Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
A/N: My second FTFOD one-shot! This one takes place about a month before FTFOD does, and it's in a POV I haven't done in FTFOD yet. Now, once again, you don't actually have to read 'Following the Footsteps of Destiny' in order for this to make sense, but if you have read it then you will obviously recognize the characters. This fic is for FallenArchangelDD who asked me if I would write a Sam/Nao fic. Consider it a late Christmas gift! Also, for anyone out there reading Trinity, I have finished the next chapter. It just needs some proofreading to fix the bloopers, and hopefully I'll post it soon. Enjoy!
When the Rain Falls
Seven year old Nao Ichijouji huddled under the navy blue blankets spread over his bed and gazed miserably at the rain pounding heavily against the window, which was located on the left-hand side of the room. He could see thick drops of water sliding down the glass, and a sudden loud crack of thunder made him flinch. He hated thunderstorms, but it was the lightning that scared him most of all. It was very pretty, but it could also be extremely dangerous if it happened to strike too close to the ground in the wrong place at the wrong time. His older sister, Miya, had told him it could even kill people if they happened to stray unknowingly into its path, and she would know. She was a genius, after all.
And she's also really brave, just like Rina. If only I could be like that, too...
His best friend, six year old Yurina Takaishi, was the only person who knew about his fear of thunderstorms, and she had promised him she wouldn't tell anyone his secret. At first he had been reluctant to tell her because he had thought for sure she would either laugh at him or tell him he was being silly, but instead of giving him a hard time about it, she had merely smiled at him with her kind, blue eyes, twirled her dark hair around her finger, and told him she was afraid of spiders. That had happened about two years ago, and they had kept each other's secrets ever since.
Rina never laughs at me no matter what I say, but what about Miya and Sam?
Ever since he could remember, he had been in awe of his siblings, fifteen year old Miya Ichijouji and thirteen year old Sam Ichijouji. To him, they always seemed very strong and capable of doing anything in the world, if they only put their minds to it, and there were times when he could not help feeling as if he were more of a nuisance to them than anything else. They often took turns babysitting him while their parents, Ken and Yolei Ichijouji, were away, and he had a sneaking suspicion both of them were more upset about it than they were willing to admit. Why would they want to waste their time looking after him when they could be hanging out with their friends instead?
I don't care what Rina says. Miya and Sam are both a lot older than I am, and I bet they think I just get in the way of their plans all the time. That seems to be the only thing I'm good at.
Rina had told him he should tell Miya and Sam about his fear of thunderstorms, and he really wanted to, but he knew Miya would only tease him if he did, and his brother would probably be extremely disappointed in him for his lack of courage. Sam was his hero, after all, and he did not think he would be able to stand the look of regret that was bound to be in his brother's dark blue eyes when he revealed his secret.
Besides, Mommy will get really mad at me if she catches me out of bed when I'm supposed to be sleeping. Daddy won't mind too much, but Mommy always gets mad at Miya and Sam when they do things they're not supposed to be doing, and I don't think she's going to go any easier on me just because I'm the youngest. Besides, Sam's probably too busy doing homework right now to waste his time trying to talk me out of being afraid, but there was that one time when he told me I could tell him anything, and I really don't like keeping secrets from anyone, especially my big brother. I don't mind keeping other people's secrets, but when it comes to my own...
Another flash of lightning suddenly lit up the room, and it was immediately followed by a loud crack of thunder that rattled the glass in the window and caused his night light to flicker. He covered his large blue eyes to block out the bright flash and let out a small whimper of fear. What if all the lights go out? I hate the dark almost as much as I hate thunderstorms, and if I'm left here all alone...
Nao quickly pulled his hands away from his face and scrambled off the bed as fast as his small legs could carry him. He crept silently towards the half-open door and poked his head around the corner to see if his parents were close by and let out a sigh of relief when he realized he could hear their voices coming from the living room downstairs.
I don't want Mommy to be mad, but I have to tell Sam. Getting laughed at is better than being afraid, and it's better than being left all alone in my room with only the darkness for company.
He did not really believe Sam would laugh at him, but that did not stop him from feeling at little bit nervous.
Sam has to be awake still. I hope he doesn't get mad at me for interrupting him when he's trying to do his homework.
Nao glanced cautiously down the left-hand side of the hallway and chewed anxiously on the sleeve of his grey pyjama top. There was a light on in Sam's room, and he could see it shining faintly in the dark hallway. Before he could talk himself out of it, he scurried down the hallway and flung himself into his brother's room. Sam was sitting on the bed with his homework spread out in front of him, and there was a frown on his face. He was muttering something about Mrs. Hanari and useless math problems, but the words were too low for Nao to make out exactly what he was saying.
Sam looked up at the sound of his name and a soft smile slipped across his face. "Nao, I was wondering when you were going to show up."
Nao blinked in surprise and bit his lip. "What do you mean?"
He doesn't know already, does he?
Sam motioned him towards the bed, and after a brief hesitation he scrambled up next to his brother and buried his face in a pillow.
"What's the matter, Nao?"
Nao peeked around the edge of the pillow he was hugging and managed a weak smile. Sam's raven hair gleamed in the soft light coming from the lamp on the nightstand and his deep blue eyes sparkled with sympathy and understanding. It was almost as if he really did know and was waiting for his suspicions to be confirmed.
"Has Miya been telling you stories again?"
Nao blushed and gazed self-consciously at his feet. "No, I...the noise..."
"Did the thunder wake you up?"
He felt Sam's arm slip around his shoulders, and without another word he buried his face against his brother's shoulder and smiled as Sam gently ruffled his thick, lavender hair. "You know what, Nao? I used to be afraid of thunderstorms when I was your age, but now I find them to be kind of comforting. You have nothing to be ashamed of. We all have our own fears, and I know you'll be able to overcome all of the ones that are haunting you at the moment, just like I was able to do so before you. It's hard, but nothing worth fighting for is ever easy. I'm not saying you won't have reasons to be afraid in the future, but if you can confront the monsters in your closet now then you'll be better able to deal with the things that might scare you when you're older."
Nao let out a small gasp and gazed at Sam in shock. He had thought for sure his older brother had been unaware of his feelings concerning thunderstorms, but obviously he had been wrong, and if Sam knew, then that meant Miya probably knew, as well. "How...how did you know?"
Sam smiled slightly and shrugged his shoulders. "You always come into my room at night when there's a thunderstorm, and you won't leave until Mom forces you to go to bed. I've heard you cry out when you think no one can hear you, and it always happens when there's a particularly loud crack of thunder or a bright flash of lightning. I'm surprised you've never snuck out of bed to come see me before now, but I knew it would happen eventually."
"But...if you knew and you could hear me, then why didn't you ever come?"
Sam pulled him close into a tight hug and let out a soft sigh. "Because, I wanted you to find the courage to come to me. I know you're not just scared of thunderstorms when they happen at night. Even during the day you'll always make sure someone's with you when the rain begins to fall. I've been here the whole time, Nao. All you had to do was come and find me."
"Really? You mean..."
"What's wrong, Nao? Why were you so afraid to tell me?"
Nao twisted his hands together and glanced shyly at his brother before turning to look at his feet. All of a sudden his earlier fears seemed kind of silly, and he could not help feeling a little bit reluctant to explain why he had been so determined to hide the fact that thunderstorms scared him. Sam would never say something mean to me, would he?
"Please, Nao? Don't ever be afraid to tell me what's on your mind. You know I'll always listen to you."
Nao felt his eyes fill with tears, and he cuddled his cheek against his brother's chest. He could feel Sam's heart beating against his ear, and the soothing rhythm encouraged him to speak. "I...I thought you might laugh at me if you knew."
"Nao! You know perfectly well I would never laugh at you no matter what you told me!"
Nao ducked his head, feeling extremely embarrassed, and quickly squirmed away from his brother. "I'm sorry, Sam. I didn't mean to think such bad things about you, but I was afraid you were going to be really disappointed in me because I...I'm not very brave..."
Sam gently tugged on the sleeve of his shirt and smiled fondly at him. "Yes, you are. It took a lot of courage for you to come here and visit me tonight. Mom would probably freak out if she knew!"
"Um...Sam? Can I ask you something?"
"Of course you can."
"Do you and Miya hate having to babysit me all the time?"
Sam frowned and slowly shook his head. "Nao, if we really didn't want to look after you we'd tell our parents to get some of their friends to do it more often. Why would you ask me something like that?"
"Because I don't do anything to help anyone. I just get in the way all the time."
"Is that what you really believe?"
Nao hugged himself and glanced hopefully at his brother. "You mean...it's not true?"
"Of course it's not true! You do a lot to help out even though you're still quite young, and you always know how to cheer me up when I'm sad. You're a great little brother, Nao. I wouldn't want anyone else to take your place."
I should have known Sam would understand. He always knows exactly what to say to make me feel better.
Nao hesitated and flung his arms around his brother's neck. "I want to be just like you when I grow up."
Sam blushed and gazed at him in astonishment. "Nao, I...I never realized you thought so highly of me. I...wow...thank you. That means a lot to me, especially coming from you."
They both fell silent for a moment, and another loud crack of thunder rumbled across the sky. Nao clung tightly to his brother's white shirt and winced at the noise.
"Nao, thunder can't hurt you, you know. All it does is make a lot of noise."
"Maybe not, but lightning can."
Sam nodded in agreement and turned to gaze out the window, located just behind and above him at the head of the bed. Raindrops pounded heavily against the glass and the sound of the wind blowing through the trees outside caused a shiver to race down Nao's spine. "You're right, Nao. A bolt of lightning looks absolutely beautiful, but it can also be very dangerous. Luckily for us, it doesn't usually hit very many people. If it does strike close to the ground, it usually ends up hitting a tree or something."
"I guess, but how do you know for sure?"
"If you don't believe me, ask Miya. She knows everything, and I bet she'll tell you the same thing."
Nao shrugged and smiled shyly at his brother. "I believe you. Um...Sam? There's something else I have to tell you. I don't like being left alone in the dark very much either, and since my room's on the corner of the house at the end of the hallway, it makes me feel kind of lonely at night."
"Listen, Nao, the next time you feel lonely, I want you to remember that I'm right here in the room next to you, and I'm always watching over you even if you can't always see me," Sam whispered softly in his ear. "Do you think you'll be able to sleep now?"
"I think so. I'm not scared anymore. The lightning won't hit me if I pay attention to all of Miya's safety tips."
"That's right. She's always full of advice. You'd better get back to bed before Mom sees you and has a fit. I don't want you to get into trouble just because you were anxious to put your fears to rest and wanted someone to talk to."
"Can I please stay here with you just for a little while longer? I promise I'll be as quiet as possible so you can get your homework done."
"Well, I'd be done in a flash if Miya would get in here and help me out a little bit. I'd ask Mom or Dad, but seeing as you're in here that's really not going to work out very well. Hey, don't look at me like that. You know what I mean. I'm glad you're here and you can stay with me as long as you want."
Nao snuggled happily against his brother's side and nodded. "Sam, if I fall asleep, will you bring me back to my bed so Mommy doesn't get mad?"
"Of course. Close your eyes, Nao. You need to at least get some rest otherwise you won't have any energy left for school tomorrow."
"I know, but-"
"Nao Ichijouji! What are you doing out of your bed at this hour of the night?"
Nao jumped at the sound of his mother's voice and gasped when he spotted her standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips. Her brown eyes were narrowed into a frown, and the look she sent him was filled with disapproval. "Mommy, I didn't mean to sneak out of bed! It just sort of...um...happened."
His mother ignored him and turned to glare at Sam instead. "Shame on you for encouraging him! You should be setting a better example for your little brother! In fact, now that I think about it, you should be getting to bed, as well."
"But...but...I'm not done my homework yet!"
"Miya!" their mother shouted down the hallway in the direction of the staircase. "Stop pestering your father and come help your brother do his homework!"
A moment later Miya poked her head around the corner and a sly smile slipped across her face. "Nao, what are you doing out of bed? It's about time you showed a little bit of spunk! I was starting to think you were going to follow in Sam's footsteps, but I suppose there's still some hope for you yet!"
"Don't even think about it!" their mother snapped, ignoring Sam's snort and tugging angrily on her long, lavender braid.
"I'm just kidding, Mom. You know I've never done anything really outrageous. You said Sam needs some help with his homework? Why don't you help him out?"
"Because I want you to do it. It'll keep you out of trouble, for a little while, at least."
Nao sent his mother an anxious look and fiddled nervously with the sleeve of his pyjama top. "I'm sorry, Mommy, but I couldn't get to sleep because of the thunder."
His mother's face suddenly softened into a smile, and stepping forward, she gently wrapped her arms around him in a warm hug. "Sweetie, why didn't you tell me you were afraid of thunderstorms? I've always suspected you might be, but I didn't want to say anything until I knew for sure."
"Well, Miya said lightning can kill people, and-"
"Nao, I didn't tell you that because I was trying to scare you!" Miya scolded. "The only reason I even said anything was because one day you asked me where lightning and thunder came from and I thought you were just curious. I can't believe you still remember exactly what I'd said to you. That was two years ago!"
Nao rested his cheek against his mother's shoulder and smiled shyly at his sister. "I always remember everything you tell me."
"Nao, your chances of getting hit by lightning are pretty much slim to none, especially since you're so careful all the time."
"I know. Sam said the same thing."
Miya brushed her long, raven hair out of her face and her dark eyes narrowed into a frown. "I might be smart, but Sam has always been more perceptive than I am. I bet he knew you were afraid of thunderstorms this whole time, but I certainly didn't. Why didn't you tell me?"
Miya slowly sat down next to him and gently ruffled his lavender hair. "Nao, I know I laugh at you occasionally, but it's not because I'm trying to be mean. It's because sometimes you say the cutest things in the world and I just can't help myself."
Nao felt his cheeks turn pink, and he hid his face against his mother's thick lavender braid. "I can't help it."
"Nao, you have nothing to be embarrassed about," a voice said softly from the doorway. "We're all afraid of something, even adults, but it's the ones who are able to overcome their fears that eventually learn the true meaning of courage."
Nao slowly lifted his head and found himself gazing into his father's kind, blue eyes. "You...knew?"
"Yes, but I also knew you would tell me when you were ready to."
I should have known Daddy would understand. He never misses anything, and he always pays attention to me even though I'm just a little kid.
"Did Sam make you feel a little bit better?"
Nao beamed at his father and nodded. "I don't feel scared at all anymore. Sam's a great brother, Daddy, and Miya's a great sister, too."
"Of course I am!" Miya snorted.
Nao held out his arms, and his father immediately came towards him and held him close in a protective embrace. His dad was a fairly quiet person, most of the time, but despite the lack of words between them, they still understood each other perfectly, and more often than not words weren't really needed. They could communicate without ever saying a thing, and that's what made the moments they spent together so special. He shared the same type of bond with his mother, too, only it was a little bit different. She was a lot more vocal and never wasted an opportunity to tell him how much she loved him. His sister was the same way, but Sam was more like their father. His dad had once said Miya was a lot like their uncle Sam who had passed away, and although his uncle had sometimes been harsh with his father, he knew the late Sam Ichijouji had been a good person. Miya was proof enough of that and even his brother would sometimes show glimpses of their Uncle Sam's personality.
"Hey, Dad? Where did you learn all that stuff about courage?" Miya asked curiously.
What a silly question. Where else could he have learned it from? Daddy has a great best friend, just like I do.
His dad smiled slightly and gave Miya a quick kiss on the cheek. "A friend. Now, I think-"
A loud crack of thunder rumbled across the sky, and Nao blinked in surprise when the light on the nightstand suddenly went out. Sam's room turned pitch black, and the rain began to pound even more strongly against the rooftop.
"I'll get the flashlights," Miya sighed, her voice fading away as she left the room.
Nao cuddled against his father's chest and smiled when he felt Sam's hand come to rest gently against his back. His mother placed a soft kiss on the top of his head, and glancing around the room he realized he was no longer scared of the darkness either. The warmth of his parents' arms around him and Sam's silent encouragement had made him realize something he had failed to notice before. He would never really be alone no matter how far away his parents, Sam, and Miya were, and that was something even the awesome power of lightning couldn't take away from him.
Sam was right. The rain does sound kind of comforting. I guess thunderstorms really aren't so bad after all.
With that thought in mind, he closed his eyes, reached out to give his big brother's hand a tight squeeze, and drifted off to sleep.