*^* Sweethearts, Soybeans, and Solitaire *^*

A Digimon Fanfic by Bandit

A Note- Setsubun is a Japanese holiday, celebrated on Feb. 3, during which the children run around the house throwing roasted soy beans into the corners and yelling 'oni wa soto', which is Japanese for 'goblin go away', or something like that. The idea is to get rid of all the bad spirits of the past year and invite good luck into the house for the next year. Most people don't believe in it anymore, but they still do it, like how we do Halloween even though we don't believe in Frankenstein and Dracula.

*^* Chapter 1- Setsubun *^*

"Oni wa soto!" Kari yelled, throwing a handful of roasted soybeans into a corner of her room. Tai poked his head through the door.

"Still not out of those things?" he said with a smile. Kari gave him a thumbs-up.

"Nope, I've still got a bunch left. Want some?"

He shrugged. "Sure, why not?"

"Aren't you a little old for Setsubun?" Kari said, handing him some soybeans.

"You're never too old to throw food," Tai said, popping a bean into his mouth and heading out of the room, crunching away. A minute later, she heard him bellow, "Oni wa soto!" and a minute later the rattle of beans hitting the wall in the kitchen.

The doorbell rang, and Kari hurried to answer it. TK had promised to come over and help her do her Valentines, and she didn't want Tai to get there first and keep him talking for ages about sports. She threw open the door...

"Hi, Kari!" Davis exclaimed.

Kari froze mid-grin...and then inspiration shot through her mind.

"Oni wa soto!" she yelled, and threw her handful of beans at the startled boy. They bounced off of his face, rolling around the floor.

"Oh, very funny," Davis said, crossing his arms.

"I try," Kari said with a smirk. Davis, to her surprise, said nothing in return, but paused, looking suddenly nervous. "What?" she snapped. Her patience with Davis was not high at this particular moment. He twisted his toe in the carpet, not meeting her eyes.

"I...uh...I was wondering if, um, if you would..."

"Hey, Kari, who's here?" Tai said, sticking his head through the doorway from the kitchen. Kari saw opportunity and seized it by the throat.

"Oh, hi, Tai! Davis just stopped by to talk about soccer! Why don't you two go in the living room and...and bond, or whatever it is guys do?"

Tai grinned. "Sure! Hey, Davis, did you see that game against the Phoenixes?"

Before Davis could protest, he was steered into the living room. Kari silently congratulated herself.

*Now if Tai can just keep motor-mouthing away at him until TK shows up, my problem is solved!*

And at that moment, another knock sounded at the door. Kari spun around and flung the door wide.

"Hi, TK!"

"Happy Setsubun!" TK said, stepping through the door and reaching into his pocket to pull out a bag of soybeans.

"Oh, perfect! I used up my last handful on Davis!"

"You exorcised Davis?" TK said bemusedly, staring at her. He shook his head, grinning. "Oh, I would have paid to see that!"

"Yeah, well, he and Tai are 'bonding' in the living room, so with any luck I won't need to do it again for a while. Still, we'd better get to work while we can. You did bring the stuff, didn't you?"

TK held up his bag and gave it a rattle. Patamon poked his head out, with a bottle of glue in his mouth.

"Wrdy!" the little Digimon said around it. Frowning, he spat it back into the bag, and repeated himself. "We're ready!"

"C'mon, then!" Kari grabbed TK's hand and pulled him into her and Tai's shared bedroom before Davis could spot him and go on the warpath.

The two kids settled down quickly, spreading art supplies across the floor. Kari grabbed scissors and paper and began to cut out hearts. "So, how many do you need?"

"Thirty-four," TK said, folding more paper into cards. "One for each teacher, one for Mom and for Matt, and one for each kid in my homeroom. How about you?"

"Thirty-seven," Kari said. "Same people at school, but also for my bus driver, Mom, Tai, and Sora."

TK frowned, counting. "Kari, that's only thirty-six people."

Kari blushed. "Never mind, thirty-six, then." *I can make his on my own,* she reminded herself. *It's better if it's a surprise, anyway.*

"Okay, that's seventy. At least it's a nice even number," TK said. "Let's get cracking, or we'll be here until May."

"I think we'll be ok," Kari said, giggling. "It's Setsubun today, and Valentine's is the fourteenth, so that gives us plenty of time."

"With any luck it'll only take today," TK said. "Hey, Patamon, help us out here!"

The little Digimon poked its head over the edge of Kari's bunk. "What am I supposed to do? I don't have any hands, remember, TK?"

"You can pick things up, though. How about putting glue on my hearts?" Kari said.

"Okay!" Patamon agreed cheerily, and flapped down off of the bunk. Gatomon sauntered through the door.

"I'm always glad to help, of course," she said with a catty smile. "As long as it doesn't involve getting glue or markers on my fur."

"You can cut me more hearts, Gatomon," Kari said, handing her some scissors. "You, um, can do that, can't you?"

"Of course I can," Gatomon said, picking up a piece of paper and getting to work. "Is there anything I can't do?"

"I bet you can't squirt milk out your nose," Patamon said.

"So, once we get these all made, we can put the names on, and split them up," Kari said, industriously sticking hearts on cards as fast as TK could fold and Patamon could apply glue.

"Milk out my nose?" Gatomon said in utter disgust. "What a crazy idea. Where did you hear about that, the tabloids?"

"Sounds good," TK said. "Hey, Patamon, mind handing me some more paper?"

"Here you go. I saw TK do it once when Kari told him a joke," Patamon said.

"No way! Eewww!" Gatomon said. "Oh, darn, look at that. You made my scissors slip."

"Aw, Gatomon, you're ruining all the paper!" TK complained, spotting the pile of shredded paper and discarded hearts next to the cat. "Cut that out!"

"I am cutting it out," Gatomon insisted. "Patamon, there's no way he shot milk out of his nose!"

"Here, I think some of these are still fixable," Kari said, setting down her card and picking up the remains of Gatomon's efforts. "See? If you make them a little smaller, they look just fine. We can put two in different colors on each card."

"Yes, he did!"

"He did not!"

"Did too!"

"Did not!"

"I saw him!"

"No, you didn't!"

"Did too!"

"Did not!"

"I DID, OKAY? NOW BE QUIET!" TK yelled, losing his patience.

There was a stunned silence, which was finally broken by Gatomon.


Kari burst out laughing, and the rest of them joined her.

Back in the living room, Davis perked up his ears to listen to a faint noise over Tai's endless stream of soccer babble.

"Funny...I thought for a minute that I heard..."

Suddenly, his eyebrows snapped together into a scowl. Leaping up and ignoring Tai's confusion, he hurried out of the living room and into the hallway, putting his ear to the door of Kari and Tai's room. From inside bubbled laughter; Kari's cheerful giggle, Gatomon's purr...

The very boyish chuckles of a boy and his Digimon.

"TK, you hurt my ears!" That was Kari, still giggling happily.

"Sorry, Angel Wings. I guess that stage projection thing Matt taught me really works."

"Maybe you should sing, too!"

"Nah, he'd cover the audience with milk." More laughter.

"TS..." Davis whispered angrily. "I can't believe it! How long has he been here?" Davis considered bursting in and confronting them about their low-down, dirty secrecy, but then remembered that this was Kari's house and she could do whatever she darn well liked.

Still scowling, he stomped away and was out the door before Tai could even finish asking him, "Where do you think you're going, you haven't heard who won yet!"

"That darn TP," Davis muttered as he stormed down the sidewalk on the way home. "I'll bet that he was there all along! That's why Kari was so eager to get rid of me-she wanted to get back to talking with her stupid lover-boy! Why does he have to ruin everything I do? Stupid PK, I'd like to 'Angel Wings' him right in the mouth!" As he reached his apartment, he was greeted by Demiveemon.

"Hiya, Davish! How'd it go?"

"Awful," Davis groaned, clumping into his room and flopping down on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. "I didn't even get a chance to ask her about the dance! She just sicced Tai on me and ran off to talk to TQ!"

"Well, they do sheem to be very good friendsh," Demiveemon said hesitantly. Davis sat up and glared at him.

"Oh, you're a big help."

"I just don't know much about humansh, Davish," Demiveemon lisped with a sigh.

"Well, I don't care how good of friends Kari is with that...that dumb blond! I'm going to ask her first! There's no way she's going to the Valentine's dance with TH!"

*^* *^* *^* *^* *^*