DISCLAIMER

Digimon is the property of Toei Animation Co.

CHAPTER TWO – Chance Encounters.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Nishi-Shinjuku, also known as Tokyo Tocho, was the headquarters of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and had been since 1991. It was from this building that a publicly-elected governor, alongside a metropolitan assembly, governed everything in Tokyo, from the lakes, rivers, dams, farms, remote islands, and national parks to its famous neon jungles, skyscrapers and crowded subways.

Everyone knew this.

What they didn't know, was that within the Tokyo landmark, there was another organisation, one that, if knowledge of its existence were to become public, would cause a major outcry and could potentially destroy Japan's international standing forever. This was because its original purpose was to monitor nearly half of the entire planet's electronic communications for the purposes of national security, which could not only be seen as a violation of privacy, but also a violation of international law.

This was why Hypnos, officially, did not exist.

But that was before the discovery of the Digital World.

Sometime during the mid-to-late 1990s, the supercomputer for which the organisation was named began to detect a series of anomalies within the various communications networks all over the world. As time passed, it was learned that these anomalies were caused by the existence of what was termed as a parallel 'shadow world' that was composed entirely of data. At first, many believed that the existence of this 'shadow world' was, as many would and did say, 'nothing to worry about'.

Then came the revelation that this digital realm had produced life.

Digital life.

This caused a lot of people to worry.

Among them was the creator of the Hypnos system and head of the organisation.

Mitsuo Yamaki was what many would call an enigma. With his serious demeanour, black suit and shades, he could have been mistaken for a bodyguard or something of similar status. However, behind those sunglasses lay the mind of an electronics genius, as evidenced by his creation of the Hypnos system, as well as a strong desire for order, the product of a strict upbringing. This desire for order and control was what had driven him to create the Hypnos system and was what drove him in his day to day running of the organisation he had created.

It was also the reason he feared the creatures of what had eventually been dubbed the 'Digital World'.

The reason he hated them.

Digimon.

That was the name that had been given to the life forms of the Digital World.

Digimon – Digital Monsters.

Personally, Yamaki had never really liked the term. After all, these 'creatures' were little more than rogue packets of data in his eyes. They were a threat to the natural order of things and they were a threat to the safety of the human race – they didn't deserve a name. They were little more than vermin.

And that was before the word 'Digimon' became the latest buzzword among the youth of Japan.

It had started off as a computer game.

Then it became a highly popular card game.

Then came the anime series as well as several manga publications.

Within three years, a franchise had emerged, comprising of nearly a dozen games, a highly competitive card-playing community and two hugely successful anime series, with plans for a third.

Of course, there had been a full investigation into the source of any possible leaks as a result of this, but by now, security leaks had become the least of Yamaki's worries.

On the 23rd of December 2000, the Hypnos system detected a massive disturbance in the south-west of Shinjuku. The disturbance had only lasted a few minutes, but it was enough to cause a lot of concern for one simple reason.

It had created a rift between the Digital World and the real one.

In the weeks that followed, it was hoped that the event had been a one off occurrence. Instead, on the 9th of January, another such rift formed, this time near Shinjuku station, followed by another one on the 14th near Waseda University. From there, the rifts started coming thick and fast, so that by early-to-mid-February, the average was about three per week, two if they were lucky.

On their own, the disturbances caused little in the way of problems – it was what came through them that were the problem.

At first, Hypnos were able to capture and contain the few Digimon that came through and use them to further their understanding of the creatures. However, the purpose of their studies was far from benign – it had been decided that any Digimon that 'bio-emerged' into the real world was to be destroyed for the safety of the public, but to do that, Hypnos had to know their enemy.

Needless to say, no Digimon ever survived its time with Hypnos.

Then, in late-February, the people of Hypnos began to notice something peculiar.

Just as the frequency of 'Wild Ones', as the bio-emerging Digimon had been designated, began to increase, the number of Digimon that were there for Hypnos to capture diminished. Part of the reason for this was that countermeasure programs had been created to destroy the Wild Ones as they bio-emerged, but their use could not possibly explain the significant drop in the number of potential guinea pigs for Hypnos' 'studies'. The mystery, however, was soon solved.

On the 27th of February, during a routine examination/cleanup of a recent bio-emergence site, Yamaki found something lying on the ground that made his blood freeze.

It was a card.

A Digimon Card.

From that one piece of card, Yamaki could only come to one conclusion – children, most likely fans of the Digimon franchise, were now fighting on the frontline against the greatest enemy the human race had ever faced.

Children…

xxXxx

"So his name's Hideki," said Henry. "Well, at least that's something."

"Doesn't really help though," Takato pointed out. "I mean, it's not like Hideki's an unusual name and unless we get a surname…"

"Momentai, Takato," interrupted Terriermon. "You worry too much. Besides, it's not as if Mr Mystery's done anything bad, right?"

"Well…" began Henry.

"I think he's a meanie," murmured Calumon from the tree beside them. "A big mean meanie!" he added childishly.

"He has a point," said Takato. "I mean, from what I saw last night, I think I might've been right about him being as big a grouch as Rika…"

"What was that, Goggle-Head?" a threatening voice asked.

"Oh, um… hi Rika," Takato stammered. "Um… I, uh…"

"Save it, Goggle-Head," Rika interrupted.

"Um… okay," said Takato. "Anyways, we know his first name, so now all we have to do is…"

"Hold on," Rika interrupted again. "Know whose name?"

"Takatomon found out the name of that Mystery Guy that's been helping us out lately," chirped a voice from a nearby bush. "But he was mean to Calumon, so I don't think he's a nice guy."

The response to Guilmon's words was instant.

"What! What the hell happened? Why wasn't I told about this?"

"Rika, relax…"

"Don't you tell me to relax, Goggle-Head! Now, are you gonna tell me what's going on or what?"

Henry sighed slightly as he watched the scene before him, at which point, he decided to intervene.

"It's pretty much like Guilmon said," he began explaining. "Takato saw this guy harassing Calumon just outside the Bakery last night. Speaking of which, did you know that Renamon asked Calumon to go looking for this guy?"

"What're you talking about?"

"Calumon came by last night saying Renamon had given him a mission to find out about this mystery Tamer," Takato interjected. "About an hour later, I went out and saw this guy holding Calumon by the scruff of the neck and dishing out threats left, right and centre. Now he thinks we're sending out Digimon to stalk him."

"And you say this is Renamon's fault?" Rika asked in an accusatory tone.

"Wha…? No, I just…" Takato stammered.

"Renamon!" Rika called out.

A few seconds later, the yellow Fox appeared beside her Tamer.

"Yes, Rika?"

"Goggle-Head here was just accusing you of something…"

"Whoa, whoa, hold on!" Takato interrupted frantically. "I wasn't blaming anyone. Besides, if it hadn't been for last night, we wouldn't know his name."

"And what is his name?" asked Rika.

"Hideki," replied Takato.

"Hideki… what?" prompted Rika.

"Uh… that's kinda all I managed to get from him," said Takato, scratching the back of his head in embarrassment.

Rika gave the goggle wearing Tamer a withering look. "So you're telling me that all we know about him is that his name's Hideki… assuming he was telling the truth," she concluded. "Well, forgive me if I don't give you a medal for you detective work…"

Suddenly, all three of the Tamers' D-Powers began beeping rapidly. This could only mean one thing.

A Digimon was coming.

xxXxx

"Sir, another Wild One trying to get through."

Mitsuo Yamaki flicked the lighter in his hand open, before closing it again. What he wouldn't give for a cigarette at times like this – that was the fifth one this week. At the rate they were going, the city was going to overrun by these digital pests within a month!

"Where's this one going?" Yamaki asked as his eyes followed the dot currently traversing the display that covered the entire ceiling.

One of the two women manning the console suspended in the middle of the room began typing into her keyboard. "According to calculations, estimated time of arrival is approximately six minutes in… Shinjuku Chuo Kouen."

Yamaki blinked slightly, before reaching for his phone – Shinjuku Central Park was just around the corner from the Metropolitan Government Building, which meant that if they got there in time, they might be able to get to the Wild One before the mysterious children did, or even better, find out who these children were and put a stop to the very dangerous game that they were playing.

"Prepare a containment squad immediately!" Yamaki barked into the phone. "And be in Shinjuku Central Park in five minutes!"

xxXxx

As the white mist cleared, Hideki Yamada took off his sunglasses and surveyed the site of the Digital Field. There he saw a small yellow/orange creature with dark spines protruding from its back. Hideki then raised the small, round, black and grey device in his hand and pointing it towards the creature. A few seconds later, a holographic projection of the creature appeared just above the device's screen, complete with details on the creature in question.

"Gizamon… Rookie level… Data type… Primary attack – Spiral Saw… no secondary attacks," Hideki muttered out loud. "Not exactly one of the Heavyweights of the Digital World."

"What do you suggest we do, Hideki?" said the grey ghost-like Digimon hovering beside him.

"We'll let him decide," Hideki replied, nodding towards the Gizamon.

After a few seconds, the Gizamon appeared to gather its bearings before spotting Hideki and Spiritmon nearby. Letting out a loud growl, it then began charging towards the two, following its first instinct to attack them.

Unlike most humans would have been in this situation, Hideki was completely unconcerned.

"It's a shame really," he sighed as the rogue Digimon came bounding towards them. "Make this quick, Spiritmon."

"As you wish, Hideki," replied Spiritmon. With that, the ghost raised its hand in the direction of their approaching attacker. "SpiritWave."

A split-second later, a translucent white wave of energy erupted from Spiritmon's hand and streaked towards the Gizamon, spreading out as it went. Another two seconds later, the wave hit its target and with a screech of pain, the Gizamon exploded into a million shards of data. Once the Gizamon was gone, Spiritmon floated forward and began absorbing the leftover data, as was the normal practice for the victor of a battle between Digimon.

Hideki sighed – a few short months ago, he would have been hanging around with his friends in Yoyogi Park on a Saturday. Now, he was in Shinjuku, watching two beings composed entirely of data and synthetic proteins battling it out and trying to stay out of the way of the three Tamers, as well as the secret agents that seemed to appear after every battle. Adding that to his situation both at home and at school, Hideki couldn't help but wonder where it had all gone wrong.

Hideki was suddenly drawn from his thoughts by the sound of a muffled clap. The muffled clap was then followed by another, then another – someone was applauding them… sarcastically.

Turning towards the source of the clapping, Hideki saw that the source of the clapping appeared to be a small purple… thing sitting on top of a nearby bin. It was about the size of a toddler and was purple all over with a white face, a lizard-like tail and feet and large horn-like ears. Even stranger was that it appeared to be wearing a pair of red gloves, hence the muffled claps it made, and a red ascot around its neck, as well as having the image of a yellow smiley face with sharp teeth on its stomach.

It didn't take a genius to figure out that this creature was another Digimon.

"Y'know, I don't say this much, but I gotta say, I'm impressed, Ghostie," the Digimon said, addressing Spiritmon once it stopped clapping.

"I'm glad you approve," the ghost replied dryly.

"But I can't help but wondering," the Digimon continued. "Why d'you hang about with this human like those other losers?"

Spiritmon's pitch black eyes narrowed at this, but Hideki stepped in before his partner did anything.

"By 'those other losers', I assume you mean the so-called 'Tamers'," he said with a slight smirk. "I suppose they told you to follow me around too, right?"

"Hey!" the Digimon yelled indignantly. "No-one tells me to do nothin', got it?"

"Sounds like I touched a nerve," said Hideki to Spiritmon.

"Indeed so," agreed Spiritmon.

"Hey!" the Digimon yelled again. "I don't care what people think, got it? Especially not some stupid human like you!"

"Oh, hey, this is getting personal," replied Hideki, feigning distress. "Still, if you want a slanging match, I'm game. Only problem is, I don't know what to call you – what is your name anyway?" Without waiting for an answer, Hideki continued. "Oh, wait… I think I got it… Pain-in-the-Assmon… Am I right?"

"It's Impmon!" the Digimon shouted, incensed at Hideki's words.

"Even better," said Hideki gleefully. "All I have to do is add a 'w' and you get 'Wimpmon'."

"That's it!" yelled Impmon, pointing at Hideki. "Badda-Boom!"

A small ball of fire instantly shot out from the end of Impmon's finger and hit Hideki in the face. Half a second later, Spiritmon had sprung forward and grabbed Impmon, but before the small purple Digimon could be deleted…

"Wait!"

Spiritmon paused, but didn't let go of the struggling Digimon in his hands. Looking down at his human friend, he was surprised to see Hideki clutch his left cheek before giving a small smile of approval.

"Not bad," he said. "You pack quite a punch for a little guy. Pity it doesn't justify that ego of yours. Still, I've always had a soft spot for the overmatched underdog… let him go, Spiritmon."

"Hideki?"

"I said let him go," Hideki repeated.

Reluctantly, Spiritmon let go of Impmon. Impmon immediately shook himself away from Spiritmon and glowered at both of them, but suddenly spotted something behind them and ran off, but not without a few parting words.

"Don't think this's over, losers!"

As Impmon departed, Hideki turned around and instantly saw the reason for Impmon's departure – several black vans were approaching them.

"Spiritmon, get us out of here, now!" Hideki hissed urgently.

Without a second's hesitation, Spiritmon grabbed his human partner and the two of them faded away into thin air.

xxXxx

The weekend came and went, and soon, it was Monday again.

"Alright class, settle down," Nami Asaji sighed as she entered her classroom. "Now before we start, it has come to my attention that someone has been scaring young couples in the park at night."

This statement triggered a great deal of murmuring from the students.

"Now I'm not saying anyone here is responsible, but I don't want to hear about anyone here being caught in the act, so please don't be out in the park after dark, okay?" Ms Asaji continued. "Now that that's out of the way, I'm sure you'll remember that last week, we were talking about the life cycle of the Blue Whale…"

By morning break, everybody was talking about the mysterious 'couple-scarer' of Shinjuku Park.

"I'll bet it was one of the boys," said one of the girls.

"Yeah," agreed another. "This's the sort of thing Kazu would do."

"Hey!" protested the boy in question. "I got better things to do with my time than stalking a bunch of lovebirds."

"Yeah," agreed Kenta Kitagawa, a bespectacled boy and good friend of both Kazu Shioda and Takato. "Besides, who says it's one of us? It could be some other kid in another class, or even another school…"

Takato took no notice – his thoughts were occupied by the possibility that Guilmon might be the guilty party in all this.

When Guilmon had first appeared, having been accidentally created by Takato's D-Power when it scanned the drawings he had made of 'the Digimon to end all Digimon', Takato had struggled to find a place for Guilmon to live – after all, if his parents wouldn't allow him to have a dog, then there was no way they would allow a red, fire-breathing dinosaur to stay in their home.

Eventually, Takato had found a small building in the park where Guilmon could sleep without having to worry about being discovered or caught by government agents or something. Unfortunately, Guilmon had been known to go wandering at night, thus increasing the risk of him being seen, captured and sent away to some research lab, never to be seen again. If it was Guilmon who was doing the couple-scaring, whether deliberately or inadvertently, then… no, it couldn't be… still, it couldn't hurt to make sure after school…

"Don't worry, no-one thinks it was you," a voice whispered beside him, drawing the boy from his thoughts.

"Huh…?" he stammered, looking up. "Oh, uh, thanks Jeri…"

As the girl in question gave him a smile and walked away, Takato couldn't help but hope he wasn't blushing, despite all of his other worries.

xxXxx

Rika Nonaka hated Mondays – always had and always would, and so far, this one had done little to change her mind.

Like the pupils of Yodobashi Elementary School, those attending West Shinjuku Junior High School had also received warnings not to be caught in Shinjuku Central Park after dark due to 'some kid scaring young couples', which, while it caught her attention, didn't particularly concern Rika. In fact, all she was concerned about come lunchtime was avoiding the attentions of both Shiro Ibuki and Atsuko Satake, Rika's two biggest enemies at school.

Shiro Ibuki was, quite simply, a bully. On the other hand, he was also the strong, good-looking and obscenely popular star striker of the football team. Predictably, this had made Shiro resemble the stereotypical Jock in more ways than one – complete with an over-inflated ego, Shiro had become used to getting whatever he wanted through any means he chose.

And not too long ago, he had decided that he wanted Rika.

And unfortunately for Rika, Shiro was not the sort of person who took 'no' for an answer.

Atsuko Satake, however, was a different story.

If Shiro Ibuki was the stereotypical Jock, then Atsuko Satake was your typical preppie princess – rich parents, popularity, constant entourage of friends/sycophants and a superiority complex equal to that of the Nazis – no, Atsuko Satake was not a very nice girl, a fact that Rika knew all to well.

What Rika also knew was that neither Shiro nor Atsuko ever went to the Library, which is why she was heading there right now.

That was the plan anyway.

Having eaten a quick lunch, Rika had started off towards the Library building when suddenly, she saw something, or rather someone out of the corner of her eye that made her pause.

Wait a minute… was that Henry I just saw?

Rika back-pedalled slightly before deciding that she must have imagined it, after all, Henry was still in the 6th grade, same as Takato.

Unfortunately, when Rika started walking again, she found someone was blocking her way.

It was Shiro.

Damn…

xxXxx

Hideki Yamada hated Mondays – always had and always would, and so far, this one had done little to change his mind.

He had just spent the morning not really paying attention to anything, save for the story of the Shinjuku Park 'couple-scarer', and would most likely spent the afternoon doing the same, just like he did every other Monday, and indeed, every other school day. Right now, though, there was only one thought one Hideki Yamada's mind.

Damnit, when is this fucking thing going to stop hurting and start healing?

As Hideki wandered along the locker-lined corridor, he traced his finger along the small burn on his left cheek from his encounter with Impmon two days earlier. He had received the expected interrogation from his mother and step-siblings, to whom he had given what was, by his standards, a pitiful excuse about some cigarette lighter that he had been planning on selling exploding in his face, which, pitiful as it was, seemed to have worked as it hadn't been mentioned since.

Fortunately, for Hideki, it wasn't a particularly nasty burn and, Hideki reckoned, would probably have healed within a week or two.

Unfortunately, he could still feel the occasional twinge of pain, and was feeling such a twinge right now.

"Hey," a voice suddenly called out. "You wouldn't be Sonny Yamada, would you?"

Hideki turned towards the voice and saw a boy about a year older than him leaning against a locker.

"That's what some people call me," Hideki answered carefully, not entirely sure what to expect, but preparing himself for the worst.

"Thought so," said the boy. "Almost didn't recognise you without the skully and the hoodie."

"Yeah, well, school uniform has that effect, doesn't it?" Hideki replied dryly.

"You're not kiddin'," the boy nodded, looking down at his own grey school uniform. "Shinji Kawaishi," he added, holding out his hand.

"Hideki Yamada," Hideki said, shaking the hand. "Kawaishi… You're a Shooter too, right? 'Killer' Kawaishi?"

Shinji Kawaishi nodded. "We faced off about a month ago. Didn't think you'd remember though."

"Yeah, I remember," said Hideki. "I mean, you put up one of the best fights I've ever had. Even that over-hyped French guy with the ego problem didn't put up such a good fight."

"Over-hyped French guy?" Shinji responded. "You don't mean Jacques Gessard, do you?"

"Think so," said Hideki. "Tall guy, ninth grade, wears his hair in a ponytail…?"

"That's him," affirmed Shinji. "You're saying you beat Jacques Gessard? When was this?"

"My first fight," replied Hideki. "Back in December – first meeting I went to, he got in my face, he got his head bounced off the concrete, you know how it is…"

"You beat Jacques Gessard!" Shinji repeated incredulously. "Shit, I'd heard he'd been knocked on his ass by some newcomer, but I didn't think it'd be someone like you – I mean, you're what, fourteen?"

"Thirteen," answered Hideki. "Seventh grade."

"Seventh…? You're in the Seventh grade and you beat Jacques Gessard?" Shinji marvelled. "Shit, no wonder you kicked my ass, you gotta be some kinda fighting prodigy!"

"Maybe, but you shouldn't put this Gessard guy on such a high pedestal," replied Hideki. "Tough he may be, but he's no fighter. Speaking of which, you don't do any martial arts, do you? I mean, you're no Judoka, I figured that much, but some of the stuff you did was definitely martial-arts based. Karate, maybe?"

"Yeah, you're right – my brother does Karate and taught me a few moves," Shinji nodded. "So I'm guessing you're a Judoka then."

"Was," said Hideki. "Had to give it up when I moved up here because of my Mom. Shame really, 'cause I was just getting good at it."

"Hasn't hurt your skills though, has it?" Shinji responded. "I mean, you are undefeated, right?"

"Seven-nil, and counting," Hideki nodded.

"Seven-nil…" Shinji repeated. "Oh, by the way, you wouldn't know when the next meet is, do you?"

"Sorry, man," said Hideki. "I only ever seem to find out about 'em at the last minute, if not afterwards…"

All of a sudden, Hideki heard a strangely familiar voice from down the hallway.

"Will you just leave me alone, you moron!"

Turning his head slightly, Hideki saw that the source of the voice was a red-head with her hair done up in a high, spiked pony-tail. If it weren't for that one thing, he probably wouldn't have recognised the girl whose Digimon had done battle with his own not too long ago.

IknewIrecognisedherfromsomewhere,thought Hideki. Hell,wecouldbeinthesameclassforallIknowbutwho'stheasshole?

"Y'know, I really wish Nonaka would just deck that blockhead," said Shinji, having also noticed the scene playing out before them.

"I don't suppose you know her first name, do you?" asked Hideki, trying his luck.

"Not sure," said Shinji. "I know it's short and it begins with an 'r', Ruki or something, but that's about it."

"What about the muscle-head?" Hideki then asked, nodding towards the muscular athlete and his two cronies, who were obviously harassing the red-head.

"Shiro Ibuki," replied Shinji, his voice dripping with obvious contempt. "My year… footballer… thinks he's great just because he can kick a ball into the back of a net."

"Typical Jock," Hideki concluded.

"Pretty much," nodded Shinji.

"Alright then, one more question…" Hideki continued. "Has anyone ever tried to put him in his place?"

"No-one's ever had the guts to," Shinji answered. "Why?"

"I'm thinking there's a first time for everything," replied Hideki. "You up for it?"

"Wait… You're not thinking about taking on Shiro Ibuki and his goons, are you?" said Shinji incredulously.

"Well, I took down a supposedly unbeatable Frenchman, didn't I?" Hideki responded. "Besides, we're Shooters, whereas they just kick a ball around a field – we can take 'em."

"Maybe… but I can't get involved," said Shinji, the regret obvious in his voice.

"Why not?"

"Because right now, I'm one detention away from being suspended," replied Shinji. "Fucking hypocrite teachers…"

As Shinji began to curse the teachers of West Shinjuku Junior High, the sound of a slap echoed through the halls.

The two boys didn't have to look to realise that the red-head whose first name neither of them knew had finally reached the end of her tether. Sure enough, when they did look, they could see clearly that Shiro Ibuki's cheek now sported a red, hand-shaped mark.

Needless to say, Shiro Ibuki wasn't very happy about this.

"You stupid little bitch…!" he growled, raising his arm as he did so.

The second he saw this, Hideki sprang into action, charging forward and shoulder barging Shiro into the nearest locker.

For a few seconds, Shiro's two lackeys stood dumbstruck before their faces darkened and the two went to attack Hideki. However, as the first tried to punch the thirteen-year-old, Hideki grabbed his attacker's wrist and threw him full force over his shoulder and onto the floor. Not even pausing as his opponent hit the floor back first, Hideki spun back around and nailed the second lackey with a brutal looking Roundhouse Kick to the side of the head.

But Hideki wasn't quite finished.

Noticing that Shiro was getting to his feet and that the locker beside the bully was open, Hideki rushed forward, pushed Shiro back against the adjacent locker, the back of the boy's head smacking against the steel, then opened the locker beside them, pushed Shiro inside, slammed the door shut and locked it.

"Hope you're not claustrophobic!" Hideki said loudly to the now closed locker before turning his attention to the girl he had just sprung to the defence of.

The girl in question was looking at him with total disbelief, which probably wasn't surprising as Hideki had just taken down three eighth-grade athletes in the space of about fifteen seconds, stuffing one of them in a locker in the process, a fate that the victim himself usually dished out to smaller, weaker kids.

"You okay?" Hideki asked.

It was then that the girl's eyes narrowed slightly as she recognised his voice.

"Wait a minute," she muttered. "You…!"

"Listen, I know you're probably dying to know who I am just as much as Takato and Henry seem to be, but now is not the time for introductions," Hideki interrupted. "So you'll forgive me if I disappear before I'm seen with a bunch of fallen muscle-heads by some teacher, and I suggest you do the same."

With that, Hideki Yamada rushed off before Rika Nonaka could do or say anything.

xxXxx

WhyamIevenhere?Hideki asked himself as he walked underneath the park lights that evening. Imean,whydoIevenparticularlycareifabunchoflovebirdsarebeingscared?Besides,anycopshangingaroundhere'reboundtoblamethefirstpersontheysee,whichofcourse'llprobablybeme

For some reason, despite the fact that it had nothing to do with him, Hideki had decided to go and find the culprit, though a large part of him thought it was a waste of time – even if he did have a feeling he knew who, or rather, what, was responsible for it all, there wasn't much he could do about it even if he was right.

And yet, there he was, wandering around Shinjuku Central Park after dark looking for any signs of trouble.

Suddenly, Hideki saw two figures in the near distance. One was tall, slightly chubby and was wearing a police uniform, while the other figure was much smaller and was wearing what looked like goggles on its forehead.

Goggles… oh, don't tell me…

As he approached the two figures, Hideki started to hear the exchange between the two more clearly…

"… I said are you the one interfering with the natural development of the social status between the young peoples of this ward?" the policeman said in a superior tone.

"I… uh… what… I don't know what you're talking about…" the boy stammered, obviously not understanding a word the policeman was saying.

"Boy, are you saying you don't understand your native tongue?" responded the policeman condescendingly.

"Uh, no… I just don't understand what you're saying…" the boy replied hesitantly.

"Boy, you're starting to annoy me…" said the policeman, impatiently. At this point, Hideki decided to step in.

"Hey, Takato, there you are, I was wondering where you'd got to," said Hideki, walking up to the two before pretending to notice the police officer for the first time. "Uh… is there a problem here, officer?"

"I take it you know this boy?" replied the policeman, his attention switching from the boy with the goggles to the boy with the hat.

"Well, yeah, I do, I mean, he is my step-brother," Hideki answered flawlessly. "Why, what's the problem?"

"The problem, young man, is that there have been reports of a youngster terrorising young couples in this very park after dark…" the policeman began.

"And you have reason to think Takato's responsible, right?" Hideki finished.

"Well… no, it not that," the policeman admitted. "But he is wandering around here on his own, and I do have a duty to investigate any suspicious activities, you understand."

"Of course, of course, I understand," said Hideki. "But come on, Takato may not be above the odd practical joke – you should've seen the one he pulled on my Dad no too long ago – but stalking lovebirds is a bit beyond him… no offence, kid," he added to Takato. "Look, Takato may be an idiot, but he's not the idiot you're looking for, I give you my word on that, okay?"

The police officer looked at Hideki for a second, then at Takato, then at Hideki again before ultimately deciding to leave it at that, partly because he really didn't want to get into an argument, especially not with an obviously stubborn 13-year-old. Giving Takato the obligatory warning ("Stay out of trouble"), he walked away, leaving the two boys alone.

"Y'know, for some reason, I can't help but feel a little let down by that," Hideki suddenly said as the policeman left their field of vision. "Being a cop, I'd've thought he wouldn't've given up so easily. Not that I'm complaining, but still… oh well, never mind…" After a pause, he turned to Takato. "Well? Aren't you going to thank me?"

"Huh…?" responded Takato. "Oh, yeah, uh… thanks."

"No problem," said Hideki. "So, Goggle-Boy, what're you doing here at this time of night? Nothing to do with young couples I hope."

"What? No, I was just… I mean, I… Look, I'm not some creepy stalker guy, alright!" Takato exclaimed, flustered by the implication. "Besides, I should be asking you the same, Hideki, if that's even your real name!"

"My, someone's suddenly gotten aggressive," Hideki smirked. "And to answer your questions, no, I'm more of a couple-heckler than a couple-scarer, and yes, that is my real name. Oh, and you can relax, I know you're not the stalker."

"Uh… okay," said Takato, not sure where this was all going. Suddenly, he noticed the small burn on Hideki's cheek. "Hey, what's with the… thing on your cheek?"

"What, this?" replied Hideki, pointing at the mark in question. "Some Digimon decided to take a pot-shot at me on Saturday… Just over there in fact," he continued, pointing towards some trees in the distance. "And it's funny you should mention it now, because there's a good chance that a certain Digimon's the reason for all this stalker crap in the first place."

"A Digimon?" said Takato, paling slightly. "What kind of Digimon?"

"Some little purple thing with a smiley face on its chest," Hideki elaborated. "Sound familiar?"

"Impmon," Takato muttered.

"That's him," confirmed Hideki. "Although…"

Suddenly, Hideki spotted something in the bushes in the near distance – something that looked suspiciously like a red dinosaur.

"Takato…" said Hideki slowly. "That Digimon of yours… Geel-mon, or whatever his name is… he doesn't live somewhere in this park, does he?"

"Uh… yeah, he does," replied Takato, slightly worried at Hideki's changing of the subject, or more specifically, the subject he had just changed it to.

"And you have told him not to go running around at night, right?"

"Yeah, I have."

"Well, I'm afraid you're gonna have to tell him again, 'cause unless there're any other red dinosaurs hanging around Shinjuku Park, then I just saw him in those bushes over there."

Turning around, Takato immediately saw the rustling bushes and the telltale red tail of his partner.

"Oh, man…" Takato muttered angrily as he started walking towards the bushes in question, forgetting about Hideki. "I can't believe this… He promised he wouldn't…"

At first, Hideki went to follow Takato, but then decided that it would probably be better to let the Tamer and his Digimon sort things out between them on their own. With that, Hideki pulled up the hood on his jumper and started walking in the opposite direction.

xxXxx

In stark contrast to his fellow Tamers, Henry Wong wasn't doing much at the moment.

To be precise, he was lying on his bed, thinking about a number of things.

Among them was what Rika had told him earlier that day, but it wasn't the fact that 'Hideki' attended the same school as Rika that had him thinking – it was what Rika had said to him near the end of the conversation…

"The weird thing is, when I first saw him, I thought he was you."

For some reason, the idea that this mysterious figure could be mistaken for him, and possibly vice versa, made Henry feel uneasy, perhaps because out of the three Tamers, Henry was the only one who had not come face-to-face with the mystery Tamer.

Rika had come face-to-face with Hideki on at least two occasions – the first time had been just over two weeks ago, when Spiritmon and Renamon had faced off, and the second time had been earlier that day, although Rika had been a bit vague about some of the details.

Takato, meanwhile, had come face-to-face with Hideki only a few days ago, during which Hideki had apparently been this close to throttling Calumon, and, unbeknownst to Henry at this point, had just spoken with the mystery Tamer a few minutes ago in the middle of Shinjuku Park.

Henry, on the other hand, had only encountered the mystery Tamer during certain Digimon battles. To elaborate, Henry had only seen Hideki when he was wearing his Aviators and had his hood up, and the only words the two had exchanged had involved Henry saying that Digimon shouldn't have to fight and Hideki seemingly dismissing Henry as a pacifist.

Based on what little he had seen for himself and heard from the others, it's not surprising that the conclusions Henry had come to regarding Hideki were far from positive.

At first, both Henry and Takato had noticed several parallels between both Rika and Hideki – they both kept to themselves, both had rather cold personalities and both appeared to show little empathy for the Digimon their partners destroyed and absorbed. The good news, however, was that Rika had softened ever-so-slightly in both respects since they had first met her, and there was always the chance that Hideki would do the same.

On the other hand, Rika had never personally harmed a Digimon – Hideki had.

It had happened the Saturday before last.

Hideki and Spiritmon had cornered a Nanimon that had bio-emerged the day before (the same Nanimon that had given Calumon a nasty black eye in response to being asked if it had wanted to play) in an old warehouse, where the Nanimon had attempted to use its punch-based attacks on Hideki himself.

When Henry, Takato and their respective partners arrived at the scene, they found that Hideki was more than holding his own against the muscular Digimon, not only dodging Nanimon's attacks, but dishing out a few nasty looking strikes of his own. This went on for another few seconds before Spiritmon had sprung in and deleted Nanimon with a powerful Ghost Punch.

The idea that a human could hold his own in a fight against a Digimon was unthinkable – it was also quite disturbing. After all, between that and Hideki's encounter with Calumon, Henry couldn't help but wonder just how far this Hideki would go.

What if he ended up killing a Digimon?

Truth be told, Henry had already asked himself this question more than once over the past week, but somehow, the idea that he and this potential murderer might look alike, no matter how slightly, made his stomach turn even more.

Butwhy?Henry wondered. Imean,it'snotasifanyone'sgoingtomixusup,right?Besides,it'snotasifI'mtheonlyguyaroundherewithatleastoneChineseparent.Yeah,that'sprobablyitoneofhisparentsisChinese,ormaybeevenoneofhisgrandparents,andRikajustassumedhewasmebecauseofthat

For some reason, this conclusion did little to make Henry feel better.

xxXxx

Author's Notes

Saturday 3nd March 2001 – Monday 5th March 2001

So, we now know our mystery Tamer's full name (even if the others don't). The real question now is what his deal is? What's with the whole ever-changing temperament? And is he really that awesome at fighting, or is it all just talk?

I'm really not happy with the 'Sonny/Killer' scene, but I needed to establish the whole 'shooter' thing, so I guess I'm stuck with it.

Sorry about the way the chapter peters out. There were a few other things I was going to put in there, but I decided that the chapter was starting to drag on.

*–

Wow, I can't believe I've had this sitting around all this time.

As I've said in my profile, don't expect any regular updates – nothing personal, you understand, just the way things are.