He-lloooooo! I have no idea what time it is since the cat knocked off the digital clock again, except that it's well past one in the morning, but I really don't care since I'm wired. Finally, over two years after it started and 145 pages of rough later, the final chapter has arrived!

This chapter is much shorter than the previous one, but I expected that. It's the climax and some epilogue stuff.

Revision Notes: Just the usual polishing and grammar checks.

Disclaimer: No, I don't own Digimon, but I do own an ending. Woot!

Data Set 10: Will It Ever Be the Same?

"No…no!" screamed Davis, starting to shake. "Monsters…no, demons…you demons! Controlling their bodies like they're puppets! How could you do that to your partners?! Those kids…those kids…give them back!"

"Davis…" Lobomon began.

"Takuya!" Davis barked at the golden-maned dragon standing before him, glaring at the gigantic wyrm. "Takuya, if you're still in there, listen to me! You've got to fight back! Takuya!"

"My name isn't Takuya anymore," the devil dragon growled in a deep, guttural voice, spreading out its huge burning wings. "I am the Timeless Beast AncientGreymon now."

"AncientGarurumon," spoke the metallic lupine soldier.

"AncientIrismon," spoke the feminine creature wearing the dark purple mask.

"AncientBeetmon," spoke the huge conjoined insect, the lower bug speaking.

"AncientMegatherium," spoke the pale-furred mammoth ram.

"AncientSphinxmon," spoke the obsidian metal lion.

"I don't care what your names are," hissed Davis, looking to the side with his fists clenched. "You're nothing but fiends."

"Why are you so angry?" asked AncientSphinxmon, its shining scarlet eyes calmly down gazing down at the falsely young gogglehead. "You are a DigiDestined, are you not? Outside, the Digital World is ready to be reformed, and the light of common digivolution and rebirth has been purified. The Digital World has been made new, as the prophecy told."

"By their blood," Davis muttered, gazing at the glistening crimson floor.

The golden-winged demon feline narrowed its eyes slightly.

"We did not take their human forms without their consent. They wished to give their lives for the Digital World. Would you be willing to do that, if you were in their place? Or is your life more precious than the Digital World's, you who hides behind his Digimon?"

Davis snarled, and then glared at the floor again.

"Was it…really their choice?"

"It was our choice," spoke AncientGreymon.

"I'm not talking about you! I'm talking about the kids!"

"We are those children!" snapped the mighty crimson wyrm, Takuya's youthful voice coming out of its huge maw. "We joined with our Beast Spirits to save this world, and we did save it! What's wrong with that?!"

Davis took a step back, eyes wide.

"I don't care if I'm not human anymore, or if I can't be human anymore. It doesn't matter now what I used to be. I am the Legendary Warrior of Fire!"

The golden-maned dragon slammed a giant clawed forepaw onto the crimson floor and let out a gruesome screech. Flames swirled around the incredible beast, nearly scorching the DigiDestined and the two Timeless Beasts standing beside him. Seeing this, the demon wyrm startled and took two heavy steps back, blue eyes enlarged.

The humanoid Legendary Warriors gathered in a tighter circle around the DigiDestined.

"Why…Why are you acting like we're monsters?" half-snarled AncientGarurumon, his beastly voice giving way to Kouji's. "We digivolved into you and the Beast Spirits back when we first came to the Digital World. Now we've become Digimon for the Digital World again. It's just permanent this time. We're not going to hurt you! We're still us!"

"Yeah, that's right!" added AncientMegatherium, his deep voice reverting to Tommy's high-pitched one in mid-sentence. "Digimon and humans aren't so different anyway. Who cares if we're human or Digimon? It doesn't matter, not really."

"I was weak as a human," AncientSphinxmon, his cool rumbling voice becoming Kouichi's. "I remember that, if nothing else. But I don't want to remember anything about that other form, that weaker self."

"We weren't worth anything to the real world as humans," said AncientBeetmon, the bottom host's croaky voice turning into JP's. "No one needed us there like they do here. We're better off as Digimon."

"That world wouldn't let us be ourselves," stated AncientIrismon, her strangely melodic voice changing into Zoë's. "It laughed at us for caring about others, like friends weren't important. You can't help others without being considered nosy, and you can't ask for help yourself without being considered childish. Childish…why is it so wrong to be a kid? I bet we can run our world better than the adults rule theirs!"

"I…I wanted to show them that we were different, that we weren't like them anymore," growled AncientGreymon, Takuya's voice growing lower and rougher. "…That we were stronger than those scared and selfish humans, that we wouldn't let them pick on us or our friends for our morals. But…something kept stopping me from showing my real power to them, caused it to backlash on me. It wasn't until I came back here that I could be my true self."

"But this isn't your true self!" barked Agnimon, locking his blue eyes with the blue eyes of the demon dragon. "The Takuya I know would never say that! He would never run away! He would try to make those other people understand!"

"I am Takuya!" roared the red beast.

"I thought you said your name was AncientGreymon," replied the scarlet-armored flame warrior, smirking slightly.

The masked devil wyrm snarled lowly.

"…No, this isn't you, Takuya," continued the humanoid Legendary Warrior of Fire, stepping forward. "The real Takuya doesn't worry about what others think of him. He just tries to help anyone in trouble, even if they try to push him away. He wouldn't try to escape from his own world if there was something wrong with his world. He would try to save it."

"Kouji! Everyone! You don't have to pretend to be something you're not!" shouted Lobomon, also coming forth. "You've been forced into a role that was never supposed to be yours to bear. You have a right to be scared, to be yourselves."

"Who ever said anything about being scared?" responded AncientGarurumon, his voice fluxing between beast and child. "We knew this was going to happen! We're done with being scared!"

"Listen to us!" urged Kazemon, as she floated forward with her pale-lavender moth wings. "We were in your place long ago. To become the Timeless Beasts, we had to become one with the Beasts, just as you have. We had to share body and mind with them, to the point where we couldn't tell the difference between our thoughts and desires and theirs. That's what you're scared of, isn't it? You wanted to save the Digital World, but you still wanted to stay who you were."

"Were? Why do say were?"demanded AncientIrismon, her voice warping."I'm still Zoë! I just look different, that's all! And I'm made of data instead of flesh! That's it!"

"No, you don't want this," answered Kumamon, the bear of snow and ice looking unusually serious as his tiny form approached the incredible Megas. "It only worked for us because we were willing to give up most of our free will in exchange for the power to overthrow Lucemon. Before we died and became separate in Spirit form, we lost of lot of ourselves. That's one reason we took so long to finally start talking to you guys."

"…Lost yourselves…" AncientMegatherium murmured to himself in an almost childish voice, long braids swaying from side to side. "I can't…won't…"

"You might be going on about you're stronger now and the real world isn't as good as the Digital World, but you want to go back, don't you?" asked Beetlemon, the humanoid blue insect drawing closer. "You want to be human again. Even now, you can't tell what's part of your past and what's not, can you? Can't tell what makes you human and what makes you a Digimon."

"No, that's not…true…" hissed AncientBeetmon, the top part of the insect turning away even though it could see nothing. "To be a Digimon…is…To be a human…is…"

"You don't want to assimilate with the Beasts," stated Lowemon, the soldier in dark lion armor treading forth. "The mind of a human is very different from that of a Digimon. It wants to keep its individuality, and it doesn't want to be controlled by another force. This kind of digivolution…it's not meant for humans."

"But we did it for the Digital World, like you guys did so long ago," protested AncientSphinxmon, gilded wings quivering. "Isn't…isn't that worth it? Compared to the whole Digital World, we're…we're…"

"No, you guys are important! As humans!" yelled Agnimon, creating a brief stream of fire when he thrusted his arm to the side. "Why are you guys ashamed of being human? We chose you back then because no Digimon was worthy! If you don't like how the real world works, then go back and change it! You can do that, because of who you are as humans!"

"I am…Takuya…" AncientGreymon began, the devil dragon shaking his head and his voice distorting wildly. "I am…AncientGreymon…I am…the Legendary Warrior of Fire…I am…the protector…I am…I…am…"

The Timeless Beast looked down at the shiny red floor, and happened to see a massive scarlet demon wyrm gazing back at him.

The golden-maned dragon let out a shrill screech that made the walls shake, causing dust to rain on the red floor. One by one the other Timeless Beasts began to scream as well, their voices torn between beast and child. The DigiDestined and their Digimon had to cover their ears for all the deafening cries. The humanoid Legendary Warriors watched them somberly.

"You children…" Lobomon began.

AncientGarurumon stopped his terrible howl and looked down to his human-like counterpart.

"…How can you still call us children?" the scarlet-eyed knight with the unmovable wolf's face asked in Kouji's small voice. "We're nothing but monsters now. We can't be kids anymore, even if we were dedigivolved. We're just…"

Lobomon held his arms straight out. So did the other humanoid warriors.

"Beasts," the scarf-bearing warrior began. "You can see that you're only hurting these children, can't you? I know you had the best intentions, but…"

The Timeless Beasts grew calmer and solemn. AncientGarurumon nodded with no words.

"That's why we want to make a proposal to you," the Legendary Warrior of Light added, looking straight at the Timeless Beasts. "I know you that you cannot reach these forms without another, and that these forms are needed for remaking the Digital World. But these children are unsuitable hosts for you. So take our bodies instead, as it was done long ago, and leave these children in peace."

"Lobomon…" Kari began.

"Trust us," spoke Agnimon, looking back at the DigiDestined and smiling. "This is how it's supposed to be."

The Timeless Beasts were silent for a moment.

"…Very well," spoke AncientGreymon in its deep voice, bowing his head. "We accept your proposal. However…"

IIIIII

When Takuya came to on the dust-dulled crimson floor, he felt as weak as a newborn. A girl with caramel hair hovered over him, looking greatly reassured.

"Oh Takuya, you're allright! Thank God!"

He sat up and rubbed his forehead, his warm yet not burning forehead. Lifting up his hand up a bit more, he felt his usual hat and goggles on his head.

"I'm…alive?" he murmured to himself in astonishment, before turning to the girl beside him. "Uh…do I know you?"

"Oh yeah, I never did get around to explaining that, did I?" she stated, rubbing the back of her head and laughing a little. "I'm Ms. Kamiya."

"What? N-No way!" exclaimed Takuya, eyes wide.

"Believe it," he heard Terriermon say, as the brunette looked up to see a blonde boy his age standing over the other side of them. "It's kinda complicated, but ah…let's just say adults get shrunk when they come to the Digital World and leave it at that, okay?"

"Right," Takuya replied, smiling. His head was too much of a whirl right now as things were. A grateful whirl, but still a whirl.

The goggle-bearer couldn't help but stare at everything in the Moloch Chamber, as if he had never seen it before. The purple paint, the grimy red floor, the scorched gilded chairs…they all seemed so strange to him. The other children were already up and about, wandering along the outer edges of the room in a daze similar to his. Nearer to the center was a chocolate-haired child with goggles that he didn't recognize, cheerfully chatting away with an especially confused Kouichi. That must have been Davis, he realized. He sure acted like the noodle-cart master.

Then his breath caught. There in the middle of the room were six great beasts. They were watching the children, but they did not move toward them. The masked golden-maned dragon kept a steady gaze on him.

The Beast Spirits…no, not just them…the Human-type Spirits too…that's right…they gave themselves to them…to save us…

Abruptly the six beasts departed, breaking through the shell of the ceiling and into the outside world waiting to be reborn. More dust fell upon the floor and the occupants.

Takuya got up and started to slowly move to the center of the Moloch Chamber, where his other saved friends also approached. They said nothing to him, and he could think of nothing to say to them. He could understand the silence. He himself could hardly believe that they were alive even after everything their bodies had been through. It was amazing that they could walk in the first place, much less without pain or thoughts that weren't theirs. He touched the goggles on top of his hat for reassurance that this was real.

The Digimon of the DigiDestined were hurriedly carrying off all the items that they had thrown in the middle of the room. There went Tommy's toy robots, there went JP's deck of cards, there went his old hat and goggles…

He froze mid-step. His old hat and goggles…

"…Takuya?" asked Kari, walking over to the stopped boy with a worried expression.

He bent down and wiped away some of the pale dirt the floor with his hand, making it shiny red again. In the reflection everything looked normal, even his warm brown eyes. Still he looked. He heard some puzzled murmurings from the other children.

"Ms. Kamiya," he began, still studying his double in the scarlet floor. "How did we survive?"

"…The human-type Spirits gave their bodies to the Beast Spirits so they would release you," she explained solemnly.

Takuya stayed silent as he placed one hand on the cold crimson floor, as if he wanted to touch that other boy that was in the reflection. It was impossible, of course.

"Ms. Kamiya…when the merging began, when we first started to become one with the Beast Spirits, it felt like I was being gutted alive," the grim gogglehead started to say, brown eyes still on the glistening scarlet floor. "For all I know, I probably was. All that power ripping me apart over the months, all that energy tearing through me, all the exhaustion…"

"Takuya…"

"…My body becoming numb, not being able to breathe, not able to feel my own heartbeat in my chest, even though I stood and walked and talked…then the incineration as I took the form of the Timeless Beast AncientGreymon…and yet here I am, standing here as if nothing happened to me…How could I have survived something like that, without a single scratch?"

Kari was silent.

The brown-haired boy narrowed his eyes.

"…I didn't, did I?"

The eyes in the red mirror went from warm brown to blazing orange. A small fireball formed between him and the reflection, blotting out that other Takuya bathed in the glistening scarlet.

The other kids let out exclamations of surprise. He did not have to look up to know that they were testing their abilities and succeeding in summoning their own elements.

"So…what really happened?"

Kari looked away.

"…It's true that the human-type Spirits surrendered themselves to the Beast Spirits to free you," Willis explained, as Lopmon hopped onto one of his shoulders. "But by then your bodies had already been consumed by the energy of the transformation. And even if they hadn't been, they would have been damaged beyond living requirements. So the Timeless Beasts gave up some of their own data to form new bodies for you."

"…Does that make us Digimon?" asked Kouji, watching the small orb of white light he had beckoned to his right hand.

"Not necessarily," answered the fair-haired child, unconsciously massaging one of Lopmon's long drooping ears. "Just because something or someone is made of data doesn't mean that something or someone is a Digimon, even if that data originally came from a Digimon. It's your choice. If you want to carry on a human life, you can. If you want to become a Digimon, that's possible too. It looks like you've inherited the powers of the Timeless Beasts through your data."

Kouichi manipulated a murky snake of darkness before him into a misty black butterfly.

"But even if we go back to the real world, that still means…"

"No, we're still human," interrupted Takuya, snuffing out the tiny flame with a simple grabbing motion and causing his likeness in the red floor to return to him. "We may not be human in body, but we've still got human souls. That's what counts."

He turned to Kari with a childish grin.

"Right, Ms. Kamiya?"

After a few moments, the caramel-haired girl nodded and smiled back.

"C'mon, let's hurry up and go home," spoke the goggle-bearer, his eyes cooling to warm brown again. "Ah crap, I still have that report to do..."

IIIIII

Kari Kamiya was walking down the sidewalk, a responsible adult with her white feline by her side, when she saw him, Takuya Kanbara.

She had seen him many times since that day, both in high school and otherwise. They even talked a lot, usually chattering away about the silliest things. Now the brunette boy with the purple baseball cap and blue-grey tinted goggles was passing by her as she strolled, headphones nested in his ears. He noticed her and gave a cheerful grin and a quick wave. That was all.

The caramel-haired woman and her purple-striped cat paused to watch him walk away, saying nothing. Anything spoken would have been left unheard by the child, because of all the music being poured into his ears. What the voices of the song were serenading him with, the teacher had no idea, for she could hear nothing of the melody. He did not turn back to look at her.

Then his friends came from the other end of the sidewalk, laughing and carrying on about school, videogames, and some movie tickets JP had just bought for them to see some action flick together. Takuya plucked the headphones out of his ears and began to chatter away with them, his warm brown eyes merry. They started to walk away from Kari's sight, enclosed securely in their own little world. When Zoë asked Takuya what he was listening to, he handed over the headphones and CD player so she could hear the tune for herself. None of them noticed Kari.

The caramel-haired teacher stood there quietly, even after the children could no longer be seen.

"Just ordinary kids," Gatomon spoke, smiling serenely. "They're still like ordinary kids, even after all that."

"Yeah," answered her human companion, as she turned around to walk her own way. "Because that is what they want to be, Gatomon. And now they have that choice."

Kari looked up to the sky. It was so bright and blue today. Even now she could hear their nymph-like laughter in her ears.

Ordinary children…the strongest and bravest of us all, those ordinary children.

IIIIII

Whew…what a trip. But it was so worth it XD

I must thank you all for putting up with my erratic updates and sticking with this story right to the end. If it wasn't for you guys I might still be stuck on chapter 5. In a next few days I'll probably be re-uploading all the chapters to fix minor errors in grammar, spelling, and plot. This is more to make the first five chapters flow more smoothly into the latter half than anything else.

Now for the random advertisement section:

Those of you who need a break from all the Frontier drama should go look up the Frontier AMV Du Doof on youtube. Slightly odd subtitles aside, it's a fun video.

For those of you into Willis (notably you, dragonsunlight), you should check out the story Peregrine by DarkSakura IIDX. It has excellent description, handles Willis well, and even has well-done human OCs. Of course some of you might already know about this fic since it's old (finished in 2004), but those interested should check it out!

Also for you Davis fans I recommend the story Little Dragon by Kaeera. It's sad but does Davis a lot of justice that he often doesn't get. Valid gripes about his stupidity aside, who wouldn't want someone like Davis for a friend?

Again thank you all! Goodbye!