Version 2.0 (Feb 5, 2007): Well, this was my first story here on and I'm actually rather attached to the storyline, but my writing skills from when I first wrote this…not so good. And I noticed several accuracy errors (ie in Frontier it was "The Village of Beginnings" not "Primary Village") so I'll be fixing those, too. I do have ATTWT going on, so don't expect updates to be all that frequent. Any chapter that has been redone will have a normal title in the drop-down list; the rest will have 1.(chapter number). So chapter two (until I revise it) will be 1.2. Enjoy!
Setting: One year after the defeat of Lucemon. JP is in 8th grade; Takuya, Zoe, and the twins are in 7th; and Tommy is in 4th. For the purposes of this fic, Frontier took place in early April…We'll say April 4th. I'm not sure what schools they all go to, so I say they all go to the same middle school/junior high (except Tommy, who would be in elementary school). Hey, I may not own Digimon, but this will make this fic a whole lot clearer for everyone.
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon! I don't own this computer! Gosh, I'm poor!
Chapter 1: Can't Change the Past
Without freedom from the past, there is no freedom at all, because the mind is never new, fresh, innocent.
Darkness. Suffocating, absolute darkness. The kind that swirls around your feet and seeps through your clothes to chill your skin and raise goose bumps. It rose around him like roiling black clouds, melding seamlessly with the ink-black sky above. Just tangible enough to maintain its shape, the darkness tempted him to reach out and grab it or dispel it with a broad sweep of his arms, but it parted around his skin, resulting in nothing more than a twister in the cloud for all his efforts.
He knew this place. Sometimes at night, in his dreams, he would find himself here, wandering alone, searching for something. Sometimes he was running, choking on his own ragged breaths that masked sounds of pursuit. But every time he found himself here, he was filled with a sense of dread. Every time, sooner or later, his unease would settle and he would huddle in the darkness, yearning for the comfort and peace it offered. It consumed his flustered senses, lulling him into a deeper sleep for the remaining hours of the night. When he woke, all that would remain would be a dull sorrow in his heart.
Now he was standing, though he couldn't feel anything solid beneath him feet. Turning a slow circle, he searched for anything real in this unearthly place. Every other time, he would be moving from the moment he became aware of the darkness, but this time he stood, rooted to the spot.
It wasn't really that he expected someone was coming; someone was already here. The only other presence he had ever sensed before was the malignant, hateful being that sometimes chased him. But that wasn't the presence that was here now. This was something more familiar. Or rather, it was familiar to his waking self. But here, in the darkness of his dreams, it was foreign – an intruder.
Suddenly, his grandmother was in front of him. For a moment he merely stared at her, absorbing the pale, wrinkled features that he hadn't seen in over a year. She had been the one to set things in motion, both the good and the bad, but she never got the chance to see what had come of it. Trembling, he reached out to her, longing to be a child again, seeking comfort from her frail but protective embrace. She frowned at his outstretched arms, shaking her head slowly. As he watched helplessly, she faded, becoming like the darkness around them as a gentle wind dispelled her figure.
He turned, following the black wisp of cloud that was once his grandmother, and his eyes fixed themselves on his father. An awkwardness reverberated in their blank stares, echoing every other time they were together. A year was too short a time for them to truly become a family again, and for him every day was a battle to keep working towards a relationship rather than running away from the father he never knew. It was almost too much to handle. There were times when he felt like he was the only one who cared about being a family.
Times like now.
Tendrils of darkness latched onto his father's neck, arms, and chest, obscuring the man. He never struggled. Both the boy and his father stood still, watching the darkness inch up the man's body. Just before he was lost to the darkness, he looked up, meeting his son's eyes with an empty expression.
The boy barely reacted, letting a small corner of his mind register the relief as the tension between father and son faded, before he quickly corralled the unwarranted coldness towards his father.
Light. A warm, faint light shone to his left, the first thing that was blatantly out of place here. Though he welcomed the change, he wasn't entirely sure he wanted it to stay. Already he could see it driving back the darkness – only by a few inches, but he felt a certain attachment to the darkness, having become accustomed to its solace.
Turning towards the source, he saw his mother and faltered. She, too, represented solace to him, but she seemed somehow inferior to the darkness, as if he knew there was a limit to what she could soothe. The darkness was absolute; it could soothe anything.
She was healthier than he had seen her in a long time, and glowed softly, flickering every few seconds. His indignation faltered, enough for a small smile to soften his face. She was his mother, after all. As he started forward, a coughing fit shook her body, and she fell to her knees, sending up a veil of darkness.
Urgency spurred him on into a run; he had to help her. But she drifted away as he approached, phasing through the darkness around her instead of disturbing it like the boy. As he ran, he kicked up wave after wave of darkness that settled between him and his mother, obscuring his view of her. Still he ran, sprinting as fast as he could and trying to ignore the undeniable futility of his chase. Finally he could run no more and collapsed. He could sense the disturbed darkness settling and looked up to find that his mother had become nothing more than a dim light in the distance. The only star in this forsaken place.
He felt light, brighter this time, on his back and turned, half kneeling. The face he saw this time was the last he expected to see in a place like this, and yet he knew there could only be one reason he was here. Once more, the other boy had come for him. To save him.
His brother smiled down at him, his naturally scowling mouth constricting the expression to a small smirk, but the sincerity was unmistakable. His midnight blue eyes glimmered in wry amusement as he reached out a hand that seemed to glow from within. The kneeling boy reached up to accept it, and saw his own hand wrapped in darkness.
Grunting, his brother lurched forward. For a second, their eyes locked, and he saw a flash of pain, of betrayal. Then his brother straightened, and his face became an emotionless mask. The customary scowl returned, and the amusement was gone from his eyes. The light turned cold, defensive, and his brother backed away. The darkness pierced the aura of light that surrounded the other boy, making him stumble again.
'Wait!' he called, speaking for the first time in this place, but his brother continued moving away. 'Don't go!' His brother turned and fled. The boy dropped his hand, still too tired and confused to stand. He continued in a whimper: 'Not you too.'
Eyes burning with tears, he looked around, waiting for another figure to appear. Who else could possibly enter his dreams? His friends, perhaps? Would he see them next, jeering at the lonely, pathetic tagalong he had become?
'Forget about them.'
He jumped, hugging himself as a chill raced down his spine. Had the speaker read his mind? Or did the words refer to the phantoms he had seen? The voice continued, but he couldn't see any figure to go with it.
'It's for the best, anyway.'
He experienced a moment of déjà vu and paused, trying to place the voice.
'You don't need them. They don't even want you!'
The voice was coming from everywhere. It came from the darkness around him; it vibrated up his legs from the nonexistent ground he was kneeling on. It even seemed to come from within him.
And it was familiar… so familiar.
'You'll just end up hurting them.'
Kouichi jerked awake, heel thudding painfully against the wall by his bed. He opened his eyes to the glaring darkness of his room and shivered involuntarily. His thick black hair felt heavy and damp on his forehead. Under his blankets, his tee-shirt and pants clung to his sweaty skin. Once his eyes had adjusted to the darkness, he could make out his desk, which sat next to his bed, and the haphazard pile of novels and homework on top of it. In the pre-dawn half-light, everything in the room seemed to have lost its color, giving the impression of an old black-and-white movie.
Letting the blankets slide away, Kouichi sat up. The cold night air met his skin, which was still wet with sweat, and he shivered again. He quickly pulled the blanket back up.
The harsh blaring of his alarm clock startled him, and in his shaken state he jumped, gripping the sides of his mattress to keep from falling off the bed. When he had regained his balance, he irritably shut off his alarm.
His mother's muffled voice from the other side of his door startled him again, and this time he ended up on the floor.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Mama," Kouichi called, rubbing his head and untangling the sheets from around his legs.
"I thought I heard something a minute ago."
"I must have kicked the wall in my sleep," he said, trying to sound normal.
She paused. "Alright. Hurry up and get ready. I'll give you a ride to school." Her footsteps faded down the hallway.
Kouichi took a quick cold shower, hoping to shock his mind awake and get his thoughts off his dream. Instead, the coldness only reminded him of the feel of darkness in his dream and the cold hatred Cherubimon had fueled to turn him against Kouji. The guilt and regret washed over him again, as fresh as the day Kouji had purified him, and, not for the first time, the last thing he wanted to do was face the day as a "normal" kid. He was anything but normal. Don't think about it, he told himself. It's not like I can change the past.
"That's over," he muttered. "Duskmon's gone; I'm different now. Maybe I'm not entirely normal…I should just forget about it. Focus on something else." Why won't my past leave me alone?
Well, hoped you liked the first chapter. I'm sure you have some idea about whose voice he heard. Now you just have to wait and see if you're right. My whole rambling discussion of grades and schools and such will come into play in the next chapter, which will take place during school (a Friday if you're wondering). Things will really get interesting in chapter three or four. Mwahahaha!
Review if you want.
-Child of Healing
Word count: 1666 (Shorter than I prefer, but still. It's a lot better than the 700 I had in the first version! And besides, this is really more of a prologue than an actual chapter, anyway.)