A Promise Kept
A/N:I've had this little idea in my head for a while! An angsty Izumi-Ichijouji friendship fic! It begins before Sam died.
Disclaimer:If I owned Digimon…I'd probably still be writing fanfics for it. I'm that pathetic. -.-;;; Anyway, I don't own the show. Phooey.
Osamu "Sam" Ichijouji watched as his little brother walked into the room. Deep blue – almost indigo hair – cropped closely to the younger boy's head almost matched his own wild and spiky indigo hair. Ocean blue eyes – almost identical to his own – gazed up at him.
The other person in the room turned his head from the math book he was studying to the younger boy.
Little Ken Ichijouji instantaneously noticed what the pair in the room had been doing before he'd walked in. He blushed red in embarrassment and bowed. "I'm sorry. I thought you two were done."
Sam smiled at his little brother. The kind little boy before him didn't look up at him. He frowned, realizing that his brother thought he would be scolded.
The only redhead in the room stated, "It's okay, Ken. No harm done. We were just finishing up."
Blue eyes flicked to the older Ichijouji and were met with a smile. His older brother nodded in agreement to his friend's statement. A smile returned to that innocent face. "That's good! Do you want something to drink?"
Sam smiled as he answered, "See if you can convince Mama to let us have some soda. Get some for yourself, too."
The little boy smiled brightly. With a small shout of "Okay!", the younger Ichijouji left the room.
Sam turned to his friend Koushiro "Izzy" Izumi. The redhead was smiling and shaking his head. "May I steal your little brother? I wanna keep him."
"Ha! In your dreams!"
The two friends merely grinned at one another before turning to their homework once more. Occasional chuckles would break the companionable silence as the voice of Mrs. Ichijouji was heard trying to resist the charms of her nine year-old son. (Rather unsuccessfully.)
As the pair finished and continued to wait for Ken to return, Sam's gaze turned serious. He pulled out one of his desk drawers and reached inside. The redhead seated on the floor in front of him regarded him with a curious look as he pulled out something in his fist. "Hey, Izzy, have you ever seen something like this?"
Obsidian eyes widened at the object in his hand. The object itself wasn't anything special as far as he could tell. It appeared to be a simple digital apparatus colored a light blue. A screen mostly dominated the face of the device and a belt clip stuck to the back.
Izzy answered slowly, carefully, "I'm not sure. It looks familiar, but I can't place where I've seen it before." He turned his gaze to the older Ichijouji boy's face. "Where did you get it?"
Sam paused, processing the information Izzy had given him. It was obvious that Izzy wasn't telling the whole truth, but he'd let that slide…for now. "Most people would think I'm crazy if I told them this, but I'm sure you won't. After all, you're the one who believes in all that other worlds stuff." He paused, and the redhead motioned for him to continue. "It came out of my computer. There was all this light and then this…thing…appeared on the floor between Ken and I."
His friend paused before asking, "Did it do anything?"
The indigo-haired boy shook his head. "No. I picked it up and looked at it, but it didn't do anything and didn't sound like it had anything inside of it when I shook it." He looked at his friend in the eye. "But, Izzy, it did do something two days ago."
The redhead was patient, as if expecting something but trying not to show it. He didn't say a word as the other gathered his thoughts.
"Ken came into our room, and I'm sure he took this little thing out of my drawer. I had to go to swim practice so I didn't see anything. But when I came home a few hours later, I opened the door to our room and the computer screen was glowing just like it did the night this thing came out of my computer." Sam swallowed. Hard. "The next thing I knew, I saw Ken tumble out of the computer. He was smiling and looking at the device like it was a new toy or something. I didn't really notice the smile at the time, and I was scared. I slapped the device out of his hand and put it back into the drawer again. Then, he told me yesterday about the world he saw that was full of monsters. He said he saw it while in the computer!"
The redhead was a statue of disbelief and astonishment. Unknown to Sam, his other friends and he had not talked recently about their adventures in that very same world. "Did Ken meet any of these monsters?"
Sam nodded, raising an eyebrow. "He met a few, but the one he keeps talking about was what he calls a 'Wormmon'. He said it's a large green caterpillar with big blue eyes. Supposedly, Wormmon told him that he'd protect him."
The Izumi boy opened his mouth, shut it, opened it, and shut it again. Words failed him.
Before either he or his indigo-haired friend could ask the other a question, Ken walked back into the room, awkwardly – yet triumphantly – carrying three small bottles of soda. "I did it, Sam!"
Instantly forgetting the conversation they'd been having, Ken's older brother smiled. "I knew you could do it, Kenny boy!"
"Nice work!" Izzy added, smiling. However, his eyes now seemed slightly distant, like he was concentrating on something.
Young Ken Ichijouji reveled in the praise of his brother and his brother's friend. He had no idea how he suddenly became more important in the redhead's view.
A week later found Ken in tears. His brother – his wonderful older brother – was dead. Hit by a car right before his very eyes. He held the picture of his brother in his small hands.
'I wished he would disappear…and he did…'the little boy thought, tears falling from his eyes.
People walked up to his family one at a time, offering condolences. One face stuck out from the crowd.
"Ken?" Izzy asked, leaning over slightly to be eye level with him.
The younger boy sniffed and looked at the redhead through tearful eyes. "It's my fault…"
Normally unreadable obsidian black eyes softened. "Don't think like that. It wasn't your fault." He put a hand on the blue-haired child's shoulder.
Little Ken's eyes filled with tears once again. He gently set the picture of his brother down and then wrapped his little arms around his brother's friend's neck.
The redhead froze momentarily, then wrapped his own arms around the slightly smaller boy. He whispered in Ken's ear, "I'll come over tomorrow and talk with you. I'm not gonna leave you alone."
"Promise?" the younger boy asked, hiccuping slightly.
Izzy walked up to the Ichijouji's apartment door and knocked politely the next day. He would keep his promise. He wouldn't leave Sam's little brother to face the world alone.
"Hello," Mrs. Ichijouji greeted sadly, tears sliding down her cheeks.
"Hi. I came to see Ken," the Izumi child told her, his voice soft.
"I don't think that would be a good idea."
"Huh? Why not?"
"I don't think him seeing one of Sam's friends would be a good idea right now."
Black eyes widened. "You can't do that! Listen, I don't want to hurt him, I want to help him! Just give me a chance!"
"I'm really sorry, Izzy. I appreciate that you want to help, but I don't think that would be a good idea. Goodbye." Mrs. Ichijouji shut the apartment's front door.
The distraught mother never told her younger son about the visit, thinking that she was doing the right thing.
Ken forgot about his former friendship with the redhead. At first, he waited for a full week, hoping that Izzy would keep his promise and come see him. When the older boy didn't show, he felt abandoned. He'd driven his brother away and one of his only friends.
After that, he became more and more involved in his studies and soccer. He became as famous as his brother if not more so. Girls squealed his name wherever he went.
One thing that surprised him was that at home games or games in Odaiba, a redheaded boy with black eyes would always attend. Sometimes he'd spot that older boy in the bleachers and other times around the field somewhere.
He saw the redhead again in the Digital World the day after Veemon Armor digivolved for the first time into Flamedramon.
"What…?" the Digimon Emperor – none other than Ken Ichijouji – murmured quietly to himself.
The mysterious redhead had kneeled down and was gripping the arms/talons of Tentomon, one of the Digidestined's Digimon. Obviously, the redhead was one of the Digidestined.
"Does he know?" the young tyrant wondered, his voice low.
"Master?" a timid voice asked.
The emperor turned to the small Digimon crawling up to him. It was his own Digimon partner Wormmon. The emperor growled, "What do you want?"
"What did you mean by 'does he know'?" Wormmon asked, cringing.
"Never mind that. Get back to work!"
Several days later, Ken showed up to a soccer match against the Odaiba team at halftime. He strolled down the stairs to the field and to his coach. Within moments, he was part of the game.
It almost wasn't fair the way he ran circles around even Odaiba's best player Davis Motomiya. He smiled to himself. Not only did he get to show Motomiya up in the Digiworld, but in the real world as well.
He never saw the other boy run up to slide tackle him to the ground. He simply heard the other's shout of "no" in response to the cheers of "Go, Rocket, go!", turned to look, trip, and gain a mouthful of grass. Then, the buzzer sounded. Ken could almost hear his teammates' taunts in his ears.
As he rose to his feet and began to walk to the bench to retrieve his things, a sudden movement caught his eye. He froze in mid-stride, watching.
A figure that was either his height or a bit shorter slipped quietly around the bleachers, leaving the field. Sunlight glinted off of fiery crimson hair. Ken didn't need to look to see the black eyes.
"Who…?" the Ichijouji boy asked himself, his normally calm exterior showing extreme puzzlement.
"C'mon, Rocket!" a teammate called.
Jerked out of his thoughts, the star soccer player continued walking towards the bench.
"We'd like you to meet someone, Ken," TK told the blue-haired boy two months later. "He's another one of the older Digidestined."
Ken held Minomon in his arms and nodded. He'd felt nervous around Tai and Matt, but the two teenagers had seemed okay with him. Whoever this new person was might not be as forgiving as the two Digidestined of Courage and Friendship had been.
The group of younger Digidestined walked into the school's computer lab. Someone sat at one of the computers, typing away.
The person in front of him was the same redheaded, black-eyed boy that had kept popping up practically everywhere for years!
Part of Ken wanted to march up to him, grab him by the collar, and demand an explanation. Another part of him wanted to do something similar, only not grab the redhead by the collar and just ask what was going on. Since he wasn't sure what he should do, he simply stood there.
Black eyes focused on him. "Hello, Ken. It's nice to see you again."
Kari asked, stunned, "You…know him?"
"Uh huh," the redhead stated, smiling slightly. He directed his next statement at Ken. "It's been a while since I last saw you face to face."
A ghost of a memory came to Ken. He was a little boy again, carrying three small soda bottles awkwardly in his arms to Sam and a redhead who was one of Sam's friends. A name came from a deep part of his memory.
"Izzy…?" the Digidestined of Kindness asked, incredulous. His expression showed pure astonishment and confusion. "Is that really you?"
Izzy smiled and nodded, standing to greet his friend from two years ago properly. "Yup, it's really me."
The redhead walked forward and stood in front of him. He opened his mouth to say something, shut it, and frowned. He tilted his head slightly upward to meet the blue-haired boy's gaze as Ken tilted his head slightly downward.
The younger genius' mouth quirked into a small smile and raised an eyebrow. "This is a switch from last time."
"I remember you being shorter than I was," Izzy grumbled. "It figures you'd hit your growth spurt and become taller than me."
The Digidestined of Kindness shifted Minomon into the crook of one arm and covered his mouth with his free hand, trying desperately to hide a smile. Then, he grew serious. He turned to the other Digidestined. "Could I talk to Izzy alone for a few minutes?"
Davis blinked, then nodded. He motioned for the others to follow him out the door. Kari lingered for a moment, but the Digidestined of Courage and Friendship grabbed her wrist and pulled her out of the computer lab, giving the two geniuses their privacy.
The two simply looked over each other, amazed at the changes that had taken place in two brief years. Ken was no longer the short, slightly chubby child he'd once been. He was now a tall, lean youth. Izzy had changed from being slightly taller than Ken with wild red hair to being shorter than the other with his red hair tamed by scissors but the hair still seemed to want to rebel.
After a few moments of silence Ken stated quietly, setting Minomon down next to a computer, "You never came back."
"I tried. I came the day after the funeral, just like I said I would, but your mom wouldn't let me see you. She thought that seeing me would upset you further."
Silence reigned for a full two minutes.
"I kept seeing you over the past two years. It was weird. You kept popping up everywhere."
"I promised that I wouldn't leave you alone. I could never get close enough to talk to you, but I kept tabs on you. I figured that if I couldn't talk to you in order to keep my promise, I'd do it another way." Izzy swallowed, raw emotion welling up in his soul. "For a while, I thought you becoming the Emperor was partially my fault since I let you down. I want to apologize for letting you down two years ago."
The younger genius didn't say anything at first. A few minutes later, he said, "It's okay. I forgive you, but do you forgive me?"
Ken swallowed, fighting back tears. "For screwing up. For being a fool about the Digital World. For wishing my brother would disappear."
The redhead smiled sadly. "Sam's death wasn't your fault, Ken. Hopefully, you'll learn that. Sam wouldn't want you blaming yourself forever." He paused as Ken nodded. "And I forgive you."
Silence reigned once more. Only this time, the silence was companionable, comfortable. Neither had to say a word.
"If you'd like to talk sometime about all this," Izzy offered, "I'd be glad to talk to you."
The soccer star smiled, nodding. "I'd like that."
Another brief second of silence passed.
The redhead smiled at a fond memory of Sam about Ken. "Hey, Ken?"
"I asked Sam once if I could steal you since I wanted to keep you. He turned me down flat. He wanted to keep you for himself." The Digidestined of Knowledge smiled. "I just thought you'd like to know."
The other Digidestined smiled sadly. That single sentence expressed the love between Sam and Ken that had always been felt, but never had been said aloud. "Thanks."