We all became really busy, too. Everyone wanted this pretty face to endorse their products, and appear on magazine covers, and we had interviews and news stories about it, it's been really cool!
It's like the whole world's gotten the chance to find out about us and what we're like; all these product companies have been contacting us to advertise things that are kind of like what we are. Sora advertised a fitness centre for girls, and she and Tai were actually guest stars at some soccer match thing. I saw Izzy's face as a full-page magazine ad, saying that for saving the world, only a Pineapple computer would do. Joe was on a commercial for school supplies and TK and Kari have been on a few different ads, because they're cute and photogenic, although not as much as me!
Matt's the only one who hasn't taken up any of these offers. He's been all weird about this whole thing. Not me though, this is totally the best thing that could have happened for my career as a supermodel and teen idol!
But you know... all this neat fame is just not the same as actually being with my friends. Isn't it strange to think I'd almost rather be walking around some horrible, hot desert with killer monsters everywhere, than here safe in the real world with my parents and a lifetime of superstardom ahead?
It's because of Palmon, I guess.
The best thing about being famous is that sometimes I get to work with my other digidestined friends. We don't see each other very much because Izzy's in all these advanced classes and everyone has different periods to me, so we don't see each other at school. And Joe's always busy... now we sometimes work together, and it's great.
But y'know, back near the beginning of this whole weird fame thing, three of us - Joe, Kari and me - were being interviewed for a magazine, because we were the ones whose crests glowed on the 7 o' clock news.
The three of us met up to catch a train; we got there early, 'cos Joe's all neurotic-y about being late, and ended up catching an early train anyway. So somehow we end up getting to the place about an hour early and the building's LOCKED. We bickered about whose fault it was, and how Joe should have been more careful with the timetable, and Kari asked us to please stop fighting, and finally we were just standing there waiting.
"Ooohh, all this waiting is driving me crazy!" I said, "I'm nervous enough without them dragging it out like this!"
"Relax, Mimi," said Joe, "you've got nothing to be nervous about."
"Ohhh, what if I start crying on camera again? That was so totally embarassing! What if they ask me questions I can't answer and I sound like an idiot!"
"Mimi, you'll be fine," he said, calm as always, "you're always fine, I'm sure you'll be great."
I was still a little nervous though - hey, I'm sure even famous actresses got nervous sometimes! - and kept worrying aloud until I'd gotten Joe well and truly panicked too. I didn't mean to, but it wasn't very hard. He's a big worrier.
"What if they take a photo of us? I'm having a bad hair day!"
"What if we're at the wrong building? What if they didn't mean to even invite us? What if we got the times wrong?"
"What if the people interviewing us are mean?"
"What if they ask me more hard questions? Izzy and I had an interview earlier today and I didn't understand anything!"
"What if I get tongue-tied and say something stupid and they write it down and everyone thinks I'm a total dork?"
"I'm the one who should be worrying about that! What if they want to see our crests glowing again? I don't know if I could just make it happen because someone asks me! What if they don't believe our story?"
"What if nobody shows up and we're just stuck here forever?!"
"You two say 'what if' too much," said Kari suddenly, "you're forgetting, the most important thing is to tell them about the Digimon."
We looked down at her and I think we both kind of felt stupid, 'cos that *was* the most important thing, and it took a perfectly calm 8-year-old to remind us.
So we calmed down - well, Joe was chewing his nails so much he practically had half his hand in his mouth, and I kept tugging one of my ponytails, but we were *pretty well* calm, and we just talked for a while about a bunch of stuff.
"I haven't been over to your place all week, Joe, how's your family doing?"
Joe has a *really weird family*. But he doesn't seem to notice there's anything strange about them. Maybe he thinks it's *normal* for families to barely exchange two words with each other all day unless they have to, or for the parents to, like, hate each other? His family doesn't even act like he's there half the time.
"They saw the news story about us, so they know I was a digidestined."
Kari looked surprised. "Your family didn't know you're a digidestined?"
"Nope," he said, "I guess I never knew how to tell them."
"So how did they take it?" I asked, really wanting to know. I couldn't even imagine how weird people like that would react.
"Dad said he knew I was honest... and Mom... said she was proud of me. She even... kissed me."
He said it kind of embarassed, but like he wanted to tell me. I'm glad he trusts me. As for Kari, everyone knows things are safe with Kari; she'll never laugh at anyone or hurt their feelings. Kari looked surprised though, I could tell she was thinking the same thing as me.
He smiled, and I thought there was something kind of sad about the look on his face. I guess it was kind of sad to think that someone would think it was a big deal to be kissed by one of their parents. I mean, aren't all families supposed to love their kids? And what sort of weirdo compliment was that for his Dad to give?
"Oh... that's good," was all I could think of to say, and then someone came running up, started apologising a lot for the building being locked, and let us in.
Pre-digiworld I don't think I would have ever been friends with someone like Joe (have you seen his CLOTHES? and he gets all huffy when I offer fashion advice!) but I like being with him now. He's older than my other friends and kind of serious most of the time - when he's not freaking out (he freaks out less often in the real world, so he's not *so* embarassing), and he's good at listening to me and giving advice and stuff.
The interview went pretty well after all, although Joe kept babbling and saying weird things at the start. I think he was nervous. That interview sure made me think about some stuff. They asked us a lot about our crests, and I'd never really wondered much about my crest, I'm not Izzy (thank goodness, have you seen that horrible orange shirt he always wears? I think he's got like one outfit in his whole wardrobe and I just look hideous in orange, redheads shouldn't wear it anyway).
Part of it I remember pretty well went something like this:
Interviewer: So could you describe how these crests worked?
Kari: They'd glow and the digivice would glow too, and they helped share our strength with our Digimon.
Me: They started to glow when we proved we deserved our crests. Like my crest of Sincerity, it reacted when I was really wishing I could do more to help save my parents and my friends.
Kari: My crest responded to the feelings in my heart. But my light was for everybody, like, the light of my friends, it wasn't just *my* light.
Joe: Matt said something like that, didn't he? His crest of Friendship responded to friendship from other people.
Me: But I think our crests are for what we're best at. Like, Tai's really brave, and he got the crest of Courage, and Izzy's really smart and he got Knowledge...
Joe: Someone said that destiny built those crests from our best qualities.
Me: It's almost like we didn't even need to get our crests, you could sort of feel them from each other from the start. I mean... take, I don't know, Joe... it wasn't a real surprise when we found out he got the crest of Reliability, 'cos even if he sometimes acted all strange, you sort of felt safe with him, like you could depend on him and he'd protect you.
Joe went kind of red and I thought he was embarassed that I'd told half the world he acted strange sometimes, but he didn't sound mad when he talked next.
Joe: I can still feel Mimi's sincerity when I'm talking to her. Whoever chose our crests did a pretty good job.
A compliment from Joe! I mean, he's always reassuring me about things and encouraging me and stuff, but, an actual real compliment! I don't know why I was so happy to hear it from him but I was.
My career took off after that, soon I was being asked in for fashion shoots and advertisements and all sorts of other cool things!
Before my first photo shoot I was talking to Claire at school and I was totally nervous and she said, "what are you so worried about, you'll be perfect as always, Princess Mimi" but she said it in a mean way. I thought that Joe would never have said anything to deliberately make me feel bad, and I realised I sorta think of Joe as my best friend now. Is that weird or what? Especially being best friends with a BOY! But it's kind of true.
He calls me Princess Mimi occasionally, but it's like a joke between us. I like being called Princess Mimi by him, it reminds me how good my friends are to still be my friends after that whole Otamamon and Gekomon princess karaoke thingy.
The next few weeks were a blur of appointments, some exciting, some kind of boring, and I got to see my friends pretty often. Once Joe and I were catching a train together and we talked some more there. I asked him when it would be okay for me to come over to his place and study. He's the only person I know who can teach me math without completely losing patience, although he does get frustrated a lot!
"Oh, you could come over any time you want," he said, "except Tuesday, I have a couple of interviews then. Nobody else will be home for the rest of the week so you can drop by when you like."
"Nobody else will be home? What do you mean?"
"Oh, it's just that my family's been really busy lately, and since Jim's moved out of home and Dad's on some conference, Mom's been out until late too, doing stuff."
"You mean you're home alone all the time? Ohhh, that's awful, Joe!"
"What's so awful about that? I'm busy a lot too."
"Isn't it kind of lonely?"
He shrugged and changed the subject.
Mimi stood outside Joe's apartment door, arms folded, looking irritated. The lights on the nearby elevator went 'ding' and the doors opened; Joe came out. He looked surprised to see her.
"Mimi! How long have you been standing there?"
"Ohhh, you said I could come by any time, and then I come and you're not even THERE! I've been waiting here for half an hour, Joe, you'd better have a good excuse!"
"I missed the bus... sorry, Mimi."
"Hmpf... well, are we going in or not?"
He fiddled with his keys, dropped them once, picked them up and fumbled with them again, dropped them again - Mimi lost patience, snatched them up, and had the door open in about two seconds.
"Geez," she said, looking around and peeking in doors, "this place feels, like, totally deserted!"
Joe's apartment never really had the homey atmosphere that her own did, it had always been kind of bare and under-decorated and too-clean, but now it seemed half empty; Jim's room was completely bare, some other furniture was gone, and everything was a little too still and silent. Mimi was glad she didn't have to live in this house.
She sat on the couch and opened her bag.
"Hey, Joe, I have a gift for you!"
He looked surprised. "A gift? For ME? W-what for? It's not my birthday, and -"
"Just because I'm such a nice person!" she said brightly, and pulled something out of the bag, holding it out to him.
"Waaaaugh!" he shrieked, jumping back and falling on the floor. She sweatdropped.
"Don't tell me you're afraid of CATS."
"I-I'm not afraid, I just wasn't expecting to see something ALIVE staring at me."
Mimi rolled her eyes and dropped the kitten into his lap. She'd thought it was an especially cute one - a fluffy little calico with white paws and bright, curious blue eyes. It looked up at Joe and in a few quick movements, had jumped onto his shoulder, and batted the frame of his glasses.
"Hey, cut it out," he told the cat, holding his glasses so they wouldn't fall off.
"Isn't she cuuuute, Joe? I thought she'd be just perfect for you!"
"I-I've never had a pet before..."
"That much is obvious, you're looking at that poor widdle kitten like you're expecting her to bite your nose off or something! It's about time you had a pet, at least you won't be the only one home!"
He looked at her. "Is that why you gave me this?"
"You bet," she said happily, "so what are you going to name this adorable fluffball?"
Joe tried to pick the kitten up by the scruff of her neck, but she dug all her claws into his shirt to try to stay right where she was. He grimaced. "I think I'll call her 'Scratch'."
"Ohh, typical Joe. It's a cute name though. I guess I should just be thankful you didn't call her Hairball or Allergy-maker or something. You're not allergic to cats, are you?"
"Oh, I bet you aren't, stop complaining. Isn't she just the cutest little thing you've ever seen in your whole life?"
"If you like her so much, why don't you keep her..."
"Jooooe! If you're gonna be this ungrateful I'm never gonna get you another present ever!"
"Sorry, Mimi," he said, and gingerly patted the cat, still as though he were expecting it to attack him. Scratch arched her back and then climbed down into his lap and started purring. Joe smiled a little.
She wasn't sure if he meant it yet, but didn't want to get him in a bad mood, because she had looots of math problems she didn't understand...
"I guess that makes sense... well, sort of... well, I guess an upcoming fashion superstar doesn't really need straight As in math, right? Ahahahahah!"
"No danger of that..."
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!... hmpf... hey, Joe, your mom's still not home..."
"Yeah... she probably won't be here until after midnight."
"Midnight?! What about dinner?"
"Well, I usually pick up something on the way home from school but what with missing the bus, I guess I forgot. I'll probably just skip dinner tonight, it's no big deal."
Mimi looked at him strangely, but with more sensitivity than she usually had, knew that he didn't want her to criticise his family.
"Don't be stupid, Joe," she said, "you're scrawny enough now, you need to eat more, not less. You're coming to my house for dinner, and no arguments! Get your coat!"
"B-but your parents wouldn't be expecting me, I don't want to impose, I -"
"Be quiet, Joe, you're coming and no arguments!"
They stared at each other for a moment and then he sighed. "Okay..."
"You should feed Scratch before we leave, though."
"Mimi, there's barely a scrap of food in the house, how do you expect -"
She pulled a few tins out of her bag and grinned.
"See? I thought ahead!"
"Wow, Mimi showing foresight? And they say miracles don't happen in this day and age!"
She hit him.
We digidestined were mostly doing separate things around then, we didn't have many interviews or stories where a group of us went in together. My work started meaning I saw my friends LESS instead of MORE, and that was totally bad, even if I do like, and deserve, individual attention!
But then someone came to us with this totally cool idea of getting us to be the stars of a TV series all about US! For a little while I was worried that Matt was going to ruin things by being all weird and camera-shy like he always is, but he came through and even if he complains half the time, it's still good to have the whole group back together!
It's the only time I see Joe now. I'm really glad about this TV thing, because I think that guy totally needs to be with his friends instead of sitting around in an empty house all the time with his stupid textbooks for company. He's going to turn into a total hermit otherwise. I told him so, and for some reason he didn't even thank me for pointing it out!
I think about him sometimes, because I'm worried about him. I think there's something, like, wrong with him or something, because he always looks kind of sad, more than usual, and he doesn't talk so much. I want to ask him questions but he changes the subject, which is sooo annoying but I don't know what to do about that!
Mom said to just give him time and maybe if I let him know I was here for him, he'd come to and tell me what's on his mind. I thought that was dumb advice, I just hate to wait like that and I thought maybe he didn't trust me enough to talk to me anyway... but then, one night...
Mimi was sitting at the dining room table with open textbooks all around her, tugging at her ponytail and generally becoming increasingly stressed-looking.
"I haaaaaate tests!" she whined, "they're such a waste of time, they're evil, none of this makes a single word of sense!"
It was hard to concentrate when her parents were having a loud conversation about two metres away.
"Do you think red is my colour?"
"Of course, sugar, you look fantastic in every colour!"
"Oh, you really think so?"
"You know I think so!"
"That's sooo sweet!"
"How about we do some shopping tomorrow? Wouldn't you like a nice new red dress or something?"
"I'd love one! It's a date!"
The doorbell buzzed; Mimi looked at her parents who were practically making out on the couch and sweatdropped. She didn't think *they* were going to answer the door, so she thankfully abandoned her work to get it herself.
Joe was standing there, looking kind of weird. Mimi didn't think he'd ever come to visit her before, it had always been the other way around. She smiled happily, and waited for him to speak - but then - his face kind of fell - he was - crying?
She slammed the door behind them and stared up at him, surprised.
"J-Joe? Are you alright?"
He didn't answer; his shoulders were shaking.
"Right," said Mimi, in a mock-bossy way, "we are going for a walk and you are going to tell me why on earth you're crying and I'm going to make you feel better and then we'll get icecream - uhh, do you have any money with you?"
He smiled; a rather pathetic smile, but it was a start.
After a few minutes, they were out of the apartment building and away from the crowds on the streets. The winter evening was cold; Mimi shivered and wished she'd thought to bring another coat.
"Sorry," said Joe suddenly. Mimi rolled her eyes.
"Don't be ridiculous, Joe," she said, "you don't have to apologise for CRYING for pity's sake, it's totally okay. So what's UP, don't keep me in suspense!"
He sniffed and pushed his glasses up. "My parents are getting a divorce!"
She stared, in obvious disbelief. "You didn't KNOW?"
"D-didn't know? What do you mean? You mean *you* knew? Why didn't you tell me?"
She blinked. "Well... I thought it was kind of obvious, that's all... I mean, your dad left home and all..."
"I didn't know," said Joe, angrily, "okay? I didn't know!"
"You -" she stopped herself from replying angrily. "Oh... so, why are you upset?"
"My parents... nobody even told me anything. Dad just came home today and asked me who I was planning to live with! I didn't even know they were thinking of getting a divorce, I just found out that they've already GOT one!"
"And nobody told you anything..."
"But are you upset about... the divorce itself?"
"Of course!" he snapped, "my whole family's falling apart, what do you expect?"
Mimi huffed. "You know, if you're so upset by my questions, why did you even come to see me in the first place?"
He blinked. "Why?... I... I don't know... I guess... I didn't know where else to go. Sorry to have wasted your -"
"I don't want to hear another apology! Now Joe, it's about time you stopped being so quiet and keeping everything to yourself! A divorce isn't the end of the world, especially when you've got such a great friend as me, and maybe your parents will start acting normal once they've set up their lives again!"
"Now, I want you to start being happy! If you cry in this cold weather, you'll find you've got frozen cheeks! You don't have to go home for a while, Joe. I want to help you feel better!"
Joe looked at her, but not at her face; she was suddenly aware of a greenish light, and she saw that Sincerity was glowing on her chest. She laughed and put her hand behind her head.
"Ahahahhh! Good thing it happened while nobody else was around this time! You know, LAST time my crest reacted it was in the middle of a public place and suddenly I got, like, mobbed!"
"Mine went off in math class and someone jumped on me and knocked me out of my chair. He saw the outline of a cross and thought it had healing power."
Mimi laughed, and after a moment, so did Joe. She slid her arm under his and smiled at him.
"Ready for that icecream now?"
"Isn't it a little cold for icecream?"
"So we'll get something hot from a street vendor! Don't be so fussy!"
"I-I didn't bring any money, I didn't think of it..."
"Well, neither did I! But it doesn't matter, I'll just charm someone into giving us freebies! Who could resist this pretty face?"
"Or that forceful personality..."
"Hey! Was that an insult? Hahahh! That sounded just like the old Joe!"
"I don't want to be the old Joe..."
"Okay then, it sounded just like the Joe-who's-not-been-morbidly-brooding-at-home-alone-for-weeks, if you'd rather I said it that way!"
"You can be very blunt, you know..."
"No point in skipping around the point of something now, is there? Now come on, don't look so serious, you know I'm only joking! Well, sort of. Now listen up - we have an important decision to make. Like what sort of vendors are around here? And do you feel like soup, or noodles, or -"
Joe walked along with Mimi latched on his arm, yammering away, and started to think that maybe, when your parents weren't in your world much anyway, it didn't matter so much if they split up. Just so long as your friends stuck with you...
The two made their way down the dark street with the light of their crests burning.