I present the multi-chapter adventure of the digimon frontier's Return. Updates will be irregular, and there is no set date on when Return will be finished.
Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon frontier in any way, shape, or form.
Warnings: Action and drama throughout the story. For this chapter, nothing much at all.
Notes: Mild pairings; cannon-based character relationships will be shown
Major thanks to Zelta-chan who beta'd the first chapter and fixed it up to a greater level. I couldn't have done it without her.
"Everything you've done, our world is being reborn. You've given us all a second chance... the Digital World has finally been put right, once again. Actually, it's even better than before. It can thrive again, now that it's free of evil. Well, at least for now." --Agunimon, episode 50; End of the Line, English dub.
-(Chapter 1: The Beginning)-
"The Gate has closed."
Agunimon's announcement made the group stand to attention, a sort of realistic gloom settling over them. He did not say a lot, but the power of his words, which practically cut off his praising speech right in the middle, were like a tidal wave of dread that crashed into them.
"What do you mean, 'the Gate closed'?" Takuya Kanbara, wielder of the Spirits of Flame and the unofficially claimed 'leader', took reign of the situation quickly. He could feel his groups' nervous energy radiating off of them like an aura. Of course, they would be on edge after just defeating the great and powerful ruler Lucemon, and notably eager to finally head home.
"The Gate that Lucemon opened." Kazemon said, her and all the other Spirits wearing the same grim look that made butterflies tumble in the digidestined's uneasy stomachs. Everyone was still floating in their places among the stars, the Spirits half-way see-through.
"Is that a bad thing?" Neemon, still oblivious as ever, tugged on Bokomon's waistband childishly, not noticing his annoyed glower. The white digimon's mouth opened to retort, but all words died in space when a Trailmon whistle broke through the clustered group.
"We'll talk more on the ride," Lobomon ushered the five young, human warriors inside Angler, some of them noticing the subtle disappearance of Ranamon, Grumblemon, Arbormon and Murcurymon. The four Spirit's semi-physical presents fading away to nothing without a purpose to keep them tied there.
"Ride where, exactly?" Kouji checked, not untrusting, but ever the careful one as all sat down with their respectable Spirits. Angler started slowly heading off towards the recuperating Digital World, running on the Trailmon tracks that had previously saved them all during one of Lucemon's first attacks.
"Tree of Beginnings." Lowemon seemed to smile under his mask, the five children now feeling almost excited.
"Why are we going there? What about going home?" Izumi flustered, having to be calmed by a pat on the shoulder from the Spirit of Darkness beside her before he replied.
"I can feel him. Kouichi is still alive."
Kouji was more than nervous, to say the least; he was feeling nervous, grumpy, happy, tired and irate all at once. There was only one thing that could ever do this to him, and that was the fact that he had an excruciating wait until he re-found his long-lost twin brother who died on the battlefield right in front of him and was now, apparently, alive here in the Digital World. And though he trusted Lowemon a lot, he couldn't be too hopeful until his brother was there with him once again.
The long-haired boy jumped up in his seat from the loud and sudden call at his side made by a certain, young, Ice Spirit wielder.
"I see him! I see him!" The group of five almost fell out of the Trailmon from leaning out the windows. Sure enough, there was a familiar dark-haired person waving at them in the distance.
"Nii-san!" Kouji called, smiling, yet his brows furrowed in uneasiness. He was so happy that he knew that his twin was okay, but... what if he wasn't? Was he hurt? Did he have bruises or cuts that he couldn't see from here? Did he feel bad? Kouji clutched the window pane worriedly, as if to try and control himself from jumping outside of the moving Trailmon.
Angler, along with the rest of the group and all the Spirits too, were not surprised that the wolf-boy was the first to rush out, not even waiting for the Trailmon to stop, of course. Kouichi giggled when he was swept up in a spinning hug, his feet lifting off the ground as strength returned to him, his worries fading from his shoulders. He had not noticed how awful he had felt without his twin until they were together again, and the same went through Kouji's mind as he sighed and set his brother down.
"I'm glad you're okay."
"I missed you, too." Kouichi shot his brother a meaningful smile and Kouji smiled gently with him.
"Kouichi!" the call made the boy turn to the others, a wide grin spreading over his face.
"Hey, guys--auff!" The shorter-haired twin's eyes widened when Junpei crushed him into a tight bear hug.
"We thought you were a goner!" the elder exclaimed as he set the other down on his feet.
"Yeah, buddy! You feeling alright?" Takuya pat the Warrior of Darkness on the back, relief radiating off of him. As the leader, he felt like he had to be particularly aware of his team, and having Kouichi back made everything seem a little easier to handle at the moment.
"Fine, fine." Kouichi grinned as Tomoki hugged his waist. "I'm just glad you all came out okay. You're the ones who fought Lucemon."
"Oh, Kouichi. You should have seen Susanoomon. It was thanks to you he was born in the first place!" Izumi cheered, unable to keep tears forming at the very edges of her turquoise eyes.
"Susanoomon?" Kouichi tested the name around his lips, picking up a giddy Neemon.
"The most superb being you could ever know! It was a one-in-a-life-time opportunity! We were all graced with seeing his fighting power!" Bokomon suddenly pulled out his book in excitement, writing down details.
"A miracle!" Chorused the three angels who came to hover around the newly recovered wielder of Darkness.
"A miracle..." Kouichi mumbled, eyes half-lidded. Kouji put a hand on his brother's shoulder to rouse him.
"So, everything is okay?" Kouji checked, reminded of how distracted his twin had been before, his 'dying' words now echoing inside his head.
"Yeah. I don't remember much of anything after Lucemon scanned me, but Gatomon says my data was reborn along with the rest of the world. So, I'm as good as new." Kouji couldn't help but feel that his twin's smile was only half-real and he made a mental note to get them alone that night for a talk.
"Gatomon? Who's that, Kouichi?" Izumi asked, not the only one to pick up the name as unfamiliar.
"Oh, I guess I should introduce you guys. Swanmon was reborn as a Gatomon." Kouichi turned to lead the way, happy to be accompanied by his alter-ego Lowemon on one side and his mirror image on the other. He was a little embarrassed when everyone hovered, but he couldn't blame that they must have felt weary over his condition. Not including that he was just a spirit, still. He would have to tell Kouji... eventually.
"Hello digidestined! So nice to see you again!" A cat-looking digimon with yellow and pink gloves stood on two legs to greet the children, bowing humbly to greet the Spirits also. She wore a yellow ring around her body that hung over her left shoulder, and a heart-like design was painted on her forehead.
"Swanmon, you're so cute!" Izumi squealed.
"It's Gatomon, now. I was reborn, just like everything else." She smiled, shaking Tomoki's hand, the boy being just eye-level with her.
"Aren't there a lot of baby digimon to take care of now, Gatomon?" Takuya wondered, the three angels gasping excitedly at the idea of playing with infant digimon.
"Actually, all digimon were reborn into their regular, or slightly lower-level forms." Gatomon raised a paw. "Like me. Otherwise, whenever the world has to start over, there would be too much chaos around here."
"Well, I guess that makes some sense," Junpei nodded as was thwapped harmlessly by Bokomon on his leg.
"Of course it makes sense, young man!" he said, waving his book.
"Guys, we're forgetting that we need some answers." All the Spirits seemed to shrink at Kouji's accusation, able to feel the young kids' piercing gazes.
"Yeah, tell us what's going on with this Gate thing." Tomoki put his hands on his hips, his overly-large hat unable to cover the view of his icy gaze.
"What Gate?" Kouichi suddenly asked, unaware of the new development
"We're not sure, either." Takuya said quickly, easing him a little.
"Why don't we all get a little something to eat first?" Kazemon fluttered over to follow Gatomon into the empty Tree of Beginnings, slowly being accompanied by the rest.
"Why do I feel that this topic isn't a good thing?" Takuya muttered under his breath as he shook his head.
When he and the other children entered the Tree, it was almost exactly like it had been before, only with a lot less eggs on the bushes (in fact, they saw none at all) and a lot less cries echoing around. It was weird to be inside with all the empty canopies and all the quiet, some of them shifting nervously as their Spirits hovered around on 'watch'. Gatomon quickly roused up some picnic food and milk and the gathered group had a familiar blanket laid under them to eat on.
"So, digidestined." Gatomon cleared her throat. "Do tell how you managed to beat Lucemon?"
"And about Susanoomon," Kouichi added with a small grin, gazing at his Spirit with a glitter in his eyes. So with Kouichi and Gatomon as the only listeners, the group told their story, the Spirits throwing in the minimalist amount of detail as all the kids talked on and on about the different parts. By the time they were well off of the subject and done with the conversation, it was already sunset.
"That fight must have worn you all out. You must be exhausted. I only have a few rooms, but take what you can." Gatomon humbly offered, showing the children the way to the 'rooms', which really weren't rooms at all.
"Are you telling me we're gonna sleep in treehouses?" Takuya groaned along with Izumi, all the rest looking just as distraught. It turned out the 'rooms' really were like treehouses; hammock-like outcrops nestled throughout the branches of the Tree of Beginnings.
"We'll leave tomorrow. Be happy with what you can get." Agunimon mumbled, then he and the rest of the Spirits shuffled off away from questions into the night like a pack of guards.
"I think I'd be happier on the ground." Junpei muttered to himself, though he climbed up anyway. Takuya had to share his space with Tomoki and Bokomon while the angels snuggled up with Izumi. Kouji and Kouichi were fine together and Neemon dropped asleep on top of Junpei's head. Most all of the children Warriors were sleeping within minutes, not realizing how tired they really had been until they finally settled down. The Tree of Beginnings had a calming effect on them and the refreshing breeze promised an energizing sleep, the leaves chiming little lullabies with the wind.
"Kouichi, are you asleep?"
"I wasn't the one battling Lucemon today. Get some rest, Kouji."
"No. Kouichi," Kouji clutched his brother's shoulder, and the elder knew that his twin wouldn't give up, so he would have to led up. "Tell me what's bothering you. There isn't anything to distract us, everything is safe here now, everything is reborn. But, there's still something wrong."
Kouichi turned to face his twin, gazing at the darkness-covered mirror image that was his brother, a deep concern etched into his features. Kouichi was amazed at how deep that concern ran, even after just meeting his twin. With his grandmother sick and his mother working all the time, he usually didn't get a lot of attention. So he felt special now that he lay under the gaze of his twin - someone who he could confide in, who had a connection with him deeper than anything.
"What did you mean when you said you weren't able to see us in the real world?" Kouji was someone he could tell the truth to, without fear.
"Kouji... I didn't get into the Digital World like you did." Kouichi started slowly, "And... well, I wasn't really sure how I got here before, and it's still a little hazy now..."
"What?" Kouji prompted and Kouichi gulped.
"I... I think I might have died to get here, Kouji. I'm just a spirit." Kouichi bit his lip at the sudden anger that came over Kouji's face, flinching when his younger brother took hold his hand.
"You're not dead! You aren't. When we get back to the Real World, I'll make sure everything is okay." Kouji tried to not growl, but the hot feeling in his throat made it hard not to. "I'll make sure."
"Still, I'm just a spirit here. I can't even get hurt." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, his brother went somewhat aggressive.
"You did get hurt! You... were killed. Scanned! Kouichi, don't think that you're safe because you're not!"
"I know that!" Kouichi suppressed a sniffle, hoping his brother would calm down before they fell out of the hammock-bed. "I know I'm not invulnerable because I'm already dead!"
There was sudden silence as Kouji realized that this may not be the best approach. He could see the hurt in his brother's eyes, hear the half-sniffles he tried to choke down, even as the edges of his eyes held onto tears. He deflated against his brother, taking some deep breaths as Kouichi sniffled aloud.
"You aren't dead. I'll make sure." Kouji repeated, wrapping a hand over his brother's back. Kouichi leaned into his twin, choking on more sniffles as the hand on his back made soothing motions.
"It's been a long day. Try to get some sleep, Nii-san."
There was silence and Kouichi's breathing slowly evened out and calmed. Just when Kouji suspected his brother to be sleeping, he heard a faint whisper.
And then they both fell asleep.
"The Digital World is being set right, once again. Life is being renewed as we know it."
"Agunimon! You told us all this already!" A grumpy Takuya Kanbara was exceptionally irate at his Spirit's recorded message being replayed first thing in the morning, just as the sun started to flutter in over the horizon and make most eyes squint. The Spirit of Fire knew this and only nodded, trying to keep the peace.
"Yes, all things are being reborn, including not only Kouichi and other Digimon," The boy stiffened at his name, afraid of drawing unnecessary attention to him, but Agunimon went on quickly. "But the Gate as well."
"What is it about this Gate thing, then? It's not like it's the reason we can't go home...right?" Junpei prompted the initiating question, all hoping to receive some reasonable answers.
"Actually, I'm afraid it is." Kazemon frowned as she watched the six human children slump in their places around a small meeting table. Gatomon was currently not present while she checked for new eggs on her bushes, going around with a watering can to sprinkle life over her garden and give the Legendary Warriors some privacy.
"But don't get worked up about it." Beetlemon added in, "There's an easy way to open up the Gate, so no worries." He shoved the eldest boy on the shoulder, willing a giddy grin from him.
"Then what is it?" Tomoki prompted.
"The ten keys, of course." Bokomon replied, hoping up onto Lobomon's lap for emphasis, but was quickly pushed down.
"Where do we find them?"
"And how do we know what they look like?" Kouichi and Kouji asked.
"That's the problem. No one knows where they are--"
"or how to find them,"
"or what the keys look like." Lopmon, Patamon and Salamon replied together.
"Great. Another wild goose chase," Izumi sighed
"No, actually not!" Bokomon protested, "Whoever wields their fusion evolution will be able to find the key."
"But that's only two of us." Takuya pointed to Kouji who nodded along with his friend.
"That means the rest of us get fusion evolutions too, then!?" Tomoki piped eagerly, a smile widening across his face.
"I thought that power only came from Seraphimon?" Izumi tilted her head as she remembered how both Beowulfmon and EmperorGreymon were born from the power boost sent by Seraphimon's egg.
"Well, yeah..." Kumamon scratched his round head, the other Spirits also confused.
"Maybe... the power will come only when we really need it...?" Kouichi suggested.
"But we don't need our Spirits now. Everything is peaceful, isn't it?" Takuya argued, frustration boiling up inside him.
"Maybe not as peaceful as Agunimon makes it seem." Lobomon growled and Agunimon felt sweat drip down his face.
"Okay, well... whatever we need to do, let's do it and get back home." Everyone cheered along with the fire warrior, wearing smiles and hope dancing in their eyes. Kouji was happy to see even his brother jump into the cheer with him, and everything was okay.
-(to be continued)-
Returnshall include the Japanese names of the frontier kids, along with some Japanese nick-names (Nii-san; "older brother") and maybe some suffixes added. All Digimon's names and most Villages will be referred in English.