We always change.

It's the way of life.

It can't be avoided.

But questions arise when the changes that are made don't make sense.

They aren't what we wanted.

They aren't what you wanted.

So, the question we have been asked, is why?

How?

This is the answer.

------------------------

The laughter and the drinks. The smiling and the jokes.

We were in heaven.

Well, we were having plenty of fun.

It was a five hours away from the start of a new year.

The year 2002.

It had been about a year since we had defeated BelialVamdemon, and life had returned to normal.

Or at least as normal as possible.

We all returned to our daily lives. We attended school, we did homework, we went to the movies, and the elder Chosen even went on dates.

But our past wasn't forgotten.

Believe me; we didn't want to forget the Digimon, even though, we were forced to leave them in the Digital World.

But if there was one thing I regretted about the entire journey, it was leaving all too soon.

I never got to say good-bye.

---------------------

"Why do evil geniuses have to be so evil?"

---------------------

Though the sun was bright, and the world restored, I wasn't happy.

We had lost one of our own.

My eyes were so blurry. My tears blemished by face, my arms, my clothing. Everything.

I was shocked.

I knelt on the ground, staining my knees with dirt.

Daisuke tried to consol me.

"He'll always be there. Don't worry, Iori. He'll always be there for us."

My emotions weren't straight. My mind couldn't function correctly.

So I yelled. I expressed.

I exploded.

"HOW DO YOU KNOW? For four months I've been following you. I've letting you lead me. I helped you! And yet still you treat me like I'm four! I know perfectly well he's never coming back! HE'S GONE! AND THERE'S NO DAMN THING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT!"

There was only silence. The other foreign Chosen had dispersed, conversing and laughing.

They had not a care of their surroundings.

The elder Chosen, including Mimi, had gathered near by. While Hikari and Taichi embraced, so did Takeru and Yamato.

But they froze when they heard my voice.

"I believe in the Digital World. I believe that my dreams will come true! I always will! But I can't just forget my damn plight! I JUST CAN'T FORGET MY DAD!"

I stopped. I couldn't work my mouth again. It froze.

The others gasped. Taichi had his mouth wide open and Daisuke blinked countless times.

I crawled backwards. My hands scraped against many rocks, and I had several bruises.

But I kept going.

They didn't move. They didn't try to stop me.

Well, Sora did.

She ran after me as I leapt to my feet and scurried away. I raced to a portal.

I needed to be left alone.

At home.

Yes, I had mentioned by dad to them before, and they knew it was a soft spot with me, but I had never complained to them.

I had never openly spoken about it.

So, when I disappeared, I heard her muffled cries behind me.

---------------------

"I guess you guys didn't have a very good lawyer."

---------------------

I ran my fingers through my hair. It had grown, and when I insisted on getting it cut, Miyako had instantly suggested that I keep it and try it out.

Speaking of which…

"Iori, are you alright?"

Miyako Inoue, now in the ninth grade, was standing before me, with a trace of concern on her face. In one hand, she was carrying a plastic cup filled with soda. The other hand grasped a plate of snacks.

Miyako had continued to grow, adding an extra three inches to her previous height. I now had to lift my head in a larger angle than before. She had trimmed her violet hair, and let it rest on her shoulders.

"Iori?" She waved a hand in front of my face, snapping every once and a while. "Are you awake?"

I started, awakened from my trance. "Huh? Oh, hi Miyako," I smiled at her. "How's it going?" Her face brightened and she smiled.

"I'm actually pretty good. High School is stressful; especially since all of you guys are in middle school now. But I've got the others to help me out." She took a sip of her drink and handed me the plate. "You hungry?"

"No, I'm fine." Miyako quietly squealed as she spilled some of her soda down the front of her shirt. I, however, was distracted by the tall eighth grader who was walking in our direction and beamed at him. "Hey Takeru." He smiled as he handed Miyako a napkin.

"Hi Iori," Miyako shot him a grateful smile, and he returned it and faced me once again. "How's Middle School this year?"

"Uh, a little more difficult, but it helps that you, Hikari, and Daisuke all go to the same school. It helps me feel more comfortable." Takeru smiled.

"Well I'm glad you like it so far," He took a cookie from my plate, and took a bite. "Personally, I hated sixth grade. Seventh wasn't any better. I love eighth the best."

"That encourages me."

"Sorry."

Takeru Takashi had continued to play on the basketball team, much to the dismay of Daisuke. Even if the current leader loved Soccer more, he still jumped at any chance to outdo Takeru.

Takeru, however, didn't mind. He was unaware of the millions of girls who chased him for hours on end, and the countless amounts of guys who envied his every move.

However, my Jogress partner was as close to all of us as ever. He had especially warmed up to Yamato after hearing the news of their parents' choice of taking a stab at romance once more.

Miyako, who had been listening the entire time, suddenly spoke up.

"Mimi! You made it!"

The girl in question spun around, and grinned at the sight of the only people who had arrived so far.

"Miyako! Hey guys," Mimi greeted us, and reached for a chip from the plate that I still hadn't touched. "How could I miss this? I don't get to see you at all anyways."

Mimi Tachikawa had continued to live in New York. She had expected to visit the Digital World in hopes of catching us there, but didn't get the chance, with the gate closing and all. Mimi was very distressed when she heard that she couldn't keep her promise to Palmon and to us.

The current tenth grader was very happy to visit Japan whenever she could, but since the Digital World became public and shut, restrictions may travel difficult. Unfortunately, this prevented her from visiting as much as she could have wished.

Mimi's hair had returned from the artificial pink, to the natural deep brown. She had changed her wardrobe to suit the cold weather in Japan, so she was clad in traditional Japanese clothes.

"Why don't you ask your parents if you can move back? I mean the only reason you left was because your parents were afraid of Digimon," Miyako said, after giving the girl a hug.

"I guess I could, but it would cost way too much. I'll just wait 'till college."

At that moment, the doorbell of the Inoue residence rang once more. Glancing to see who had arrived, I was surprised to see Jun there, searching the room expectantly. As she stepped into the room to be greeted by Miyako's sisters, her sullen brother followed her.

Daisuke Motomiya's burgundy hair was still as messy as Taichi's. He was still clad the goggles that had been given to him, and I had seen an increase in his muscular build. Daisuke still played soccer regularly, even winning against Ken every once and a while. He was still in eighth grade, like Takeru and Hikari, and was under plenty of stress because of it.

The current goggle-head trudged towards us, his head bent. When he reached us, Mimi swung an arm around his shoulder, bringing him to a hug.

"You had to bring Jun?"

He nodded.

"Why?"

"My mom made me. Her and dad wanted the house to themselves," he mumbled.

Takeru shook his head as Miyako stifled a giggle.

"Who was she looking for?" I asked him. He looked at me unenthusiastically.

"Shuu. I have no idea what happened to her and Yamato, but I know he'll be pleased."

"So will Sora. I don't think she could handle another fan girl. Especially Jun," Takeru pointed out.

Daisuke plopped into the sofa behind him, followed by the rest of us. Daisuke closed his eyes, and stayed that way while the rest of us immersed in conversation.

Even as we sat there, my mind kept wandering. Daisuke looked so much like me.

I remember that day. I remember when I came home, tired, scared and depressed.

Thank god I had my friends.

---------------------

"The reason you want me to go is because I'm afraid. Well, I won't go! I just have to face my fear!"

---------------------

I was running. I was muddy. I was sweaty.

My legs ached and I was tired. I didn't know if I would be able to make it home.

But I kept going.

I couldn't let them catch up with me.

I reached my apartment building exhausted. My clothes were ripped and torn, and my face was tainted with blobs of mud.

I was a mess.

But as I halted in front of the complex elevator, I didn't comprehend the myriad of stares I was attracting.

I just wanted to go home.

I didn't care that I had saved the world. I didn't care that I saved the world from the powers of darkness.

I just wanted to get home.

But when the door to the elevator opened, I stepped back.

I saw eleven worried and anxious faces looking at me with concern.

But I backed away. I ran the other direction.

I wanted to be alone.

I arrived at my apartment on the third floor without running into one of the others.

But when I entered by house, I noticed something.

The entire house was dark. No lamp was on, and no living being was in sight.

I gaped, but quickly closed and locked the door behind me.

Walking around, I noticed that my grandfather's books were open, and his tea still lying on the coffee table.

My mother had left the kitchen. A halfway cooked meal was on the stove, but the heat was off. The microwave beeped, and I saw a bowl of vegetables.

They had left.

They wanted to make sure I was alright.

They probably were with the other parents.

They were wondering what happened.

I sunk to the floor, ignoring the harsh raps on the front door. I buried my face into my knees.

I didn't know why I was crying. I should have been happy.

We had lost one. But we saved millions.

It was a worthy sacrifice.

But why was I crying?

I heard the door being pushed, and I heard it when it finally gave way.

In barged the others, the girls searching franticly.

Mimi and Miyako broke down when they saw me in tears.

Hikari and Sora rushed to give me a hug.

Daisuke and Takeru reached for my hands, their own hot tears falling onto them.

Koushiro and Jyou stayed at the doorway, their faces wet, but afraid to come in.

Yamato and Ken walked in, their hands balled into fists. They arrived from returning the door to its rightful place.

Taichi's eyes were just red.

In my mind, I was confused. Why were they crying?

In my heart I knew.

"Why?" was all I could choke out, the heaving feeling in my heart choking me.

"They're gone," Sora whispered soothingly into my ear. "Iori, they're gone."

I stopped crying. My silent wails ceased. I became rigid.

I felt Hikari squeeze me tighter, as if trying to loosen me up. I wouldn't wilt.

"Please, Iori," she pleaded. "It's okay, please! Cry Iori, please…" Her voice faded away, her tears becoming stronger. But I didn't budge. Sora also began to beg.

"Iori, they're all crying. You don't have to be strong."

I didn't relax. I just stared straight ahead.

"He isn't."

Everyone turned to him, except for the boy himself. Mimi choked on her tears.

"TAICHI?!" she screamed at me. "He cried! He was a damn bulldozer! He's just too damn stubborn to act normal around you!"

That didn't make me feel any better.

"WHY DO YOU DO THAT?" I yelled, causing both Sora and Hikari to flinch, and Takeru and Daisuke to back away slightly. "WHY DO YOU TREAT ME LIKE A DAMN CHILD? I'M JUST AS MATURE AS YOU GUYS!" Miyako, who had been silent, just knelt before me, her hands resting on my shoulders.

"Because we see you like one. You feel like to you have to act like the adult since all of us are so preoccupied. But we care about you. We need to care about something, Iori."

Her words stung me. They hit me.

My vision became blurry, and my cheeks began to sting.

The tears fell thickly onto my lap, and onto the friends who surrounded me.

"I never got to say…" I choked, my tears growing at the thought of the word.

"We know, Iori, we know."

"All because I wanted to run away. I was too afraid."

"It's okay. We'll talk about it tomorrow. After it's all settled in."

"Okay-" I was cut off by the soft finger on my lips. I couldn't see who it was for my eyes were shut tightly, but I was aware of the eleven other figures that were with me.

All twelve of us sat in our huddle, our eyes red, and the dirt that had covered us washed away from our tears.

---------------------

"Yeah, but I also told a lie. My grandfather said that the worst thing you could do is tell a lie and that's just what I did. I don't deserve the Digi-Egg of Reliability!"

---------------------

My eyes hurt from staring at the same spot for too long, so I looked up.

Someone, I guessed Miyako's mom, had put out a bowl of chips and some drinks. I reached for one, but for some reason, felt it to be slipping away. Shaking my head, my thoughts cleared, and I grabbed a chip. As I nibbled on it, my eyes wandered the room.

Taichi and Hikari had both arrived, and were settling in by laying their coats on the chair next to the door.

Taichi Yagami still had hair that was untamed, and he had recently bought a new pair of goggles. They looked almost identical to the old pair, but now he decked them around his neck.

Taichi was in his junior year of high school, and was anxiously awaiting graduation. He planned on attending the same college as Yamato, Sora, and Koushiro in two years, and the boys had agreed to share an apartment near the campus. They also invited Jyou, who had graciously accepted, the apartment being only a few miles away from his own planned school. Until then, Jyou planned on staying at home while he adjusted.

Taichi still played Soccer, but I noticed how his interest had declined. He still followed National Soccer and the World Cup, but he didn't play the game as frequently. Instead, he was following politics more closely, which included watching the news on a regular basis. Somehow, I couldn't imagine him doing that until I saw it for myself.

Hikari Yagami, on the other hand, had continued to explore her passion of photography. Even if her dream was to become a Kindergarten teacher, she still enjoyed taking pictures. I often found her snapping a picture of our group when we're together, always trying to get a good group picture.

Needless to say, her pictures always come out great.

Hikari had especially taken up the hobby of shopping, and it wasn't unusual to find the three, Miyako, Sora, and Hikari, shopping in the mall, occasionally accompanied by one of us guys.

As the two sat down, Hikari next to Miyako on the couch and Taichi on the arm of that sofa, I smiled to them and received a grin from both in return. They joined into the conversation, which had strayed to the topic of school. Miyako had mentioned to Hikari how much she missed her, as Takeru asked Taichi what he was planning on majoring in.

Even as the noise increased around me, I felt like dozing off. My brain was way too tired.

However, when the doorbell rang once more, I awoken, and saw Yamato and Sora enter, Koushiro straggling behind.

Yamato Ishida, still the current heartthrob of every teenage girl in Japan, was very successful with his band. The Teenage Wolves had managed to air on all major television stations, and Yamato had found himself the recent prey of paparazzi. The band had begun to record an album in April, after their…interesting concert back last December. I was awaiting the premiere of the CD next year.

Sora Takenouchi was arm in arm with Yamato, the two going steady for the past year. The two rarely had time to see each other, between Yamato's band practice, and Sora's tennis. However, the two never minded if one of us were hovering behind them whenever they went out on a date. As long as they had their privacy.

Sora was recently more concerned about her grades. I wasn't sure if they were slipping, but the paranoia she carried was contagious, so almost all of my friends carried it as well. She had also gotten into the habit of mothering us. She was always guarding us, needing a substitute for her Digimon partner, and I was certain, seeming as it was fairly obvious, that she missed Biyomon greatly.

Koushiro Izumi was carrying his Pineapple Laptop under his arm. He still never left the house without the thing, and it still was a topic of teasing amongst us. Koushiro had grown out his hair, much to the dismay of Sora, and was having luck with the ladies. I believe he had to cancel several dates to be able to make it that night.

Just as I moved to greet the trio, Ken walked in.

I smiled at him, and he graciously returned one of his own. He left to talk to Koushiro as he dropped his coat on the hanger.

Ken Ichijouji moved from Tamachi to Odaiba where the rest of the Chosen lived. He had been most pleased when his parents had agreed to the move. He now attended the same high school as the others, and was in a significant amount of Miyako's classes.

Ken was still playing soccer frequently, even if his talent wasn't at the height of his performance. His grades where very good, and he often helped Koushiro during Computer Club. I myself have gotten him to fix my computer at times.

Ken had begun to heal, but we still had to drag him every step of the way. Though he was adjusting very well, it still helped to have friends.

And I knew Ken was grateful for it.

Miyako was overjoyed to see almost everyone there.

"Jyou said he would come a little later because he had to finish studying, but he'll be here before midnight."

"That's great! The whole gang will be here!"

I smiled, relived that everyone was so happy. The past year had been rough.

We had gotten through it, however.

But we still carried the scars.

And I knew we always would.

I remember the reactions of our parents.

I remember the way we were treated after that day.

I remember all the horrible, atrocious things we had to put with.

I hated it.

I hated it with a passion.

------------------

"Cody, I know you're just a kid, but sometimes you have the wisdom of an old man of twenty!"

-Yolei Inoue

------------------

We had been carted away by our respective parents.

Each one, devastated and relieved, took us to our respective homes.

We didn't want to be separated, but they forced us.

They said we could meet later in the afternoon.

After we had slept.

After we had relaxed.

After we had cried.

But we needed to cry with each other.

We needed a shoulder to cry on.

Someone needed to be there to help us. Someone needed to prevent us from hurting.

Thankfully, our parents don't mind us sneaking out.

We had each snuck out of our houses, and met at the park.

One of the places of the first meetings of the original Chosen.

I was honored to be there.

I was sad to be there.

But we trudged along the rocky path, together.

We sat in a tight circle, each knee touching the next.

Each person was leaning on someone else.

We were tired.

We were energetic.

We were happy.

We were sad.

We were confused.

And yet, we were totally clear.

We knew what we had to do.

We had to make peace.

We needed to make peace with the world.

We needed to be acquiescent with our family. With our friends.

And we needed to solve the problems within ourselves.

But it always helped to do it with others.

So we helped each other.

We received help from the people we most trusted.

But we weren't ready for the reactions of others.

We weren't prepared for the publicity. We didn't want the sudden popularity.

Mimi didn't want to leave.

She wanted to stay.

So she stayed until we were all settled.

She wanted to aid our own healing.

But she got to say good-bye.

And hell, I was resentful for it.

I was indignant towards all of them.

I didn't want to be, but I was.

I wanted to be able to say that it was my fault. That I should have waited.

But they tell me that isn't the reason. They say it wasn't my fault.

So I take the next extreme.

It was their fault.

It was their entire damn fault.

They made my cry.

They made me run away.

Oh, Armadillomon, why didn't I tell you how much I'll miss you?

How come I didn't get a chance to tell you how much you've helped me?

Why?

Because we're damn idiots.

And fate refuses to let us live peacefully.

We have to be surrounded by drama.

Including the ones between ourselves.

But I wasn't ready to confront my family.

I wasn't prepared to face the world.

But we did it anyway.

Together.

It was two days after the ordeal that we had to depart for school once again.

I was nervous, yet I was comfortable.

I would be fine.

I had Takeru, Hikari, and Daisuke with me.

So I headed away, my mother's eyes red from the constant crying during the night, and my grandfather's wrinkles deepening from his worry.

I met up with Miyako and Takeru near the elevator. Both welcomed me like nothing was out of the ordinary.

I followed their lead.

Smiling and laughing, I listened to Miyako complain about her siblings, though I noted a decrease in annoyance at them. I smiled at that thought.

I listened as Takeru announced his mom's new book coming out. It was scheduled to be on shelves in a few months. I congratulated him.

When they both looked at me expectantly, I hesitantly started explaining a Kendo class I had with my grandfather the day before, which included a lecture.

I left that part out.

But Miyako smiled and Takeru nodded, and the silence that had been threatening to appear did, hovering over us until we arrived at the school.

There we met up with Daisuke and Hikari.

The former was grinning stupidly, like always, and the latter was giggling. When we caught up to the pair, they immediately filled us in.

Apparently, Jun had asked Shuu, Jyou's elder brother, on a date. I didn't find it very amusing, but Takeru and Miyako did. Miyako paid her farewells and headed towards the high school a little away.

I was surprised at them.

How could they adapt and change so quickly?

Just the other day they were distraught and were lament.

Yet now, they acted as if all was right with the world.

But though it may seem like it, nothing was right.

Everything was wrong.

------------------

"Yolei and Ken, sitting' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"

------------------

I was awakening from my reverie when Jyou entered the building, marking the arrival of the entire gang. I greeted him, shaking his hand.

"So, how was studying?" Jyou grimaced and rolled his eyes.

"Oh, just pure joy. I had to finish a paper since it's due tomorrow, even if we have no school!"

"Weird. I don't think I ever want to become a doctor."

"It's better than some other jobs."

"That's true. Like a lawyer for example." I shivered and scowled. "I'm never going to be a lawyer."

"Good for you, Iori."

I laughed, along with Jyou, and we both joined the others, who were taking refreshments and food.

Jyou Kido was one bright and studious kid. Being in his senior year, he was striving to complete everything to be able to attend the appropriate college for being a successful doctor.

Jyou's first plan was to become a doctor in the Digital World. However, with the gate closed and with no idea if and when it would reopen, he stuck with being a doctor to humans. He, however, found himself keener with helping Digimon, who have less blood to lose, than humans.

It was eight. Four more hours in each other's company until we had to return to our daily lives.

Oh joy.

But until then, I planned to make the most out of what I could.

"So, anyone up to a game of truth or dare?" Miyako said, grinning. I groaned.

"Miyako, no. It's only trouble."

"What about spin the bottle?"

"Miyako," I warned. She stuck out her tongue and rolled her eyes.

"Fine, but only because you're too young."

"I am not too young." I seethed. "I'm only two years younger then Hikari and Takeru!"

"Let's not get into this argument again," Koushiro wisely interrupted. "We've all had too much experience."

I looked at the ground, ashamed, but Miyako gave me a hug before I could wallow in self-pity.

"I'm sorry, okay. Let's just have a good time." I smiled at her and nodded. She grinned back. "Good."

"Well, seeing as we're not doing anything else, I suggest we take up Miyako's idea, and play Truth or Dare," Mimi said, smirking. "But not anything too revealing, got it guys?" She glared directly at Yamato and Taichi when she said it and the two tried their best to look innocent.

"What are you talking about?"

"We aren't like that!"

Mimi, saying nothing but just ignoring them, shook her head.

Sora directed everyone to sit down on the sofas, making themselves comfortable.

"Who wants to start?"

I looked around, noticing how everyone was staring at Taichi. The boy in question, shaking his head, raised his hand.

"I'll start."

I relaxed, seeing as no one was going to ask me anything anytime soon, and dozed off.

My mind was still covered in disgust. I was still mad.

I was still angry.

And that feeling wasn't going to dissipate anytime soon.

------------------

Cody: You better stop or else!
Blackwargreymon: Or else what?
Cody: Umm...I haven't thought of that part yet.

------------------

The day started off fine. It was normal.

Until lunch.

At lunch, I usually sat with Takeru and the others.

Today, however, I saw that the group wasn't there. They had left, for something or another.

So, I was forced to sit somewhere else.

Unfortunately, all the other tables were taken.

Since I had no friends that I could sit with of my own age, I was left standing.

I made to sit in an empty seat at the end of a lone table, but the people there shooed me away.

I asked to sit at a table by the door, and they started yelling at me.

I requested to sit next to a boy from my math class, but the others at the table yelled at me.

I couldn't help it when I screamed.

"WHAT'S WRONG?" I was so upset, I couldn't think. I didn't think about the countless number of stares I was attracting. "WHY CAN'T I SIT ANYWHERE?"

I was answered with silence, which left me speechless.

I had never broken down in public. Only around the other Chosen had I become emotional.

So I fled the cafeteria.

I fled to the bathroom.

I was eating my meal in the bathroom.

It was pathetic.

But it was even worse when I returned to class.

No one would look to me.

No one would talk to me.

It was as if I was non-existent.

Even the teachers ignored me.

I raised my hand to answer a question, and they passed over me.

I received my tests and other graded work back without a grade on them.

It wasn't fun.

By the end of the day, I felt as if I could burst into tears at any minute.

I searched for the others before leaving at the end of the day, but I couldn't find them.

So I went home, alone.

When I came home, I was greeted with the smell of fresh cooking.

I smiled. My mother had been trying harder to please me ever since I became a Chosen.

"Mom?" The lady in question stuck out her head from the kitchen.

"Cody! You're home!" She tilted her head towards the door behind her. "Go ahead and talk to your grandpa for a while until I finish making dinner. He has some snacks with him too!" I nodded gratefully, and went ahead into the room.

I immediately spotted my grandfather standing in the middle of the room.

Even for a man of seventy, he was able to successfully do proper yoga, which included many movements I could only wish of doing.

The elderly man noted my presence, but continued to meditate. I waited patiently, while observing his movements.

I never knew my grandfather did yoga. I was aware that he was excellent at Kendo, but I never knew his other talents.

I flushed in embarrassment at my lack of truths about my own family.

It was then I realized something.

I was spending too much time with my friends. Even if we were saving the world, they aren't the only people in my life.

I have a family. My grandfather was always proud of me, and he was consistent in trying me to achieve my goals and dreams.

My mom loved me. I knew that. But I never understood just how much she really cared. She wanted me to be safe.

Even if I didn't believe it, I was only ten years old. In my mom's eyes, I was only a few months.

I needed to spend more time with my family. I knew it.

And from the day I came home after school early, I vowed to do just that.

------------------

"I don't even like to fight Digimon. What will we do if we're forced to fight other kids?"

------------------

"Iori?"

The voice grew louder, and it was being joined by a few others.

"IORI?"

"Hello? Anyone there?"

"Wait, huh?"

I was awakened by the others from my daydream, and I suddenly noticed the fact that everyone in the tiny room was staring at me with a bemused expression.

"Oh, yeah?"

"It's your turn, man." Daisuke explained. "Koushiro asks you, Truth or Dare?"

In understanding, I looked around. Hikari and Takeru had left, leaving Daisuke to be totally engrossed in the game. He wanted to know my answer.

"Truth, I guess."

"Aw, you're no fun," Mimi complained. Koushiro grinned.

"Finally, a truth." He pondered for a while, his face swarming with different expressions.

It was quite amusing.

"Do you have a question, Koushiro?"

He looked at me, my intolerance annoying him.

"Be patient."

So, I waited.

Eventually, Koushiro had an idea.

"Okay, I got one."

"About time."

This time, it was Daisuke being the impatient one. Koushiro chose to ignore him.

"What is thing you would change or improve about each of us?"

I was taken aback. It was actually a good question.

By this time, Takeru and Hikari had returned, each carrying a refilled cup of soda.

I bit my lip.

"Well, let's start with Taichi."

I tilted my head while observing him, trying to analyze him enough to find a fault.

"I guess I would change his hair."

Taichi responded with covering his head with his hands, which invited giggles from Sora and Hikari. I turned to Yamato.

"In Yamato I would ask him to spend more time with his family and friends. He needs to spend time doing stuff with people other than his band. Even if his music is great." Yamato shifted in his seats, wearing a furtive smile. "Sorry, if that was too harsh." Yamato shook his head, and gestured for me to continue.

"Sora can get too worried. She needs to loosen up sometimes." She nodded.

"Ken needs to forgive himself. We already have, but he still lives with the doubt. I know it." Ken closed his eyes.

"Miyako should try and calm her temper." Miyako weakly smiled.

"Hikari has to stop being so perfect." I may have added some spite when I said it, leading to stares from the others. Hikari just smiled, and gave me a hug. Softly, she whispered into my ears: "I know I'm trying." I faintly gave her a smile. The others relaxed when she hugged me.

"Takeru needs to relax more, and have extra time for himself." Takeru sighed.

"I think Mimi should try and make more time for us. I know it's hard, but still." Mimi nodded.

"Koushiro needs to spend less time on his computer and more time socializing. He shouldn't lose his knowledge, just improve his social skills." Koushiro tilted his head, pondering.

"Jyou should stop studying so much and get out there more. I'm not saying you should give up on your dreams to be a doctor, don't do that. Just manage your time leaving room for some fun." Jyou nodded.

"Daisuke…Dai needs to be in reality. Your sense of fun is always appreciated, but you need to know when to stop." Daisuke slyly grinned.

"You've thought about this haven't you?" I blushed.

"Just a little bit, not much."

We all laughed. The tension that had been covering the room had been lifted.

"So Iori, you're turn to ask someone." I looked around.

"I think we can stop for today. Besides, everyone has had a chance already."

"Yeah, and it's almost eleven, so we should really get the firecrackers out." As we all agreed, Miyako lead us to the tables, where everyone gathered.

Even as I laughed and joked with the others, my mind wandered once more.

I remember clearly the days of torture.

I remember the days of popularity.

I remember that one news report that changed my perspective of it all.

------------------

"Delicious! This is the best thing I've ever eaten in my whole life. All two days of it!"

-Upamon

------------------

"Recent reports have stated that many parents are worried over their children's safety. After accounts of the so called 'Chosen Children', many parents are denying their children interaction with these kids. Many adults and kids alike are afraid of the possibility of abnormal behavior, including savage-like actions and the ability of superpowers. Many of the 'Chosen Children's' parents have countered their accusations with intelligence on how the myriad of children around the world were able to save it. Many parents have even gone as far as pulling their children out of school in order to prevent relations with the Chosen."

"What bull. I don't see anything wrong you. Is there Iori?" my grandfather muttered to me.

"I would hope not," I said. I was disappointed with the report. How could people think we were crazy and abnormal if we just saved the world?

Ever since Kabuterimon and Garudamon saved me and the others on that plane, I knew that something wasn't normal about the world. And when I saw those eight kids get sucked into the sky, I was certain that they were unique.

I always wanted to know why they were special.

I wanted to be special.

And when I saw that yellow light hit me, three years after, and now a year ago, I knew something was going on.

I didn't realize 'till that day that it was something that made me special.

The others seemed so normal.

But to each other, they were different, and they were distinctive.

I never realized 'till that day that I was different.

And I would have never believed it to be a bad thing.

It hit me.

As I listened to the reporter drone on about Digimon and their history with the human world, I understood I would never be looked at as just Iori Hida.

No.

Now I was Iori Hida, Chosen Child.

I was to become the kid who hung out with all the big kids because I thought I was so cool.

I was never going to be treated like me again.

And I hated it.

I hated everyone for it.

So, I tuned out my grandfather, who was muttering under his breathe about how corrupted our world had become, and curled into a ball.

I hadn't done that since I was five.

And my mother knew it.

"What's wrong Iori? Is something the matter?" she asked, concerned.

I shook my head, preventing my eyes from gaining eye contact with her.

"I'm fine. Just sad about the report, that's all."

"Oh." She smiled warmly and placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. "It'll be alright. They'll come around." I feebly smiled, and she walked back to the kitchen.

My grandfather, however, wouldn't buy it.

"Iori, never lie. I already had this discussion with you. Don't you remember?"

My lip quivered, and I felt my precluded tears threaten to surface.

"I've already told a lie once. My friends told me it was good lie because it saved someone." I choked. My grandfather smiled, knowingly. "I'm lying to save you and mom from me, okay?"

"No, actually it isn't. You're lying is hurting you, not helping. But you're friend was right. It is okay to tell a lie when it's helping someone." He tilted his head. "It was Koushiro right?"

"Jyou."

"Ah, close enough." I gave a small laugh, and my grandfather beamed.

"How do you know their names? You barely know them."

"Who picks up the phone when you're out? And who was spending hours with them while the elder children tried to get into the Digital World?" I smiled.

"Thanks grandpa."

"You're welcome." He leaned over and gave me a one-armed hug, which I gratefully returned. "Why don't you go in your room and finish up your homework now?"

"Okay, that sounds good."

I left the couch, the reporter's account still echoing in my head, joined by my grandfather's words. I shook my head, in attempt to clear it, and entered my room.

Instantly, my eyes fell upon the sack lying on my bed.

The one I would carry Upamon in.

Tears swelled.

I glanced at the computer, which had the gate screen open. Needless to say, the gate wasn't open.

The tears grew.

I ran my fingers through my hair, trying to suppress the tears.

I couldn't cry. I just couldn't.

I needed to be strong. I was entering a time of crisis and depression.

It didn't work.

I sat in my room the rest of the night. My sheets and clothes were all damp, but I didn't care.

I figured my grandfather had told my mom to let me be, since no one bothered me until around eight. By then, I had moved away from the bed, and started my homework, but my tears hadn't ceased.

"Iori?" my mom said, while knocking on the door. Thankfully, I had installed a lock last year when I got Upamon. "Are you okay? Dinner's ready."

I wiped my tears away, and tried to clear my throat.

"I'm not hungry. I'll come out and eat a little later." I heard my mom sniffle.

"O-okay. I…I'll leave it out for you." I heard her footsteps fade away.

I took deep breathes, my pant gaining stability. I wanted to burst into tears again, but I controlled it.

I couldn't break down again.

Thankfully, the phone rang a few minutes later.

"Iori?" My mom was knocking on the door, once more. "It's for you. It's Miyako."

I cracked open the door, hoping my eyes weren't red, and that my face wasn't pink.

"Thanks mom." I took the phone and placed it against my ear.

"Hello?"

"Iori! Hey, it's Miyako."

"Yeah, I know."

"So, what's up?"

"Nothing, just doing homework."

"You were crying, weren't you?"

I stopped. Miyako could always read me so well, even if she was judging by voice.

"Yeah, I was."

"Did you see the news?"

"I didn't need to. I experienced it."

"What?"

"I ate lunch in the bathroom."

"Iori! Oh my god! Why didn't you sit with Hikari and the others?"

"They weren't there."

"They are so dead. Are you okay though?"

"I'm fine Miyako, don't worry."

"But I have to."

"Why? It only adds extra pressure."

"But I want to Iori. And I know all the others want to worry too."

I couldn't speak. I swallowed my words.

I always knew the others cared and worried about me.

I mean, I did the same for them.

But I never realized something until that day.

We wanted to worry.

We wanted to.

We wanted this.

We wanted to become Chosen.

We wanted to be special.

So, we were.

We became Chosen.

And we became special.

"Miyako, I want to go back."

I heard a sigh from the other line.

"I know, Iori. I want to go back too. I want to hug Hawkmon and fill him in on all the gossip. But I can't Iori. We can't."

"That doesn't make it any better."

"I know, Iori. I know."

I sighed, and closed my eyes.

"Well, I'm fine, and I have to go. So I'll see you around okay?"

I winced at the hardness of my voice, but I didn't bother to apologize.

"Oh-okay Iori. See you."

The line disconnected.

I slumped down on the wall, putting the phone aside.

I never thought I would end up like this.

I never thought I would hate being a Chosen.

But I didn't hate being a Chosen.

It was destiny.

So I let it be.

------------------

"People are like milk, they can turn bad."

------------------

The hours passed, while we ate and talked. I didn't notice as the time flew by.

Besides, we were having fun.

But when the clock struck eleven thirty, I felt happy.

It was the first time that year I had felt extremely happy.

"Guys, it's almost time for the countdown."

We huddled around the television set in the living room, our circle tight.

Taichi found himself next to Jun, much to his displeasure, and he was desperately trying to move away, so not to be caught in a lip lock with her when the clock struck midnight.

Sadly, he couldn't get away fast enough.

Sora had been pulled away from Yamato by Mimi, who was giggling as Jyou was pushed into Sora by Miyako.

Somehow, when the clock reached ten seconds, the couples arranged were most unlikely.

"Ten!"

Even as the seconds ticked away, I felt myself missing 2001.

"Nine!"

I remembered the resolutions I had promised myself I would keep.

"Eight!"

I would spend more time with my family, and make sure that I loved them to the best of my ability.

"Seven!"

I vowed to spend more time making new friends, but not leave my current ones. I knew I had to hang out with people my age.

"Six!"

And my favorite and most important promise to myself was to express my feelings. I needed to vent every once and a while, and not bottle everything up inside me.

I had people who cared and worried about me, and it isn't like I asked them to.

"Five!"

"Four!"

"Three!"

I closed my eyes, and soaked it in.

Good-bye 2001.

"Two!"

Jun, in the hype of it all, grabbed Taichi and began feverishly kissing him. Jyou, taking her lead, grasped Sora, and suddenly the two found themselves locked together. Yamato looked on with angry eyes.

"One!"

"Happy New Year, every—"

I had been cut off by the explosion.

The last thing I saw before I blacked out was a dark shadow cackling in the moonlight.

------------------

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. I don't own the quotes, either. This Disclaimer goes for the entire story so I don't waste your time.

Longest. Chapter. Ever.

This story, I'll tell you, will be very long. All chapters will be this size, maybe larger.

Okay, I'm going to use the Dub Digimon names and levels, (In-training, rookie, champion, etc.) but the Japanese names and some terms. (Like Jogress evolution and Chosen)

If you haven't figured it out yet, each chapter will be in a different Chosen's POV. This one was Iori's. Each Chosen will have two chapters, one in part 1 and another in part 2, and then they'll be the last chapter in third person. There are a grand total of 25 chapters.

Each chapter deals with a year.

Everything will be canon, except that Adventure 01 took place in 1997, so that it's three years before 02. Every chapter will be on December 31st, and will detail events from that year. The story's point is to tell us how exactly the epilogue (which so many of us hated) came to be. It'll also tie up lose ends. Yes, Dragomon will be making an appearance. A much needed appearance.

I plan to have romance, action, angst, tragedy, and everything else. The ending is already planned out; I just have to get there. Out of 32 possible couples (yes, I did the math. So sue me) only 2 will make their way to the last chapter. And if you think about it, you'll probably be able to guess which couples they are.

I'm going to try and exploit every couple, meaning everything from Jyoura (which you saw) to Kenkari. I may even have some Iori/Rosa! And yes, the international Chosen are with Dubbed names, sorry.

The quotes are all from the Dub, either said by Cody, his partner, or about him. The same goes with quotes in coming chapters.

This chapter is a grand total of 36 pages. That's long, folks.

Sorry about the long Author's Note, but all this needs to be said. All other notes will be shorter, hopefully.

Hopefully, FF will have their email system working by the time I upload this, but if not, then please note that I am replying to all of your reviews! Please keep reviewing, but I did get a review reply, but I didn't get any of the emails I should have received when FF was down. Let me know if you're having the same problems.

And big thanks are in order to The Digital Gate for beta reading this for me. THANKS!

And also, thanks to my friend who printed out all 36 pages and edited it….if you're reading this, thanks!

I hope you're all having a good 2007 so far.

Review!