Staying in touch
Soon they just blurred into a tiny dot on the great landscape of File Island and the surrounding ocean. And soon after that, they disappeared entirely. The chidren stopped waving; their Digimon were really gone, and now they were alone.
"I can't believe we're really leaving," said TK, sadly, still looking out of the window.
"Don't worry TK," said Kari, "the digiworld will always be a part of us and so will our Digimon."
"Hey, you're right!"
The two smiled at each other and promptly began to play "count the islands", as the tramcar continued to ascend.
The older kids envied the younger ones for being able to deal with things so casually.
"Well, at least someone's happy," sulked Mimi.
"Come on, Mimi, you were the one who said you wanted to go home more than any of us!" said Sora.
"Well yeah, but not if that means leaving Palmon!"
Mimi promptly started to cry again. Sora patted her arm reassuringly a few times before caving in and crying too. Matt stared sullenly out the window, not really registering the beautiful scenery below.
"There's another one! That makes seven!" said TK from the other side of the tram, completely oblivious to everyone else's mood.
"Ooh, you have good eyesight, TK!" said Kari.
Joe was sitting at the front of the tram in the driver's seat. He was starting to feel airsick, and sat with his head between his knees. For once he wasn't complaining about it, he was - almost - glad to have something take his mind off things. He wondered how long the ride was going to take.
"Hey, Izzy," he said. The younger boy was sitting nearby by himself, hugging his knees to his chest.
Izzy looked up to show he had heard.
"Any idea how this thing works? Think you know where it'll take us?"
Izzy shrugged and didn't say anything. Joe was surprised; Izzy had never shown a lack of curiousity about anything before, and he was always polite enough to reply to someone who asked him a question.
Actually, Izzy didn't realise he was being rude; he just didn't trust himself to speak. He didn't want the others to see him cry. He was busy thinking, but in a way he didn't think very often - not about ideas or theories, but a way he wasn't comfortable with - emotionally.
Tentomon was his first ever, real best friend. He didn't think he could carry on without real friendship now he'd become used to it. Why did they have to leave their Digimon behind, anyway?
Tai, who had been pacing, fighting his own feelings, suddenly noticed that most of his friends looked pretty miserable. Well, he was still their leader, right?
"C'mon everyone, cheer up," said Tai loudly, "just think of all the things you WON'T miss about digiworld!"
"The things we won't miss?" said Kari, surprised.
"Sure!" said Tai, "I won't miss staying up to take night watch shifts, or Matt snoring and keeping me awake half the night!"
"ME snoring?!" sputtered Matt, "you should hear yourself, Tai! I won't miss you acting all dictatorial!"
Tai grinned slightly, pleased that he'd shaken Matt out of his silent sadness.
"Well, I for one won't miss you two fighting," said Sora, sniffing slightly.
"I won't miss getting nearly killed by huge monsters every time we start to relax," said Joe, "or the killer allergies those digital plants gave me."
"I won't miss walking around all day," sniffled Mimi, "or skipping lunch, or having to wear the same outfit every day."
"I won't miss hearing Joe complaining and Mimi whining," said Tai.
"I won't miss Tai's stupid goggles," said Mimi, scowling at him.
"I won't miss Tai telling us that everything's under control seconds before we almost get killed," said Joe, also scowling at him.
"I won't miss eating plants, or when Mimi tried to cook!" said TK.
"I still feel nauseous when I think about that," said Joe.
"Oh, it wasn't that terrible," snapped Mimi.
"I won't miss Myotismon or Piedmon or any of those scary Digimon," said Kari.
"I won't miss wandering around lost for hours on end, getting nowhere," said Matt.
Everyone was starting to lighten up a little. Tai was glad.
"I won't miss Ogremon's terrible morning breath!" said Mimi.
Joe laughed. "I won't miss getting seasick riding on Ikkakumon's back!"
"I won't miss Agumon waking me up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom," said Tai.
"I won't miss Gabumon complaining about his fur getting wet," said Matt.
"I won't miss Biyomon's singing," said Sora.
"I won't miss Gomamon stealing my glasses and then imitating me," said Joe.
"But that was so funny, he sounded just like you!" said Mimi.
"He did not!"
"I won't miss Palmon trying out new hairstyles on me," said Mimi, "it took hours under the shower to get my hair back its usual lustrous lovely self after the last time!"
"How about you, Izzy?" said Tai, noticing that the small boy was the only one who hadn't been saying anything. "What won't you miss about the digital world?"
Izzy looked up, surprised, and spoke slowly. "I could say I wouldn't miss Tentomon 'borrowing' my food, or accidentally electrocuting me every time I woke him up, or those awful jokes he used to make... but it wouldn't be true. Now that he's gone... I'll miss them all."
Everyone fell silent. They hadn't really heard Izzy talk like that before. At that point, the tramcar gave a sudden sharp jolt - it was stopping. They could see the ruins of the Heighton View Terrace Bridge nearby. They were home.
Izzy sat leaning against the door of his apartment. He turned his digivice over in his hands. Why did he still have a digivice if Tentomon was gone?
After arriving back in the real world, he and his friends had split up - which felt weird, and sad, like they were really saying goodbye to each other and their adventures, like it was really an ending - and gone to to their respective homes.
He wasn't sure where his parents were, or even how much time had passed since they went back to digiworld, but he did know that he couldn't get into the apartment without a key.
He thought back to Tai's question. He hadn't been able to think of anything he wouldn't miss about digiworld. He'd loved the journies, loved feeling like he was making a difference, loved having friends, especially a best friend. He hadn't really minded the occasional skipped meal or long walk, and monster attacks... well, he had Tentomon to protect him. Digiworld was one prodigious adventure full of things to discover and question, where nobody would make fun of him for being too curious or intellectual. Where it was *useful*.
Despite some of the bad things that had happened, he was glad he went to digiworld. Somehow it felt like his whole life had been building up to it, and now that he'd been there and met Tentomon, he was... more complete, somehow.
But, yes. There was one thing he wouldn't miss, and that was worrying about his parents. Did his parents really love him, why hadn't they told him he was adopted, who was his real family, was there something wrong with him... now the truth was out, and he was sure things would be a lot easier at home.
"Goodbye, digiworld," he said quietly. *Could* they ever go back? Funny, really. His parents had sent him to summer camp to encourage him to be 'less antisocial' and to make friends. He was sure they didn't have this in mind. But now that he had real friends, he wondered how he had ever gone so long without them, and how he would go on without them. Now that digiworld was over with, surely they would all go their separate ways, surely the others wouldn't give someone like him the time of day when they had their other friends around?
His laptop was still a good friend, but it wasn't the same; the computer on its own, without anyone to help, was just a tool. He looked at the computer sitting on the ground next to him, and patted it fondly. It had been a terrific help.
He heard a 'ding' sound and looked up - the nearby elevators were opening, and his parents were stepping out. Izzy jumped up and ran to them, diving into his mother's arms.
"Oh, Izzy!" she said, and couldn't go on, but he could feel her face, next to his, wet with tears.
"We were worried, son," said Mr Izumi, patting Izzy's back, "the rifts in the sky closed but you didn't appear again, so finally we decided to come back here in the hope that maybe you had returned to this world and come home."
Izzy smiled. "Of course I came home."
The Izumi had a lot of catching up to do as Izzy narrated their adventures in as much detail as he could remember. He never mentioned how he felt about the things he was talking about, but his parents could read between the lines. After several hours of cake, conversation and questions, Izzy went to take a bath and his parents looked at each other.
Mrs Izumi sighed heavily. "It's just incredible, isn't it."
"You're certainly right about that. But despite all the danger involved, sending him to summer camp was the wisest decision we ever made. It's made a man out of him."
"It's a shame that he had to leave that peculiar little friend of his, Tentomon. He didn't say much about it but it's obvious he misses him a lot."
"The most important thing is that he still has friends in this world, friends of his own... uh... species."
"It's still amazing to think what those children did for our whole world. They did seem like nice enough children."
"He knew some of them before the digital world, didn't he?"
"That's right, he was on the same soccer team as Tai, and he knew Sora, too."
"That boy Joe, and his older brother... I'm sure I've seen them before too."
"Yes, I thought so too. I think we must have known that family from when we lived at Heighton View Terrace. And didn't Izzy and Matt use to play together as little boys, when we lived there?"
"We still have a lot to catch up on."
"That's right..." Mrs Izumi paused, and smiled a little sadly. "I know it's foolish and every mother has to let go some time, but I didn't think it would happen so soon. He's been through all these things we can't even hope to understand or to help him with, it makes me feel helpless, like our little boy doesn't need us any more."
"You know that isn't true," said Mr Izumi, giving her shoulder a squeeze, "he'll always be our son. And when we can't help him or understand what he's been through, his friends can."
Around then, Izzy walked back into the living room, perfectly calm and composed-looking as usual. His parents weren't fooled.
"What's up, Izzy?" asked Mrs Izumi.
"Mom, Dad," said Izzy, sitting down on the floor and looking up at them, "I'd... like it if you could tell me more about my... other mom and dad."
He caught himself before he said 'real'.
Mrs Izumi smiled gently. "I knew you would ask that some time, dear. We'll be happy to tell you anything we know."
"I'd like to know everything!"
It had been the question he was wanting to ask for years. He looked up at his parents eagerly as they started to talk.
"Your parents' names were Jessica and Ian Tenjin. Ian's father was a cousin of my father," began Mr Izumi.
"You look a little like your mother," continued Mrs Izumi, "with those big black eyes, although neither of your parents had red hair."
"I think your maternal grandmother had red hair..."
"To be honest, we only met your parents a couple of times, at family get-togethers and such. They seemed like such a nice young couple. We saw them a few months into Jessica's pregnancy, she was so excited about having a baby."
"The accident happened only a couple of weeks after your birth. Your father was driving you and your mother home from the hospital for the first time. They think there was a drunk driver coming from the opposite direction... the car was totally written off, I'm sure Jessica and Ian didn't feel any pain. The car was in such a bad state they must have died immediately."
"So how was it that I was able to survive?"
The Izumi looked at each other and then Mr Izumi spoke slowly. "Well, actually, it was a very strange story... but then, after the last couple of weeks, it seems like nothing could seem strange to us any more!"
"Apparently," said Mrs Izumi, "when they found you in the wreckage, there was a strange orange light glowing all around you. It faded soon after you were taken to the hospital but everyone was talking about the supernatural baby boy who survived against all odds."
"After the light faded," continued Mr Izumi, "there was a strange symbol left on your chest, almost as though it had been burned into your skin by the light. But then, it might have just been a birthmark."
Izzy undid a few buttons and looked at his chest. "That scar..." he said, "I never thought of it or realised it before, but now I know what it is. My crest."
The Izumi glanced at each other again, eyebrows raised quizzically.
Izzy traced the mark with his finger. "How strange," he said, "that must mean that even before the incident at Heighton View Terrace, we were destined to be who we are. My crest of knowledge ensured that I wasn't killed prematurely."
"Well, I'm sure you know a lot more about it than we ever could," said Mrs Izumi.
"It certainly is strange," said Mr Izumi.
"And you were my re... other parents' only living relatives?"
"Your father had two younger sisters... I don't remember quite what happened to them, but I heard a rumour that one of them jumped off a bridge. How terrible! I'm sure it wasn't true!"
"Your mother had an older brother," Mr Izumi said, "but at that time he was overseas struggling to find work, and he was having enough trouble financially supporting three sons of his own."
"So I have an uncle, and cousins," mused Izzy, "where are they now?"
"Well, we've only met them once," said Mrs Izumi, "we've never kept in contact, you see. As far as we know, they're still living in the United States."
"Oh," said Izzy, then after a moment's thought - "do you know anything about them?"
"When we met them, the youngest boy was in the hospital. He was a rather sickly child, his mother said," said Mr Izumi.
"Goodness, I don't even remember her name now. Her husband, your uncle Jason, had those same unusual dark eyes that you have and that your mother had," said Mrs Izumi.
"Can you remember any of the names of the Kido boys, dear?" asked Mr Izumi, trying to remember.
Izzy started. "Did you say Kido?"
"Why, yes," said Mrs Izumi, "the Kido family. I know the boys all took after their father quite remarkably."
"Did they have... blue hair?" asked Izzy.
"That's right," said Mr Izumi, thoughtfully, "how did you know that, son?"
"My friend Joe's last name is Kido," said Izzy, "and he has two older brothers, one of whom you met at the convention centre."
"Joe and Jim!" gasped Mrs Izumi, "I knew I recognised those two boys from somewhere!"
"It certainly is a small world," said Mr Izumi, "who would have thought it..."
Izzy stood up suddenly. "Excuse me, I think I'd like to go to bed now." He bowed and left, rather quickly.
"Well," said Mr Izumi, "what a surprise to find that we still have some family left, and living in the same area no less! Perhaps we should invite the Kido family over for dinner some time?"
Mrs Izumi nodded, but she looked a little distracted. "I wonder why Izzy ran out so suddenly..."
Izzy lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He wasn't upset, really, just... baffled. He was *related* to one of his friends? And Joe, of all people!
Izzy had always thought Joe was a little strange. Always kicking up a fuss about things nobody could help... he didn't have much curiousity or imagination either. In fact, the only thing they really had in common was that they both liked to study. Even then, Izzy thought that Joe probably didn't like it for the same reason he did - to gain knowledge and find things out - but so that he wouldn't fall behind or have to worry so much about school.
Still, although Joe could be a little strange, he was one of the best friends he'd ever had. Sometimes he'd been the only one who would listen to Izzy's theories - well, except for that one time when he fell asleep just as Izzy was leading up to his most interesting hypothesis - and even if he wasn't an intellectual equal, at least he understood more than the others. And he wasn't as difficult to figure out as Mimi or Matt had been.
Despite his complaining, Joe was someone he'd always been able to count on. Most of all he remembered the fear on the older boy's face as he'd seen that Piedmon was coming - and then instantly whirling to try to save Izzy's life, leaving himself behind...
Izzy smiled to himself. There were worse people to be related to. And he remembered the saying "you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family". That meant that... at least he might stay friends with Joe in the real world, even if the others didn't want to have anything to do with him.
Real family! An uncle and aunt, people who had known his real parents! Cousins! The sons of his mother's brother! That was *almost* like having brothers, wasn't it?
In the mental whirl this new discovery brought on, Izzy almost managed to forget how sad he felt at leaving Tentomon. He fell asleep in a lighter frame of mind.
He could hear locks being turned open and then the door in front of him opened. He found himself looking up into familiar eyes - although there was something a little off about them. Joe looked in surprise at Izzy and Izzy stared back.
"Joe, your eyes are all red."
"Izzy, hi! I wasn't expecting you!"
"Why were you crying?"
"Huh? Don't be ridiculous, Izzy. I was... chopping onions... I think I'm allergic to onions."
"Joe, you're an even worse liar than I am."
Joe frowned slightly, then relaxed when he saw Izzy wasn't going to press the issue. "Why don't you come in? The place is kind of a mess, but we weren't expecting visitors."
Izzy followed Joe into the apartment and his eyebrow started twitching. "This is a mess?"
The apartment was one of the barest he'd ever seen; there were almost no decorations or knick-knacks or dog-eared books open on the couch. There didn't look to be enough items in the house to even enable a mess to happen.
Joe made a beeline for a sheet of paper lying on the coffee table - the only thing on it - and frowned at it.
"Dad told Jim to stop leaving his belongings lying all over the house," said Joe, "sorry about that."
Izzy sweatdropped. "Um... no problem."
"I'm glad you came over," said Joe, gesturing to a chair, "my mom's gone grocery shopping but I'm sure there's something in the pantry, are you hungry?"
"No, that's okay," said Izzy, sitting down. He thought - Joe seems a little different in the real world. Not *very* different, but more at home here. He was like that during the Myotismon attacks too. I guess that's understandable, but *I* felt more at home in the digital world...
"You're glad I came over?" he said.
Joe scratched his head. "Well, yeah, it beats being home alone... heh, I wouldn't have said that pre-digiworld, I bet."
Izzy was interested now. "What do you mean by that, Joe?"
Joe went a little red. "Well, I dunno... I guess, before we had all those wacky adventures, I was more of a stay-at-home-and-read kind of guy. I spent a lot of time on my own. I guess I've really learned a lot more about friendship since then."
"Yes, me too," said Izzy, and then after a moment's hesitation, "hey Joe, could you tell me a little about your family?"
"My family? Gosh, I don't know, where should I start?"
"You have two older brothers, right? Any uncles or aunts?"
Joe frowned a little. "Why are you asking me this?"
"Just a matter of curiousity."
Joe rolled his eyes. "You've gotta curb that curiousity if you start asking weird questions like that."
"Could you please answer the question, Joe? It's important."
"Hmmm..." Joe tapped the side of his glasses to show that he was thinking. "Hahhh... mmm..." Izzy waited with anticipation as Joe screwed up his forehead in concentration. "Oooh... well... hey Izzy, what was the question again?"
Izzy facefaulted and repeated the question rather loudly: "Do you have an extended family?"
"Hmm... nope, I don't think so," said Joe, "except my maternal grandmother, who's getting senile. Oh, and my dad had a sister once, but she died a long time ago."
"Well, guess what, Joe," said Izzy, unable to keep quiet any longer, "your father's sister had a child."
"Oh, that's nice," said Joe absently.
"You know, my parents adopted me because my real parents died ten years ago."
"Really? That's awful," said Joe, eyes widening, "I never knew that. How do you feel about it?"
"I'm okay with it now," said Izzy steadily, not wanting to get side-tracked. "Joe, didn't your father's sister die along with her husband ten years ago?"
"Mm? Yeah, I guess it would have been about that long. Weird coincidence, huh."
Izzy sighed at Joe's lack of curiousity or ability to make connections, and spelled it out.
"Joe, SHE was my mother. You and I are cousins."
Joe blinked. "Excuse me?"
"I just figured it out last night when my parents were informing me about my real parents. You know, it really is a fascinating discovery, it brings up interesting questions. Joe, do you think being digidestined could be genetic? Uh... Joe?"
Joe had gone rather white.
"Cousins," he squeaked, "Izzy and I... related... hehehehehh..."
Izzy looked a little concerned. "Uh... Joe?"
"Man, all this excitement's getting to me," croaked Joe, "I think I'd better sit down before I throw up."
"Wow, Joe, it's reassuring to see how happy you are to find out you're related to me," said Izzy, trying not to smile.
Joe blinked. "Oh, gosh, I'm sorry Izzy! I didn't mean it like that, of course I'm happy about that, it's just kind of a surprise, you know, I really didn't mean -"
Izzy waved his hands to cut off Joe's apologetic babbling. "Take it easy, Joe, I was only joking!"
The two sat there in rather awkward silence for a minute.
"Well..." said Joe finally, "if I had to have any cousin I'm glad it's you and not someone like the one Sora got stuck with."
Izzy grinned. "Yes, I must say I'm also glad that my cousin isn't someone who pushes people off bridges..."
"...or has the motto 'speed limits are for cowards'..."
"...or plays bad music at unreasonably high decibals..."
"...or plays up to Mimi just because she's a girl..."
The two shuddered in unison and then grinned at each other again.
"Seriously, I am glad," said Joe seriously, "it's almost like... we're connected now. I was feeling bad because Gomamon was gone, but your coming over reminded me that I still have friends with me. And since it turns out we're actually related somehow, I guess we'll still stay in touch, right?"
Izzy smiled thoughtfully. Maybe he and Joe had more in common than he'd thought.
"I hope so," said Izzy, "what we should really do is unite our families and have a meal together."
"Does your mother's cooking taste like sewerage?" asked Joe.
"No, my mother's cuisine is of outstanding quality," said Izzy, a little puzzled.
"Then we'd better have the meal at your place. We don't want everyone to come down with salmonella."
Izzy snorted. "Matt told me about your adventure with Digitamamon. I guess cooking skills run in your family."
"It's your family too," said Joe immediately, "can you cook?"
"Anyone can cook, Joe," said Izzy, "it's simply a matter of methodically adhering to the directions given in the recipe..."
"Let me guess, you're the sort who blows up the kitchen when pouring a bowl of cereal?"
Izzy bowed his head. "Mom insisted I give up my culinary efforts after we had to replace the microwave."
Joe nodded sympathetically. "I haven't even been allowed inside the kitchen since the notorious Stir Fry Saga..."
"My macaroni and cheese was more like macaroni and sludge..."
"We still can't get the smell of charcoaled carrots out of our counter..."
"I gave a whole new meaning to the word 'toast'..."
"How was I supposed to know that when the recipe said 'stand in fridge' it was talking about the food?"
The two sighed in unison.
"Well, at least biology makes sense," said Joe.
"And math," said Izzy.
"And physics," said Joe.
"And chemistry," said Izzy.
Joe sat up suddenly. "I just remembered, I've gotta study! I have another test in three days and my dad's gonna kill me if I don't get at least an A plus on this one!"
"Joe, it's summer vacation," said Izzy.
"I have to keep ahead," retorted Joe, and promptly started freaking. "Oh man, so little to learn and so much time, or however it goes! Infrared radiation! Molecular masses! Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium!"
"Boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen," added Izzy, "Joe, relax. I'll help you study."
"Really? You would?"
"Sure. What are friends for?"