The Storyteller

"The Storyteller," by s1ncer1ty

*Notes: Aaah, more fluff. But still kinda sad fluff. I'm a writin' fool this weekend.
I really wanted to write a story about Daisuke, one that didn't bash the poor kid and one that wasn't an infamous Kensuke/Daiken (those things are filling up FFN faster than the Taitos!). This is just friendshippy, bonding, sad-sniffly fluff. It's also my first attempt at writing Daisuke, so I hope I've done well. o.o *

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"And so then I saw that their center had left himself wide open. Motomiya fakes to the left! He fakes to the right! Then boom, Motomiya scores! Goooaaalll!" I spoke rapidly, excited to have an audience patient enough to hang onto my every word, for once. It's not often that people take the time to listen to me... Sometimes when the opportunity presents itself, I've got to talk fast just to get my point across.

"That's cool, Daisuke," Iori said from the back seat of the car, a wide grin across his face. "Was it the winning goal of the game?"

"Nah," I said, lacing my arms behind my head. "I couldn't steal all the glory. Ken played pretty well, himself, even if he was on the losing team." On a roll, I unbuckled my seatbelt and turned around in my seat, getting ready to tell another soccer story starring yours-truly, when Jou interrupted me before I could speak.

"Daisuke, you know the rules," he spoke patiently. "When you're in my car, you've got to wear your seatbelt."

"Awww," I mumbled, falling back into the passenger seat of Jou's car and re-latching my seatbelt. "Can't I at least change the radio station? This classical music is bo-ring." I reached towards the stereo, and Jou swatted my hand away.

"When you've got a car of your own, you can play whatever you want," he replied, though not unkindly, unlike a lot of other people who talk to me.

Iori piped in from the back seat in a mock-whine, "Are we there yet?"

I stifled the urge to laugh unsuccessfully, and it came out as a light snort.

"Almost, kiddo. Only half a mile or so to go. We'll be at the park in no time."

I picked up the soccer ball at my feet and bounced it lightly on my knees. I couldn't wait -- we were going to meet some of the other Chosen from our group of friends at the park for a game of soccer, Chosen-style. I, for one, had it out for Miyako -- I couldn't allow her to beat me at another soccer match, practice game or no.

Jou turned down a slightly less-crowded sidestreet and slowed the car considerably, trailing behind a silver-colored car ahead of us. I leaned my arm against the window and stared out, knowing that our cautious driver wouldn't even think of inching above the speed limit even by a kilometer or so. I fought the urge to whine at Jou, as well, to ask if we were there yet.

Yet as we edged along, something caught my eye on the side of the road -- something small, white, and furry darted out in front of the silver car's tires and was immediately thrown back against the pavement. The silver vehicle put on its brakes, slowed some, but then ultimately peeled away from the scene.

"Kuso!" I whispered under my breath, hoping Jou didn't overhear. "Jou, stop the car!"

"You should have gone before you le--" Jou began, before I cut him off.

"No! It's not that! That jerk in front of us just hit a cat!"

"A cat?" Iori whispered nervously. "Jou, you've got to stop!"

Jou's brow furrowed as he glanced in his rearview mirror, put on his signal, and pulled to the side of the road. Luckily, no one was behind us, as I didn't bother to check before throwing open the door and tearing out to where the creature's body lay huddled a few yards back. I slid to my knees next to the huddled body, my breath caught in my throat.

Bloody, broken, and mewling, the cat was still alive.

"You poor thing," I whispered, running my hand along its back. The cat, white with a pink collar circling its neck, turned a pair of green eyes up towards me.

"Daisuke, is it..." I heard Iori's voice over my shoulder, and I snapped at the younger boy.

"Go away, Iori!" Hearing him hiss in breath, hurt, I added in a gentler tone, "I just don't want you to see this, okay? She's not dead."

"Oh."

Jou was the last to join us, as he'd paused to open his trunk. He walked swiftly, carrying a blanket and a pair of latex gloves. He knelt beside us quietly, unfolding the blanket along the shoulder. I felt him lean closer to me and whisper into my ear, "It looks like its back is broken."

"Her," I corrected firmly. "She's got a pink collar... The cat's a her."

The cat began to shiver violently, her brilliant emerald eyes glazing over, and I swallowed hard past a lump in my throat to speak again.

"Give me the gloves, Jou," I forced out, my voice cracking.

"Daisuke, why --" he began.

Feeling my hands start to shiver, I just couldn't take my eyes off the dying cat. She didn't have much more time in this world. Perhaps it was a mercy that she didn't. "Please, Jou, take Iori back to the car. You're -- you're probably allergic to her anyway."

Jou rested a hand on my shoulder, and I met his dark eyes, so filled with sympathy. "Make her comfortable," he whispered and placed the gloves in my hands.

"I'll do my best," I murmured, and forced a smile.

Jou squeezed my shoulder and rose to his feet. "Iori, why don't we wait back at the car?" I heard him speak over my shoulder. Despite the boy's protests, I listened to the footsteps that gradually faded to the still-running car.

I let the gloves fall loosely into my lap, and I stroked the cat's fur along an unbroken section of her back, even though I knew Jou might scold me later for touching her with my bare fingers. Germs, fleas, dander, and all that other stuff he worries about -- none of that was a concern to me. Her fur was so silky, and I wondered who she might belong to. Did she have a loving little girl looking after her, or was she the prized companion of an elderly couple whose children have long since moved away?

"Let me tell you a story, little one," I whispered. "Once upon a time, there was a famous soccer player by the name of Motomiya Daisuke. He was beloved by all across the land, an he swore that one day, he'd marry the lovely Yagami Hikari. Only, his arch-nemesis Takaishi Takeru the Terrible Turkey stood in his way... Well, he wasn't exactly an arch-nemesis. That's too harsh, I guess. Maybe he was just a bit of a rival... See, Takeru wasn't that bad a guy -- he just had a thing for the lovely Hikari as well. Can you blame him?"

"One day, Daisuke, Hikari, Takeru, and his other friends were transported to a wonderful world called the Digital World, where they met their soul-mates, the Digimon..."

Still stroking the cat's long white fur, I told the story of our adventures, embellishing it wherever necessary to make 'Daisuke' out to be the hero. I told of meeting V-Mon and his first Armour Evolution, of converting Ichijouji Ken from the dominating Kaiser to the gentle boy we knew today, of our first encounters with Archnemon and Mummymon... Maybe the cat couldn't understand me, but I kept my words gentle and companionable.

As I finished my tale, my voice trailing off, I watched the cat close her eyes for the last time.

With a sigh, I finally pulled on the gloves and turned the tag on her collar towards me. 'Maoko' it read, her name centered just above her address. I wrapped her body in Jou's blanket and whispered, "Sleep well, Maoko."

I walked back to the car with the wrapped bundle cradled like a baby in my arms. Jou had pulled the car into a nearby lot, off the main road. I saw Iori sitting on the trunk, wiping his eyes with a tissue and Jou trying to comfort him.

"Hey," I murmured, clearing my throat. "Don't be so sad. She doesn't hurt anymore."

"How could someone do this?" Iori murmured, his chest shaking. "How could they just drive away and not accept responsibility?"

"Not everyone cares enough, Iori," Jou replied softly, his hand on the boy's shoulder.

"She must have been s-so scared," Iori whispered, burying his face in the tissues again.

"Not with Daisuke around, she wasn't," murmured Jou. "She had a wonderful friend beside her to the end."

I felt my cheeks flush red, and I stared at my shoelaces. "Hey, uh, Jou? Her owner only lives a couple blocks from here. Do you mind if I ... tell them? They really should know."

"Tell you what," Jou said, sliding away from the car. "We'll go with you. That way they'll know that their cat was comfortable until the end."

"S-sure," I murmured, swiping at my cheeks with my sleeve. There couldn't be tears there. Must be just some dust in my eyes.

Nodding to Iori, Jou turned his back to the boy and murmured, "Hop on." Iori gathered a shaky breath and wrapped his arms around Jou's shoulders, riding piggyback.

It was the longest two blocks of my life, and I was shaking as I mounted the steps to the apartment complex. I reached up with one hand to ring the doorbell, but found my fingers shivering terribly. I turned around and looked up at Jou.

"I -- I can't do this," I whispered, feeling my courage suddenly fleeing me.

"It's okay, Daisuke. Just relax..." He said, giving me a reassuring nod. Even Iori, now fully composed, gave me a thumbs-up sign from over Jou's shoulder.

I drew a deep breath, shifting Maoko's blanket-wrapped form in my arms, and I hit the doorbell before I could have second thoughts. A middle-aged woman, no older than my mom, cracked the door and gazed at me curiously.

"Yes? Can I help you?"

"Ma'am," I croaked, clearing my throat at the crack in my voice. "Do you own a white cat? Maoko?"

The woman's brow furrowed, and her dark eyes flicked down to the still bundle in my arms. "Yes, she belongs to me."

Jou's hand slid to my shoulder, and I took another deep breath, already composing the story in my mind. "I'm sorry, Ma'am. I have something to tell you...."