Disclaimer: Blah blah blah, Digimon belongs to Saban, blah blah... (Does anyone read these
things, anyway?)
Author's Note: The original idea for this story was actually a gift from my dear friend and sister,
Cynthia, Piedmon's Lady. Thanks, EP! ;-)
Warnings: Death, angst, crossbreeding (i.e., humans and Digimon together romantically, in more
than one sense of the word in this case), miscellaneous immoral activity. Hey, Cynthia helped me write it, what do you expect? ;-) If you read this warning and flame anyway, I'll show whatever you write to Cynthia, and we'll both have a good laugh at you.

Grief and Guilt
By: SilvorMoon

Miyako stood in the doorway, looking out at the policeman who stood before her with his
worried expression. She knew him - he was a friend of Ken's, who occasionally came over to
visit. He had been a friend, anyway.

"Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked.

"No," said Miyako, trying to sound reassuring. "I can take care of myself. Really."

"Well, if there's nothing," said the policeman. "I can't tell you how sorry I am..."

"It's all right. I'll manage," she answered. "If you don't mind... I'd just like to be left alone
for a while."

"I understand. If you need anything at all..."

"Don't worry about me," she said. "Goodbye."

She shut the door on her quiet apartment, turning around and dropping into the nearest
chair, suddenly finding that she could barely stand up. Everything inside her seemed to have gone
numb and cold, as if a winter wind were blowing around inside, disrupting all her thoughts.

*Gone,* she thought, testing herself. *Ken is gone. He's not coming
back.*

No reaction; the shock was still to raw to hurt. She didn't like that - something in her told
her that she ought to be feeling something if someone walked up to her and told her that her
husband was dead. Maybe it would have helped if she'd had something more than words to hold
on to. Right now, all she had was an explanation. He had gone with some others - and Stingmon,
of course - to intervene in a gang battle, and Ken had been caught in the crossfire. At the same
moment he had fallen, Stingmon had dropped from the sky, shifting back to Wormmon as he
landed. There had been just enough strength left in both of them for the caterpillar to reach Ken's
side, and they had died with their arms around each other, one fading away to green light, the
other simply closing his violet eyes one last time with a peaceful sigh.

*It should be that way,* Miyako thought. *Ken was always closer to
Wormmon than to... well, to anyone. Even me.*

That brought a flicker of emotion to her, though she wasn't sure if it was grief or anger.
Even so, it thawed her out a bit, and she got up and began moving around the apartment, thinking
vaguely that she ought to be doing something now. There had to be some kind of preparations she
ought to be making. There had to be a funeral, an obituary... she had to tell the children. How was
she going to tell them? It was too much, and she pushed it out of her mind. Maybe they would be
angry at her if she didn't let them know until after they came home from school, but she couldn't
tell them now, not when she barely realized what had happened herself. She had to think about
something else for a while.

Without her meaning it to, her gaze strayed to a picture that hung on her wall. It was a
wedding picture, Miyako in a glittering gown, Ken handsome as always in his dark suit. They
were smiling at the camera, looking as perfect as any fairy tale come to life. Everyone had told her
how lucky she was to have married Ken Ichijouji. He'd been the pick of Tokyo since he was ten
years old - how could she not consider herself anything but the luckiest woman in Japan, maybe
all the world? It didn't even matter that he'd lost some of his abilities with the loss of the Dark
Seeds. He was something better than a genius or a sports star, he was a hero of universal
importance... and so was she. They were the perfect couple, and newspapers had gone out of their
way to put pictures of the famous pair where everyone would see them.

So Ken and Miyako had married, and they'd settled down and raised their family. They'd
lived off of what Ken had saved from his celebrity days, plus what he brought in as a crimefighter,
and things had been... pleasant. Peaceful. Idyllic, everyone said.

*Perfect,* thought Miyako, and she was shocked to feel hot tears building in her
eyes. *What do they know about perfect? Sure, Ken was handsome and kind and a good
provider - I couldn't have asked for a better husband - but, let's face it... I didn't love him.*

That was when she broke down in tears. She had never been good at crying quietly, and
now she flung herself on the sofa and wailed for all she was worth. Her glasses fogged up almost
at once, and she fumbled with them and threw them across the room, annoyed that she couldn't
even have a crying fit without something getting in her way. They bounced off a chair and
clattered onto the rug, but she ignored them. She went on crying with reckless abandon, her own
cries sounding harsh in her ears.

"I'm sorry, Ken. I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

Deep down, she knew it was her fault. She'd always had a weakness for the opposite sex,
and also for anyone she'd perceived as better than her in any way. She liked to bask in reflected
glory, and who could be more glorious than Ken? As for Ken himself, maybe he needed someone
who would make him feel loved after his tragic past, and guy-worshipping Miyako seemed a likely
choice.

*So maybe we used each other,* she thought, *but that didn't make what I did
any better. Ken really needed someone to take care of him. He was more fragile than most people
knew. They were used to the Ken they saw on TV, the one that was calm and confident, not the
one that used to wake up screaming with nightmares. Ken needed someone who could love him
with all their heart, and I was always holding something back. I wonder... would he still be here if
I had been the kind of wife he needed me to be? Would he have wanted to go on living?*

Someone had told her that when someone close to her died, she should hold tight to the happy memories. They were supposed to rise up like glistening bubbles and give her something to hold on to and cherish. Instead, it was the scum that was boiling to the top. The more she tried to think of the past, the more ugly memories surfaced.

Despite - or, more likely, because - of his past, Ken had grown up with deep loathing of cruelty and injustice. That was what had made him want to become a fighter of crime. It had made him feel like he was counterbalancing a little of what he'd done as a child when he brought killers and thieves to justice. That was how it worked most of the time, anyway, but sometimes...

Ken had slumped into the living room and dropped onto the sofa, pressing a hand to his face. Wormmon was following behind him with antennae drooping. He hopped up next to his partner and nuzzled his face in a comforting gesture, and Ken hugged him tightly.

"Hard day?" asked Miyako, glancing up from cooking dinner.

"The worst," Ken muttered. "I'm going to have nightmares for weeks."

Miyako shook her head; she was used to his nightmares.

"Was it really that bad?" she asked.

"You can't imagine," he answered. "We were trying to arrest someone for drug possession, and he panicked. He was carrying a gun, and he tried to shoot some of us - wouldn't give up when we told him to drop it. It was either him or us... I just didn't mean to... I was only trying to stop him, not... kill him."

"Then it was an accident. You didn't have any choice."

"There had to be another choice!" Ken snapped. "You don't understand. He wasn't thinking straight - he didn't know what he was doing. I lost control."

"Then it was still an accident," Miyako pointed out. "Didn't you learn anything from being a Digidestined? Sometimes you just do what you have to do."

"I learned from being a Digidestined all right," said Ken, his voice turning angry. "Don't you remember? There's a dark side in me, a side that likes seeing people hurt."

"It wasn't you, Ken. That was the Dark Spore's fault, and Arukenimon and Myotismon and all those people. It wasn't your fault."

"No! It was my fault! I was chosen to carry the Dark Spores because they saw the darkness that was already there, and they just brought it out in the open," said Ken. Little cracks were creeping into his voice, sobs looking for a weakness to break through. "I wanted to hurt someone because I'd been hurt, and they put the weapon into my hands. Today, when we had the shootout... I wasn't thinking about someone's life. I was thinking he was an enemy who was going to hurt my friends, and I reacted. I had this weapon in my hands, and I'd been trained so long to use it I barely had to think. I just felt like - like I had this bolt of lightning in my hands, all this power, and I could strike down anyone I wanted. It was the way the Digimon Emperor felt when he held a whip in his hands, or a Dark Ring. I'd forgotten how exhilarating it could be... Aaargh!" Ken buried his face in the sofa pillow, crying and shivering. Wormmon hovered around him making comforting noises. Miyako walked into the room and stood over him.

"Ken?" she said.

Ken sniffled. "What?"

"Get over it!" she snapped. "You're not the Emperor anymore, and you haven't been for years, so just forget it! It's over!"

"No!" Ken shouted back. "You don't understand! It's not over! It will never be over! The Emperor is still here - I have to fight him every single day, and you don't understand at all!"

He stormed out of the room, carrying Wormmon with him, and locked himself into the bedroom. Miyako stood outside, listening to the two of them talking, hearing Ken's wild voice gradually become quieter as his partner soothed him, and she berated herself. She truly didn't understand.

*I hurt him,* she realized now, lying on the same sofa where he had been crying that night, her own tears soaking the pillow. *I just couldn't help it. We were so far apart. I never knew how to act or the right things to say to him. There was always the shadow around him, and I couldn't see through it.*

She sat up and looked around, as if she was waking up from a bad dream and trying to get her bearings again. The apartment looked pleasant, almost magazine perfect. You'd never imagine that two adults, three children, and multiple Digimon lived here. She had spent the last ten years and more cleaning, washing, cooking, polishing, mending, trying to be a generally good wife. She had always thought she'd be happy as a homemaker. It had certainly had its moments - she loved all her children, and she could take a certain amount of pride in her jobs done well, but...

Her eyes strayed to the coffee table, strewn with newspapers and magazines. If she had chosen to leaf through them, she knew what she would find: Izzy's computer company had bought out yet another competitor; Joe had been elected to a prestigious medical board; Sora was having another fashion show; Daisuke was still making millions on his thriving restaurant chain. And she... had faded into oblivion.

*It's not fair,* she thought in a flash of hot rebellion. *I wanted to do something with my life! I could have been great...*

She remembered that early on, Izzy had asked her to join his business. She was talented with computers; she was good with leading and communicating; she had drive and ambition. "We could do just about anything we wanted to do together," Izzy had told her, but she had turned him down. She had said all she wanted was a simple, quiet life. It would be too much stress working for such a huge enterprise, she told him.

She had lied. She had wanted with all her heart to go along, but she had hung back because she still wanted to think of herself as the loyal wife. She knew that great things had been expected of Ken Ichijouji; there were still some who believed that in spite of what they'd heard about the Dark Spores, he was still the kind of person who could do anything, and it was only a whim that kept him in his job as a plainclothes policeman. Miyako knew better. He'd lost much of his talent along with the evil seeds, and she couldn't find it in herself to go out and surpass him just on the talent she'd been born with.

"I let you ruin my life, Ken," she said aloud. "Here I am, and I haven't accomplished a single solitary thing in my life, and all because I picked you over everything else."

A little flicker of something like guilt fluttered around inside of her, but it faded away almost at once. She wasn't saying anything that wasn't the cold, hard truth.

*And the sad part is, I had someone else who loved me, and would have been happy to help me get what I wanted out of life. I had someone I loved.* she thought. And then, with the first bit of positive feeling she'd had since she'd heard the news, she thought, *I still do.*

She got up to look out the window. Several floors below, there was a bit of green lawn and some trees, with a small swingset for the local children. From where she stood, she could see some colored dots: her youngest son Natte's lavender hair, a blot of brown and green for his Minomon, and Hawkmon's white and brown feathers. The other two children went to school, but the smallest boy was still too young, and preferred to stay at home with what he endearingly called his "Papa Hawkmon." They were playing in the sand, laughing as if they hadn't a care in the world. It wouldn't be long before they came up begging for an afternoon snack, and then she would have to break the news to them.

*Break the news,* she reflected bitterly. *Something I was never good at. I never did find the courage to tell Ken... Oh, Ken, believe me when I say I really meant to tell you, when the time was right...*

But what was the right time? It was so strange, so completely unexpected, even she hadn't believed it at first. If she had thought it was possible, she never would have gone through with it...

*Yeah. Right. I knew exactly what I was doing.*

It had happened a few years after her marriage to Ken, when the last of the honeymoon glow had worn off, life had settled into a predictable pace, and she had been beginning to realize that life with Ken was not the fairy tale come true that she had thought it would be. Boredom and loneliness had begun to set in, and when she found herself left alone in a house with her husband away and nothing for her to do, it was only natural that she should want out. It was just as natural to go to the Digital World, where things happened, and even more natural to take her partner with her. He, at least, understood her, and cared more deeply about her than Ken ever could. She had taken solace in Hawkmon's company... or, more often, Shurimon's. He had thought it easier for her to talk to him if he was taking the form of something that was at least close to human.

*Oh, yeah, it was easier for us to relate like that, all right. I don't think he had any idea how close to human he was,* thought Miyako wryly. *I know he did it because he really does love me, and wanted to comfort me, but he wouldn't have done it if I hadn't encouraged him. Me and my overactive hormones...*

When she had begun feeling strangely some months later, she had hurried to the doctor's office in something like panic to be examined by the only doctor she trusted in this kind of situation. For one thing, Joe knew almost as much about Digimon as he did about humans. For another, he may have gained some confidence along with years, but she could still bully him into doing most anything she wanted to do, including keeping quiet when she wanted him to. So he had run the tests by himself, in secret, and come back with the news. He'd offered several explanations to how it had happened - that entering the Digital World required her nature to become digital, that something in her soul-bond with Hawkmon had made it possible, or just that Shurimon really was closer to human than she'd thought. Maybe it was all of those combined. Whatever the reason was, the result was the same: she was going to have a child, and the child was not going to be Ken's.

*You'd think he would have figured it out,* thought Miyako. *He could have done the calculations himself, if he'd thought about it. He would have known it wasn't possible that it was his. He should have guessed just by the name. Natte. Bird.*

At least her son looked enough like her that no one had ever questioned his heritage. It would have been hard to explain if he'd turned out looking like neither of his parents, as she'd feared he would. The only thing that betrayed him were his eyes, which were neither brown like Miyako's nor the purple-blue of Ken's. They were pale, pale blue, like the sky closest to the horizon. He'd been easy enough to hide as a baby, but now he was getting older and figuring out things about his ancestry, like the fact that could fly. She'd had to be very stern with him to never, ever put out his wings in public.

*Maybe Ken didn't really want to know,* she reflected. *Maybe it was just easier to pretend there was nothing wrong. I know I did.* She sighed deeply.

"What have we done to each other?" she asked herself. "I've lied to you all this time - I've never been what you needed me to be - I just... couldn't love you enough... and now you're gone. Are you happier now, Ken? Are you happier now that you've gotten away from me?"

She had thought she had run out of tears, but now she broke down again, not crazily as before, but quiet and heartbroken. Whatever she had done in the past, there was to be no making up for it now. There was no chance for the truth to be told, no chance to be forgiven. The punishment for her sins would be to carry them in silence for the rest of her life.

She didn't know how long she had stayed there crying before she felt a feather-light touch on her shoulder.

"Miyako?" asked a familiar voice. "I felt something was wrong. What happened?"

"Oh, Hawkmon," she choked out between sobs. She didn't even bother to open her eyes, just turned around and hugged at the place where she knew he would be and buried her face in warm feathers. He folded his wings around her, and stroked her hair.

"Shh," he whispered. "It'll be all right."

"No it won't," she said. "Ken's gone. They came and told me a little while ago - Ken's dead. He's dead, and I never told him - I didn't - I never - he's died, and it's my fault!"

"It's not your fault," answered Hawkmon.

"I know, but it feels like it is," she replied, thinking, *Finally, I know how you felt, Ken. This little part of you is going to be with me, at least.*

"Why is it your fault?"

"Because of everything. Because I lied to him so many times, especially when I said I loved him. I can't help thinking he'd still be alive... if he had something to live for."

"Has it occurred to you that you didn't have to be what he lived for?" Hawkmon asked genly.

"Hm?"

"Just because he married you, does that mean that you had to be his reason for living? You married him; was he your reason for living?"

"No! You know you mean more to me than..." She trailed off in mid-thought as the rest of what he'd ask sunk in. "Oh. Are you saying... there was something... someone else?"

"Just like you had someone else," he replied, "living right under the same roof."

"Oh," she said again. Little things were flickering around: how Ken would go to Wormmon whenever she had picked a fight with him, how they had both taken to sleeping back to back with their arms around their respective partners, how he had finally died holding on to the one who meant everything to him, the one he had called his heart before he'd even known Miyako's name...

"You're right," she said finally. "He's with the one he loves now... and so am I."

Hawkmon nodded. "Don't forget, though - Ken was your friend. He cared about you, even with your faults, just like you cared about him. You didn't have as many secrets from him as you think."

"I see," said Miyako. She couldn't think of anything else to say; her horizon suddenly seemed to be full of blinding light. "Thanks, Hawkmon. I feel better now."

"So what are you going to do?"

"First... I'm going to grieve a while - for my friend, and for everything I didn't do that I should have. I'm going to raise our children the way Ken would have wanted me to," Miyako replied. "And... I'm going to live."