Disclaimer: La de da, nothing's mine.
Author's Note: I thought this story up while at work and just couldn't get it out of my head. It kinda ran away with me, too, and ended in a totally different place than I expected. It's kinda Kensuke-ish, but not till the end, and even that I suppose could be interpreted either way. Whatever's your preference, I suppose. Ah well. Read, review, and all that stuff.
Ken Ichijouji, Chosen Child of Kindness, king of guilt, and resident issue boy of the second generation of Digidestined, was wet. Wet, cold, and in his usual state of depression and not-quite-with-it-ness. Actually, this last was only of late, and he attributed to nerves and too much stress, and wondered if it wasn't wholly possible that a trace of the Kaiser's madness remained with him yet. It was a good assumption, seeing as he would have to be just a tad insane at the least to be walking alone at night in the Digital World in the rain, wearing mud-splattered pajamas and soft white slippers that were now stained and quite likely ruined beyond repair. Beyond that, he was alone, without even Wormmon, which was certainly a foolish thing for someone who was once the most hated creature in all the Digital World to be. No umbrella, no Digimon, and not much in the way of common sense, as far as Ken himself was concerned.
It had been, of course, a hideous day. Otherwise he wouldn't be where he was, wandering in the rain in the dark. No one ever gets wet unless they think it can only serve as a nice pathetic fallacy, an offset to the misery of being. The day had begun, as all bad days for students do, with a test. Followed, of course, by another test. While the Kaiser would have slid through these tests with ease, Ken was now just nice and average, and under far more mental strain than it was really fair for a boy his age to be under. When the scores had been posted, Ken had spied his name in its new, seemingly permanent spot near the bottom of the list.
Ken stood in the back of the room and read his name, as the other students around him chattered about the test and the scores. The ones with low scores could be immediately picked out of the crowd. They were the ones with disappointment written on their faces, having their backs patted by higher-scoring friends who would smile and say, "It's all right, at least you did better than so-and-so and what's-his-name." But in this case, it was Ken's name they spoke, accompanied by little self-righteous smirks and perhaps a nice derisive laugh. No one bothered to reassure Ken that he'd do better next time. They were all too busy basking in the dim light of a fallen genius, indulging at last in the hatred they had concealed when he was a media darling. Not that it would have mattered, because in those days Ken wouldn't have cared either way. But now, with his trappings fallen low and the heralding trumpets long silenced, there was nothing left but scorn and hatred for one that the rest of the students perceived as deserving all that he was given. And in truth, Ken couldn't bring himself to disagree.
It had only gotten worse as the day progressed. On the way home there had been a light drizzle, and the ground had been slicked with wet, clinging mud. He had been walking past a few of his classmates when one of said classmates had launched a fistful of mud at him. The mud ball had hit Ken in the side of the head with a wet thwacking noise.
The old, Kaiser part of him had urged him to make the other boys pay, then and there. To do what he knew he could and make them bow, beaten, at his feet, his servants and subordinates. For just a moment he had longed to feel the comforting cool touch of a whip in his hands, to hear the sound of that whip hitting flesh, and to return to those days when he had worried about nothing, cared about nothing. Pleasant numbness, sweet oblivion, to a time when he could say he didn't know better and be secure in his innocence and righteousness. No guilt, no shame, just power and control and that kind abyss.
But the Kaiser must be suppressed, and Ken stood still and quiet while they mocked him and threw dirt on him, not even flinching when one of the boys knocked the umbrella out of his hands. Wet, cold, and too afraid of himself to defend himself. Ken let them take out those long held in frustrations on him, never flinching. Until one of the boys had made the fatal mistake.
"I hear his brother was a genius once, too," one of those boys had said. "If he was still here, do you think he'd be burnt out too, Ichijouji?"
That insult Ken could not forgive. He cared so little for himself that he had convinced himself that he deserved those scornful words and hurled balls of mud, but he would happily protect those few who he perceived as caring or having once cared for him. With Osamu there was also that lingering guilt that he kept quietly in the back of his mind and tried not to think about, because then he hurt and couldn't find a way to salve the pain. And then he felt guilty again for not thinking about it, as if he had committed sacrilege, and so either way he could never win.
To say that Ken didn't clearly remember punching the insulter in the stomach would be a lie. He remembered every detail, from the moment he swung his fist to that well-known and long-hidden pleasure he felt knowing that, for just a moment, he controlled his life and his destiny and no one could stand in his way. He remembered watching impassively as the boy fell heavily to the ground, the impact jarring the mud and dirtying the clothes of all unfortunate enough to be standing close by.
The impact had also jolted Ken out of his automatic reaction, and the grim realization that he had allowed his id free reign for a moment forced Ken to remain still and unresisting as the rest of his tormentors took his attack as a signal to do to his body what they had tried to do to his mind. Ken was pushed to the ground, injuring his wrist as he landed, and then unceremoniously pounded to a pulp, like the stereotypical nerd faced with a bully. That Ken knew how to defend himself didn't matter. To defend would be to unleash some of that boiling inner fury that seethed in the dark recesses of his mind, and Ken would not allow that again. Beaten, bloody, with a purplish bruise spreading across his face and an aching wrist, Ken had wandered home, mentally silencing the voice of the outraged Kaiser who asserted that he could have saved himself the physical pain by only letting his attackers see the barest glimpse of what stirred restlessly within him.
The return home had not been pleasant. While in retrospect he supposed that it was nice to know his mother cared, her incessant coddling and fussing was becoming unbearable. She had flitted about like a proverbial mother hen, getting him ice and bandages and constantly needing assurances that, yes, he was fine, and no, he didn't need to go to the doctor. His father's reaction had been different, but not much better. Behind the bland speech that it was okay, as long as Ken was all right, the boy had read that unspoken disappointment. The silent question of 'why didn't you defend yourself,' the belief that Ken hadn't because he couldn't, not because he had made the conscious choice not to. Ken had allowed the disappointment to pass, offering no excuses. There were none. He hadn't defended himself because of the Kaiser, and it was he who had allowed the Kaiser free in the first place. The blame was his alone, and so the disappointment was his as well.
When Ken had gone to bed, he had stayed awake by the door, listening to his parents discuss his newest test grades. Disappointment again. Be who you are, they had said, but obviously that didn't include in school. Was he still trying, was there something wrong with him, perhaps he should study harder. No one understood again, and that was still no excuse. Ken sat up in bed, hugged his knees and whispered words of condemnation in his head, like a prisoner facing his own judge. When it became too much, he left Wormmon to sleep and went to the Digital World to clear his head.
He had left Wormmon on purpose, not because he wanted to alone in his misery, but because he wanted to be the only one miserable. His sadness only led to Wormmon's distress, and Ken was aware more than anyone of how unfair that was. Why was Wormmon to suffer for being placed with a defective Digidestined? Not fair at all, most certainly. So Ken walked in the night and the rain alone, and if his mind was at peace in only one matter, it was that Wormmon was content in his slumber in Ken's room, and not a forced party to Ken's standard misery.
Night in the Digital World was a strange thing, as Ken had discovered in his two month self-imposed exile from the real world. Or perhaps exile of the real world was a better word choice, as during those days it had been the world that was cast away from Ken, not the other way around. In either version, the outcome was the same. Sitting in the heart of his base late at night, staring blankly at the view screens and the stranger Digimon who walked the night, with glowing eyes and glowing tongues and odd balls of light that guided them through the dark and guided the dark rings to them.
Ken looked up at the sky and was silent and observed. The sky was not the poetic inky midnight blue of storybooks, but in his mind it was more of a soft dark blue that reminded him, oddly, of the fluffy towels in his bathroom. The stars were not gas and dust but points of data, numbers and sequences kept afloat for reasons unknown, and they were like flecks of white paint, splattered haphazardly across a canvas of the infinite. There was no moon, or perhaps there was and he simply wasn't looking hard enough through the rain and the deep clouds, those splashes of gray obscuring the white paint to make an odd picture indeed. The rain was the drops from a showerhead, all familiar and natural, and there was no earth and no mud.
So this is where I walk, Ken observed lightly. The nonexistent spot underneath a towel sky, with its painted stars and showerhead rain. Familiar and still alien, and not mine anymore.
Anymore. Had it truly been his during that time? Had he ruled over everything, a king, an emperor, a dictator....a Kaiser. The stars were his diamonds, the clouds were his cloak, the sky the fabric from which he sewed his royal robes. The sun was his crown, the moon his scepter, the grass his red carpet fit only to be trod upon by royal boots. Or was that just folly after all? He had long known the truth. He had been no king, just a boy playing ruler, a puppet Kaiser whose strings were pulled by others. Never anything more than a little boy in high clothes, who held a whip and liked to pretend he owned the sun.
He barely noticed when necessity and the painful memory of "that time" stopped his feet. A cliff edge lay just beyond him, that yawning chasm. As Ken stood on the edge and looked down, he wondered if perhaps he finally stood on the edge of the world. The place where all was nothing and time stopped, and just beyond it lay peace and solace and questions answered. There was no rain and depression beyond the edge, nor anything else at all.
Ken stared intently at the darkness below, his fevered mind seeing some odd shapes prancing through the gloom. He wondered what it would be like to jump into it. He imagined it would be an exhilarating fall, the sort of thing that reminded you that you were alive, until you hit bottom and you weren't. Or was there a bottom? Did the edge of the world have anything that lay beyond? Perhaps I would just fall forever, until I grew old and heavy with years, and then simply stopped falling because there was nothing left of me to fall? From an eternal fall like that, would I wake up and all would seem new again?
The promise of rebirth and a third chance wavered before him, but was rebuffed. He was already falling, locked in that eternal state of ever going down until gravity caught you and you were falling up, only to fall again. Like a yo-yo, caught in a state of ups and downs until you died. It was only because his lowest point was so very low and his peaks so short compared to everyone else's that existence seemed an unbearable thing sometimes. It would be nice to be the circling data of the stars, all jumbled up numbers and infinite information, and no knowledge behind it all.
"Ken! Hey, Ken!" Ken heard the voice and barely registered it. Slowly feeling returned, and a thought formed in his mind. What could Daisuke be doing out here at the edge of the world?
"What the heck are you doing out here?" Daisuke ran up to him, panting with exertion. He carried an umbrella in his hands and was wearing his yellow pajamas with, of all things, a pair of sneakers.
Ken shrugged. He didn't really feel like giving an answer; he barely felt like acknowledging Daisuke's existence at the moment. He was at the edge of the world, with the paint stars and the towel sky, and there was nothing else but him and the chasm.
Daisuke didn't seem to realize that he was being willfully ignored. Something cold and smooth was pressed into Ken's hand, and he stared at it blankly for a moment.
"It's an umbrella," Daisuke helpfully informed him. He refrained from making the obvious genius remark, and Ken was grateful for it. No need to rub in what he no longer was, what he could no longer be.
The two stood in silence for a few moments, Daisuke shifting restlessly and obviously expecting some response from his silent, sopping wet companion. When none was given, he spoke again.
"So what are you doing out here? Your parents are gonna wonder how you got your pajamas all messed up."
"I needed some air." Ken eyed him. "How did you know to follow me? And I see you didn't bring V-mon."
"Nope." Daisuke smiled, idly rubbing the back of his left foot with his right one. "I couldn't sleep, actually, and Chibimon was being hyper. Wormmon e-mailed me that you weren't in your room, so I told him I'd come look for you. I figured since you didn't bring your Digimon, it'd only be fair if I didn't bring mine. I found you using my D-3."
"Mmmm." Daisuke scowled, seeing that Ken was retreating back into the land of the monosyllabic.
"I was worried about you, you know," he said, not quite as accusingly as Ken had expected. "I thought maybe you were in trouble or something. The least you could do is talk to me."
"And say what?" Ken questioned.
"Anything," Daisuke encouraged, taking it as a good sign that Ken had actually spoken three separate words at once. "Like....um, like whatever it is you're thinking right now."
"Ah." Ken's eyes traveled back to the chasm. "I was thinking what it would be like if I jumped off the edge."
"What?!" In a second Daisuke had grabbed Ken by the arm, his eyes wild. "You're not serious, are you? If you jump Ken, I swear I'll--I'll--I'll kill you!" He paused. "Wait, that's not what I meant."
"I didn't say that I was going to do it," Ken told him calmly. "I was just thinking about what it would be like. To fall, I mean. Endlessly, I suppose, and eternal, and frozen in time. Falling forever alone, with only the cold and the dark for company."
"You wouldn't fall alone, Ken," Daisuke said gravely.
"Hmm?" Ken eyed him in confusion.
"Nah." Daisuke put a hand on Ken's shoulder. "'Cause if you jumped and fell, then...well, then I'd jump too and fall with you."
"Would you?" When Daisuke nodded emphatically, Ken turned away. The umbrella fell loose from his hands as he strolled along the edge of the cliff, a tightrope walker balancing on a clothesline. Daisuke grabbed the umbrella and scrambled to catch up. "Don't be foolish, Daisuke. Why should we both fall?"
"Because if we're friends," Daisuke replied as he rushed up to join Ken, holding the umbrella over them both. "And I don't think I'd be a very good best friend if I let you fall alone."
"You wouldn't be a very good friend if you didn't," Ken countered. "Bad enough to be falling forever, I'd rather not have to deal with the guilt of taking you down with me. That's why I'm out here alone."
"I don't care if I go down with you," Daisuke replied, crossing his arms stubbornly. "We could keep each other company."
"In hell?" Ken prompted with a dark smirk.
"You have a sick sense of humor, you know that?" Daisuke told him, shivering.
"Maybe. Still, I believe I've made my point."
"That it's better for one of us to go down than for two."
"Nope." Daisuke shook his head. "Ken, why do you keep acting like this, huh? Most people would be flattered if someone offered to jump off a cliff after them."
Ken didn't reply right away. Instead, he stood in silence, eyes narrowing as he stared into the dark. Almost imperceptibly, his slippered feet edged closer to the brink.
"Would you really?" he asked in a soft, thoughtful voice.
"Really what? Jump after you?" Daisuke moved closer to his friend. He pursed his lips, then nodded forcefully. "Yeah. Yeah, I would."
"What if I said that I didn't believe you?" Ken's voice was almost emotionless, and Daisuke felt a chill run up his spine. He had the sudden, wild thought that he was no longer standing with Ken, but rather, he was in the presence of the Kaiser. Ken moved a step closer to the edge. He was balancing precariously, a breath away from nothingness. "What if I asked you to prove it? What if I jumped?"
Daisuke was quiet for a moment, suddenly worried and fearful and wishing that he hadn't spoken up. He didn't want Ken to jump; certainly not. He didn't want to stand there doing nothing if his best friend leapt to his doom and didn't even care that he did.
But I wouldn't be doing nothing, his mind spoke up, and Daisuke nodded, resolute. He knew in a moment what he would do, and with his free hand he grabbed Ken's arm as tightly as he could.
"I'd be right there beside you," Daisuke said. His grip tightened so much that his knuckles started to turn almost white. "Go on, Ken. Jump. I'm not letting go of you."
"Then you'd be a fool," Ken sneered. "To die....for what? For me? I don't deserve that. Didn't anyone tell you, Daisuke? I don't deserve anything but hate and scorn. Not friendship, not love....and certainly not the kind of loyalty that makes you willing to jump off the edge of the world for me."
"The edge of the world?" Daisuke looked at him incredulously.
"Isn't that what it is?" Ken said in those same soft, sibilant tones. "The edge of it all. Beyond here...nothing. Or everything. Osamu is beyond here, and possibly some part of Wormmon as well. All that I've lost...I've found it, just beyond the edge."
"Well--well, maybe you aren't looking hard enough!" Daisuke snapped, his voice strained and desperate. He couldn't think of what to say that he hadn't already said. "Ken, you don't want what's beyond--okay, I'll play your game, what's beyond the edge of the world." Ken didn't even flinch, his eyes still dark and hooded.
"I like hurting people, did you know that, Daisuke?" His voice was calm, matter-of-fact, as if he was merely telling someone the time or commenting on the weather. "That was why I became the Kaiser. No matter if I thought it was a game. That's what's wrong, you see. I like to hurt people, but I can't. So I found the perfect game. I could hurt, and wound, and smile and no one could tell me that I was sick. No one could tell me I was wrong. I could indulge in that love of pain, and no one would care."
"I don't believe you," Daisuke said. His eyes traveled to where he still held his grip on Ken's arm, and it occurred to him that he must surely be hurting his friend, but he was too afraid of what Ken might do if he let go to relax his grip. "If you really liked to hurt people, you'd have punched me out by now."
"What makes you think I won't?" Ken raised an eyebrow languidly, looking at him sideways out of the Kaiser's eyes.
"Because you aren't like that," Daisuke started to say, but he had barely gotten three words out before Ken's fist flashed out. In mere moments Daisuke found himself flat on his back on the muddy ground. He had let go of Ken's arm in shock when the blow landed, and when he hit the ground the umbrella was jarred from his grasp, falling into the chasm and out of reach.
"You see?" Ken's voice was hollow. "Do you understand now?"
Daisuke glanced up at him, feeling a little hurt but trying not to show it. His now wet bangs were getting in his eyes, and his pajamas were now just as muddied as Ken's. Smiling grimly, Daisuke put one hand to his face, where he knew there would be a bruise eventually.
"Well, at least we match now," he said, referring to Ken's own bruised face.
"Are you going to leave me alone or not?" Ken asked.
"No." Daisuke stumbled to his feet and reached for Ken's arm again. Ken glared and stepped back, just out of reach. "Ken, stop being difficult!"
"Are you really that stupid, Daisuke?" Ken hissed. The words stung worse than the blow had, but still Daisuke reached for his friend. "I've already signed the death warrant. I don't deserve anything more. I just hurt you, even though you thought I wouldn't. And do you know what, Daisuke? I liked it. I was in control again. You could not dominate me, no one could. It makes me feel good....and that's why I should jump. Because I'm a danger to all, and the only person that I could never have control over is myself."
"Okay, so you have a dark side," Daisuke conceded. "So what? Everyone has one, even me. You're not a bad person, Ken. Look at what you've been doing lately, helping to rebuild the Digital World."
"Yes, rebuilding the world," Ken scoffed. "Because I was the one who nearly destroyed in the first place. That's not kindness. That's penance. I let my dark side take over, and now I'm fixing things because that's what I'm expected to do. You may have a dark side to you, Daisuke, but mine's worse. That's the difference between us, you see. Mine has a name and a face. For over two months, I lived my dark side. It's not as easy to go back as you think. I'm not a five year old. I know that some things can't be made all better by simply saying 'I'm sorry. I didn't know.'" His eyes locked onto Daisuke's. "It's a lie. All of it. I know that there was some part of me, some small part, that knew that the Digital World was no game. A part of me that knew that I was hurting innocent creatures. In my arrogance, I silenced it. In my arrogance, in my pleasure, I silenced every voice that dared to tell me that what I was doing was wrong. I owned the sun, Daisuke. For just a moment, everything was mine, and I reveled in it."
"That's not true," Daisuke said, and he was surprised at the force of his own voice. "If you really liked that sort of thing, Ken, you wouldn't be here with me now. You'd be off conquering the Digital World all over again."
"If I wanted to, I could," Ken said, his voice sounding far away. "It would be so easy to pick up that whip again. I'm still standing on the edge of the world, Daisuke. One step, and I'd be swallowed by the darkness again. All it would take is one step, and the road I've traveled would crumble into dust behind me, and I could forget it all. No more guilt. Just power and control."
"I wouldn't let you," Daisuke said fiercely. He lunged wildly and managed to grab ahold of Ken's arm again. "You won't take that step, Ken. Because there's no way in hell that I'm gonna let you."
"Let go," Ken said softly.
"No. I'm never letting go, not as long as you're standing on the edge." Daisuke shook his head. "No matter what you do, Ken, I'm staying your friend. I don't care about what you were or what you could be. I know what you are, and you're my best friend."
"I said, let go." Ken's voice was low and dangerous.
"What are you gonna do, punch me again?" Daisuke challenged.
"Maybe," was Ken's cold reply.
"Then go ahead. Punch me. I dare you."
"Don't be stupid, Daisuke."
"I'm not stupid! Now do it! Punch me!"
"Well, big shot?" Daisuke taunted. "If you're so dark, let's see you punch me. Right here, in the mouth. It'd shut me up good, wouldn't it?"
Ken hesitated, the cold look in his eyes wavering. The rain began to lessen, turning from a downpour into a light drizzle.
"Are you going to punch me or not?" Daisuke asked roughly.
"I......I'm not going to listen to your stupidity any longer!" Ken tried to walk off, but Daisuke held his arm in an unbreakable grip. "Dammit, let me go, Daisuke!"
"Not until you talk to me or punch me out!" Daisuke retorted. "Look at yourself, Ken. You can't do it, can you? You can't punch me. If you like pain so much, why haven't you pounded me into a bloody pulp?"
"I....I...." Ken shook his head, not sure what to say. His fist clenched.
"Well? C'mon. Hit me."
Ken growled and swung at him. But the swing was wild, and he missed Daisuke without the other boy even needing, or trying, to dodge it. Ken made a strangled noise in the back of his throat and his legs gave out from under him. He sunk to the ground. Daisuke, still holding on tightly to his arm, went down with him. The two sat side by side on the wet grass as Ken stared at his trembling hands with a haunted look in his eyes.
"I....I can't," he whispered brokenly.
"I knew you couldn't." Daisuke relaxed his grip just a little. "That first time you weren't thinking clearly."
"I'm never thinking clearly," Ken said bitterly. "I'm back to the lie I started with. 'I'm sorry. I didn't know.'"
"Don't beat yourself up about it," Daisuke told him. "The bruise'll heal, you know. The one you've got'll heal too, eventually."
"It'll never heal," Ken replied, and both boys knew that he wasn't talking about the mark on his face. "That sort of thing never completely heals. It....scars, it fades, but it never completely goes away."
"Yeah. I guess not." Daisuke looked away for a moment, sighing. After a pause, he turned back to his friend. "Were you really going to jump?"
"Were you really going to fall with me?"
"Then maybe I was. Maybe I still would. But only if you come with me."
"It's a promise." Daisuke smiled, water dripping from his hair and running down his face. "If we're ever on the edge of the world again, we go down together or not at all." Ken nodded, his cheeks flushed slightly. "Ken? Is--um, is that okay with you?"
"There's nothing I'd like better." Ken glanced up at him, and Daisuke couldn't tell if the wet trails on his cheeks were raindrops or tears. "Thank you."
"For what? For letting you punch me?"
"Yeah. And the rest, too."
"No problem." Daisuke laughed, waving a hand. "You know, we're both going to have a bitch of a time explaining how our pajamas got covered in mud. Not to mention me having to explain how a bruise appeared on my face overnight."
"Mmm. I guess that wasn't very smart of me, to punch the one with the umbrella," Ken said, a slight bit of self-derision working its way into his tone.
"It's okay. I like the mud. Besides, it's not raining anymore," Daisuke pointed out.
"At least there's that. Daisuke...." Ken sighed and looked sideways at him. "Are you ever going to let go of my arm?"
"Not until we're far away from here," Daisuke helpfully informed him.
"I'm not going to jump," Ken told him. "I just....felt so hopeless, that's all. Like there was nothing else for me to do. I still feel it. The Kaiser's not dead, Daisuke. He's still here, inside me. He is me. We aren't--we were never separate beings. He's locked in a corner of my heart, but that doesn't mean he's gone."
"What do you mean, 'that's good?'" Ken stared at his friend in shock.
"Because without him, you wouldn't be you. I know you've got darkness inside of you. I just accept that as part of what makes you....unique, I guess." Daisuke shrugged. "It's not how much darkness you have in you, Ken. It's how you control it."
"And if I can't control it?"
"But you can. I'll help you; so will everybody else. We believe in you. You just have to start believing in yourself." Daisuke gave him the familiar clueless smile, and Ken felt himself filled with warmth, despite his damp clothes and wet body. "No little darkness can frighten the great Daisuke Motomiya!"
Ken managed a smile of his own. He knew that Daisuke was deliberately being an idiot in order to make him feel better, and he was grateful for it.
"So where do we go from here?" the thin boy asked.
"Anywhere but off a cliff," Daisuke said gravely. Suddenly, he pointed. "He, look Ken! A sunrise!"
Ken followed Daisuke's gaze, blinking the water out of his eyes. The horizon was already glowing with a soft pinkish hue, banishing the darkness as night gave way to dawn.
"I guess we should head home now, huh?" Daisuke murmured. He let go of Ken and started to rise, but at Ken's soft touch, he stopped.
"No." Daisuke turned to look at his friend, who was blushing slightly. "Stay with me. We can watch the sunrise together. I mean, we have a perfect view."
"From the edge of the world," Daisuke agreed, sitting back down and moving
closer to Ken. Together, the two watched the sun make its way above the horizon, and if
either one noticed when Ken rested his head on Daisuke's shoulder or when Daisuke's
hand snaked around Ken's waist, he didn't bother to point it out. They watched the sun,
and no more words were needed.