-by Ajora Fravashi
*Disclaimer - I don't own Digimon. Toei/Bandai does.
*Note: This is a sequel novella to "Phantom Codewalker". I highly urge anyone just getting into this to read at least the chapters after the first one (since only chapter 1 had sex in it), as everything concerning Ryo in this fic borrows heavily from theories established in Codewalker.
*Warnings and such: take heed of the R rating, especially once I really get this story moving. Trust me. And if mentions of shounen ai (boys in love with each other) makes you squeamish, back out now.
There had been three of them, the Tag Tamers. One was now dead, victim to a corrupt syndicate seeking the power to enter the Digital World. The other was bound into the services of the Holy Beasts and the tasks that one had were far more important than those the young man had as a Tamer. And finally, there was him.
There had been a time when he was a genuine Tamer of the Gennai Order, a secret sect of which Ryo had been a member of. It had been before he met Wormmon and the bond was sealed. He had been reliant on Ryo and V-mon for protection until Ryo was sent to Millenniumon's mountain and the Digital World was split in two. He couldn't quite remember what went on, just that he woke up after a giant quake and found Wormmon taking care of him. Eventually he had the opportunity to introduce his partner to Ryo, and all the while Ryo was watching on with the most comical mix of disgust, contempt, and slight fear. Ryo always did hate bugs with a passion, especially if they were bigger than his hand, green, and had more than four legs. Oh, the Tamer did eventually get over his phobia long enough to tolerate Wormmon's presence, but it was still an amusing memory.
Ken wondered faintly how his friend managed to handle the employment with such a phobia. After all, there were plenty of arthropod digimon about and plenty of them fit the big, green, multi-limbed criteria. He also wondered just how his first Jogress partner was handling the solitude of that job. While a digimon might provide company, it wasn't quite the same as having another person around.
Here he was now, in Daisuke's bedroom with the others of his group, and they all should be studying for tests slotted for the morrow. That was the key word, should. Miyako and Daisuke were arguing over the sugar cookies Hikari brought while he and Takeru poked halfheartedly through algebra books. Hikari gave up on trying to keep the others from arguing and was intent on sorting out her photo album.
He had been tempted several times before to invite Ryo back into the real world and among his friends, but Ryo was older than all the Chosen Children now and had been since the time in both the Digital World and Earth synchronized. The Tamer would probably feel out of place. Of course, it wasn't like he never felt out of place either.
"Whoever developed algebra was a sadist," Takeru grunted at last after having thrown down his pencil and closed the book.
"His name was al-Khwarizmi, and to be frank his clarification of the system is much more preferable to the convoluted Hindu system that algebra was derived from," Ken found himself replying without really thinking about it beforehand. Amazing how trivial little facts like that managed to stick around in his mind even now that the Dark Seed was dormant.
"He's still a sadist," the blond proclaimed before reaching over to grab a couple of cookies from under Miyako's and Daisuke's noses. Once they were secured, Takeru dropped one onto the napkin next to Ken's book.
Thoughtfully, Ken picked up the cookie and nibbled on it. It was... strange... to say the least. Before that unpleasant little incident in the desert, Takeru rarely talked to him and rarely did anything for him. Then these little gestures started. First Takeru was fixing food for him in Ryo's cottage, then offered that dumpling back in the Chinese restaurant. Then the Child of Hope was the first to accept his party invitation without question and had even forfeited a ride home for his sake. Takeru just continued to do these things even now, long after the battle with BelialVandemon. It was times like these that made Ken wonder why.
This was, of course, even stranger. He could read Miyako and Daisuke like open books now, but he could never quite understand Takeru. Not that he could quite figure out Hikari and Iori either, but they weren't the ones making such gestures towards him. And, while he would never admit to it openly, he liked Takeru's little gestures. Just how much, he wasn't sure he wanted to think about at the moment.
The two friendly rivals finally settled down after the last cookies were scarfed down, and Ken soon found himself pelted with questions regarding their homework. Most of these were, unsurprisingly, uttered by Daisuke, and he did his best to help without giving the answers outright. Daisuke just wasn't the fool the boy made himself out to be, and Ken enjoyed getting his friend to think with just a little prodding.
Eventually, however, night fell and they all had to head home. Miyako trotted off down the street outside of Daisuke's apartment, Hikari headed in the opposite direction, which left Ken and Takeru alone to walk towards the Odaiba-Kaihinkoen train station. This was, of course, another thing that had Ken question Takeru's motives... if there were any. He couldn't quite recall when Takeru started walking with him to the train station after study sessions like these, nor had he ever asked about it. They seemed to have developed a silent understanding, if that term was the right one to use in this circumstance.
They walked in silence, as they normally did. There wasn't all that much that could be said that wasn't voiced already, and neither were all that interested in small talk. The winds that blew in from the bay were crisp and cool, but not cold enough to be unpleasant, and the sky almost clear despite the city's visual pollution. It was, all in all, a very nice night.
Ken sighed as they finally approached the noisy station built near Odaiba's seaside park. Only the Yurikamome line passed through this part of Odaiba, and it crossed Rainbow Bridge to connect with another train that would take him home to Tamachi. It was a tedious process trying to get anywhere in Tokyo, but at least he had company right now and it did alleviate his boredom.
Absently he gazed out at the train tracks, shifting among half-formed thoughts. Every now and then his neck felt stiff, presumably from the Dark Seed embedded in his brain stem. Lately, once he settled into as normal a life as he could manage with friends to support him, the stiffness occurred with more regularity. There were even times now when a muscle in the general vicinity of it would twitch for a second and relax as if it never happened. What that could mean, however, was something he didn't want to think about.
Takeru was talking to him, but he couldn't quite grasp what the blond was trying to say. Somehow all the noise in the station washed away into silence as the sensation of a nail being hammered into the back of his neck began to increase. It kept getting worse with each breath he took until, thankfully, the pain went away.
Panic spread across the Japan Rail train station as the famed genius Ichijouji Ken collapsed in a dead faint.
Akiyama Ryo had never been brilliant. He never had Osamu's skills and never could have managed as much as he did without the elder Ichijouji boy's legacy. That legacy was left in the forms of technical reports, programs, and several essays on Osamu's theories. What could be printed was bound into books and binders, what couldn't was backed up on compact disks. Now, as always these days, he was sorting through everything he could in an attempt to find a solution to the Dark Seed problem.
For the thousandth time he cursed the circumstances of Osamu's death and cursed the doctors that couldn't save the boy. If Osamu was here they could have found a way to removed the Dark Seed without killing Ken in the process. Unfortunately, no amount of wishing would ever bring Osamu back.
No amount of wishing would bring Kageko back and restore Libra's sanity.
No amount of wishing would still the newfound emotions triggered by Ken's acceptance of him back into the boy's life. They were just supposed to be friends. Nothing more, nothing less. The feelings that his tsukaimon liked to tease him about was nothing other than his loneliness making itself known. But then, no amount of second-guessing himself was helping either.
With a grunt of disgust at his inability to do anything right, the Tamer closed one of Osamu's books and rose from his chair. None of the Holy Beasts could help him concerning the Dark Seed, none of the other Chosen Children he knew could figure out what to do about it. Among all the great minds among the Chosen Ones, none of them could suggest a way of removing the Dark Seed without killing Ken. It was quite discouraging.
Ken had knocked him out of the way of that seed so long ago and taken it in his stead, and the guilt Ryo carried knowing that pained him like a thorn that would never go away. He should have been the one to suffer, not Ken. There were so many things he should have done and was unable to.
As the Tamer strode out of his study and past the living room to exit his cottage, he silently berated himself for the directions his thoughts were taking. The Ryo that had formed a Jogress partnership with Ken would have balked at the idea of being more than friends with the boy and certainly would have considered the Dark Seed problem as merely a challenge to overcome. The teenager he had once been wouldn't cling to the past as much as the Ryo of the present did.
But then even in the Digital World a child is forced to grow up. With a sigh, Ryo looked up into the sky, his gaze following the lazy flightpath of a tsukaimon biding its time. Oh, how he wished he could bring back the past and change everything for the better.
After having made a big show of being unconcerned with the world and its populace just by the patterns of his flight, Savali the tsukaimon finally touched down gracefully into the Tamer's arms. He cocked his head in curiosity at the depression evident in the Tamer's face. Well, so much for amusing himself by teasing Ryo.
Even with the children of Earth gaining digimon partners, few monsters remained unbonded, including Savali. The tsukaimon pondered this quirk at times, then dismissed it as just one of those many oddities of the Digital World. He was a virus that never really caused as much trouble as most virii did, generally because he preferred to play with his victims rather than cause mass destruction. Mind games were much more entertaining, and he chose just the right human to play with. He didn't need some stupid bond when he had a plaything.
The tsukaimon took a few moments to make himself comfortable before deciding to dish out his news. Why he willingly served as messenger and spy for Ryo, he was unable to tell other than that he felt like it and that it was something worth doing.
"The Chosen Children should have eliminated Demon," Savali stated at last, closing his eyes as he felt the Tamer scratch behind one of his wings. "I've heard from a good source in the Demon Corps that Demon still wants the Dark Seed."
Ryo grimaced at this. Demon had been too powerful for the Children that dealt with him and was simply pushed aside. Thus the return of Demon was inevitable. "He's the last mega-level virus, that much is uncontested. I can't see why he would need the Dark Seed... unless..."
Savali let out a yelp of surprise when the Tamer suddenly spun on his heel, entered the cottage and shut the door behind them. Ryo dumped the creature onto one of the chairs with a quick apology before flipping open the security panel. Within the span of a few seconds he keyed in his identification code and activated the cloaking and defense perimeters.
"What was that all about," the ball of purple and white crowed indignantly from his new perch. Just for that he was going to tease Ryo even more mercilessly than usual once this was all resolved.
"Were you followed?"
"No," Savali snapped, offended that the Tamer would think he was stupid enough to get caught or be trailed by any of Demon's lackeys. But then there was always the possibility that his poking around had drawn attention. "Not that I can recall. What's this about, Tamer?"
The Tamer brushed back a lock of overhanging hair in trepidation as he gave voice to what was on his mind. "Back on Earth there were certain cultures where new rulers would eat the flesh of the recently deceased ruler to gain their predecessors' powers."
Scrunching up what he had for a nose, Savali uttered his disgust at the concept. "That's sick, Ryo. What does this have to do with Demon?"
Ryo took a moment to settle into his chair and allow for the tsukaimon to curl up into his lap. "The Dark Seeds were all that was left of Millenniumon after I sealed him away in that crystal, they contain Millenniumon's code and act as insurance that Moon=Millenniumon will rise. If the Dark Seed blooms, Moon=Millenniumon shall be born, and this presents a threat to Demon's status as the last mega-level virus. I think he might be trying to shoot down two birds with one stone. Devouring the Dark Seed would double or triple his own power while eliminating the threat of Moon=Millenniumon's rebirth."
"If he's the only mega virus around, why would he need more power?" Savali looked up quizzically when the Tamer failed to answer, then prodded Ryo none too gently until he got a response.
"I have an idea, although I'm not sure if it's anything close to what Demon might really be planning," Ryo stated at last as he resumed scratching behind the tsukaimon's wings. "Mind if I tell you later?"
The purple and white ball of fluff on his lap gave a derisive snort. "If you're going to tell me, you'll do so eventually. You always do."
With a sigh, the Tamer leaned back into the soft cushioning of the overstuffed chair, closing his eyes to the rays of light that filtered through the windows' curtains. He had his theories, certainly, but he wasn't quite sure that he wanted to utter them yet.
He'd have to find some way to extract that Dark Seed without killing Ken, and soon. Demon would have no qualms about devouring Ken along with the Dark Seed; and if it did bloom, Moon=Millenniumon would have nothing against killing its host. Unless he found a way to get rid of the seed, he would lose his last living human friend. And the greatest priority of all was preserving his Jogress partner's life.
Ajora: Man, Toei really left Demon too much in the open... The events mentioned concerning Ryo, Ken, and Millenniumon are from the Digimon Wonderswan games. Götterdämmerung, by the way, means "Twilight of the Gods".
Kageko and Libra are on loan from Meimi. The only original character I can claim as my own is Savali, whose name was given to him by Ryo. Savali's name comes from the name of a Samoan divine messenger, which fits him wonderfully considering the jobs he does for Ryo. Ryo, for the uninitiated, is the kid you see in Ken's flashbacks and was Ken's Jogress partner for the games Tag Tamers and D-1 Tamers.