Author's Note: Busy, busy, busy. Blah. Sick, sad, sick, sad, sad, sad. Blah. But I made it extra long as an apology.
It was seven on the dot when Hikari heard a knock on her door. "Come in," she called.
"Hey, there pretty lady," Jack said as the door opened and his curly haired head appeared.
"Hey Jack," she answered, grabbing her book and rising from her computer chair. "Did you have dinner?"
"Yep, just finished. I snuck you out a lime jello as I was leaving. I know how much you like them."
Hikari felt a smile spread onto her lips. "That was very thoughtful. Stealing from the all-you-can-eat café." She widened her eyes and brought her hands up to her chest. "I hope no one saw you."
Jack grinned coyly. "What can I say? I take risks. They call me Mr. Risk-taker."
Hikari thanked him and put the stolen goods in her refrigerator. She decided it was best to get right to work, hoping that she would be able to concentrate now. She climbed on her bed, leaned against the wall, and opened her book on her lap. "Shall we?"
Jack looked mildly disappointed, but he sat down and opened his book as well. They studied for the better part of an hour before Hikari's roommate came back.
"Hey Melanie," Hikari said, looking up.
She grunted something that sounded like a greeting before shutting the door with unnecessary force. Hikari gave Jack an apologetic look; Melanie didn't really like Hikari very much, or any of her friends, or almost anyone else for that manner.
"Okay, where were we? Right, Erikson's stages of development."
They continued working as Melanie settled herself at her computer, opening and slamming her drawers closed as she looked for things that she didn't really need.
Jack managed to get through the stages, and to recall what they had reviewed about Freud's theory beforehand, before there was another knock on the door.
"It's open," Hikari said, raising her voice over the music Melanie had put on.
Mimi pushed the door open, saw Melanie at her desk, and made a face at Hikari. Her eyes fell on Jack a second later. "Oooh, what am I interrupting?" she beamed, throwing her honey colored hair over her shoulders.
"Studying," Hikari answered. "What's up?"
"I was coming to kidnap you, get you away from," she stopped speaking and pointed at Melanie to finish her sentence. "But I can wait. I'll just peruse Facebook, if you don't mind my sticking around."
"Of course," Hikari said, not noticing that Jack looked less thrilled to be entertaining more company.
"Awesome," she said, pulling out the chair from the desk. She paused, frowning slightly. Turning quickly, she crossed the room and dipped her hand into a plastic cup on the top board of Melanie's desk. Pulling out a set of headphones, she dangled them in front of the computer screen. "Be a dear?" she asked politely, dropping them on the desk and turning away.
There was a knock on the open door. "Jack, my boy, there you are. Hikari, it's always a pleasure to see you. Would you mind if I stole Jack away? I've been looking all over for him. When he didn't answer my calls, I thought I'd check here."
Hikari shot a glance at Mimi, who had stiffened in her seat. Michael didn't notice her until he gotten a few feet into the room. "Mimi, hey, I didn't see you."
"Michael," she responded, not turning to look at him.
Jack seemed to sense the tension in the air. He reached for his bag and put his book away before standing. Hikari stood as well, placing herself in front of Mimi. "Sorry Michael, I put it on silent when we were studying."
"Yep. No problem, I get it." His eyes went from Jack to Hikari back to Jack.
"We're having a party at the house in a few hours. You should come," Jack said to Hikari.
"Tonight? I don't know—,"
"Come on," Michael chimed in, "it'll be fun."
Mimi moved behind her. "She'd love to go," she said calmly, draping her arm around Hikari's shoulder. "I'll be sure to get her there."
It wasn't a particularly nice evening; the air was especially cool for early September. It had been a long walk for Taichi guiding Sora from his apartment to her own. She had decided to be difficult about a quarter of the way there, and thought it would be fun to try to run and hide from Taichi. Unfortunately, Sora was too drunk to walk very well on her own and he quickly thought to lock his arm around her waist to keep her near.
Taichi fumbled with the keys for a moment, trying to toss them up and catch them with the proper key sticking out. He succeeded in jabbing his palm three times before resorting to using his nose to nudge the right key forward.
"Taichi, you're such a dork," Sora spoke critically. Her words had a certain drunken slur to them however, which Taichi just blocked out.
He put the key in the door and turned it, feeling Sora's weight shift when he twisted his arm. He straightened her while leading her into the apartment. "Come on Sora, that'a girl. We've just about made it." Taichi sighed deeply.
"That's what you think," Sora corrected, poking his nose for emphasis, "but we've really just begun!"
Sora wrinkled her face and tried to stand straight. She giggled as Taichi gripped her shoulder to keep her from sliding sideways. "Oh Mom, you're still up?"
Taichi gave Mrs. Takenouchi an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, we all had a little too much at my place."
"You said you would be at Koushiro's," she spoke, ignoring Taichi and focusing her glare on Sora.
"Yeah, well, I didn't want you to come looking for me," Sora answered.
Taichi nudged Sora gently, and then a little harder when she did not respond. Frustrated, he bent down and slid his arm behind Sora's knees and lifted her in his arms. She protested, kicking her feet out, but Taichi carried her into her room all the same.
He emerged a few minutes later to find Mrs. Takenouchi in the same spot. "Never thought my daughter would get piss-ass drunk before midnight," she spoke to herself. "How much have you had?"
He shrugged. "About a bottle. Tequila. Just a small one. It doesn't really get to me the night of, but I feel it in the morning."
"You should sleep on the couch," Mrs. Takenouchi suggested, though she did not seem open to negotiation.
"I've got to get back. People are still at my place."
Mrs. Takenouchi's lips twitched. "Fine. But call me when you get home so I don't have to worry about you passing out in the street."
Taichi gave a quick salute before heading towards the door.
As he expected, Taichi's company had cleared out before he returned to the apartment. Everyone except Koushiro, that is, who had been keeping himself busy by collecting the garbage and washing the dishes.
"Surprise, surprise," Taichi spoke as he walked into the kitchen, catching the redhead off guard. "You really should stop cleaning up after me, Shiro, I'll start to expect it."
Koushiro rolled his eyes. They'd had this conversation before. "I wanted to make sure you made it back okay. How was Sora?"
"A nightmare. She thought it would be fun to play hide and seek."
"Yeesh. Well, that doesn't sound all that fun."
"No, it really wasn't," he agreed, walking away and collapsing onto the couch.
"And you?" Koushiro continued, taking a seat on the opposite end.
"You know me," he answered, shrugging.
"Yeah, I do, which is why I'm asking."
Taichi sighed. He was reminded of why he barely sought out his friends anymore. They were all so nosey. "I'm fine. If I chug a few glasses of water and pop a vitamin, I might not have a splitting headache all day."
"Why do you do this to yourself?"
Taichi paused, and stared at Koushiro for a moment. This was more prying than usual. He was expecting a scolding and to be shooed off to bed. That was a question he had to think about. "Because," he began finally, "it keeps me from dreaming." He sighed again, dropping his head into his hands. "During the week I'm so busy with work that I don't have them, but on the weekends, alcohol is the only thing that keeps my head empty when I go to bed."
Koushiro could tell Taichi was ready for the conversation to end, but his curiosity drove him to press further. "Dreams? Like nightmares, you mean?"
"No. I guess they're more like memories…of Hikari. Mostly I dream about when I was sucked back into our world and I got to see her. It always ends with her holding my hand as long as she can as I'm being pulled back to the Digital World. The look on her face…she was so proud of me and so scared I wouldn't come back."
Taichi paused, feeling rather stupid. It wasn't really something he was proud to say he was running from. "And for some reason, throughout the dream, she keeps telling me that she believes me because she had already been to the Digital World herself."
"When's the last time you talked to her?"
"Not since the first Christmas she came home for. She called my mom last month to say happy birthday, but I was at work at the time."
The redhead rubbed his eyes, exhausted. "You do know that it isn't your fault she left, don't you?"
"Sometimes. Sometimes I think that it must be. Otherwise why wouldn't she ever call? Or answer my e-mails? I get a birthday card and a Christmas card, with no return address. My mom won't tell me her address or what her number is. I don't think my dad even knows." Taichi's throat started to sting as he finished speaking, as if he were going to cry.
"Well," Taichi said, standing, "I think that's all the deep conversation I can handle. I'm going to take a quick shower and then get to sleep."
"I can crash on the couch if—."
"Thanks, Shiro, but I'm okay. You don't need to babysit me."
"That wasn't what I meant!"
"I know, and…thanks. Good night."
And with that, Taichi turned and walked away, ready to leave the world behind him until morning.
"Do I have to?"
"Yes. Yes you do."
"But I really don't feel up to it."
"Hika, you told Jack you were going."
"You told him I would go."
"Didn't you see how much Jack wanted you to go? I mean really, he asked you to help him study on a Friday afternoon, and he came back at seven. Seven on a Friday night. Oh yeah," she continued, seeing Hikari's face, "that was because he is so dedicated to academics."
"Okay, so he wanted me to go. Why do you want me to go? It's at Michael's frat. You and Michael aren't exactly…friends right now."
Mimi waved her hand dismissively. "Should I hide in my room moping just because he cheated on me with that sorority whore? I think not. I'm going to go out, have fun, wear something that shows off my best assets, and show that lousy bastard that I'm over him."
Hikari sighed. She was defeated. There was no reasoning with Mimi when she had her determined face on, and her determined face was most definitely on now. "Alright. But I'm borrowing something to wear. I didn't grab anything before we left the dorm."
"'Course. You know, it will be much better after Christmas break, when you move in here. No more dorms, no more Melanie. Too bad you didn't remember talk to your mom about moving into apartment this semester."
"Ouch, Mi," Hikari pouted. "Trust me, I wish I'd talked to my mom before she paid for the dorm room as much as you do." She disappeared into the closet for a moment. She reemerged as she pulled over her head a long sleeve dark green shirt. "How's this?"
Mimi bit her thumb nail, judging Hikari's outfit. "Well, you won't have a drunk blanket on when we walk back so long sleeve is appropriate, the color looks good on you, and, most importantly, your breasts look amazing. I approve."
Hikari shook her head and pulled the shirt up to cover some of her cleavage. "Must you make me self-conscious?"
Mimi laughed. She grabbed her shoulder bag and took one last look in the mirror. "Like it's a bad thing to have boobs. You know you like having them. Come on," she said, not allowing Hikari time to respond, "let's get going."
The fraternity house was ten minutes from Mimi's apartment, but even if they hadn't known exactly where to go, they would have been able to follow the noise from the next street over.
The front door was propped open and one of the brothers was standing on the porch collecting money. "Hi Hikari, Mimi, I didn't think I'd see you guys tonight."
"Why is that?" Mimi asked defensively.
"I just, uh, I wasn't sure you'd heard about it, that's all," he stammered. "Anyway, go on in."
"Thank you," Mimi replied, returning to her usual sweet self.
Hikari and Mimi mingled together for a while before separating. Mimi ran into a guy from one of her classes and Hikari found a couple of friends from her dance team.
Two hours in Hikari was halfway through drinking her second glass of punch. One of the brothers, Peter, approached holding a double shot glass in his hands. "Alright Hikari, it's time for you to take the plunge." He handed the shot glass to Hikari.
She frowned up at him. "Are you saying I have to drink this?"
"Yes ma'am. It's spiced rum, easy to drink straight. It's your junior year. You're way past due for a few shots and a ride to tipsy town."
"Is that what they call it?" Hikari asked, holding the glass up and smelling the drink. She crinkled her nose. "I'd rather not—."
"I won't take no for an answer."
She bit down on her lip. "Alright," she said finally, "but I have to turn around if I'm going to do this. I don't want to you to make fun of me when my face scrunches up."
"Fine, fine," he said, twirling his index finger in a circular motion.
Hikari turned and quickly poured the rum into her glass. Then she raised it to her lips and slowly tipped it up, tilting her head back as she did. She forced a shiver through her body and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand before turning back around.
"Ha ha! Now that wasn't so bad, was it?"
"Mildly disgusting," she replied as she handed the glass back.
It was another fifteen minutes before a second brother, Dylan, walked up to her with another double shot of spiced rum. Hikari took it from him, suspicious now. Again she refused to drink it without turning around, and again she poured it into her glass.
Michael stopped by five minutes later. "Hikari, you enjoying yourself?"
She smiled wide. "It's a great party."
"'Kari, are you drunk?" he asked, opening his eyes wide in accusation.
"I might be getting there," she replied. "Although I don't know how much I've had. How many would get me drunk?"
Michael only smiled and handed her a single shot. "You can never have too much," he said before walking away.
"Hikari, what are you doing?" one of her friends asked after Michael was out of earshot. She had seen Hikari 'drink' the last time, but hadn't said anything about it.
"Figuring out what they're up to," Hikari answered, turning to the side and tipping the single shot into her drink before placing both on a nearby table. She watched Michael as he wove around the party guests, until he met up with Peter. They spoke for a minute, then Michael headed into the kitchen and Peter began walking back in her direction.
"Looks like you're going to find out," her friend said as Peter approached.
"Hikari, can I steal you?"
"Do you want us to come?" her friend whispered.
She shook her head softly. "Sure! What's up?"
"Jack sent me to find you."
Hikari followed as they coiled around the groups of people until they reached the kitchen. "Back there," Peter said, pointing.
Jack was at the back door, helping drag a second keg into the house. "Hikari," he said brightly. "I was hoping to talk to you. Come with me?"
Hikari followed Jack out the backdoor. The air had cooled considerably since she'd arrived at the house. She wrapped her arms around herself, shivering slightly. But it wasn't just a shiver. Her body suddenly filled with a sense of dread. Again she found herself thinking that something was happening. Like someone was watching her…
Hikari's eyes darted upwards. "Sorry, Jack, I was…distracted."
"Are you having a good time? I was looking for you earlier, but I didn't see you."
Hikari rubbed her arms. "Yeah. It's been fun. Um, is there a reason you wanted to go outside?"
"I just thought we should get away from the noise for a minute." He waved her closer. As she walked forward, Jack moved in as well, and they ended up standing closer than Hikari wanted. "Hikari, there's something I wanted to tell you."
She said nothing but waited for him to continue. Jack opened his mouth to speak again, but ended up closing it. Instead he leaned closer to her, took her hand from her shoulder, and placed her palm against his pants.
Hikari's eyes widened and she wrenched her hand free. "You wanted to tell me you have an erection!?"
"I, well, yeah, Michael said—."
"Michael? What, did he tell me that your friends were getting me drunk so you could make a move and maybe I'd have sex with you?"
"More or less," he said, sounding guilty. "It's just, well, he said if you loosened up a little you wouldn't act like such a prude. I—oh—I didn't mean to say it like that."
She didn't know what to say to him. She glared at him for a second before turning and hurrying back into the house. She ignored Jack as he called her back, hoping that he wasn't going to try to stop her. Pushing through the crowd of people, Hikari tried to find Mimi. It took a minute before she spotted her friend among all the people.
Mimi was standing with a tall, dark haired boy, clearly flirting. Her head turned upon hearing her name. "Hika, there you are. This is Tom; he's in my advanced cooking class. Hey, are you alright?"
Hikari shook her head. "I just realized that we don't have any Special K."
Mimi looked confused but her features soon became serious. "Oh, Special K. We should getting going then, pick some up on our way home." She turned to Tom, who was clearly confused, quickly found a pen in her purse, and took his hand to write her number down. "Call me sometime."
Mimi took Hikari's arm and they walked out together. "What happened that the escape code word was needed?"
Demon was touring his new undersea palace. Up to now everything had been as expected; the dungeon, throne room, grand entrance, servants' quarters, bedrooms, and kitchen were all as they should be, but there were a number of corridors unexpectedly branching out from beyond the throne room. "Where does this lead?"
"Dagomon's private study was down there. Few of us have ever seen it."
"What did he do there?"
"It was where he spent most of his time. He used it to observe and study the Human World. He liked to watch a girl."
Demon sneered. "He spent his time watching a human girl? What was wrong with him that he needed to spy on a human?"
"She was supposed to be our queen, Master. We brought her here once but she did not want to rule us. She has a power within her that Dagomon wanted to use to free the Dark Area from the Digimon Kaiser."
The Digimon Kaiser. Demon recognized the name. It was the name of the boy he had tried to pour his dark energy into. "She is one of the Chosen. Take me to the study."
The Hangyomon led the way down several hallways. There were a number of doors lining each corridor. Demon had no idea how the Hangyomon knew which door to choose.
Three quarters down the fifth hall they'd turned into, the Hangyomon stopped and pointed to the door on the left. "In here, Master."
The room was lined with shelves of books, most of them from the Human World. The center of the floor was a glass circle. "There's sand in the box on the desk. Take a handful and throw it on the glass."
Demon crossed the room and opened the box on the otherwise clear desk. Dipping his hand in, he grabbed some sand and tossed it on the ground.
Immediately the glass became like a liquid, the sand particles dripped down as the clear floor began to move in a circular motion. As it sped up, the center was drawn up towards the ceiling. It spread left and right as it rose.
It was like looking at a television. A scene appeared as the glass solidified again, people were moving in a crowded room. A girl came into focus as she meandered around the groups of people. She was a petite brunette in a dark green shirt.
Demon watched as the girl walked outside with a boy. He could feel that she was uncomfortable, cold, unsure. He could feel the boy's lust and desire for her. They talked for a couple minutes, until the boy took her hand and placed it just below his belt. His eyes narrowed as he began to understand the situation.
She was angry now. And afraid. Demon found himself enjoying feeling her fear. The girl walked away from the boy and as she did, the vision began to fade. The glass broke into countless pieces and dropped to the ground.
"What happened? Why did it stop?" He demanded, looking at the smooth clear floor.
"Sometimes she senses that she is being watched and blocks herself from view," the Hangyomon answered with hesitation.
"She is the Chosen Child of Light, isn't she?"
"Yes she is, Master."
Japanese : English
Demon : Daemon
Dagomon : Dragomon
Hangyomon : Divermon