A/N: There are several Sokeru fics in the entire Digimon section, and most of them have one basic plot: Sora and/or TK break/s up with his/her/their current significant other/s, then run into each other and fall in love. I've got my own ideas for this pairing, but it's going to be more realistic and it's going to be longer than one chapter.

Let's assume the characters were certain ages during Seasons 1 and 2. According to this list, which I spent far too much time on:

END OF SEASON 1: Tai, Sora, and Matt were 11; Mimi and Izzy were 10; Joe was 12; T.K. and Kari were 8.

END OF SEASON 2 (3 ½ yrs. later): Tai, Sora, and Matt were 14 ½; Mimi and Izzy were 13 ½; Joe was 15 ½; T.K. and Kari were 11 ½; Davis and Ken were 11; Yolei was 12; Cody was 9.

TIME OF THIS STORY (4 ½ yrs. after Season 2): Tai, Sora, and Matt are 19; Mimi and Izzy are 18; Joe is 20; T.K. and Kari are 16; Davis and Ken are 15 ½; Yolei is 16 ½; Cody is 13 ½.

Phew!

I'm ready if you guys are. Please review and let me know how I'm doing; criticism is welcomed, flames are pointless. Woo!

-Sacred Dust

Ω-

Only Hope

Ω

CHAPTER ONE: Memories

Ω

Perhaps it was only T.K.'s imagination, but there was something about warm, bright summer days like this one that seemed to bring out the best in everybody.

His mother's writing looked better; her aspirations of becoming a famous author had not yet come to fruition, but she wasn't giving up just yet. Davis Motomiya's was easier to put up with, although his bomber jacket looked silly in the heat. Even the bookish Ken Ichijouji seemed livelier; T.K. had hung out with him just last week.

This was another of those great summer days—maybe the best, for two reasons. First, it was his very last day of tenth grade; second, it was the night of a surprise party to welcome his best friends back from college. Tai Kamiya, Sora Takenouchi, Izzy Izumi, Matt Ishida, and Joe Kido were all coming home on the same train by seven o'clock that evening, oblivious to the celebration that had been in the works for a month. In fact, Mimi Tachikawa was coming all the way from America just to be part of it.

For the first time in at least a few years, they would all be together again—at least for one night. Back in the Digital World, the eight of them had been like siblings, a united and happy team that had plenty of disagreements, but always came out okay. But with their departure from that world and the end of their childhood, they had gradually drifted apart. T.K. hadn't seen most of the older kids since they went away to college. Even his big brother Matt seemed distant. That was one of the things he disliked most about growing up. It changed things, separated people who had once been inseparable—even the children once known as the "Digi-destined."

As for school, T.K. found that he didn't mind it nearly as much when there was no work left to do. All of his final exams had been studiously completed (more or less) in the last few days, lifting a heavy burden from his shoulders. Now there were only about fifteen minutes left in his last class before summer vacation.

It felt more like fifteen hours.

"This summer is gonna be awesome, T.M." said Davis Motomiya, the aforementioned bomber jacket-wearing spaz.

Well, he was sometimes, T.K. thought wryly. A nice guy and all, but he couldn't sit still for ten seconds. Plus he was crushing on Kari Kamiya yet again (it seemed to be an on-and-off thing for him). The only reason the two boys ever became friends was because of what they had gone through together in the Digital World, but that was enough.

"I think I'll swim in the pool every day and see if I can turn my hair green," Davis mused. "What about you?"

"Well, as thrilling as that sounds, Davis, I think I'll play basketball with some guys from the team. If we practice enough, we could get a killer head start on the other teams next season." T.K. watched with mild interest as Davis twirled a pen skillfully between his fingers.

"Aw, that sounds just like you," Davis scoffed. His goggles reflected the fluorescent lights.

"What does?"

"I dunno, it's…I've never seen you just go wild. We've got the best summer of our lives ahead of us and you're still—"

"The best summer of our lives? How do you know that?" T.K. raised an eyebrow.

Davis shrugged. "I just know this stuff."

"Attention, students," said their strict, bespectacled physics teacher. "Before you go and prepare for your futures by doing absolutely nothing for three months, I have one more assignment for you: the class evaluations. Be honest and concise; do NOT put your names on them. After you have completed them, you may go."

The class shared a collective groan.

"I hate those things," Davis leaned back in his desk chair. "So basketball is the only thing you're going to do with your summer, T.P.?"

"It's T.K.," said T.K., although Davis never got it right. "And I haven't thought of what else I want to do. I'll be at Kari's tonight for the party, I guess."

"Well, duh. So will I. And that's just it! You know how long it's been since we've seen all those guys? This summer is gonna be special, just wait and see. So do something for me, would you?"

"No, I'm not hooking you up with Kari." T.K. said, finally showing a trace of irritation.

"What…? Uh…not that!" Davis snapped. He looked flustered, for some reason. "I mean, promise me you'll do something different. Something unpredictable. Surprise us for once."

"Fine," said T.K., only half paying attention as the class evaluation slips were passed out. He went through his as quickly as possible. Davis, he noticed, was scribbling silly answers to all the questions on the paper. That was just like him; impulsive, goofy, carefree. Everything T.K. wasn't.

Okay, T.K. thought. So maybe I'm not the most spontaneous guy in the world. But I'm not used to just going out and doing stuff. I like to see what's coming. We all had to be that way, to make it in the Digital World.

But it hadn't started then. All the experiences that truly made him who he was went as far back as he could remember—even further than the little boy dressed in green, shouting the name of that Digimon he nearly lost forever.

T.K. walked absent-mindedly through the halls, reminiscing on his very first adventures in the Digiworld. The last day of school was over and the other kids exulted around him, dropping their notebooks and papers on the hall floors (a real pain in the butt for the janitors) and rushing out into the welcoming sunlight.

But he couldn't help it. Eight years later the memories lingered, refusing to fade completely. T.K. had been the youngest of the first Digi-destined. He was the baby, the one struggling to keep up, the last one to find out when something important happened. It was frustrating sometimes, but looking back, he wouldn't have changed a thing.

Ω

"T.K. Call me T.K.! And I'm not as small as I look." The little boy said, minutes after arriving in a strange new world the likes (and inhabitants) of which he had only imagined in dreams.

Ω

"…All this techno-talk is making my head spinny." The boy declared as he watched Izzy make large pictures appear on the wall of a cave with his computer. It looked like something important, but he couldn't understand what it all meant.

Ω

"Computer geeks can never just do something, T.K.," said his big brother Matt. "That would be too easy. They have to spend all day telling you how they'll do it."

- Ω

- "Sora?" The boy asked as he rode on the foot of a giant bird, flying high over the deadest, grayest land he had ever seen.

"…What?" the girl with the helmet asked. She was a few years older, but didn't feel like it right now. Her mind was somewhere else, but he was too young to notice that.

"We'll be able to find Matt and the others, right?" T.K. said. The boy needed all the encouragement he could get. He and his friends were facing their greatest challenge so far. If they were going to save a world plundered by the Dark Masters (hence the starved appearance of the landscape), they would have to face this evil together—and that meant reuniting the team, as Tai had ordered. They had split up after a bunch of arguments. T.K. couldn't remember half of them, but they must have been bad. He hadn't seen Matt, Joe or Mimi for days.

Strangely, the girl with the helmet was silent. Normally she would have jumped at the chance to comfort him, to give him hope. She held onto Birdramon's other foot, her dark red eyes dull and spiritless.

"…Well, Sora?" he asked, confused. Patamon waited for her answer, too, sitting quietly on his shoulder.

She turned to gaze upon the barren world below, but still couldn't look at him. "The only thing I can say, T.K., is…"

Her voice caught. He was suddenly worried. "…Sora, are you all right? You're not crying, are you?"

"Just…something in my eye. Don't worry; we'll find them, T.K." She turned to him and smiled reassuringly, or tried to.

The boy smiled back.

Ω

"Hey, T.K." she said, falling into step beside him.

He nodded. "I know…I heard you."

"…What do you mean? I only said your name once." she said. Her bright blue helmet gleamed in the sun. "…T.K.?"

He blinked at her. "Wha—oh!"

Of course, it wasn't Sora at all.

He blushed slightly. "Sorry about that, Kari."

She couldn't resist a laugh. Kari Kamiya had known him since childhood, had fought beside him and been one of his best friends since either one could remember. She was used to him. "Just got a lot on your mind, huh?"

"I guess," he admitted. "You know, old memories and stuff."

She nodded. The sunlight gleamed off her short brown hair. "I know! We're going to see everybody at the party tonight, and it's been so long…I can hardly get to sleep, I've been thinking about the old days so much. How was last hour?"

"Stimulating," he rolled his eyes, and they both laughed. "Davis made me promise to do something 'different' this summer."

"Like what? Convincing me to go out with him?"

"Nah, he left it to my imagination." T.K. removed his white fisherman's hat momentarily to brush a few blonde strands out of his bright blue eyes. He'd needed a haircut for a while now. A few more weeks and he would look like his older brother—and that reminded him of how much he wanted to see Matt. He hadn't gotten any emails from him in quite a while, but the guy was probably just busy with his coursework. At least, he hoped that was the reason.

"Hmmm," Kari looked up at the beautiful blue sky, strolling gracefully beside him as they left the school grounds. "What do you think you'll do, then?"

"How would I know? He said it had to be unpredictable." T.K. teased her, knowing he wouldn't do anything of the kind.

It was hard to stop thinking like a Digi-destined. He was constantly preoccupied with the future, always looking ahead and planning everything, rarely stopping to appreciate what was in front of him.

He sighed and replaced his hat. Maybe the brain underneath had a point. He was in the tenth grade now—no, he'd just finished it. These were supposed to be the best years of his life, and they were bound to run out eventually. Was he going to spend them all just like this?

"Earth to T.K. Come in." Kari said, jolting him out of his thoughts once more.

"Sorry," He stopped, rubbing his forehead. That was getting annoying.

"Got a headache? Davis can be a bit much sometimes." Kari smiled.

"No…I just wish I could get this stuff out of my head, that's all."

Her brown eyes were sympathetic. "Which one is it this time? Devimon? Piedmon?"

"Nah, none of the bad guys."

"Who?"

(Strangely, the girl with the helmet was silent.)

He paused. "…Heck, I don't know. It's not important."

"All right, if you say so. But you looked pretty deep for a second there."

"You know me. I'm always deep. Deeper than the Dark Ocean." He grinned, but secretly realized how much of an exaggeration that was.

"Hey! No joking about the Dark Ocean." She punched him gently in the arm.

"When are you going to get over that?"

"I'm not sure. But when I do, you'll be the first to know. Deal?"

"Deal."

As they walked to the bus stop together, speaking as naturally as they always did, he wondered why he hadn't told her the truth. If anyone could understand him, she could. There was no good reason to keep it secret.

And yet, that last memory…why couldn't he get it out of his head?

"So let me guess; you're going home to get ready for the party?"

"You've got it," she winked. "Want to come with me?"

"Lead the way," he agreed. "Has it really been three years?"

She nodded, her steps light and carefree beside him. Not surprisingly, she was in a great mood. "I've missed Tai like you wouldn't believe. Even though he called me all the time? Isn't he a great brother?"

"Yeah…yeah, he is," T.K. nodded. In fact, he remembered a time when he had looked up to Tai Kamiya more than his own brother. Tai was so much more fun back then; Matt was quiet, serious, overprotective. Throughout all their trials in the Digiworld, they had rarely connected as brothers.

Come to think of it, if anyone could help T.K. cut loose and have fun right now, it would be Tai. Right down to his basic appearance, favorite sport, and superfluous goggles, Tai was like an older version of Davis. But he was a little smarter, a little more decisive and confident. Although he didn't need a surrogate brother anymore, T.K. still admired him.

"So you're really coming?" Kari asked.

"You think I'd miss this?" He chuckled. "It's exactly what we've been waiting for. I'm with you."

"I know." Kari smiled a little, still thinking of something else—probably Tai, he thought.

"Hey, wait for me!" yelled a voice from about fifty feet behind him.

T.K. winced and Kari stifled a laugh as Davis ran to catch up with them.

"Hi, Davis," Kari said pleasantly. She didn't return his sporadic crushes, but she tried to be a friend to everyone.

"Hey, Kari, T.J.," he waved. "You guys weren't going to set up the party without me, were you?"

"Of course not. I wondered where you and Ken were." Kari smiled.

"Have you seen Ken, by the way?" T.K. asked him.

Davis shrugged. "Not lately. He still goes to our school, right?"

T.K. rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Davis. I studied for finals with him just last week. Don't you guys talk at all anymore?"

Davis looked away. "…I dunno. I've been busy."

"Well, hold on. I'll call him." Kari took her bright yellow cell phone from her backpack and dialed Ken Ichijouji's number. After a few rings, they heard someone pick up.

"Hello?"

"Hi, Ken. It's Kari. How did finals go?"

"The heck with that," Davis muttered impatiently. "Just tell him to get over here."

"Very well, thank you. I suppose you're wondering where I am?"

"Yep. Tonight is the party to welcome back Tai and the others," Kari answered. "Want to help us get ready?"

"Oh, yes. T.K. told me about that," Ken replied on the other end. "I'll be glad to. Where are you right now?"

"Just a few blocks down from the school. Meet us at the bus stop by the park. But don't take too long, okay? It leaves at three, and the next one doesn't come for at least an hour."

"All right, I'll be there. Thank you for reminding me."

"You're welcome! See you soon." She hung up and slipped the phone back into her bag. "He's coming."

"Good," T.K. said. "Let's go, Davis."

Strangely enough, Davis was gone.

Kari blinked in surprise. "Hey, where did he…"

"There he is." T.K. pointed far ahead of them.

"You guys coming or what?" Davis called, already close to the park. "Last two people there are rotten eggs!"

"His jokes haven't changed since middle school," said T.K.

Kari couldn't help laughing. She thought silently about their relationship as they walked to the park. It wasn't that she didn't like him; his crush on her was rather sweet, and she had to admire his persistence. But he wasn't her type. She needed someone who really understood her, someone more like T.K.

They'd gone on a date once, but it was so awkward and strange that they quickly went back to the friend zone. As he admitted later, he just couldn't fall for a girl who was more like a sister to him than anything else. Kari was disappointed, and part of her hoped they could try again sometime.

She knew he would find someone, and make her very happy. Maybe that girl just hadn't come into his life yet.

Kari quickened her pace as T.K. began to jog ahead of her, his brown shorts and bright yellow t-shirt waving in a warm breeze.

Ω

Ken arrived promptly, as usual. It was hard to believe the slender, reserved teen who walked up to them now with his nose in a computer magazine had once been the merciless, egomaniacal Digimon Emporer. But he was a different person now, and one of their longtime friends.

Davis hung back slightly, watching him. Yep, still the same Ken—same neck-length black hair, piercing green eyes, and perpetual calm. Compared to this kid, T.K. was a regular party animal. Heck, Ichijouji might spend the whole summer studying for the next school year. Well, let him. "Hey, Ken. Your mommy and daddy let you out longer today?"

Ken glanced up from the magazine. That was rude even for Davis, but he pretended not to notice. "When I threatened them with my whip, we were able to reach a compromise."

"I thought you got rid of that thing," T.K. grinned. "When we invaded your base and I beat the stuffing out of you."

"You did, as I recall," Ken admitted. "But I can still own you at chess, so we're even. When are they coming?"

"Their train is coming at seven, but Mimi's plane is supposed to get here an hour earlier. So we'll just pick her up at the airport and wait for the others at my place." Said Kari.

"It's a surprise party, right?" asked Davis. "How are you going to get them over there?"

"My dad will be waiting for them at the train station. He'll act like he's just dropping them off at their houses, but he's really going to get them to our apartment somehow. That's when we'll surprise them."

"It sounds like the fun's just started today. What about Yolei and Cody?" Ken sat down next to them on the bench to wait for the bus to Highton View Terrace.

"Cody is camping with his grandfather, since the middle school let out a week ago. Yolei has a dentist appointment. She said she'd get a ride to my place at five or so."

"In their van?" T.K. chuckled. "That thing was having problems, last time I checked."

"Never met someone who was harder to get rid of—except maybe June," said Davis. "Don't worry, T.R. She'll make it."

("Just…something in my eye. Don't worry; we'll find them, T.K.")

Wasn't that out of his head yet?

For now, he surrendered and let his mind wander back in time. He had trusted and liked all of the older Digi-destined for different reasons. Tai was brave and outgoing, which made him a good leader. Mimi was funny and helpful. Izzy was really smart. Joe was dependable. Matt…well, Matt was his older brother. And Sora took care of him.

In fact, she looked out for all the other Digi-destined and held the team together. It put a ton of pressure on her, but she did as good a job as anyone could have. And since he was the youngest by at least three years (until Kari came along), she watched over him most of all.

T.K. sat silently on the bench, barely listening as his friends made small talk. He didn't remember saying "thank you" for everything she'd done, for just being Sora. Like most of the kids, he often took her for granted. She was used to it; he could tell by the way a single compliment would change her mood.

He decided to thank her when he saw her again tonight.

"T.K. The bus." Ken nudged him lightly with his elbow.

"Oh!" he stood up as the vehicle stopped at the curb, and jumped inside with the others. There would be plenty of time for reminiscing later on. They had to get ready for the party first—and, if he knew Kari, she would make it a night to remember.

Ω

-END OF CHAPTER ONE

Ω

So, what do you think? I tried to put substance into each of the characters. In my opinion, compelling romance stories need buildup.