Important Author's Notes:

Hey there, this here's the sequel to one of my other stories, "Crescendo". Here's a little bit of history on this series: "Crescendo" is a story about Rika and Ryo. If you don't feel like reading it, here's what you need to know. Rika was being hunted by a monster, who was really a person who mutated after being infected with a virus. Ryo too gets infected, and captured by a man named Valn, who was the creator of it. Ryo gets cured of the virus, and when both Takato and Rika come to save him, only Ryo and Rika make it out. After the adventure, Rika is finally ready to be with Ryo, but Ryo is overwhelmed with guilt for Takato's death, and leaves the country, leaving her, and everyone else behind. I'd recommend reading the epilogue for Crescendo, as it's the direct lead-in to this, and introduces the characters of Will and Miriam. (It's short, just take a peek). Okay, glad that's out of the way.

Now, in "Crescendo", Takato plays an important role, but reading "Crescendo", you only get to see a part of it. My other stories, "Atlas", and its sequel, "Flux", both follow Takato through those events. All caught up? Good! (Oh yeah, and this is set only a few months after "Crescendo", rather than the six I'd initially planned. My bad.)



"A ship in a harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."

- Anonymous


Ryo was fidgety on the plane. To his left sat Will, and across the aisle on the right was his mother, Miriam. They were almost at Shinjuku, and Ryo was nervous as hell. It had been fourteen weeks since he'd left. He'd only been back once since then, and it was only for a few hours, most of which were spent at the airport.

He inhaled sharply, remembering the conversation he'd had with Rika Nonaka the night before. She had confessed her feelings to him—something he'd been wanting to hear for a very long time. She'd leaned in to kiss him—


—Ryo pulled away, unable to even breathe as he saw the sorrow overwhelm her face. She turned away from him, and Ryo saw a tear roll down her cheek.

"I can't." he forced himself to say, which was the hardest thing he'd had to do in a long, long time. "I'm sorry."

I'm so sorry—

"…oh. " Rika let out.

Oh God I'm so sorry Rika.

"I thought you—" she stammered. "I mean, um—"

This wasn't how Ryo had wanted the conversation to go. He subtly brought his gaze to his backback, which was on the seat next to him, to make sure it was closed—his plane ticket not visible.

"I'm sorry." He repeated quietly.

"I just—I thought you liked me." Rika said innocently.

Ryo felt his heart break a hundred times a second as he saw her like this. Rika Nonaka, the most unattainable girl on the planet, the emotionally attached, the—

the one I love—

"It's not about that," Ryo told her, not entirely lying. Much of the conversation from then on was a blur to Ryo, his head hurting to the point where it made him dizzy.

"I'm not strong enough to fight for you." Ryo finally confessed to her as he turned away. Throughout the conversation, he'd managed not to tell her how he really felt—he thought it would make things easier. Maybe it did—he'd never know, and he surely didn't notice, because it still hurt like hell.

It was killing Ryo that Rika was so persistent, something he'd found so appealing in her before. As he turned away, she grabbed his arm and yanked it so that he turned to face her. Her hair was still done up from the funeral that afternoon, and she looked as beautiful as ever.

"I don't need you to fight for me, I just need you." She told him pleadingly. Ryo knew that she didn't, though. Throughout the ordeal, it had been her to protect him—she came after him when he was captured.

But it didn't matter. He knew that he couldn't. He couldn't be with her. Not her. Not ever.

Takato had died because Ryo wasn't able to protect him. A few hours before, Ryo had spoken at his funeral, and had been unable to confess his guilt of it to Takato's friends and family—the people who deserved to know how Takato had died. Ryo couldn't protect his best friend. He couldn't risk Rika.

He loved her too much.

"We can fight together." She said finally.

Ryo looked at her, and after losing himself in her lavender eyes for a moment, brought his gaze to her lips, which he wanted very much to feel on his own. But he regained control of himself, and continued what he'd set out to.

"No." he whispered to her. When he felt her hand let go of his arm, he felt his heart break once more, knowing that it was really over.


Ryo thought about that night every day since he left. About how things could have been different if he'd decided differently—decided to stay, decided to be with Rika. He was ready to.

He'd come to terms with Takato's death, and had finally accepted that even though he was partly responsible, he had to move on, and that it was selfish of him to wallow with regret—it wouldn't be what Takato would have wanted.

After leaving Shinjuku, Ryo had moved in with his mother, and, to conceal his identity so that his friends wouldn't be able to find him, donned the name "Scott". The only surprise he found bigger than his mother so eager to regain time with him, was to find that she had adopted a son after she herself left Shinjuku. The boy presently sat to Ryo's left.

Will grumbled unsatisfactorily as he shifted closer to Ryo, glaring angrily at the overweight sleeping man to his left who continued to snore loudly.

"What's wrong?" Ryo whispered.

"This guy smells awful." Will muttered.

Ryo snickered quietly. "Maybe the flight attendant will give you something to spray him with."

Will was two years younger than Ryo, but very smart for his age, despite his innocence. He'd been having difficulties with friends at school, who Will had become tired with—that is, he couldn't stand their company. Will was, intellectually, superior than his peers, and hated the mundane discussions that were inevitable with them. The school advised against advancing him because of his age, and there weren't any other good schools nearby, so he had been happy for the opportunity to move.

Will hadn't known that Ryo was actually Miriam's son, but was ecstatic to learn that Ryo was technically his brother. Ryo knew that Will looked up to him, which made him a little nervous, especially since he didn't see himself worth looking up to—he was convinced that there were plenty of other people Will could idolize. He knew that Will was conscious of the age difference between him and Ryo, and Ryo did his best to show Will that it didn't matter, and that many of his friends back home were younger than him. While he was still a baby when Ryo's mother adopted him, she had been upfront with him in telling him so.

The only unpleasantness that arose from the decision to move back came when Will found out that Ryo's name wasn't Scott. Actually, Will hadn't seemed so much angry about it as he did hurt. But he got over it quickly, and told Ryo he'd do his best to try to call him "Ryo". Will seemed to resent being left in the dark about why Ryo had come to live with his mother in the first place, and Ryo promised himself to tell Will everything soon enough.

Will grimaced and cursed as the sleeping man leaned over onto him, causing Ryo to laugh a little harder.

"How much longer?" Will grumbled.

"Another hour." Ryo said after checking his watch."

Will shoved the man back into his own seat, which still managed not to disturb his sleep.

"Nervous?" Will asked unexpectedly.

It took Ryo by surprise. "What would I have to be nervous about?"

"I don't know." Will said innocently. "So, are you?"

Ryo smirked a little at Will's intuitiveness. "Yeah, I am." He had plenty to be nervous for. The way the e-mails from his friends made it sound three months ago, his friends weren't very happy. "What about you?"

"Yeah, me too." Will said quietly.

"And what would you have to be nervous about?" It was Ryo's turn to pry.

"Friends, school—everything, I guess."

Ryo flashed him his most comforting smile. "Try not to worry about it. You know I'll always look out for you."


"Wow, it's so—big." Will exclaimed, looking around.

It really was a large house. Ryo lugged his bags in, and dropped them to look around. The house had freshly painted walls, and the floors were hardwood and polished recently. They were in what Ryo assumed was the living room. There was a large bay window, and a fireplace.

"I'm glad you like it." Miriam said warmly.

"How can we afford this, again?" Ryo asked, admiring it.

"The restaurant was worth a lot." Miriam replied.

"You sure you're not peddling drugs?" Ryo teased. Miriam's reply to that was the tossing of a small duffel bag. Ryo caught it, still grinning.

"Can you put that in the bathroom?" Miriam asked.

"Sure." Ryo replied, and headed away, before stopping after a step. "Uh, where is that, exactly?"

Miriam stuck her tongue out at him. "Just go explore."

Ryo spent most of the day unpacking with Will. Miriam had gone to enroll Will and Ryo in school. She'd told him that she knew he was anxious to catch up with his friends, but to finish unpacking before he ran out.

"There, I think that's it." Will said, flattening out a box and tossing it onto the pile. "What do you want to do now?"

"I'm thinking I'm going to catch up with my friends." Ryo replied. "When I left, it was kind of in a hurry, so we didn't really get any goodbyes." He added guiltily.

"Oh, okay." Will responded awkwardly.

"Sorry." Ryo said sincerely.

"It's okay." Will said with a smile. "I'll just die of boredom in the giant, empty house. I'm totally gonna haunt you."

Ryo grinned back at him. "I'll show you around the city tomorrow, okay?"



Ryo could barely keep up with his thoughts as he walked down the street.

What am I going to say to her?

The streets had very little traffic on them. Ryo found it strange, considering that it was a Friday afternoon. It was 7:00 pm…late enough that everyone would be back from work, but early enough that nobody would be roaming the streets drunk.

How about, "Hi, Rika. Sorry about that whole little abandonment thing."

Ryo sighed as he tried to think of what to say to her.

I guess I'll know when I see her.

All too soon, he arrived at the Nonaka house, and approached the door. He stood there for a few minutes before he got the courage to force himself to knock on the door. Immediately, his instincts screamed at him to dive into a bush, but he held his ground, and awaited the reply. But there wasn't one. He knocked again, wincing as he did, but still, the outcome was the same.

She must be out.

Ryo cursed silently, as he'd finally gotten the courage to speak with her, and she wasn't to be found. He headed to the friend's home nearest to Rika's—Kazu.

He walked quickly, knowing that if he got there sooner, he wouldn't have enough time to lose his nerve. He knocked hard on the door, and Kazu opened it, and his mouth opened in shock.

"Hi." Ryo said.

"Ryo, what are you doing here?" Kazu asked.

"Not glad to see me?" Ryo asked with mock-seriousness.

"Well, not really." Kazu admitted. Ryo really hadn't expected it. Kazu had always admired Ryo—starved for his approval, even. Ryo realized that his leaving really did affect more than just him and Rika.

"You know, it's really selfish of you to think that now's the time to come back." Kazu was extremely offensive. "We needed you here months ago."


"I—I'm sorry." Ryo apologized before turning and heading away. He was a few steps down the driveway before Kazu spoke again.

"Nobody wanted you to leave." He said. "None of us. Not even Jeri. But I can't guarantee they'll all be happy to see you."

"Is everyone alright?" Ryo asked suddenly.

"Yeah, everyone's fine." He replied, putting Ryo at ease. "Everyone's at Alice's cottage. They'll be back on Monday."

"Oh." Ryo replied, realizing he wouldn't be able to catch up with his friends for another three days.

"Yeah." Kazu still seemed irritated with him.

"Kazu, I'm really sorry." Ryo forced himself to admit. "I really did want to come back, but I wasn't ready."

Kazu stared at him for a moment before he broke. "It's okay. It didn't help that we didn't know if you were even safe or not, or dead in some ditch. We just really could have used your help keeping everyone together around here."

"What do you mean?" Ryo asked.

"It's just—" Kazu began.

"Kazu! Finish your homework!" Ryo heard Kazu's mother yell.

Kazu sighed. "Look, call me tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay." Ryo said with a nod. "Thanks, Kazu."

"You're welcome." He said. "I'm glad you're okay."

With that, Kazu closed the door, and Ryo was left alone.


The next day, Ryo woke up with the sun shining on his face. He tossed the blanket aside, and looked at the clock he'd set on the floor the night before. It read that it was 10:00 am. He sat up, and stood from the mattress on the floor. He was looking forward to getting a new bed, even if the mattress his mother had had delivered was extremely comfortable.

He dug through some of his bags and found a green t-shirt, and a pair of dark blue jeans which he slipped on. He headed downstairs, too hungry to dig through the bags for socks.

He found Will and his mother in the kitchen, which had a new table set up in it. "Good morning." His mother greeted him.

"Morning Miriam." He replied. He still wasn't comfortable calling her 'mom', and he doubted that she was comfortable with him calling her that, either. "What's going on?"

"You're up early for a Saturday." Miriam said with a smirk.

"Trying something new." He sent back.

More like the sleep wasn't going well

He stretched, sitting down at the table, looking around for the bowls. It was Will who passed him one, while Miriam set down a box of some chocolate-y cereal.

"What are your plans for today?" his mother asked casually, busying herself with something on the opposite counter.

Ryo noticed Will look at him—testing him to see if he remembered—and he did. "I was gonna take Will around the city, show him around. Is that okay?"

"Of course!" Miriam replied, smiling. "I think that's a great idea. Oh, and the secretary at the school called—the people who deal with admissions are away until Sunday night, so they'll do the paperwork Monday, and you both will start school on Tuesday. Enjoy your long weekend."

Ryo had mixed feelings towards it—on one hand, long weekend. On the other, it might mean that he'd have to wait that much longer to see his friends. He could tell that Will felt the same way, for his own situation.


"Excuse me a sec." Ryo said, hurrying to the phone. He took the headset up to his room, dialing Kazu's number on the way.

It rang twice before some answered, Kazu's father answered. "Hello sir, may I speak with Kazu please?" Ryo asked politely.

"He's doing his homework." His father replied abruptly.

"Oh, okay, can you have him call me? It's Ryo, and my number's—" Ryo was cut short by the dial-tone.

His parents are really tightening the leash on him.

Ryo suddenly felt a new rush of appreciation for Miriam, as well as guilt for his leaving his father.

He pushed the thoughts aside, and wondered about how to get in touch with his friends.

Realizing that he didn't want Kazu any angrier at him, he decided not to go over there and risk Kazu getting in trouble with his parents. He'd wait until Monday for everyone to get back, and speak with Rika himself. His biggest concern was that he didn't want her finding out that he was back before he could tell her himself.

Ryo grabbed his jacket, and slipped it on. He headed downstairs.

"Are you good to go sometime soon?" Ryo asked Will.

"Yeah," Will said, standing up. "I'm just gonna go grab a sweater." He added as he ran upstairs.

"Thanks for taking him out." Miriam said to Ryo.

"It's no problem. He's a fun guy." Ryo admitted.

He saw his mother smile. "Oh, can you pick up a few groceries on your way back?" she asked hopefully.

"Sure thing." He flashed her a thumb-up. She gave him a short list and some money, and then he and Will were on their way.


"So, where do you want to go?" Ryo asked him as they walked down the streets.

"I'm not sure." Will said, looking around. "I really don't know what to be looking for."

Ryo looked around for something that he might find interesting. "Well, there's an arcade over there," Ryo said, pointing. "there's a mall a few blocks down that way, there's—"

"—What's that?" Will interrupted, indicating a large building in the distance.


"Big business thing." Ryo answered.

They walked down the street, Ryo indicating all of the places of interest. They eventually passed by the coffee shop Ryo used to work in. After a quick glance inside to see that nobody he knew was working, Ryo led the way inside.

They hadn't been sitting long before Ryo started to notice the stares of people who he knew recognized him as Ryo Akiyama, Legendary Tamer. He hoped that Will didn't notice, and he hurried his friend out, and they continued.

They talked of things as they walked, and Ryo really stopped paying attention to where they were going. Before he knew it, they were in a large grassy area, the terrain of which was uneven and obscure. It was the remains of the park.

"What's with this place?" Will asked, looking around at the disfigured land formation.

"It used to be a park, but there was an accident." Ryo replied quickly, turning to leave, hoping Will would follow.

No luck.

"What happened?" Will asked innocently.

"It was nothing." Ryo answered, trying to change the subject.

"Please?" Will pleaded.

"How many questions do you have?" Ryo asked with a reluctant smirk.

"At least twelve." Will said definitively.

"Well, you can ask three." Ryo taunted.

He saw Will think hard of which three to ask.

"How does everybody know you?" Will asked him.


"The people on the streets. They keep pointing at you, and whispering your name to their friends. How do they know you? Are you famous or something?"

Now or never…

Ryo decided that if there was any bit of a good time to tell Will everything, it was then.

"That's a big one. It counts for two." Ryo declared, letting himself off the hook."

"Well, a few years ago, there was this portal…" Ryo proceeded to tell him about his adventures in the digital world—where he met Takato, Henry, Rika, Jeri, Kazu, and Kenta. He told him of how the D-Reaper appeared in the real world, and how he came back, and met Alice, and told him of the fight against the D-Reaper, and how the only way to defeat it was to send the digital monsters back to their world.

He told Will of how months ago his friends were being hunted by a monster, and how Ryo was infected with something that would have changed him into one himself. He told him of his relationship with Rika, Takato's death, and how he left his home because of his guilt.

"So this place…" Will asked, looking around the park.

"He died here." Ryo finished for him.

"Oh." Will replied guiltily, avoiding eye contact.

When the two headed back to their home, they walked in silence. Ryo could tell that Will only believed him partly—most likely the stuff about Rika and Takato, as they're the least ridiculous of the tale.

It's not like you'd have believed something about monsters.

"Last question?" Ryo asked.

"I think I'll save it for later."


As they continued their tour of the city, Will didn't speak of the digital monsters or the events that Ryo had told him of. Ryo knew that he was still processing it all, trying to determine whether or not it was true. Ryo knew that it was something that would take a while, even if Will was very smart. As Ryo's thoughts strayed, they found their way to Rika, and Ryo once again thought of how much he missed her. Her lavender eyes, her red hair, her—

"Scott, look ou—" Will suddenly said, grabbing his arm and pulling him. It pulled him not only towards him, but out of his daydream. Will was too late in doing it though, and Ryo walked straight into a girl who had been walking towards them. She grunted as her head hit Ryo's shoulder, and she dropped her handbag.

"I'm sorry." Ryo said politely, picking up the girl's bag and handing it to her. She looked about a year or so younger than Ryo, probably sixteen. She had long, dark brown hair, and green eyes.

"Ryo." The girl suddenly said. Ryo just looked at her. "You're Ryo."

Ryo furrowed his brow, trying to place her. She looked familiar, but Ryo couldn't figure out from where or when. "Do I know you?"

"A little over a year ago," the girl said, "there was that thing—the D-Reaper?"

"…Yeah?" Ryo replied suspiciously, edging her to continue.

"The little ones…the agents. I got—I got pinned down by them, there were lots of them, and they surrounded me."

Ryo shuddered at the thought of the ordeal, remembering it all too clearly.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"They were going to kill me," she went on, ignoring him, but still looking at him square in the eyes. "But then you came in, and you beat them back. You saved me."

Ryo finally remembered the event—but he was Justimon when it happened, and he never mentioned his name.

"Thank you." She finished.

"It wasn't a big deal…" Ryo murmured.

"Yes, it was." The brown-haired girl said seriously. "You saved my life."

Ryo wasn't sure how to react. It really hadn't been out of his way. He'd saved lots of people in the fight against the D-Reaper—but none of them knew it was him, and they never thanked him for it. Ryo never really thought he'd made a difference to anyone.

"You're welcome." He said, forcing a smile out of the girl. "But how do you know my name?"

"You were Justimon, right? Some friends of yours told me about you. And I remembered your eyes." She said solemnly.

"Who are you?" Ryo repeated himself.

"My name's Mala." She said with a smile. With that, she continued past him, and down the street.

"Weird…" Ryo murmured as she left his sight.

"Scott—er, Ryo?" Will spoke up.


"I'm sorry I didn't totally believe you before." Will said apologetically. "I do now, though. I really do."

Ryo smiled at his friend. "Don't worry about it. I don't think I would have believed it if someone told me the same thing."

"And I still think you're worth looking up to." Will smiled back at him. "So, where's the nearest grocery store?"

"Right. Groceries." Ryo pondered for a second, before he recalled. "There should be a place on the next block."

Good thing he remembered.

They spoke more of Ryo's adventures as they walked towards the store, and when they neared, Will spoke up.

"Uh, as exciting as produce is, do you mind if I check out that store over there?" Will pointed, and indicated some cheesy flea-market store across the street. Ryo smiled inwardly at the boy's excitement for being in a new place.

"Sure, I'll just be in here."

"Cool, I'll try not to be long." With a smile and a wave, Will crossed the street and went inside, as Ryo did the same.


It took Ryo longer than he'd hoped to get everything on the list. He went to the checkout, and, fortunately, there was no line. There was a man at the cash, looking to be maybe in his 40's.

"Hi." He said warmly.

"Hey." Ryo replied, loading the groceries onto the counter.

"Do I know you?" he said suddenly.

Everyone's a fan.

"No, I don't think so." Ryo replied. "How much will this be?"

The man suddenly sighed, as he looked at Ryo. "Lousy punks." He muttered.

Ryo was confused, and stared indignantly at the shop's owner.

What he talking about

"Excuse m—" Ryo began to ask before he figured it out.

Ryo's mind clicked when he realized that the man wasn't staring at him, but out the window. Ryo brought his gaze to what the man was actually looking at, and saw five figures across the street—all teenagers—and one of them was being beaten. Two of the teenagers held the smaller one, while the other two took turns punching him in the stomach. Ryo felt his gut twist as he saw that it was Will who was being held.


He immediately dropped the bags of groceries he held, and ran out the door. Of course, it was then that traffic decided to pick up, and Ryo froze in confusion as he realized there were too many cars to cross the street.

"Will!" he screamed. The thugs who held Will turned and laughed at Ryo, and continued their assault. Will himself only lifted his head slightly, and the pain on his face was enough for Ryo to charge across the road, as a break in the traffic presented itself then.

"You get away from him!" Ryo snarled as he charged.

Over the honks of the cars he'd ran in front of, Ryo tackled the first thug to the ground. The thug hit the concrete with a heavy 'oof', but Ryo knew he still had three to go. He felt one of them pulling him up from the ground, and he instinctively swung an elbow backwards into the boy's gut, and then another to the side of his head. He saw then that the two that held Will had dropped him to the ground, and were coming at Ryo.

He raised his fists defensively, and swung a punch at the nearest thug, before Ryo was shoved hard in his chest, sending him reeling backwards into the wall.

Too many of 'em—

But Ryo couldn't give up—he'd promised Will he'd protect him. And that wasn't a promise he was willing to break. He wouldn't fail.

Not again.

There were three left, all of whom were either the same size as Ryo, or bigger. The one in the middle looked about the same age, had black hair, and bright green eyes. He grinned smugly at Ryo as he advanced; and Ryo guiltily found the bravado intimidating. It didn't matter, though. Ryo swung a kick into the grinning boy's side, and he stumbled back in a grunt. It was then that the boy on the left pulled out a chain and swung it at Ryo, who tried to duck, but wasn't quick enough.

It hit him hard on the side of the head, and Ryo only managed to get a shove in before he stumbled backwards. The first boy—the one he'd tackled—was now up again, and was heading towards Ryo as well, with the other three behind the one with the chain. He swung it fiercely at Ryo, who managed to duck and back up away from it, but it wasn't helping much—it was just getting him farther away from Will.

Ryo's body tensed up when he saw two of the boys pull knives. Only the black-haired, green-eyed teenager remained unarmed. They advanced towards Ryo, and Ryo continued to back up at the same pace. Ryo tried to look past them to see Will, but to no avail. He was certain that he was in big trouble—

—before one of the boys carrying a knife suddenly fell backwards, revealing a blonde-haired boy behind him, who'd pulled him to the ground.

Ryo saw the black-haired boy stare at Ryo, before he turned and ran away, in the other direction—

No, he wasn't staring at me

Ryo felt himself get shoved to the side as a brown-haired teenager ran from behind him, and shoved the thug who held the chain. The remaining boy with the knife charged at Ryo, and swung it, while the blonde and brown haired teenagers occupied the other two.

He ducked—the knife barely passing over his ear—and jumped backwards, trying to think of how to disarm his attacker. The next time the boy swung, though, Ryo wasn't able to get out of the way completely, and he felt it graze his left arm. It hurt, but wasn't incapacitating, and Ryo got his chance when the boy next swung it too widely, and Ryo brought up his leg and kicked the knife out of his hand. It went behind the boy, though, so Ryo had no chance of taking it himself.

The thug advanced, and angrily swung a fist into Ryo's cheek—Ryo grunted as he brought his knee into the boy's stomach, causing him to double over. Ryo took the opportunity to step back and kick the boy hard in the face. Ryo stumbled backwards, but managed to keep his footing, but lost hope when the boy too regained his footing, and charged at Ryo.

Oh fu—

The boy grabbed Ryo by the shoulders and tossed him aside—against the wall—before sprinting past him and continuing down the street. Ryo grunted and fell to one knee. He looked in the other direction—towards Will—and saw three figures standing, one of whom ran away.

Ryo's head was still spinning, when he felt a hand on his left shoulder. He instinctively grabbed the person's arm with his right hand, but released it immediately when he saw that it wasn't one of the attackers, but the blonde-haired boy who helped scare off the teenagers who attacked Will. Ryo couldn't tell exactly how tall he was, since the boy wasn't standing up straight—but Ryo could tell that he was short. He had light brown eyes, and his hair was longer than Ryo's, and grew in straight, partially covering his ears, and parts of it getting near his eyes.

"Sorry…" the stranger murmured, backing up a step, with his hands in the air, as if surrendering.

"Oh…um...sorry…" Ryo stammered, his head still loopy. "Thanks, I mean. For helping him—I mean, us."

"You're welcome." The blonde teenager said, staring at Ryo. Ryo shifted uncomfortably, seeing that the boy was trying to hide a smile.

Who the hell is this guy?

Ryo instinctively thought that the boy was up to something—that he was some sort of threat; and Ryo's old survival instincts from back in the digital world kicked in, and he prepared to defend himself if the boy moved in any threatening way. Ryo didn't break eye contact from the boy, still uncomfortable with the way the boy was looking at him—the boy was looking at Ryo with familiarity, as if he knew him.

Ryo felt guilty for preparing himself for the worst, especially after this boy and his friend had risked their own safety to protect Will.


Ryo instantly shot his gaze to his right, where Will was still on the ground, a little down the street. The brown-haired boy was leaning over him, his back to Ryo.

Ryo stood up and stumbled a little, and hurried towards Will. The blonde-haired boy kept up with Ryo, and Ryo could tell that he was trying to make sure Ryo wouldn't fall.

Gotta get to him—

It had been a very unexpected event, the attack. Even more unexpected were the two teenagers who had rushed in to help Will; who had gotten into a fight against bigger people, who were armed, and had come out the winners. But that was nothing to the surprise that came next.

"Cronus!" an impossibly familiar voice called, its owner's back still to Ryo. "This boy's bleeding, we need to get him to a hosp—" it was then that the brown-haired boy turned around, and when Ryo finally got a look at his face.

—and Ryo stopped in his tracks as he stared face-to-face with a very real—and very alive Takato Matsuda.


More Author Stuff:

Woohoo for Chapter 1's! I hope you enjoyed it—I had initially had the content split into two chapters, but thought it worked better this way if I mixed the fight scene in.

Oh, and if you're wondering who Mala and Cronus are, they're people Takato met in "Flux", which might be worth getting a summary on, which I can totally send you if you drop me a message.

Review if you liked it at all!