by Mina

Standard disclaimers for Digimon Adventure 01 and 02 apply. The only thing I make off of this is…uh…well… Oi, give me a minute! I'll come up with something. Actually, suing would be pointless since I just signed my life away to the public university system again. All you would get would be a couple of really pathetic whimpers and some pocket lint.

Warnings: Shounen ai content…of course. Mostly Daiken/Kendai, but some Taiyama/Yamatai is present as well. First and foremost, though, is the fact that this fic has Motomiya Jun. Some people will run away screaming because of that fact, but I think the girl needs to be given a chance. As someone who is an older sister, I think Jun is a wonderfully realistic character that spends way too much time being misrepresented in fanfics. So this is my tiny tribute to Motomiya Jun, older sister of the wonderfully genki Daisuke (::fangirl squeal:: Chou kawaii ne! ^_~). Ganbatte, Jun-chan!

Motomiya Jun trudged homeward with a defeated sigh. Yet another day of school at a boring all-girls establishment; if it wasn't for the fact that Misao had talked her parents into letting her transfer to Jun's school this year, she would be going absolutely nuts! As it was, she was having a hard time keeping her focus, even though term was drawing to an end. It wasn't chasing boys that was stealing her attention, and it wasn't worrying about her grades. She had lots of things on her mind, but those things were merely minor hobbies or chores in comparison.

There was the fact that her cram school tutor kept pressing her to talk with her parents about taking more challenging classes. True, more challenging classes might help to hold her interest and keep her mind from wandering. But…
But I don't want to! She scowled, kicking at a lump of trash on the sidewalk. She wasn't dumb, she could handle harder classes, but why bother? Sure, her mom and dad were home more often these days—but that that didn't mean they cared more.
Jun was used to it, though. The lack of interest still hurt, but she'd developed strong coping measures over the years. She was loud, she was brash and stubborn, and she was madcap to the point of almost being scary. She was nowhere near as sensitive as she'd been when she was younger, and she was good at hiding what she was really feeling and thinking. Misao was probably the only person who'd gotten to see the real Motomiya Jun. Well, outside of Daisuke, anyway, but her little brother didn't count.
She bit her lip at the thought of her little brother, brow furrowing. The thing that was really worrying her was Daisuke. Jun knew he'd been having a rough time of it during the last school year. First he and Miyako had drifted apart, then there'd been the hero-worship of Yagami Taichi, and then there was the hopeless crush on Taichi's little sister, and then there were the fights with Takaishi Takeru, her Yamato-sama's brother, and—
"Dork." They didn't talk together like they'd used to, she and her brother, but she was still quite good at reading him. She knew he was torn when it came to their parents—happy that they were home more often, that they were taking an interest in his soccer team, but sad that they seemed so sure that he had problems with school simply because he had detention so often.
"Kya, my poor Otouto-chan," Jun murmured, letting herself into the apartment building. Daisuke did seem to perking up recently—a fact that caused her much joy—thanks in part to his new friend, Ichijouji Ken. For the smile alone that the mention of the boy's name brought to her brother's face, she would have liked Ken. But he was kind and polite as well, and his mix of shyness and tentative teasing had warmed her heart, seeing the way it drew her brother out of his 'Nothing-Can-Touch-Me' shell. So what if Ken was a genius celebrity? So what if he didn't attend Odaiba Primary and lived across the river in Tamachi? The only thing she cared about was the fact that Ken was helping to prove that the friendly, caring boy she remembered still existed.
The elevator ride up to the apartment was short, and after a minor fight with her backpack, she pulled out her keys and unlocked the door. "I'm hooome!"
Silence was her only greeting as she shuffled inside and closed the door. She hung up her jacket, toed off her shoes and slipped on her house slippers, and stepped into the living room to see what messages would await her.
First there was a note from her mother, hastily written, saying that a friend was sick and she'd gone to help out the family. Their father was pulling a late shift and wouldn't be home until sometime after eleven. There was rice in the cooker and curry in the crockpot when Jun and Daisuke got hungry, but Jun needed to make sure that Daisuke got all of his homework done before he went to bed.
The second note—scratchy as if written with a bad pen, but neat nonetheless—was from Daisuke.


Have a last minute study session with my friends at school. Be back around 6:00.


P.S. I made fudge at school if you wanna have some with me later. And don't you dare give me any of that crap about chocolate giving you zits. I don't believe it for a minute.'

Jun had to laugh: Daisuke certainly wasn't the most tactful of people, but he could be so cute sometimes. She glanced up at the clock. 5:45. Well, that should give her enough time to change clothes and freshen up a bit before Daisuke returned home, she decided, heading for her room.

"Yo, I'm home!" Daisuke chirped as he threw open the apartment door and closed it behind him. He grinned when he heard a muffled "Welcome back!" float down the hall, flopping down on the steps to wrestle his shoes off.

Jun came down the hall in a t-shirt and sweatpants, smiling at the sight of her brother arguing with his footwear. "How was school, brat?" she asked, ruffling his hair when he bounced to his feet.
Daisuke stuck his tongue out. "Same old, same old." His expression sobered as he regarded her with vaguely haunted eyes. "Did your midterm report come today?"
Haunted hadn't been the appropriate word; weary was more like it. "Yes," Jun said with a sigh. "And my cram school tutor is pushing for me to take more advanced classes next term. He wants me to talk to Kaasan and Otousan."
"When?" Daisuke snorted and shook his head. "You know, we don't really have it that bad, Aneki, but sometimes…"
"I know, Otouto, I know." And she did, because the situation was hardly new. "Kaasan left us rice and curry. You hungry?"
He shrugged, looking pensive. "Sure."
She frowned but refrained from saying anything. When her brother got into one of his deep thought modes, he was hard to talk to; and whatever he was thinking about must be pretty important, judging from the way his eyebrows sloped together, shadowing his eyes.
"Go and sit. I'll serve us both."
"Uh-huh, yeah. Um, thanks."
"You're welcome."

"Oh, kami-sama, where is he?! I could have sworn he was in here! Oi, Chibimon, where—"

"Daisuke, what's going on?" Jun peeked around the door into her brother's room, rubbing at her tired eyes. Staring at a trig textbook for over an hour will do that to a person. Her eyes widened, though, and every trace of sleepiness vanished as she took in the state of her brother's room.
Daisuke wasn't an overly neat person, but neither was he a slob. However, his room looked as though a herd of stampeding fangirls had run through it and torn the place apart. Drawers had been pulled out, papers had been flung haphazardly, and bedding had been ripped from its place and strewn on the floor. To top it all off, her brother looked extremely distressed; she couldn't remember the last time she'd seen him so upset.
Expression concerned, Jun asked, "Daisuke, what's wrong?"
"I, I, I—" His eyes were wild, darting around the room as his body twitched in an almost nervous fashion. "I…I—"
Just then the sound of someone rapping tentatively on the door caught Jun's attention. She scowled faintly in irritation, but turned away from her brother. "I'll be right back, Daisuke."
She ran out to answer the door, too preoccupied to use any of her usual caution, throwing the door open with an expectant expression. She ended up blinking in surprise at the boy standing hesitantly outside. "Ken-kun! What are you doing here at this hour?"
Ichijouji Ken smiled shyly, clutching the bundle in his arms tighter. "Hello, Jun-san. Is Daisuke home?"
"Yeah, he's in his room flipping out about something. It sounded as though he forgot something at school," Jun said with a sigh, raking a hand through her spiky hair. "Some days I swear that boy would forget his head if it weren't attached."
Ken's expression turned worried. "May I come in, Jun-san?"
Jun waved him inside, closing the door behind him. "You have unbelievable timing, Ken! Maybe you'll get him to do something more than stutter one word over and over again."
The ebon-haired boy set his bundle down, shrugging out of his coat and shoes. He glanced at Jun for permission to head back to Daisuke's room, cradling the bundle once again.
"Go on, I'll be right behind you," she said with a grin.
Ken nodded with a smile, setting off down the hall with Jun trailing behind him.
Daisuke was standing slumped in the doorway, forehead pressed against the back of his hand as he leaned on the wood for support. Jun felt a moment of worry as she took in his expression, the dejected set to his shoulders, the way his other hand hung limply at his side, how his jaw was clenched and his eyes were tightly shut. What could make you so upset, Dai-chan?
Ken stopped a few feet away, tipping his head slightly to one side. She watched him frown briefly, a little crease appearing on his forehead, disappearing as quickly as it had come when he suddenly smiled. His pale violet eyes seemed to hold boundless warmth, warmth that was relayed in his gentle voice when he spoke. "Daisuke-kun, it's all right."
It was not a question; it was a statement, said in a quiet, assured fashion that startled both Motomiyas, but for different reasons.
Jun watched with bemused fascination the way her brother's expression changed when he caught sight of his friend. Daisuke went from completely dejected to almost euphorically relieved. He pushed away from the doorframe, throwing himself at Ken with what sounded suspiciously like stifled sob.
In that next instance, Jun wasn't sure what surprised her more—her little brother wrapping his arms around the other boy as if he'd never let go, or the squeaky protest that came from the bundle squished between them.
Daisuke hastily backed away, blinking at the bundle. He looked up at Ken, a smile hovering on his lips, hope shining in his smoky eyes. "Is that…?"
Ken smiled and nodded, holding the bundle out. "He crawled into my bag with Minomon and fell asleep. I didn't notice until after dinner; I'm sorry if you were worried. I brought him over as soon as I could."
Looking between the two boys, absolutely confused, Jun crossed her arms over her chest and began to tap her foot. "All right, would someone care to explain what's going on?"
The two boys exchanged an unreadable look. Ken looked down at his feet, a blush staining his pale cheeks. Daisuke put one hand behind his head while the other carefully held the bundle, laughing nervously. "Well, Aneki, it's like this…"
She leaned against the hall wall, making seem as though she was 'getting comfortable.' "I'm waiting, Daisuke."
Daisuke looked to Ken for help, but the Keeper of Kindness merely shrugged in uncertainty. He sighed in defeat, motioning with his hand. "Come on in, Jun. It's a long story."
Jun smirked, walking into his room. "I had a feeling it was." Almost unconsciously she began to straighten things back up, giving him a chance to collect his thoughts. When she was done remaking his bed, she perched on the edge, leaning on her knees and giving him her full attention.
Daisuke sat down cross-legged on the floor across from her, Ken beside him, the noise-making bundle directly in front of him. He seemed indecisive, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. But then Ken laid a hand on his shoulder, and the tension seemed to melt away. He looked up at her with wide eyes, took a deep breath, and began.
"I won't ask you not to tell Kaasan and Tousan, but I'd rather you didn't. I don't know how they'll react, and I'm not sure…I'm not sure I can deal with it right now.
"You probably noticed that I've been different lately." He grinned, shaking his head. "What am I saying? There's no way you could have missed it."
She grinned in return. "Of course not. You're my Otouto-chan; it's my job to notice things like that."
He frowned then, as if not quite sure where to start his story. "Do you remember three years ago when we saw that really weird thing on the Internet? You know, when all those missiles were launched and the one was heading for Odaiba?" When she nodded, he continued. "I know this is going to sound really weird, but you remember the creatures that were fighting the virus that caused the missiles to launch? They're called digimon—short for Digital Monsters."
Jun blinked, but nodded slowly after a moment of thought. "Okaaay. I think I'm with you so far."
"Those digimon have human partners called Chosen Children, people who were picked to defend Earth and the Digitalworld."
Holding up a hand, Jun said, "Wait a minute, you said have; as in, they're still around?"
Daisuke nodded slowly. She sighed and shook her head, a hand on her forehead. "Kya, I can tell that my poor brain is going to hurt by the time we get done with this. Go on, Daisuke."
"Well, there's the older group of Chosen Children, the ones that fought the mutated virus digimon on the Internet. And then there's the new group of Chosen Children. They were picked because there was something happening in the Digitalworld that the older Children wouldn't be able to fight. Two came from the earlier group of Chosen Children, but the other four…" He trailed off, scratching his nose. "As near as we can tell, three were chosen because of their mix of the earlier Children's traits, but the fourth…"
Ken smiled sadly when he trailed off again. "Don't try to sugar-coat it, Daisuke." He looked up at Jun, his expression somber. "The fourth had been a Chosen Child from earlier as well, but he hadn't known it. And then…then, after losing his older brother, he let the darkness that resided in his soul take over. He went to the Digitalworld as a conqueror—that is why the new Children were Chosen."
Jun wondered at the way his voice quavered, wondered at the quiet, subtle way her brother slipped their hands together. This was personal, for both of them; it didn't take a genius to figure that out. And to her, that meant only one thing. "It's you, isn't it, Daisuke? You're one of those new Chosen Children. That's why you've been happier lately, why you've started to come out of your shell."
Daisuke flushed at her choice of wording, but nodded. "Yeah, that's part of it."
It explained a lot, really; the numerous after school excursions, the hushed conversations over the phone, the last minute sleepovers. Daisuke was the kind of person that needed a sense of purpose, something to work for, and being a Chosen Child had helped him find that again.
"And this little guy"—he began to unwrap the bundle—"is the reason I was so upset. Aneki, meet Chibimon."
When the blanket was unwrapped, a small, blue creature with backswept ears and tail blinked up at her with wide red eyes. He glanced back at Daisuke uncertainly, and then turned to Jun with a smile reminding her of a cat. "Konnichiwa, Daishuke's neechan!" he chirped in his squeaky voice.
Jun blinked slowly, feeling somewhat bemused. "Konnichiwa, Chibimon."
Chibimon nodded and turned, racing for Daisuke's lap and climbing up into it. "Daishuke, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you, but I was so tired, and Minomon and I fell asleep, and, and—"
Daisuke chuckled at the little digimon's ramblings, rubbing his ears in reassurance. "It's okay, Chibimon. I'm just glad that you're okay."
"Yeah!" Chibimon grinned, looking over at Ken. "Ken fed me sutroga…sturoga…"
"Stroganoff," Ken supplied with a small laugh.
Chibimon nodded excitedly. "Yeah! It was good, Daishuke! You should try it some time."
Jun was being awfully quiet, and Daisuke glanced up at her worriedly. "Neechan? You okay?"
Jun frowned in thought, slowly rising to her feet. "Yeah, Daisuke. Just…give me a moment alone out in the living room, okay?"
He nodded in understanding but his eyes were shadowed with worry nonetheless as she left the room.
When she closed the door behind her, Jun had to fight the urge to slump down against it and do something very undignified—like scream, maybe, or at least rant very loudly. Not because she was upset, but because she needed to do something to release the pent up emotions that were making her chest tight.
Heading for the couch, she threw herself down with a deep sigh, staring up at the ceiling. There was a part of her that felt off, after hearing Daisuke's story. It was the older sibling part of her, the part that watched out for Daisuke's well being no matter how upset Jun got with him. Her little brother had been fighting something dark—possibly deadly—for months, and she hadn't even had even a vague clue that anything unusual was going on. Well, maybe she'd had a clue or two, but she'd never thought it would prove to be anything like Daisuke had explained. Now she had a whole new worry to add to her list; and she couldn't help wondering how many other older siblings were in the same boat, having to worry about their younger brother or sister who was out trying to protect two worlds from evil.
Pressing the heels of her hands into her burning eyes, Jun prayed to every kami she was able to think of at that moment. Watch out for my Otouto-chan, please? He can be annoying and graceless, but I…I care for him, and he's the only little brother I've got.
With yet another sigh, she sat up, swinging her legs over the edge of the couch. She glanced up at the clock on the wall, frowning. It was getting on towards ten, and Ken should probably be heading home. She didn't feel right having him walk to the train station alone at this hour, and as she headed back to Daisuke's room, she decided that she would walk to the station with him.
Apparently she hadn't closed the door completely; a strip of light spilled from between the opening, lighting the shadowed hall. She gently pushed the door open a bit further and peeked around the corner, Ken's name dying unspoken on her lips as she took in the sight that greeted her.
Ken sat on her brother's bed, his back against the wall. Chibimon was curled up on the pillow, a happy, contented expression on his face. And Daisuke was sprawled on the bed as well, his head resting in Ken's lap. He was speaking quietly about something, illustrating his point with his hands. Ken smiled and nodded, his hand absently running through Daisuke's spiky auburn hair.
It was an eye-opening tableau if ever she'd seen one, and Motomiya Jun wondered, briefly, if the curry had been drugged. Everything up till dinner had seemed normal enough, but everything afterwards had been beyond bizarre.
"…and then Coach Imura told me that tryouts for the Tokyo-wide team were being moved up by a week and I almost panicked! I mean, that's like the week before finals! But I think I can pull it off—if you still tutor me in math."
"Sure," Ken said, nodding his head. Then he smiled wistfully. "It would be nice if I could make it this year. I missed out last year because…" He trailed off, looking away.
Daisuke frowned, reaching up and gently touching Ken's cheek. "Ken…"
The way he said the ebon-haired boy's name, the inflection carefully controlled, the innuendos hovering under the surface, made Jun catch her breath, her brown eyes wide. She'd heard him use a similar tone before, one that was a touch more cheerful, a touch more energetic, usually tinged with a worshipful edge. But the name that used to fall from his mouth with that tone was Hikari, not Ken. And there were other subtle differences this time; tenderness, worry—forgiveness, too, and she wondered at that last one. There was also an underlying strength, the kind of strength that could only come from a strong bond of trust, of friendship.
Ken shook his head and smiled sadly. "Sorry, Daisuke-kun. I'm trying, I really am. It's just that…"
Daisuke smiled in understanding. "Just remember, that I forgive you. Hell, the others forgive you, even Iori! And I will wait for the day that you can forgive yourself, Ken-chan—I'll wait, right here, right by your side."
"Daisuke, you're in my lap, not by my side!" Ken said with a laugh.
"Oh, whatever!" Daisuke laughed. Then his expression sobered as he placed his fist over his heart. "I mean it though, Ken, more so every day that goes by. My heart…"
"…with yours," Ken completed in a soft murmur, dipping his head as Daisuke reached for him.
Jun's eyes widened, and she clapped both hands to her mouth to prevent a yelp from escaping, ducking back out of the room. Her cheeks burned from the voyeuristic near miss, and her heart was thumping wildly in her chest as she leaned against the wall. Oh, kami-sama! I never thought that Daisuke… And Ken-kun's a sweety, but… Shit, Kaasan and Tousan would probably freak! And I…
She slowly pulled her hands away from her mouth, heart rate slowing as she frowned in thought. And I'm okay with this. That startled her a little, that she was so quickly adjusted to the idea that her brother and Ken were "more than just friends," as the saying went. All the signs had been there, right in front of her, the entire time she'd known Ken; the softened tone of voice, the blushing, the hand-holding, the looks of longing…
Jun had questions, though—who wouldn't? And she was even more determined now to walk with Ken to the train station.
Firming her resolve, Jun knocked loudly on the door, pausing before she stuck her head around the corner.
She had to bite back a grin; the two boys were sitting on opposite ends of the bed, looking anywhere but at each other. Ah, young love!
"Ken-kun, it's getting rather late. I don't like the idea of you walking down to the station alone, though, so I'll walk with you, if it's all right."
Ken smiled politely. "Arigatou, Jun-san."
"Great! I'll go and get my coat." She grinned, shaking a finger at them. "Don't make me wait too long!"

Ken walked silently beside Jun, wondering what the older girl was thinking about. Her expression was contemplative, eyebrows drawn over her smoky-brown eyes.

She smiled, suddenly, turning to look at him. "I meant to say something before now, Ken-kun, but better late than never, ne? I wanted to thank you."
Violet eyes blinked in confusion. "Thank me? For what?"
"For being my brother's friend."
He smiled shyly, slipping his hands into his pockets. "You don't need to thank me, Jun-san. If anything, I should be the one thanking him. I…I never really had friends before Daisuke."
Jun nodded. "Yes, well, my otouto-chan can be rather persistent when he wants something. Speaking of wanting something…what are your dreams, Ken-kun?"
"Huh?" He looked up at her in surprise. "My dreams?"
"Yeah!" She waved a hand, making a grandiose gesture. "You know, something that you want more than anything, something that would make you deliriously happy."
Ken frowned. "I'm not sure I understand," he said quietly.
She smiled fondly at his tone and expression. "I'll give you an example, then. My dream…is to be a mother," she murmured. She felt her heart clench at those words, and swallowed the lump in her throat; this was a very private dream, something that she hadn't shared with even Misao or Daisuke. "I want to have a family, people that I can take care of and care for. I want to find a man that can make me laugh, who's smart and kind, someone that will sweep me off my feet." She laughed, hand behind her head. "It sounds silly, I know, but it's what I want."
"It's not silly, it's wonderful," Ken said, his eyes wide. "And I guess… I guess that if I have a dream, it's to someday be able to forgive myself." He flushed a little, looking down at his toes. "Someone that's very important to me is waiting for that day. And I want to be able to forgive myself, because it will make them happy."
"I see," Jun said. Ken's words made a lot of sense, helped to pin together what she'd seen and heard earlier. And it also made her feel a bit better, as Daisuke's big sister, to hear those words; Ken really cared for him a lot. "Ken-kun, may I ask you another question?"
"The fourth Child you and Daisuke spoke of…it was you, wasn't it?" She asked the question gently, trying to keep him at ease. "And I'm guessing that part of the guilt you feel, part of the reason you aren't able to forgive yourself yet, is because you hurt that important person during that time of darkness."
Ken swallowed audibly, nodding. By this time they had stopped walking, and were standing in front of a corner store window. "Y-yes."
Jun smiled slightly. "Don't worry, I only have one last question, Ken-kun: how long have you been dating my brother?"
At that moment, she wished she had a camera: Ken's expression was completely and utterly priceless. His eyes went wide and a little squawk of dismay escaped from his gaping mouth. "I—! You—! How—!"
She laughed, throwing a sisterly arm around his thin shoulders, leading them in the direction of the station once again. "Oh, Ken! I'm an older sister; like I told Daisuke earlier, I'm supposed to notice these kinds of things. Of course, the fact that I nearly walked in on the two of you kissing kind of helped to clinch it."
Ken blushed heatedly, but looked up at her with a determined expression. "I hope you don't mind, Jun-san; I respect you, but I won't give up Daisuke."
"Mind? Of course I mind, you've stolen my little brother out from under my nose! Life just isn't fair; Daisuke got a boyfriend before I did. Come on, you have to admit there's something tragic in that. Oh, and, drop the 'san', will ya? I mean, it seems rather silly for you to be calling me 'Jun-san' when I feel like you're my little brother," Jun said with a wink.
He seemed taken aback by her words. "Really?"
She gave him one of her friendly, madcap grins as she nodded. "In all honesty, Ken, I don't mind at all. It kind of surprised me when I realised that, but you've been good for Daisuke. You're a sweet guy and a great friend, and I know…" She paused, smile turning wistful. "I know that you love him."
Ken blushed yet again, but remained silent. His feelings for Daisuke ran deep, and were extremely complex; he refused to give them any one name until he could sort through them.
They walked silently the rest of the way to the station. Jun stepped back and looked him over thoughtfully. "I meant it, Ken. You're like another little brother; if you ever need someone to talk to, I'll make time."
He smiled at her, a brilliant smile that shone with a happiness that came from deep within. "Arigatou, Jun…neechan."
She laughed, giving his shoulder a little push. "Impudent brat." Then she growled in a mock-threatening tone, "Of course, if you ever hurt Daisuke I'll have to hunt you down and scratch out those pretty eyes of yours. I hope you understand."
"Yes," he said with a laugh. "Daisuke's lucky to have a sister like you."
"And he's lucky to have a special person like you," Jun added softly with a smile. "Treasure the feelings you share, and the time you have together."
Ken hugged his arms around himself, a smile on his face, pale eyes alight. "I will, Jun, I will."

Ishida Yamato slumped comfortably down into the bleachers over looking the soccer field—or, he tried to, anyway. It was awfully hard to slouch comfortably in metal bleachers. But he'd promised to come, he thought with a sigh; it was the least he owed Taichi after having so many late night rehearsals recently.

Of course, he personally thought that Taichi and Daisuke were insane to be out practising in such awful weather. But they were devoted to their sport, and come rain or shine, if there was time to practise, that's what they'd be doing.
He grinned as Daisuke skidded on the wet grass and overshot the ball. Taichi grabbed the back of his t-shirt to try and prevent him from falling, but they both ended up going down instead.
"Ah, graceful as ever, I see."
The perky, feminine voice startled Yamato, and he glanced around wildly for the source. His eyes widened, and a tiny hint of fear tinged his voice as he watched the girl coming closer. "J-Jun! What are you doing here?"
Jun scowled, placing her hands on her hips. "Oh, chill out, Ishida Yamato! I'm not here to stalk you."
He blinked at her wording, but found himself relaxing nonetheless.
She sighed, sitting down beside him; he couldn't help but notice that she was dressed much better for the foul weather than the rest of them were. "I actually came to deliver a message to my"—she wrinkled her nose, looking down at the field—"currently mud-spattered little brother. But it can wait until he's done practising."
Then she turned to him with a madcap grin, her eyes bright with undisguised mischief. "But since I have you here, all to myself, I have a couple of questions for you!"
Yamato wondered what she was up to. "All right."
Jun nodded, wrapping her arms around her updrawn knees. She looked out across the field for a moment before she spoke again. "How…how do you deal with it?" she asked softly.
"With what?" he asked, confused by her question.
"How do you deal with your little brother fighting something that you can't? How do you deal with that sense of helplessness when all you want to do is protect them, and you can't do it?"
Blue eyes flew wide. "You know?!"
She nodded, continuing to watch her brother and Taichi. "Daisuke told me last week—and some things I pieced together on my own. And I thought I was coping with things okay, you know? But then he came home a couple days ago, after he and the others had gone out on their little after-school mission, with nasty bruises on his back and ribs. I was scared, Yamato; they were so deep that over three-quarters of them were swollen and red, and the real bruises still haven't come to the surface yet. But Daisuke…Daisuke just smiled and said he was okay. I know it hurts, but he pretends it's nothing."
Jun turned to him then, with watery brown eyes, and asked hoarsely, "How the hell am I supposed to deal with the fact that my little brother's in pain and there's nothing that I can do? Huh? How am I supposed to deal with the fact that he could…could die?" She closed her eyes, and the tears that had been threatening spilled freely. "I've spent my whole life protecting him, Yamato, and right now, I feel lost."
Yamato, quite literally, didn't know what to say. He was used to Jun behaving like any other fangirl, not like a real person with real problems. "I…Jun, I…"
She laughed tearily, wiping at her cheeks. "Kami, I'm sorry for dumping this on you. But you're the only one I know semi-well enough to ask. I guess I could have asked Taichi, but I think he's afraid of me; guess I've run him over one too many times."
He looked down at his hands, wondering what he could say. "I…I don't really know what to tell you, Jun-san. I don't have quite the same problem, since I'm a Chosen Child as well, but I know it's something you never get used. Every time my little brother comes back hurt, I feel it too; I've always been fairly protective of Takeru, and it's only through his own insistence that I've been able to back off. And even when they're not your family…"
Looking down at the field, he smiled and shook his head. Daisuke and Taichi were making faces up at them, covered from nearly head to toe in mud. "Even when they're not your blood relations, it still hurts. Taichi…Taichi was a lot like your brother is right now when we were younger. He didn't think things through all the way, he was hot-tempered and bull-headed, and had a habit of opening his mouth and inserting his foot. But he was brave—he would look the worst odds in the eye and laugh. And because he was the one with the most courage, he was the one that led us into battle.
"He got hurt, a lot. And once…once, I thought we might lose him completely. I'll be honest with you, Jun-san; there are only three things that have made me cry in my life: my parents' divorce, worry for my brother, and Taichi." He smiled wryly, pausing to flip off Taichi, who was making rather rude gestures. "That guy can make me break down faster than lightning."
Jun nodded, still sniffling a bit. "And Taichi? How does he deal with it?"
Yamato snorted, brushing hair out of his eyes. "Terribly. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've found him curled up on my doorstep, bawling his eyes out because Hikari-chan got hurt. Taichi has it pretty rough, though; when Hikari was little, she was very sickly, and there was one point that she came close to dying. It had inadvertently been his fault, so he was already feeling bad about it, but then his mother blamed him aloud. He's had an extreme complex over protecting his sister ever since."
"I know Daisuke's not fighting alone, and that reassures me some," Jun said softly. "But ever since I found out about this, I've felt badly."
"Why?" he found himself asking curiously.
She smiled wryly. "Daisuke told me that you once yelled at him for talking badly about me. But the truth of the matter is, I've behaved insensitively a number of times this past year. I deserved anything he said about me, however bad. Daisuke's never had an easy time making friends—believe it or not, but he used to be impossibly shy—and he and his oldest friend grew apart a little over a year ago. He leaned on me rather heavily, then, and I was trying to get him to stand on his own feet. I wasn't very nice about it, though," she said with a wince. "And you know, up until a week ago, I was worried that my little brother wouldn't ever be happy again."
"What made you change your mind?" the blonde asked with an arched eyebrow.
Jun tipped her head to the side, beaming brightly. "Someone loves him."
He blinked at that, surprised. "Someone?" he ventured tentatively.
"Oh, don't give me that innocent stuff! Daisuke told me that you and Taichi already knew," she said with a scowl.
Yamato sighed and nodded. "Yeah. As a matter of fact, we probably figured it out before they did. It's just that…some people have a hard time understanding. I'm glad that you can tolerate it, for their sake."
"Tolerate? Hell, just let somebody try to tear Ken and Daisuke apart!" she said, shaking her fist. Her grin was madcap, but full of affection. "I completely approve of their relationship, Yamato. Ken…Ken has done wonders for my brother. Like I told him, he's becoming like a second little brother; and I worry for him, too, the same way I do Daisuke. Maybe even more, since he doesn't have Daisuke's strength of purpose."
It was interesting to see Motomiya Jun as a person, Yamato thought with a small smile. It was nice to see that there was depth to her character, that she cared for people so deeply.
Taichi and Daisuke were coming in from off the field, and they both stood to walk down and meet them.
"Yaa, Aneki, what're you doing here?" Daisuke hailed with a grin, trying to wipe some of the mud from his face. He only succeeded in smearing it further.
Jun smiled fondly, pulling a tissue from her pocket and wiping the mud off. "Ken-kun called and asked if you wanted to spend the night."
Daisuke's expression lit up like a Christmas tree. "Yeah!"
"I figured that's what your answer would be," she chuckled. "Kaasan said to come and get you, though; something about wanting to see your midterm report."
Smoky-brown eyes widened in awe. "Really? She wants to see them?"
She nodded. "Really, she wants to see them."
"Yatta!" Daisuke carolled, running for his bag. "Come on, Aneki!"
Jun shook her head and laughed at her brother's enthusiasm. "Hold up a minute, you little terror." She turned back to Yamato, not blinking a whit as he was glommed by a mud covered Taichi. "Is it worth it?" she asked softly.
Yamato grinned, even as he was struggling to keep from falling to the ground under Taichi's weight. "Oh yeah."
"One last question?"
He arched an eyebrow, waiting.
"Daisuke said that he and the two other new Chosen Children have combined traits from your group. Whose traits did he inherit?"
The smile softened as Taichi peered over his shoulder at Jun, wondering what was going on. "Ours," Yamato said softly.
She nodded with a small smile, as if he'd only confirmed what she already suspected, and ran to catch up with her brother.

"What was that all about?" Taichi asked in confusion, arms around Yamato's neck, draped across the blonde's back.

Yamato continued to smile, watching the pair disappear down the field. "Siblings, Taichi."
"Okaaay." Taichi blinked for a moment, not quite sure that he understood; he'd have to press Yamato for details later. "So what are we doing for the rest of the weekend?"
"First of all, my nutty boyfriend is going to get off my back."
Taichi slid off with an unrepentant grin, running a hand through his spiky hair.
Yamato turned and looked him over, mud-spattered and dishevelled, cocky grin and sparking sherry-brown eyes, and thought about his conversation with Jun.
The brunette's expression faltered after a moment as Yamato continued to just stare at him with unwavering, bright blue eyes. "Yama?"
My silly, lovable Keeper of Courage. I won't let anyone try to tear us apart, either.
Taking a tentative step forward, Taichi reached up, gently touching Yamato's cheek. "Yama?"
The Keeper of Friendship looked him in the eyes then, and he froze like the proverbial deer in headlights. He squeaked in surprise as the blonde grasped double handfuls of his t-shirt and pulled him in sharply, making them stand nose to nose. "Yama?" he whispered uncertainly, eyes wide.
Yamato kissed him then, intensely, searchingly, thoroughly. Taichi murmured approval, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend's neck, opening his mouth readily when Yamato deepened the kiss.
"What was that for?" he asked breathlessly when they broke apart. It had felt as though Yamato were trying to put his entire being into that kiss, and it shook him to the core.
Yamato smiled inscrutably. "For you—and for me. I like to memorise you any way I can."
"Moron!" Taichi slapped him lightly upside the head. "Quit saying that. You aren't going to lose me anytime soon."
Knowing better than no argue, the blonde said, "It's your weekend, Tai. What do you feel like doing?"
Taichi frowned in thought. "I don't know, Yama. I haven't had you all to myself in forever!"
A calculating smirk blossomed at those words. "Oh, by the way…my dad's out of town for the weekend."
"Sleepover!" Taichi crowed automatically, pumping his fist.
Yamato laughed, easily catching his hyper boyfriend when the brunette flung himself into his arms. "Who's gonna be sleeping?" he asked teasingly.
"You, by the time I get through with you," Taichi purred, before pulling him into an ardent kiss.

That night, Motomiya Jun crept around the house, making certain that everything was in its place before she headed to bed. She felt light-hearted, though, as she went about her nightly routine. Things were beginning to look up for her and her brother. Their parents were going to take a vacation for the first time ever, and they were planning a trip to visit their grandparents. Their mother had asked to look at their midterm reports, and had cried when she read the marks. They weren't perfect—she and her brother weren't geniuses—but they were high, and Daisuke had received a complement from his art instructor.

She paused inside of her own room, glancing at the picture on her dresser before she climbed into bed. It was a picture of herself and Daisuke when they'd been younger; Daisuke sported a fading black eye and a gap-toothed grin, Jun had her left had splayed in a victory sign, winking at the camera. Her brother had gotten the black eye from a school bully, and what the picture didn't show was that Jun's right hand was in a splint. She'd bruised her knuckles—had even popped one out of joint—when she'd cold-cocked the boy that had dared to touch her brother.
"Siblings," she murmured as her head touched the pillow. "It hurts, but I wouldn't want it any other way."