Disclaimer-I don't own Digimon.

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Summary- The family is together again, but that doesn't mean trouble doesn't exist within the relationships of son and father. Misunderstandings, accidents, forgiveness...and at the end of the day, they realize the fruit really doesn't fall far from the tree. (Intro, Ending: Kouichi POV)

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Father's Day With Kouichi

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It's simple. I may not be the most sociable person around, but I can see how simple something can be. Mother's Day wasn't that bad, after all. It's just a matter of how easy you want to make it. Avoidance leads to complexity and complexity isn't simplicity.

That wasn't too hard, was it?

We're not the tight-knitest family around, and we've still got our bugs here and there, but I'm positive about this. Rather, I was positive about this.

Yeah...it's sad and true...Kouji's rubbed off on me.

Satomi's easy to get along with. She really is a second mother to me. Mom and Dad decided after much debating that it wouldn't hurt to switch off for weekends and holidays and such. With Mom, it's the usual stuff: homework, chores, late night movies, and occasionally inviting the others over. At Dad's, Kouji makes it a party every day. If Kouji doesn't, Satomi does, and if Satomi doesn't, Dad does.

So much for a normal family.

Best part is, every time Kouji throws one of his crazy parties, he uses his allowance. It's been about a month, and half of his money is gone (I count his money after he sleeps). I'm guessing if you give him another month, he'll be broke.

A normal family...apparently doesn't exist in anyone's book. This is where 'anyone' refers to Satomi, Dad, and Kouji. Well, at the very least Dad and Kouji. Satomi doesn't deserve to be put in the same boat as those two.

I've always wanted a normal family, like Takuya's or Tomoki's. I've wondered how it would have been if Kouji and I had grown up together, or if Mom and Dad hadn't divorced. I've often discussed it with Kouji. I told him one time about how I used to save all those Father's Day gifts we'd make at school, hoping that I could give them to Dad if I ever met him. Of course...I threw those out last year...but he told me how he'd just throw them away at school because Dad would always drag him fishing on Father's Day.

Yeah, not the type of brother I want. I'll take Shinya, even.

A nice, calm, family outing is what I want. One where we all just sit down on the grass and talk or eat or something. If our family went out...

Last week, on Friday, we went out to a restaurant. Dad drove us. He's...as Kouji says...a horrible driver. I'd hate to be a fire hydrant on the street he drives down (at least he misses the animals). I don't think he does it on purpose, either.

Back to the restaurant. It wasn't too fancy and we weren't too dressy. Dad got us a seat right next to the fish tank.

Of all things, why the fish tank? I fail to see why they have to publicly display fish in a restaurant, much less a dentist's office, or a doctor's office. Then they put up a sign that says, "No tapping on glass." And what do the little kids do? They tap on the glass.

So the fish tank was boring but Kouji and I found amusement in pointing out all the grammatical errors in the menu. Satomi and Mom were talking, and Dad was staring at the fish tank.

Once more: I fail to see the amusement of a fish tank.

His hand reached out, and a finger touched the tank. One finger. And then the glass somehow gave way, and the disgusting water decided to fall on us. Kouji, Dad and I were the most soaked, being the closest to the fish tank, and Mom and Satomi got away with wet shoes. Dad's finger was still pointed out at this point, and all he said was, "So it was a neon fish!"

It was the most embarrassing thing I've been through. I can't even begin to express how glad I am that no one I knew was there. There are positive points to being shy and invisible.

No, I'm not shy.

I've established secure relationships with everyone. Everyone refers to all my current family that I am aware of, save Dad. I'm scared of him and his reckless manner, and I see why Kouji was so afraid during Mother's Day.

He's scary.

Or maybe it's for another reason. After seeing Kouji for the first time, Mom sat down and had a talk with me, a talk about Dad, about the divorce, about everything. I still don't understand half of it to this day, but one thing she said caught my ear and made me want to actually meet my dad. "You're like your dad," she said.

Well I've met him. He's nice, but...

He's clumsy. Does she mean that I'm clumsy too? I don't...well...maybe that's just from my falling down the stairs.

Avoidance leads to complexity, but so does overanalyzing things. I like things simple. Our family's been together for a little under a month, trying to heal old wounds. I've started to see Kouji's way. I've started to overanalyze.

I like things simple. It's a common saying: "You don't always get what you want." How unfortunate.

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He couldn't sleep. His breathing came out in shallow pants, and his fists tightened their grip on the blanket.

Evil laughter, marching, technicolored fish, and getting wrapped up in a fishing line.

It was three in the morning. The fishing trip would be at seven.

"Nngh."

Startled, he looked to his right. In the next bed lay Kouji, covers thrown to the ground, pillow in his arms. Kouichi bit his lip, wondering what to do. Hesitant, he slipped out of his bed and picked up the fallen blanket. "If you catch a cold, I'll kill you," he muttered silently to his sleeping brother before tossing the blanket over his writhing form.

With a sigh, Kouichi plopped back down on his own bed, watching the gray light filtered through the curtain of Kouji's window. Had he been any younger at this moment, the age of seven, he would have taken advantage of the fact that they were a 'family' and started crying so he could go back home. The thought of saying, 'I want my mommy,' entered Kouichi's head, and he was thoroughly annoyed with himself for the next few minutes.

If he could have, he would have gone back to sleep. He should have at least tried, but fatigue didn't seem to exist within him. He was wide-awake, and he knew it would hurt him later, during the car ride.

Kouji, his father, and himself. Hours from now, they would be in the same car with the same destination and suffer the same torment. The latter would mainly apply to the twins. Smiling to himself, Kouichi stared at his brother again, wondering what the hours ahead would hold for them.

"G-gh..."

Kouichi's train of thoughts came to a screeching halt. The covers had fallen from his brother's bed again. A frown came to life on his features as he stood up and walked over to the covers. "Stupid, keep it on," muttered Kouichi, throwing the covers back on his brother. His eyes widened as his hands brushed against Kouji's forehead.

No...way. Kouichi bit his lip and looked around the room. His hand was glued to his brother's forehead, out of fear that if it was removed, the heat emanating from Kouji would rise. What do I do?

He did the only thing that came to mind. He called for Satomi.

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Two hours later, Satomi walked into the room with a bowl of soup. Kouichi felt himself nodding off, just watching his brother like that. He forced himself to stay awake, telling himself that if he couldn't do that, he didn't deserve to be a brother.

Kouichi just shook his head. "Sorry for waking you up," he mumbled, guilt evident in his voice.

"Don't worry about it, Kouichi. It's a good thing you called me when you did," Satomi murmured, gently placing the bowl of soup on Kouji's desk. "It's even better that we actually did put you two in the same room. I know it's as good as being cooped up in a pigeon's pen, seeing as you're growing boys, but Kousei made a complete mess of the other rooms."

So she says. You're too much trouble, Kouichi, the boy told himself, staring at his brother. He could feel the fatigue drag him down again. Desperate to keep awake, Kouichi asked, "Is he okay?"

He watched Satomi stare from the soup to Kouji. Nervously, she began to chew her lower lip. "Kouji is..." Gently, she motioned to Kouichi's pillow. He gave it to her, and she used it to prop Kouji up against the headboard of his bed. "He's..." she started again, "well...he has a fever."

Kouichi just blinked.

"I don't think it would be wise to send him out in this condition."

Kouichi swallowed. Don't say it.

"You'll have to go on the fishing trip alone with your dad," Satomi concluded, looking at Kouichi.

Kouichi screamed. He screamed until there was nothing to scream with. His breath escaped him and he screamed eternally. All of this was done mentally, mind you. Outside of his mind, Kouichi just stared at Satomi and nodded calmly, accepting the fact as if it was a prediction of the weather.

Unsure of what the silence meant, Satomi suggested, "If you want, we could postpone the trip."

Quickly, Kouichi shook his head. He didn't know why; he wanted to postpone the trip. But instead, he shook his head vigorously, and the words that came out didn't match his thoughts: "Dad really wanted to go," he explained, "and I don't think he'd want to cancel it. Besides...Kouji would...want me to go." Lie! It's a lie, isn't it? Tell me it's a lie...

She smiled. Turning to Kouji, Satomi murmured, "If you say so."

Kouichi watched as she spoke softy to Kouji, easing him into a sitting position and feeding him the soup. He wasn't sure how the hours passed by, but they did, and he soon found himself staring at a window bright with light.

He was tired. He wanted to sleep.

"Kou...Kouichi...?" he heard someone croak.

"Hey, you should be resting," muttered the older twin, feeling a surge of panic run through him.

Kouji slowly sat up in bed, despite the protests of his brother. "Uh...I got sick...?"

"No duh?"

"Sorry," the bandana boy murmured softly.

With a forced smile, Kouichi returned gently, "Just concentrate on getting better before anything else."

"Heh...guess it's just you and Dad, then?" Kouji broke into a grin. At the moment, he didn't look sick to Kouichi at all.

The older boy narrowed his eyes on Kouji. "You little punk," he muttered. "What, did you plan this?"

Laughing, Kouji shook his head. "Sadly, no. If I did, I would have let you in on it."

"I'm so sure."

"Yeah, you're right. I guess I wouldn't have."

"Kouichi! Breakfast!" Kousei yelled from the kitchen.

Both twins winced.

Holding back a groan, Kouji sank back down on his bed, breathing hard. "Dad's cooking?" he asked. A weak grin appeared on his face.

Kouichi shook his head. "I don't know..."

"Hey, catch a big one for me."

All Kouichi could do was nod. As he exited the room, he thought miserably to himself, But I can't fish...

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He was nearly sent pummeling forward from the impact of his father's hand clapping against his back. Kouichi wanted to throw up. Why couldn't I get sick? Wait a minute...what am I thinking? He bit his lower lip out of guilt and stared at the table sullenly.

"So, Kouichi! How do you like breakfast?" asked Kousei, obviously cheerful.

Why wouldn't he be? It's Father's Day, Kouichi told himself, nodding glumly to himself. I wish Chion were inside the house right now...that dog eats anything. He stared stolidly at the food in front of him.

Kousei seemed to notice this. The man's smile faded. "Kouichi, you haven't eaten anything!" he said, doing his very best not to scowl.

Eyes wide, Kouichi took his chopsticks and quickly dragged as much as he could into his mouth. He knew very well he would probably pay for that later. I'm so glad we have a rice cooker. It would suck to have burnt rice and raw egg, thought the boy.

The smile returned onto his father's face as Kouichi placed the bowl down, doing his best not to throw everything back up.

"That's better! We can't have you hungry halfway through our fishing trip!"

I'm probably going to be, Kouichi thought miserably. Then again, I wouldn't know. If Kouji were here...

The thought stopped there and Kouichi let out a sigh. He had been relying entirely on Kouji's expertise to survive the trip. Now that the younger twin was sick, the older was sure he would be fish feed his first seconds at the lake.

"...Kouichi!"

Startled, the boy looked up.

"You really need to eat more," observed Kousei, staring unhappily at the bowl of food that looked completely untouched.

"Uh...I'm just...extremely excited! Can't wait for that fishing trip," Kouichi lied with forced enthusiasm. He wondered if his father, who had been staring at him skeptically, noticed the fact that it was forced.

Kousei broke into a brilliant grin that scared Kouichi beyond words. In a low whisper, he told Kouichi, "You're right. How about we sneak out early?"

Kouichi's eyes widened, horror visible.

Noticing this, Kousei chuckled and added, "Satomi won't ever know."

"Uh..."

"Glad you agree! Let's go!"

The next few minutes of Kouichi's life were a blur to him. He vaguely remembered being dragged through the front door, hearing his father yell at Chion to be quiet, hearing Chion come up to him for pity, the dog sniffing at his feet, being pushed into the car, and when Kouichi had control of his eyes again, he was in the car, staring at the highway road. Oh. Holy. Lucemon. It was the best curse he could come up with.

Kousei, at the wheel, was whistling happily to himself. If he didn't want to be insulting his father, Kouichi would have commented on how horrible and off tune it sounded, but for the sake of preserving the image of a quiet, dependable son, he kept quiet.

After all, the image would be marred by his horrible fishing skills later.

"Damn traffic," Kousei swore under his breath, making a sharp turn in an effort to find a less crowded lane.

Kouichi was jerked to the side. He winced, seeing the scowl on his father's face, before sinking back against the seat and closing his eyes. The morning sun was beating down on them through the window, an unbearable force of nature. All his body ached for was sleep.

Another sharp swerve forced Kouichi's eyes open again. The boy sent a weary glance at his father. The scowl seemed to have deepened and engraved itself onto Kousei's face. All Kouichi could do was shrug; they were free of the traffic. He didn't see the problem.

His father, on the other hand, was letting out several curses under his breath.

Kouichi dared to ask. "What is it?"

"Wrong exit. Too early," Kousei replied.

Kouichi bit back a groan. He would be glad to get to the lake in one piece.

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A few hours had passed, Kouichi guessed. Then again, it could have been an exaggeration. It didn't matter. An hour or three...there was no difference to him.

The boy sent an uneasy glance his father. Their conversation had been limited to silence from Kouichi, curses from Kousei, and mental groans from both. Kouichi had decided at the start of the trip that the question, "Are we there yet?" was completely out of the question of asking. And so, he began to wonder how much longer it would take.

"Just...another hour," Kousei said finally, breaking the silence that had managed to build.

Kouichi's eyes widened in surprise. A silent nod was the only response he gave, and his gaze went back to looking out the window, staring silently at the rows of trees that occasionally popped up. It was still boring, but it was better than doing nothing.

Afraid of any more silence, Kousei turned the radio on, changing it to the news. "Maybe we'll figure out what's with the traffic," he muttered, lifting his chin to see ahead of the new traffic jam that had formed.

Kouichi shrugged. He let out a small sigh and leaned back in his seat, shut his eyes, and kept his ears alert to listen to the news. It definitely beat staring out into space. Kouichi could have sworn his eyes were about to fall out.

"...and in an update, the right lane will be closed due to a three car accident..."

Eyes opened and stared uneasily at Kousei. Kouji, why? Some twin you are, Kouichi thought miserably, sinking lower in his seat.

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Kouji bit his lower lip. He looked around the room, craning his neck to stare out the door to make sure Satomi wasn't there. When he decided the coast was clear, all of his attention turned to the cell phone under the covers of his bed. Guilt told him to take a chance.

The covers were pulled over, and Kouji laid down, turned away from the door, and left a small breathing hole as he pulled the cell phone up to his ear, having already dialed the number.

"Hello?"

Good. It's Takuya, the bandana boy thought in relief. "Takuya," Kouji whispered. "Is Kouichi there yet?"

"Umm...you know, Dad was wondering why you guys aren't here yet. W-wait...Kouichi? What, is your mom dropping him off?" came Takuya's response.

I wish. "No." Kouji sighed. Unfortunately. "I got...caught up."

"Caught up?"

"I'm sick. Fever during the night. Satomi forbade me from going."

"Ouch...one sec-" He was cut off in mid-sentence, and all Kouji could hear was the sound of a small scuffle, which he guessed was Shinya's doing. Several seconds later, he heard ragged breathing. "I'm...here...if you were wondering."

Kouji held back a laugh. "Right. Say, make sure to call me back when Kouichi comes, okay? Satomi should be here-uh...she's already here...?" Kouji threw off the covers at the sound of footsteps and quickly hissed, "I've got to go, just call me back!" Quickly, he turned off the phone, snapped it shut, and tossed it under his pillow. A cough escaped him, lasting for several seconds and forcing him to shut his eyes as someone entered the room.

"Oh...Kouji," someone sighed. "How do you do this to yourself?"

The boy froze as the last cough escaped him. Nervously, he looked up. "Uhh...M-Mom..." And Mom, he thought wryly, seeing Satomi regarding him with a frown plastered on her face. Tomoko's face was almost identical. Maybe Kouichi's the lucky one after all.

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After another tiring hour and a half, father and son found themselves outside of the car, gratefully gasping mouthfuls of air.

Whoever invented the car was an idiot, Kouichi observed, inhaling slowly. At least they could have made the thing less stuffy.

"Alright! Now onto fishing!" Kousei suddenly exclaimed, slamming the car door shut.

Kouichi stared quietly into the car. "Dad...you left your key..." He didn't say anymore. Kousei, shocked, jumped away from the car.

"N-no!" Kouichi shook his head. "This can't be happening! What kind of rotten day is this?" Scowling, Mr. Minamoto lifted his foot to kick the door.

"Dad. My door is open..." How are we related at all? Kouichi withheld a frustrated sigh as he quickly retrieved the key and tossed it over the car to his father. Maybe I'm just the weird one.

They entered a shack, and headed straight through to the backdoor to arrive at the lake. Kouichi had thought it best to keep quiet at first, but now he was just confused. "Um...Dad...is there a reason why we didn't bring our fishing rods?" he suddenly asked, watching as his father was about to begin a mad dash to the lake.

Kousei stopped, and the smile faded from his face. "Of course! You must always...um...check to see if the lake is still there!" father said to son. "You stay here...and...keep an eye on the lake," Kousei instructed, dashing back to the car to get the fishing rods.

A sigh escaped the boy, and he sank down to sit on a nearby bench, overlooking the blue lake. It wasn't as clear as the waters the TV usually depicted, but had its own clean look to it. "Why can't we go lake watching instead of fishing?" the boy groaned, wishing to be home, sleeping on his bed again.

"PST! KOUICHI," someone whispered loudly.

Kouichi rose an eyebrow and looked around slowly. "Uh...let me guess...name starts with a..."

"SH!"

"Right, Shinya," the older boy muttered, shaking his head in disbelief. He supposed it was company, and he needed a bit of company. "Where's your brother? And where are you?"

Shinya jumped out of a nearby bush in front of Kouichi, grinning madly. On either shoulder sat a small, green lizard. "Burmy and Rog, say 'hi' to Kouichi!" Shinya announced, pointing to Kouichi with his right index finger.

There was silence. Then: "Kouichi, this is Burmy," Shinya said, indicating to the left lizard, then to the right lizard as he said, "and Rog."

"And I thought Chion was a weird name," Kouichi muttered to himself.

A cupped hand appeared on the side of Shinya's mouth. In the same, loud, whisper, he said, "Takuya's in the bathroom flirting with Izumi."

"WHAT?" Kouichi blurted, eyes widening in horror. Hands went to the edge of the bench in horror.

Looking disgusted, Shinya scowled and snapped, "On the cell phone!"

Kouichi relaxed. "Oh..."

"He's been in there for over thirty minutes!"

"Oh..."

"Do you have a cell phone?"

"Uh..."

"I really wanna tell my mom!"

"Um..."

"Because then, Takuya will get BUSTED!" Shinya jumped up and down happily, not seeming to care that the lizards were holding on for dear life.

Nodding kindly, Kouichi asked for the sake of conversation, "Shinya, where'd you get the lizards?"

"I FOUND them! Isn't it great? We're gonna use them for bait!"

"Oh...using lizards for bait..." I just won't take his word on this one, Kouichi decided, wondering exactly what Shinya was baiting for.

The younger boy continued, unfazed by the fact that Kouichi didn't seem interested. "You know, Takuya said they have killer whales in the lake! Think we'll catch one?" asked Shinya excitedly.

"Uh...sure..." What's taking Dad so long?

"He says he saw the shadow of one in the water!"

How long has it been? "Uh...huh." Kouichi looked over his shoulder, at the door.

"And that it really came out of the water and it was about to eat-"

"Right, Shinya, tell Takuya I said 'hi' and don't hunt for killer whales. I'll be...hunting for my dad..." Kouichi said, wondering how ridiculous he really sounded with his voice cracking in mid-sentence. Quickly, he rose to his feet and dashed into the shack.

Shinya frowned and called after him, "But don't you need bait?"

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As it turned out, Kousei was still in the car, searching in the back seats when Kouichi found him. Why me? I just shouldn't ask, the boy thought, resisting the urge to slap his forehead. Through gritted teeth, he began, "Dad..."

"The rods," Kousei muttered. "Check the trunk."

You have to be kidding me. Be kidding, please. Kouichi mentally kicked himself and went to look in the already open trunk, as his father had instructed him to. An inflatable boat, paddles, a box Kouichi didn't even want to think about opening, several other things he had no idea about...

"So that's where that book went!" Kouichi muttered in surprise, reaching into the pile junk and taking out an overdue library book. "Too bad we already paid for it...it wasn't that great of a book either." Maybe I can trick Shinya-no...I can't do that. Shrugging, Kouichi tossed the book back into the trunk and shut it. "Not here," he said.

"Not here," Kousei muttered, coming out of the car with a frown on his face.

Good grief. Kouichi bit his lower lip, afraid to even speak.

"Not here...not here..." Kousei whipped his cell phone out of his pocket, a look of frustration clear on his face. After dialing a number, bringing the phone to his ear and waiting, he let out a relieved sigh and said, "Satomi?" A startled look appeared on his face. "Tomoko?"

"MOM?" Kouichi found himself blurting in surprise. Quickly, he covered his mouth with a hand, but decided the damage had been done. He dashed up to his father, straining his ears to hear his mother's explanation.

"...needs help taking care of Kouji. I mean, he is a growing boy. Needs lots of attention. Besides, why don't you try taking care of Kouji, cooking, cleaning, shopping and whatnot at the same time?"

"That's why I married Satomi!" Kousei blurted.

Eyes wide in horror, Kouichi exclaimed, "DAD!"

"Kousei!" He could clearly hear his mother from the phone. In a way, it was sort of amusing.

"It's called a joke!" Kousei insisted with a scowl. "Calm down...both of you! Er...So, Tomoko...do you know if we left our fishing rods there...?"

Kouichi could just imagine his mother nodding as she said, "On the kitchen table." A groan escaped him, and he really did slap his forehead.

"Er...we'll come get them!"

"What?" Kouichi asked, looking up in surprise.

"Kousei...Satomi told me you left at six, and it's ten now. Say another four hours to get here, it will be two, then the hours back will make it six. Then you'll come home at midnight or later. Forget it. Kouichi has school tomorrow!"

Of course, Kouichi thought, groaning inwardly. All this for school.

"Why don't you buy new ones...or...or rent some instead?" Tomoko suggested. "I have to go now. Kouji needs his soup..."

"W-WAIT!" Kousei yelled, "You can't hang up!"

"I'm going to."

"This isn't fair! Come on, Tomoko, is school really more important than a fishing trip?"

"Answer that yourself."

Kouichi shook his head and distanced himself from his father. As much as he would have loved to listen in on the rest of the conversation, he felt a headache developing. Kouichi let out an exasperated sigh and rubbed his forehead, trying to ignore the throbbing pain he could feel just by pressing his fingers against his temple.

"Having fun?"

"I'll trade you brothers any day, Takuya," Kouichi muttered wryly, trying to hide the fact that he had nearly jumped ten feet in the air. "Lying to him like that...you jerk."

Grinning sheepishly, Takuya rubbed the back of his neck. "Aw, come off it. You know he's just acting." A pause. "So then...you've met Burmy and Rog."

"Yep. He's not seriously going to use them for bait, is he?" asked Kouichi, trying to imagine Shinya fishing with the lizards.

"It was nice knowing 'em."

"You've sent them to their doom..."

"Shinya acts to the fullest. I swear, he will be an actor when he grows up," Takuya declared.

"Either that, or the place he works for will be pretty awake in the morning."

A pause. The goggle boy burst out into laughter. "Yeah, that too!" The two took a seat on a bench and watched Kousei as he continued arguing, occasionally yanking the cell phone away from his mouth while he yelled. "I take it things haven't been well...?" Takuya asked the other boy, tilting his head to the side to observe Kousei.

"Got lost, forgot the rods," Kouichi muttered. "Next thing you know, I'll be run over by a flock of geese."

Looking around, Takuya commented, "I don't think they have geese here..."

Kouichi shot him an irritable look. "They don't have killer whales either. You get my meaning." Turning his attention back to his father, the boy asked, "Any guess to how long he'll be at this?"

"Fifteen dollars says an hour."

"Eighteen says two."

Both boys exchanged glances.

"You know," Takuya said slowly, "I'm not going to be waiting all that long. How long was the longest?"

Shrugging, Kouichi replied, "Kouji said around five hours, but I'm not so sure. It's been over five minutes, and I really don't want to risk it...should I just stop him?" The boy shuddered at the thought and turned to Takuya for ideas.

Meeting Kouichi's eyes with a mischievous gaze of his own, Takuya cackled. The goggle boy rubbed his hands together. "We could..."

"No. I'll just wait. Maybe then I won't have to fish," Kouichi muttered. An odd look passed over his face. "You know, now that I think about it...anytime Mom has to spend over ten minutes arguing on the phone, she usually hangs up on the person. Considering Kouji's sick...let's make it eight." He paused to look at his watch. "One minute."

Takuya grinned and began counting down, "Fifty-nine, fifty-eight, fifty-seven, fifty-six-"

"Takuya..."

"Forty-three, forty-two-"

"Takuya," Kouichi repeated impatiently.

"Thirty-seven, thirty-five, thirty-I mean...thirty...uh..." Takuya paused and began counting off fingers. The boy shrugged, not being able to understand the method himself, and started off on a random number. "Eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen..."

"TAKUYA," Kouichi yelled, glaring daggers at the boy.

At exactly that same moment, Kousei screamed out, "TOMOKO YOU CAN'T HANG UP ON ME!" Both boys stopped to stare with their jaws hanging open as the man threw his cell phone to the ground and began stomping on it with his foot.

"We're doomed," Kouichi squeaked, turning stiffly to face Takuya. "No...I'm doomed. If I don't show up at school tomorrow, you're doing the explaining!"

"Okay," Takuya agreed with a solemn nod. "Wait-" he began, raising an eyebrow. "Explaining what?"

"Kouichi!" Kousei called out. "Time to go!"

"My death," Kouichi muttered under his breath before rising to his feet and waving casually to Takuya. "Later." Aloud, he asked, "No fishing?"

"Of course not! We have to get the rods!"

"But-"

Kousei just snorted. "You can't buy lucky rods from anywhere, Kouichi! Besides, I know a shortcut home," the man added, opening the car door.

...Said the Big Bad Wolf to Little Red Riding Hood. Kouichi swallowed and nodded, getting into the car. Why is there a feeling of impending doom in the air?

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"Who was that?" asked Kouji, pushing his soup aside. After drinking the same type of soup every other hour for the past hours he had been awake, he began to crave something more solid. He even missed Takuya's ridiculous burger from their time back in the Digital World. Of course, it wasn't like he remembered how it tasted anymore.

Turning off the phone, Tomoko smiled at her son and pushed the soup back at him. "Your father."

"He's alive?" Kouji blurted, but quickly covered his mouth. "I mean...uh...how's Kouichi?"

Letting out a sigh, his mother murmured, "I wish I knew. Your father wanted to come back for the fishing rods that he left so conveniently on the kitchen table." Almost in a daze, she sat down on Kouji's bed quietly, staring at the door with a blank look on her face.

Gah! I forgot to warn Kouichi, the bandana boy thought, staring into the depths of his soup guiltily. Convenient time to get sick.

"Well, hurry up and drink your soup!" Tomoko said, indicating to the bowl with a wave of her hand. She rose to her feet and walked out of the room.

Kouji pushed the bowl further away from him, wishing his desk was on the opposite side of the room. Instead, he lay back on the bed with a groan, arms spread out to the side. "...Now I really wonder how has it worse..." he muttered, shutting his eyes and hoping for sleep.

-------------------------------------

"Let's see...Kouichi, get the map out of the glove compartment, would you?" Kousei instructed.

Kouichi opened the glove compartment and immediately wished he hadn't. The headache was returning. "Which map?" he asked his father, staring from Kousei to the compartment full of maps.

Taking a quick glance at the maps, Kousei furrowed his brow and muttered, "Good point. You take the wheel, I'll sort through the maps."

"Dad, I can't drive, especially from the side. Forget it," Kouichi spat, slapping his father's hand away. Instead, he began sorting through the maps, taking his time to look through and organize them.

The truth of the matter was it had been roughly an hour since they had left the lake and Kouichi was positive they were lost. It wouldn't hurt to elongate it by a few more hours, he decided, and picked up the first map that touched his fingers, opened it up some ways, pretended to look through it, to search for their position, then declared, "Take the third exit."

After all, they were already lost. At least they could navigate their way home through the main roads, however long that would take.

Kouichi returned to organizing the maps, looking through to find the actual map they needed. He still didn't trust his father to get him out of this one.

And as Kousei took the exit, Kouichi was beginning to regret what he had said.

-------------------------------------

Two hours later, Kouichi found himself nodding off. Forget that restful night, he told himself.

"Where to now?" Kousei asked, brow furrowed as he leaned forward on the wheel.

"Um...let...me...check," Kouichi mumbled, pulling out the map that was supposedly for the area they were in. Exactly where are we, though? He cringed at the thought and shook his head, trying to wake up. "I...uh...oh!" The boy blinked, spotting the street name they were on. Pointing to it on the map, he followed the street up and murmured, "Keep going straight." Hey, so this is the right map!

"Good, my trusty navigator!"

Give me a break. Kouichi kept a calm face and leaned back in his seat. "Turn right when you reach the third street from here."

"Right. Got it," Kousei muttered, eye on the street.

Kouichi just smiled to himself. Once we get home, there's no chance Mom'll let us go back, he thought, mentally jumping for joy. He felt himself nod off, his eyelids grow heavy with fatigue, the map slip out of his loosening grip. Everything felt relaxed, something reassured him, told him everything would be fine.

He awoke with a jolt, sitting up, looking startled. "What-" Kouichi began, looking around as the car began its downward descent. "Dad?" the boy exclaimed, staring at his father in horror.

A pained expression shadowed his father's face. The man's knuckles turned white, and his grip tightened unbelievably on the wheel.

Kouichi didn't need to hear it. Seeing it was enough. This trip just took a turn for the worse, he realized, squeezing his eyes shut and praying they would make it out alive. I'll even strike a deal with Lucemon's ghost!

So perhaps he did owe something to Lucemon as a brilliant flash of insight was lent to him. In truth it was less than brilliant and would have cost him his life, had he not been so lucky. Kouichi threw open his door and watched as it crashed into the many trees on the hillside until it eventually slowed to a stop.

The car door was beaten up, barely hanging from a hinge as Kouichi got out of the car. Kousei quickly jumped out of the car and hurried Kouichi away, holding his nose for some reason and counting down under his breath. When he reached zero, nothing happened. Several seconds later, when Kousei chose to approach the car, smoke erupted from the hood.

Good going, Kouichi! You're brilliant! Kouichi shook his head, absolutely disgusted with himself. Maybe we should have just stuck to the main roads instead of the highway. They were lucky that it hadn't been a steep mountain.

"What's the pickup truck number?" his father muttered, hand searching his pocket and bringing out the battered cell phone. Kousei stared at it while dialing a number, then stopped, face turning whiter than pale.

Don't tell me.

"It's...dead."

Kouichi just winced. He turned around to examine their predicament. The hill was climbable, but it seemed it would be a long time before they could reach any help. They were completely out of sight.

Nevertheless, Kouichi suggested, "We could climb..."

"Bah, too long. I'll have it fixed in...in no time!"

"Dad, give me a break. The car's dying. The door's dead. The phone's dead. You don't have the materials," the boy argued, frowning at the mess of the car. "We could just walk back into town and get some help. It'd save us a lot of trouble and time."

Kousei just snorted. "And what experience do you have of times like these?" When Kouichi remained silent, he nodded. "I thought so. Just watch your father take care of this mess!"

Kouichi did watch for several seconds, until he realized the futility of the effort. Furiously clenching his fists, he announced, "Well I'm going into town!"

"No you aren't," Kousei said calmly, opening the hood.

"Yes, I am!" Kouichi snapped, turning around and storming up the hill. I'll do it the old-fashioned hard way, then, without your help! Some kind of dad you are! He bit back a retort that came to mind. Halfway up the hill, he stopped to look down, feeling slightly guilty. Then, more determined than ever, he proceeded up the hill at a faster pace, almost running. He absolutely refused to be stranded and helpless and unable to do anything.

He'd rather try than do nothing.

-------------------------------------

Minutes had passed, perhaps hours. For all Kouichi knew, it could have been years. He didn't care much anymore. In fact, he didn't care if he was even going the correct way.

"Exit," he mumbled over and over again to himself. "There's gotta be an exit."

With no cell phone, no kind passers-by in cars, no one who cared, how could he care?

Kouichi bit back a cry of surprise as his feet failed to keep up with him. He fell to the ground, turned his head to the side as he did so, wincing at the impact. By now, having tripped so many times before, he couldn't even feel the pain. Still, this time felt different. He couldn't get up.

Silence. No cars, just silence, and a heavy breeze brushing past trees. No matter how hard he tried, Kouichi couldn't push himself back up.

"Given up yet?"

"NO," the boy snapped, knowing all too well who was speaking. Had he really not gotten too far? The thought rose him to his feet, and Kouichi started again.

"People have limits. I think you've reached yours."

"Yeah, and you don't want me to break past it? Just wait! I'll show you..." This last part, Kouichi muttered to himself.

Kousei snorted. "Like your mother. You know, if you had just waited-"

Yeah, you say like I'm her, she says I'm like you. Is it a parent thing? "Attempting to fix the car would have done nothing," Kouichi muttered, gaining speed again. He blocked out the rest of his father's words as best as possible. I should have asked Kouji for his cell phone.

"-because the town's the other way," Kousei finished calmly.

Kouichi stopped in his tracks. He sank down to his knees. Lowemon help me. "You're kidding." Be kidding, please, the boy thought, looking over his shoulder to see the expression on Kousei's face.

His father looked taken aback. "Why would I joke about you walking over eight thousand two hundred fifty-six steps?"

Fatigue got the better of Kouichi. He couldn't even turn his head. "You...counted?"

"You know, the last time this happened, Kouji only reached eight thousand two hundred fifty-two, so consider it a compliment."

"Whatever..." With the little strength he had, Kouichi rose to his feet. "Well, Master of Misfortune, what now, since this has apparently happened before?" he asked.

"We wait," Kousei said, and turned around to walk back to where the car had crashed. "It might take a long time, but I think the highway patrol knows me by now."

"I wouldn't be amazed," Kouichi muttered under his breath, taking it step by step. His legs ached beyond reason, his head even more. How many times did Kouji suffer this? The thought was answered in his head automatically: DUH. A thousand.

Actually, he isn't that old, another voice in his head argued.

Kouichi just scowled. Shut up, traitor. "Well, what now?" he asked his father again, looking more grumpy than he had been since the day he was born.

Kousei just continued to walk silently until they reached the car. There, he opened the trunk and pulled out the box Kouichi had been dreading to even see again. It was what looked like a toolbox, but Kouichi had guessed it to be a box full of fish bait. Naturally, he was surprised to discover it held a full bag of chocolate along with several other canned foods.

Momentarily, his mouth watered as he was handed the bag of chocolate.

This was all before he examined the bag to discover it was a bag of expired chocolate. To test it, Kouichi even dared to eat one. He very nearly threw up. More sour than ever, Kouichi handed his father back the bag. "No thanks," he said. He began to wonder how he was holding back all his anger.

"Now, now..." Kousei smiled wryly, looking at the bag with a hesitant gaze. "I know it's...uh...a bit...stale, but Kouji would have enjoyed them."

"One, Kouji's sick. Two, I'm not Kouji." Yes, he was really beginning to wonder how he was managing it all.

"Good point," Kousei muttered. "I'll...go...get the blankets." Uncomfortable with the silence, Kousei began digging into the trunk again.

-------------------------------------

Takuya frowned as he checked the time. It was getting late.

"Takuya, time to go home!" his father called out.

"C-coming!" the boy shouted back, trying to understand the nagging feeling in the back of his mind. After all, it only became nagging when he had overlooked something important. But what...? Frowning, Takuya chewed on his lower lip.

Realization hit him.

Takuya slammed a fist into the palm of his other hand. "I forgot to tell Izumi that Kouji's sick!" he said aloud. Pausing, the goggle boy looked around to see if anyone was staring at him. Not seeing anyone, he pulled out his cell phone and began dialing Izumi's number.

Something in his fingers went wrong. His fingers began dialing a different number without him knowing it. Takuya tapped his foot impatiently and brought the phone to his ear. "Heeeeelloo? Izumi?"

There was a silence. A cough. A boy's voice answered, "If you intend to flirt, you've called the wrong person."

"KOUJI?" Takuya was in shock. What, what, what? Why Kouji? He could feel himself sweating. "Uhh..."

"Is that it? Because if it is, I really need to go now," Kouji mumbled.

"SO THAT WAS IT!" Takuya suddenly shouted, wishing he could just kick himself. In a quieter voice, he murmured, "Kouichi left around ten. It's past three. He didn't...by any chance...come home, did he?"

A startled sound resembling a half-gasp escaped Kouji. "L-let me check," he said quickly. A few seconds later, Kouji replied, "Not yet. Dad could have technically gotten stuck in traffic, but..."

"But?"

"I think...he..." A sigh. "Thanks, Takuya. I'll talk to you later."

Takuya was taken aback. Surprised, he blurted, "Wait a minute-what-" He stopped. Kouji had hung up.

Takuya let out a frustrated sigh. I'm glad I'm not him. "Dad!" he called out, "did Shinya actually bring Burmy and Rog or did he used them for bait?"

-------------------------------------

The sky was darkening, for Kouichi at least. They sat in front of a small fire, blankets wrapped around them. Using tongs, Kousei began heating a can of soup over the fire.

"Don't tell me you plan to drink it in that," Kouichi muttered in disgust. It had been a while since either had talked (Kouichi had given up keeping track of time), and his voice turned out croakier than expected.

Kousei looked at him in surprise. "Of course not!" he exclaimed, giving the boy a look of pure disbelief. "I've been stuck out here enough times to come prepared with bowls!" He grinned and motioned to the bowls by his side, hoping it would cheer up his son, but Kouichi remained unmoved by the sight.

Instead, with a quiet, "Whatever," Kouichi pulled the blanket tighter around him.

His father's face fell. With a heavy sigh, Kousei removed the can from the fire and poured it into the two bowls by his side. "You know, the first time this happened, Kouji was screaming about how much he hated me," the man chuckled, trying to lighten the mood.

"Whatever."

An eyebrow was raised. "Is that all you plan to say?"

Silence.

"Anything else?"

Silence.

"Alright..." Kousei let out a yawn and lay back, eyes closed.

Kouichi looked from the bowls of untouched soup to his father. He bit his lower lip, not feeling in the mood to talk. His stomach, however, gave him away.

A loud growl alerted Kousei. One eye opened to look at Kouichi while the other remained shut. "Yes?"

Red-faced, Kouichi looked away, not in the mood to grovel for food. He decided he would rather hunt for his own food than deign to ask.

Kouichi wanted to scream, seeing the look on his father's face. He seemed to act like it was all a game. Kousei chuckled, "Okay, but if you ask again in five minutes, you won't get any."

Then again, maybe it was a game to him.

Fury boiled his blood. Kouichi fisted his hands in the blanket around him and snapped, "Fine." He turned himself away from the fire, from his father. The last thing he wanted anyone to see was his irritation.

"Okay..."

The boy just snorted.

Kousei sat up, regarding Kouichi with a strange look on his face. "You know," his father commented, "you're worse than Kouji."

"That's because Mom doesn't drive in two streets."

"OH...yes, that's a bad habit of mine."

"And she never took me on fishing trips," Kouichi found himself snapping. "Mom never hit so many fire hydrants-she never hit any. She doesn't poke fish tanks, she doesn't throw a cell phone on the ground and stomp on it, she doesn't leave anything behind-"

"Actually, when she decided to move out, she forgot one of her suitcases because she was preoccupied with you," Kousei informed his son pointedly.

Furiously, the boy turned around and pointed at his father, screaming, "WHATEVER! The point is she isn't as careless and clumsy and...and...and..." Kouichi stopped, occasionally jabbing his finger out, trying to find the right word. "And..."

"And...?"

Kouichi went back to cloistering himself in the blanket. "What do you want?"

Mr. Minamoto shrugged and looked at the fire with a thoughtful look on his face. "Ah, well. It was worth a try."

-------------------------------------

Tomoko bit her lower lip and glanced at her watch. "He should be here by now, shouldn't he?" she murmured, glancing in the direction of the front door.

Becoming stiff, Kouji mumbled something and took a seat on the couch.

"What was that?"

Kouji looked down, a troubled look passing over his face as his mother walked up to him and demanded, "What happened?"

"Is something wrong, Tomoko?" Satomi called from the kitchen.

"Satomi, you wouldn't happen to know what happened to Kousei and Kouichi, would you?" Tomoko asked aloud, her gaze fixed on Kouji. Silence answered her, and she let out a disapproving sound. "Are you two hiding something from me?"

Laughing, Satomi came out of the kitchen, carrying another bowl of the dreaded soup, which she placed on the table in front of Kouji. "Nonsense, Tomoko. Those two are fine! Kousei always takes a long time with his fishing trips nowadays.

Tomoko just shook her head and picked up the phone, which had been in her hand for the past hour. "That's it," she murmured. "I'm calling him again."

Guiltily, Kouji mumbled, "You won't get an answer." Tomoko lowered the phone and Kouji continued, "He didn't charge the cell phone, and he always has it on. It probably ran out of batteries."

"Kouji..."

He had been caught in a guilt trap. "If I tell you," the boy said, "do I have to drink the soup?"

"Yes," both ladies answered, Tomoko more sternly than Satomi.

"Uh...what about if I don't tell you?"

The answer was the same for both: "Yes."

"Alright!" Kouji yelled. "Alright! You caught me! Dad's...being...bond-ish."

"'Bond-ish'?" Tomoko echoed.

The bandana boy nodded patiently and explained, "It's his version of 'Father-Son Bonding.' Either Kouichi'll be hungry, cold, or tired." Kouji paused. "And I'm not saying anymore until someone tells me I don't have to drink this soup!"

Satomi held back her laughter and placed a hand on Tomoko's shoulder. "Kouichi will be fine. Let's go into the kitchen and I'll explain..." As Tomoko nodded and walked to the kitchen, Satomi turned her head around to face Kouji and, in a disapproving voice, told him, "Drink your soup before it gets cold."

When she left, Kouji snorted and began a staring contest with his soup. "Actually, I really wouldn't mind a little bonding right now," Kouji muttered.

-------------------------------------

Kouichi was at the edge of his sanity, hearing his father slurp away at the soup. He wouldn't ask, even if the five minutes weren't over (and he was sure they were). The fire was out, replaced by a measly flashlight that provided absolutely no heat. And so, left with only a blanket for the past seconds, minutes, possibly hours, Kouichi felt his mind slowly decaying.

Thoughts brought him to wonder how Kouji was, all warm, comfortable, and at home in bed. People to take care of him, things to keep him occupied...I wish I was the sick twin. He cast a bitter glance in his father's direction. "We could have just gone into town." It came out of the blue, but he felt he had to say it. However timid he was, Kouichi couldn't stand silence.

Shrugging, Kousei replied, "If we had, looters would have looted the car."

"What looters?" the boy spat.

Kousei just sipped on the soup. Putting the bowl down, he shut his eyes. "The birds here are wild. And I don't mean wild, I mean wild. Last time Kouji and I went into town, they pecked our bag of chips open until it ripped. We had to make two trips to town."

"You probably just made that up." Kouichi rose to his feet and threw down the blanket. "Besides, who do you expect to pick us up?' he demanded.

"The highway patrol, of course!"

"What exactly are the chances of you crashing in the same spot year after year and them finding you year after year?" the boy inquired icily. His voice was rising as he continued, "For all I know you could be making everything up. You can wait until midnight, if you want, but I refuse to wait any longer!"

Looking hurt, his father began on the second bowl of soup. "Now look what you've done. The soup is cold," he complained.

"I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE SOUP!"

"Lower your voice."

"I DON'T WANT TO! I DON'T WANT TO SUFFER BECAUSE OF YOUR CARELESSNESS AND CLUMSINESS! I WANT A NORMAL FAMILY! WHY CAN'T YOU BE LIKE EVERY OTHER DAD INSTEAD OF RUNNING INTO FIRE HYDRANTS AND POKING FISH TANKS AND THROWING BASEBALLS THROUGH THE NEIGHBOR'S DOOR?" Kouichi screamed.

"In my defense, it was their fault for leaving the door open," Kousei replied.

"WHATEVER!" Red-faced, Kouichi sat down and crossed his arms, looking positively furious. "Why are you so insistent on ruining my life?"

Kousei was taken aback. He frowned, then rose an eyebrow curiously as he asked, "Whoever said that?"

"I did."

"Have you been talking to Kouji?"

"...he's my brother. No duh?"

A laugh escaped his father, ringing loudly and clearly in the air. Kouichi just stared, unsure what to think. After a few more seconds, he managed to gain enough composure to ask, "What's so funny?" Kouichi tried to sound offended, but he truthfully thought he sounded more curious than offended.

"Kouji loves to make me sound like the bad guy, doesn't he?" Kousei commented aloud, scratching the back of his head. "Ah, well. All's fair in family matters, right?"

"NO."

Kousei frowned and then declared, "Well that's because you aren't playing dirty yet!"

"I don't plan to!" Kouichi said through gritted teeth. Yes, cold, hungry, tired...could it get any better? It was all finally working on his nerves, severing them one by one. "I plan to go home!" he added, though his mouth seemed to be working of his own accord.

His father just looked amused. "Oh?"

Again, it was his mouth doing the talking, not him. "Yeah! Just wait and see!" Kouichi stood up. My legs too? He began a furious storm up the hill. The truth was, he wasn't sure what he really wanted anymore.

Kouichi stopped at the top of the hill. Do I...? Guilt washed over him. Oh please, Kouichi. Get a hold of yourself.

Don't! What happened to the good child attitude? Don't tell me it was an act.

Tough. It was an act!

You've put me to shame! How co-

You two are getting a bit too dramatic for me, Kouichi thought, shaking his head to rid himself of the voices. Yet the predicament still lay in front of him. In a small voice, he whispered to himself, "But I want to get out of here..."

"Going home yet?" Kousei called out.

You...are horrible. Kouichi turned around and trudged back straight to his father. "I get it. Fine. I won't go. But what do you want?" he asked, sitting down and looking up at Kousei desperately. "Why?"

To his surprise, Kousei just burst out laughing. Kouichi just scowled and waited for the entire minute until the laughter subsided into a small chuckle that bubbled up even as his father told him, "I just want to talk. No tricks, nothing. Just a nice chat with no one to bother us. At home, the ladies do the pestering, don't you think? Especially with Tomoko and Satomi in the same house..." Kousei shuddered. A small smile broke onto his face. "Besides, this way, I can get that new car I've been wanting for a long time! Although, this actually was an accident more than intentional like last year with Kouji..."

Kouichi just twitched. "Last year?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah, it was great. I intentionally drove the car over here in the same spot because Kouji had the same sour look on his face. You know," Kousei said, trying to duplicate the face, "when he goes like...this..." He paused, trying to keep the face still while Kouichi burst out into laughter. "After an hour of yelling at me, he sat down and glared at the fire I made. But see, we actually went fishing. Yeah...I accidentally left the rods behind this time. It was a great catch, though. The fish was..."

Again, Kouichi surprised himself, sitting there and listening to his father with great interest. In a way, it scared him how easily he was intrigued by the simple start of a story. But he listened, and time passed like seconds. Yes, seconds. The fire didn't matter, the food didn't matter, the fatigue didn't matter, and neither did the cold.

Kousei just grinned as Kouichi began snickering. "...and the best part about it was that he got to spend a few days drinking Satomi's soup every other hour, which is what he should be doing right now," Kousei concluded with a chuckle.

Looking eager, the boy asked, "So then all that being clumsy-was that just an act?"

A pause. Kousei reddened and looked away. "What being clumsy?" he asked, clearing his throat and scratching the back of his head.

"...you know what, never mind," Kouichi mumbled, shaking his head in disbelief. I guess some things never change. He broke into a smile.

"H-hey! Look! It's Noriaki!" Kousei exclaimed stiffly, rising to his feet and walking up the hill to where a pick-up truck was located.

A man stepped out and sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "You really totaled it this time, Kousei..." he mumbled, staring at the mess of a car in disbelief.

Kousei just slapped the man on the back and let out a laugh. "Hey, hey, it's okay. I need that new car," he said, beaming down at Kouichi.

Noriaki just rolled his eyes. In a quiet voice, he muttered, "But...you got that car...last year."

"WHAT?" Kouichi blurted, having heard as he was making his way up the hill. "Dad, you really are clumsy."

"But I just told you why! It was for a good cause," Kousei argued.

"Yeah, I'm so sure."

"Woah, this isn't Kouji...unless he got a hair cut," Noriaki suddenly exclaimed, catching sight of Kouichi.

Kouichi reddened slightly. "Um, no...Kouji's sick...I'm his twin..."

Noriaki just stared at Kousei with wide eyes. Clearing his throat, Kousei pointed to where the car lay. "Car first, discussion later," he reminded them.

-------------------------------------

"This is why I divorced your father," Tomoko told Kouichi, gazing at the sight before with and shaking her head. "Kousei, I really hope you don't do this next year..."

"Not unless I find another great car I want!" Kousei laughed.

"FORGET IT!" the twins yelled.

Kouichi immediately sneezed afterward, then gazed up in surprise. "That...wasn't me." Weak lie. But just when did I get sick?

"Kousei! You got him sick, too?" Satomi cried in disbelief.

"Yeah, way to go Dad. Then again...Takuya says he can't look at lizards ever again, but I think it's more Shinya than his father..." Kouji mumbled, more to himself than anyone else.

"Take care," Noriaki yelled, waving from the truck before driving off.

All eyes were on Kousei. Another sneeze from Kouichi shattered the silence.

"All right, all right, inside," Tomoko commanded, pointing to the open door. She shut it silently once they were all in and gazed from Kousei to Kouichi. "You two had me worried..."

Eyes wide, Kouichi sputtered, "What? Mom!" Have more faith in me! I'm your son, you know.

Tomoko kept her eyes on the ground as she admitted, "But you're both so alike..."

"Mom," Kouichi groaned.

"Wait!" Kouji suddenly exclaimed, casting off the blanket that was wrapped around him by Satomi. "She has a point..." he said slowly. Staring at Kouichi, the bandana boy pointed out, "You're both clumsy."

"Traitor!" the older twin spat.

"Sticks and stones!"

"We have plenty of those outsi-" Kouichi stopped and sneezed again. "Out...outside..." he finished weakly.

Satomi gazed at the two and ushered them towards the stairs. "Now, now...why don't you two go to bed? Hurry up, you two...and if I find you anywhere near the stairs..." Satomi let the silence take effect.

Halfway up the stairs, Kouichi stopped and turned around, a hand on his stomach. "Y-yeah, but...can I have dinner? I'm still hungry..."

"TOLD YOU!" Kouji yelled from upstairs.

"Yes, I'll bring up some soup," Satomi said, waving dismissively and watching carefully as Kouichi ran upstairs before turning to Kousei. "You didn't feed him?"

Kousei just held up his hands in defense. "N-now, ladies...er...I think it's time for bed, what do you say?"

They both stared at him disapprovingly. "Kousei!"

-------------------------------------

Yeah, they talked more. Mostly, it was Mom disapproving of all he did and Satomi backing her up. All the more reason not to divorce and remarry, right? Don't want two people on your back...

Satomi was right. I needed the soup. And honestly, I don't see how her soup tastes bad. Maybe Kouji's just got strange taste buds. The cold still grew worse. Mom took me home the next day, kept me out of school, fed me soup on the hour every hour, and even let Kouji visit for five minutes.

About those five minutes...

Remember Burmy and Rog? Well, it turns out that Shinya didn't have the heart to use them as bait or leave them for 'the wild to conquer.' So he did a very Shinya thing. He took them home. How, you ask? At first, in his pockets. Then, Takuya apparently took off his shoes in the car, tossed them in the back seat, and fell asleep.

Do you really need to know the rest? Yeah, he was in for a nasty surprise.

I did get better in the day and got control of the phone for a few minutes, when Dad called to apologize. I felt bad for him almost. I mean...apologizing after Father's Day...ouch. Still, I think I'm beginning to see him from a new perspective. Don't get me wrong, because he's still clumsy.

Last week, he happened to be unlucky enough to snap off a finger from the statue in front of the library. The rest of the time at the library was pleasant, though.

I think I can understand, though. Dad's clumsy, but that's barely the shell of him. Even if it was just one story, I felt like I dug deeper that day. I felt closer to having a normal family, closer to my goal. That feeling was worth all that I had to go through.

Still, I wish he would get to the point instead of annoying me like that. But hey, what can a guy do, right?

It was simple. Maybe I was unconsciously avoiding it.

Avoidance leads to complexity and complexity isn't simplicity. I like things simple.

The more I think my family is strange, the stranger they'll be, because I'll be avoiding them from all the embarrassment. Truth is, they're as strange as any other family, maybe a tad bit stranger. But if I want a normal family, and I keep my attitude positive...

If I can accept them for who they are and be close to them, I'll be happy enough just to have that. Sometimes you can't think, "If I do this, this will happen. And if this happens, this will happen, but I want this to happen." Like they say, go with the flow. Sometimes, it brings you the happiest moments of your life.

"You're like your father," Mom told me. It's true, I'm clumsy. I don't know how else I'm like him. Maybe I can find out, and I want to. If I'm like him, maybe I can get closer.

It wasn't the Father's Day I was hoping for, but it's definitely one I'll never forget.

-------------------------------------

A/N-

First off, thank you for reading. Any opinions? I'll fix it when I have time, if anyone cares to point out iffy times or errors (because I love my summary, which is rare, but I hate the ending, as usual). No idea why I write this, but oh well. I don't give my parents Father's Day Gifts or Mother's Day Gifts, and they have no idea WHAT I type on the computer (the fanfiction, that is). I'll be back soon with Ch. 44 of NTB3, promise! Just...gimme a few days to plot, plan, and write. Or at least write.

Review or PM or Flame.