Here it is, ladies and gents, the final episode in my little trilogy of Frontier/X-Men Evolution crossovers! If you're just tuning it, it's for your best interest to go to my profile and read the first two 'episodes', namely, "The X-Evolution" and "X-Evolution: The Rise of Dusk" so that you know what's going on. Please make sure to review all three if you do this, so I know you're around!
The way of naming chapters in this story is vaguely inspired by the tri-fold naming system used by the creators of the Hunter X Hunter anime, except that I'm using mine as a bipod. Guess why. If you know me, it should be pretty easy. There are several different reasons.
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon or X-Men Evolution. So sue me. No wait…don't.
The X-Evolution - Memories
Chapter 1: Blank/Black
Who are you?
Kouji hated those words. Hated them with every fiber of his being. He hated the way that their vowels and consonants strung together to form syllables, hated the way the sentence sounded at it was spoken, hated the awkward silence that came afterwards as a confused speaker waited for an answer from an equally perplexed answerer.
And he hated that his brother was looking up at him now and saying those words, yet again.
It was the fortieth time that Kouichi had woken to ask him that, lifting his head just enough about the pillow to look around the room that the two of them shared. The fortieth day, over a month, since they had expelled Dusk from his mind, nearly killing him. And the fortieth time that Kouji had gotten his hopes up, only to have them be torn down all over again.
Kouichi blinked again, looking up at him curiously, his eyes only half-open, as though he had a bad headache or was only just waking from a dream. He took another deep breath, struggling as though every one hurt, and spoke again: "Who are you?"
Kouji sighed and forced a smile onto his face. "Nobody. I'm nobody."
He lifted the tray that he had set on the floor and set it up so that it balanced just above Kouichi's lap. It contained a bowl of warm oatmeal, two pieces of toast, an apple and chilled bottle of orange juice - all the things proscribed by Storm and Beast as being a good, rounded breakfast.
"Here." He kept the smile on his face as he helped his brother sit up. "You need to eat."
"I…do?" Kouichi blinked at the food, then picked up the spoon from the oatmeal. Before he began, he turned and offered Kouji a small, half-unconscious smile. "Thank you…for being so kind."
Kouji felt his heart rip apart just a little more, but kept his expression somewhat happy as he stood. "You're welcome. They'll be in to check on you in a bit."
"…You'll see. Don't worry."
He paused a moment at the door, watching, with a certain amount of pain, how his brother drew away from the light as though it burned. He bit his lip, opening the door as little as he could and standing in the way of the light to keep their shadowed little room as dark as possible.
"…Sorry." He muttered, and stepped into the hall, knowing that Kouichi would only lift his head when the door was closed and the light was gone.
Storm was waiting for him. Her face was soft with care, and she had the small notebook with all of the information that they could discover. "No change?"
Kouji shook his head. The woman sighed. "I didn't think so." She looked up at him and smiled softly. "You should get some breakfast, too, Kouji."
"I'm not hungry." The boy muttered, and shuffled off with his hands in his pockets.
He wandered to the Institute's library, planting himself into a window seat and curling up. He was spending a lot of time in here, now that his brother was basically living in their room. As much as he loved his brother, he couldn't bear to be around him now…not in this state.
Kouichi had died. In the fight to save him and, in fact, the entire world, he had been killed by his own brother. At the last moment, one of the others…Junpei Shibuya, Lightening Bug… had revived him, using his own mutant abilities as a human defibrillator. When Kouichi came back from…wherever…Dusk's soul and consciousness was not with him. As a result, the elder twin had been freed from…whatever hold that Dusk had on him. But the freedom had come with a price.
A decent chunk of Kouichi's brain, almost half of it, had been possessed by Dusk for a greater part of his life. Without Dusk's presence, that part of his brain was blank - unused cells, broken connections and scar tissue. Nothing was functioning properly, and it hadn't been for all of these weeks.
His long term-memory…all of his past, his knowledge of his family and friends, everything that had gone into his personality since he was four years old…had been scrapped. He couldn't have even told you his first name.
To make matters worse, his ability to create and hold short-term memories had been completely fried. Kouichi couldn't remember a single thing before or after his current time of consciousness. Even if they spent an entire day getting to re-know each other and rebuilding their bond, he would eventually fall asleep, and it would all start over the next day.
Eventually, he stopped starting altogether.
The big old door behind him opened slowly with the creak old, wise metal hinges, but Kouji didn't look up. It closed again, and footsteps approached on the soft carpet before the intruder spoke. "Hey."
Kouji glanced at the other, though he already recognized Takuya's voice. "…Hey."
The pyro gave him a soft grin and shrugged somewhat uselessly. "Still no change, huh?"
Takuya was quiet for a moment longer, shifting from one foot to another and sighed before he asked what he really wanted to ask. "And…what about you?"
Kouji glanced at him again, then lifted his hand to the light that was coming through the window. He concentrated, trying to draw the energy into his hand. For a moment, a tiny spark flickered in his palm. Then it vanished, leaving his hand as empty as before.
The twin sighed and lowered his hand. "Nothing."
Takuya groaned. Three weeks before, during a Danger Room session, of all things, Kouji's mutant ability had just - stopped. The Professor, Beast and the others had dozens of theories as to what had caused it, from guilt to exhaustion from overwork to his body sympathetically withdrawing along with his brother's memories. Either way, Yang had disappeared, and Kouji was only barely hanging on.
Flare hated being on the outside of it all, and felt like, if he couldn't do anything else, he had to help his friends…anyway he could.
He moved to the window seat and sat down, looking out at the lawn for a moment until he built up the courage. "You know…it's Saturday."
Kouji didn't look up. "So?"
"So, the guys and I were thinking we'd go to a movie or something. You know, hang out."
Kouji's head turned slowly, and Takuya finally got a really good look. The guy looked like hell, in the plainest of simple terms, with bags of worry under his eyes and a pallor where his self-depriving lack of decent nutrition was slowly becoming apparent. He had fallen into a sort of depression in the past few weeks, to the point that the school nurse was concerned for his health, which was why the others of the Institute had taken it upon themselves to reach out to him as much as possible, however unreceptive he had been.
"I'm not much company right now."
"You think we care about that?" Takuya rolled his eyes. "Come on, buddy, everybody's worried about you. I can't stand seeing you like this, none of us can. You're wasting away."
Kouji rested his head on his knees, folding his arms underneath them for an extra cushion. His eyes panned back to the window, his face still folded into a very definite frown. "…I deserve it."
"Oh, come on, Kouji!"
"Quit trying to make me feel better. You're always doing that."
"Yeah, because you're my friend!" Takuya moved forward and grabbed the other by the shoulders, shaking him. "Come on, buddy, you gotta snap out of this! What is wrong with you lately? I know you're worried, but this is out of control! You gotta snap out of it!"
Kouji just looked at him, his expression blank. "Takuya, do you have a brother?"
Flare stopped shaking and stared at him, dumbfounded. "What?"
"I asked if you have a brother. Or any siblings for that matter."
Takuya was quiet for a long moment, letting go of Kouji altogether and falling back into his place in the seat. He blinked, somewhat stupidly, then finally registered a decent answer to the question. "Well…Yeah. He's not here, but I do have a kid bro. His name's Shinya. He's back home with my folks…"
"What would you do if he was in danger? If somebody was threatening him, or he'd gotten himself into trouble?"
"Help him, of course." Takuya's mind was spinning - what on earth was Kouji trying to get at? "I'd find out whatever was hurting him and get rid of it. That's all there is to it."
Once again, Kouji looked sad, looking away from the other teen instead of right at him. "Yeah. Of course you would. That's what a brother is supposed to do, after all." He was quiet again, his eyes misting over just a bit as though he was in pain. "But I didn't do that, did I?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I didn't help him." Kouji's voice was rather bitter and self-demoralizing. "I couldn't help my own brother. In fact, I did everything but help him, didn't I? I killed him…"
"You didn't have any choice!" Takuya insisted, gripping his hands into fists. "You were helping him…"
"I killed him." Kouji muttered sullenly, burring his eyes in his arms, hiding them from the world. "My own brother, and I killed him. I don't blame him for not knowing me. I don't even know myself anymore…"
Takuya just stared for a moment, dumbfounded, then shook his head to clear his thoughts. "Okay, that's it," he muttered, climbing off of the seat and grabbing Kouji by arms. He yanked and hauled Yang away from the window, onto his feet and into the center of the library. "We have got to get you out of this funk, buddy. You're coming with us, and you're not saying no."
Kouji, who wasn't used to being manhandled, stumbled a bit as his friend dragged him along. "But…"
"You need this," Takuya insisted, giving him a slight grin as he switched to pushing him to the driveway rather than pulling him. "You don't have to worry, buddy. Storm and the others will take care of him while you're gone."
( - ) ( - ) ( - )
Kouichi stirred and rolled over, looking out the window. The blinds were closed very tight, and he could tell that it was for his sake - his eyes hurt when there was light. But he could tell that the light outside was very pale, he could see that from what little was coming through…and something was going on outside.
He crept to the window cautiously and pulled away the curtain. As expected, the tiny amount of light that hit his eyes as he peeked out made him recoil in pain, but he forced himself to suffer through it and forced it open again.
There was a big, white van outside, one of the old fifteen-passengers that had been specially modified to be more safe, no matter how rowdy the people inside it might become. One of the sliding doors was open and several teenagers were climbing inside - people his age, boys and girls, people that he was supposed to know, but didn't really. They were laughing, and looked like they were having fun just preparing for whatever trip they were going on.
Kouichi watched as the bright-faced, tanned boy with shaggy brown hair reached down from the front row of seats to help a pretty blonde girl into the van. Most of the group had already piled in, laughing and generally having a good time. There was only one who seemed somehow distant, and he was the only one who hadn't climbed in for the ride yet.
Kouji recognized him, better than the others - it was the boy who'd been there when he woke up. He looked…sad, somehow. Kouichi pressed his hand against the window, feeling the cold chill that was radiating through the glass, trying to reach out even as the sliding doors closed and the van started up.
"…Nobody." He muttered, remembering the other's words, and his hand fell into his lap. He didn't really know what was going on, but…he wanted to go, too.
The door opened behind him, startling him, and his hand immediately moved to cover up his eyes against the light. A woman's voice cut through the blaze of light as the door closed again. "I'm sorry. I know it hurts."
When the light went away, he lifted his eyes again. The darkness sharpened his vision so that it was twice as good as it had been looking out the window. The woman was familiar, in the distantly blank way that the people in the bus had been. She was tall and beautiful, with dark skin, pale eyes and snow-white hair, wearing a white lab coat and nice clothes beneath it. In the shadows, she was like a gentle ghost, and as she came to his side to press a hand to his forehead, the touch was cool and comfortable.
"Well, your temperature has certainly gone down since yesterday." The woman wrote a few notes in the little book that she had brought along with her. "It's good to see that your body and mind are realigning themselves a bit better, Kouichi."
The boy looked up at her, confused. "Kou…ichi?"
"Yes. That's you're name." The woman smiled and mussed his hair a bit. "Do you remember?"
He looked down at his lap, face falling. The woman sighed, patting his shoulder warmly. "It's all right. It will come eventually, don't worry." She gave him a warm smile. "Soon the Professor will be able to safely knit your neural connections back into the proper order, and hopefully that will make it easier for you to…"
A crash of thunder suddenly lit up the room, making the boy jump, and the first thing he did was fling himself underneath the covers, hiding his head under the blankets. Storm looked up at the ceiling with a slight smile, and went to the window to close the curtains. "Sorry about that, Kouichi. But the forecast did predict this storm, and I can't mess with the weather too much or people will start to get suspicious of the Institute."
The came back over and lifted the blanket to look at the boy. "You don't have to worry. Nothing is going to hurt you here."
"…It just startled me." He whispered softly, and brought his head back out like a turtle.
"I see." The woman smiled and pat his head again, gently encouraging him. "Please come out. I need to do a few more tests, just to make sure you're doing all right."
Kouichi crawled back out, sitting up in the bed. He was currently wearing a pair of baby blue pajamas, made out thin flannel, with the top three buttons of the shirt undone specifically so the woman and other doctors could get at his chest more easily. The woman removed a stethoscope from around her neck and checked his heartbeat, then his pulse, and used a small hand-held machine that tracked his brain wave development, for the Professor's side of the research. All the while, she kept scribbling notes down in the little book that she had brought with her, and Kouichi kept stealing glances out the window, down the road where the van had disappeared.
"Well, that should just about do it." She sighed, packing away her equipment. "If you'd like, I can show you where the living room is, and you could watch a little television, or…"
The woman paused and sighed lightly. "Call me Storm. What is it?"
Kouichi pointed towards the window, hoping that his message could be communicated. "Where did they go?"
"Oh…" Storm put a hand to her mouth, contemplating her answer. "They went into town, for a movie. They…would've liked to have you along, but if you had fallen asleep during the film it would not have turned out very well…"
Kouichi looked down again. "I…I see."
Storm sighed compassionately and reached over to brush his hair out of his eyes. "Don't worry. When you get your thoughts together, you'll be able to go to movies…games…and everything, just like everyone else. You can even go back to school."
"…I guess." He muttered, still looking at his sheets. He couldn't really remember what any of the words meant, couldn't connect them to anything that he'd done, but he just knew - he didn't want to wait. He wanted to do it all now…
At about that moment, the light of the hallway and the streetlamp outside suddenly cut out as suddenly as though someone had flipped a switch. Storm gasped lightly, startled by the sudden darkness, and moved to open the door and look out at the hall.
"Blackout." She sighed, glancing back for just a moment. "I need to go take care of this. I'll be right back, okay?"
He blinked once, twice. "Okay."
She gave him one last smile, then disappeared down the hallway.
Kouichi sat on his bed, just staring into the darkness, and after a moment, his eyes trailed to the window again. The day was dark from the storm, just barely more light than the darkness of night. He could clearly see the grounds, the wide open lawn, the driveway arching out to meet the road, the black street stretching through the trees down to the glowing, hazy mass that was the city below.
He couldn't remember what the days before had been like, nor could he even begin to imagine exactly what the following days would hold. But somehow, he just knew - he wouldn't get a chance like this again.
"I want to go, too…"
The window opened with a simple push. The cool, wet grass of the lawn against his bare feet encouraged him, invited him. The darkness soothed his eyes, blocked the burning light, and guided him to the road.
He smiled when he reached the wet solidness of the sidewalk. After a moment of pause, looking back at the building, he drew in the courage that he needed to keep going. And with that, he set off in the same direction that the van had gone, not noticing the rain, the cold, or the hard ground.
He was going, too.
I'm quite fond of the way this turned out, really…
If you were confused about Kouichi's current 'condition', it's very simple. When he died, Junpei (zapping his heart) brought him back to life, but Dusk's spirit didn't come with him. However, this meant that the portion of his mind that Dusk had forced himself into when Kouichi was four was left basically useless. His long-term memories have been mostly wiped, and his short-term memory isn't working at all. So every day when he goes to sleep, he forgets everything that happened the day before. So every day is like a new day. Fun, ne? Stay tuned for chapter 2!