Disclaimer: Digimon isn't mine. If it was, it would be more romantic. I'd leave out the fighting. (Haha)
A/N - Okay, I know that this isn't entirely accurate, but I like it better this way. If you don't like, you don't have to read. This is my first fic, but flames are allowed. Be honest. Enjoy and R&R.
"Duck!" A boy's hand pulled me roughly out of the path of a speeding soccer ball. The kid and I crashed into each other and toppled to the ground.
"Thanks," I mumbled as I picked myself up.
"No problem. I'm Josh Motomiya. I'm in fifth grade. Who're you?"
"I'm Cheryl Takaishi. I'm new here. I'm in fifth grade, too."
"Cool. Maybe I'll see you in class. Bye!" Josh ran off towards the soccer field.
"Who was the, Cheryl?" I turned around to see Bryan, my one-year-younger brother, standing behind me.
"Motomiya?" Mom's always talking about some Motomiya guy who was a digidestined with her and dad. Remember? What was that guy's name?"
"Davis," I replied, not really listening. I'd been bitten by the love bug. Josh was about the cutest guy I'd ever seen.
I should explain. After the defeat of Malomyotismon, the digidestined went their separate ways. Well, most of them did. Yolei and Ken wound up getting married. Now, they have four kids. Shawna is the oldest. She has Ken's blue-black hair, but Yolei's red eyes. Steven is younger; he's my age. He has Yolei's purple hair, and Ken's blue eyes. Stephanie and Sam are twins. They have black-blue hair and blue eyes. Sam looks identical to his father.
Next came Cody. Mom says Cody grew up to become quite a charmer. He had many admirers, and went out with a lot of girls. He finally got married to Ashley Samson. They have a little girl named Rachel. She's Bryan's age, but a grade above him. She's very smart (of course, she skipped a grade) and very sweet. She has Cody's brown hair and Ashley's big black eyes.
Uncle Matt married Aunt Mimi (A/N - I'm not a Sorato fan) after they had gone out for almost seven years! Now, they have two kids, Jackie and Jesse. Jackie's the older. She has Uncle Matt's blond hair and Aunt Mimi's blue eyes. Jesse is an adorable little boy with brown hair, blue eyes, and a face full of freckles. While Jackie is very serious, Jesse loves to laugh and play. Uncle Matt says that Jesse reminds him of my Dad when he was little. Jackie's very overprotective of her little brother, but Uncle Matt says that both he and Aunt Mimi were overprotective when they were little.
Uncle Tai married Aunt Sora after she broke up with Uncle Matt. They have twin boys, Gavin and Sean. Both boys have brown hair and red eyes. They're identical down to the way their hair sticks out. They have fun messing with teachers' heads that way. They're both jokers, and they know how to get on everyone's nerves. They're eleven, like me, but they act three. But if you ever need a friend to help you out, call on them.
Izzy and Joe both got married and had kids. We don't really keep in touch with them. From what I remember, Izzy's kid, Marianne, was stuck-up because she was so smart. Joe's kid, John, was a geek. They kept to themselves, never really mingling with the other kids. We don't speak to them now.
Davis got married to Michele Regison, a girl he'd met in college. They married two years after my parents, and Dad was Davis's best man. Mom told me that it made her so happy to see them not fighting. She said they fought constantly -- over her! Josh is their only son. He has his father's brown, spiky hair, and his mother's brown eyes. He wears the goggles that Uncle Tai gave to Davis.
My dad is TK and my mom is Kari (who didn't see that coming!). Mom said she loved Dad since they first met, but was always too shy to say anything. I'm the oldest. Mom says I look just like her at eleven, except my hair is longer. I have Mom's brown hair, down to the middle of my back. I also have her red eyes. My brother, Bryan, is 10. He's a miniature Dad, with blond hair and blue eyes. Nathaniel, my youngest brother, is a mix between the two. He is a brown-haired, blue-eyed little boy with freckles along the bridge of his nose. Nat is eight, and still sweet, but if he takes after Bryan, that will all change as he gets older.
Bryan followed me around the playground as we looked for our cousins. The reason we had moved was to be near Uncle Tai and Uncle Matt. Besides, Jackie, Sean, and Gavin were all in my grade.
We finally located Nat playing with Jesse while Jackie watched over them. "Jackie!" I exclaimed. She looked up abruptly.
"Cheryl! It's been a while."
"I know. Have you seen the twins anywhere?" I asked, looking for the others.
"They're around," she replied. "They have a reputation for playing a prank on their current homeroom teacher on the first day of school. They're probably doing it right now."
"Oh, brother. Hey, Nat!" I exclaimed as my brother started crawling in the dirt. "You're going to get your new pants dirty!"
"Jesse, get out of the mud," Jackie added.
Reluctantly, the boys stood up. "Okay, Mom," Nat teased.
"Ha ha. I'm not laughing, Nathaniel."
"Don't call me that!" he cried. I giggled and brushed off his pants. "Before you came I found this, Cheryl." Nat held out a white device with five buttons and a screen.
Bryan reached into his pocket and pulled out a similar contraption. "I've got on, too, only mine's green," the boy told me.
I slid my hand into my own pocket. "Mine's pink. Mom mentioned some devices she'd had when she and Dad were kids.
Jackie added, "They made their digimon digivolve! Mom told me this story!" (A/N - Remember, everyone knows about digimon.) She continued, "Mine's yellow," while pulling a device from her backpack.
"Mine's light green," Jesse said, showing me.
I opened my mouth to speak when we heard a voice call, "Jackie! Great to see you again. Who's that?" A girl with black-blue hair ran over, while a boy with purple hair followed. The boy was leading twins with their sister's hair.
"Hi, Shawna. This is Cheryl Takaishi. You've met her before."
"Cheryl?" Shawna looked shocked.
"Oh, my gosh! Shawna! It's been years!"
"Hi, Cheryl," the boy greeted shyly. He was my age.
"Hi. You're Steve, right?" He nodded.
"Sam! Steph!" cried Jesse. "Remember Nat Takaishi?" Both twins nodded, smiling. Nat beamed.
Steve spoke up. "These are Stephanie and Samuel."
"Steph and Sam!" they chorused. We laughed.
Jackie opened her mouth to say something when Shawna cut in with, "We saw that you had similar devices to ours." With that, she, Steve, and the twins simultaneously extracted different colored contraptions from their pockets. Or, in Shawna's case, from her purse. Shawna's was red and yellow. Steve's was black, like his father's had been. Stephanie had a purple one, and Sam's was orange.
Bryan turned to me. "Cheryl, does this mean that we get to go to the digital world like Mom and Dad?"
"I don't know, Bryan. Maybe. Let's concentrate on surviving our first day of school."
Steve grinned. "I can show you around, Cheryl. I know all the ropes."
I smiled back. "Thanks."
Suddenly someone threw themselves onto my back and shoulders. I screamed. "Hey, you're not scared of me, are you, cuz?"
"Gavin!" I cried, hugging my cousin. He blushed considerably. "Where have you been?" I demanded.
"Oh, you know, breaking in the new teacher."
"What did you do this year?" Jackie asked in a bored voice.
"Ah, the old pie in the face gag. Nothing new, but she won't expect it."
I glanced at his twin, who was staring at the miniature machine in my hand. "Look, Gavs," he said suddenly. "They've got them, too." He pulled a red one out of his pocket. Gavin echoed him by retrieving a blue one from the chambers of his backpack.
"Interesting," my little brother mused, stroking his chin with his hand.
"What's interesting?" I asked the ten-year-old patiently.
"All our parents were digidestined. Now we have similar devices to the ones they carried. Coincidence? I don't know. I think we should find the remaining digidestined kids."
I was surprised at how smart my brother could be. He was always in the top classes, but he'd never acted so thoughtful before. "Okay, so how do we find them?" I wondered out loud.
Gavin broke into a wide grin. "Leave that to me. Come along, young Jesse. You may learn a thing or two."
"Gavin Kamiya, don't you dare poison my brother's mind!" Jackie cried.
"Relax. Don't you trust me?"
He laughed. "Don't worry. Jesse will be just fine." With all that said and done, Gavin strolled off, Jesse trailing behind him.
Sean and Bryan were examining their devices, occasionally muttering a thing or two to each other. I had long ago realized that Sean and Gavin may look identical, but they were very different. They shared a few things in common, like their love for pranks (they got that from Uncle Tai), but many things were different. For instance, Sean took school seriously, while Gavin thought it was just a place to goof around. Gavin thought sports ruled all, while Sean was content with a pile of books.
I also noticed that Bryan absolutely adored Sean. He looked up to him like a big brother, I realized that it must be hard from him, with only a sister and a younger brother. I was glad he had his cousin to seek advice from.
Nat watched his brother and cousin in fascination for a minute before it bored him. Then he went to play with Stephanie and Sam. I watched them play, trying to remember what it was like at eight. I failed. My past was a blur to me, truth mingled with dreams and fantasies.
Jackie and Shawna were talking a mile minute about boys I didn't know, so I turned to Steve, who was quietly watching a nearby soccer game. "Do you play?" I asked.
He jumped. I suppose I startled him. "Not really," he admitted. "My dad wanted me to, but I never really took a liking to it."
"Oh. My mom played a little soccer when she was a kid. My uncle on her side and my aunt on my her side played too. I play a little, but Nat loves the game."
"Cool. Do you play any sports?"
"Just a little soccer and a little basketball. I always liked karate and sports where it's just you and your studies. Independent sports. What about you?"
"I play baseball. I think my dad wishes that I was a better soccer player, but, in truth, I can barely kick the ball."
The bell rang. "Come on. I'll walk you to class." Steve offered, extending a hand to help me up.
"Thanks." I took his hand, ignoring Sean's chortles from behind me.
I heard Bryan sing quietly, "Cheryl's got a boy-friend. Cheryl's got a boy-friend." Jackie cuffed him on the head. "Ow! Cut it out, Jackie!" They were still bickering when Steve and I walked away.
We stopped in front of room 106. "Here's your homeroom," Steve instructed. "See you later." He jogged down the hall in hopes that he wouldn't be late.
About a second before the bell rang, Gavin and Sean dove into the classroom. Mrs. Soccopino, the teacher, groaned in protest. "How did I get the Kamiya boys in my class? Why me?"
Gavin strolled up to her desk and turned on the old Kamiya charm. "Must be our luck to have you as our teacher, Mrs. Soccopino. Isn't this going to be great?" She just groaned again.
"You know you love us," the other twin prodded, leaning against his new teacher's desk.
"Would you two sit down?" the disgruntled teacher begged.
"Whatever you say, ma'am," replied Gavin. He plopped into the first desk. Waiting for a minute, prolonging the suspense of his classmates, he whistled a tune to himself. When his brother gave him the signal, Gavin jerked the string under his desk. After a series of seemingly noiseless clatters, a pie flew into Mrs. Soccopino's crimson face. The boys were successful in keeping a straight face, but the teacher already knew who had pied her. "Gavin and Sean Kamiya!" she screamed.
"You have no evidence," the twins chorused.
"Your reputation precedes you. I know your history of pranking. Today, this will slide, but any further disturbances to the classroom will result in instant detention," she chastised.
"Sure thing," Sean promised, crossing his heart.
"Right on," Gavin added.
I rolled my eyes. My cousins were such losers. No wonder every teacher they had hated them.
"Let me take attendance," our teacher instructed. She called out names slowly, rhythmically. One name caught my attention: Hida Rachel. I spun around to see a small girl, not old enough for fifth grade, with brown hair and black thoughtful eyes. I remember meeting her years ago, at one of the digidestined reunions.
I noticed that Mrs. Soccopino skipped over my cousins' names. The grinned at her, wide grins that resembled the Cheshire cat. But then, the teacher stuttered on my name. "Takaishi Cheryl?" It sounded more like a question than a statement.
"Here," I told her, raising my hand to attract her attention.
"Can I, um, speak to you after class, please?"
"Uh, okay," I replied nervously. She hadn't asked anyone else to stay after class. I couldn't possibly be in trouble on the first day.
Mrs. Soccopino finished calling roll. She gave me a strange look as I leaned over to talk to my cousins. They were busy chuckling over how well their prank had worked. Sean smiled at me. "Wasn't it great, Cheryl?"
I glanced up at the tall boy. "Priceless," I praised. He beamed.
Gavin looked concerned. "Something bugging you, Cheryl?" he asked.
"Do you think I got in trouble?" I blurted.
"Nah," Gavin reassured, patting my arm. "Only Sean and I can get in trouble on the first day. You didn't even do anything."
"Don't worry," Sean echoed. "It's probably just something with your classes or transcripts or something."
When the bell rang to change classes, I waited patiently for Mrs. Soccopino to say something. "I just wondered," she began, "is your father TK Takaishi?"
"Yeah, I mean, yes," I answered, startled by her question.
"I knew your dad when he was just a child. He was a sweet boy. Who'd he end up marrying anyway?"
"Um, my mom's Kari. Kari Kamiya."
The expression on my teacher's face changed abruptly from a smile of reminisce to a glare of hatred. Shocked at her feelings towards my lovable mom, I backed away a little and said, "I should get to class, Mrs. Soccopino."
"Right. Go on now."
As I left the classroom, I ran straight into Jackie, who had waited for me. Before I could say a word, she put her finger to my lips. "I heard it all. Why do you think she was so...
concerned about your father?"
"I don't know. She said she knew him. Maybe it's just that she wants to keep track of her old friend."
"Maybe," my cousin said skeptically.
"Where's your first class, Jackie?" I asked in desperate attempt to change the subject.
"What? Oh, I've got math."
"Yeah, me too. Show me where it is?" She took my hand, mocking Steve Ichijouji's move that morning.
I scowled and she said, "You know he likes you, right? He's liked you since you met."
"Yeah, right. Steve and I have always just been friends. Besides, I like someone else."
"Ooh, do tell."
I giggled. "Well, he's a certain soccer player with brown hair and blue eyes. He's a digidestined's kid too, a certain digidestined who loved my mother."
"Josh!" the blond-haired girl shrieked.
"Not so loud," I reprimanded, blushing.
"It's just so perfect!" my cousin squealed.
"He's the cutest guy in the fifth grade. Plus, he's athletic, muscular, and single."
Laughing, Jackie pulled me towards the classroom. "Hurry, we're going to be late."
The rest of the day lasted an eternity. Luckily, lunch was for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade, so I got to see Bryan and Shawna. Bryan was happily comparing notes with Sean when Jackie, Gavin and I got there. Immediately Gavin slid next to his brother. Jackie and I sat between Shawna and Steve. Before long my way-to-smart little brother spoke up. "Gavin, can you get the other digidestined's kids? I want to see if they have digivices like us. Could you get them?"
Gavin grinned at the younger boy. "Sure thing, squirt. Come on." He dragged Bryan off to find the other kids.
"What other digidestined kids are in this school?" I wondered out loud.
Jackie answered, "There's Cody Hida's daughter and Davis Motomiya's son."
"That's all? What about Izzy Izumi's daughter and Joe Kida's son?"
Shawna shrugged. "Dunno. Mom and Dad haven't spoken to them in ages. It's too bad, though. Mom and Izzy were always close. That is, until Mom got married. If you ask me, Izzy liked Mom and is jealous of Dad for marrying her."
Steve snapped out of his trance and looked up from the food he'd been playing with. "You think?" he asked, eyeing her suspiciously.
"Oh, you're listening. Yeah, I think so. Have I ever lied to you?"
"Well, there was that time..."
"That's what I thought."
Before they could get at each other's throats, Gavin and Bryan came back with Rachel and Josh. I recognized Rachel from homeroom, and when I saw Josh I almost fainted. He looked cuter than the last time I'd seen him, with his soccer jacket on. Motomiya #73, it read. Already we shared so much in common. 73 was my favorite number and it was his soccer number. Plus, I liked soccer too; I just was no good at it.
Jackie caught me staring at him and gave me an elbow to the gut. I doubled over, but pretended I'd dropped my pencil. "So, what's the deal, Gavin?" the brown-haired boy asked, his eyes swinging from one person to the next.
Gavin opened his mouth, but his twin cut in. "Look, we're all children of digidestined and we have these." He produced his digivice from his pocket. "Do either of you?"
Both nodded and produced similar contraptions. Josh's was blue and light green, a mix of Gavin's and Jesse's, and Rachel's was purple and orange.
Josh smiled suddenly, a slow smile that took its time spreading across his face. "Meet me in the computer lab after school. We're going to try an experiment."
"Like what?" Steve asked, but Josh was already gone.
Rachel looked over at the table she'd been at. "Can I sit with you guys? I don't think I'm wanted at my table." The girls had already filled her seat.
Shawna looked skeptical, but Bryan slid over. "Sure," he agreed. "You can sit here."
I leaned over to Jackie and whispered, "Either I'm mistaken or my little brother has a crush."
She giggled. "I think you're right, cuz."
After lunch I had more classes (gee, what a surprise). I couldn't wait for them to end so I could see Josh again. I worried slightly about_
what my dad would think when he found out I had a major crush on his rival's son.
Finally, and much to my content, the bell rang at the end of the day. I raced to the computer lab, remembering that Bryan had volunteered to get Nat. I was the first one there. Whipping out my cellular phone, I dialed my home number. My father's voice came through the receiver as he picked up. "Hello?"
"Dad, hi," I greeted.
"What's wrong, Cheryl?" he asked suddenly, his voice full of fear.
I giggled at his pessimistic attitude. "Nothing, Dad. I just wanted to tell you that the boys and I are going to be a little late. We'll be with some friends. we need to try something."
"Like what?" my father inquired suspiciously.
I sighed. To be honest, I didn't exactly know. Josh had been very secretive about it. "I'm not exactly sure, Dad. I think Sean said it was about some computer program. Bryan really wants to help. He's really a smart kid."
Now it was my father's turn to sigh. "Fine, come home as soon as your finished."
"Thanks, Dad," I breathed. "Bye."
"Bye." I pressed the end button firmly. Seconds later, the door to the computer lab slammed open.
"Hello, Cheryl," Gavin called as he entered, with Steve and Josh behind him.
"Hey, where's your brother?" I asked, as Josh turned on a computer. I noticed he looked for a specific monitor before flipping the switch.
"He's getting your brothers," Gavin replied, hanging over Josh's shoulder in a vague attempt to understand what the brown-haired soccer player was doing.
Jackie and Jesse barreled in, followed by the Ichijouji group. The twins were immediately mesmerized by the work Josh was doing on the computer. He was furiously clicking away on the computer, periodically spewing a curse at the screen. Finally Shawna whacked him on the head. "Cut it out! My little brother and sister are hearing every bad word that leaves your lips, Motomiya!"
"Sorry, Shawna," Josh replied. "Steph, Sam, those words I said before were naughty. Don't repeat them, okay?" The twins nodded. "Problem solved, Yolei."
"Ack, I'm turning into my mother!" she screamed, causing an eruption of giggles from, Steve, Jackie, Gavin, Josh, and I. Jesse and the twins were no longer listening. Instead, they were amusing themselves by pretending to type on the keyboards.
Rachel slipped in, unnoticed to all except Josh, who brightened. "You're here! Great! I need your help." He whispered something in her ear. Her eyes widened dubiously, but she nodded and set to work, furiously typing on the powered up computer.
"Who're we missing?" Josh asked, freed from the computer.
"My brothers and Sean," I replied, scanning the room quickly. As if on cue, the computer lab door slid open and the three entered.
Sean joined us with a hearty "hello" to everyone. Bryan went to where Rachel was working and watched, already understanding everything she was doing. Nat went to play with his cousin, Steph, and Sam.
We were deep in conversation about the annoying teachers in the school when Rachel exclaimed, "I did it, Josh!"
The brunette ran over, his eyes glittering with excited pleasure. "Yes! Okay, guys, let's go to the digital world!" He held out his blue and green digivice. "Digi-port open!"
Then all was black.
I awoke to find a little baseball on my chest. I was surprised to see that I was surrounded by trees. And I was even more surprised when the baseball began to talk. "Nat! You came. You finally came."
"Um, do I know you?" I asked. Despite what my sister thinks, I'm not a stupid little kid.
"I'm your partner digimon, Nat," the little thing replied. "I'm Ballmon. It's been almost six years. Do you remember?"
I strained myself to remember as far back as possible. Six years; I would have been two. But I remembered my sister, brother, and I traveling. And this little creature was in my arms. "I remember!" I cried. Ballmon hopped up and down on my chest. "Where's my brother and sister, Ballmon?" I asked nervously. I was always afraid of being alone_
I didn't know why, I just hated not having anyone with me.
"I think they fell over here," my digimon answered, hopping in one direction. I followed quickly. I passed a couple of bushes (and a lot of trees) before I saw Bryan.
"Bryan!" I cried, as he picked himself up off the ground.
"Nat!" he replied. "You're safe! Who's that?" He jerked his head to Ballmon.
"Ballmon. My digimon," I retorted proudly.
"Just like I'm yours, Bryan." With that, another creature squirmed out of the bushes.
"Tokomon!" my brother exclaimed gleefully. "It's been quite a while."
"Yeah, you grew," the digimon pointed out.
"Thank goodness I didn't shrink," the blond joked.
"Let's go find the others, Bryan," I suggested.
"Okay," he agreed, nodding.
But we didn't have far to go when we found Cheryl. She was with Steve. "Cheryl!" I yelled, wrapping my small arms around her legs.
"Hey, Nat. Hi, Bryan."
He smiled. "I see you found Nyaramon. And, Steve, you found Minimon (A/N - is that how you spell it?). What about the others?"
Ballmon suddenly perked up. "I hear something."
"Yeah," Minimon said. "It's coming from this direction." They ran off, with us kids barely following.
"It's Gavin and Sean!" Steve cried.
Bryan broke into a wide grin. "Sean!" he yelped, running up to the brainier twin.
"Looks like you guys found Koromon and Yokomon," Cheryl pointed out.
"You're a quick one," Gavin teased. "We heard Steph and Sam a little ways back. We were about to go get them. Come on."
Steve ran the fastest towards his little brother and sister. Obviously. I knew my sister thought I was pretty stupid, just a little kid, but I was more insightful than her. I could easily read people's thoughts by glancing into their eyes. Bryan knew that, and when he was upset, he kept his head down and didn't let me see his eyes.
"Steph! Sam!" Steve screamed, as the twins came into view.
"Steve!" they chorused. He scooped them up into a hug. I smiled at them. They were my age, but they acted so much younger. Maybe I just acted older.
"Who are your digimon?" I asked, tired of being left out.
Sam spoke up. " This is Sludgemon and Steph has Tambomon." Sludgemon was a little digimon covered in, well, sludge. It was disgusting, but the older twin seemed to be adoring his partner. Tambomon was like a tamborine. He was round with little things around his that he claimed were bombs.
I noticed Bryan studying me, trying to figure out what was going through my head. Both my siblings did that sometimes. I immediately put up a mask, covering my deep thoughts with childish babble. I wondered how much Bryan had seen of my intellect. I don't know why I was ashamed of letting them see I was smart, but I always masked my thoughts with those of a little kid. Cheryl always fell for it, but Bryan was smarter than her. Sometimes I wondered if he knew.
We heard someone crash through the brush, and Rachel Hida appeared. I glanced quickly at my brother, and could tell that he was crushing. Good, I was glad he was happy. "Upamon?" my sister asked, nodding at the little yellow digimon behind her.
"You got it," she confirmed.
Josh came out behind her. "And you've got Demiveemon," Cheryl added.
"Yeah. I was right. With these devices, we're able to go to the digital world, just like our parents did."
"Good theory," a voice said from behind me. I spun around to see Jackie and Jesse. Jackie had a Tanemon, and Jesse held Tsunomon. Jackie immediately got engulfed in conversation, while I went over to talk to the brown-haired boy I called my favorite cousin.
Suddenly, we heard a shriek. "Shawna!" Steve yelled.
We followed the purple-haired boy into a clearing. There, we saw his sister running in the other direction. "What's wrong?" he called as she whizzed by.
"It's... Dactylmon!" her little digimon answered.
"Poromon!" Ballmon exclaimed. "Stop running!"
They froze, and we caught up to them. "Who's Dactylmon?" I asked, panting.
"Dactylmon is a flying digimon. With his Dactylbeam attack, he can anhialate...
his enemies. He's a champion digimon," Nyaramon told them.
"But we're just a bunch of in-trainings. We can't beat him," Poromon pointed out.
Tokomon corrected, "We have to. We have to protect our partners. I'm willing to do anything to protect Bryan," the little digimon swore fiercely.
"Yeah. I won't let anything happen to you, Nat," Ballmon agreed.
"Thank you, Ballmon," I said, picking up the monster and hugging him close to my chest.
"Nat?" he gasped in a strangled voice.
"Could you let go of me? You're choking me." I giggled as I put him down.
Demiveemon and Koromon were deep in conversation. Finally Koromon spoke up. "Digimon, we have to digivolve to our rookie stages."
"We'll have a better chance if we're stronger," Demiveemon stated.
Ballmon looked up at me. "Will you help me?" he asked.
"How can I?" I was puzzled now, but curious too.
"Use the digivice," was all my partner would reply.
I took out my white digivice and held it up to Ballmon. "I feel the energy."
Suddenly there was a bright flash of light! "Ballmon digivolve to... Hitmon!" He was two bats on the sides, each bearing an eye, and a baseball in the middle, on which was his mouth.
"How cute!" Jackie squealed. She was now looking at Palmon, instead of Tanemon. I sighed audibly. My cousin was infuriating. She was such a girl. I knew that Aunt Mimi was like that when she was a kid, but still! Honestly.
Bryan smiled when he saw Patamon. "We're stronger now," my smart older brother informed. "We can win."
I matched his smile. "Yeah. Hitmon, go kick his flying butt!"
Bryan glanced at me quickly before turning to Patamon and nodding. "You, too, buddy."
The now-rookie digimon took battle positions, Veemon and Agumon in the lead. Dactylmon suddenly cried, "Dactylbeam!" It scorched Clarimon, who was the digivolved form of Tambomon. Steph screamed, "Clarimon!"
But the little digimon didn't get up. Sam glanced nervously at his twin sister as she started to sob. I could tell he had no idea what to do. Sighing, I put my arm around her shoulders. "Shh. Don't worry, Steph. Clarimon will be okay. The other digimon will protect him. You have to believe in him. Shh."
Jesse grinned at me over Steph's head. Sam just looked grateful that he wasn't the one that had to deal with her.
Slowly, Steph's tears subsided and she raised her head to look into my eyes. Instantly I could read her thoughts. Pulling myself away, I began to blush. I tried to shake away the feelings. Come on, Takaishi, I coached myself, you don't have emotions like that. It wasn't that I had feelings for Stephanie like a boyfriend or anything, I just couldn't bring myself to look into her head. Maybe I was afraid of what I would find.
I glanced at my littlest brother, his arm wrapped around Stephanie Ichijouji, and smiled slightly. Nat wasn't the little kid I thought. Sometimes, he surprised me and acted like he was 40 or 50. He knew how to handle a girl when she was upset. That was a feat some adults couldn't perform.
I saw Nat pull away from Stephanie suddenly, a small blush creeping up his neck to his cheeks, like fruit juice filling in the pitcher. I wish I knew what went through his mind sometimes.
I watched Salamon take a shot from Dactylmon. "Salamon!" I screamed.
Steve glanced at my worried face, tears staining my cheeks as my fallen partner stubbornly glared up at her foe. "Wormmon, go help her!" Steve exclaimed.
I glanced at him in shock. I knew how much his digimon partner meant to him. Why would he sacrifice his partner for me? Was what Jackie said true? Did he like me, like that? I blushed just thinking about it.
"Sticky web!" the bug digimon cried, shooting his web at Dactylmon.
Salamon got back up. "Lightning paw!" she exclaimed. (A/N - OK, I know that Gatomon's attack but I don't know Salamon's so deal with it.)
"Digimon, attack together!" Agumon screamed. "Pepper breath!"
"Super body strike!"
Each shot landed squarely. "Direct hit!" Josh yelped. I realized he had been unusually quiet since the fight began. Dactylmon suffered the consequences. He fell, then got up and flew away, looking wounded. We cheered.
But even as we were celebrating, I knew the danger was not over. I may not be as smart as Bryan, Sean, or Rachel, but I knew that we were here for a reason. Finally I spoke up. "Look, my parents said that when they got digivices, both times, they were needed to defeat a bad guy. We now have digivices, but who's the bad guy?"
"It couldn't have been that flunky," Steve pointed out. "We're looking at someone tougher, someone who can control digimon. Dad would know," he admitted to his older sister.
Shawna looked downcast for a moment before agreeing. "Yeah. Let's talk to our parents, then meet back here after school tomorrow."
"That's too long," a voice remarked.
We spun around to see a young man in a holographic image. (A/N - For those who didn't get that, it's Gennai.) "Who're you?" Gavin asked suspiciously, all humor behind him. I was amazed at how suddenly my prankster cousin could get serious.
"Relax. You must be Tai's son. Sons," he corrected, glancing at Sean, who'd moved closer to his twin brother. "I'm Gennai."
"My parents have told me about you," Bryan said.
Nat and I nodded. Gennai smiled. "Unless I'm losing my sight, you must be a son of TK's."
"You bet," my brother replied. "This is my sister, Cheryl and my brother, Nat. I'm Bryan."
Gennai's gaze lingered on me for a second before recognition gleamed in his eyes. "So, I see TK finally married Kari. I was waiting for that to happen. I knew they were made for each other the first time I saw them."
His eyes shifted to the Ichijouji clan. "And Yolei and Ken got married," he stated knowingly. "That's great. They're perfect for each other. Four of you?"
Steve nodded, taking the initiative. "Shawna's the oldest, Sam and Stephanie are twins. I'm Steve."
Gennai nodded, moving on to the next set of kids: Jackie and Jesse. "Mimi and Matt?"
Jackie smiled at him. "Yes. I'm Jackie and this is Jesse."
"Yes, that would fit. So, it's Sora and Tai, huh?"
The twins exchanged looks before Gavin said, "Yeah. I'm Gavin and this is my twin brother, Sean."
"Who did Davis wind up marrying?"
Josh spoke up. "Michele Regison," the brunette replied, studying Gennai with the intensity of a rocket scientist. "I'm the product, Josh Motomiya."
"Ashley Samson. I'm Rachel, his daughter."
"So that's everyone. All right, digidestined, get your parents and return here by 1700 hours. There's an emergency. Hurry back." With that, the hologram faded, leving each kid staring open-mouthed at the empty space.
They kids left the digital world. No one spoke, except to mutter once in a while. Finally, Gavin addressed the group in general. "Okay, guys. Get your parents. We'll meet back here as soon as possible."
The Kamiya twins departed, followed by Josh. Rachel quietly started on the walk home with Jackie and Jesse. The Ichijoujis walked in a third direction, and I took my brothers in the remaining.
Nat and Bryan were quiet. Maybe it was shock. I know I was terrified of what we might face in the digital world. Then my littler brother spoke up. "Cheryl, Mom and Dad are going to be upset. I know they wouldn't have let us go if they had known what we planned to do. They don't want to go back. It holds too many memories for them."
"They have to, Nat," Bryan explained. "Otherwise, that world, and this one, are doomed. Mom and Dad know that, and they'll do what it takes to save the world again."
"They're going to be mad at us."
"Nat, it was going to happen anyway. Better sooner than later. We got the digivices for a reason. It's our turn to save the world." Bryan was adamant about doing what we had to do to win, but I could share in Nat's fear of my parents. They had both hoped...
they'd never go back; it was too painful to see where their friends had been killed. Bryan was right, though. We did have to do it. We had no choice.
We entered the house to see our parents on the couch, kissing. I cleared my throat loudly and they jumped away from each other. "Cheryl, boys," my mom gasped, "we didn't expect you home so soon."
"Apparently," I teased. She blushed a little.
"Well," Bryan began, fully prepared to spill the story, but Nat cut him off.
"Mom, Dad, you need to come to the digital world," he said bluntly.
I took over the explanation. "See we made a lot of friends at school today. We found out that our cousins, plus the other kids of digidestined, had devices like ours."
"Digivices," Dad breathed.
"Right. Anyway," I continued, "Josh got this brainstorm that he wouldn't explain. Instead, we had to meet him in the computer lab. He got us to the digital world. There we met our digimon partners, and were attacked by Dactylmon. Our digimon saved us, but the problems don't end there. Gennai said that he wants us and our parents to go to the digital world. We have to save the world again."
"And that concludes her essay on 'Why you should go to the digital world again,'" Bryan joked.
"We're going to have a long talk about this later, guys," my mom warned.
"Told you," bragged Nat.
"Let's go!" I cried, frustrated by all this waiting around.
"Fine, one second," Mom replied. She went into her room, and came back with her and Dad's old digivices. "Let me see the new ones," she demanded. I placed my digivice into the palm of her outstretched hand. She studied it for a moment before replying, "They're D-5's, TK."
He briefly nodded, concern filling his blue eyes. "They're very different," he proclaimed. "Each set of digivices is more advanced than the last."
Nat suddenly cracked. His anxiety mingled with fear, causing him to scream, "Let's just go already! I'm sick and tired of waiting for action. We have to save the world, so quit prolonging the inevitable!"
I was surprised. I'd never seen Nat as very smart, but he wasn't exactly your average eight-year-old. Stunningly, my parents nodded. "He's right," Dad agreed. "Let's go save the world."
"Again," Mom sighed. Dad put his arm around her and pulled her close.
You're not supposed to be in love with your best friend. That was an unspoken rule, but I had broken it. I was in love with Cheryl Takaishi. As I walked with my sisters and brother, I mingled that over in his mind. It sounded ridiculous; I was only 11. I didn't know love yet, right?
Shawna noticed my quiet tone and let me be. Usually my sister was annoying, but she could sense when something was wrong with me. Maybe it was that we were so close, having been through a lot together. We had survived shouting matches between our parents, the birth of twins, digital world reunions, and moving four times.
We arrived home to see our parents, looking worried. "I was about to call the cops!" Mom screamed. "Where were you? I almost had a heart attack!"
Shawna decided to be our spokesperson. "To put it bluntly, we were in the digital world because of Josh's stupid plan. We met our partners and now we have to go back, with you and Dad."
They froze, gaping at their oldest daughter, praying it was a trick. "Ser-- seriously," Dad stuttered.
"Yes." It was my turn to explain. "Gennai said that we need to get back there and save the world."
My parents glanced at each other briefly before nodding simultaneously. "Let's go," they announced in unison. So we went.
(A/N - it was the same at the other houses.)
We waited in the computer lab for the other digidestined. First, Jackie and Jesse came. "Matt! It's been a long time," Dad said, hugging his older half-brother.
Next came Shawna, Steve, Sam, and Steph. Yolei and Mom exchanged a hug, while Dad and Ken shook hands. I noticed Nat wouldn't make eye contact with Stephanie.
Gavin and Sean arrived next. "Tai!" my mother cried, engulfing her older...
brother in a tight hug. Then, she hugged Aunt Sora, just as tightly. "Kari," she gasped, "you're choking me." Mom let go sheepishly and smiled. Uncle Tai cuffed Dad lightly on the arm, and my father smiled up at him.
Josh came next. I saw Mom move a little away from Davis. I remembered her saying that he had practically stalked her when they were little. And he didn't like Dad. But, apparently, that was behind him because he shook my dad's hand with a grin on his lips. I guess getting married did the trick.
Last came Rachel. I saw Yolei give Cody a huge hug. Mom had said they were very close. Dad ruffled his hair. "Hey, Cody, you finally grew," he teased. Cody nodded and smiled widely.
"Everyone assembled and ready?" Gavin asked, assuming a position of leadership. Uncle Tai smiled at his son.
"We're ready," I informed my hyper cousin.
"Then let's go!" Josh had taken over. "Digi-port open!"
We were sucked into the computer and released in the digital world.
"Salamon!" I screamed. "Where are you?"
"Patamon!" my brother called.
Nat didn't say a word, just looked left and right for his little digimon partner. "Hitmon!" he suddenly yelled, catching sight of baseball digimon. "How ya been, buddy?"
"Nat! I'm fine. I've got the others with me."
"Salamon!" My digimon ran to me as fast as her little digi-legs could carry her.
"Cheryl," she cried as I clutched her to my chest. "It's great to see you again."
"Gatomon!" my mother suddenly exclaimed.
Her digimon partner ran up to her. "Kari, why were you gone for so long?" she mumbled in Mom's arms.
"I couldn't come back, Gatomon. You know why." Gatomon nodded sadly.
"Why, Mommy?" Nat asked in his best baby voice.
"Now's not the time, Nathaniel." Nat knew that when his full name was used, he should not pursue the matter.
But he did anyway. "Mom, we have to face the same things you did as a kid. Maybe if you tell us what you went through, we'll have a better chance against the evil digimon." Nat looked up at Mom with more determination than I'd ever seen on his little face.
"Nat, I'll tell you another time. I don't wish to discuss it now with you. Don't bring it up again." My mother's cold voice turned the heads of her friends.
"Kari, I didn't know you could talk like that," Davis joked. Mom turned around to glare at him.
"I'm a mother now," she replied simply. "I have to be able to talk like that."
Nat scowled, and opened his mouth when Sam cut in. "Dad, Mom, we found Gennai!"
In the hustle of following the twins, Nat's attempt was forgotten, except by me.
Sam had found Gennai! That was good because I had a few questions for him. But I waited as he spoke to us, Patamon resting on my white fisherman's hat.
"Ah, digidestined, it's good to see you again."
"It's nice to see you, too, Gennai, but this isn't why you called us here," Cody pointed out, his arm around Rachel. I sat next to them, leaning on Dad. Nat was next, then Mom and Cheryl. Next to Cheryl was Steve, who was cradling Sam in his lap. Ken was next to them, with his arm around Yolei. Next to Yolei was Shawna, with Stephanie in her lap. Jackie sat next to Shawna, and Aunt Mimi was by her. Uncle Matt and Jesse were sitting beside Aunt Mimi. Aunt Sora was sitting next to Uncle Matt. Then Uncle Tai, then Gavin and Sean. We were sitting in a circle around Gennai's hologram.
Gennai smiled at Cody. "You were always the most perceptive, Cody. You're right. The digital world is in danger again and you need to save it. You've met up with your partners again. Together you must beat Evilmon(?). But it will be your kids who must fight."
"Why?" Dad asked.
"Because the digital world is built on the purities of a child's soul."
"Then why bring us here," Aunt Sora demanded, looking utterly furious.
"Your children need your help. They have to have your crests or digi-eggs. Give it to the child with the same digimon as you. Sam and Stephanie, you have the crests of knowledge and reliability.
I have here Izzy's and Joe's crest for you." The two crest popped out of the hologram. Stephanie took the crest of reliability, while Sam took the crest of knowledge.
Dad turned to me. "Here, son, since you have a Patamon, this must now belong to you," he explained, placing the crest of hope around my neck. "It has served me well; now it's your turn. Use it wisely." I realized he was about to cry.
Glancing at Cheryl, I saw Mom giving her the crest of light. Mom had tears running down her cheeks, openly, but didn't wipe them away. Dad went over and put his arm around her.
I took a chance to look at Nat. He looked amazed at the display of emotions around him. I wondered if my brother had ever let anything, or anyone, make him cry. For as long as I could remember, he was a wall where no emotion could be seen.
Then I noticed that Nat didn't have a crest or digi-egg. Sam and Steph had taken the two remaining crest, but poor Nat was left without.
Gennai suddenly spoke up. "Nat Takaishi, I would like to speak to you alone."
My brother looked up for a second before nodding and stepping forward, motioning for everyone to leave them alone.
I was surprised when Gennai said he wanted to speak to me alone. But I stepped forward, signaling everyone else to go away.
Gennai spoke first. "I know you realize that you do not have a crest. That is because your crest is the crest of destiny, a new crest. It is your destiny to free the digital world from the chains it has so long worn."
I looked up, startled. "Why?" I suddenly asked. "Why me? Why couldn't it be Bryan or Steph or Gavin?"
"Because, Nat, it is your destiny, not there's. There is no rhyme or reason for this. It's just the way it is."
I looked at my feet. "What if I can't do it?"
"Don't think like that. You can do it if you try. It's your destiny, and I'm sure your friends will believe in you, too."
I wasn't so sure. Cheryl and Bryan might believe in me; they were my sister and brother. And Steve would believe whatever Cheryl believed. Sam and Steph would believe, maybe, just because they had no other choice. And Jesse would believe in me because he's my best friend. But the rest might not. Even my cousins thought of me as a little kid, the baby.
Gennai read my thoughts. "They will believe in you, Nat. They have no other choice. You're their only hope for this world. The light of the digital world."
I was smarter than even he'd figured, though. I'd seen something in what he'd said that made me think. "So I'm the perfect blend of hope and light? A mix of my parents?"
"Actually, you are the mix of all the crests. You are the example of courage, love, friendship, sincerity, reliability, knowledge, hope, light, and kindness. That defines who you are, Nat."
I sat, stunned, while Gennai studied me. "Why me?" I whispered, tossing a stray pebble. "Why couldn't it be Bryan? He'd know what to do. He's smart."
"Nat, you're the smartest digidestined child since Izzy."
"Smarter than Cody?"
"Yes. Cody was as perceptive as you, but you are smarter than him. He wasn't able to do the things you do."
I sighed. "That's why this is on my shoulders, rather than his. Okay, so where's my c rest, Gennai?"
He frowned. "I only know that it's somewhere nearby. Here is your tag, but you have to find your crest alone. You must do it with only Hitmon by your side."
"Not even my parents?"
"No. Get the crest and come back. I warn you, do it quickly because you will have to fight soon."
"Fine. I'll go as soon as I can."
"Good luck, little soldier."
"What's taking them so long?" I whispered to TK.
He smiled down at me. "Don't worry, honey. Nat is a responsible boy. He won't let Gennai rope him into something stupid, like going out on his own."
"I know. He's a good kid, but what if he has no choice? Nat's special; he's going to have a different crest. I just know he's going to have to do something for it."
"Shh. He'll be fine. Don't worry about Nat."
I looked at Cheryl, who was_
playing with Salamon. The crest of light hung loosely around her neck, bobbing with each twist of her head. My daughter. It seemed like so long ago that I found out I was a digidestined. I remembered Tai throwing me my digivice, saving me from Myotismon. I remembered Wizardmon ending his own life to save me.
"Please, Gennai, don't make him do anything," I mumbled.
"Sorry, Mom, but I have to."
I turned around to see my youngest son behind me. I was terrified by his face. His normally bright blue eyes were cold, little ice chunks that masked emotion. "Nat," I whispered, tears filling my eyes again, threatening to pour onto my cheeks.
"Mom, you don't understand. This is the only way I can get my crest. And my crest is the most important crest in the digital world."
"What is it, Nat?" TK had come up behind me.
"I have the crest of destiny. My crest alone is the perfect blend of the other crests. Without this crest the digital world is doomed. Try to understand."
TK nodded, but I just couldn't. What I'd seen in Nat's eyes scared me. He was too mature for a little boy. He would never really be able to enjoy what little kids enjoyed. He was far too old, mentally, for that.
"Nat, be careful," TK warned. "The digital world is a dangerous place. Maybe you should go with Cheryl or Bryan."
"I can't," Nat stated, saying what I'd already guessed. "I have to go with Hitmon alone."
"Be safe, Nat," I reminded, kissing his forehead.
TK ruffled his hair. "Good luck, kid."
"Hitmon!" Nat called, and his little partner ran up to him. "We've got to go look for something. We'll be back soon."
Just for a second, something flickered in his eyes, something that reminded me of his father. Even though it only lasted for a short while, I saw hope in Nat's clear blue eyes. And his hope gave me hope. Hope that someday he could live in the joys of being a little boy again.
I walked for a while, holding my digivice, tag around my neck. Hitmon walked with me, silent for a while. Finally, he asked, "What are we looking for, Nat? And why aren't the others with us?"
I sighed. "We're looking for my crest," I explained patiently. "And we can't go with the others. We're supposed to find this on our own."
"What's your crest?"
"Destiny," I spat. "The crest of destiny."
"You don't want it?"
"It's not that." I sighed again. "It's just that_ I don't think I can live up to it. I'm supposed to save the digital world, Hitmon, but I'm just a kid. What do I do?" I felt tears running down my cheeks, and wiped them away angrily. I looked like a baby when I cried.
"Nat, I know that you can do it. You have to believe. Have hope, like your dad."
"But I'm not like my dad. I'm not like either of them. Cheryl's like my mom, and Bryan could be my dad. I'm the odd one. I've never fit in and this proves it. Jesse's the only one who respects me."
"I respect you." My digimon looked up at me. "I think that your amazing, Nat. The reason that you have the crest of destiny is because your brave, friendly, loving, sincere, reliable, smart, kind, hopeful, and full of light. No one else is like that, not Bryan, not Jesse, not Gavin."
"Who said anything about Gavin?"
"You don't have to hide it from me. You admire him because he's open with his feelings and a great leader. He's everything you wish you were. Well, I've got news for you, Nat. You're just as good as him. You have nothing to wish for. You're the best partner I could ever ask for."
I looked down at Hitmon, my eyes brimming with tears again. "Hitmon," I whispered. How could he read me so well? No one ever understood me the way he did, not even Jesse. "Let's go find that crest," I declared.
Hitmon beamed. "That's what I like to hear."
"Where is he?" Mom asked worriedly, for about the fifth time in ten minutes.
"I'm sure he's fine," Dad replied, hugging her close to him, as he had done many times before.
I sighed. I had been listening to them for about forty minutes. By now everyone was getting restless. Shawna and_
Jackie were entertaining Jesse and the twins. The three younger kids were running circles around them, while the girls looked exhausted. Sean and Bryan were hovering over his laptop, exploring the mysteries of the digital world. Gavin had stopped watching and was talking to Josh and Steve. Rachel was watching Bryan and Sean, but she looked bored. I decided to go talk to her.
"Hey, Rachel," I greeted, walking towards her.
She smiled. "Hi, Cheryl. What's up?"
"Nothing. Well, just that I'm worried about my brother. Plus, this entire digital world thing is making me as nervous as John Kida. At least, on a good day."
She giggled. "I don't blame you. I'm worried about Nat, too. He's been gone an awfully long time. But I'm glad that we're in the digital world. I like being here with Armadillomon. Besides," she said, lowering her voice, "you guys are my only real friends. I'd rather be here with you, than there without you."
I took a second to absorb what Rachel had said. It was so sad. "You should hang out with us more often," I offered. "I just have one question_"
"Is it just me or do you have the biggest crush on my brother?"
She turned immediately red. "Oh, is it that obvious? Do you think he knows?"
"First off, it's not that obvious, but I'm not the only one who knows. Second, he has no clue because he's a guy and guy's never can tell."
"Oh, good. Who else knows?"
"Jackie does, and I bet Shawna has a pretty good idea. That's it. The guys are too dense to get it, and Steph's just a kid."
"I resent that remark," a voice from behind me said.
Rachel and I spun around. "Steph!" we cried simultaneously. "How much did you hear?"
She giggled. "All of it. But it's nothing I didn't know. I'm not just a little kid. Besides, I have something important to ask you."
"What's up, squirt?"
"Well, this is difficult to ask, but has Nat said anything about me since yesterday?"
I stared at her. "So you do like him."
"No, I was just wondering." Steph was blushing brightly now.
"Uh huh," I said dryly. "So, when did you figure this out?"
"Um, well, yesterday when he, you know, comforted me. Do you think he likes me, too?"
"I don't know," I answered honestly. "It's difficult to tell with Nat. When he knows for himself, though, he'll come out and tell you. Probably. It'll take a while. Nat's not exactly one to realize his emotions quickly."
"What about Bryan?" Rachel inquired quickly.
I smiled. "Bryan, on the other hand, surely has a crush on you. I can tell that much. But he won't make the first move. My little brother's a chicken. You'll have to start something."
Rachel groaned. "Great."
"Cheryl!" Bryan suddenly exclaimed. "Come over here!"
I ran over to where he and Sean were on the computer. Rachel was close behind, but Steph had gone back to Sam and Jesse. "What is it?"
"We found Nat!" I don't think I've ever been happier to hear any three words. Except maybe 'I like you' from Josh, but that hasn't happened yet.
"Mom! Dad! They found him. They found Nat!" I yelled. Immediately, Mom, Dad, Uncle Tai, Uncle Matt, Aunt Sora, Aunt Mimi, Ken, Yolei, Cody, and Davis ran over. Jackie and Shawna were close behind, dragging Jesse, Sam, and Steph. Steve followed them, with Gavin and Josh right beside him.
Bryan looked around, bewildered. "We only called Mom and Dad. Why'd everyone else come?"
Jackie laughed. "For a genius, you're pretty stupid. We were concerned about your brother."
"Where is he, Bryan?" Mom demanded, fed up with the joking. Of course, she hadn't counted on Gavin.
"Bryan's right here, Aunt Kari," my cousin pointed out.
"Gavin," she warned.
"Shut up," Uncle Tai told him. Aunt Sora pinched him. "What was that for?"
"For telling our son to shut up."
"We've got another." Another pinch.
"Bryan, Sean, where's Nat?" Dad finally asked.
"Here." Sean pointed to a little blinking dot. "And here we are," he added, indicating another group of dots about two inches away.
"How far away is he?" Aunt Sora pressed.
the bad news. He's more than five miles away."
Everyone gaped at my brother and cousin. "You've got to be kidding!" I cried. "There's no way an eight-year-old could walk that far in a half hour."
"Well, he did," Bryan retorted.
"I hope he's okay," Mom whispered, tears spilling over her eyelids. Dad pulled her into an embrace, kissing her forehead softly. Maybe I was imagining it, I was worked about Nat, but I thought I saw something flicker in Davis's eyes. I remembered his old love for my mother, but he couldn't still feel it; not after marriage. I glanced at Bryan. He nodded at me, confirming my worst fears: Davis was still in love with Mom.
"How far do you think we've gone, Hitmon?"
"I don't know. Maybe a million miles by now. We've been walking forever. Where's that crest supposed to be?"
"Nearby. Gennai said it was supposed to be nearby. Hey! My tag is picking something up."
Hitmon and I looked around for something that resembled the crest of destiny. "What's it look like, Nat?" Hitmon asked.
"I don't know. What's destiny supposed to look like anyway."
"That." I followed Hitmon's glance to a stone carving. It was a circle with little circles around it. Each little circle resembled one of the crests. I held my tag out to the carving. Suddenly, it emitted a glow brighter than Bryan's potato-powered flashlight. I shielded my eyes with my free hand.
"I'm feeling the energy!" Hitmon screamed.
That's when Dactylmon reappeared.
He attacked me with the force of three steel walls. "Hitmon!" I yelped. "Help me!"
My little digimon suddenly began to glow. "Hitmon digivolve to_ Mittmon!"
I stared at the digimon in front of me. "Mi -- Mittmon?"
"Yeah. I'm the digivolved form of Hitmon. I'm the champion level."
"You can do it again? Will I ever see Hitmon again?"
"Yes and yes. I don't have enough energy to stay like this forever."
"You know what to do, Mittmon. Kick his butt!"
"Catcher crush!" The shot hit Dactylmon dead on. Whatever the evil digimon was expecting it wasn't that. He faltered, giving Mittmon the necessary time. "Glove Slam!" I watched Dactylmon disintegrated.
"You_ you killed him." I was so stunned by this. I should know by now that all evil things must die.
Mittmon turned back to Ballmon. "Ballmon! Are you okay?"
"Just tired," the little digimon replied, yawning.
"I'll carry you back to the others. Come on." I broke out into a run, my partner asleep in my arms.
We waited for another hour before Mom started to freak out. "Where is he?" she finally yelled.
Dad slid his arm around her, and I saw the same look in Davis's eyes from before. Gosh, he loved my mom. That's what terrified me.
"Hey, looking for me?"
"Nat!" Before my little brother could blink, Mom had thrown her arms around him. "You're okay!"
"What happened to Hitmon?" Sean inquired, looking at the in-training who'd hopped out of Nat's hands.
"Dactylmon attacked us. Hitmon digivolved again to Mittmon and saved my life."
"He digivolved again?" I was confused now.
Dad stepped in. "He digivolved to the champion level and was stronger. Right?"
Nat nodded proudly. "Cool, huh?"
Sean spun back around to the laptop and began to type. I watched him input data about the champion level of Hitmon. Way to go, Nat, I thought as I helped Sean. Way to go.
I listened to Nat's story carefully. "So, if Hitmon can do that, so can our digimon, right?" I inquired as the two computer geeks returned to Sean's laptop.
Dad nodded. "Agumon can digivolve to Greymon for his champion level," he told me.
"Greymon, huh? I want to see this."
"Eventually you will, son."
I glanced at my partner. "Think it'll be your turn soon, Agumon?"
"I don't know, Gavin, but no matter how far I have to go, I'll protect you. Even if it means digivolving to the mega level."
"The mega's more powerful than champion?"
"Much," Uncle Matt cut in. Actually he's not really my uncle, he's Cheryl, Bryan, and Nat's uncle, but by marriage he's my uncle, too. "Mega's_
as far as our digimon have ever gone."
"Cool. But I'm bored right now. We need to do something."
"Ack, he sounds like you, Tai," Uncle Matt joked.
"That's scary," Mom teased. Dad pouted for a minute before turning away indignantly.
I suddenly thought of something. "Nat?" I said, turning towards my little cousin. "Did you get your crest?"
He nodded, his eyes showing the only emotion I'd ever seen from him: pride. "Look." He held out the crest of destiny.
"It's amazing," I whispered in awe.
"It is," Aunt Kari agreed, sweeping Nat into another hug. It must have been his fourth since he'd gotten back.
"Is it really amazing, Gavin?" he asked as him mom walked away.
I smiled at the little guy. I'd never really noticed how much what I said affected him. "Yeah. It's awesome, little cuz."
He beamed. "Thanks, Gavin." He threw his arms around me. It was the only show of emotion I'd ever seen from the brown-haired boy, and I grinned at I patted his head. I saw Aunt Kari nod at me, happy that Nat could had feelings.
I was glad that my brother had gotten his crest, but we had to move on now. "We're sitting ducks," I complained to Rachel, who was sitting next to me.
She stood up. "Not me."
"I thought so."
Steve, Gavin, and Josh joined us. "Let's play some soccer," my nutty cousin suggested.
"With what, a coconut?" I asked.
"If we have to."
"Your a coconut."
"Let's do something," Josh added. "I'm so bored, I'm wooden."
I laughed, and Rachel rolled her eyes. Before either of us could respond, Dad suddenly ordered, "Let's move. Now. Patamon says this area feels dangerous. I agree with him. Let's go someplace else."
Mom shivered, and whispered something in his ear. "No," he muttered. "It couldn't be."
"What?" Cody inquired.
"Never mind," Mom answered meaningfully. Cody nodded, like he understood.
We walked for a little while, and I thought. I thought about the things that had made Mom constantly nervous now. What had caused Dad to become overprotective of her.
Uncle Tai, Davis, Gavin, Josh, and Sean walked in the front, followed by Uncle Matt, Jesse, and Nat. Aunt Sora, Aunt Mimi, and Yolei were next, talking constantly. Jackie and Shawna followed, also gabbing. Rachel was talking to Steph behind them. Cody and Ken were next. Sam and Steve were talking to Bryan after that. I was behind them, thinking, and Mom and Dad brought up the rear.
Suddenly, from up front a yell broke through my thoughts. "Gavin Kamiya, that wasn't funny!" Uncle Tai hollered. My cousin was rolling on the ground, laughing.
"Sorry, Dad, but it was so easy," he gasped.
"What'd you do?" Bryan asked, looking up from his conversation.
"He_ he soaked Uncle Tai!" Nat called back.
Gavin stopped giggling long enough to explain, "He was complaining to Davis about the walk, and how hot it was. So I asked him if he wanted to be cooled off, and I_ I_" He erupted into fits of laughter again.
"He emptied the water bottle over my head," Uncle finished, glaring daggers at his son.
Dad was the first to stop laughing, his eyes wide. "Quiet. Listen," he commanded.
I strained my ears to hear anything, but there was nothing. At least, to me.
Uncle Tai swore. "Sorry," he amended. He glanced at Dad. "I hear it."
"Now what, fearless leader?" Uncle Matt asked.
Uncle Tai looked puzzled. "I haven't done this in so long. It's Evilmon," he explained.
"We fight." Everyone turned to Josh Motomiya. His eyes were glittering oddly, and he was smiling.
"Josh," Davis coaxed, "fighting's not the best way."
"Where are we going to run, Dad? How are we going to get away? We have to stand and fight. It's now or never. You tell me stories about how you guys fought evil digimon. You told me all about the fight against Malomyotismon. It's our turn now, right, guys?"
Surprisingly, it was Nat who answered him. "Right. I didn't get that crest for nothing. It's the moment of truth. Who's with us?"
Gavin grinned. "Definitely. I'm not letting some overgrown goony_
Sean echoed his twin's smile. "We're a team, and being a team means sticking together. No matter how hard it may seem."
Jesse looked at Gabumon. "Are you ready, buddy?"
"You can count of me."
Sam looked at Gunkmon. "You and me now. Let's do it." His partner nodded.
Steph and Clarimon exchanged a nod. "Let's go."
Patamon fluttered into Bryan's arms. "Are you in, Bryan?"
"Sure. We don't have a choice."
Rachel nodded. "He's right. So let's end this."
Shawna and Jackie simultaneously shouted, "We'll never give up!"
Steve glanced at Wormmon. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"What other choice do we have?"
"You're right. We have to fight. There's no where to run."
"Cheryl?" I saw Salamon watching me. "Are you in?"
I looked at my friends, each with their partner. I thought about my friends, at home in their kitchens or bedrooms or dens. "Yeah. We have no choice. Everyone from both worlds is counting on us. If we lose, both worlds will be consumed by darkness."
Then, Evilmon showed up.
He wasn't anything I'd imagined. He was like human, except pure darkness, darker than midnight. On a new moon. With clouds. "He looks like a kid," I heard Bryan whisper.
"I am just a kid," Evilmon retorted. "Like you. Except I'm not like you because I turned myself into a digimon."
"Why would you do that?" Steph was amazed that anyone could make the decision to give up their human life.
I rolled my eyes. I knew. There had been times that I'd wished I was a different animal. One with less emotion. Evilmon turned to me. "That's right, Nathaniel. That's exactly why I turned. You know," he added slyly, "you would make a great partner. Just think. I could free you, Nat. Just as I was freed. Join me."
I was stunned. On one hand, I would be a traitor to my friends, to Hitmon and my parents. On the other, I would be free! I would never again have to worry about petty feelings. I noticed Evilmon nodding at me. He was trying to get me to follow that half. But now I knew what to do.
"Never!" I cried. "I know why you're doing this. It's my destiny to destroy you and free the digital world. You can't make me forget that. Not in a million years."
He frowned. "You could be great, you know. I could make it happen. But if you won't cooperate, I'll have to destroy you. So say good-bye, Nathaniel."
"No!" Hitmon hopped in front of me. "Help me out, Nat!" I held out my digivice. "Hitmon digivolve to_ Mittmon!"
I noticed Gavin looking at Agumon. "Why don't you give him a hand, Agumon?"
"Do you think I can?"
"Let's try." Gavin held out his digivice.
"Agumon digivolve to_ Greymon!"
One by one, the other digimon followed their lead. Greymon, Garurumon, Birdramon, Togemon, Angemon, Gatomon, Stinkmon, Cellomon, Stingmon, Aquilamon, Ankylomon, and Exveemon. And Mittmon, my best friend.
"Digimon, attack!" And they did.
"How did you do that?" I whispered, as Cellomon got ready to attack.
"You helped me. I did it to protect you," was all he said before rushing into battle.
I saw Gavin Kamiya watching his digimon fight. Something was flickering behind his red eyes. He leaned over and hissed something into his brother's ear. Sean's eyes lit up as he nodded. They turned to their father and muttered something to him. He dropped his chin to his chest and pulled it back up quickly.
I was close enough to hear Gavin call, "Greymon, use the power of my crest to digivolve again!"
Apparently Sam was close enough to hear, too, because he gaped at Gavin. But Greymon understood. "Greymon digivolve to_ Metalgreymon!"
"He digivolved again!" Nat cried. "How cool! Mittmon, can you do that?"
"Use your crest, Nat! Arg, Catcher Crush!"
"Mittmon digivolve to_ Platemon!"
"Cellomon!" I screamed. "Digivolve now!"
He nodded. "Cellomon digivolve to_ Tubamon!"
Sam did the same. "Go on, Stinkmon!"
"Stinkmon digivolve to_ Junkmon(?)!"
"Gross," my twin laughed. He found having a disgusting digimon very funny.
watched the battle nervously. Tubamon kept taking hits, but recovering. "Note smash!" my partner kept yelling.
Evilmon was outnumbered badly, but doing a fine job of keeping our now-ultimate digimon from gaining any edge. "Dark wave!" he cried, knocking them back a couple steps. Finally he seemed to get annoyed with the constant pressure they put him under. "Dark blast!" he shouted, sending shots of darkness at each digimon. Some managed to get out of the way, but others were not so lucky.
"Tubamon!" I screamed, as my friend hit the ground and didn't rise again. I started out to help him, but someone put an arm out to stop me.
"Steph, don't. You'll only get hurt, and you won't be of any use to anyone," Nat scolded softly. I looked up into the eyes of the only guy I'd ever had a crush on. His eyes were the gateway to his soul. He turned away from me, but didn't release his hold on me.
"Nat, I need to go help him. He's hurt. Wouldn't you do the same for Platemon?"
"Not right now. The other digimon will protect him, but if you go out there, you'll get hurt. And I think that if something happens to you, it affects Tubamon as well. Stay here."
I noticed he didn't let go of me during the fight. We watched as the digimon got beaten up left and right. Suddenly, Platemon was thrown and reverted back to his rookie form.
"Hitmon!" Nat's cry echoed throughout the battleground.
"Nat," the little digimon gasped. "Use your crest. I'll warp digivolve."
"What? Um, okay. I'll try, buddy." Nat held his crest and digivice together.
"Woah! Hitmon warp digivolve to_ Basalmon!" Where Hitmon had stood was a huge digimon with bats for arms and legs, and a ball for a head.
"So, you're stronger now?"
"Yes. I'll protect you, Nat." With that, he rejoined the battle. "Double trouble home run strike!" The attack took Evilmon by surprise, sending the evil digimon back a few paces.
"Go, Basalmon!" Nat cried, never letting go of me. Tubamon had rejoined the fight now. But the worst was yet to come.
The fight was starting to get rough now. Hitmon had somehow warp digivolved to Basalmon and was really improving our chances for victory. Unfortunately, he wasn't enough.
I watched Angewoman nervously as she fought as hard as she could. What's this for? I wondered. Custody of the digital world? The real world? Both?
"This is stupid," I mumbled, as my partner took another shot to the head. "Someone could really get hurt."
I saw Nat sitting silently now, with his arms around Steph. She looked so happy, it's a wonder he didn't notice. But he was busy staring in awe at his new and improved digimon.
Suddenly, before I realized what was happening, Evilmon directed an attack at me. Josh and Steve were at the exact same position, next to each other. Josh cried, "Cheryl, duck!" But Steve ran towards me, shoving me at the last second, while I stood frozen the whole time. Instead of hitting me, the blast hit Steve, knocking him unconscious.
"Steve," I gasped. I couldn't believe that he would risk his own life to save me. I'd never thought of him as more than a friend, but now_ now I was having second thoughts.
His eyes fluttered open, and he mumbled, "Cheryl?"
"Steve!" I tackled him over in a hug. "Don't ever do that to me again. You scared me to death. I thought you were dead."
"Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I'm alive. Somehow."
Then I heard, "Agumon, warp digivolve to_ Wargreymon!"
I looked up and saw my cousin's digimon, in the mega form.
Boy, am I an idiot. Why did I get fried for her? I mean, I like her, but she thinks of me as a friend. What was the point? I nervously opened my eyes, groaning as the light flooded my eyes. "Cheryl?" I mumbled, straining to see her.
Next thing I knew, she'd flung her arms around me, crying, "Steve! Don't ever do that to me again! You scared me to death. I thought you were dead."
"Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I'm alive," I joked, surprised at her reaction.
We saw Gavin's digimon digivolve to_
the mega level. "Yes," Cheryl whispered. I involuntarily hugged her closer to me. We both blushed, and I let go. "Are you okay?" she asked, eyeing the blood flowing freely from my chest.
"I think so," I answered, struggling to stand up. My elbows locked and I tumbled back to the ground.
Dad came over. "Wow, Steve, you took a shot. How you holding up, son?"
"Okay," I mumbled.
He helped me to my feet, as the battle raged around us. Dad and I had never been close, but now I felt as though I had proven myself to him. Like protecting Cheryl had shown him that I was a man.
"That was a brave thing you did back there, Steve," Dad praised as we started to move towards the others.
"Thanks, Dad." I felt a blush creeping up my cheeks.
Suddenly I heard a loud thump, and spun around to see Stingmon back at Wormmon, lying helplessly on the ground. "Oh, no! Wormmon!"
I let go of Steph suddenly. Diving forward, I caught Tambomon as he spiraled down to the ground. The little digimon had taken quite a beating from Evilmon. "Thanks, Nat," he whispered, before collapsing into unconsciousness in my arms.
I brought him back to Steph. "Thanks," she said, wrapping her arms tightly around me.
"No problem," I replied. It's now or never, I thought. But before I could do anything, I saw Nyaramon fall into Cheryl's arms. After stealing a glance around, I realized that all the digimon were back to their rookie or in-training forms, except Basalmon. "Oh, no," I mumbled, hiding the fear from my friends. I'll go help, I assured myself. I just have to do this now. Because now I was certain how I felt. "Steph? I have to do something. Promise you won't get scared or upset?"
"Sure," she answered, a confused look in her eyes.
Sucking in a deep breath, I leaned in and kissed her on her lips. Just as suddenly, I pulled away, blushing.
She looked up into my eyes. "You don't know how long I've wanted you to do that," she told me.
"Since you met me yesterday?"
"Yeah, just about."
That's when my crest started to glow. I stood up, glaring at Evilmon. "Basalmon, you have to beat him. We have no choice."
Basalmon was surrounded by light for a moment, bright colors that represented each of the digivices we had received. Then he shouted, "Basalmon, metal digivolve to_ Baylockmon!"
With that, he charged at Evilmon, leaving everyone in awe.
"Metal digivolving?" I wondered aloud.
"Must be another new form of digivolution," Kari suggested.
I hugged her protectively. "Yeah, I guess. Why Nat?"
"I told you he was special," she boasted. "It could only be his digimon. Crest of destiny is a special thing, for sure."
I nodded. "He is one special kid."
Her eyes grew distant, like they always did when she was thinking of that. I remembered, too. Kari was a special kid, just like Nat. But when Vetilismon had heard of her special power, he had summoned her.
"TK, I've been having the same nightmare for three weeks. Every night something tries to capture me and kill me. Last night, in the dream, it sliced me on the neck. Look." She pulled down her collar to reveal a cut on her neck. "It bled so much, Tai noticed I was paler. I didn't tell him about it," she added.
"Why'd you tell me?"
"Because I need your help. What do I do?"
"You say it's in the dark ocean. Well, let's go there. We'll face it together, Kari. I won't let you face it alone."
So we went there. We met Vetilismon face-to-face. So, my child of light. You came back to me."
"Back to you?"
"You remember your little encounter with the Scubamon, don't you?"
"They are my servants. I want you to be my queen."
"What?" we chorused.
I stood safely in front of her. "Don't touch her!"
Bt Vetilismon just laughed. "You cannot make me do anything, boy! Now, step aside and let me have her."
"Ah!" He'd hit me with his attack!
"TK," I heard Kari gasp. Then I passed out.
When I regained consciousness, both Kari and Vetilismon were gone. "Oh, no! I promised to protect her. She_
could be hurt. I have to find her." I started to run.
I ran for half an hour, without rest, before I heard a little voice crying out. "Help! Someone help me!"
I went a little further. "TK!" Turning sideways, I saw her. She was tied to a post, so tightly she was paling.
"Kari! What happened?" I asked as I untied her.
She was sobbing. "He_ he took me after you passed out. He brought me here and tied me up and_ and_" She shuddered and started to cry harder.
I wrapped her in a hug. "Don't cry, Kari. What did he do? If he hurt you, I'll kill him."
"No, he just_ harnessed my light to use in his own dark ocean. He said it was making the ocean stronger. But, worst of all, he said that he could see the darkness inside of me. He said I was special; the closest to the dark side."
She had completely broken down now. I pulled her close. "Don't believe him," I whispered, stroking her hair. "It's okay. He's wrong."
She looked up at me with big, watery eyes. "Thanks, TK."
I kissed her softly, pulling her closer to me.
"He's so much like me," she mumbled, snapping back into reality.
"Dad!" I heard Bryan's 10-year-old voice screaming for me.
"Did you see what happened before Basalmon metal digivolved? Nat kissed Steph Ichijouji!"
"I think it's time for that talk on the facts of life, Dad. For him and Cheryl."
I looked over at my daughter, who was curled up next to Steve. "What about you, Bryan?"
He blushed. "I'm not into that?" he offered.
"Don't think so."
We heard Rachel scream, and something flickered behind Bryan's eyes. "Go to her, son," I advised. He blushed again, but nodded.
"They're growing up," I told Kari.
"Yes, but I think it'll help. I was worried about Nat growing up too fast. I think this might help him."
I watched his digimon attack.
I helped Rachel up, thinking about my brother's and sister's new romances. Why not me? I wondered about Rachel. I mean, I liked her and maybe she liked me back. Maybe.
"Rachel, I have to ask you something. Do you, um, like me, like a boyfriend?"
"Um, well, yeah. I guess I do."
My lips split into a wide smile. "Me, too. I mean, well, you know what I mean."
"Yeah." For a brief moment we just stared at each other, then I leaned in and kissed her.
She pulled away first. "Wow," she whispered.
"Rachel, duck!" I shoved her sideways, with the attack ricocheting off my chest. I collapsed onto the hard ground. Then I only saw black.
Bryan fell like a rock. My eyes widened as I saw the blood pour from his chest. "D-- Dad?" I whispered, my voice catching in my throat. "Dad! Help!"
Dad ran over, followed by Bryan's father. "What happened?" TK asked, his ice-blue eyes hard with worry.
I was crying. "He_ he was trying to protect me."
Dad hugged me tightly. "It's not your fault, sweetie," he coaxed.
"Yes, it is. If I'd listened when he told me to duck, he wouldn't have gotten hurt," I wailed miserably.
"Don't blame yourself, Rachel," TK advised. "Bryan did what he wanted. It was his decision."
Bryan's eyelids fluttered open slowly. "Bryan!" I screamed, wrapping my arms tightly around him.
"Rachel! I can't breathe."
"Sorry." I blushed.
"Guys," Nat panted, running over, "I've got a great idea!"
Bryan had fallen back into unconsciousness. But Rachel, Dad, and Cody agreed with me. "Let's do it," Rachel declared.
I nodded, and ran to the next group of my friends. "Yeah!" Gavin exclaimed, clapping me on the shoulder. I blushed with pride. He studied me seriously for a moment before adding, "Nat, you seem different. I can read every emotion in your eyes."
I looked up, surprised. "Really? What am I thinking now?"
Gavin looked directly into my eyes, and smiled. "You're amazed, and a little happy, too."
I stared at him, then broke into a wide smile. "Yes! I'm normal."
Gavin laughed. "Let's get your plan into action, little cousin."
"Baylockmon! Do your stuff!"
"Destiny's Portal!" My partner used his
attack. "Now use your crests!" I screamed.
12 beams of light shot into the portal. "It won't work without Bryan!" Sean yelled, his eyes closed from the light.
Suddenly, a thirteenth beam of light shot towards the portal, stunning me. I turned quickly to see my brother standing weakly. He was staggering, so Cheryl draped her arm around his shoulders to keep him from falling. "Thanks, Cheryl.," he mumbled, extending his crest.
The portal formed an arrow. "Arrow of destiny!" Baylockmon announced, shooting it at Evilmon. The evil digimon stumbled once and fell. We froze in suspense.
Evilmon dropped like a ton of bricks. Slowly, very slowly, he opened his mouth and yelled, "I will be back. You haven't seen the last of me." Then, he disintegrated.
"He's gone," Nat declared. Baylockmon de-digivolved back to Foulmon, his baby form. Nat picked him up tenderly. "You okay, little guy?"
"Yeah," the tiny digimon chirped. "Thanks for helping me beat him, Nat."
"Not a problem."
"Way to go, brilliant," Gavin teased.
"Great job," Mom added.
Dad picked Bryan up, dislodging him from my grasp. "I've got him from here."
"Thanks, Cheryl," Bryan whispered again.
I ruffled his hair. "You're welcome, little bro."
"Let's go home," Steve suggested.
I took his hand. "I'm with you."
Nat held out his digivice. "Digi-port open!" he yelled. "3-- 2-- 1-"
"Beep! Beep! Beep!" I slapped my alarm clock off. It was only a dream, I thought. Then I saw my digivice glowing near my computer. Or was it?
A/N -- I finally finished it!!!! It took so long. Sorry about the length, but once I got started, I just couldn't stop. Hope you like; I will write more stories. Please read and review.