Disclaimer-  I don't own Digimon.

            I'm so sorry this took so long to put up.  I sort of *cough* lost my notebook *cough, cough* umm...for two weeks.  But I found it.  And then I lost another week of writing making these red, white, and blue ribbon-pin-things for my brother's high school.  Plus, revising this 50 million times. (Aah, the plight of the anal-retentive writer.)  And then, wouldn't you know it, I finally finish this and FFN is under construction.  So, again, sorry.

            Okay, in the last part, I had Ken believe that one could only reach the dark dimension (or rather it could only reach you) from the Digital World because the only two times in the series that I have seen him there, he was in the Digital World first before being pulled in.  And as for T.K. being the only one to see what was happening to Kari, in "His Master's Voice", not even the girl sitting right behind her in class saw anything happening to her.  T.K. was the only one in the room to see anything happening.  And in the scene where he jumped through the portal, if Gatomon had seen Kari reaching out like T.K. did, she would have said something.  That's how I got the idea that only T.K. for some reason could see all this.  I hope none of this confused anyone too badly;  it will all get clearer as the story progresses.  And also, I'm not a doctor so medical info in this story is the result of watching waaay too much "Rescue 911" and "M*A*S*H".  Except for the part about vitamin K being a coagulant.  The nice man at the Eckard's pharmacy told me that.

Darkness in Light

~by  The Silversage

Part 4:  Awakenings

Dark Dimension

          T.K. felt a rush of air pass him, like a breeze.  At the same time, he was vaguely aware of Matt yelling.  He sounded so far away.  He opened his eyes and turned, preparing himself for whatever new scolding he was going to receive.  It's not like I don't deserve it, though, he mused.  He blinked a few times when he found himself at the top of a grassy knoll overlooking the water.  The grass, the sea, and even his own clothes seemed faded and grey…and oh so familiar.  I'm back!, he realized in shock.  He had a sneaking suspicion that this time, it was definitely something he did.  He pushed that disturbing thought aside, breaking out in a run.  "I've got to find Kari!"

          Kari sighed, pacing back and forth in the small circle of space of her prison.  What do I do?  I can't let T.K. come in here after me.  They'll hurt him!  Come on, Kari.  Think.  What would Tai do?  She snorted softly.  He'd probably already have a plan to get out of here and take half of those guys out too.  She leaned back against a wall and slid to the floor tucking her knees against her chest.  "Face it Kari.  You're no Tai."

Saturday 2:20 A.M.

          Matt caught his brother before he slid to the floor.  "T.K., what's wrong?  Come on, man, wake up!  Don't do this to me!"  He reached over to break T.K.'s death grip on Kari.

          "Wait!"  Matt froze as Gennai rushed over and knelt at their side.  He placed the palm of his hand against the young boy's forehead and closed his eyes in concentration.  "He did it," he said finally, "He's in."

          The other five drew closer to Matt and Gennai.  "I guess we know who was responsible for opening the portal now," Joe muttered.  Tai and Matt each shot their friend a dirty look.

          Gennai cleared his throat to get their attention.  "We mustn't separate them," he addressed Matt gravely, "To do so would sever T.K.'s link to Kari and I don't know what that would do to him."  Matt nodded solemnly before carefully pulling his little brother back up to the couch.

          Tai shifted his gaze from Matt and Gennai to T.K.  Bring my sister home, T.K.

          "I fear I must apologize to both you and Matt," Gennai said suddenly.  The six looked to him in confusion as he sat carefully on the coffee table.  "They are both in a great deal of danger and I am partially to blame."  He gave a long pause the others dared not interrupt before he continued sadly.  "It was foretold that the Dark Dimension would make another vie for power.  As Light and Hope hold the Digital World in balance, the loss of either would leave it open and unguarded.  I was supposed to have prepared them to face this," he confessed sadly.

          "So what happened?" Joe asked quietly, moving closer.

          "They're early." Gennai answered.  "I should have had another year.  Now, they're both trapped there on their own.  Kari has ample power but doesn't know how to use it and T.K. may be beginning to tap his own abilities but it takes the Crest of Light to be fully released.  They're not ready for this yet," he said with a sigh.  "T.K.'s only just turned thirteen, right?" he asked Matt.

          "Yeah, and I think Kari's still twelve," Matt answered, looking to Tai for confirmation.  Tai nodded.

          "I just don't understand.  They were supposed to be older," Gennai muttered.

          "Well," Izzy started, with an expression he usually reserved for solving calculus problems, "If you count all the time they've spent in the Digital World, Kari would actually be thirteen and T.K. would be close to fourteen."

          Gennai looked up sharply, mouth agape, having suddenly become very pale.  He let out a soft groan, burying his face in his hands.

Dark Dimension

          T.K. ran through an abandoned town that looked for all the world as though the inhabitants had only vanished minutes ago.  He wasn't quite sure where he was heading…but the direction felt right.

          He stopped when the sidewalk ended at the edge of town to catch his breath.  Looking around, he found himself at the edge of a very familiar beach.  Jogging down the beach, he was drawn to the mouth of a large tunnel.  I thought Kari said this thing collapsed, he wondered before entering without a backwards glance.  A few odd boulders and support beams answered his previous question;  someone had cleared the tunnel.

          Once the tunnel entrance was out of sight, the tunnel veered sharply to the right and down.  About thirty feet down the incline, the brick walls ended exposing the cold stone of an ancient cavern system.  The dim string of lights overhead stopped with the brick wall.  Light was now provided by an occasional torch every twenty feet or so that burned with a blue flame that gave no heat.  A corner of T.K.'s mind took in the dramatic change in scenery…and temperature.  His tee-shirt and shorts did little to block the subterranean chill.  The majority of his mind, however, told him to stop gawking and keep moving.

          He wondered to himself why he had yet to see anyone else in the cavern.  The thought that this all might be some kind of trap crossed his mind.  But it's too late to turn back now, he reasoned.  Besides, there's no one here to back me up.  He continued on, trying not to think of what he would do if he actually ran into trouble alone without Patamon.

          He slowed down cautiously upon hearing voices from one of the various side chambers.  He leaned against the stone wall at the corner of the passage way to hear better.

          "…according to plan, Master.  The other guardian will be eliminated soon and the invasion can begin unopposed."

          "Are you certain?" asked a second, deeper voice, "His power is as great as the girl's.  Take care that you do not underestimate either of them."

          "I think I am more than capable of handling the child," the first voice sneered, "He has yet to fully realize his potential;  he is helpless."

          "See that you do not fail.  For your sake."

          T.K. leaned back from the wall.  Who were they talking about, he wondered.  He figured the girl they spoke of meant Kari but the boy…It can't be me!  He hurried down the tunnel, eager to put distance between himself and the voices.  His mind screamed suddenly when he passed the next side passage.  He skidded to a halt and took a look down the tunnel.  There were no torches here, the tunnel just disappeared into darkness.  He cautiously began making his way in the darkness until the sound of someone crying began reaching his ears.  Kari!  I'm coming.

          He took off running and by sheer luck, reached a side chamber without hitting any walls.  He couldn't make out how big the room was for the darkness but in the center of the room was a pillar of light at the center of which was…"Kari!" he cried, rushing forward.

          Kari jerked her head up from it's resting place on her knees.  "T.K.!" she cried out rushing to the edge placing her hands flat against the force field.  She made no attempt to wipe her tears away.

          T.K. matched his own hands with hers from his side of the barrier.  His heart leapt at the look of pure joy on her face wishing he could wipe away the tears from her eyes.  "Are you alright?" he asked softly.

          Kari nodded dumbly, lost in the blue sea of his eyes.  So lost, she almost didn't notice the slight movement behind him.  She blanched when she caught sight of two, glowing, yellow eyes directly behind him. 

          Seeing Kari pale suddenly, T.K. feinted left by pure instinct narrowly avoiding being slashed by the shadow creature's claw-like hands.  He only had time to catch a quick glimpse of the creature before a blow to his chest slammed him into the force field.  Stars danced before him when his head struck the barrier.  He vaguely heard Kari's scream through the ringing in his ears.

          "I see you finally made it, Child of Hope," the creature sneered, "In such a rush to die, aren't we?"  He leapt forward, intent on spearing the boy with his clawed hands.

          T.K. rolled to the side grabbing the creature's outstretched arm and yanked him forward into the barrier while he was still off-balanced followed by a knee to ribs.  I'll have to thank Matt, he mused, thinking over the last few years of roughhousing with his brother.  He backed away as the creature stood with a low growl, hardly fazed.  Damn. 

The two combatants circled each other warily.  Now that he had time to get a good look at his opponent, T.K. realized he was much smaller than the creature…and lighter.  This is not good.  He caught sight of Kari out of the corner of his eye.  She was frozen at the barrier wall, a hand to her mouth, trying not to make a sound for fear of distracting T.K.  But that backwards glance was all the distraction the shadow creature needed.  He lunged forward again.  T.K. jumped back, but his reaction was just too slow.  The demon tackled the smaller boy to the ground and raised a hand to slash the throat of his prey.  T.K. responded to the loss of one of the hands holding him down by rolling them till he was on top and landing a savage punch to his attacker's jaw.  In retaliation, the creature once more reached for T.K.'s throat.  T.K. had to use both hands, grabbing hold of the demon's wrist to keep the clawed hand from reaching its target.  With both hands occupied, he couldn't stop the demon's other clawed hand from reaching up and sinking into his vulnerable back.  T.K. screamed as the creature savagely raked his hand down his back, tearing deep.

Saturday 2:37 A.M.

          Matt sighed and leaned his head against his brother's, shifting uncomfortably.  The couch had been too small for both T.K. and Kari to lie on, so he was holding T.K. in a sitting position with his arms around his unconscious brother's waist, T.K.'s back leaning against his chest.  He could feel the occasional tensing of T.K.'s muscles as his body reacted to what ever world his mind was in now.  The slight movements had increased suddenly.  He wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

          He looked around the room at it's various occupants.  Tai was sitting on the love seat, starring into space with Sora at his side, leaning her head on his shoulder, equally silent.  Joe had disappeared to the bathroom looking for any first aid supplies he could find and Izzy was watching Gennai pacing the room.  Probably counting him, too.  Matt pulled his head back up when there was a movement on the couch.  He looked to find Mimi had sat at the opposite end of the couch facing him and had gently maneuvered Kari's head to a pillow in her lap.  She offered him a reassuring, wavering smile before turning her attention back to Kari, brushing the hair back from the younger girl's face.  A hint of a smile touched his own lips watching her.  She was humming some English song softly.  One he recognized vaguely as a lullaby.

          A particularly strong twitch from T.K. brought him back to the present.  He tried to shift his position a little bit, but found his shirt sticking to his brother's damp back.  I don't remember T.K. ever sweating this much.  He leaned T.K. forward gently to separate them.

          Red.  The back of T.K.'s shirt was all red.  Three long crimson lines from between his shoulder blades running down diagonally to just below his ribs on his left side were spreading together to form one massive stain on the shirt's fabric.  "Joe!  Joe, HELP ME!"  Matt yelled in a panic, startling the others.

          Joe rushed out of the bathroom, arms still full of bandages.  Catching sight of the back of T.K.'s shirt from the hallway, he snagged up his briefcase from the floor, quickly slipping into 'doctor' mode.  "Hold on to him," he muttered to Matt who had leaned as far to the side as he could over Kari's legs while still holding T.K. steady.  A stern look from Joe sent Patamon and Gatomon scrambling off the couch.  The past year of training and drills took over as Joe pulled a pair of surgical scissors from his briefcase and began cutting the back of T.K.'s shirt open.

          His mouth fell open and he had to look away to settle the churning in his stomach.  Matt closed his eyes, a little green himself.  Joe looked up again after taking a moment to steel himself enough to examine the wound.  The deepest part of the wound was at the top which went deep enough to expose the ivory glint of an occasional rib, the shallowest still reaching into the muscle tissue.  His heart plummeted as he looked over the extent of the damage.  "Izzy…are the phones working yet?" he asked in a tight voice.  Joe closed his eyes when Izzy shook his head.  "Matt, I'm so sorry," he whispered looking down at his hands.

          Matt stiffened as the implication of Joe's soft apology dawned on him.  "You're just giving up?!  Aren't you even going to try?!" he demanded angrily.

          "What do you expect me to do?" Joe muttered back tersely, picking up a roll of  gauze.  He started wrapping T.K.'s back with a quick, well-practiced hand.  "I'm only just finishing my first year of pre-med, Matt.  This is way out of my league.  He needs stitches and an emergency blood transfusion and God knows how many antibiotics to prevent secondary infection.  Even if the phone lines were working and there was no hail storm to slow down the ambulance, I couldn't guarantee he'd get there in time.  I'm sorry," he repeated a little gentler than his outburst.  A solemn stillness settled about the room as everyone accepted the very real possibility that they were about to lose one of their own.

          "What if we gave him a transfusion now?" Mimi asked quietly.

          "I don't usually carry i.v. bags of blood with me," Joe muttered somewhat sarcastically.

          "Matt, what's T.K.'s blood type?" she asked, ignoring Joe's comment.

          "A positive, why?" Matt answered.  Mimi didn't answer but instead slipped out from under Kari and began rifling through Joe's briefcase.  She stopped when she pulled out two sterile sealed i.v. tubes and two sealed syringes.  "Do you need these?" she asked.

          "It's homework," he muttered, sparing her a quick glance while wrapping a new roll of gauze over the first already blood-soaked bandage.  "I'm supposed to practice injecting medication into an i.v."

          "Well, you're taking a zero," she replied.  "Sora, I need a glass jar as clean as you can find and a sharp knife."  That said, Mimi stood and disappeared to the bathroom.

          Sora lifted her head and blinked a few times, before heading to the kitchen.  She wasn't used to Mimi taking the lead or being so forceful;  Mimi was never forceful.  She got back just as Mimi returned with a bottle of rubbing alcohol.  She wordlessly handed them to her pink-haired friend wondering if Mimi had finally lost it.

          Mimi stabbed two small holes in the metal lid of the jar and opened the two i.v. tubes, working one end of each through the tight holes.  Joe was the first to guess what she was doing when she next opened the syringes and gently tugged the needles out.

          "Mimi, you can't be serious!  You are not doing what I think you are," he exclaimed in protest while she fitted a needle into the tapered end of each tube.

          "Gennai, I need you to hold this up high," she said handing the jar to him, lid down, before turning back to Joe.  "You can't just let him bleed to death," she replied handing him the two needles with one hand and the alcohol with the other which he took reluctantly, "I'm type A.  Take as much as you can."

          Joe held her gaze, trying to gauge how serious she was before giving in with a sigh and nod.  "Izzy?  Can you get into Odaiba High's student medical files," he asked, swabbing Mimi's arm.

          "Yes, of course."

          "I need you to find out who else among us are compatible," he answered.  A quick glance at T.K. confirmed that the blood was seeping through the second bandage.  "I don't think Mimi will be enough."

Dark Dimension

          "Nooo!" Kari screamed.  Her captor shoved T.K. off and stood slowly.

          "You weren't quite the challenge I hoped you'd be.  Such a disappointment," he gloated over the injured boy.  He followed with a savage kick to the ribs.

          "Leave him alone!" Kari yelled pounding her fists impotently on the walls of her prison.  All her anger and fear welled up in her and her crest started to glow with a silver pink light under her pajama top.

          T.K. groaned as the creature landed another kick to his side and struggled to lift himself up on all fours.  He wasn't sure what his attacker had done to his back, but it hurt horribly…and his arms wouldn't stop shaking.  He gasped, feeling a hand grab hold of his hair and pull his head back roughly.

          "Perhaps I should do you the favor of ending your suffering quickly."

          T.K. tried not to shudder as a sharp finger traced the line of his neck from below his chin to his chest.  I'm so sorry, Kari.  He cast her a last apologetic glance before shutting his eyes to await the inevitable.

          "Stop it!  Leave him alone!" Kari screamed again in anger and panic through her tears.  The iridescent pink light spread unnoticed from her crest engulfing her with a glowing aura.  Beneath her hands, the barrier cracked.  The light pulsed around her erratically before drawing itself inward.  Kari clenched her fists at her side.  "I_said_, Don't Touch Him!"  The light, the manifestation of her power, exploded from her with gale-like force shattering the energy barrier as easily as glass.

          T.K. opened his eyes feeling a rising energy and looked instinctively to Kari.  He was just in time to watch the explosion of blinding light break through the forcefield and braced himself, eyes closed again for the wave he was sure would hit him with equal force.  He almost fell forward when all he felt was a gentle wind blow past.  He opened his eyes to find his tormentor had not been spared by the blast, but had been violently thrown against the far stone wall, back first.  The creature crumpled to the ground where he lay motionless.  T.K. turned back to Kari who was staring wide-eyed in shock at the shadow demon before sliding to the ground herself.

Saturday 2:40 A.M.

          Joe bit his lip, taping the needle down on Mimi's arm; dark red blood was already traveling up the clear tube.  He looked up at Mimi.  "You really should be lying down," he told her, "You're going to get light-headed after a few minutes."  There really wasn't anything either of them could do about that.  The i.v. chords were just too short.

          Mimi jumped when she felt an arm wrap firmly around her waist.

          "Don't worry, I won't let you fall," Matt reassured her.  She nodded back with a faint blush.  He smiled at her flustered reaction but felt himself blush right back.

          "Got 'em!" Izzy called from his computer, effectively breaking the moment.  "Mimi and I are the only A positives but Tai, Sora, and Kari are O positive.  You're B, that's no help.  And Matt's AB negative.  Hey, that's pretty rare."

          "Yeah, whatever," Matt mumbled, "A lot of good that does."

          Mimi gave his shoulder a quick squeeze when a crack on the coffee table caught her eye.  "Guys, look," she whispered, pointing to the table.  A small crack had appeared next to Kari and was slowly forking and snaking away from the unconscious girl across the table.

          "Tai, is she doing that?" Sora whispered creeping closer.  The words were barely said when the heavy glass table top shattered violently.  Tai barely had time to pull Sora behind himself.  Matt pulled Mimi and T.K. against himself away from the table and Joe spread his arms out to block any stray pieces of glass from hitting Kari.

          "Just what the hell is going on in there?!" Tai yelled.

Dark Dimension

          T.K. forced himself the rest of the way to his feet catching a second wind and made his way to Kari's side.  A quick check reassured him that she had only fainted.  Figures, he smiled wryly, I come to get you out and you get yourself out.  He tucked one arm around her shoulders and another under her knees, lifting her carefully.  He gritted his teeth in pain as his back burned with the added strain.  "Let's get out of here."

          He paused at the entrance near the fallen demon.  He was still breathing.  T.K. frowned.  He'll come after us when he wakes up.  Best to be free of him now, his logic insisted.  He shook his head to clear his mind of such disturbing thoughts, no matter how prudent they were.  I don't think I can lift Kari again if I put her down, he told himself, stepping out into the hall.

          He headed back the way he had come in but stopped at the sound of voices ahead.  Okay.  Never mind, he turned and went in the opposite direction.  Should've known he wasn't the only one.  Maybe there's another way out.  The pain in his back had dulled to a low burn.  He was hyper-sensitive of the way his damp shirt clung to his back and a quick glance over his shoulder confirmed that he was leaving a trail of crimson droplets every few yards.  He swore under his breath with a low growl, I'm gonna lead them right_to_us.  Pushing himself to move faster, T.K. concentrated on putting as much distance between himself and his soon-to-be pursuers.

          The sound of rainfall was his first clue that he was near the end.  He followed it through a narrow passage and found himself overlooking a small thicket behind the abandoned town he passed earlier.  Perfect!  We can hide there!  He smiled to himself for the first time since finding Kari.  And the rain will wash away any trail I leave.  With that sobering thought, he pushed off from the wall he was leaning against and started for the village.  He hissed out a few soft curses as the rain hit his sensitive back.  Though, after a few minutes, it didn't hurt so much.  In fact, he could hardly feel anything on his back any more.  That can't be good.

          He leaned against the fence of an alley to catch his breath.  Whatever adrenalin rush he'd been running off of before had long since evaporated.  He had pushed himself to walk further into the town where there were more houses and less chance of being found but his exhaustion and lack of blood were fast catching up with him.  He peered down the street blinking in the rain.  It was getting much harder to focus his eyes on anything.  A shiver from Kari brought his attention downward.  She had curled against him for warmth and shelter from the rain.  That brought a ghost of a smile to his lips before he started off again.  Just pick one already!  He balanced Kari against himself precariously and tried the doorknob of the nearest door which was, thankfully, unlocked, and bolted it behind him.  His legs absolutely refused to take another step forward and he slid to the wooden floor, holding Kari tightly to his chest as if she was his link to consciousness.  Matt…Tai…what do I do now?

Saturday 2:50 A.M.

          Matt jerked his head up from leaning against his brother's and surveyed the room slowly.  He had the strangest feeling that someone had just called his name…but he wasn't quite sure who.  He frowned, noticing Tai doing the same thing across the room.  Catching the digidestined's leader's eye, he sent a questioning glance to which Tai shook his head, looking equally puzzled.

          Matt sighed and glanced up to Mimi, leaning against his side.  Her eyes were closed and he had a feeling that if he let go of her, she'd slip straight to the floor.  "Hey Joe," he whispered, nudging the older boy with his foot, "I think Mimi's had enough."

          Joe swore under his breath removing the needle from her arm and pressing a square of gauze over the needle mark.  "Press on this and hold your arm straight up," he ordered cutting several long strips of tape.  "Izzy, you're next," he called over his shoulder winding the tape around the gauze in a makeshift armband.

          Matt reluctantly let Mimi out of his grip to give Izzy and Joe more room.  He bit his lip watching her stumble over the broken glass.  "Don't move too fast, Mimi.  You'll get dizzy," he called after her.

          "I'm used to it," she muttered back, sitting on the floor against the couch oblivious of the glass.

          "This is so wrong," Joe fretted swabbing down Izzy's arm, "Practicing without a license.  Re-using needles.  Make-shift equipment.  I'm going to lose my license before I get it."

          Matt pressed a hand to T.K.'s forehead for the fifth time in the last ten minutes.  He feels like ice!  "Joe?"

          "I'm going to be black-listed."


          "I'll probably wind up practicing illegally in some tiny room in a third world na-"

          "Joe!"  Joe paused in his ranting to glance over his shoulder to Matt.  "Is he supposed to be this cold?"

          The older boy touched the back of his hand to T.K.'s clammy cheek and a finger to the young boy's pulse at his neck only confirmed what he already knew.  With a heavy sigh, he could only shake his head, not able to look Matt in the eye.

          Matt jerked his gaze away from Joe, shifting it instead to Izzy and then Gennai, tirelessly standing his post as i.v. stand.  "But…I thought…,"

          "He's losing blood faster than we're getting it in him," Joe answered following his gaze, "All we're really doing is buying him time."

          "There's got to be something else we can do," Matt argued.

          "Why bother?" a soft voice piped up from the floor near the balcony.  All eyes turned incredulously to the small cat sitting against the sliding glass door.  "You're only delaying the inevitable.  They've already won."

          Sora was the first to recover, her shock turning to anger.  "How_can_you_say that!  T.K.'s your friend Gatomon!" she all but yelled at the listless digimon.

          "But she's right.  We can't beat them," Patamon mumbled from where he lay next to Gatomon staring at some point on the carpet.

          "Don't you start too, Patamon.  Don't you dare give up on T.K.," Tai growled angrily.  His only response was an almost imperceptible twitch of Gatomon's tail.  An impatient beeping from Izzy's open computer drew his attention away from the two apathetic digimon.

          "Izzy?… Hello?… Is anyone there?"

          With a final angry sigh, Tai turned away and slid into Izzy's now vacant seat.  "What do you need Yolei?" he asked tiredly.

          "Oh, Tai…umm…well, it's like this.  Aquilomon and I were fighting an Ogremon and then right in the middle of the fight, Aquilomon de-evolved to rookie for no reason and I can't get him to digivolve."

          "Are you both alright?  Where's the Ogremon?" he asked, immediately concerned.

          "That's the funny part," Yolei answered," He's over there, under a tree, just…sitting there.  Weird, huh?"

          "Yeah, that is weird," Tai mused, more to himself.  A blinking red light on the vid-window caught his attention.  "Hold on Yolei," he muttered switching to the new screen.  "Cody, what's the problem?"

          "Armadillomon de-evolved to Upumon and the Numamon we were fighting all wandered off," he said getting right to the point.  "Now, Upumon won't digivolve.  He keeps saying 'what's the use?'  It was so strange…like everyone just gave up.  Uhh…what do I do?"

          "Good question,"  Tai answered running a hand through his hair.  "Hang on, someone else is calling in."

          "Hey Tai.  I've got a little problem," Davis said, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

          "Let me guess.  Everyone quit fighting and Flamedramon de-evolved," Tai quipped dryly.

          "Wow!  You're good!"

          "Hold on," Tai sighed, "What is it Ken?"

          "Bugmon de-evolved to Wormon in the middle of a fight, but…I guess you already know that," he replied catching Tai's expression, "Is everyone else having the same problem?"

          "Yeah," Tai nodded grimly.  "Listen, Ken.  I want you  to contact the others and find a place where you can all meet up.  If something happens, I don't want anyone caught alone when their digimon may be unwilling or unable to fight."

          "Sure Tai."

          Tai sighed one final time before turning to the others.  "Well… I think we know how they plan to take over the Digital World," he said with a bleak expression, looking to Gennai for confirmation.

          The taller man nodded back sadly.  "Once the wielder of the Crest of Hope is… gone, they will enter the Digital World unopposed."  Matt tightened his grip on his brother as if that alone would keep him on this terrestrial plane.

          Mimi looked up at T.K. for the first time from her spot on the floor.  She was shocked by the drastic change in his now ashen complexion.  She almost gasped when she noticed his fingers, laced through Kari's, visibly relaxing their once tight grip.  No, you don't, she clamped a hand over each of T.K.'s to keep his hands from sliding away completely.  Not yet.  You can't quit on us yet.  Please T.K.

Dark Dimension

Kari shifted uncomfortably but stopped when the movement brought a sharp pain behind her eyes.  She moaned softly.  Why does my head hurt like this?  Half-forgotten memories of her response to the fight between her captor and best friend swirled to the surface of her still foggy mind.  She mentally gasped remembering how she had flung that creature against the wall.

          Her headache under control, Kari concentrated on her surroundings.  She was vaguely aware of something around her waist.  Her cheek and upper body were leaning against something that seemed to be both hard and soft at the same time, and slowly rising and falling.  Her eyes shot open in realization and she pushed away hard with a furious blush.  T.K. gave a low pained groan but neither opened his eyes nor relinquished his grip from around Kari's waist.  The affect being she couldn't push away very far or get off his lap.  The pain in his voice pulled Kari away from her embarrassment over her position.  "T.K.?  Are you all right?…T.K., let go of me."

          "…no," he slurred drowsily, "…wanna…hold you longer."

          Kari paused in shock for a moment, gaping at him.  Don't be silly, Kari.  He doesn't mean it that way.  "Come on, T.K.  You're hurt," she said out loud, "At least let me check."

          Reluctantly, T.K. let his arms drop to the side as she moved next to him already missing her warmth.  Feeling her hand on his shoulder, he gritted his teeth while she leaned him forward as gently as possible.

          "Oh God!"

          "He really got me, huh?" T.K. quipped weakly.  He forced his eyes open in time to see her stricken expression.  "Is it…really bad?"  All she could do was nod sadly.  "I kinda figured that," he said with an odd half-smile, closing his eyes again.

          "T.K., don't close your eyes!" Kari ordered, blinking back tears.  "You need to lie down and conserve blood."  A quick look around by the light of the constant lightning outside told her the structure they were in was just that, an empty building, devoid of any kind of furniture.  The floor will have to do.  She gently lowered him onto his back but had the distinct feeling he was humoring her.  She was tugging on the bottom of her pajama top when his hand covered hers, stopping her.

          "What are you doing?" he asked softly.

          "I need to bandage your back," Kari answered somewhat confused why he was stopping her.

          "I think…it's a little late for that," he said, looking down at his hand holding hers.  He looked back up when a drop of water hit his wrist.

          "You can't go," she whispered, staring down at their hands intertwined.  "Don't leave me, T.K.  I need you." She cried not bothering to stop the tears.

          "No, you don't," he said gently, "You're so much stronger than me, Kari…I never could keep up with you.  You'll be fine."  He closed his eyes again.  So tired.  It was so tempting to drift back to sleep.

          "T.K.?!…T.K., please!" Kari sobbed, shaking his shoulder.  Not getting a response, she stretched out on the floor next to him and laid her head gently on his chest over his heart.  Please be there.  It seemed like an eternity before she heard the reassuring beat that meant he was still there.  "Please don't leave me, T.K.  I need you with me," she sobbed against his chest.  She took a deep breath between sobs before continuing, not even sure if he could still hear her.  "I'm so sorry, T.K.  It's my fault that this happened to you.  I'm not the strong person you think I am.  I'm not strong like Tai.  If I had been, neither of us would be here right now.  I would have been able to fight them beter, and you wouldn't be dying like this without ever knowing how much I love you… how much I've always loved you."  She paused hearing his heart quicken for an instant before faltering in an irregular cadence, his hand slackened and slipped from hers.

          She grasped a handful of his blue and green tee-shirt over his chest to give him another shake and felt something hard and warm in her hand.  His crest.  She pulled it out holding it in her palm, letting its gentle golden glow sooth her.  She had never touched his crest before, she had half imagined it would feel a little strange, alien, like when she messed with Tai's crest, but instead, it felt…natural…like holding her own crest.  Another tear slid down her cheek as she felt his crest's power waning.  I wish I could do something to stop this.  In her mind, she imagined herself giving some of her own power to T.K. to keep him alive;  her own crest began glowing with its silver-pink light under her top.  "If only that would really work," she whispered to herself wistfully and ducked her forehead forward against her best friend's crest.

          T.K. was floating.  He felt perfectly calm and peaceful…and weightless.  This is almost like Yolei's waterbed.  He smiled remembering how Kari had almost fallen asleep on the bed during one of their meetings and he had jumped on next to her, intent on waking her with a massive wave.  He hadn't quite expected his greater weight to cause her to roll on top of him in the little dip he had made.  It had taken a while to disentangle themselves.  Davis sure got mad over that one.

          Kari!  He could hear her now, very softly and far away.  She was talking to him, he could hear her blaming herself for his being hurt.  He wished he could hold her and tell her it wasn't her fault, but it was taking all his concentration just to hear her and fight off the need for sleep.  His heart lurched upon hearing her next words.  She loves me?!, he wondered in shock.  If he wasn't already floating, he would have been now.  He smiled to himself dazedly almost willing to let Morpheous pull him into his dream world.

          He jumped awake again feeling an almost electrical tingle throughout his entire body and his hand subconsciously went to his chest where his crest would have been.  He could feel her.  Her body against his.  Her head on his chest.  Every thought, every emotion running through her mind was wide open to him.  Her fear.  Her worry.  Her wish to give him her own power.  My crest is reacting to her!, he realized in awe.

          T.K. could feel a buzzing, almost a vibration building in his chest.  Every muscle in his body tensed, seemingly waiting for something more to come when a brilliant white light exploded behind his eyes.

          Kari had barely touched her forehead to the crest in her hand when it suddenly lit up with a blinding golden light.  She jerked up to a sitting position as T.K.'s body seized in a massive spasm, arching his back off the floor.  One of his hands clenched the nearest thing, her knee, in a bruising grip while the other clawed the wooden floor.  Oh God!  What's happening!

Saturday 3:07 A.M.

          Joe carefully snipped the bandages and peeled the useless fabric from T.K.'s back.  The room had been absolutely silent for the last fifteen minutes.  Everyone seemed to be listening to T.K.'s breathing getting softer and lighter.  "Matt, I need you to move over so I can wrap his back."  Matt glared at him angrily through tear-filled eyes before leaning away.  Joe sighed, reaching for a new roll of bandages ignoring Matt.  He really didn't blame him for not wanting to let go of his brother, even for a minute.  I don't even know why I bother, he mused to himself wrapping the bandage around T.K.'s torso.  It's not like this could possibly help.  He just about dropped the roll when T.K. gave a loud gasp and his body went completely stiff.

          "What's happening?!" Matt demanded in a panicked voice, "Joe?!"  Joe remained silent, staring wide-eyed at T.K.'s back.  Matt followed his gaze and felt his jaw drop on seeing the once bone-deep wounds that were suddenly sealing themselves, from the inside…up, becoming shallower and shallower.  Am I really seeing this?!  Matt held his breath and tentatively laid his hand flat against his brother's now smooth back.  What had once been three gaping wounds, were now three red scratches…and even those were fading.  T.K.'s body relaxed just as suddenly as it had seized up and Matt gratefully held on to him tightly and just let his tears fall.  He looked up, feeling a hand on his shoulder.

          "T.K.'s going to be fine from now on," Gennai smiled, looking extremely pleased.

          Matt gave him a confused look before dismissing it.  He's okay.  That's all that matters.

Dark Dimension

          T.K. let go of her as his body relaxed again.  Kari gasped watching him open his eyes.  "T.K.?"

          T.K. felt almost bereft when the blinding light faded away.  He had never felt such intense, raw power before.  It had been incredible.  But now, he felt so exhausted, he could barely open his eyes.  It's a good thing I'm lying down.  I feel like I would probably pass out, he thought, struggling to wake up.  He smiled, opening his eyes to find an angel leaning over him.  "…hi Kari," he whispered, reaching a hand up and caressing her cheek gently.

          She covered his hand with hers keeping it to her face.  "Y-You're okay?"  He nodded, too fatigued to answer.  With a strangled sob, she collapsed against him and cried.

          "It's okay, Kari," T.K. murmured into her hair soothingly, holding her tight.  "Everything's going to be okay."  Exhausted, he managed to stay awake until Kari fell asleep in his arms.