Disclaimer: All of this is based around a show that doesn't belong to me. Let Saban get me for it -
if they can figure out who I am. ;-) The song Daisuke sings in the car belongs to Shingo. The
words don't really matter, but roughly he's singing, "Shingo's mama cooks really well, everyone
come over and eat."
Author's Note: I'm stepping into my old role as Apprentice to the Evil Pagemistress. The idea for
this story was originally conceived by Cynthia, Piedmon's Lady. I'm just writing it down for her.
This is set in my version of reality, though, which doesn't correspond with her world or with
anything mentioned in the infamous episode fifty. Also, anyone who gets the jokes hidden in the Miyako
singing in Japanese scene - drop me a line. You're probably my kind of person.
No Warning: I'll put warnings on a story for death, suicide, bad language, explicit sex or yaoi/yuri
material, drugs, and various other forms of chaos and destruction. However, I will not put
warnings on a story just because my opinions of which character should date which differ from
yours. There's nothing more dangerous in this story than a couple of vague hint sort of things.
Therefore, I'll put no warnings on this fic.

Accidental Love
By: SilvorMoon

Sunshine beamed down on a shiny plastic umbrella, casting cool shadows on the faces of
the couple who sat beneath it enjoying dishes of ice cream. They were an attractive pair, perhaps
in their early or mid-twenties. One was a young man, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, the kind that
made girls' hearts flutter when he smiled. The other was a woman, her soft brown hair tied in a
girlish braid, her equally soft brown eyes sparkling as if she was full of glittering lights. However,
they sparkled less today than she might have under other circumstances.

"Are you sure I can't come with you?" she asked.

"Even if I could, you know our parents would never agree to it," he replied. "Don't
worry, Kari. I promise we won't be apart long."

Kari lowered her eyes, staring worriedly down at her melting sundae. "I know. It's just
that... we've never been apart for this long before. Are you sure you can't get a job here?"

"Believe me, I've looked," said TK. "There just aren't that many jobs open for writers
now. Besides, even if I had job offers coming at me left and right, I still can't just leave Mimi
hanging when she needs help. I'll make a lot more money as an advertising executive for
Tachikawa Limited than I will working some menial desk job here."

"I know," Kari sighed. "I wish I could come with you."

"You already have a good job here," TK pointed out. "You've only had it for a couple of
months; you can't just up and quit. Wait until I get settled in and save up something, and then I'll
bring you over, and we'll buy a big house somewhere and get married."

Kari managed to smile weakly. "Now you're talking."

"Seriously, we both know I have to go," said TK. "Mimi's got no head for business; I
wouldn't put it past Miyako to smack anyone who disagreed with her. They need someone who
can put on a good face for people - shake hands and make friends for the company."

"I thought you were going to write advertising copy," said Kari.

TK grinned. "Ostensibly."

"I still don't like it," said Kari. "I have this feeling that if you go away, I'm never going to
get you back."

"Don't worry," he said reassuringly. "Why would I ever want to leave a girl like you? I
love you, Kari-chan."

"I love you, too."

They leaned forward to kiss, briefly tasting chocolate and vanilla on each other's lips
before pulling away as they remembered that they were in public.

"Come on, smile," said TK. "It won't be so bad, and we'll be together again before you
know it."

Kari nodded and tried to smile, but something was tickling the back of her mind, telling
her things were not as rosy as her boyfriend believed they were. After all, he was still the Child of
Hope, always believing things would turn out for the best. She was stuck being the Child of Light,
with the eerie powers of premonition that came with it, and now they were saying trouble was
brewing. She tried to ignore the sensation as she followed TK out of the caf‚ and climbed into the
passenger seat of his little blue car. Kari was silent as they drove, staring out the window.

"You okay?" asked TK at length.

"I'm fine," she assured him. "Really, it's just that - hey, did you see that?"

"See what?"

"That white car back there. Look at it - it's weaving all over the place."

TK glanced in the rearview mirror. "Rats, you're right. You think he's drunk? He must
have gotten an early start."

"Let's get away from him," Kari begged. "I don't like the way this looks."

"No problem. We'll just take a turn down this - whoa!"

The car behind them had suddenly lurched forward, and TK had to swerve suddenly to
avoid being slammed from behind. There was a noise of squealing tires as someone from the other
lane tried to avoid a similar fate as TK cut in front of them. The white car continued to weave,
seemingly oblivious to the traffic around it, and Kari squealed as it came within inches of
sideswiping them. TK gritted his teeth, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles.

"If we don't shake this guy..." he muttered. "Hang on. I'm going to see if I can drop back
behind him."

He eased on the brakes, keeping one eye on the weaving shape in the rearview mirror. The
white car sped by harmlessly. TK watched it until it was well ahead of them, and then sat back
with a sigh of relief.

"Looks like we lost him," TK said.

Suddenly, there was a noise ahead of them, a screech and a crash. The white car had run a
stoplight and smashed into the rear of a small convertible. The lighter car spun out of control and
was thrown into TK's path. He tried to get out of the way, but there was no time, no time even to
scream before they crashed...

He must have blanked out for a moment, because the next thing TK knew, he was
slumped over the steering wheel, cushioned by the slowly deflating airbag. He struggled to push
the balloon away, trying to get a look at what had happened. He seemed to be bruised and cut in
places, but otherwise fine. Then a noise caught his attention, a human sound of pain - not even a
moan, but a tiny whimper that made him shiver deep inside. It told him he didn't want to look,
that he should cover his eyes until it all went away, but his head turned of its own accord. Kari
was still next to him, her eyes closed, face contorted in pain. The nose of the car had been
crumpled; the door had all but caved in on her, and under the wreckage, her legs were a bloody

"Kari!" he cried. "Kari, wake up! Say something!"

Her eyes fluttered open and looked at him, confused and pain-filled.

"TK..." she said weakly. She tried to move and flinched. "Help me, I'm scared... TK, I
can't move."

"It'll be okay," he said, trying to put some reassurance into his voice. "I'll be right here
with you. It'll be okay."

But he did not know if it would be okay. He put his arm around her as gently as he could
and waited for help to come.


Tai and Matt accompanied each other to the hospital. Matt was fidgety, so different from
his usual laid-back attitude; Tai was channeling his grief and shock into fury.

"I'll get that jerk if it's the last thing I ever do! I'll show him to mess with my little sister!"
he growled, punching his fist into his other hand.

"Take it easy," said Matt, putting a hand on his shoulder. "We're all upset, but finding the
guy and bashing his head in isn't going to do any good."

"It would make me feel a lot better," Tai muttered. He dropped into a waiting
room chair. "I would also feel a lot better if I knew what was going on in there."

"I'm sure they'll tell us something soon," said Matt.

Even as he spoke, a white-coated intern stepped into the room, and the young men's
heads snapped up in unison to look at him hopefully.

"Joe!" Tai exclaimed.

"Hey, Tai," said Joe. His normally serious face looked even more serious today, but he
managed a tiny smile for his old friend. "Did you forget I work here now?"

"You can excuse him for not exactly thinking clearly today," said Matt tersely.

"Oh, yeah. Right. Sorry," Joe replied, adjusting his glasses self-consciously. "Anyway, I'm
not really supposed to be doing this, but they thought you might take the news better from me."

"What news?" asked Tai anxiously. His brown eyes were wide; he was nearly falling out
of his chair in anticipation.

"Well... TK's fine; he's just a little cut up, but we're giving him a band-aid and an aspirin
and sending him on home," Joe replied. He took a deep breath. "Kari is still in the operating
room. They're pretty sure she's going to pull through..." There were sighs of relief from the other
young men. "...but she's had some major nerve damage. It's not certain yet but... we don't think
she'll ever walk again."

There was silence in the room. Tai had gone pale behind his suntan.

"Never?" he asked in a choking voice.

"We're not sure yet," said Joe. "Just keep hoping. We may get lucky. Hey, we've come
out of worse, haven't we?"

"Yeah, I guess," Tai said. "I dunno, though. I need to think about this."

"Would you like to talk to TK while you're thinking?" asked Joe. "You can come in and
see him, if you want."

"Sounds like a good idea," said Matt. "Coming, Tai?"

"Hm?" Tai was distracted. "Oh. Sure, I guess I'll come."

They were escorted down a hallway and into a small room, to find TK sitting up on a
clean white bed. A few bandages were in evidence, and a set of bruises were purpling on his arms,
but he did seem to be well enough physically. It was only his eyes that showed any unwellness.
Normally bright blue, they now seemed dark and haunted.

"Hey, TK," Matt greeted. "You gave me a scare, you know that?"

"Not half as scared as I was," TK replied. "And that look in Kari's eyes... how is she? Is
she... is she still...?"

"She's alive," Joe replied, "and she's going to stay that way. You've got my word on that.
Don't worry about a thing, TK. She'll be all right. Hey, my dad's the one operating on her! You
trust my dad, don't you?"

TK managed a smile. "Thanks, Joe. I needed to hear that. I've just been lying here, and
every time I close my eyes I see her staring at me. She was so frightened. I promised it would be
all right. I don't want to let her down... It's my fault, isn't it?"

"What?" asked Matt, shocked. "What are you talking about?"

"I was the one driving. I relaxed too soon. I thought we were safe, and I let down my
guard. If I had thought faster..."

"TK, none of this is your fault," Matt began, when he was interrupted by the sound of a
cell phone ringing. Joe fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a little black rectangle, unfolding it
and putting it to his ear.

"Hello? Who is this? .... Izzy! What do you think you're doing? I told you never to call me
at my work number! .... Oh? That's different. .... You did? This fast? .... On the news? Wow. You
hear that, TK? You're a celebrity now."

"Great," said TK dryly. "Just what I always wanted."

Joe nodded, either to TK or whatever Izzy was saying. He listened a while longer, thanked
his friend, and hung up.

"That was Izzy," he said unnecessarily. "He says they caught the guy who was driving the

"Good," said Tai vehemently. "What'd they do to him?"

Joe made a face. "Well, first he's coming here. He finally wrapped himself around a lamp
post somewhere downtown. The police say he's high as a kite. They say it's amazing he could
even drive at all."

"Well, he shouldn't have!" Tai snapped. "And if they think he needs hospitalization

"Joe, when do you think they're going to be done with Kari?" asked Matt quickly.

"I really don't know," Joe admitted. "A couple more hours, I'd say."

"In that case, we're going back to our apartment," Matt replied, "whether Tai here likes it
or not. Come on, Tai."


"No buts," Matt replied. "Come on, Tai. You're not going to do anyone any good picking
a fight in a hospital. You want to give these poor people heart attacks?"

"I guess not," Tai sighed.

"TK and Joe will take care of Kari for a while," said Matt. "You'll call as soon as you
know what's happening, won't you?"

"Sure thing," Joe promised.

Everyone left the room, leaving TK with his thoughts. For a while, at least, he could relax
here, secure in the knowledge that his beloved was in good hands. If there was anyone in the
world he trusted to keep her alive and well, it was the Kido family. He knew the father of the
family from the days when he and Joe were still in school, and he had come over to have Joe help
him with his biology homework. The older brothers of the family had gone off in other directions,
but now it seemed that Joe planned to make his father proud and join the family business. Even
though he knew it would be years before Joe completed his education and became a real doctor,
TK was feeling a vague wish that it could be him who was operating on Kari. Dr. Kido was a
good doctor, no mistake, but it was Joe who had the caring heart. It was funny that he, the one
who had always been terrified of everything, was now the one whose bedside manner comforted
little children getting stitches and crying mothers in the waiting room. Well, he would be looking
out for Kari as best he could. Content in that knowledge, TK closed his eyes and slipped off into
sleep, drifting into the nightmare of crushing metal and breaking glass that would haunt him for
the months to come.


Kari woke up with cramps in her legs and winced a little at the pain. She tried to stretch,
hoping to ease the discomfort a little, but for some reason, she found she couldn't move. More
awake now, she stirred a little, but she still found she could move nothing below her waist.
Panicking now, she put all her will into trying to even wiggle a toe, but her feet lay there like dead
things, no longer part of her. She opened her eyes with a gasp of fright and saw two pairs of eyes
looking down at her.

"Easy, angel," said TK soothingly. "You okay?"

"I can't move," she answered, her voice trembling.

"Are you sure?" That was Joe speaking. "We were afraid of this."

"What do you mean? What happened?" asked Kari.

"Don't you remember?" asked TK. "We were in an accident. You got hurt."

"That's right..." said Kari slowly. "I remember now. There was that car going all over the
road, and you tried to get out of the way. The last thing I can remember, I was leaning on your
shoulder, and you were saying something to me, and then everything went fuzzy."

"You passed out," TK replied. "You're in the hospital now, in case you haven't noticed."

"Oh," said Kari. "So why can't I move?"

"I'll take care of this," said Joe. "Kari, I hate to tell you this, but you've had some serious
nerve damage done to you. There's a very slight chance that with therapy you'll get better, but... I
don't know how to tell you this..."

"I can't walk anymore," said Kari flatly. "My legs don't work anymore, so I can't walk."

"Right," said Joe.

"Don't worry, Kari," said TK. "I'm going to be right here for you. I'll take care of you."

"But you're going to America in two weeks!"

"Not anymore. How can I leave when you're like this?"

"What are you going to do, then? I thought you needed a job."

"That doesn't matter now. I'll work something out."


"I thought you wanted me to stay! Make up your mind!" TK snapped. Then he deflated.
"Oh, Kari, I didn't mean that. It's just... you know."

"You don't think I can take care of myself," said Kari. "You were all ready to go off
without me and leave me on my own, but as soon as something happens, you think I can't look
after myself with you to take care of me."

"It's not like that!" TK protested. "It's just... Rats! You haven't given me any way out."

"Maybe you'd better leave," said Joe. "The last thing she needs right now is to get into an
argument. Don't take it too personally," he whispered as he led TK out the door. "She's still a
little drugged up right now, and she's scared. Come back when she's feeling a little better. I'll
give you a call. Go find your brother and Tai and tell them Kari's awake and okay. Okay?"

"Sure, fine," said TK, still sounding a little disgruntled. He stepped out the door and shut
it firmly behind him.

"I made him mad, didn't I?" said Kari as Joe returned to her bedside.

"It's not your fault," Joe replied. "I don't blame you for snapping. I'd be out of sorts, too,
I think, if this happened to me."

"I guess," Kari sighed. "I don't know... this is the worst timing. Joe, do you think TK's
really going to go?"

"I don't know what's going on in his head," said Joe. "Do you want him to stay?"

"Well... yes and no. I'll miss him so much if he goes away, but I don't want him to think
he has to be my knight in shining armor and protect me from everything."

"He doesn't think that," said Joe. "He just cares about you, Kari. What kind of guy is
going to run off and leave his girl at a time like this?"

"I don't know," Kari sighed. "Suddenly I'm all confused."

"Well, if I heard right," answered Joe, "you've got two weeks to think about it."

"Right," Kari agreed. "Two weeks. I don't know if that's going to be too little, or too


Time went by faster than anyone thought it would. Kari remained in the hospital the whole
time, slowly mending from the terrible injuries she'd sustained. Though the doctors had told her
she would be getting therapy later on, right now even trying to move seemed either impossible or
too painful to bear. In the meantime, her fellow Digidestined took good care of her. Joe visited
her every day during his breaks to talk to her. Izzy managed to smuggle in a laptop computer - his
trusty old Pineapple from his Digidestined days, now retired for a better model, but still useful for
Kari to send e-mail and play video games to enliven her days. Tai and Matt came by every day to
check up on her and bring her news of the outside world. She even got gifts from America,
courtesy of Mimi and Miyako. And of course, TK was by her side as much as the hospital staff
would let him be, talking to her, reading to her, or just keeping her company.

Then, two weeks after the accident, TK was suddenly gone. It shocked everyone, perhaps
even TK himself. He said goodbye to Kari early in the morning, kissing her on the cheek and
promising they would be together again soon. No one but the two of them knew exactly what else
was said, no matter how closely Joe tried to listen at the door. When it was over, TK slumped out
of the room, looking tired, and Joe followed him to the hospital exit.

"Am I doing the right thing?" he asked.

"I don't know. Are you?" Joe replied.

"I hope so," said TK. "She says she needs some breathing room for a while. Whatever that

"Well, you have been hanging awfully close the last few days."

"I was trying to help her!" said TK. "I wanted to have some time with her before I left.
Now she's getting me worried. Seems like ever since we had the accident, she's gotten so distant
from me. That's not right. I would think that when two people survive something, it ought to
make them closer. What's wrong with her?"

"That ought to be pretty obvious," Joe replied. "She can't walk."

"I know that! What's that got to do with anything?"

"She can't walk. She can't climb the stairs. She can't ride a bicycle or even drive a car.
Right now she's just barely able to get out of bed. She depends on someone to do every little
thing for her. Do you think she likes that?"

TK opened his mouth to say something, then shut it again. He looked thoughtful for a

"Kari's independent," said Joe. "She was independent even when she was a little kid, and
she's not about to change now. Only now..."

"Now she can't even get across the room without someone's help," said TK. "I see what
you're saying. She needs to see if she can get by without me for a while, is that it?"

"Something like that," said Joe. "Don't worry; you're not the only one. She's chased me
out of the room a couple of times, too."

"Really? That makes me feel better," TK replied. "It shouldn't, but it does."

"You go on to America. Take some time out, and you do your thing and let her do hers,"
Joe advised. "If you're really meant to be together, you'll get together."

"And if we're not?"

"If you're not," Joe replied, "you'll be an advertising man in a New York cosmetics firm
working with glamorous blonde supermodels."

"Well, I'm glad to know what your priorities are!" said TK, punching Joe on the shoulder.

"Ow! Watch it!" Joe yelped.

"Sorry," said TK. He looked up. He was standing in front of the doors. "Well, I guess this
is goodbye for a while. I'll say hi to the girls for you."

"And I'll keep an eye on Kari for you," Joe replied, "as much as she'll let me."

"I know I can count on you. Bye, Joe. Thanks for everything."

"Bye, TK. Keep in touch."

The two young men waved goodbye to each other. Then, with a sigh, Joe returned to
Kari's room. The door had been left ajar, and he peered through the crack. Kari was sitting very
still in her bed, looking at her night table, where there stood a green glass vase filled with a dozen
roses. She was staring at them as if they were light itself, and a single crystal tear was slipping
slowly down her face. Joe closed the door. He could harden himself against the fear of darkness,
learn to tolerate the sight of blood, but someone he cared about suffering was something he didn't
care to see.


There comes a time in the life of every human being when they overestimate their own
strength. That time came for Kari Kamiya on the day when she decided she could get over her
disability alone. Desperate to prove her strength, equally desperate for support, she was slowly
tearing herself apart. The flowers on her bedside table became a timer, and each petal that fell
from them seemed to take another little piece of her with them. The only thing she put any effort
into were her rehabilitative exercises, though they did little visible good. The rest of her time was
spent staring off into space, hardly talking, hardly eating, only watching the flowers as they
withered and browned.

"We've got to do something about her," said Tai, looking through the door at her. "She's
going to make herself sick if she keeps this up."

"What are we going to do, though?" asked Joe. "She won't listen to anyone. I try, but she
just... blocks me out. I don't know what's gotten into her."

"Same here," said Tai. "She's been like this ever since TK left... think we ought to call him

"I don't know if that would be a good idea or not," Joe mused. "When they parted ways...
it wasn't exactly easy. I don't know if it's safe to bring him back when she's this emotionally
unstable. I'm no psychologist or anything, but... love's a big thing, and she's fragile right now. Is
there someone who would be a little more non-threatening?"

"Well, Miyako's been her best friend since they started Digidestining together," Tai

"Miyako's in America, Tai. Getting her over here would be an operation, and even then,
she couldn't stay long."

"Good point," Tai replied. "Okay, lemme think... Shoot, Kari was one of the most popular
girls in school! There's got to be someone who could help. Hmm." He frowned, deep in
concentration. Then his eyes lit up. "I've got it. Joe, lemme borrow your phone a minute."

"Sure thing, Tai," Joe replied, tossing over the cell phone. Tai wandered off to find a
phone book, skimming through the yellow pages until he found an ad. He dialed the number and
listened to the phone ring.

"Come on, pick up, pick up," he muttered impatiently.

There was a click of a receiver being lifted. In the background, Tai thought he could hear
something bubbling, and something else bumping around.

"Hello?" said a harried voice on the other end. "Veemon, be careful with that thing! Don't
put it on the - never mind. Just clean it up, would you? Hello?"

"Hey, Daisuke, it's me, Tai. Are you busy?"

"You could say that, yeah. Veemon, what are you doing?" There were muffled
conversation noises, and Tai thought he recognized the dragon Digimon's raspy voice. "Just find
some napkins or something! Sorry, Tai, we've had a little accident here, but it's under control.
Sort of. Anyway, how's Kari? I heard she was in an accident. Is she all right?"

"That's what I called to talk about," Tai replied. "She's not doing so well. It's not because
of the injuries. It's more like she's just drifting away from us. You were friends with her once,
weren't you?"

"Yeah, sure. I mean, yeah, I had that little crush on her, but I'm all over that, now... but
that doesn't mean I haven't worried about her."

"We'd be grateful if you'd come down and try to talk to her," said Tai. "None of us are
getting through to her, but... you might have been a little spacey when you were a kid, but you
could always find a way to make someone laugh."

"I'm on my way," Daisuke replied. "Veemon, forget the soup! Just turn the oven off.
We've gotta get going! Bye, Tai!"

"Bye, Daisuke.... Daisuke? Hello?"

Tai stared at the phone in surprise; Daisuke had run off without even so much as bothering
to hang up the handset.

"That's our boy," he said as he closed up the cell phone. "He's all about action."

He wandered back over to where he'd left Joe, who was now pacing the floor with a show
of his old nervousness. He looked up hopefully as Tai arrived.

"He's on his way," Tai said.

"Who is?"

"Daisuke Motomiya."

"Daisuke? Are you bonkers? Daisuke's a human firecracker! He doesn't belong in a

"You don't belong in a hospital, Joe," Tai retorted. "Seriously, though, I've got
faith in the guy. I was his mentor, after all. He's the Digidestined of Friendship. He got through to
Ken when he was ready to die, and I believe he can talk to Kari, too. He's just got so much life in
him, it just spills out all over. Besides, can you think of any better options?"

Joe sighed. "Unfortunately, no."

"Fine. Daisuke will be here any minute. Knowing him, he'll run the red lights."

Sure enough, it was only a few minutes later that Daisuke himself arrived, complaining.

"Those people at the front desk won't let Veemon in!" were his first words. "I had to ask
him to wait in the car! What kind of hospital is this, anyway?"

"Sorry, but those are the rules," said Joe sheepishly. "No animals allowed."

"Veemon's no animal! He's - he's - he's a very small blue person with scales," said Daisuke.
"What do you guys do about Gatomon while Kari's here?"

"We took her back to the Digital World for a while," said Tai. "She hates it, but what else
can we do? We can do a lot, but we can't smuggle a cat into the hospital. They practically count
the candy in the boxes of chocolate."

"Oh," said Daisuke. "Anyway, where's Kari? Didn't you want me to talk to her?"

"In here," Joe replied, leading Daisuke to the door of Kari's room. They both peeked
inside, and Daisuke found himself biting his lip to keep from crying. He had never in his life
imagined that Kari could look awful, but she did. Her skin was sickly pale, her hair lank, her eyes
vacant. It looked as if she was already dead and hadn't even realized it yet, as she sat so still and
silent beneath the sheets of her bed. Daisuke turned away, breathing hard to try to stave off either
rage or sobs. Both were threatening to overwhelm him.

"Daisuke? You okay?" Tai asked.

"I'm on the job," said Daisuke. "I'm going to make her smile again if it kills me, but... I
need a minute to collect myself. I'll start first thing tomorrow."

"Great," said Tai. "Are you sure you're okay? You look rattled."

"I'll be okay. Really," Daisuke replied. "I've just got a lot of work to do right now, and
I'm not talking about soup! See you later."

With that, Daisuke turned and walked down the hall. His shoulders were trembling.

"I don't believe it," said Joe. "Is he crying?"

"He's a lot more sensitive than people give him credit for," Tai replied. "I'd say Kari's
going to be in good hands... Do you mind if I go in and see her for a minute before I go?"

"Well, technically visiting hours are over," Joe replied, "so if I see my dad coming, I'll
have to make sure there's an emergency somewhere on the other end of the hospital."

"Thanks, Joe. You're still the most reliable guy in the world."

Tai tiptoed into Kari's room, and she stirred enough to look up at him.

"Hi, Tai," she said. "Was someone outside? I thought I heard yelling."

"Just a little excitement," Tai replied. "Everything's going to be fine, though. You just
wait. The circus is coming to town, you know."

"The circus?" Kari repeated. "What good does that do me?"

"You don't think you'd like a circus?" Tai asked. "I remember when you were a kid, you
used to love the circus. I'd take you to see the acrobats and the high-wire walkers. You'd get so
excited over that. Wouldn't you love to see a circus again? I'm going to bring you a circus."

"You're a little crazy, Tai," said Kari. "You can't bring me a circus."

"I'm not a little crazy," Tai replied. "I grew up, remember? I'm a big crazy now. I had to
grow up so you'd always be my little sister. Good night, Kari. I love you."

"I love you, too, Tai."

Tai walked out the door, and Kari listened to him talking to Joe as they both wandered
away. He really was a little crazy, she decided, him with his circus. What did he mean by that,
anyway? Tai couldn't bring her a circus, no matter what he said. Though it would be nice, she
thought, to get out of this room for a while to watch the glitz and glamour and magic. For once,
when she fell asleep, she did not dream of the crash. She dreamed that Tai was the ringleader of a
circus where Matt was an acrobat and Joe was a juggler, and she was dressed in a sparkling white
costume as she walked the high wire above them all. There was only one person in the audience,
and he was cheering for her. She recognized his voice - he was the one Tai had been talking to in
the hall - but no matter how hard she looked, she couldn't see who he was.


When Kari awoke, it was with a sense of peace, one deeper than she had known since the
day she'd come to the hospital, maybe even before that. The feeling reminded her of when she had
been young, and so much freer than she was now, playing in the lush beauty of the Digital World.
The feeling was so powerful that it took her a moment to separate it from her surroundings and
realize that she was in a hospital. Yes, these were the cool, smooth hospital sheets on the flat
hospital mattress, but something wasn't quite right. No, it was right, but it was different. Better.
In a flash, she realized that the harsh antiseptic smell of the hospital had been overwhelmed by the
scents of flowers. That was what had reminded her of the outdoors. She opened her eyes to see
what was going on...

And gasped. Her room was full of flowers. Not just one or two bouquets, but dozens of
them, baskets and vases full of blooms. They were on the bedside table, on the desk, in the
windowsill, and in the chairs. Bouquets were piled around her feet as if she were the diva of an
opera. They were sitting in the floor, stacked up here and there on cardboard boxes so she could
see them all. They even hung in baskets from the ceiling, trailing down flowering vines. As a
matter of fact, there was only one possible space in the whole room that wasn't occupied by
flowers, and that was a chair in the corner of the room that was occupied by Daisuke Motomiya.

"Daisuke!" she exclaimed. "What...? How...? Why...?"

"Good morning, Kari," he answered. "Do you like my little surprise?"

"It's fantastic," said Kari honestly. "How did you do this? It must have taken hours! It
must have cost a fortune!"

"It was worth it to see you smile," Daisuke replied. "See? You're doing it again!" Kari
giggled weakly, and Daisuke grinned and continued. "Actually, we took up a collection - your
brother and Joe and Matt and Izzy and... well, everyone. Even Joe's big brothers chipped in a
little. And as for it taking hours... I've been here since about three in the morning getting it all

"That long?" asked Kari in amazement.

"We finished around five, actually."

"And you've been here all this time?"

"Uh-huh." Daisuke nodded. "I've been watching you sleep. Didn't want to wake you - you
looked like you were having a nice dream."

"I was," Kari replied, looking as if she'd surprised herself. "I was having this dream about
a circus... and you were there!" she finished, as realization dawned on her. "Is this what Tai meant
when he said the circus was coming to town?"

Daisuke tried to take a bow sitting down, and laughed. "Didn't I always tell you I was the
guy of your dreams? You didn't believe me."

"I ask for a circus, and all I get is a clown," said Kari.

"Hey, I was only kidding!" Daisuke protested. "And after I bought you flowers, too." He
affected a pout, which made Kari grin again, and she tried to hide the expression behind her hand.

"Anyway, how are you doing?" Daisuke asked. "The guys said things were kind of rough
here for you. Is everything okay?"

"It's all right," said Kari.

"For real?"

"I guess."

"Name one thing that's happened to you since TK went to America."

"Daisuke, what's that got to do with anything?" asked Kari irritably.

"What does it matter if it has anything to do with anything?" Daisuke replied. "I just want
to know, that's all."

"Well, nothing's happened. This is a hospital. Things aren't supposed to happen in

Daisuke made a face. "I hope I never wind up in the hospital. I'd die of boredom. Don't
you get tired of this place?"

"Sure I do," Kari replied, "but what am I supposed to do? I can't exactly get up and

"Do you want to?"

"How can you even ask that?"

"If you want to go out, then let's go!" said Daisuke. He got up and began trying to pick
his way across the floor without stepping on or tripping over any of the flowers.

"Go? Daisuke, you're crazy. I can't go anywhere, and even if I - hey, what are you

It was actually very obvious what he was doing; he was peeling back the sheets of her bed
and reaching down to scoop her up.

"You weigh less than those flowers did," he commented. "What are they feeding you in
this hospital?"

"I haven't really felt like eating..."

"We're going to have to do something about that. The first thing we do is take you out
somewhere for pancakes and sausage somewhere - someplace with real food. You have no idea
what running a restaurant does for your appreciation of food."

"I'm not going anywhere looking like this!" Kari protested. She was wearing only a
flowered nightgown, and her hair was still disheveled from sleep.

"Does that mean you're going somewhere looking like something else?" asked Daisuke.

"I'm not going anywhere at all! Put me down!"

"Too late," said Daisuke. "You should have said something before we got to the door.
Hang on, or you'll get dropped."

Kari clamped her arms around Daisuke's neck as he shifted her to get one hand free, and
he opened the door.

"You aren't really going to take me out of the hospital," she said.

"Why not? You're not sick."

"But-" Kari tried to think of an objection, but nothing could come to her beyond the
obvious protest that she couldn't walk, and Daisuke was obviously prepared to deal with that. He
carried her cradled in one arm as if she really did weigh no more than a flower, using his other
hand to steady her. She sighed and relaxed. "All right, you win."

"Of course I do," Daisuke said, grinning. "You're going to go outside and get back to
living. You're too cute to sit in here gathering dust."

"What if the hospital people don't want to let me out?" Kari asked.

"They'll let you out. I've already cleared it with the desk clerk. He's already promised to
look the other way."

"How did you...?"

Kari began to ask the question, but let it drop as she realized the answer was already in
front of her. Sitting at the desk was a dark-haired, bespectacled, and vaguely familiar young man.
Daisuke's earlier line about "Even Joe's big brothers chipped in a little," echoed back to her, and
she realized she was looking at Shin, the oldest brother.

"You pried her out, huh?" he asked, grinning at Daisuke.

"Looks that way," he replied.

"Shin, what are you doing here?" asked Kari. "I thought you went to Africa or

"I did. I'm on vacation now. Can't you tell?" Shin replied. "Soon as I came home, dad
cleaned me up, told me to shave, gave me a tie, and put me to work. He's still miffed I decided I didn't want to
go into the family business. He's not even speaking to Shuu these days, can you believe it?
Anyway, have a nice day out!"

"But I'm not-" Kari protested.

"Yes, you are," said Daisuke firmly. "I'm serious, you're not going to sit around and rot in
here even if you want to."

"Don't I get any say in this?"

"No," both boys answered.

Kari frowned, the good feeling she'd had when she'd woken up to the flowers
evaporating. Why did everyone think they could push her around now? She was just as good as
she ever was, no less a person just because she couldn't get around on her own two feet anymore.
Daisuke opened the door of his car and set her gently into the passenger seat, only to be rewarded
by a scowl. He looked back at her, first puzzled, then hurt.

"You aren't going to hit me, are you?" he asked plaintively.

It was so unexpected that Kari had to stop herself from laughing in spite of herself. "No!
Where'd you get that idea?"

"When Miyako looks at me like that, it usually means she's going to smack me," Daisuke

"Well, I'm not Miyako," she answered. "I'm just annoyed that I'm getting dragged around
whether I like it or not."

Daisuke put his hands on his hips and looked down at her as if she was talking nonsense.
"Well, what do you want to do?"

"I..." Kari stopped and let the sentence hang. "I don't really know what I want."

"Well, now you have a choice. You can stay here all day, or you can let me buy you
breakfast. Or you can tell me something else, and I'll take you there instead. That's what I'm
doing now. I'm giving you a choice."

"Oh," said Kari, and she was awed into silence. Daisuke let her sit there like that for a
while, half-settled into the front seat of his broken-down old car, wrapped in a flowered
nightgown, trying to process that she suddenly had a bit more freedom than she'd realized.

"Breakfast sounds good," she said at last. "I guess I am kinda hungry."

Davis grinned, that I-just-won-the-lottery look that he always wore when he was pleased.

"Great!" he said. "I know a good takeout place pretty close by - we won't even have to
get out of the car."

Kari nodded. Davis began walking around to the other side of the car, and Kari was
grateful that he let her close the door herself. For one thing, TK had always been the type who
held doors open and moved chairs for her. She didn't need another Prince Charming right now.
Weirdly enough, it was nice to have Daisuke ignore her a little, after the way he had hung onto
her every word when they were young. This was friendly treatment; a confidence that she could
look after herself and didn't expect anything from him.

"Mind if I play the radio?" he asked as he settled into his seat.

"No," said Kari, realizing it had been a while since she'd heard any music. "Go ahead."

"Cool." Daisuke grinned and flicked a switch, and the car was filled with bouncy music.
Daisuke beebopped around as he guided the little car out of the hospital parking lot and into the

"Shingo mama desu minna kyou mo genki ni aisatsu shita yo ne..." he sang, loudly
and off-key. Kari stifled a giggle.

"Isn't that song about a million years old by now?" she asked.

"The CD's still good," Daiske replied. "I guess I never outgrew it."

"You never grew up at all," she replied. "You're right, though, it is still a good song."

And they both joined in on the chorus. "Oha! Oha! Oha!" Good morning, good
morning, good morning!


"Do you see a good spot?" asked Daisuke.

"I like that place over there," Kari replied.

"Over there by the trees?

"No. That hill, see?"

The two of them had spun through the drive-thru of a restaurant and picked up Styrofoam
platters of pancakes, complete with little circles of sausage and pats of butter in little plastic cups,
and sealed containers of orange juice. The fun then had been trying to manage eating it all without
getting syrup all over the inside of the car, how to cut a sausage with nothing more solid than a
flimsy plastic knife and a spork, and how to eat anything while driving. They passed breakfast
cruising around the city with the radio blaring its message while they sang along. Now the meal
was over, the trash disposed of, and they were looking for a new venue. They had settled on a trip
to the park. Daisuke carried Kari over to the side of a hill and laid her on the grass, and then
flopped down and stretched out a few feet away.

"Sunshine feels good," he commented, closing his eyes and turning his face to the light.

Kari nodded in silent agreement. It was early summer, with everything still clean and
green, and the air was so soft and warm it felt as if she was breathing in light itself. She hadn't
realized how much she missed having real light shining on her; flourescent bulbs were a poor
substitute. It was revitalizing in a way she hadn't realized was possible, and she spent a few
moments letting the sun work its magic on her, setting her mind and emotions back in order.
Lying here like this made her feel easier about not being able to move. She felt like a plant: rooted
to the spot, but naturally so, with nothing to do but draw strength from the sun, the air, the earth.

"Daisuke?" she ventured after a moment.


"I'm sorry I yelled at you this morning," she said.

"You weren't yelling, really," he said. "Anyway, it's no big thing. I've been yelled at

"Well, I was mad at you, and I shouldn't have been. You were only trying to help me."

"It's no problem," he assured her. "I was sort of expecting it. Joe says when people get
depressed, they just shut down and stop feeling. He said even making you mad would help you."

Kari blinked. "Joe told you to make me mad?"

"Well, he didn't exactly tell me," said Daisuke. "He just said it didn't matter what I
did, as long as I got some kind of reaction out of you." He paused. "I think they missed you while
you were gone."

"Gone?" Kari puzzled over that one. Looking back, the last few weeks showed her
nothing but darkness, a vaguely familiar darkness. She remembered a time back in her
Digidestined days when she had wandered into a world where darkness had reigned, where even
light was black. She remembered, too, being told that the Digital World adjusted itself to people's
subconsciousness, how her friends had nearly been swallowed up by the shadows of their own
minds. If she had gone into the Digital World, would the shadows have been back to look for her?

*The darkness will always be trying to claim me, because I embody light. If the Dark
can drag me under, it's won. It almost had me, this time. It's getting sneakier, I think.*

"I guess I have been gone a while," she said. "Thanks, Daisuke."

"Thanks for what?"

"Thanks for helping me snap out of it."

Daisuke blushed. "Aw, it was nothing."

"Well, it means something to me," she replied. "Anyway, I'm glad you came. I really did
need someone to talk to. I guess the only reason I got angry is because I keep thinking people are
going to feel sorry for me."

"How could I ever feel sorry for you?" Daisuke replied. "Nothing's ever going to change
how special you are." Then, as if uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was taking, he
said, "Hey, look at that!"

"Look at what?"

"That cloud up there. See it? It looks just like our old math teacher!"

"I don't see it."

"It's that one right there. See, he's in profile - there's his nose, and that's his hair all kind
of sticking up funny, and there's his Adam's apple."

"Oh, yeah, you're right! It is our math teacher!" Kari laughed. "And that one kind
of looks like a Deltamon."

"A really fat Deltamon," said Daisuke.

"Not really - you're looking at it sideways."

"I am? Oh, wait a minute, now I see it. Okay, my turn! That one there... looks just like...
an elephant... eating a fire hydrant!"

Kari giggled. "You're nuts, Daisuke."

"Well, it does!"

"All right, maybe it does," she admitted. "I never thought I'd be recovering from an
accident by cloud watching."

"Why not?" Daisuke replied. "This is the best place to get well. You can't get well in a
hospital with all those gloomy sick people around, and all those people worrying you're going to
break yourself if you breathe wrong. It makes you think about being sick, and that's not good.
People like you have to be outside where things are alive, and then you'll think about being alive.
Makes sense, doesn't it?"

"I guess so," answered Kari.

"My mom always told me fresh air and exercise were good for me," Daisuke mused.
"Then she'd tell me to come inside and do my homework."

"Did you?"

"Nope," he admitted. "I'm the healthiest guy alive, but my grades were never that hot. But
I'd rather be alive and dumb than smart and dead. Don't you think?

"I think there's got to be a middle ground somewhere," said Kari, "and you're not dumb."

"Really? Thanks!"

"You're a little weird, but you're not dumb. You're just... distinct." Kari was quiet a
while, gazing up into the sky. "Oh, I see another cloud! I don't know what it is though. Maybe a
camel. What do you think, Daisuke? Daisuke?"

She looked over at her friend only to find that the warm sunshine had finally lulled him off
to sleep. For a moment, she was surprised, but then memory caught up to her.

*How early did he say he was in my room? Three in the morning? And he must have
been up even before that to actually buy the flowers. No wonder he's tired!*

For a moment, she just sat and watched him. The sunlight flattered him, playing in his
reddish hair and calling up glints of copper, ruby, and gold, highlighting the filaments of his
eyelashes and shining on his bronzed skin. His expression was relaxed into a soft smile, looking
utterly content.

*What's made you so happy, Daisuke?* she wondered. *What's going on in
your dream?*

There wasn't any answer, and she didn't want to wake him up to ask him. If you woke
someone up while they were dreaming, they would remember it, but if you let it be, it would likely
fade away. So she stayed where she was and though, wondering what she might do if she was
close enough to run her fingers through his shining hair.


Daisuke stayed very busy. He had two jobs after all: keeping track of his burgeoning
business and taking care of Kari. He had already determined that he would be there for her
whenever he possibly could be, and some times when he really couldn't, and it was putting a
crimp in his other work.

"Hey, boss, where've you been?" asked one of his waiters. "We had some lady
complaining about the prices and wanted to talk to you yesterday, and you weren't here!"

"He was goofing off," said a busboy. "I saw him at the carnival yesterday with a girl. She
was cute, too!"

The waiter guffawed. "What have you got to say to that, boss?"

"Two things," Daisuke replied. "One, that girl is the sister of one of my best friends, and
he asked me to take her out and show her a good time. Two, you phoned in sick yesterday.
Throwing up on a roller coaster doesn't count."

"I did not throw up on the roller coaster!" the busboy protested.

"Then you weren't sick," Daisuke replied. "You're also not getting paid. Laugh about that
for a while."

The busboy gave him a stricken look, and he countered with a silent glare. There had been
a time when everyone around him thought that the idea of him going out with Kari was a heresy.
Now that he was seeing her as just a friend helping out a friend, people were trying to say that
they were dating. It was silly! Actually, he had a very practical reason for taking her to the fair:
she didn't need the use of her legs to ride the rides or to see the shows, and still exciting enough
to be fun for both of them. He considered himself very virtuous to have not even spared a glance
at the Tunnel of Love. It had been quite gratifying to have her cling to him on the roller coaster,

Just then, the bell above the door tinkled, and Daisuke glanced up to have a look at his
new customer. He was getting good at this restaurant business by now; he knew all his regular
customers by name, to the point where he could bring them "the usual" before they had even
ordered it. Now he smiled, this was one of his special customers. The newcomer caught Daisuke
watching him and grinned.

"Could I beg a bowl of soup for a poor starving artist?" he asked.

"Ken, I'd give you a steak dinner, if I had one," Daisuke replied, going to greet his old
friend. Ken wasn't really starving, he knew; he may not have been making millions as a mega-
genius, as everyone expected, but he had made wise investments from what he had left over from
the bad old days, and now had the wherewithal to do pretty much whatever he wanted. These
days, what he wanted was to spend as little time as he could in competition with anyone, and as
much time as he could in front of an easel. "I haven't seen you in ages! Sit down. Order anything
you want - my treat."

"Thanks. You're a real friend," said Ken, settling into a nearby chair. "Remind me to make
it up to you. Come over to my place for dinner sometime."

"Only if Wormmon makes the food," Daisuke replied. "Not only is he a good cook, but
it's fun to watch him use chopsticks."

Ken laughed. "I'll tell him that. He'll be flattered."

He ordered the lunch special, and Daisuke whisked off to the kitchen, returning a few
minutes later carrying a tray with a bowl of soup, a drink, and a grilled cheese sandwich on it. he
set it down in front of Ken, and then set himself down in the chair across from him. Ken sampled
his meal and nodded approval.

"When you get married, your girl is going to be really lucky," he commented. "Not every
guy is this good a cook."

"You want to know a secret?" Daisuke replied. "Veemon made that batch."

Ken laughed again. "Nice to know you two are still working well together."

"Of course we are!" Daisuke replied. "You know we're practically inseparable... not as
inseparable as you and Wormmon, though."

"You can't blame us for not wanting to be apart," said Ken. "I'm glad to have someone
like you who understands. There are still too many people who think Digimon are just animals."

"I know what you mean," said Daisuke. "Joe's dad still won't let Veemon or Gatomon
into the hospital. I think he thinks if he ignores them enough, they'll go away."

"Just getting people to look at Wormmon without screaming has been a problem," Ken
added. "It hurts his feelings. He's the most loving creature I know, but there are people who will
never look beyond the fact that he's shaped like a multilegged bug. I have to hide what I feel
about him. To act like he's a pet is fine. To act like he's a battle partner is acceptable. To act like
he's a friend is pushing it. To act like he's something more than a friend is anything from insane to
an abomination."

"Wait a minute, back up a sec," said Daisuke, looking surprised. "What's this more-than-
friends stuff? Last I heard, you and Miyako had a thing going on. What happened to that?"

Ken grimaced a bit. "Correction: she had a thing for me. That doesn't mean I returned it.
Sure, we were together for a while, but I finally realized we were going nowhere fast. She's great,
I like her, but there were times when we just drove each other crazy, and I don't mean the good
way. We kept having these fights, and she'd yell at me, and I'd hide in my room and sulk all day."

Daisuke nodded, wincing a bit. He'd dated Miyako a few times himself.

"Last I heard, she was seeing someone in America," Ken continued. "She wrote me a
letter a few days ago talking about some guy with blonde hair and blue eyes. You should see how
mushy she's being, and they've only been out once!"

"And now it's you and Wormmon?"

"Kind of," Ken replied. "We'll never be physically compatible - I don't think I'd want to
be - but when it comes to real love, the kind that makes you and keeps you whole... I couldn't ask
for more." He grinned suddenly. "I'm Christmas shopping for him today."

"Isn't June a little early for Christmas shopping?"

"So I'm early! Nothing wrong with that. Besides, I couldn't resist. It was on sale."

"What was it?" asked Davis, curious as to what you'd give a caterpillar for Christmas.

"It's a easel," Ken replied. "Like the one I use, only a little smaller so it'll be easier for him
to reach. Ever since I took up painting, he's become an art lover. It won't be long before we start
doing joint exhibitions."

"Is he any good?"

"Don't ask me. I'm as biased as they come," Ken replied. "Anyway, I heard you've landed
an interesting job yourself."

"And where did you come up with that little bit of gossip?" asked Daisuke primly.

"Sora told me when I went over to her place to borrow a flower arrangement," Ken
replied, "and she heard it from your sister, who heard it from Shuu, who heard it from Joe."

"Great. Now I've got a problem on my hands."

"It's a problem that I know about your new job?"

"No, it's a problem figuring out which of them to kill first."

"Is it that big of a secret that even I'm not supposed to know?" Ken asked. "I thought I
was your best friend."

"You are, you are," Daisuke assured him. "It's not that I mind you knowing; I just don't
like that it's being blabbed around like that. People are going to get the wrong idea."

"Which wrong idea is that?"

"The idea that I'm dating Kari."

"And you're not?"

"No!" Daisuke exclaimed. "It's not like that at all. It's just... Kari needs someone to look
after her right now, and she trusts me. I'm good at making her laugh. I'm just trying to help her
get over her accident, that's all. I'd do it for any of the other Digidestined - anybody at all, if they
really needed my help. That's what I do for friends."

"So you're really and completely over her, then?"

"Yes," said Daisuke firmly.

"Interesting," said Ken. He nibbled thoughtfully at the crust of his sandwich, and Daisuke
scowled at him.

"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked.

"Nothing," said Ken. "Just a bit of musing from someone who knows how easy it is to
deceive yourself. Think carefully, Daisuke. Life's easier when you're honest with yourself." He
got up and brushed crumbs off his shirt. "Anyway, thanks for the meal. Tell Veemon he's a better
cook than you are. I've got to get home, now, before Wormmon wonders where I've gone. At
least now I've got an alibi."

"Bye, Ken. Come by again real soon, okay?"

"I'll do that," Ken replied. "Oh, and Daisuke?"


"Be careful. Kari's not exactly engaged, but she's pretty close."

"I'm not going to get in any trouble," Daisuke replied.

Ken shrugged. "Still, it doesn't hurt to be careful. Bye, Daisuke."

Daisuke watched as his friend left the restaurant. He felt confused; ordinarily, a meeting
with Ken would have made him happy. Now he just felt puzzled, and a little annoyed. Ken of all
people should have understood that the crush was over and had been over for years. He was
going to hang around until Kari got well, and then they could both get on with their lives as they
saw fit. And yet, and yet....


While making his rounds, Joe decided to drop into Kari's room and was greeted by music.
A CD player sat on her night table. It was made of some kind of neon colored transparent plastic,
bright blue and covered with stickers. It was playing some kind up upbeat music, quietly so as to
not disturb anyone else in the hospital. Kari was singing along happily.

"Oha! Oha! Oha!" she chirped. Her hands moved in rhythmic, dancelike gestures.
"Oh! Hi, Joe! Like my music?"

"I guess," Joe replied. "When did that get here? It wasn't here this morning."

"It's Daisuke's. He's loaning it to me," Kari replied.

"I'm glad you two are getting along so well," said Joe.

"I've had fun," answered Kari. "I didn't know he knew how to be this nice. He's grown
up, hasn't he?"

"Yeah, he has," Joe replied quietly.

"Was he always like this, and I just didn't notice?"

"Hard to say," answered Joe. "I was never around him much back in the old days. Ask Tai
or Matt or Ken. They'd know."

"Maybe I will," Kari replied. "Or maybe I won't. I was kind of mean to him, back when
we were all kids together... If he was like this, and I just didn't see it, I'd feel pretty bad."

She paused for a while, and they both stood there listening to the music play, until finally
the song came to an end and the room became quiet.

"What do you think TK's doing in America?" Kari asked at last.

"Well..." Joe did some mental calculations. "I guess right about now, he would have just
come home from work."

"He hasn't called me in a while."

"He's been busy. So have you. It's possible that he might have called when you weren't
home, you know," Joe pointed out. "Anyway, I'm sure he's-"

The phone rang, and they both jumped. Kari pounced on it as if it might get away.

"Hello?" she asked breathlessly.

"Kari! There you are!"

"TK! We were just talking about you!"

"I'm going to leave," said Joe, heading for the door. "Have a nice talk."

"We? Who's we?" asked TK.

"Joe and me. He just left, though," Kari replied. "Anyway, how have you been? How's

"Different," TK replied. "Mimi's still cheerful as ever - having fun getting to play with
makeup and hair spray all day. She's especially happy right now, because she's come out with a
new line of nail polish. I sent you some. Did you get it?"

"Not yet," said Kari.

"Rats. I sent it next day air; it should have come," TK muttered. "Oh, well. I just wanted
to give you something, to let you know I'm still thinking about you."

"I'd rather have you back. I've missed you."

"Don't worry. We'll see each other again soon," TK replied. "So where have you been? I
tried to call you yesterday, and they said you weren't in."

"I was at the movies," Kari replied, "and then we went out to dinner."

"We? We who?"

"Daisuke and me. He took me to his restaurant," she answered, and giggled. "The busboy
kept trying to flirt with me. You should have seen Daisuke go off!"

"You went on a date with Daisuke?"

"No! It wasn't a date!" Kari protested. "It was just two friends having fun, all right? It's
just that... I miss you so much, and I get so bored and lonely stuck here in the hospital, and when
I'm all alone I start thinking these awful things. Daisuke makes me forget. He takes me out to do
fun things. Besides, the movie was one of those flicks with all the car chases and karate fighters."

"Oh," said TK. "Well, I trust you. You do whatever you feel like doing."

"Thanks," said Kari, uncertain what else to say. "Anyway, we're talking now. Go on, tell
me what's been going on with you."

"Not much, really... Miyako runs the accounting department like a general leading an
army, but that's no surprise. Michael is still around. His dad is helping to back the whole venture,
you know. He's still chasing Miyako, too. Isn't that funny? All her life, she's been the chaser, and
now it's like he's under every rock she turns over. Strange how he just noticed her all of a sudden
like this. Must be because she got contacts and stopped wearing hand-me-downs and started
wearing makeup. Mimi taught her about fixing hair and makeup, and all of a sudden she's

Kari giggled. "Maybe she'll learn something from a taste of her own medicine."

"It wouldn't surprise me if she did," TK replied. It was hard to say if he was serious or
joking. "And what about you? I want to hear how you're doing. Are you... any better?"

"All the cuts have almost healed up. I get the last of the stitches in a couple of days," Kari
replied. "I still can't move, though. But I haven't given up!"

"That's the spirit!" TK encouraged. "And now I've really got to go. I'm borrowing
Miyako's phone, and she's giving me dangerous looks. I'll call you again soon, though. Bye,

"Bye, TK. I love you."

Kari heard a soft click, and the connection closed. She stared at the receiver for a moment,
then set it gently back on the cradle. She wondered why TK had not offered to let her talk to
Miyako. She wondered why he hadn't said he loved her.


However, the next morning found her in a slightly better frame of mind. Daisuke noticed
this immediately as he walked in to pay his daily visit, finding her smiling happily, and she only
brightened more as he entered the room.

"You look cheery today," he commented, dropping into his favorite chair. It had occurred
to him that it was a little odd to have a favorite chair in a hospital room, but it could hardly be
helped, since he'd been coming here every day for some time now. This chair was right next to
Kari's bed, allowing them to look each other in the eye. From this vantage point, he could note
some definite improvements. The old sparkle in Kari's eyes and the blush back in her cheeks. If he
hadn't known about her injuries, he never could have guessed there was something wrong with

"I wiggled my toes this morning," she said brightly. "Doesn't that sound funny? I never
thought I'd be celebrating that. But it feels so good to be able to move again!"

"So you might be getting better?" asked Daisuke.

Kari shrugged. "Nobody really knows how much of a recovery I'll make... but I'm
determined I'm going to walk again!"

"You will," said Daisuke, and he sounded like he meant it. "Can I see?"

"See what?"

"See you wiggle your toes. You said you could, and I want to see."

"Oh," said Kari. She sounded a bit uncertain, but she must have made up her mind,
because she continued. "Pull back the sheets at the end. Just a little."

Daisuke gave her a wicked grin. "Don't you think the nurses will be annoyed? You know
they like the sheets folded nice and neat - hospital corners, you know."

Kari mock-scowled. "Quit fooling around, or I'll make you go away."

"I'll behave, I'll behave!" said Daisuke. He tugged back the sheets and folded them over
her ankles, revealing a pair of bare feet and a neat row of toes.

"There, now, see - just watch," said Kari. Sure enough, a moment later, the toes on her
right foot twitched a bit. "Now I've just got to work on the other one."

Daisuke was making a show of walking around her bed and looking at her feet from all
angles, as if he was thinking of buying them.

"You know what we ought to do?" he said. "We ought to get some nail polish and paint
your toenails. What color do you like?"

"Pink," Kari said.

"Nah, pink's too ordinary," Daisuke replied. "Everyone wears pink nail polish. You need
something special, maybe with some sparklies in it." He brushed his fingers across her toes as if he
were already painting them in his mind. "Aw, what the heck! Let's just paint you all over with
sparkles - on your toes and your feet and your ankles and up your legs, and the sparkles will get
inside and make you glow." As he talked, he was running his hands over her feet and brushing
over her legs through the sheets.

Kari giggled. "You're crazy, Daisuke - and cut that out! It tickles!"

"What's wrong with being tickled?" asked Daisuke, grinning. "Hey, you know, that's not
a bad idea. Tickle, tickle, tickle!" He began tickling her all over, making her shriek and giggle,
trying to bat him away as he kept dancing out of her reach to come at her again at a new angle.
He was laughing as hard as she was. In the midst of the chaos, they did not notice that the door
was opening. Neither did they notice that someone was coming into the room.

"And just what is going on here?" asked an authoritative voice.

They froze, the room suddenly going cemetery silent. Looking up, Daisuke found himself
staring at an authoritative man in a long white coat. His dark hair was silvering, but he was
obviously not the kind of person who mellowed with age; his coal black eyes glared sharply
through a pair of glasses. Joe and Shin hovered behind him, a pair of pale shadows.

"I... guess you're Dr. Kido, aren't you?" Daisuke ventured.

"Indeed," the man replied, "and I've asked you a question. I'm waiting for an answer."

"Um. Well, I was just... we were, um..." said Daisuke, quailing away. He had never cared
much for facing down authority figures.

"We were just playing around," said Kari, coming to his rescue. "He wasn't doing
anything wrong, really."

"Is that so?" Dr. Kido replied. "Perhaps it's not a problem for you, young lady, but there
are other people in this hospital who would appreciate being left in peace and quiet to
recuperate... something, I remind you, that you are supposed to be doing yourself."

"I wasn't-" Kari began, but the doctor raised his hand and cut her off.

"Oh, I'm well aware of what you've been up to," said Dr. Kido. "You don't think you
could hide something from me in my own hospital, do you? That's right, I've had my eye on you,
young man. Causing all kinds of ruckus in here - sneaking my patient out of her room - bringing
animals into the hospital-"

"I only did that once," Daisuke cut in, "and Gatomon isn't an animal. Kari's a
Digidestined - she needs her partner with her if she's going to get well."

"I tried to tell him that already," Joe said. "He's not listening."

"You keep out of this," Dr. Kido snapped. "You'll get your punishment later. I can't
believe you of all people would allow an injured girl out of a hospital to go on amusement park
rides! Have you any idea what could have happened? She could have been hurt."

"We all could have been hurt," said Daisuke. "I could be getting hurt every minute of
every day. Life is risk. All I know is, while she was sitting her safe in her little box, she was
miserable. Now she's happy, and she's getting better. You think it's your medicine that made her
get that way? I don't think so!"

"What do you know about it?" Dr. Kido muttered.

Shin ventured, "Actually, Dad, there have been studies that show-"

"Quiet. You're in as much trouble as anyone else." Dr. Kido sighed. "I am very
disappointed in both of you. Bad enough your brother went off to study nonsense, but I thought I
could expect more sense out of you two. You, Shin, are not to work in this hospital again, and
Joe, you will remain in the other wing. You will not come in here at all. And as for you..."
He turned to Daisuke. "If I ever see you in this hospital again, it had better be because you have
been hit by a car yourself!"

"You - you can't do this!" Daisuke spluttered. "It's not right!"

"It's okay, Daisuke," said Kari. "I'm not staying here."

"What?" said several voices in unison.

"I'm going home," she said, her voice quiet and firm. "Today. Now."

"But - but - but!" It was now Dr. Kido's turn to be incoherent.

"How are you going to take care of yourself?" asked Shin, his dark eyes worried.

"I'll be okay," she said. "Tai and Gatomon will look after me. So will Daisuke... won't
you, Daisuke?"

"What? Oh, sure," he answered, still a little shocked.

"Good, that's settled, then," she said.

"You're leaving against medical recommendation," said Dr. Kido, in a last grasp for

"So far, your recommendations haven't done me any good," Kari replied. "I'll take my
chances with Daisuke's form of medicine any day. I have more faith in light and laughter than in
your rules. Your car's outside, isn't it, Daisuke?"

"Sure is," he replied.

"Good. You can help me pack, and we'll leave right now."

"I'll help," said Shin, shooting a dark look at his father.

Joe shrugged. "What the heck. Count me in."

"Ah - ah - ah -" Dr. Kido made strangled sounds, trying to find words. "Oh, forget it! On
your own heads be it!" He stormed off, red in the face. Joe dropped into the empty chair, moaning

"I'm really in for it now," he said. "Dad's going to kick me out of the house for sure this

Shin shrugged. "It hasn't hurt the rest of us yet. Come on, get up, you said you were
going to help."

"Let him sit. Kari hasn't got all that much stuff here to move anyway," Daisuke replied.
"Kari, are you sure you're okay with this? It really might not be such a good idea to just run off
like this, you know."

"I'll be okay," she insisted. "I wasn't kidding about what I said. I trust my friends more
than I trust him."

"Well, in that case," said Daisuke, scooping her up, "let's get out of this place. I think I'll
be sick if I stay in this hospital much longer."


A half an hour later, the three young men were busy carrying Kari's things back to her
apartment. Or rather, two of them were carrying Kari's things. Daisuke, as usual, was carrying
Kari. Shin had tossed aside his tie in recognition of the fact that he was doing serious work now,
and he looked happy about it. Joe had shed his white doctor's coat, and was looking surprisingly
casual in a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt.

"Hey, Joe, nice shirt," Shin commented.

"Yeah, where'd you get it?" asked Daisuke.

The shirt was the pale grey-and-white speckle pattern favored in sweatclothes, and was
marked with black stenciled letters: Experiment With A Chemist.

"Thanks," said Joe, a pink flush appearing on his pale face. "Izzy gave it to me when I
started studying pharmacology. I think it's his idea of a sick joke."

Kari giggled, and Daisuke said, "Aw, I dunno. I think it's kinda funny."

"You would," Joe replied.

"Lighten up!" said Shin. "I swear, Joe, you're the most depressing guy I know."

"Well, excuse me if I've had a bad morning!" Joe replied. "I'm not exactly thrilled at the
fact that dad's furious with me. You heard what he said - he all but said we've all failed him. After
all that hard work I put in..."

"Well, you did have the choice to agree with him, if you wanted to," said Shin, glancing
innocently at the walls.

"No, I didn't," said Joe, "And you know it, too. Nobody stops a Digidestined from
helping another Digidestined, even my dad."

"Joe, come here a minute," said Kari.

"Huh? Why?"

"Just do it!"

Confused but compliant, he walked over to Kari's side, and she leaned over and hugged
him tightly. He was so surprised he nearly dropped the things he was carrying, and it was nearly
fifteen minutes before the blush left his face.

At the end of a long hallway, they found themselves standing in front of a closed door
with a little nameplate hung next to it: Kamiya Hikari. Daisuke tried the doorknob.

"It's locked, silly," said Kari. "The key's in my purse. Who has it?"

"I do." Shin dumped a few of the things he was carrying on the floor so he could dig
through Kari's purse. Daisuke laughed.

"Sorry," he said, "but you do look funny like that."

"What? Carrying a purse?" asked Shin, grinning back at him. "Not much different than my
little black bag when I'm at work."

He found the key and ceremoniously unlocked the door, letting it slowly swing open.
There were people in the room... people with Digimon.

"Surprise!" said a chorus of voices. "Happy housewarming!"

"Kari!" squealed a happy voice, and a white blur bounced across the room and landed in
Kari's arms. The young woman hugged her Digimon.

"I missed you," said Gatomon.

"I missed you, too," Kari replied. "But what are all you guys doing here? How did you get

Sitting in a row across her sofa were Tai, Matt, Agumon, Gabumon, Veemon, and
Gomamon, all of them looking very pleased with themselves. There were a few bags of chips,
some dip, and a bottle of soda on the coffee table. Someone had tossed a few balloons around the

"You gave me a spare key to your apartment, remember?" Tai said. "Daisuke gave me a
call before he brought you up here, just in case we wanted to pull something like this. We picked
up the 'mons on the way over."

"Brought a few party favors, too," Matt commented. "As if this wasn't all Tai eats

"Hey, you know that's not true! I let you cook just last night!"

"You let me cook?" asked Matt, raising an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware this was a
special favor."

"Well, what are you waiting for?" asked Gomamon. "Come on in already!"

"Yeah, let's eat! I'm starved!" Veemon added.

"Sounds like a great idea to me!" laughed Daisuke. "Move over, guys - make room for the
guest of honor!"

The Digimon obediently scooted out of the way to make a place for Kari. Veemon
pranced around his partner's heels, and Gomamon scampered over to where Joe stood and
climbed him, ending up draped over his head. Shin laughed a little.

"It's days like this that make me sorry I'm not a Digidestined, too," he said. "I wouldn't
mind having a 'mon of my own."

Tai grinned. "Maybe next time I go to the Digital World, I'll see if I can bring one back to
you. These days, every 'mon wants to be someone's Digimon."

"Can you do that?" asked Kari, making a grab for the bag of corn chips.

"I dunno," said Tai. "I'll ask Gennai about it, if I can find him."

"What's he been doing lately?" asked Daisuke.

Tai shrugged. "Chasing girls. What else? Pass the pretzels, somebody."

Shin looked thoughtful. "An interesting idea. I might just take that up."

"What?" asked Matt. "Chasing girls?"

"No!" exclaimed Shin, blushing redder than Daisuke's hair. "I meant that other bit, about
getting a Digimon of my own someday."

"Good," said Matt. "Chasing girls is too much trouble, anyway. They follow me around,
and I don't even encourage them."

"It couldn't hurt to ask around," said Tai. "Anyway, nobody's talking to the person we
came to see. Hey, Kari, how are you doing? Daisuke said things got a little crazy at the hospital."

"They did," Kari replied. "I'm not even sure yet if I left or they threw me out."

"No way, Kari! You were great!" said Daisuke. "You really let that stuffy old doctor have
it... No offense, guys," he added, with a nod to Joe and Shin.

"None taken," said Shin. "He is stuffy. I love him, but he is."

"I think I'll recover better here at home, anyway," Kari said. "Daisuke is right - hospitals
feel dead. This is where I live."

"And how do you plan to get anything done around here?" asked Joe. "Even little things,
like cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping. It's not like you'll have nurses and things around
to do them for you."

"Oh," said Kari. "I hadn't really thought about that."

Joe nodded. "That's what I thought. You're not recovered enough to look after yourself
yet. You're going to need someone to help you."

"No, she won't," said Daisuke. "I'll be right here for her."

"We can't ask you to do that," Tai began.

"You're not asking," Daisuke replied. "I'm volunteering. You hear that, Kari?" he added.
"If you need anything, any time of the day or night, you just call me, okay?"

"Daisuke, that's really sweet of you," she said, "but I can't impose on you like that."

"It's not imposing," he assured her. "It's not much different than what I've already been
doing, is it? Besides, it' just temporary, until you heal up a little more."

"Earth to Daisuke," said Shin. "Don't you have a restaurant to run? What are they going
to do if something comes up while you're out buying groceries?"

"They can deal with it until I come back," said Daisuke. "Kari's more important than some
dumb customer complaining because I didn't put enough croutons in their soup!"

"You're really determined, aren't you?" asked Matt.

Daisuke nodded emphatically.

"Well, there's no one who can stop Daisuke when he's determined," Tai remarked.
"Looks like you've got yourself a maid, Kari!"

"Only if I call him," Kari replied. "So, anyway... maid, hand me that onion dip, would

Daisuke grinned victoriously and handed over the dip with a flourish. The others all
laughed and settled in to the business of celebrating. It was only afterwards, when Matt and Tai
were walking to their car, that they were seriously reflecting on what was happening.

"Daisuke's really taking this thing seriously, isn't he?" Matt reflected.

"Really seriously," Tai replied. "I didn't know he knew how to be that serious."

"Maybe a little too serious?"

"I was thinking that same thing," Tai replied. "He told me he was over Kari, and I believed
him, but now I'm starting to wonder..."

"And I wonder about TK. How much of this does he know?" asked Matt.

Tai flushed a little. "Well, I didn't exactly tell him I was doing this... but Kari must have
told him. They're practically engaged; she must talk to him."

"I sure hope they talk."

"What does that mean?"

"Well..." Matt trailed off and looked thoughtful. "I don't really know. It's just that lately,
when I talk to TK, he's been acting a little funny. And he changes the subject whenever I bring up
Kari. I just have to wonder..."

"...if maybe he suspects something?" Tai finished. "Or knows something he's not telling us?"

"Right," Matt replied, "though I can't believe TK wouldn't tell me about something, if it
was important."

"He might keep a secret if it was something personal," said Tai.

Matt nodded. "We'll just have to trust he knows what he's doing."

"Right," Tai agreed, "and trust everyone gets out of this mess with their hearts intact."


On her way to her office, business executive Mimi Tachikawa stopped in front of one of
the many mirrors in the hall of her office building to admire her reflection. She had to admit, she
looked good today. She had outgrown her teenaged tendencies to dye her hair in odd colors and
had let it grow out into its natural red-brown. Today it was held back in jade hair clasp, and she
wore a matching emerald green suit, striking enough to be noticeable, elegant enough to be
businesslike. Her own line of cosmetics graced her face, living proof of quality. She flashed herself
a brilliant smile as she walked into the main office structure to pay a visit to her workers.

She stifled a yelp. The workers who were supposed to be hard at work in their little
cubicles, doing whatever it was the accounting staff did this time of day, were not doing their jobs
at all. Half of them seemed to be hanging around the water cooler. Several more were playing
solitaire on their computers. A few seemed to be asleep. The one nearest the door was looking at
pictures on the Internet, and Mimi slapped him. The loud smack and the resulting yelp made
everyone turn around to stare, only to be met by the flashing eyes of their boss.

"What... is... going... on... here?" she said.

"Um, well..." someone began hesitantly, "Miss Inoue never gave us our reports for this
morning, and when we asked her, she said to just do whatever, so..."

"Oh, she did, hm?" asked Mimi, plainly not convinced. "Let me just have a word with her,
and we'll get to the bottom of this. Where is she?"

Several arms pointed toward an office door with a shiny brass nameplate. It was shut, with
a yellow sticky note stuck to it, with a scrawl of red marker announcing that the room's occupant
didn't wish to be disturbed. Mimi went up and knocked on the door. There were muffled noises
inside, noises that sounded like she was being told to go away. She ignored them and opened the

Inside, she could find no immediately discernable emergency. The office looked neat and
clean, precisely as an office would if no one had done any work all morning. Miyako herself was
there, draped bonelessly in her chair, as if she'd melted in the sun. Her eyes were closed, a blissful
smile fixed on her face. She was singing softly to herself.

"Datte koi shitara..." she hummed.

"Miyako?" asked Mimi, puzzled. "Are you... feeling okay?"

"Am I feeling okay?" Miyako answered. "Why wouldn't I be feeling okay? I feel

"That would explain the singing love songs in Japanese," Mimi muttered. She gently
slapped her friend's face. "Come on, Miyako, time to wake up and go to work."

"Oh, but Mimi, you don't understand!" said Miyako, her eyes shining. "You wouldn't
believe the night I had! I'm telling you, Mimi, I've finally found my soulmate!" She got up and
twirled around the room like a delirious ballet dancer. Mimi had to catch her to stop her from
crashing into a bookshelf, and Miyako giggled.

"Can't you daydream after you deliver the morning reports?" asked Mimi sternly.
"We do have to get a little bit done today!"

Miyako sighed. "I know... but I just can't stop thinking about him!"

"That serious, huh?"

Miyako nodded, blushing a bit.

"What's his name?"

The purple-haired girl winked and held up a finger. "That's a secret!"

"Oh, come on, Miyako! We're best friends. You can tell me anything."

"Not this."

"Is it someone I know?"

A nod.

"Does he work here?"

Another nod.

"I hope he's not doing this, too," Mimi muttered. She dumped Miyako back into her chair.
"Does your new boyfriend expect you to quit work to keep house for him? If he does, you're
making a good start."

"Give me a break, Mimi!"

"You've had your break. Get to work."

"Oh, you're no fun at all," Miyako muttered. She turned on her computer and began filling
in forms. Mimi stood behind her, watching, making sure she didn't get distracted again. While she
was doing this, the door opened, and Michael walked in.

"Mimi, there you are," he said. "I've been looking all over for you; we just got a call from
an investor, and-" He spotted Miyako, and he blushed brightly. "Oh, um, hello, Miyako. I hope
you aren't, um, indisposed. That is, I didn't mean to interrupt something..."

Miyako giggled. "I don't mind, Michael. You know you can drop in any time."

Micheal blushed even redder. Mimi waved her hand in front of his face, and he coughed
and tore his gaze away from Miyako to address his business partner. "Anyway, about these
investors - they wanted someone directly related to the firm to give them a call, and I thought I
ought to tell you about it. Do you want to talk to them, Mimi?"

"Depends. Do they want to talk money or image?"

"Money. They are investors, after all."

"In that case, maybe Miyako had better talk to them," Mimi replied. She glanced at
Miyako. "Or not."

"I'll do it," Miyako said. "Right after I deliver the morning reports, okay?"

She collected a printout from her computer and danced out of the room, humming happily,
twirling Mimi around and hugging Michael as she passed. The poor man left the room shortly
after her, nearly walking into the doorframe in his daze. Mimi watched them both thoughtfully.

*Miyako and Michael?* she wondered. *Well, they did hit it off when they
first met, and they have been working together a lot. Still, I never saw that one coming. And it's
funny... I wouldn't have expected him to act so nervous around someone he's dating. Hm...*


Daisuke hummed happily to himself as dinner for two simmered on the stove as the radio
played in the background. At the kitchen table, Kari was busily peeling potatoes while their
Digimon scampered around setting the table. Things were going so well, and Daisuke was happier
than he'd ever been in his life. Nature had given him two great gifts: a strong body and a heart
capable of surprising depths of caring and devotion. Now he had a job that gave him a scope for
both of those abilities, and with the companionship of the beautiful Kari Kamiya into the bargain!
He didn't mind having to do menial jobs for her; even vacuuming the carpet and taking out the
trash was rewarding if he was doing it for her sake. Besides, it wasn't all work. He and Kari had a
lot of fun together, and he enjoyed the challenge of finding new ways to make her laugh. The
treatment was working, too. Her personality seemed fully restored to her bright, cheerful self, and
she'd gotten to the point where she could stand up again if she had something to lean on. These
days, that something was usually Daisuke.

"Done with the potatoes," she announced, offering him a bowl of sliced spuds.

"Great," he said, accepting the dish. He tossed them into a pan with some mixed meat and
vegetables and put it on range to cook for a while. "We'll just let this finish warming up, and we'll
have a meal."

"Good thing, too. I'm starved," Veemon said.

"It'll be done in just a few more minutes," answered Daisuke. "Why don't you two just sit
at the table and wait?"

Two Digimon scampered into the dining room and sat down at the table with eager eyes,
and Kari giggled.

"And what are we going to do while we wait?" she asked. It was turning into a
game with her to see how many ways Daisuke could find to kill time. No matter how boring a day
seemed to be, he always thought of a way to enliven it. Now she watched as he scanned the room,
searching for inspiration.

"Well..." he began. There was a moment of silence, and he listened to the radio playing its
song. With a grin and a bow, he asked, "Care to dance?"

"But Daisuke, you know I-" she said, and stopped. He was serious, she realized, and if he
said she was going to dance, that was what would happen. Shyly, she finished, "You know I'd
love to."

"Great. Here, just put your feet on top of mine - that's right - and I'll help you up.

Kari nodded, and Daisuke gently lifted her to her feet, slipping one arm around her waist
and holding her hand with the other, while her free hand rested on his shoulder. He took a few
steps, slowly at first, to let her get used to it. Gradually, they found their rhythm, and soon they
were swirling gracefully around the kitchen. Their Digimon peeked through the door with wide
eyes. Then Veemon looked at Gatomon.

"You wouldn't want to dance with me, would you?"

Gatomon shrugged. "Why not? No point in wasting a good song."

So Veemon took her paw in his claw, and they danced around the dining room. He
plucked a rose from the centerpiece and held it in his beak, and Gatomon giggled. So did Kari.

"Look at the Digimon!" she whispered to Daisuke.

He laughed quietly. "Looks like they're hitting it off pretty well!"

"Imagine how we look to them," Kari whispered back.

"I think we look pretty good together, don't you?" he teased.

Kari laughed and leaned her head on his shoulder. "Daisuke?"


"You want to know something?"


"Dinner is burning."


Daisuke hurriedly dropped Kari back into her chair and dashed to the stove, removing the
dish of now slightly scorched food from the burner. Kari giggled, and even Daisuke had to laugh

"Good thing you spotted that. Next time, warn me a little sooner, okay?" he asked,
fanning away steam. He poked at the food with a fork. "It's still good, just a little brown on the
bottom. Anyway, we can eat it now. Hear that, guys? Soup's on!"

"Hm?" said Veemon, glancing up. "But I was having fun!"

"Have fun eating dinner," Daisuke suggested, setting the dish on the table.

A few moments later, they were settled into their places, had given thanks for the meal,
and were digging in. The food was good; if you put enough soy sauce on the stir fry, you barely
noticed the scorched spots. They ate in silence for a while, as good friends could, doing justice to
their meal.

"So, anything special you want me to pick up for you tomorrow?" Daisuke asked. "It's
grocery day, isn't it?"

Kari nodded. "I made a list. Here you go."

She took a scrap of paper out of her pocket and handed it to Daisuke. He unfolded it and
began to read, muttering to himself.

"Eggs, milk, bread, detergent, toothpaste, breakfast cereal..." he mumbled. He stopped at
one item and made a face. "You don't really expect me to buy that, do you?"

Kari quirked an eyebrow. "Why not? It's not like I can get by without it, and you did say
anything I needed..."

"Yeah, guess I did," said Daisuke, blushing a little. "Well, maybe I can make Jun get it for

"Oh, no!" she said, grinning wickedly. "You aren't getting out of it! You said you would
do my shopping, and you are!"

"Yes, master," Daisuke answered meekly. "Whatever you command."

Kari laughed. "You're a nutcase."

"You're a slave driver," Daisuke retorted. "And I'm just your poor, helpless love slave
who's bound to serve you."

"You're not helpless," she said. "I'm the one who has to depend on you."

"You would get along just fine without me," he answered. "I just make things a little
easier for you. You could do everything I do yourself if you wanted to."

"I couldn't dance by myself," she said. "I couldn't make myself laugh like you do."

"Aw, well," said Daisuke, suddenly finding a very interesting spot on his plate. "I do my

"No, really," said Kari. "You've been so nice to me all this time... I really feel like I'm in
your debt."

"Who said anything about debts?" asked Daisuke. "Tai asked me to help you, and I did. I
would have done the same for anyone."

Kari blinked. "You did this... for Tai?"

"No!" Daisuke protested. "That's not what it is. It's just that... well, he called and said
that you were feeling down, and he thought I could cheer you up."

"It still sounds to me like you were doing this for Tai."

"But wait, I'm not done yet!" he said. "When I got to that hospital, I thought I was going
in to cheer up a sick friend. Then I got there and looked at you, and I felt like someone had just
ripped my heart out. I was crying right there in the hallway, I felt so bad. That was when I knew I
had to do anything I could to put that smile back on your face. And now I've been looking at you
tonight, seeing you smile and laugh and just looking so beautiful and alive... I would do anything
for that... I'm making a fool of myself, aren't I? I always make a fool of myself."

"No," said Kari. "You're not making a fool of yourself. You're being very sweet. Thank

"Aww..." Davis turned redder than his hair and lowered his head. Veemon nudged him in
the ribs and snickered.

Silence prevailed again. Daisuke finished his food without tasting it, and, when it was all
gone, chewed the end of his chopstick thoughtfully. Kari watched him out of the corner of her
eye, trying not to let him catch her looking at him.

*This is silly,* she told herself. *I'm supposed to be marrying TK as soon as
he settles in America. I'm going to go live with him...* Her eyes strayed back over to the
young man across the table just as his eyes strayed to hers. Suddenly TK seemed like a cardboard
cutout, flat and dull, and America was a million miles away. She blushed and looked away,
noticing peripherally that he was doing the same thing.

"What's the matter?" asked Gatomon. "Cat got your tongue all of a sudden?"

Kari laughed weakly. "Yeah, something like that."

"Yeah," Daisuke agreed. "Anyway, I'm done eating. How about you all?"

There were nods and murmurs of agreement.

"Cool," he said. "You want me to do the dishes, Kari? It won't take but a little while."

"It's all right. Gatomon and I can handle it," Kari replied.

"Oh. Well... I guess I'd better get going, then," Daisuke replied. "Goodnight, Kari."

"Don't say goodnight yet," she said. "Let me walk you to the door, first."

They walked to the door, slowly, with her leaning on him for support. They made it to the
door, and he turned to face her. They let their eyes meet again, a moment longer this time, taking
in the small details of each other's faces - the curve of a jaw, a strand of hair falling across a
forehead, lips ever so slightly parted to show the first glimpse of white teeth... and then their eyes
were closed, their lips touching, and they stayed that way for a warm, sweet, immeasurable time.

"Goodnight, Daisuke," said Kari finally. She sounded a little breathless.

"Goodnight, Kari," he answered. He sounded no steadier than she.

Then he stepped out into the hallway and closed the door, walking home in the daze that
came from realizing that there really was no getting over some things.


Another thing Daisuke learned was that there would be absolutely no getting to sleep that
night. He mentally cursed the inventor of the goodnight kiss as he tossed and turned in his bed;
how was anyone supposed to get any rest at all with that going through his mind? Every
time he closed his eyes, he was back on her doorstep looking into her eyes, playing the scene over
and over. Not only that, but his brain was sending him messages about other ways the night could
have gone, and it was taking all his concentration to shove them away.

*I can't be getting involved with her,* he told himself firmly. *She's not mine
to take. Someone else has beat me to the punch, and I'm only here for her as long as she needs
me. She's going to get well, and she's going to America to be with TK, and that'll be it for us.
I'm just going to get my heart broken if I hope for something else... and it might already be a little
too late for that.*

Finally, somewhere around midnight, he finally gave it up. With a yawn that was more like
a moan, he crawled out of bed and ambled into the kitchen; as long as he was awake, he might as
well eat something. Maybe some food would help him settle down. He was just prowling through
the cupboards looking for something that wouldn't take any mental effort to prepare and trying
not to wake up Veemon when the phone rang. Keyed up as he was, he nearly jumped out of his
pajamas in surprise. He made a dive for the phone and caught it on the second ring.

"H'lo?" he mumbled sleepily.

"Daisuke?" said a voice on the other end, childlike and quavering, as if the speaker was
trying not to cry.

"Kari? What's wrong?" asked Daisuke, instantly wide awake.

"Nothing," she said, sniffling a little. "I just... Daisuke, can you come over?"

"On my way. Be right there," he answered. He said a quick goodbye, hung up the phone,
and went to rouse Veemon.

"Where's the fire?" Veemon mumbled, rubbing his eyes.

"Kari's place," Daisuke answered. "Come on, get moving."

"There's a fire at Kari's place?" asked Veemon.

"No! It's just - go on, get in the car!"

Daisuke chased his sleepy partner downstairs and into the car. They made it to Kari's
apartment in record time, and Daisuke let himself in with the spare key she'd given him. He
looked around. The apartment was still, dark, and quiet.

"Hello?" he called uncertainly. "Kari? You okay? Where are you?"

"I'm in here," she called back wearily.

Daisuke padded into her room and found her curled up in bed, her covers askew,
Gatomon snuggled comfortingly at her side. Her eyes had a haunted look that wasn't entirely due
to the darkness, but she smiled weakly as Daisuke entered.

"Hi," she said. "Thanks for coming... I like your PJ's."

"Huh?" Daisuke glanced down and realized to his embarrassment that he was still wearing
a pair of red and blue striped pajama bottoms and a tattered plaid robe, and nothing else. "Oh.
Sorry. I kind of came down here in a hurry. Are you okay? You sounded on the phone like you
were crying." Even now, he could see moonlight reflecting off the tracks of dampness on her face.
He stared a moment, realized he was doing so, and looked away.

"I had a nightmare," said Kari, smiling sheepishly. "Silly, isn't it? But I was just so... not
scared, exactly. Disturbed. Well, scared too. It was one thing when I was in the hospital and there
were always people around, but here I wake up and it's dark and empty, and I just wanted
someone here with me. You were the first one I thought of, and your number's right by the
phone, so..."

"You got me out of bed in the middle of the night to come keep you company," Daisuke
finished. "That's okay. I couldn't sleep anyway. I... had a lot on my mind. I can't say I wouldn't
have had weird dreams myself tonight."

"I didn't upset you, did I?" asked Kari, looking worried.

"Don't worry about whether I'm upset or not. I came to look after you, remember?"
Daisuke replied. "Um... mind if I sit down?"

Kari obligingly scooted out of the way, and he sat down gingerly on the edge of the bed.
She settled against his side, and didn't resist when he carefully put an arm around her shoulders.
He could feel her trembling faintly, as if she were holding back an all-out shivering fit.

"You sure you're okay?" he asked.

"I'm better now," she replied.

"You want to talk about it? It might make you feel better."

"Maybe," Kari said uncertainly.

"Come on. Nightmares never look as real once you start trying to put them in words."

"Okay... I was in the accident again, the one where I got hurt... only this time it wasn't
me. The car hit TK instead, and there was blood everywhere, and I was trying to wake him up,
but he just... faded away. Then I just turned around and walked away, saying it didn't really
matter anymore." She sighed. "I'm not like that, am I, Daisuke?"

"Like what?"

"Like I don't care. I do care - I'd be sad if something happened to TK. I wouldn't just
walk off like that." She paused. "You're right, it doesn't sound as bad now that I've said it."

"Do you think the dream means something?"

"I don't know," Kari sighed. "Maybe... Daisuke?"


"Oh, um... nothing," she said. "No, wait. We do need to talk. What happened tonight..."

"Do we have to talk about this now?" asked Daisuke.

"Yes," she said. "When this started, you said you were just doing it because I was your

"That's right," said Daisuke. "And it can stay that way. I don't know what I was doing

"The same thing I was," she replied. "When we started out, it was just friends... but 'just
friends' don't act like that. Daisuke, how do you feel about me?"

"How do I feel?" he repeated. He laughed a little. "I don't even know the words for it all."

"Try, Daisuke. This is important."

"Oh. Well... I think you're wonderful. I always thought that. You're smart, you're funny,
you're friendly, you're downright beautiful..."

"Do you love me?"

"Kari, don't make me answer that. It's just going to mess everything up."

"I want to know."

Daisuke sighed. "All right. I love you like crazy, are you happy now?"

"Yes," she said. "I'm very happy."

"Huh?" said Daisuke. Never had the word felt so appropriate. "But what about-"

"Good night, Daisuke." Kari curled up in his arms, closed her eyes, and to all appearances,
went to sleep. Daisuke stared, uncomprehending. Then, slowly, he smiled.

"Good night, Kari," he said. "I like this kind of goodnight a lot better than the last one. I
don't have to leave."

He closed his eyes and settled down, listening to the gentle sounds of Kari's breathing
until he'd drifted off. He'd never slept better in his life.


That was how, a few days later, Daisuke wound up moving most of his things into Kari
Kamiya's apartment. He joked that the only reason he was staying there was because her
furnishings were better than those in his own apartment, and she would laugh and say the only
reason she was letting him stay was because he was a better cook than she was. No one could say
he wasn't being decorous about the move; he was making sure everyone around him knew that he
was putting all his things into her guest bedroom. He made sure they all knew that was where he
was sleeping, too. He wasn't sure they believed him, but he told them anyway.

And behind closed doors? That was just a little bit different. Daisuke did at least start out
sleeping in his own bed, but if Kari woke up crying in the middle of the night, he would go where
he was needed. Other times, she might slip into his room quietly, like a child seeking the solace of
her parents. In either case, that was all they did when they slept together: sleep. Kari had spent a
few days turning that one over in her mind, trying to decide how she felt about it. She'd never
shared her bed even in that most innocent sense with anyone, not even TK. However, she had to
admit it was comforting to have someone next to her at night - the nightmares that had plagued
her since the accident didn't bother her when Daisuke had his arms around her to protect her.

"It's weird, you know?" Daisuke remarked to her one morning. They had not spent their
night in either of their beds that night. They had fallen asleep on the sofa, his arm draped over her
shoulder, her leaning against his side, an empty bowl of popcorn balanced between their knees as
the TV played unnoticed. "We're this close, and we've never even been on a date."

"What about all those places we went while I was in the hospital?" Kari replied.

"Those weren't real dates," Daisuke replied. "That was just us out having fun."

"So, what's this leading up to?"

"Well, I was kinda wondering... Kari, would you like to go to a soccer game with me?"

"A soccer game?" Kari repeated.

Daisuke grinned apologetically. "Well, we've gotta start somewhere. Actually, I was
meaning to ask you anyway. I'm going to be playing in it."

"When did this happen? I didn't even think you were still playing soccer."

"It's a charity match, see?" Daisuke replied. He fished a folded paper out of his back
pocket and handed it to her. "A lot of the local businesses are sponsoring players. All the money's
going to a medical fund."

Kari looked at the paper she'd been given. It was a flyer, and looking at it, she was met by
a picture of a child in a wheelchair, smiling for the camera. The caption gave the name of the child
and snippets of information: the girl had been born crippled and had never been able to walk.

"I'd love to go to the game," she said.

"Cool!" Daisuke enthused. "I'll pay for your ticket."

"You don't have to do that..."

"Yes I do. It's a date, remember? Our first."

She smiled. "Funny sort of date, when you're going to be on the field an I'll be in the
stands... but it's a start."

"Good place to begin," said Daisuke. "I look my best on the soccer field. Hope I still
remember how to play."

"The day you forget how to play soccer is the day you forget your own name," Kari
replied. "I know you - you used to eat, sleep, and breathe that game."

Daisuke shrugged. "We'll see, won't we?"

That was how, early one Saturday morning, Daisuke was leading Kari through the bleachers of
the soccer stadium. She was dressed a bit more nicely than usual, in honor of the occasion, her
long hair pulled back in a ponytail, her digital camera in her hand. The one she had taken on her
Digimon adventures as a child had long since been retired. Now she had the latest model, and she
was happy to have a chance to use it. The Digimon trailed along in the back of the procession,
carrying little flags to support Daisuke's team. Daisuke himself wore a green jersey and white
shorts supplied by the team's sponsors.

"Do I look all right?" Kari was asking him. "I feel so conspicuous. I wish the weather was

The summer heat was still in full force, and Kari had done justice to it by wearing a pair of
pink shorts. They might have been cooler, but they also beared the scars left by the accident.
Daisuke knew she was sensitive about them; he had been there at her side when Joe had come
over to pick the stitches out. She'd insisted that it didn't hurt, but she'd held Daisuke's hand
through the procedure anyway. Joe had asked afterwards if Daisuke didn't want an ice pack for it
when the operation was over.

"You look fantastic," Daisuke assured her. "Anyone could see that."

"You're just saying that," she answered, "but thanks anyway."

"No, I mean it," said Daisuke. "Anyway, I've gotta get down on the field. Wish me luck!"

"Good luck! Run for me, Daisuke. Score a goal!"

"For you, I'll score lots of goals," he answered, grinning. He waved goodbye as he
bounded down over the mostly empty bleachers, bouncing from one bench to another. Kari
giggled as he tripped and nearly fell down. She settled into place and waited for the game to start.
At the moment, it was still quite early, and there were only a few people in the stands. The soccer
players were wandering around on the field, kicking soccer balls around for practice, showing off
their moves and trying to score goals against each other. As soon as Daisuke joined his team, the
other players gathered around him and they began to discuss something. The other players, the
ones in the red and black, began to look nervous.

*As they should,* Kari thought, with a touch of forgivable pride. To say that
Daisuke had loved soccer when he was in school would have been an understatement. His life had
revolved around the game, and he'd only gotten better as time went by. Once Ken Ichijouji had
lost the Dark Spores - as well as the drive it took to try to prove he was better at anything than
anyone - Daisuke had ruled the local soccer fields. The time when he was going through school
was the only time Ken's old soccer league had ever had to deal with being defeated. He'd even
moved on to have a successful stay in the team of his local college, and a few people had
whispered that he could have gone professional if he hadn't opened his own business instead. It
seemed that people still remembered his track record.

"Hi!" said a voice, breaking into Kari's reflections. "Mind if we sit by you?"

The speaker was a young woman, accompanied by, of all things, a Digimon. A Gazimon,
to be exact, who looked with bright, curious eyes at Veemon and Gatomon.

"You must have been one of the kids who got mixed up with Oikawa," Kari remarked.

"That's right! And you were one of the Chosen Children! I remember you now!" the
woman replied. "That was really something else, wasn't it? My name's Maemi. What's yours?"

"Hikari Kamiya. Friends call me Kari."

"That's right, I remember now. It's just been so long. Some things you just don't like to
think about too much," Maemi replied. "On the other hand, I wouldn't have gotten Gazimon here
if I hadn't gone through all that. He's a good friend. He gets into mischief, though... hey, cut that
out!" Gazimon had been trying to go through Kari's purse. "Sorry. You have to make allowances
for Virus types. He's sweet, really, but he's impossible to keep out of trouble."

"Yeah," said Kari, smiling a little. "I know the type."

"So, what brings you to the game?" Maemi asked. "I'm here to see my brother. He's on
the green team. I mostly don't much like sports, but he wanted me to see him."

"We came here with Daisuke!" said Veemon, not wanting to be left out of the
conversation. "He's on the green team, too."

"Good. We'll both be cheering for the same side, then," said Maemi. "Remind me again
who Daisuke is? I know I've heard the name before."

"He was a Chosen Child, too," Kari answered. "Veemon there is his partner. See, there's
Daisuke down there - the one with the red hair and the goggles. He hasn't worn them in years, but
he said he wanted them for good luck."

"That's where you've heard of him," said Gazimon to Maemi. "He was the one you had a
crush on in high school."

"I did not!" Maemi protested. "I just admired him, that's all."

"Maemi had a crush on Daisuke," Gazimon informed Kari. "Had his pictures all over the
inside of her closet. I should know. She locked me there all the time."

"And he drew mustaches on my pictures," Maemi complained. "I had to go get new

Kari giggled. "You should have told him. Daisuke likes to be admired."

"Really?" asked Maemi. "Do you think I could talk to him after the game? I'd love to
meet him personally. I mean, I saw him after the fight and all, but that was before I really started
thinking he was cool."

"He'd love it," Kari replied. "I'll introduce him to you, if you want."

"Would you? That would be so awesome!" Maemi gushed. "You know, he's cute even
from here. I bet he's gorgeous close up... You know him. What's he like?"

"Well, he's..." Kari paused, trying to find the right words for him. "He's a little crazy...
He's a good friend... He's always got something to smile about... He's different. Special."

"Yeah, I'll bet he is," Maemi replied. She turned and stared back at the soccer field, where
Daisuke was busy warming up by taking practice shots at the goal and thoroughly discomfiting
the goalie.

*Who does she think she is?* thought Kari. As soon as she noticed the thought for
what it was, she was surprised at herself. What was she thinking? It wasn't as if she owned
Daisuke; there was no reason why he shouldn't have people admiring him. This was what he did
well, after all, so it was only right that someone should appreciate him for it. Still, watching
Maemi deep-sighing in the direction of the soccer field, she had to admit that she didn't care for
having people admiring him like that.

More people began arriving, and it became evident that the game would begin soon. Kari and
Maemi bought popcorn and drinks for themselves and their Digimon, who seemed to have hit it
off. Gazimon and Veemon were joking with each other as if they'd known each other since the
day they were hatched. The girls managed to keep the conversation to ordinary things, book and
movies and the latest fashions, things they could talk about without Kari feeling those odd pangs
of jealousy. Finally, the teams formed up on the field, and the two captains went out to shake
hands. She was too far away to hear, but Kari guessed that Daisuke was wishing his new rival a
good game. The man in the red shirt didn't appear impressed.

The whistle blew, and the game began. As a matter of fact, it started faster than the red
shirts realized. One second, the team captain was glaring at Daisuke, and the next, Daisuke was
gone, and the soccer ball with him. Kari and her friends whooped and cheered as the green team
drove the ball down the field, leaving the other team to struggle to rearrange themselves in time to
stop them. It was already too late for them; just as it began to look like they had Daisuke blocked,
he kicked the ball to the other side of the field, where it was caught by a teammate and kicked
into the goal. The crowd went wild.

By halftime, it was clear who was dominating the game. The red team was good, but they
were no match for the men in green shirts. Daisuke was leading his team with the skill of an old
pro - a combination of sound strategy, a sense of teamwork instilled in him by his time as a
Digidestined, a determination that anything he tried was going to work, and the ability to get
everyone else to believe he was right. Off of the soccer field, the more domineering parts of his
personality might get on people's nerves, but right now, he was in his element, and he was
shining. The score stood at three to nothing in the green team's favor.

"It's a waste of talent," Maemi remarked. "He should have gone pro. Why didn't he?"

"I don't know," answered Kari. "He said something about too much commitment. He
likes his freedom."

"Too bad," said Maemi. "Why do all the really cool guys have to be like that?"

"Like what?" asked Kari.

"The kind who can't commit," Maemi replied. "Come in for a few weeks, sweep you off
your feet, then sweep out again when your back is turned. Story of my life. See the guy down
there in the front row, the one in the purple jacket? He used to be my boyfriend. Looks like he
goes in for blondes now."

Kari frowned and tried to think of something to say, preferably something that would
change the subject. She didn't want to think too hard about those hints that Daisuke was going to
leave her...

*And why not? You've got someone else. You're never going to be left alone - TK's
the dependable type. If he says he's going to marry you, he will,* she told herself. The voice
in her head answered, *Only he never really did, did he? He just assumed you wanted to marry
him. He didn't even bother to ask; it was just given to you whether you wanted it or not.*
She glanced back down at the soccer field, where the players were returning from their break and
getting ready for the next round of play. Daisuke turned and waved in her direction. *I think
I've changed my mind about what I want.*

The game began again, and she was grateful. Keeping an eye on the soccer game gave her
something to occupy her mind. She was thankful for her camera, which had a zoom lens. The
seats Daisuke had reserved for her and the Digimon were good ones, but they weren't front row,
and it was nice to be able to get a closer look at the action. She snapped image after image,
freezing players in midair, capturing a soccer ball on its flight toward a goal. By the end of the
game, she had used up her allotment of photographs, and the green team had one six to two. The
audience surged to their feet to cheer, and Kari pretended to be too busy fiddling with her camera
to get up. She unfolded the digital screen to look at her prizes. She was forced to admit, she had
done an exceptional job.

"Those are some nice pictures you've taken," said a voice over her shoulder. "Better than

Kari turned around to see a man standing behind her, holding a notepad and with a camera
dangling from a strap around his neck.

"By the way," he said, "I'm Kaori Miya, on general assignment for the paper. Our sports
writer's covering a big league game on the other side of the city, so I got stuck with this job. I'm
covering it from the charity angle."

"Oh," said Kari. "Well, I'm glad you like the pictures."

"Put me to shame," the man replied. "I took a few of my own, but they won't look nearly
as good. I was wondering... would you consider letting me have a couple of yours? You'd be
paid, of course - regular freelance fee. What do you say?"

Kari was aware that she hadn't been at work for quite a while now, and that her funds
were beginning to run low. Even with Daisuke insisting he pay part of the bills, she had been
beginning to worry about how to get some fresh income.

"I'd be glad to," she answered. "How do I get them to you?"

"That's a digital camera, isn't it? Just e-mail them. Here's my address," he replied, jotting
something down on his notepad and tearing off the page. "Be sure to mail me your address, so
we'll know where to send the check."

"Thank you," Kari replied. "You don't know how thankful I am. How come the paper
didn't give you a photographer of your own? Aren't you supposed to have some of those

"We're pinched for photographers right now," Mr. Miya replied. "We had some, but one's
in the hospital with pneumonia, and another retired last week. We're going to be running an ad to
see if we can hire some new ones."

"Hm," said Kari thoughtfully. "Do you think it would do me any good to apply?"

"It couldn't hurt. You've got some talent there."

"Maybe," Kari replied, "but I do have this little problem... I was in an accident a while
back, so I can't walk very well..."

"Take a taxi," the newspaperman said. "And now I've got to get moving. Nice meeting
you, Miss..."

"Kamiya," she finished. "Hikari Kamiya."

"Hikari Kamiya," he repeated. "Fine. I'll put in a good word for you, then. Goodbye, Miss

And then he left, leaving her with a scrap of paper in her hands and a lot to think about.


Bang! Bang! Bang!

Kari, getting dressed for her interview, was surprised to hear loud noises emanating from
her living room. Obviously, Daisuke was already awake and working on some project of his. She
considered looking outside to see exactly what he was doing, but she decided getting ready for
her trip to the newspaper office was more important. Besides, wondering what Daisuke was up to
would distract her from how nervous she was. She had sent in an application and a collection of
her better pictures, and would now be going in for a final interview that would determine once
and for all if she would have a job within the next few days. The pictures she'd taken at the game
had indeed appeared on the front of the society page with her byline, and Daisuke had cut them
out to have them framed. She was no less pleased than he was. It was so strange; just a few short
days ago, she had never considered the idea of taking pictures for a small newspaper. Now she
wanted the job desperately, and she wasn't sure how she'd take it if she was turned down. To
distract herself, she listened to the noises going on outside her door as she put the final touches on
her outfit.

"Hammer," called Daisuke.

"Hammer!" Veemon replied.



Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Yowch!" Daisuke yelped. "Band-aid."

Veemon sighed. "Band-aid."

Kari took one last look at her reflection and then worked her way carefully out of her
room, leaning on strategically placed pieces of furniture along the way, to see what Daisuke was
up to. He and Veemon were sitting on the floor surrounded by bits of wood and tools. The
unlucky carpenter was busy bandaging up his hand, which he seemed to have accidentally poked
with a nail.

"Are you okay?" asked Kari worriedly.

"I'm fine," Daisuke replied. "Just nicked it a little, really." He looked up from his
bandaging to look at her, and any trace of pain in his expression vanished at once. "Wow!"

"You like it?" asked Kari. This was one of the moments when she wished she could move
around more easily; it would have been fun to twirl around and pose a bit for such an appreciative
audience. She was dressed in a pair of khaki slacks with an olive-green shirt that complemented
her hair and eyes, and was managing to look casually elegant. "I wasn't quite sure what would be
the best thing to wear to a newspaper."

"You look... just... wow," said Daisuke. "Did you say you wanted to be a photographer or
a supermodel?"

"I don't look that good," Kari replied. "Besides, you've got to be graceful to be a model."

"No, you don't. You just have to hang around and look cute while people take pictures of
you. You'd be good at that," Daisuke replied.

Kari blushed and changed the subject. "What are you building?"

"A railing. See?" Daisuke gestured at the wall near the door, where a few feet of railing
had been fastened to the wall. "That's so you can get around the apartment without my help. I
thought it might make life a little easier for you."

"Oh," said Kari, surprised. "Are you sure the superintendent is going to like that?"

"Huh? Oh," Daisuke replied. "I hadn't really thought of that. Well, I suppose if we ever
wanted to take it down, we could fill in the holes... hey, a little wood glue, a little spackle, a little
paint... no one will ever know!"

Kari giggled. "If you say so. Anyway, thanks. It really brightens my day." Daisuke
beamed, and she smiled back at him. "And now I'd better get going. It wouldn't make a good first
impression if I was late."

"Do you want me to go with you?" asked Daisuke. He got up to help her pick her way
through the tangle of construction materials and guide her to the door.

"I think I can manage. I can take a taxi to the newspaper office, and I think I'll be able to
walk the rest of the way if I'm careful. It's just the interview that worries me."

"You'll do great. They'll be falling all over themselves to hire you." Daisuke paused by the
front door to kiss her gently. "Trust me."

"Thanks, Daisuke," she said. "I have to hurry now. Goodbye."

Daisuke stood at the doorway, watching her work her way slowly but steadily down the
hall until she made it to the elevator, admiring her determination. Then he turned around and
wandered back into the apartment.

"You okay, Daisuke?" asked Veemon. "You look like you're thinking about something."

"So? I'm allowed to think every once in a while," Daisuke shot back.

"Sheesh! Touchy today, aren't you?" his Digimon replied. "What's gotten into you?"

"I dunno. It's just... the reason I started hanging around Kari was because I wanted to
help her. That's changing. I'm just wondering how much longer I should stay with her. You know
she's got someone else."

"She cares about you, though," said Gatomon. She was curled up on the sofa, but she had
opened one bright blue eye to watch her friends work. "I don't think she'd want you to leave."

"Why not?" asked Daisuke. "And how do you know what she thinks of me. She never said
she loved me or anything. How do I know she's not just letting me stay here because I'm the only
chump who'll do all her chores for her?"

"Don't feel bad, Daisuke," said Veemon. "I'm sure that's not the only reason why
she keeps you here."

"Gee, thanks. That makes me feel a lot better," Daisuke replied. "Anyway, you and I both
know she's going to be leaving pretty soon. Soon as TK calls..."

"I'm getting really tired of hearing that," said Gatomon. Both of her eyes were open now,
and her ears were tilted to half-mast in annoyance. "As soon as TK calls! As if he could make her
do anything she didn't want to do."

"Yeah, well, I'm sure she's got better things to do with her life than hang around with
me," Daisuke replied. "Besides, I'm not going to let anyone accuse me of stealing TK's girl. He's
my friend - I wouldn't do that to him. Hand me that screwdriver, Veemon. We can at least finish
this up. One last thing we can do."

Gatomon looked at them both as if they'd both lost their minds.

"Stubborn," she muttered. "Oh, well. They'll learn." And she curled up and went back to

A few hours later, Kari returned to her apartment, bright-eyed and excited. The walk to
her apartment, which hadn't seemed short since the day she'd returned home, now seemed to
stretch on for miles; she felt like she'd never get back home to give the good news! After several
minutes of painstakingly pulling one foot in front of the other, she managed to reach the front
door and unlock it. She looked inside, noting that her new railing was fully installed, with only
some tools lying on the coffee table to show that it hadn't been there the day before. Other than
that, she could see no sign of Daisuke.

"Hello?" she called. "Where is everybody?"

"Kari!" called Gatomon. She darted into the room and stopped in front of Kari. "You've
got to come in here and talk to Daisuke. He's got problems."

"What? What kind of problems?" asked Kari. "Where is he?"

"He's in his room... but maybe not for long."

Kari put the railing to good use, walking as fast as she could toward her friend's room.
Looking inside, she saw Daisuke taking his clothes out of the closet and folding them. Veemon
was busily moving other things into a suitcase.

"What's going on in here?" asked Kari, shocked.

"Oh, hi, Kari," said Daisuke. "Did you get your job?"

"Yes. I was just coming to tell you. They hired me on the spot. They've been showing me
the ropes today, and I report to work on Monday."

"That's good," Daisuke replied. He smiled, an odd, sad smile that she had never seen him
wear before. "I knew you would do great. I guess that gets everything settled, then."

"Settles what? What on earth are you talking about? And what are you doing?"

"I'm moving out."


"Isn't it obvious?" asked Daisuke. He kept his gaze fixed firmly on the shirt he was
folding, not looking at her. "I came here to help you. You needed someone to help you get
around; now you can walk by yourself. You have a job of your own, so you don't need anyone to
support you. There's really nothing else I can do for you, so I'm leaving."

"Daisuke, you can't leave!" Kari protested.

"Don't tell me that. You know it's not true," he replied. "We both knew from the
beginning that this wasn't a relationship that was going to last. You've got someone else, and he's
going to want you back someday. He's smart and good looking and talented and has a good job...
you deserve someone like that. Not like me. You'll be happier without me."

"But I don't want you to go," said Kari. "Don't you understand? I've decided to stay here
already. I'm not going anywhere. I do have my life back, and I want it to be a life in Tokyo where
I take pictures for the newspaper and live here with you. I don't want to leave everything I know
to go to a different country and live with someone who never even calls me anymore. You're the
one who's given me my life back, Daisuke. Don't go. If you do, you'll just take everything away
from me again."

Daisuke looked up, and there were tears standing in his eyes. "You mean that?"

"I do," Kari replied. "I should have said this a lot earlier... I love you, Daisuke."

"I love you, too, Kari," he whispered back. "I love you so, so much..."

And then he ran across the room to her, swept her up and kissed her. And they knew there
would be no parting.


Somewhere in New York City, a telephone rang.

"Excuse me a minute," said TK to his guest. He got up from the sofa, leaving the visitor
to wait impatiently while he answered the phone. "Takaishi speaking."

"Hey, TK, this is Iori."

"Hi! How are you doing? I haven't heard from you in a long time," TK replied. "How's
school? Learning anything?"

"I'm being taught a lot," Iori answered. "I'll have to wait until my next exam to see how
much I've learned. What about you? How's your new job?"

"It's going great. I'm having fun here - getting to hang out with some good people," said
TK. "I do miss all of you guys back in Tokyo, though. I should ask Mimi if she'll give me some
vacation time to come see you all. How is everyone? How's Kari? I haven't talked to her in too
long. I really should give her a call soon..."

"Well," said Iori, suddenly sounding uncomfortable, "I don't know if I should talk about
this. I don't want to gossip."

"It won't be gossip if it's the truth," TK assured him. "What's up?"

"I don't really know how to say this, but Joe told me about it, and he would probably
know," said Iori. "Daisuke's moved in with Kari."

"Oh, he has, has he?"

"It's only what I heard," said Iori apologetically.

"Well, I can find out about this for myself," TK replied. "I'll just give them a call and ask
them. I'm sure they'll have a logical explanation for all this."

"You aren't going to do anything crazy, are you, TK?" asked Iori.

"Nothing like it. Just trust me on this one."

"Well, if you say so."

"Leave it to me," said TK. "Anyway, I'd love to talk longer, but I have a visitor over. I'll
talk to you again soon, though, okay?"

"Sure, TK. I can't afford too much of a long-distance bill anyway, not with what I'm
paying for law school," Iori replied. "Bye, TK."

"Bye, Iori. Thanks for calling."

They hung up their respective telephones, Iori with a small sigh of worry and TK with a
thoughtful expression.

"Well, what do you know?" said TK thoughtfully. He cast a glance at his guest, and she
looked back at him with inquisitive eyes. "Did you hear that? Kari's living with Daisuke now. I'm
going to have to look into this."


It was a quiet evening in the Kamiya residence, not at all the kind one would expect to
bring about an upheaval in anyone's life. Kari was unwinding after a day at work, curled up in an
easy chair with Gatomon and a good book. Daisuke had brought his work home with him, sitting
at the kitchen table with a calculator and some papers, busy doing calculations with the frown on
his face reserved for the moments he had to think about something serious. The telephone rang,
and he knocked all the papers on the floor and dropped his pen as he jumped. He bent to collect
them, muttering to himself.

"Could you get the phone?" Kari asked.

"I'm busy," Daisuke complained. "If it's really important, they'll call back."

The phone continued to ring... and ring... and ring. Daisuke, trying to concentrate on his
figures, threw down his pen again in frustration.

"All right, all right, I'm coming!" he shouted at the phone. He pulled it off the hook in a
brusque gesture. "Kamiya residence!"

"Hello, Daisuke, this is TK."

"Oh," said Daisuke. There was a pause as he tried to think of what to say next. "Um... did
you want to talk to Kari? She's right here."

"No, I wanted to talk to you," TK replied. "I was told I could find you here."

"TK, whatever you heard, it's not like you think. I can explain it all," Daisuke blurted.

"Don't bother. I think I have a pretty good idea of what's going on. You always wanted
this anyway, didn't you? That I'd leave and you'd have her all to yourself."

"I didn't do anything on purpose," said Daisuke. "This all just sort of happened. We didn't
even know it was happening."

"I see." There was a pause on the other end of the line. "What does Kari think of all this?"

"Well, I can't really speak for her," Daisuke replied, "but she's as happy as I can make
her. She's got a new job here, working for the paper. She... she says she likes having me here with

"Hm," said TK. "Let me talk to her."

"Okay. Hang on." Daisuke turned to call to her. "Kari! Phone for you... It's TK."


There were noises of things being moved around, and Kari made her way into the kitchen.
Daisuke politely took himself elsewhere, wandering into the living room, where he flopped onto
the sofa and stared at the ceiling, wondering what was going to happen next. He could just barely
hear Kari's voice, but it was muffled enough that he couldn't catch what she was saying. All he
could pick out were syllables and a tone that sounded... worried? Disappointed? Definitely not
happy. In the end, he heard her hang up, and he sat up again to wait for her.

"How did it go?" he asked, as soon as she entered the room.

"Strange," said Kari. "I didn't get all of what he was saying... It's like he's trying to keep
something from me. Like he knows something he's not telling me. The only thing that was clear
was, he says we should do as we please."

"He's not angry at us?"

"I don't think so. It's hard to tell. He's acting strange. I don't remember him ever acting
like this."

"Are you okay, though?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

They were quiet for a while. It should have been a good thing, Daisuke thought, that TK
had given them permission to be together. Still, he couldn't quite shake the feeling that he had
done something wrong in coming between TK and Kari, even if he hadn't meant to. He wasn't
sure what she was thinking, but something in her eyes told him that she had more on her mind that
just what was going on between the covers of her book. He sighed. Too bad not everything about
being in love could be easy.


In the weeks to come, the subject of TK was dropped and forgotten. Daisuke and Kari
had other things on their minds, after all; even matters of the heart had to sometimes take second
place to things like paying the bills and going to work. Kari was enjoying her new job and making
friends among her co-workers. Being a photographer on general assignment, though no trip to the
Digital World, was fun and interesting. She liked that she never knew, from day to day, where she
might be going next and what kind of people she was going to see.

However, Daisuke seemed to be getting more and more disenchanted with his restaurant.
He came home tired and often in a bad mood, and she was beginning to have to nag him to make
sure he got to work again on time in the mornings. He spent a lot of time complaining about his
staff, the customers, and shipments that came in late. She also saw him spending more and more
time with his calculator, and he was making phone calls that sounded unpleasantly businesslike.
For her, he was always as cheerful as he could be, but she could see that there was worry behind
his smile, and it was becoming increasingly evident as the days went by.

One day, she came home from work to find him home early. He was sitting at the kitchen
table with his usual collection of papers and pens, but he wasn't working with them. He was just
sitting there, his face hidden in his arms. Kari touched his shoulder and heard him sniffle.

"Daisuke?" she asked worriedly. "Are you crying?"

Daisuke sniffled again and lifted his head. His cheeks were damp, his eyes red-rimmed. He
made an effort to wipe his face on his sleeve, but it was nearly as damp as his face.

"The restaurant's closing," he said.

"What?" Kari exclaimed. "Why? How?"

Daisuke held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "I'm just not making enough money.
It was going okay to start with, but..." He closed his eyes and shook his head. Kari looked at him

"What happened?" she asked sternly.

"Well, like I said, it was okay when I began, but then you got hurt, so I started going to
look after you, so I couldn't be at work all the time. Plus I had to pay for all the places we went
together. And then you came back here, and you didn't have a job anymore, so I helped pay some
of the bills, too. And when I couldn't be at work all the time, I had to hire more staff to look after
things while I was gone, and I had to pay them. Things went wrong anyway, and I wasn't there to
fix them, and I started losing business, so that was less money I was making... Kari, I'm losing
everything. I have to sell the place, or I'll go broke. I've already got a buyer, and he's offered me
a good price..." He choked up and began to sob. "I let it all go down the drain! All that hard work
- years of pushing around a noodle cart in the street - I built everything up from scratch, and I've
lost it all! I've got nothing left!"

"Oh, Daisuke..." Kari put her arms around him in an effort to comfort him, and he turned
around to put his head on her shoulder and cry. After a few minutes, he quieted again, reduced to
sniffled and hiccups.

"Sorry," he said. "I've been like this all afternoon. I didn't think it would hurt so much... I
guess I care more about that place than I thought I did. I just worked on it so hard..."

"I know, I know," Kari soothed. "It's going to be okay. You'll get through this. You
always get through everything. You just watch - something else good will come along."

"I guess," said Daisuke. He pulled a napkin from the napkin holder on the table and blew
his nose. "I think maybe I feel a little better now.... Is there anything you want me to do? I need
some work to keep my mind off this."

"Well..." Kari hesitated. "It is grocery day. Is that the kind of thing you mean?"

"It'll do. Have you got the list?"

Kari handed him the list, and Daisuke skimmed it. He winced.

"That again, huh?" he said, with a ghost of a smile. "Well, only for you."

Kari hugged him. "Don't worry about a thing. I'll always be here for you."

"You deserve better than a failure like me."

"You're not a failure. You're wonderful. Didn't you always tell me you were wonderful
when we were kids and everyone was always picking on you?"

"Yeah, well... I grew up and learned better."

"That's silly talk," said Kari sternly. "This is a setback, and the Daisuke I know never let
himself get stopped by a setback. You get up right now and you get moving. Quit feeling sorry
for yourself."

"All right, all right!" said Daisuke. "If nothing else, I promise I'll shop for groceries better
than you've ever seen anyone shop before!"

"That'll be tough. I've gone shopping with Mimi before."

"Yeah, well I've gone shopping with Jun. Now, there's a competitive shopper!"

Kari watched thoughtfully as Daisuke headed for the door, thinking. Was this what he had
felt when he had seen her sitting in the hospital, staring hopelessly at a vase of dying flowers? She
knew she was hurting now to see him in so much pain. She wasn't used to seeing his dark side.
Daisuke, in her mind, was light - not her own kind of steady, soft light, but the light that warmed
like fire and flashed like lightning. He had illuminated her life; now, she decided, it was her turn to
light up his. She went to the phone, looked up a number, and dialed.

"Hello, Ichijouji residence," said a voice on the other end. "Ken's on the roof right now,
but if you'll leave a message, I can relay it to him for you."

"Hi, Wormmon, this is Kari."

"Oh, it's you! Hello!" said the caterpillar. "I didn't know it was you. Did you want to talk
to Ken? He's working on something right now, but I'm sure he'd come down if he knew you
were calling."

"Why is he on the roof?" asked Kari.

"He's painting. He likes it up there. He says the light is better."

"Oh. Well, could you tell him to come down, please? I have something important to talk
to him about. Daisuke needs our help, and fast."

"I'm on my way!" Wormmon replied. Kari could almost hear him as he bounded away.
Moments later, the phone was picked up again, and this time it was Ken's voice that answered.

"Hello, Ken speaking. What's this about Daisuke having a problem?"

"Well, it's like this," Kari began, and she explained the situation.

"I thought you could help," she finished. "I know Daisuke means a lot to you, and you
know a lot of people. Can you think of anything...?"

"I just might have something in mind," Ken replied. "Let me make a few calls and get back
to you, all right?"

"Sure. Thanks so much," Kari answered. "What have you got in mind?"

"Don't get your hopes up too much," said Ken, "but I heard something the other day..."

Ken outlined his idea to Kari... and Kari smiled.

"Perfect," she said.


When Daisuke came home, he nearly dropped his grocery bags in surprise. Kari was
waiting for him, sitting at one end of the sofa, but that was not what surprised him. What
surprised him was that Ken and Wormmon were also there, sitting at the other end of the sofa.

"What's going on?" asked Daisuke. "What are they doing here?"

"We have a little surprise for you," Ken replied.

"Oh," said Daisuke. "Is it a good surprise? I'm not sure I could handle any more bad ones

"It's a good surprise," said Kari. "We got you a job."

"You what?" Daisuke exclaimed. He did drop the grocery bags this time; luckily
they landed in his favorite easy chair, and it didn't sound like anything had been broken. "How...
how... how did you...?"

"There are times when being a former superstar comes in handy," said Ken. "Kari called
and asked if I would make some inquiries for you, and I've come up with something that should
suit you much better than your last job. You remember how when you were in grade school, once
I left my old soccer team, your team kept beating my school at every playoff?"

"Yeah, I remember."

"So do they," Ken replied.

"So? What are you getting at?" asked Daisuke.

"What I'm getting at," Ken said, "is that ritzy private schools don't like having their teams
beaten. They've never forgotten who it was who led their rival's team to victory, either. You
know they've never really recovred, don't you? Just the idea that their wonder children could be
beaten by ordinary middle schoolers rocked them back on their heels. I just let it be known that
the great Daisuke Motomiya was looking for a new job. I also borrowed a few of the photos Kari
took at your last game. The school board was very impressed, and, well... Let's just say that
they're willing to pay good money to get you over on their side. How does the idea of being a
soccer coach sound?"

"I... I... I..." Daisuke was, for once, at a loss for words. "I don't know which of you to
hug first!"

Veemon tackled Daisuke and shoved him onto the couch, where Kari and all the Digimon
tried to hug him at once, and even Ken was laughing.

"Isn't it great, Daisuke?" asked Kari. "I knew you were never cut out to run a restaurant,
anyway. You'll be happier doing what you really love."

"Great? This is better than great!" Daisuke was sniffling again. "You guys are the best.
The absolute best. Where would I be without you?"

"Unemployed?" Ken suggested, quirking an eyebrow. Daisuke threw a pillow at him.
"Hey, watch it! You're messing up my hair!"

"Who cares? You're an artist; you're not supposed to look neat," Daisuke replied.
"Besides, they're called throw pillows, aren't they?" He tried to sit up under the pile of
Digimon, saying, "I totally can't believe this. We should go out and celebrate! Want to come,

"No, you two will have more fun on your own," Ken replied. "I'm just glad that after
everything you've done for me, I could do something small to repay you... I'd be glad to look
after your Digimon while you go out, though."

"We don't need looking after," said Gatomon, and Veemon shook his head in agreement.

"Is that so?" asked Ken. "Well, maybe I'll be moving along, then."

"Thanks for everything, Ken," said Daisuke. "I really mean it. I don't know how I'll ever
repay you."

"Think nothing of it," said Ken, letting Wormmon scramble onto his shoulder. "I may not
be the genius I used to be, but I still know some things... like how priceless a friend is. See you,
Daisuke. Good luck!"

"Bye, Ken!" everyone called. "Bye, Wormmon!"

When they were gone, Kari turned to Daisuke and asked, "Were you serious about

"Sure, why not? I was thinking maybe dinner and a movie... We should go somewhere
really nice. Days like this don't happen every day."

Kari giggled. "True. In that case, could you do something for me?"

"Anything for you."

"Get dressed for dinner... unless you really want to go out in a tee-shirt with a soup stain
on it."

Daisuke laughed. "Oops! Forgot about that. Don't worry, this will only take a minute, and
then I'm going to take you out for the most memorable night you've ever had."

And he was right, too. It did turn out to be a night to remember.


The pale gold light of street lamps beamed down on a happy couple strolling down the
street, arms around each other's waists, the woman contentedly leaning her head on her
companion's shoulder. Daisuke stared up at the starry sky and sighed contentedly.

"This has been the best day of my life," he said. "I am so lucky. I've got the greatest
friends in the world, I've got a new job doing what I love most... and I've got you. I can't think of
anything else I could want."

Kari nodded. "Tonight's been great. I've enjoyed every minute of it."

"Even the commercials in the movie theater?"

"We weren't looking at the commercials. We were kissing."

"Best way to start a movie," Daisuke replied. "I want to spend a lot more nights like this
with you."

"Me, too. I'm always happy when I'm with you."

"Same here. I wish we could make this time go on forever... Hey, would you look at

"Look at what?" asked Kari.

"That," Daisuke replied. He pointed at a vending machine. One of the things unique about
Japan was that you could buy almost anything from a vending machine, from cola to clothing.
This one was full of cheap jewelry and other odds and ends. Daisuke walked up to it and began
fishing in his pockets for a coin.

"What are you doing?" Kari asked.

Daisuke grinned. "I'm going to get you a present."

"From a vending machine?"

"Sure, why not?" Daisuke replied. "Ah, here we go."

He dropped the coin into the machine and turned the knob. There was a rattling noise, and
the machine spat out a plastic bubble, which Daisuke retrieved and struggled to open, his hands
slipping on the smooth plastic. Finally, with a cry of victory, he pulled the top off of the bubble
and withdrew the prize, holding it up to the light for Kari to see. It was an ring, apparently made
of something like aluminum and set with a few pink plastic jewels.

"What do you think?" Daisuke asked, grinning playfully. "Nice, eh?"

"Oh, yes, gorgeous," Kari agreed, falling in with the sally. "Must be worth millions."

"You want it?"

"Sure, I'll take it," she said. She held out her hand, but Daisuke pulled the ring away.

"No, no, we've got to do this right," he said. He took her hand and went down on one
knee, gently slipping the ring onto her finger. "I love you, Kari Kamiya. Will you marry me?"

She hesitated for a moment, looking into his eyes. Was he serious? Yes? No? Did it really
even matter?

"Yes," she said. "I will marry you, Daisuke."

"You... what?" Daisuke's face went blank with shock. "I was only kidding, but... you


"YES!" Daisuke cheered. He leaped to his feet, and threw his arms around her, actually
picking her up and twirling her around in the air. Then he pulled her close and kissed her deeply,
not even noticing that several passers-by had stopped what they were doing to watch the scene
that was playing out there on the sidewalk. He broke away again a moment later, flushed with
elation. "Yahoo! You hear that, world? Kari's going to marry me!"

Kari couldn't help but laugh. "Daisuke, everyone's staring at us!"

"Let 'em stare! I want the whole world to know! Come on!" He took her hands and
started leading her up the street. When he realized that she wasn't going to be able to run as fast
as he wanted her to, he turned around and picked her up before dashing away.

"Where are we going?" she asked.

"We're going to buy you a real ring!"

"How are you going to afford one? You said you don't have any money."

"We'll charge it to Ken. He won't care."

And that was what they did, thoroughly befuddling a jeweler in the process, a man used to
serious buyers who were completely unlike Daisuke Motomiya. But even when Kari had her
diamond engagement band, she still wore the aluminum ring.


It was meant to be a small wedding, but things like that never stayed under control for
long. Daisuke, with his taste for jumping into things, was all in favor of finding the nearest
authorized figure and having the ceremony at once. When his friends managed to convince him
that he ought to wait a few more weeks and plan out a proper wedding, he instead became
convinced that they ought to have a huge celebration with a band and a buffet table and balloons
and anything else they could find. Even after Kari and Ken and a few others had ganged up to talk
him out of that, it was still a chore trying to keep the event down to reasonable proportions.

For one thing, this was the first time two Digidestined had gotten married, and that made
it historic in and of itself. It was going to be hard to keep the press out of the production. For
another, it was hard to know when to stop inviting people. They had to invite their families, of
course, which meant inviting Tai and Agumon. Once you invited Tai, it wouldn't be fair to not
invite the rest of the Digidestined, and as long as you were inviting Digidestined, they might as
well invite their friends from the other countries as well, and once you had them flying in from all
corners of the globe, well... you might as well give up and invite everyone.

They all came. The Hoi brothers were there, crying their eyes out before the wedding even
started - all but the youngest and most attractive of the lot, who was flirting with the Mexican girl
with the Gotsumon. Gennai himself came and attracted a crowd of follwers, largely young and
female, who listened as he told them how he'd singlehandedly fought Piedmon to save the eggs
that would hatch to become the Digimon who saved the world. Lots of Digimon were there,
ranging from Elecmon and a crowd of baby 'mons up to Leomon and Piximon. To see the event,
even a small group of Virus-type Digimon had promised to be on their best behavior. Even
Daisuke's parents were there, bragging to anyone who would listen about how it was their boy
who was getting married today, and how proud of him they were.

TK was also in the crowd. There had been a little bit of discomfort about what to do about
him. There was no leaving him out of the event entirely, of course; he had been a good friend to
them, and it wouldn't be right to let him be the only one who wasn't there to witness the event.
On the other hand, it was hard to know exactly what to do with him once they'd included him. In
the end, they had decided to keep the processions simple and hope TK wouldn't notice he'd been
left out. He noticed anyway.

"You'd think they would have asked me to be a groomsman or something," TK
whispered. He was sitting next to Iori somewhere in the inconspicuous middle of the masses.

"You'll have to forgive them," Iori replied. "They were nervous. I don't think either of
them ever got over the feeling that they betrayed you."

"Oh, they're nervous, are they?" said TK thoughtfully. He rubbed his hands together in
a gesture that would have done justice to the villain of a movie. "I'll give them something to be
nervous about."

"You aren't going to do something crazy, are you?" Iori asked.

TK smirked. "With an opportunity like this? I just might."

"Uh-oh," Iori sighed.

Music began to play, and the doors in the back of the great hall opened, admitting a small
procession. Ken, acting as best man, was leading two groomsmen, Tai and Matt, who went and
took places at the front of the hall. A finely judged moment later, Daisuke himself came in.
Despite his usual haphazard appearance, he had managed to make himself look elegant today,
dressed in a dark suit and his hair neatly combed. A few people in the audience sighed;
somewhere, a girl with a Gazimon was cursing her ill fortune. He ignored it all, clearly focused
only on what was going to come next. He went and took his place before the altar.

As soon as they were in position, the doors opened again. This time, two Digimon
entered. Veemon, dressed in a specially tailored suit, was carrying the two wedding bands on a
velvet cushion, while a beribboned Gatomon scattered rose petals across the floor. They, too,
took places at the front of the hall.

Then the music changed, becoming softer, sweeter, and everyone turned in their seats to
see what was coming next. Kari stepped into the hall, dressed in a sweeping white gown, with
Sora and Miyako walking on either side of her in pink bridesmaids' dresses. They had their arms
linked with hers, to help her stay balanced, but no one noticed her faltering steps today; a slow
walk only added to the solemnity of the occasion. Then, as if at some signal, they stopped and let
go. Kari walked on, and more than one jaw dropped in amazement: Kari was walking on her own,
with no support at all toward the altar and her beloved. All could see the tears standing in
Daisuke's eyes and he held out his arms to welcome her.

"Dearly beloved," said the priest, "we are gathered here today to see these two joined in
holy matrimony. If there is anyone here who knows a reason why these two should not be married
here today, speak now, or forever hold your peace."

There was a moment of silence, and the people in the audience exchanged glances. Who
would dare speak up against this pair after what had just happened?

Someone spoke.

"I'll give you a reason why they can't be married today," said TK, standing up to address
the crowd.

There were murmurs of dismay, and Daisuke put his arm around Kari defensively, as if he
expected someone to forcibly take her away from him. Iori tugged at TK's shirt and tried to pull
him back into his seat. TK shooed him away.

"That's right," said TK. "These two can't be married today, and I'll tell you why. I've
been asking around, finding out about these two, and I have something to say."

"TK, what do you think you're doing?" Matt hissed angrily. Nobody paid any attention to

"The marriage vows that are used all over the world," TK said, "ask two people to make a
promise. That promise is phrased in a lot of ways. It's a promise to honor and obey, to love and
to cherish, in sickness and in health. You know what I say? These people have already made that
promise. They've been through a lot together, and they survived it. Everything life's thrown at
them has just brought them closer together. I say you'll never find two people who love each
other more, or will have a happier life together. And I also say that Daisuke and Kari are already
married. All that's left is just to make an announcement of it and celebrate, so let's cut to the
good part already!"

A cheer broke out, and everyone applauded wildly with their hands, flippers, paws,
tentacles, or whatever it was they had, while Leomon let out a roar that rattled the chandeliers.
The priest smiled, holding up his hands until the tumult stopped.

"Very well, then," he said. "Do you, Hikari, take this man to be your lawfully wedded
husband for as long as you both shall live?"

"I do," she said.

"And do you, Daisuke, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?"

"I do," he answered..

"Then I pronounce you man and wife. Go forth and be blessed."

If the cheer TK's speech had drawn had been wild, the whoops and shouts that erupted
when Daisuke took off Kari's veil and kissed her was almost enough to raise the roof. It wasn't
until the crowd cleared out and went to the reception, nibbling wedding cake and sipping various
flavors of punch, that things calmed down enough for anyone to really have any coherent thoughts
about the event.

"Hey, Shin!" Daisuke called. "Who's that over there with your dad?"

Shin, who had been sharing a slice of cake with a Digimon that was following him around,
grinned. "That's Shuu."

"Really?" asked Kari. "You said they weren't speaking anymore."

"I know. It was the weirdest thing," Shin replied. "One day, Dad was walking down the
hallway, and one of his patients went walking past him. Dad was pretty upset - this guy was
supposed to be in intensive care, not up and wandering around. He went to find out what was
going on, and when he got to the guy's room, he found a bunch of nurses gathered around the
guy's body. Turned out the guy had died a few minutes ago. Dad's been a believer ever since, and
he and Shuu have gotten to be pretty good friends. You wouldn't believe the difference there's
been around the house since then."

"That's awesome," Daisuke replied. "So, who's your friend here?"

"This is Otamamon. Tai talked Gennai into finding me a Digimon friend," Shin replied. "I
don't know how official it is, but we're pretty happy with the arrangement - aren't you,

"You bet!" the tadpole creature chirped. "Shin's the coolest guy I know."

Daisuke laughed. "Anyway, the while I'm over here, have either of you two seen TK?
We'd like to have a word with him."

"Oh, he's over there," said Shin, gesturing off toward a stand of potted plants. "Don't be
too hard on him; if you think about it, he did you a favor."

"We know he did us a favor," Kari replied. "We just want an explanation, that's all."

"I guess that's all right," Shin replied. "Congratualtions, you two!"

Daisuke and Kari thanked Shin and wandered off in search of TK. They found him and
Patamon where Shin had said they'd be, next to the potted plants, sipping pink punch and
scanning the crowds.

"You dirty dog!" said Daisuke, aiming a friendly punch at TK's shoulder. "What
were you trying to do back there, give me a heart attack?"

"I was just paying you back for not including me in the wedding plans," TK replied.
"Actually, I'd figured out a long time ago that Kari wasn't meant for me."

"Then why didn't you tell us?" asked Kari. "You could have told me. We've spent all this
time worrying about what you would think of us getting together. Why didn't you let us know it
was okay?"

"Well, I tried to, sort of," said TK, blushing. "It's just... well... to tell the truth, I was
scared. After all the years we'd been together, Kari, I just didn't know how to end it. It was just
easier to let Daisuke step in and take things over."

"So all this worrying was for nothing?" asked Daisuke. "Seriously, TK, sometimes I don't
know whether to hug you or hit you."

"Don't, please - I get enough of both of those hanging around Miyako," TK laughed.
"Not that I mind too much. The two of us have gotten pretty close since we went off to America

"And here we thought you were keeping some big secret from us," said Kari. "Everyone
said they thought you had something up your sleeve."

"Actually, I do," TK replied. "That's the really embarrassing part. I left Japan with all
these good intentions, I really did, but then I got to New York and, well..."

"You met someone?" Daisuke finished. "You gave me a hard time about me falling for
Kari when I didn't even mean to, and all that time you were seeing someone else?!"

TK blushed again. "Sorry! Like I said, I was embarrassed. Who would have believed it?
Everyone thought Kari and I were the perfect couple; I was scared to disappoint anyone, so I just
kept it all under wraps... It wasn't easy."

"So who is she?" asked Kari. "Is she here? Is she someone we know?"

"Yes and yes," TK replied. "As a matter of fact, here she comes now. Hey, over here!"

From out of the crowd stepped, of all people...

"Miyako?" exclaimed Daisuke and Kari at once.

"Hi, guys!" she chirped, draping herself over TK. He put his arm around her and beamed.
"I guess you found out our little secret, huh?"

"Um... yeah," said Daisuke. "Sorry, but this is... kind of a surprise."

"Hey, is it my fault he grew up and turned into a hunk?" Miyako replied.

TK blushed under Kari's glower. "Well, I did tell you she was beautiful."

"Wow," said Daisuke. "TK and Miyako. Who'd have thought?"

"Who'd have thought you and I would get together?" Kari replied. "Anyway, I think it's
great you both are happy."

"Thanks," said TK. "Keep this under your hats for now - we didn't want to steal your
spotlight on your big day - but we plan to announce our engagement soon."

"Hey, congratulations!" said Daisuke. "That's pretty cool."

"So it all ends happily," said Kari.

"I guess it does," TK agreed.

"I know it does!" Daisuke corrected.

"Hey! Where are the lovebirds?" Tai called over the party noises. "Your getaway car is

"Gotta dash!" Daisuke called. "The honeymoon awaits! See ya... TS!"

"That's TK, you nut!"

Daisuke and Kari laughed, and the two of them hurried out of the room under a shower of
rice, both of them running, hand in hand.