There are three ways things could have gone for Koichi Kimura. In most worlds, he missed the elevator but tripped down the stairs, entering the Digital World by way of a coma. In a few others, both he and Takuya missed the elevator, but when they took the stairs, Takuya was able to grab Koichi's arm and prevent him from falling. And in one other world, they both got in.
Out of all the worlds out there, this was the only one to completely fall to pieces.
Koji didn't even blink at the two boys who'd run into the elevator after him. He'd already gotten somewhat acquainted with one—he'd acted like a madman on the train too. The other—well, he had no idea what his problem was to make him stare like that. But it didn't matter. At least, not until…
"You're Koji Minamoto, right?" he asked.
"Yeah," he answered. "What about it?"
"I know this sounds strange," he replied, "but my name is Koichi Kimura. I've been trying to work up the courage to speak to you for a while."
Koji raised an eyebrow. "What's going on?"
Koichi looked at him hesitantly, and the third boy looked back and forth between them, as if suddenly making a connection that was obvious to everyone but Koji. "I think—no, I know—you're my brother."
Koji stared at him in shock before declaring, "I'm an only child."
Koichi said, "I know. I thought the same, but then my grandmother told me everything. Our parents divorced and each took one of us without telling us about the other's existence. You grew up with our father while I grew up with our mother."
Koji turned dead white and stopped the elevator. The door opened a few floors above the basement. "Get out."
"What?" Koichi asked.
Koji shoved him out the door, but Koichi held onto his wrists. "I don't know how sick you are, but you've got a lot of nerve. My mom died a long time ago!"
"She didn't," Koichi insisted. "She's still alive, but she's sick. If you just talked to her…"
Koji pushed past him, breaking free of his hold and ran for the stairs. Koichi ran after him, and after a minute, so too did the third boy. But by then, Takuya Kanbara was too late to help as Koichi lost his footing and fell down a flight of stairs. There was a sickening thud, and then Koichi lost consciousness.
Takuya's mother drove him back from the station after the police and paramedics questioned him. Even though everything had been so chaotic, he'd been able to relate the story in accurate detail: Koichi's anxiety kept him from seeing that one step. It was all a freak accident, and Takuya had stared in shock when no one could get Koichi to wake up. He would never be able to forget it for the rest of his life.
Shinya's birthday dinner was painfully subdued, and Takuya was uncharacteristically quiet. Shinya, for all the bratty little brother he was, didn't bother him. He didn't even play his new videogame, out of fear that if he needed help, he would just upset his brother.
That night, Mrs. Kanbara came into his room to be sure he was all right before bed. All of a sudden, he blurted out, "I didn't even know them. Just a minute on an elevator—that was it. Why does it have to hurt so bad? It was just an accident!"
Instead of answering, his mother suggested, "How about you stay up tonight and miss school tomorrow? I'll send a note in telling them what happened."
Takuya grabbed her in a hug, mumbling, "Thanks," against her shoulder.
Koji met his birth mother for the first time in the hospital. She sat in the emergency room, sobbing. His father and stepmother stood right by him as he watched her, feeling oddly numb.
"Is he…" his father started.
Koji's mother cut him off with "They couldn't get him to wake up. Then his heart stopped beating, and they couldn't restart it."
In a massive turn of irony, Koji's stepmother went over to his mother and put an arm around her to give her a shoulder to cry on. Koji found himself standing there all alone as the doctors allowed them to go in and say goodbye.
He didn't want to be there, but he knew he had to—it was partly his fault that this had happened. So he entered and looked at the lifeless body on the operating table. It really hit him now just how much he and Koichi looked alike, and he hated himself for not at least hearing him out.
He was only in there a minute before he stepped back out to get some air. It was a sight he'd never be able to forget for as long as he lived.
Three weeks later, the Digital World fell.
Without a leader, the Legendary Warriors were never brought together. Even if there had been a leader, there still would not have been a foil to balance the team. Four children remained in the Digital World to try and prove their worth, but in the end, they were forced back home when everything started to fall apart.
In the Rose Morning Star, Ophanimon sadly watched as Duskmon watched her. She knew he hated being in there, as the lack of shadows greatly reduced his power. But he still came all the same. She liked to think that it was because there was still some of Koichi in him. But that was dwindling now; his body had been cremated already, permanently trapping his spirit in the Digital World. He had nowhere to go. And Cherubimon fed enough darkness into him to suppress all his human memories. With the things that had happened in his life, Koichi had opened his heart to the darkness readily. He'd chosen to forget his human heart. But even so, he still came everyday.
"What do you remember, Koichi?" she asked, using the human name he was forgetting piece by piece. She knew that one day, he might ask her why she called him that, but for now, he still responded to the name. That gave her hope. Yesterday, he'd told her about his mother. The day before, his grandmother. Two days before, a school festival. Everyday, she asked and everyday, he'd tell her something new. He would always lose that memory soon after. As long as she was trapped there, she would take over Cherubimon's old duty of preserving knowledge. Perhaps, if she could remember for Duskmon, there might be a chance of saving the Koichi within him.
"I remember a brother," Duskmon answered.
"Yours?" she asked.
"I don't know." Then, from a heart he could hardly feel anymore, he added, "Maybe he could have been."
I apologize for the extremely dark tone of this fic. I don't normally do this often, but I originally wrote this soon after watching the W.I.T.C.H. episode "S is for Self," and somehow inspiration hit.