Eternal

Gabumon came awake with a start as he registered the lack of warmth beside him, his head flying off his front paws and his ruby red eyes snapping open. "Shhh!" He heard someone hiss, instantly recognizing the voice as belonging to his partner. Gabumon breathed a sigh of relief as he twisted to look up at where his Chosen was standing a few feet away. "Go back to sleep, buddy." Matt whispered, voice low, "I'm just checking on TK." Gabumon gave the boy a searching look. Matt's eyes were dark with emotion, shadowed and TK was actually on the complete opposite side of the dying fire from where Matt was, the younger boy curled up between Mimi and Sora. So what was he… Gabumon's mouth formed a silent 'O' before he nodded, shifting to turn his back on his partner and replacing his chin on his paws. It was as much privacy he could give within the tight camp the Digidestined had settled into earlier that day.

Sighing silently, Matt sank to his knees, disregarding the grass and dirt that stained his jeans, they were already stained and would only get worse until they found a way home. Placing his hands on his thighs, he bowed his head and took a deep, steadying breath, holding it for a moment before letting it out in a rush. When he lifted his head, his eyes were snared on the object that had been holding his attention since the Digidestined's last big fight. It gleamed, the light of the fire's remaining embers reflecting off and casting a pale halo around it. If it was anything else it would look unmistakably forlorn, sitting there alone in the night. Maybe it was the golden glow the fire was casting on it (strange though, how it seemed to glow dim amber even on the side turned away from the fire) or maybe it was its position nestled in TK's hat, but, somehow the innocuous looking Digiegg didn't look abandoned. If he listened closely enough, Matt thought that just maybe he could even hear Patamon's chirping voice echoing within the cream and orange shell.

With a delicacy that was usually reserved for museums, libraries and infants, Matt picked up the egg, cradling it in his hands. It was heavy, but the shell was sleek and warm like the short fur on the ear of a kitten or the well preened wing of a raven. No, not a kitten and certainly not a raven, Matt corrected himself, silky and warm like the wings of angels.

"I'm sorry." Matt whispered, voice catching in his throat as he held the egg.

He had given the little digimon a long harangue on one of the first nights in the digital world, an almost threatening lecture about taking care of TK. Patamon had been bristling with indignation, angry at Matt's insinuation that he couldn't take care of his Chosen. "I don't plan on failing!" Patamon had finally, vehemently, declared, blue eyes blazing, and had winged his way back to his sleeping partner.

"I'm so sorry Patamon." Matt breathed, closing his eyes against the tears that were threatening to rise. The boy never noticed the warm, almost liquid light that had gathered around the egg and shone like the summer sun on his face. Only Gabumon, attracted by the golden light that shone through his eyelids, saw his Chosen slump to the ground, Patamon's egg cradled to his chest, dead asleep, his face relaxed, something akin to a smile curling the edges of his lips. Gabumon could have sworn, as he untangled the boy's arms from around the egg, that he heard faint laughter and saw flicker of light, almost like a wink but warm like a smile from the egg. Gabumon smiled as well, momentarily resting a paw on the egg's surface in a silent thank you.