Disclaimer: I do now own anything. All character either belong to Digimon or to Broken Angel01, who came up with all of the characters that you do not recognize.

Author's Notes: Go read Following the Footsteps of Destiny first if you have not read it. Two reasons why: 1) this will make NO sense to you unless you do, and 2) it's a brilliant story and everybody should read it. Anyway, this is based off of Chapter 50 from that very story. I am looking for constructive criticism in anything! This time around, I took a few liberties with characters thoughts and whatnot (mostly Matty) and I would love to see if I was able to keep them in character anyway.

Summary: From Following the Footsteps of Destiny by Broken Angel01. Read that first. Masato still has a lot to learn about friendship and family. Good thing he's not alone. One-shot.


Uncertainty in the Face of Friendship

"Mickey…"

Matty's whine fell past his lips even as he realized that it was futile. The older twin was standing next to him, brushing his teeth as was their customary morning ritual. Just like always, they were taking times spitting into the sink, only this time they did not have to worry about bumping heads with Rina. Their little sister was still blissfully asleep in her bedroom while her two older brothers got ready to head to their cousin's house.

"Now look who's making a mess," Mickey said with a small smile, gesturing toward the floor.

The younger twin looked down at his feet and sighed. A fat line of toothpaste was lying in a glob on the tile floor having fallen from his toothbrush in his haste to throw his hands on his hips, hoping to look intimidating to the older twin. It always worked for his mother, but judging from Mickey's unimpressed look, it was not working very well for him.

If the situation had been different, Matty would have been laughing at the irony of it. After all, hadn't Mickey been standing in his position last night?

"If we keep making a mess, Mom's going to start thinking she needs to supervise us when we brush our teeth."

"You were the one making a mess last night," Matty grumbled half-heartedly as he grabbed a towel and wiped up the toothpaste.

Mickey did not say anything to that statement, and Matty had the distinct feeling that his twin was hoping that he was finally going to drop the subject.

Yeah right! Mickey might be fine with telling our friends that we broke their trust by letting Rina finding out about our Digimon, but I'm not! They already have a low opinion of me anyway. The last thing I need is another black mark on my record. Sure, I'm not the only one whose Digimon Rina saw, but there's no way that anybody will be mad at Mickey. I'll be the one receiving the brunt of it all. I just know it!

"Mickey…" he began again, hoping to get his brother to understand. "They're going to be so mad at us!"

Mickey froze his toothbrush an inch from his mouth. Slowly, his arm lowered, and a fearful frown appeared on the twin's face. Immediately, Matty began to feel guilty. It was obvious that their friends' anger was one of the things that Mickey was most terrified of facing.

He's just as worried as I am, Matty realized.

"I know," said Mickey, his voice sounding small to his brother's ears.

Even with the knowledge that his brother was just as worried as he was, Matty did not feel at all comforted.

"Dai's going to hate me," he muttered, dropping his toothbrush in the sink.

Dai is always so worried about what his parents think of him; he's always afraid that he's going to disappoint them. I don't see how anybody could ever be disappointed in Dai, but I know that he thinks that if his parents found out about the Digital World, it would be just another opportunity to let them down. He's never going to forgive me for letting this slip!

Dai was Matty's best friend - besides Mickey, of course - and the blonde did not know what he would do without the goggle-headed boy's friendship. They were a lot alike in so many ways. Neither one of them meant to get into as much trouble as they did, but that was just the way they were. As a result, they were both dubbed as 'troublemakers' and ended up just flocking together when they got detention.

They both knew that their fathers were particularly glad that they got along so well considering their own history, and Matty had to say that he agreed with them. He could never be as perfect as his brother was, and he needed Dai around to remind him that it wasn't a bad thing.

What if he never speaks to me again?

"Oh, Matty," Mickey said, turning to face him as he dropped his own toothbrush in the sink. "Dai could never hate you! He cares about you too much."

Matty felt his brother's arms wrap around him and the next thing he knew, he was burying his face into Mickey's shoulder, trying to draw some strength from the slightly older blond. Matty wanted nothing more than to believe Mickey's words, but the worry and fear was only building, causing all of the worst case scenarios to pop through his head.

"I just have a bad feeling about this," he muttered, and Mickey held his tighter.

It was several moments later that Mickey finally spoke. "We better go or else we'll be late to Ryoko's," he murmured.

Matty did not let go of his brother right away. Afraid of what he was going to have to face at his cousin's house, he held on a little tighter, hoping to delay the inevitable. He knew that Mickey understood his fears – Mickey always understood – but he also knew that the older blond also understood why they had to tell the others a lot better than Matty did. So, when Mickey pulled away from the hug and put their toothbrushes away, he couldn't be mad at his brother.

"This is going to be a disaster," Matty muttered as he walked into their bedroom.

Goldmon stuck his head out from underneath the bed and gave his partner a comforting look. "Don't think like that, Matty! Who knows? Maybe they won't care!"

"Yeah right," the younger twin said with a sigh as he grabbed his backpack. "Get in."

Goldmon made a face. "But you still have your old gym socks in there!"

"Get in, Goldmon!"

The fluffy Digimon pouted for a moment before hopping into the backpack. Matty zipped it up just as Mickey walked in carrying his own backpack.

"Ready to go, Palelymon?"

"Ready!"

"Then hop in."

Palelymon jumped into the backpack in Mickey's outstretched hands. He snuggled into the confines of the bag. "You cleaned it out!"

"I thought you'd like a little more room," Mickey said with a smile, before he also closed the bag.

"Lucky," came the muffled reply from Matty's own backpack.

He glared at it as though it had betrayed him as Mickey gave him a look.

"Did you forget to clean out your backpack, Matty?"

It's not my fault! I've had other things on my mind in case you haven't noticed!

"C'mon," he muttered heading out the door. "If we don't hurry, we're going to be late."

He rushed out the front door with Mickey on his heels. He heard Mickey stop to call into the house and let their parents know that they were leaving, but Matty did pause in his step. The last thing he needed was to be interrogated by his parents. He already had a terrible feeling that something bad was going to happen today; he did not want a confrontation with his worried parents' faces to add to the fact.

I know they worry, but what can we do? We can't just abandon the Digital World because our parents are worried about what we are doing. This is something we have to do. I wish we could tell them what was going on… I have a feeling that they would understand. But I know that we can't. They might try to stop us from going, and then where would we be? Even worse… where would the Digital World be?

He glanced over at his twin who had caught back with him. Mickey seemed lost in thought as well and did not try to speak with him, but Matty was grateful for that. He saw very slight movement from Mickey's backpack; it was the only sign that they had their Digimon with them.

If we don't save the Digital World, Digimon like Goldmon and Palelymon are going to suffer. We're the only ones that can do it! I just wish we didn't have to lie to our family. It's easier now that Rina knows, but it's not fair to her either that she has to keep this big secret. I know she will, but it's just not fair.

Matty turned his gaze up toward the sky. It was still rather early in the morning, before noon, and much earlier than the time that Matty would usually get up on a Saturday. It was a nice day outside with very few clouds in the sky. Even with the day being so beautiful, Matty could not shake the awful feeling he had in the pit of his stomach.

I hope Dai's not going to be too mad… I know he's going to have every right to be, but I don't want to lose him as a friend. Though, I suppose if Dai stopped talking to me, that would give him a good reason to start talking to Ryoko, and that would be good. At least then they could finally form that friendship that has been in the making for so many years. Then everybody could be happy!

Except me.

Matty did not fault Dai for wanting to be Ryoko's friend, and he definitely did not fault Ryoko for wanting to be Dai's. But Matty could not shake the slight worry that in the end, he was going to be alone.

Don't be stupid! Even if Dai and Ryoko become friends, they'll still want to hang out with me. Even though Ryoko and I don't really get along… but even if they don't, I'll have Mickey!

That was another thing. Mickey's newly growing friendship with Sam was great. Their entire life, the six of them had been unintentionally split into two groups due to Ryoko and Dai's constant fighting. Because Matty was such good friends with Dai, Mickey had ended up hanging out with the two of them more than with their cousins and Sam. Now that they were all being forced to work together, the friendship that had always been there between the two shy boys was growing and they were becoming very close. Just like Dai, Mickey was also finding someone else to hang out with.

Yeah, but that doesn't mean that he's going to forget that he has a brother! This is Mickey I'm talking about! He could never forget anybody. I'll never be alone, because he won't let me, and Dai is just as stubborn. He'll move Heaven and Earth to be with somebody if he thinks they're feeling lonely.

Matty shook his head, trying to shake the negative thoughts from his mind as he did so.

"Matty, what's wrong?"

Mickey's voice broke through Matty's thoughts. It was then that Matty realized that he must have stopped walking, because he and Mickey were no longer moving. Instead, the older twin was standing a few paces in front of him, looking at his brother with a worried and concerned look.

Matty quickly averted his eyes, a pink blush appearing in his cheeks.

"Matty…?" Mickey prodded, as he took a step toward his twin.

"I'm just worried," Matty mumbled.

He did not specify about what because he did not want to lie to his brother, but at the same time, he couldn't tell Mickey about his ridiculous fears. After all, Matty already knew that he was being stupid by thinking those thoughts; he did not need anybody else to tell him the same thing.

"You shouldn't be so worried, Matty," Mickey said, quietly. "They're our friends. Even if they might be a little upset in the beginning, they'll understand because that's what friends do, and they're the best friends that we could have. And even if they are mad for a while, I'll still be here."

Matty smiled as he looked into his twin's eyes. He knew that Mickey thought that he had been talking about telling them the truth again, but that did not matter. Mickey's words had filled him with a comfort that he had not quite known that he needed, and a true smile fell across his face.

"Thanks, Mickey," he said. "You always know what to say."

"That's because I'm your brother, and I always know what you're thinking."

Not always, but that's okay.

"Can we hurry it up?" Goldmon said from Matty's backpack. "It's getting a little stuffy in here!"

Giggling could be heard coming from Mickey's backpack. The two brothers shared an amused look.

"So… are you ready to go in?"

Matty blinked. Then he looked around and realized exactly where he was. They were standing right outside Ryoko's home and had been for quite a while, it seemed. Matty's eyes widened as they stared toward their destination that was just several steps away.

"Y-yeah," he stuttered even as his heart hammered in his chest.

Mickey reached over and gave his arm a comforting squeeze before walking up the door and knocking. Matty hung back, almost afraid to enter his cousin's home, as Ryoko answered the door. His cousin smiled at Mickey, but when his gaze moved to Matty, his smile turned into a frown and the handsome blond tilted his head slightly to the side in question. Matty blushed brightly and ducked his head, hoping to avoid his cousin's stare.

Good going, Matty! Can you be any more obvious?

"Come on in," Ryoko said as he moved to the side to let Mickey enter.

As Matty hurried after him, he could still feel Ryoko's eyes boring into the back of his skull. He tried to ignore it as he walked into his cousin's room. Takara was already there sitting with Fluttermon and Iramon, and she greeted both twins with a smile as they walked in. Matty immediately found a nice spot in the corner to sit down in before opening his backpack and letting Goldmon out.

"Finally!" the little Digimon gasped.

Palelymon giggled as he, too, was let out of Mickey's backpack.

Looking up, Matty realized that Ryoko was still looking at him with something close to concern. The blonde opened his mouth, perhaps to ask a question, but at that moment there was knocking at the door. Matty let out the breath he had been holding as Ryoko left the room. He did not know what he would do if his cousin had started to ask questions.

I need to stop being so obvious, but I'm so scared, I don't know what to do! I'm afraid that if I open my mouth to talk, I'm just going to blurt everything out, and that won't help anybody out. Oh, I hope they don't hate me.

Matty buried his face into the top of Goldmon's head and tried to calm down. He felt Mickey sit down next to him as an arm was thrown over his shoulders. He wanted to lean into his brother's embrace and take comfort from him, but he knew that if he did that, then Takara would notice that something was wrong, and that would just lead to questions that Matty did not want to answer. At least, not yet anyway.

The door to Ryoko's room opened and Sam walked in with a large grin plastered on his face. He looked a lot better than he had for the past few days, and for that, Matty was extremely glad. He looked over at Mickey and saw that his brother was now smiling too, apparently just as glad that Sam was no longer looking pale and worried.

I'm not sure what happened to cause this change, but I'm sure glad it happened! Sam's a good friend of mine and I would never want him to be upset. I'm just glad he's happy again, and I'm glad that his happiness is rubbing off on Mickey. I hate seeing Mickey upset, and I know that me being upset is only making him upset. Thank goodness Sam got here when he did!

"Are you excited Sam?" Kara asked with a grin.

"Definitely!" Sam breathed, his eyes shining with anticipation. "I can't wait to find my Digimon."

"And we will," Ryoko said, a determined look on his face. "We won't come back till we do!"

"That's right!" said Fluttermon.

"Thanks, guys." Sam smiled gratefully at all of them as they all nodded in agreement.

"You know, Sam," Mickey said, "your Digimon is going to like you a lot. I bet you two are going to make a great team."

Sam blushed as his smile turned into a shyer one. "I hope so," he muttered.

"You will!" Palelymon said from Mickey's lap as he beamed up at Sam.

"Thanks, Palelymon," Sam murmured, as he ran a finger over the In-Training Digimon's head. Palelymon leaned into the touch with a content look on his face.

"But we won't be getting anybody's Digimon if Dai doesn't show up soon!" Ryoko snapped suddenly, glaring at the clock on the wall.

"Where is Dai anyway?" Takara asked, curiously.

"Probably at home sleeping, no doubt," Ryoko growled.

Matty frowned.

That doesn't sound like Dai. He knows how important it is to Sam that we find his partner before Vampiramon and her buddies do. He would never sleep through something as important as this!

"You shouldn't be so hard on Dai, Ryoko," Mickey said quietly. "He knows how important it is that he gets here. I'm sure he's on his way."

Matty smiled at his twin.

Sometimes, I think he actually can read my mind.

"Even if he isn't, I doubt it's his fault," Sam said. He looked impatient to get moving but not upset that Dai was taking a little longer than everybody else.

Takara nodded. "I bet you're right," she said.

Ryoko looked doubtful.

You don't really doubt Dai that much, do you, Ryoko? I know you don't because I know how much you value friendship. You're just like Uncle Matt sometimes, Ryoko, and that's a good thing. You know the true meaning of friendship, and being friends means always being trustworthy, and I don't know anybody – other than Mickey – who is more trustworthy than Dai. And you know that, too, I know you do. Why else would you want to be friends with him?

Takara pulled Sam into a conversation about the Digital World, and they began to come up with a sketchy plan for the day with Ryoko throwing in his two cents every once in a while. Now that they were no longer talking about Dai, he seemed to have calmed down to his usual friendly self. Every once in a while, though, he would shoot the twins a suspicious look as though he knew of the news that they were going to drop on them soon.

He can't know… can he?

A poke in the shoulder startled him out of his thoughts.

"Matty, I'm supposed to be the quiet twin," Mickey whispered in a half joking manner.

"Sorry," Matty murmured, ducking his head again to avoid his brother's eyes.

"Are you still worried about how they'll react?" he asked, keeping his voice low.

Matty paused a moment before finally nodding. "Yeah…" he muttered. "I just know they'll freak."

"Even if they do freak, they won't hate you," Palelymon said quietly.

"Yeah, they could never hate you! They're your friends," Goldmon added, staring up at his partner with bright, innocent eyes.

Matty felt his lip begin to tremble with emotion and he buried his face into Goldmon's small body in order to not let his brother see. But he could never fool Mickey, and the older twin pulled Matty close, holding him tightly in a comforting embrace. This time, Matty allowed himself to lean into him, as he could still hear Takara and Sam talking. Nobody was paying attention to them, and even if they were, Matty didn't think he'd care.

I have the best brother in the whole world.

There was the sound of knocking at the front door.

Ryoko threw his hands up into the air as he said, "Took him long enough!" He jumped to his feet and rushed out the door, probably eager to get on Dai's case about being late.

Fear encircled Matty's heart as he realized that in just a few minutes – possibly seconds – they would be revealing their secret at last. He clung to Mickey's side as the fear began to turn to panic.

"Mickey, why do we have to tell them? Why can't we just hold off until after? Why does it have to be now?" he hissed, praying that his brother would see reason.

"Matty…" his brother began with a soft sigh.

"No! No, I don't want to do it now! I can't tell them, Mickey. I can't! They're going to be so angry. They're never going to speak to us again!"

"Matty, calm down," Mickey said.

"Calm down? I can't calm down! They're going to be really upset! I'll never be able to look them in the face again!"

"Oh, Matty…" Goldmon said, sounding sympathetic.

Ryoko reentered the room, followed by Dai who apparently had pushed him in.

Oh God, he's here.

"Why do we even have to tell them in the first place? Why can't we just keep it a secret? Rina promised not to tell anybody; they don't even have to know!"

"Matty!" the older twin admonished. "They deserve to know! They're our friends. And this isn't only about us, you know."

"Who cares who it's about?" Matty said, feeling as though he was on the verge of hysteria. "They don't have to know. We don't have to tell them. They're going to be so angry… I can't tell them, Mickey. I can't!"

The others had welcomed Dai and were now talking about Sam and his father. Usually, this topic of conversation would rise up concern and interest in the younger twin, but right now, all he cared about was what was going to happen any second now. He could feel Goldmon in his lap trying to calm him down, but it wasn't working very well.

"Matty, I'll tell them," Mickey said, suddenly, causing the younger twin to pause. "Just let me do the talking, okay? But we have to tell them."

"But, Mickey…" he began, looking at his brother pleadingly, but there was a determined look in his brother's eyes and Matty knew that he would not back down.

"It'll be okay, Matty. You'll see," he muttered.

I sure hope you're right, Mickey.

It took a moment before Matty realized that Ryoko had pulled out his D-Coder and was facing the computer.

Oh no! Are we going already!?

"Well? Are you guys coming, or what?" the blonde asked, about to raise his D-Coder to the computer.

Matty's eyes widened and the word "Wait!" was pulled from his throat. Everybody paused to turn to look at the twins as Matty tried not to panic under their stares.

Why did I say that? I could have just let us go into the Digital World and then we would never have had to have this talk in the first place! I know why I said it, though… it's because Mickey would never forgive himself if he didn't tell them the truth, and I would never forgive myself if Mickey ended up upset because I didn't stop everybody. Oh God, I hope Mickey's right. I hope everything will be okay!

"What is up with you, Matty?" Dai asked with a frown as he crossed his arms over his chest. "You and Mickey have been acting really weird lately."

Matty blushed as he bowed his head. Had they really been that obvious lately? He looked at Mickey, hoping his brother would wave off their odd behavior so that they could just go the Digital World and be done with it. Instead, the older twin gave him a sympathetic look – obviously he knew what he was thinking – and said, "I think we'd better get this over with now, Matty, before we go to the Digital World. I don't want our news to cause any distractions when we're searching for Sam's partner."

His voice had been quiet, but it was apparent that everybody in the room had heard him as Ryoko stepped forward with a cool look on his face. "I think the two of you have some explaining to do."

There was a glare on their cousin's face that held no affection whatsoever on it. It made Matty wince and shrink further into himself as he wished he could disappear on the spot. They had not even said what was going on yet, and already, their friends were upset with them.

I just knew it! I hate it when I'm right.

Mickey seemed just as taken aback by Ryoko's glare as Matty was, because for several moments, he did not say anything. Then, Goldmon spoke up from Matty's lap.

"We have something to tell you," the little Digimon said seriously.

Traitor! You're not supposed to be helping in getting my friends to hate me!

"What is it?" Takara asked, frowning slightly.

Unlike Ryoko and Dai who both looked suspicious, she seemed genuinely curious and a little worried. Her tone made Matty's nerves calm just slightly, but it was not enough to calm his hammering heart.

Why is this taking so long? This is like slow torture! Why can't we just come out and say it and get this over with!? I already know what the end result is going to be, so why are we taking our sweet time in getting there?

Mickey ran a gentle finger over the top of Goldmon's head as he murmured, "Goldmon, I think you better let me do the talking."

"Rina know about our Digimon!"

The words were out of Matty's mouth before he even fully registered that he was talking. The color drained from his face as he realized what he had just said and he leaned back into the wall, wishing that he could melt away.

"She what!?" Dai cried.

Matty cringed.

I knew it. I knew it! He's never going to trust me again. Oh, Dai, I'm so sorry! I'm sorry that I betrayed your trust.

"Matty," Mickey said in a gentle yet stern tone as he shook his head.

The younger twin buried his face into his brother's back, wishing that he could stay hidden behind him forever. He just wanted to disappear forever and escape the glares of his friends. "Sorry," he murmured, and he wasn't sure if he was saying it to Mickey or to their friends, but it just sounded like the right thing to say.

"How?" Ryoko snapped.

Takara groaned. "I knew it! I knew it had to be something like this! It's no wonder you guys have been acting like the world's going to end and jumping at every sound!"

So much for Takara being the only one that didn't sound upset, Matty thought, dully.

"So much for keeping the Digital World a secret from our parents!" Sam muttered.

Great! Sam's upset, too. So much for our news not causing a distraction! How are we supposed to go to the Digital World and find Sam's partner if everybody is mad at us?

"How!?" Ryoko yelled, this time a lot louder, causing Matty to jump.

"Calm down, Ryoko," Mickey said in a soft tone. "Rina walked into our room before we had a chance to hide Palelymon and Goldmon."

He sounds so calm! I don't know how he does it! I'm so terrified right now, I can feel myself shaking!

"It was an accident!" Matty wailed.

Ryoko's burning glare was suddenly on Matty as he snapped, "I wasn't talking to you, was I?"

Matty froze, his mouth hanging open as he stared at his cousin. He could feel an uncomfortable burning sensation gathering at the base of his throat, and he had to swallow to keep it down.

Ryoko hates me…

The realization hit him harder than he would have liked. He had assumed that it would be Dai who would jump down his throat like this, but it wasn't. Instead, it was Ryoko who was glaring at him, who was yelling at him, who hated him.

He hates me…

Mickey and Ryoko were still exchanging words, but Matty was not really listening through the dull roar in his ears. His breathing had turned quite shallow and he had to focus in order to keep from either hyperventilating or crying, neither of which seemed too appealing at the moment.

"She promised she wouldn't tell," he muttered, not really sure of what he was saying himself.

"Matty, I know you're not stupid, so quit trying to pretend you are!"

Ryoko's voice, which usually held some sort of affection when speaking with his cousins, held nothing but venom. Matty was not even sure what the rest of what he had said was, all he took in was the tone and how it was said. He could feel the tears prickling in his eyes, but he ignored them, his whole body shaking.

Fine, he can hate me, but I'm making myself feel terrible enough without him making me feel ten times worse! Matty thought angrily.

"Hey! I might be your least favorite cousin, but that doesn't mean you can treat me like dirt!"

The silence in the room was deafening. The tears in Matty's eyes refused to go away no matter how many times he blinked.

Ryoko… when did things turn so wrong? I always looked at you as a second brother, as a triplet, even! What did I do to make you hate me so much?

"Oh, Matty…" Takara said in a shaky voice. She looked to be on the verge of tears. "That's not true, and you know it."

I wish it wasn't, he thought mournfully. And Ryoko's not even saying anything! It's probably because he's shocked that I called him out on it. He knows it's true, though, so why won't he just admit it?

Matty glanced toward his cousin, expecting to see him look nervous or perhaps like a deer caught in the headlight, instead… Ryoko was extremely pale and he had a look on his face that was a mixture of shock and anguish. It was almost as though he was in pain just hearing Matty say that.

But that doesn't make sense! Why should he feel that terrible when he knows it's true?

"Is that really what you think?" Ryoko whispered, his voice shaking.

There was such an amount of raw pain in the blonde's eyes that Matty had to look away, hiding himself in Mickey's shoulder once more. He felt himself blushing from shame and embarrassment – now everybody knew the truth – and the tears in his eyes threatened to leak out once more.

"You've always liked Rina and Mickey better than me," he said dully. "You never fight with them, only me."

Only me. He doesn't even fight with Kara or Tay either! He gets along with everybody in our family except for me. It should have been obvious from the beginning that he would hate me.

Suddenly, Mickey was being pushed away from him and Matty turned to see Ryoko approaching him. For one fearful second, Matty was sure that Ryoko was going to hit him. Then his cousin threw his arms around him, and he found himself engulfed in a hug. Too shocked to move, Matty did not return it, but that did not seem to deter Ryoko at all. He simply buried his head into Matty's shoulder and began to talk, his voice low and honest.

"Matty, you and I don't often agree on things, but I still love you anyway. Don't ever forget that."

Trembling, Matty slowly wrapped his arms around Ryoko to return the hug.

He's being honest, isn't he?

Newly formed tears sprung to his eyes, but this time, they were there for an entirely different reason.

"I'm sorry I yelled at you. I don't know what came over me. I guess I must have just panicked," Ryoko continued, still clinging to the younger twin.

He's not lying… He's telling the truth… He doesn't hate me…

"Rina won't tell anyone," Matty repeated, feeling as though he was in a daze.

"I know," Ryoko admitted. "I meant what I said before, Matty. You and Mickey are like brothers to me. I love you both equally, and the same goes for Rina."

Matty pulled away from Ryoko, unable to look him in the eye.

I want to believe him… I really do. But what if he's just saying that make me feel better? But Ryoko never says anything that sincere without really meaning it. He wouldn't lie about something like this. Would he?

"You promise?" Matty whispered. He had to make sure.

"I promise," Ryoko murmured without hesitation before pulling Matty back into the embrace.

Matty clung to Ryoko as though he was a lifeline, almost afraid that this was true. He buried his face into his cousin's chest and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mickey watching them with a small smile. He turned his head toward him and with a pretend pout on his face said, "Mickey, you're the older twin. You're supposed to be protecting me from people like Ryoko!"

Mickey laughed, and Matty smiled as he physically felt the tension in the room ease from his brother's laughter.

"I'm sorry for yelling at you, Mickey," Ryoko said, softly.

Mickey shook his head. "No, Ryoko. Don't apologize to me. Apologize to Matty."

Matty just held Ryoko tighter with a smile. "He already did," he murmured.

The younger twin felt his cousin shift and he pulled away so that he could look him in the face. His cousin was blushing and suddenly had an uncertain look in his eyes as he stared at the ground.

Uh-oh. What is it now? He's not changing his mind, is he?

"Um...Matty? You know what? I always thought you didn't love me as much as Mickey," the blonde admitted.

Matty's mouth fell open as he stared at Ryoko with a gaping fish-like look.

He's kidding… right?

Once it was apparent that Ryoko was not kidding, Matty could not help the laughter that fell from his lips. He hugged Ryoko again, still slightly chuckling as he set his chin on his cousin's shoulder, and whispered, "You're so stupid. Of course I do. Are you kidding me? Mickey and I adopted you as our triplet years ago! I'll always care about you, even when you act like an idiot!"

Because now I know that you'll still care about me even when I act like an idiot, too. I guess that's what being family is all about.

"Thanks," Ryoko whispered, and he sounded genuine.

"Well," Sam said suddenly, and Matty pulled away from Ryoko to look at the dark-haired boy, "what's done is done. I'm pretty sure Rina will keep our secret, but let's all make sure that no one else finds out, alright?"

Sam had pulled out his D-Coder as he spoke, and Matty smiled as he realized the gentler boy was anxious to get to the Digital World.

And I don't blame him! If I had been the last to get my Digimon, I would have been bouncing off the walls!

"As long as Ema doesn't know, we're safe!" Dai announced with a snicker.

Matty turned to look at Dai and couldn't help but be a little surprised.

I guess my fears over Dai had been for nothing. He doesn't look angry with me at all!

"You know what, Dai?" Matty said as he looked at his friend. "I thought you were going to be the one who freaked out on us!"

Dai grinned and shrugged in a sheepish manner. "Actually, do you want to know the truth?" he said, scratching the back of his head. "I thought I was going to be the one who ended up giving us away! This is great! Now Ishida can't blame me if our parents find out about the Digital World!"

Oh, great! Thanks, Dai. I see how you are.

But even as Matty thought that, he was grinning. He should have known that his goggle-headed friend would never have been angry with them. It just wasn't in Dai's nature to hold a grudge. Matty was seriously starting to feel sillier and sillier for the fear that he had been holding in earlier.

I can't believe that I actually thought that any of my friends would abandon us just because we made a mistake. I feel so stupid! Our friendship is stronger than that. And that goes for everything. We'll always be friends, no matter what. Mickey and Goldmon were right all along. I never should have doubted them.

"Can we please go now?" Sam said, practically jumping in anticipation where he stood as he tightened his grip on his D-Coder.

Dai threw an arm around Sam's shoulder with an apologetic look. "Sorry. Are we all ready to go?"

There's nothing going to stop us now!

Matty pulled out his own D-Coder and stepped up to the computer, feeling more confident than he had in a while. "We're ready," he said softly but with conviction. "Alright, gate. Take us to the continent of Text again! Digiport open!"

And as is said, the rest is history…