Reunion: April 7, 2012
It had been ten years since the Legendary Warriors first stepped foot in the Digital World, two roaming bands of unlikely friends, drawn together by conflict and catastrophe. Ten years since the chosen ones of Flame, Light, Wind, Ice, and Thunder fell prey to Ophanimon's spell, and ten years since the child of Darkness found the unchosen ones and united them in Wood, Earth, Water, and Steel to save their fallen friends.
Ten years since two teams became one and ten hearts and powers came together to create the ultimate warrior, who bested Ophanimon singlehandedly and brought peace back to the Digital World.
Ten years since they bid goodbye to their friends and their predecessors and stepped foot in a portal for home, as a new day broke behind them.
It was daybreak now in the human world, a bright and beautiful spring morning at Narita International Airport. A flight from Italy had recently landed, and Zoë stepped into the terminal, stretching. It had been a long flight, and she was sore and tired.
She stopped mid-yawn and looked through the crowd to see Teppei smirking.
"Hey yourself," she answered. "You try crossing multiple time zones and see how tired you are."
"No thank you," Teppei replied, waving his hands. "I'm an earth kind of guy myself. You take the air."
She gave him a sarcastic look. "Very funny."
"I can afford to be. I'm doing you a favor, remember? You needed someone to carry every damn thing you brought home from Italy."
He had a point, miracle of miracles. Zoë's plans to make it home in time for their annual meeting at Shibuya Station had almost been completely derailed, and she'd only just gotten this flight at the last minute. Teppei had been the only one available to help her get back home.
Instead of arguing with him, Zoë shoved her carry-on at him. "Get to it, then."
After getting her luggage, they got on the express line back to the city, and Zoë looked out the window wistfully.
"Don't tell me you were homesick," Teppei complained. "You were only on a short trip!"
"No," she answered, rolling her eyes. Honestly, twenty and he was still a complete pain? "I was just thinking. I can't believe it's been ten years since that day."
Teppei didn't even bother sounding tough as he answered, "Yeah. And you nearly missed it."
"I never would have forgiven myself," she insisted. "It's why I fought so hard to get on this flight. I didn't plan on getting stuck there, but there was so much going on at the time."
"Yeah, we know," he replied. "International studies and journalism. You can't keep from butting in."
She gave him another irritated look. "Thanks."
"That's why we made it, though," he admitted.
"Yeah," she sighed. "That's why everything's still here."
Teppei fell silent and looked out the window with her. It was hard to ignore the serene beauty around them, part of their victory from the long and desperate fight they went through a decade ago.
In Nagano, the day was beginning just as beautifully. In a small café by their college, Koichi was on the phone when Teruo came over with the coffees for them and Chiaki. Chiaki took hers with a smile and placed Koichi's in front of him. Teruo did all he could to keep from laughing at the annoyed look Chiaki gave Koichi, who gave an apologetic look in return.
"Sorry, I've got to go. See you later."
As Koichi hung up and set down his phone, Teruo asked, "Koji?"
"Yeah. He's got some work at the station, but he'll make it before six."
"They work him like hell, don't they?" Teruo pointed out.
Koichi shrugged and sipped his coffee. "He's the one who wanted to go into the police after high school."
"I got a text from Zoë while you were talking," Chiaki said. "Teppei helped her get her stuff to her apartment. She's resting now, and I'll call her at least an hour before we head off."
Koichi nodded. "Today's the day."
Teruo and Chiaki nodded back, and Chiaki added, "Ten years. But we'll all have the chance talk about it then."
"What are we doing about dinner?" Teruo pointed out. "It's going to be hard to find a restaurant for ten people."
"Takuya knows a few people," Chiaki said. "And when in doubt, we just hide behind your brother's badge." At this, Koichi nearly choked on his coffee from laughing.
"Like usual when we're in Tokyo?" he asked.
"Only every other trip," Teruo joked back.
"Save some of the jokes for when we meet up with him," Koichi insisted. "You know how much he loves everybody picking on him."
This started another round of laughter, and finally, Chiaki had to cut in with, "Let's make sure we finish our breakfast first. It's going to be a long ride."
"Yeah," Teruo agreed. "We'll catch up with everyone then."
They nodded and settled into a comfortable silence, waiting for the chance to meet their friends, to begin the part of the day they were all anticipating.
It had been a lucky break for Tommy that his classes ended early that day. It gave him the chance to go for a run in the park before he had to wash up for his meeting with the others in Shibuya. But as he finished and began making his way home, one of the middle school boys he coached in basketball walked over to him.
"Coach!" he said. "Aren't we supposed to have practice?"
"Not today, Yu," Tommy answered. "I've got plans. I'll need you to help rein in Tagiru for me, make sure he doesn't hurt himself trying to pull off something flashy again."
"Plans?" Yu asked in confusion before his friend and team captain ran up.
"Hey, Taiki," Tommy greeted. "You all set?"
Taiki nodded, and when Yu looked at him, he explained, "You weren't here last year, but every year on this day, Coach takes time off to visit with his friends. Most of them left for college before he did, and they're scattered around the country."
"It's the anniversary of the most important day of our lives," Tommy said. "The day we all met."
"Why is that day so important to you?" Yu asked.
Tommy looked at his two players. From the day he'd met both Taiki and Yu, he'd noticed a quality about them, something very familiar. Something he and his friends had had when they weren't much younger than they were.
"Maybe one day, you'll learn for yourself," he said.
This left both Taiki and Yu confused, and Tommy couldn't hide his grin as he waved goodbye, running past them. If his time in the Digital World had passed, then he would be proud to pass on the mantle to children like this.
JP knocked on the door of Takuya's apartment. He knew his friend had skipped his classes today to try to finish the preparations for their reunion, but he hadn't expected the heavy smell of garlic to be coming from the room.
"Oh no," he sighed. "I was afraid of this."
Takuya opened the door, looking up momentarily from his smartphone. "Hey, JP. Perfect timing. Did you bring your tablet?"
"You know I use it for art," JP said warningly, but he took his beloved computer out of its protective case. It was the latest model of the most popular brand—not a high-end drawing tablet, but an all-purpose one that he loved dearly. "What are you doing?"
"Cooking," he answered, glancing down at his phone again. "Okay, so should the gyoza have this much garlic?"
"Not from the way this smells," JP warned, looking at the mess all over Takuya's stove. Gyoza were burning on a frying pan and a gummy mess of something between a rice ball and mochi was stuck to the counter. "Does Koji know you're trying to burn down the apartment?"
"He's still at work," Takuya answered easily, trying to move onto another recipe. "All right, probably some kind of Italian dessert, if Zoë just got back. Tiramisu shouldn't be too hard—we've got the coffee pot. Wait, it needs espresso?"
JP could feel a headache coming on, and he realized just how bad it would be for Koji if he came home to this mess. No wonder Takuya had waited for his roommate to be at work.
"Before I hand over my precious tablet, answer me this," he said. "Why are you cooking? You said you could pull some strings to get us reservations at your friend's restaurant."
"I know, I know," Takuya replied, cringing as he set down his phone. "But then finals hit and everything, and I forgot all about it. By the time I called Miki, I couldn't get a table for all of us."
Oh yeah, Koji would have killed him by now. In fact, JP was sure that the kitchen was already a crime scene in progress. Not to mention what the others were going to do when they found out that one of their fearless leaders had screwed up big time on the day they'd all been looking forward to.
"So you decided to take your chances with the cooking," JP said. "Don't you and Koji practically live off convenience store food and takeout? Since, you know, neither one of you can cook?"
"I know," Takuya answered. "But I found some recipes online, and they were marked easy. I mean, how hard could it be?"
JP just gave him a disbelieving stare, prompting Takuya to look around at the kitchen. The rice had turned into paste and was quickly hardening all over the counter, spilled garlic was still giving off a terrible smell, and the gyoza had burned. As he frantically turned to get the pan off the stove, he heard JP sigh.
"What are you working on now?"
"Dessert," Takuya admitted, scraping the gyoza into the garbage can. "I was hoping for something I could do easily…"
JP brought up a recipe on his tablet. "I've got one for strawberry daifuku. We'll be able to put this rice mess to good use."
"I don't have any red beans," Takuya warned. "Or strawberries for that matter."
"I'll pick them up. Don't touch my computer."
"No problem," he promised. "But what do you want me to do?"
"First, start cleaning up this mess before Koji kills you," JP warned, taking stock of the ingredients they'd need.
"And after that?"
JP pointed at Takuya's phone. "Put that thing to better use and order takeout."
Takuya was left holding a sponge, laughing nervously, as JP made his way out.
It was close to five when Koji got off of work. He knew that he was pushing it on time, but he also knew that the others wouldn't blame him if he ended up late. They all took pride in his work with the police, and the worst he'd get would be a bit of ribbing from Takuya and Koichi.
But he'd made it out, and with plenty of time to spare. So after quickly changing, he stopped off at a store and picked up a bottle of wine and some cups, with a bottle of grape juice for Tommy.
As he walked his way over to Shibuya Station, he found his friends sitting on a picnic blanket, getting food from a series of cartons provided by JP and Takuya. The moment Takuya saw him, he gave him a sheepish grin, and Koji gave him a look.
"I thought you said you had the reservations covered."
"Funny story, apparently the restaurant was booked," Takuya explained. "We had to improvise."
"Ordering the same takeout we get every night?" Koji asked.
"I made him get classier stuff," JP insisted. "There's some homemade dessert, though. Strawberry daifuku?"
"It's something," Koji admitted, sitting down and breaking out the wine and juice. He made absolutely sure the juice went to Tommy before passing around the cups of wine, but as he looked around, he noticed a missing face. "Where's Katsuharu?"
At once, the others gave each other worried glances. "We were hoping you knew," Chiaki admitted.
Koji shook his head. "The station's nowhere near his apartment. You couldn't call him?"
"He wouldn't answer his phone," Takuya said.
"Damn it, where is he?" Teppei muttered.
It was getting dangerously close to six, and Katsuharu hadn't moved from his desk. Bokomon's book was opened in front of him, with college notes on various languages spread out around it. Lately, he'd gotten it into his head to try to apply what he'd learned from linguistics to the book and see what secrets it held.
But the language of the Digital World was unlike anything that existed in the human world. Four characters made up the entire written language, and somehow, the sequence of them made up entire words and sentences, translating into Japanese.
He sighed and rubbed at his eyes as he looked at the page he was focusing on—the once-blackened sheets that held the prophecy of Susanoomon. The faint scent of flowers still came from the pages, from the blooms Bokomon had desperately rubbed against the words to try to make them appear, and it only made the nostalgia more painful to bear.
It had been ten years.
He'd made his journey through the decade without even half the troubles he had now, but something happened when he graduated from college. It was then that it suddenly hit Katsuharu that he was an adult.
Oh, sure, he'd known it for years now, since he hit twenty and was officially recognized as an adult by law. But he was still going through school then, and it didn't have the same impact it did now.
An adult, no longer a child, and possibly never able to enter the Digital World again.
It wasn't an easy thing to accept.
"What's wrong with me?" he moaned. He never used to be this hesitant.
He looked over at the clock and saw that he was about to miss the reunion. Without another word, he closed the book and brought it with him on his way to Shibuya Station.
They were sitting around on a picnic blanket when he found them, eating takeout and drinking wine. They'd changed so much. Teppei, for all he still drove everybody nuts, was always someone they could depend on in a pinch, the first to jump up and offer his help. Chiaki, Koichi, and Teruo were as inseparable as ever, standing proud and tall as equals. Chiaki didn't need to stand up for anybody anymore, though she never hesitated to help others feel welcome. Teruo had really grown, learning to stand on his own without having to worship heroes, and always offering others a friendly grin. And Koichi had long since let go of his anger and pain, taking joy in the new future he'd been given.
It wasn't just the ones he'd led. Takuya's group, too, had grown. Takuya might have still made mistakes—for one, everybody was eating takeout for dinner, instead of waiting to go to a restaurant later—but his leadership skills improved so much that everybody could look to him for advice. Koji had let go of his past just as Koichi had, and he was determined to create a world of justice for all, leading him to join the police. Zoë had spread her horizons, looking out into the whole world and deciding to find out everything she could in it and letting others learn about new places and people. Tommy was starting his second year of college and had become a bit of a leader himself, mentoring kids younger than he was and teaching them how to be brave and strong. And JP had graduated college, excelling in engineering and art, helping with engineering projects while working his way toward becoming an architect.
And that left Katsuharu, graduated but still working at the university on linguistics projects, suddenly unsure where he wanted to go with his life and afraid that he couldn't go back. For a moment, as he stood farther away from his friends, he felt as though he were still twelve, amidst a sea of twenty-somethings who had everything about their lives figured out.
Teppei looked over and groaned, "There you are!"
Katsuharu's legs felt like wood, and he forced himself to walk over, hearing Takuya say, "We thought you were going to be late! Something wrong?"
They were looking up to him, their expressions filled with worry, and that was when Katsuharu realized that he was wrong. He wasn't a twelve-year-old among adults. They were still the children who had gone to the Digital World and fought alongside him and against him, done everything in their power to defeat Ophanimon and restore the Digital World.
"Sorry, guys," he said, sitting down. "Been feeling a little nostalgic lately."
"You're not the only one," Zoë pointed out. "That's why we're all here."
Katsuharu reached out for some of the food as Koji passed him a cup of wine. With the tension broken, he said, "Hey, Koichi, when I came over here, I noticed a wet floor sign over by where those stairs were that you fell. Would have helped ten years ago."
Koichi snickered. "No, what would have helped would have been Takuya holding the door on the elevator."
"You are never gonna let that go, are you?" Takuya moaned.
This sparked a round of laughter from the adults who'd once been children. They hadn't changed as drastically as Katsuharu feared. They were just grown up now. They were just a little less lost than they'd been back then.
They traded stories of the Digital World, laughing at the familiar tales. There were some adventures that others hadn't experienced, such as the time JP and Tommy had been attacked by a herd of Pagumon, hungry for chocolate. Every so often, police officers wandered by, but when they saw Koji, they only waved and walked past, familiar enough with his yearly ritual. Once, Koichi threw a daifuku at the back of his head in front of one of the female officers that they knew Koji liked, which made everyone laugh as Koji held his temper long enough for the woman to go by only to retaliate after by throwing another daifuku right back at him. JP ended up yelling at the both of them for wasting the food he'd prepared and telling them that if they were going to throw food, they might as well throw the takeout Takuya hadn't worked hard on.
They ate, laughed, and drank for the next hour. It might as well have been a relaxed afternoon in the Digital World, rather than an evening sitting on the floor of one of the busiest train stations in Tokyo.
When they finally finished, Takuya rolled up the blanket while JP threw out the empty food cartons. Koji found a safe place to dispose of the wine bottle, and the others flipped through Bokomon's book.
"Kind of makes you wish that they could be here too," Tommy said.
"Yeah, but Digimon can't go to our world," Koji warned. "There are barriers to prevent it, so they can't destroy our world."
"But maybe one day," Takuya whispered, touching the book.
After a long moment, Katsuharu closed the book. The ten of them stood in a circle, somberly looking down at the closed pages, not really sure what to do.
And then a scent filled the air—something fragrant, purer than roses. Katsuharu was confused for a moment, wondering if the scent was coming from the flower-rubbed pages in the book, but no. This scent was fresh, from flowers brighter than sunlight.
And then came a sound, a whistle, sweeter than angelsong.
An elevator opened behind them, sweet-smelling steam hissing out of it, as if by invitation.
"Is that…" Chiaki started.
Takuya looked at Katsuharu. "Your choice."
"It's all of ours," Katsuharu insisted, looking at the group.
All at once, they nodded, and Katsuharu placed the book in the elevator. On the cover was written a message, signed by all of them:
"To the children who inherit courage."
And they stood before the elevator together until Katsuharu spoke:
Thank you to everyone who has supported this fic for the past six years.