Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. I wish to God I did and had made a better ending to 02, but that isn't going to happen…yet.
Oh how three years can change the world. Trees grow, leaves fall, people change. Civilizations have fallen and risen in such short spaces of time. No matter how much we would wish for time to stop, it will always carry on its unstoppable march onwards, carrying us all with it to our future. So it was for the digidestined. Myotismon had fallen only to be replaced with the Dark Masters, and now the Digimon Emperor had been at last deposed. Time changed everything, from an entire world to a single person. But then again, there are some things that time can't change, not with all its might.
Not even the Digital World was impervious to the changes that time can bring. Primary Village had aged, moving from a giant city of inflatable blocks to a true nursery village. Granted, thanks to the Digimon Emperor and Kimeramon, it didn't look like much of a village at the moment; more like a hodge podge of smoking ruins and the occasional rebuilt shack, but now that Ken had finally been brought back from the brink and disappeared from the Digital World for the moment, the time was at last at hand for some serious rebuilding.
The digidestined had spent the day painting, sawing and setting up new buildings for the next generation of digimon (or in Veemon's case, slacked off behind a tree), and were staying overnight as part of yet another "camping trip". But now it was night, and as it has always been, it is at night that memories return at their hardest and fastest. T.K tossed and turned in his sleeping bag, plagued by the thoughts that night allowed upon his mind. He couldn't help but be brought back to this place three years ago. The new buildings of Primary Village melded with the playing blocks of Elecmon's old territory, and then came the memories. Patamon…Angemon…Devimon…and all that was left had been an egg and some feathers. The fact that it had only been a week before that he had seen the remains of Devimon; the same cold laugh, in the Dark Whirlpool didn't help T.K in his quest for repose. But help from the most unlikely angle helped him out of his depressive slide.
Really REALLY loud
T.K was delivered both from his slump and any chance of sleep that night as Davis began to snore. Badly. Matt and Tai together could not have held a candle to the power that Davis' snore exuded, the fear it could easily strike into the hearts of lesser men. To T.K however; a boy whose entire family had kept him awake five nights a week, it was just very, very annoying. So rather than spend the rest of the night letting his eardrums be repeatedly mutilated, T.K got out of his sleeping bags, put on some long pants to ward off the cold night air and set off for a walk. It wasn't like he'd never been in these woods before, 'I'd know this place back to front, night or day' he thought ruefully to himself, suddenly remembering a night-time exploration he'd undertaken all those years ago. He sped up with a certainty in his step. Now he knew where he had to go.
He started uphill, moving upwards and ignored the rest of his surroundings. If night was going to throw old memories of darkness at him, he'd fight back with memories of the light. Fight fire with water. He certainly didn't remember the hill being this big; surely if he had grown it should've seemed shorter, but eventually he reached the crest of the hill, and found his, no, her tree. "Three years," he muttered to himself, "three years and one despotic ruler later, and this tree still isn't mine!" Sure enough, at what would have been at eye level to an eight year old, were same words that that thief had scratched in. 'Kari's Tree' had survived the years and the change, but on closer inspection, T.K noticed that the 'T' had not only been scratched out by cat claws from their last adventure, but had been completely obliterated from the tree by someone who was most certainly human, and recently at that. T.K put two and two together and chuckled. He cupped his hands to his mouth and yelled up the tree, "I'm coming up Tree Stealer"
"I've got a pine cone"
"I doubt your aim's improved that much over the years", and with that he started climbing. He'd grown over the years, but so had the tree. It was thicker, stronger than it had once been. Obviously trees in the Digital World grew at a different rate than those in the real world. He'd only gotten a few metres up off the ground before a pine cone appeared from above, sped past his ear and crashed against the ground below. Then he heard the giggling above him and continued upwards. When he reached the upper branches, he found Kari waiting for him, just as he had suspected.
"I thought you'd come here eventually" said Kari as T.K came to sit next to her. Above them the moon was starting to come out of the clouds that had obscured the sun that day.
"What made you think that?" asked T.K. Was he really that predictable?
"Silly. I'm the bearer of the Crest of Light. If anyone's going to know what the darkness does, it's going to be me, isn't it?" she giggled. T.K smiled. Only she could make a joke out of the forces of darkness.
They spent the next couple of minutes in silence. It wasn't an awkward silence, not by any measure. It was the kind of silence that two friends could share, and yet at the same time know everything that was going through the other's head.
"You're thinking about Wizardmon again, aren't you." It was a statement, not a question. In the intervening minutes T.K had put his arm around her shoulders when he had noticed that she was shivering. She opened her eyes and smiled a sad smile.
"Is it that obvious?"
"I know you too well. You know we all miss him, don't you." Another statement. Kari didn't reply. She knew what plagued her best friend's mind when night came, and whatever guilt or sadness she bore for the kind magician who had sacrificed himself for her were heavily outweighed by what was on T.K's mind. She didn't want to be the one who brought those memories back to surface of her friend's mind. This conversation needs a turn for the better she thought to herself before jumping up.
"Race you down" she giggled before starting down. T.K was startled for a second, but then he began his own descent, quickly pulling ahead of Kari and reaching the bottom at least ten seconds before his childhood friend.
"You're still good at climbing trees" laughed Kari as she reached the bottom, flushed from the race. T.K blushed. He may have been three years older, wiser and more experienced, but he still couldn't take a compliment from a pretty girl.
"Walk with me?" asked Kari, her hand outstretched.
"Of course" replied T.K, taking his best friend's hand as he had so many times before in the past. Together the two companions set out into the woods, darkness be damned.
They weren't walking anywhere in particular, just anywhere would do, as long as they had a rough idea of where they were. But despite that plan, fate drew them back along a familiar path. T.K looked around. These trees were definitely familiar, they looked a lot like the ones…
"Ummm Kari?" he broke the silence with a concerned look on his face.
"Mmmm?" Kari looked up at her best friend who she was quite comfortably cuddled up to as they walked; as they had countless times on their first adventure and during their friendship.
"I think we're walking around in circles."
"What makes you say that?"
"That's our tree right there" Sure enough, indelibly marked on the tree in front of them were the words 'Kari's Tree'. Suddenly fear flooded her. She was once again her eight year old self lost in a forest as her mind focussed back on childhood memories. 'I guess I didn't know the forest as well as I thought,' she thought ruefully to herself, 'I could have sworn we were getting close to the village again.' T.K looked at his friend. Although there was nothing obvious in her stance or features to suggest what she was feeling, T.K could feel Kari tensing up, her hand clutching his that slightest bit harder.
"It's okay," he tried to sooth her, adding pressure to his own grasp to try and reassure the girl. He knew too well how memories could affect people, even years later. "It'll be light soon, and when Davis finds out that you're gone, he and Flamedramon will probably burn down the entire forest looking or you." he chuckled and Kari smiled back at him. 'Mission Accomplished' he thought to himself. "But until then," he continued "so that I don't get yelled at by Davis or brother later, I suppose we should probably keep moving." This time Kari giggled and the light mood continued for some time as the pair started out once more, now with a destination in mind.
They continued along for another ten minutes, by which time neither had any idea of where they were, but weren't going to tell the other. Suddenly Kari's ears pricked up at a sound not far off. It was a music, one that she had thought had been a dream all those years ago. She broke free of T.K and started running in the direction of the sound, T.K following behind. When he finally caught up to her, Kari was standing at the edge of a clearing, standing completely still with her eyes closed.
"Kari, what is it?" he asked, but she simply shushed him and returned her attention to the clearing. Then he heard it too.
It was the same music he thought hadn't existed; had all been part of a very nice dream. The morning after he and Kari had disappeared near the end of their first adventure, both of them had woken up, and with the music gone had assumed that part to have been a dream. They'd returned to camp to discover that Joe, Izzy and Sora were trying to restrain Tai from burning down the forest to look for his sister. After being threatened with a most gruesome death for leading Tai's "sweet, innocent sister" away from the group, the two agreed not to mention that night to anyone else; although, for that entire day Mimi kept shooting them odd glances and giggling at them. And while neither had talked about it in the e-mails and letters they had exchanged over the years, both had a very fond memory of that night.
"It was real." Gasped T.K to no one in particular. The rest of the forest may have changed and grown, but the grove seemed eternal. He was sure his eyes were playing tricks on him, but he was sure that he could see crumbs of the crackers the two had shared that night a world away.
"Dance with me T.K." Kari's request broke through his reminiscences and he felt himself being dragged out into the grove, the music that surrounded him yet was impossible to track down was starting to make him a bit sleepy. Kari led T.K around the grove in no particular way, just following the music. For once, however, T.K was able to keep up. Years of basketball had improved his agility and flexibility, and compulsory school dancing classes had helped as well.
Kari felt herself melding against her friend as she led him around the grove. But it felt so…right. If only time could be stopped at a single moment. She sighed softly as her head came to rest beneath T.K's chin. She presumed there must have been the music, but she felt more relaxed all of a sudden. Anxieties, fears and nightmares fled her and were replaced with the single moment of the two, and nothing else.
T.K was feeling the same. All his fears fled him, loss, rejection found no place in him as he held onto his friend, wishing that the moment would never end. As the continued, what had once been filled with fear was replaced with…contentment. He knew that she felt it too; it was obvious even to someone who had never met her. He decided then, with the girl of his dreams; the girl with whom he had faced the greatest challenges, his best friend in his arms his true feelings. He didn't care if he was rejected. The music had removed all doubts from his mind. They'd stopped dancing, and while the sweet, imperceptible music continued to swirl around them like a wind, the two just held onto the other, unwilling to shatter the moment they had with each other.
"Mmmm?" Kari lifted her head from where it had been resting in a sleepy way.
"There's something I need to tell you."
"You know how, that day, when you went into the Dark Ocean?"
said that I cared for you?"
"Yes" there was nothing sleepy in her words or her stance now. She continued to hold onto her companion, but now she seemed alert, waiting for something.
"Well I do, Kari. I care about you more than anyone else in this world. More than my family I guess…What I'm trying to say is, I love you."
"I know" she'd gone back to her sleepy self, nuzzling against T.K's jacket, eyes closed, content.
"You know?" he was shocked, even a little embarrassed. Had been making a fool of himself for so long?
"Of course I've known silly. Sora said I'd have to wait until you realised it yourself. She said how thick headed you Ishida boys are." T.K was a bit more embarrassed that Sora knew.
"So you don't mind…you know…me loving you?" Kari lifted her head from his chest and looked straight into his eyes.
"Why would I?" she asked before cuddling up the boy again, whispering to him in a sleepy voice, almost as an afterthought, "I love you too."
The two just stood there for a few silent moments. The music had ended without either of them noticing. Then they kissed. There was no warning, no sign that either of them knew what the other was about to do, but they both initiated it at the same time. It was as chaste as a kiss their eight year old selves may well have exchanged years ago, but filled with the same emotion, the same connection that could only be forged by what these two had been through together. When they broke apart, they blushed at each other, smiling, before slowly moving to the ground as sleep quickly overcame the couple. They cuddled up to each other for warmth, and quickly the two were asleep, arms draped across shoulders and heads resting against each other.
Yolei continued to take photos of the couple while Cody just fidgeted around nervously in the woods away from the clearing. Cody had woken the older girl up when he'd awoken in the middle of the night to find that T.K had disappeared and that Davis was bellowing in his sleep like a wounded rhino. The two had quickly found the pair in the clearing not far into the forest, just before they kissed.
"Oh I can't wait to tell Mimi" Yolei squealed, barely able to contain her unadulterated glee.
"Umm, Yolei? What do we do now?" Cody asked nervously. Yolei just grinned at them.
"We let these two lovebirds have their fun."
"So, we just go back to camp?"
"Yep" replied Yolei, checking that the photos were saved onto her camera. Then the two left, leaving the couple to their dreams, and themselves.
Oh how three years can change the world. Trees grow, leaves fall, people change. Time changes everything, from an entire world to a single person. But then again, there are some things that time can't change, not with all its might. One of those things is an unbreakable bond. One of those things is Love.
Please tell me what you thought of this new chapter, as it's the first time I've done a romantic Takari. Is it good? Which chapter is better? Did you notice any literary techniques that would make my English teacher proud? Please review and tell me, so I may continue to grow as a writer.
Thanking you for having read up to this point,
Sincerely, Luthair Paendrag