NOTE: This is my first attempt at Digimon fic, I'm not too happy with the ending, but oh well... I may rewrite it one day when my grasp of digimon fanfic is a little better. Comments would be appreciated. Other than that... the song is "You don't see me" off the Josie and the Pussycats Soundtrack

"Protect My Heart"

The cold air was what hit her first. The distinct change in temperature as Kari Kamiya stepped from the dormitory. On a normal day she wouldn't have been walking around campus well after eleven PM in the middle of winter, but this was no normal day. She sighed, and hugged her arms around her as she walked, no particular destination in mind.

This is the place where I sit
This is the part where I love you too much
This is as hard as it gets
'Cause I'm getting tired
Of pretending I'm tough

The Crest of Light. Kari scoffed at the thought as she sat on a rock near the frozen creek. What she wouldn't give for the crest of courage, as her brother had... The crest of Light was no help to her now, when she felt she needed help the most. She was tired of pretending, but too afraid to do anything else. Inside her twenty year-old mind thoughts swirled, and pooled into memory.

Nine years ago she had fallen in love with him. Nine years ago when they were eleven... his admission that he cared too much about her to let her be taken away was etched in her memory, forever. She had been too young then, too young to understand anything but friendship towards the boy who was quickly becoming the focal point in her entire life. She had signed her heart away to him, before she understood the terms of that contract.

I'm here if you want me
I'm yours, you can hold me
I'm empty and aching
And tumbling and breaking

In one moment her entire life had changed without her knowledge... yet for years she hadn't known. Her young heart too innocent to grasp why her friendship for him seemed to different from any other friend she had... and she felt guilty for that... What would Yolei say if she thought Kari wasn't really her friend? And what of Davis? Because of that guilt, Kari had kept so much inside.

But her friendship had matured with the passing of time, and gradually she had realized what it was he represented to her. Everything. The seasons changed, as they often do, but Kari paid them no attention. She fed off the occasions his hand might stray towards hers, or the nights she hugged him a little longer than normally... and soon such things became common place. The hugs, the touches, the smiles... they were all for him. Had always been just for him.

'Cause you dont see me
And you dont need me
And you dont love me
The way I wish you would
The way I know you could

But routine could quickly be broken as circumstance intruded on their very special friendship... the senior prom. For some reason, Kari found herself confiding in her brother what it was she felt... and to her surprise he urged her. She wasn't positive, but she thought there was a strange longing in Tai's eyes as he told to to make sure her feelings were known... she had seen that same longing in his eyes three months ago at Matt and Sora's wedding...

But on that night, before her senior prom, Kari made a vow to tell her best friend... He was her prom date, of course. She couldn't dream of going with anyone else, and was thankful that Davis' obsession with her had cooled since they were eleven...

They had been outside, getting some air after hours of dancing and laughing, and what Kari felt had been the greatest night of her life. She had looked at him, fallen in love with him all over again... and hesitated.

I dream of a world where you understand
And I dream a million sleepless nights
And I dream of fire when you're touching my hand
But it twists into smoke when I turn on the lights

He had placed his hand under her chin and frowned. "Kari, what's the matter?" He had asked. "You can tell me anything, you're my best friend."

The simple way he had said that broke her heart and shattered her nerve.

I'm speechless and faded
It's too complicated
Is this how the book ends?
Nothing but good friends

They'd gone away to different schools after that. He was studying journalism, following after his parents... and she studied childhood education, was nearly a teacher, just two more years left.

She was forcing the friendship that had become love back to friendship again... The hugs weren't as long, and touches her so few... but she still smiled, for him, and only him.

Kari knew, as she sat outside in the cold, that the empty longing inside of her would never be filled... could never be filled, not by anyone other than him. No one other than TK got her smiles.

'Cause you dont see me
And you dont need me
And you dont love me
The way I wish you would
the way I wish you would

She was twenty years old. She had never dated, never kissed, never been held by arms that loved her. There had been so many opportunities for ehr to try and find some semblance of happiness, but she kept turning them down, knowing it wouldn't be fair. She didn't have a heart to give to anyone, because someone had taken it nine years ago. Someone had kept her heart unknowingly and drifted away... taking it with him.

It was hitting her hard this winter night, as she sat on the rock, her chin resting on her forearms as she looked over the frozen river. It was his birthday. She knew he was probably out celebrating with friends and enjoying himself... but the selfish part inside of her wished he was as miserable as she was. She saw him at the wedding... They had smiled, and talked, and danced... and said goodbye.

Sure, there were promises to keep in touch, and see each other more often, but as every other one like that, they words turned to dust before either had taken another breath.

This is the place in my heart
This is the place where I'm falling apart
Isn't this just where we met?
And is this the last chance that I'll ever get?

Kari Kamiya sat atop a rock on her college campus in the bitter cold, thinking. She wasn't lonely, for she always held him close to where her heart used to be. She just found it ironic that she had kept her feelings inside on prom night to preserve their friendship, when months later it was virtually gone. That night she had given up, given up on her love for him, and she knew that it was because she lost hope that their friendship ahd fallen apart.

I wish I was lonely
instead of just only
Crystal and see-through
And not enough to you

And Kari Kamiya cried. It surprised her to feel the wetness on her face, for she had never cried over him... But it felt cleansing to do so now... not helpful, but cleansing... years of pain were flowing out of her.

'Cause you dont see me
And you dont need me
And you dont love me
The way I wish you would
The way I know you could

It was nearly two AM when Kari stood and headed back towards her dorm room. The tears still stained her face, but it didn't matter. Her room mate would surely be fast asleep, and nobody else was around at this time of night to see her. Sighing, she slipped the key into the door and stepped inside quietly. She set her coat on the couch in the small room, her eyes turning to the door to her own tiny bedroom.

Why was there a light shining beneath the closed door?

"Probably left the lamp on." Kari muttered, turning the doorknob. Her breath caught in her throat a moment later. He was there. TK was there, seated on her bed with her old scrapbook on his lap. Everything she had just cried out of her flooded back as she saw the boy... no, the young man, who held her heart inside of him.

He looked up at the sound of the door opening and smiled. "You're out past your curfew." he commented, standing. "Your room mate let me in, I've been waiting since midnight."

She shoved aside all those feelings and smiled, the smile that was just for him... her best friend. "I went for a walk."

"I figured as much." TK pulled her into a friendly hug.

"Happy birthday, even if it is a few hours late." She told him, returning his hug. "I'm sorry, if I had known you were visiting I'd have a gift."

"That's allright." He said, setting her away from him once more. "I hadn't actually intended to come here, but around nine o'clock I just decided to come by."

"TK, it's a three hour drive here from your school."

He shrugged, grinning that little boy grin for a moment, but then his face turned serious and he picked up the scrapbook he had been looking through. It was open to the picture Kari's father had taken of the two of them before she had left for their senior prom. "I need to know Kari..." She opened her mouth to ask what he meant but he cut her off. "on Prom night, something happened to us... I felt like I lost you."

Kari looked down at her feet, unwilling to face all of this a second time in one night.

"It's been on my mind ever since... I've told myself so many times that what happened two years ago wasn't my fault, but I feel like I failed you somehow, Kari. I care too much about you to let something I've done hurt you... I just want to know what it is, so I can atone for my mistake."

That was too much. It broke her, and sobs started shaking her body. TK leapt up and held her against his chest, murmuring apologies. "Kari... oh Kari... I'm so sorry... I didn't mean to hurt you... I can't imagine hurting you... I love you Kari..." He buried his face against her hair, holding her for one last moment before she realized what he said... surely she would hate him for ruining the friendship...

His fears were confirmed when Kari's sobs abruptly stopped and she was completely still in his arms. it seemed like an eternity to TK before she lifted her head to look into his eyes. "I love you, Takeru..." she said softly, using his real name.

Neither of them could have imagined it... "I... that's why I was upset on prom night... because I couldn't tell you how I felt... I was so scared..."

"Oh Kari..." Her gripped her even more tightly. "I'm so sorry I never told you either... I was so scared too..." And at the age of twenty, Kari Kamiya recieved her first kiss.... from her only love... and the the emptiness where her heart used to be was filled... With his heart, that she had been unknowingly carrying around... protecting... loving.