Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon.

Author's Note: "Naoki" and "Kouru" are the Takaishi twins. Now, where in the world did I come up with those names? Well, that's a funny story, actually... You see, ironically, I stole both of those names from Frontier Second Generation stories. In both stories, Kouichi Kimura had a son, and in one of them, his name was "Kouru" and in another, his name was "Naoki". So, there you go, the origins of the random pair for the twins. And to tell you the truth, those names were last ditch efforts to finally pick something, heh. I have the worst trouble with names.

I love constructive criticism!

Enjoy!


Introduction to Parenthood

Lesson Eight: Discipline

TK had never seen a kicked puppy in his life, but he imagined it would look just like Naoki. The twin was fidgeting in his socks, shuffling his feet back and forth in weird, twitchy motions. His eyes looked oversized and teary, the pupils darting back and forth as though looking for an escape. His bottom lip was trembling, too, and TK could just imagine the heartbreaking waver that would be present in the boy's voice if he tried to talk.

The father of two tried to say something, but then thought against it and shut his mouth once again. He surveyed Nao from top to bottom. Soaked socks. Ripped jeans. Big blue eyes brimming over with tears.

Remember, TK thought, biting his tongue, he's only eleven.

Eleven or not, though, TK could not – in all the scenarios he played over in his mind – figure out exactly how Nao had gotten into this state or how he had taken down the living room with him. With Kari still at school and Kouru at soccer practice, TK had been home alone most of the day with Naoki until the author had decided to step out for a moment to get a few groceries they were lacking. Nao had said he would be fine by himself. TK had believed him.

Only to return to this.

What exactly this was, TK still did not know.

There was the awful stench of burnt fabric wafting throughout the room, obviously coming from the smoke seeping up from the pile of curtains in the corner of the room. The same curtains that used to hang from the front windows. The smoke continued to rise, and TK hoped that this was not a sign that the pile of cloth was going to catch fire again – He said again only because everything in the pile seemed to be soaked with water, creating a nice big round ring of wetness in the carpet around it; the same ring that was still growing as TK stared at it.

Nao was a good kid; whatever he had done to simultaneously destroy his jeans and the curtains of the house had apparently taught him a good lesson. The scorch marks on his socks would at least leave an impression. And even if Kari was going to be horrified to learn that her curtains were destroyed, he was a good kid. A good kid who was kind and charismatic but not as troublemaking or loud as his restless twin brother. A good kid who… deserved something right now, a type of sympathy. A good kid who looked a second away from an emotional breakdown if TK was to say the wrong thing.

The older blonde took this all into account two seconds after blurting out, "Nao, what in the world happened?"

The bottom lip trembled pathetically. "I, uh… I…"

"Start at the beginning," he coaxed, trying to sound gentle.

"I, uh… kinda… messed up…"

"How?"

"Um… I, uh… um…"

"Nao," he began, realizing that he was going to get nowhere like this. He reminded himself to remain calm. At least smoke wasn't rising from the moist curtains anymore. "What happened to the curtains?"

"They, uh… they caught on fire… I put them out."

"With water?"

Nao closed his eyes and an angry blush appeared. "Uh… no… not at first… I tried to put it out with the throw pillow."

TK glanced back toward the pile of curtains, finally catching site of the charred throw pillow – it looks like a deflated beach ball. He licked his lips.

"Naoki Takaishi," he said, letting the name fall from his lips like thick molasses.

If Naoki had gone any paler, TK would have been worried as the sudden loss of blood. As it was, it was the exact desired effect that he had hoped for. And Matt used to say that he couldn't be intimidating.

"Yes?" the younger boy squeaked.

"Are you telling me that you tried to put out a fire with a throw pillow when you were standing a mere five feet away from the kitchen where there was plenty of water available?"

"I, um… I tried to carry the curtains there, but my jeans caught on the table and I kinda tripped." He winced, as though expecting a reprimand at that. When TK said nothing, he continued, "And, um… I kinda fell onto it, so I just grabbed the closest thing to me, which happened to be the throw pillow." Nao glanced down at his hands. "I kinda burnt myself a little when I fell. Think I might've sprained my wrist, too."

"So how'd the water get there?"

"Well, the pillow didn't exactly… work like I thought it would. So I ran to grab the hose from the sink, and…" He glanced at the pile of soggy curtains. "Yeah."

TK sighed. "C'mere. Let me see your hands."

Nao shuffled forward and extended his hands. The tops were flushed from heat, and when TK flipped them over – noticing how Nao winced when he gripped his son's left – he saw that they looked badly sunburned with skin peeling back from the fingertips.

"I was trying to keep the fire as far from me as possible, but when I fell, I kinda just landed on it," he said, miserably.

TK released his son's hands. "Alright, we're heading to the hospital. This is worse than I expected. And next time," he paused, to throw an arm around Nao's shoulders so that he couldn't retreat, "tell me if you're hurt before I start in on my lecture."

Nao frowned at the idea of 'next time' but then smiled again. "Okay, Dad."

"If we hurry, we may have enough time to clean up before your mother comes home," TK said.

The older man shepherded Nao out of the house, only letting them pause for Nao to discard himself of his soggy socks and for them to put on their shoes. Nao, despite everything, was grinning from ear to ear looking like a condemned prisoner who was being allowed to see sunlight again. The blonde boy looked up at his father, and TK was glad to see that the kicked puppy look was gone and instead his usual easy 'everything is going to be okay' look was present instead.

TK stopped them at the car and Nao looked up him, confused.

"When we get back, I still need to know how you managed to catch the curtains on fire."


Next up: "Embracing the Imagination" featuring Yolei and her daughter, Yumia.