Title: Ordinary people
Author: Alena Fryin Pairing: Daisuke/Ken
Disclaimer: I own an infinite amount of nothing where Digimon is concerned.
You had to look
In awe and surprise
Yet I'd found nothing
To live but my life...
What comes after saving the world is anticlimactic.
In movies, there are dance parties, tearful reunions, pop ballads, newspaper articles, and rolling credits.
In real life, there is only a hazy sense of accomplishment and the notion that it's late, late, late and if your parents haven't already called the police, they're apt to do so shortly.
There is no tangible proof that they saved the world. The only evidence that stands in their favor is that it's still here.
Ken returns home to greet his parents, both of whom are sitting on the living room sofa when he arrives with Wormon in his arms. His mother springs off the couch and throws her arms around her son, her hands coming together at the small of his back. He returns the hug, though not with as much intensity as his mother.
Hail the conquering hero.
The explanation he gives them for his prolonged absence is brief and if Wormon were not nestled in his lap during it, they certainly would not have believed him. A world of dreams, the resurrection of old enemies, Chosen Children teleporting in from around the globe and by the way, one of Mr. Ichijouji's coworkers had spent the last three years possessed by a demon. Ken failed to account for Oikawa's transformation from man into a flock of butterflies; he simply told his parents the man gave his life to revitalize the Digital World and left it at that.
There is only so much their sanity can take in a single evening.
It's late by the time Ken finishes his discourse, but sleeping is out of the question. His vision is clouded by the adrenaline his system is burning with. He enters his room with no intention of going to bed and picks his way through the relative darkness to his desk. He locates the lamp and flicks it out, closing his eyes against the sudden blast of illumination that brightens the corner of his room. He pries his lids open, enduring the initial pain of the light's attempt to scorch sunspots onto his retinas as they adjust to it. Collapsing into his chair, Ken pulls a textbook out of the bag propped beside the desk at random.
The gale which drifts up from the pages as he flips through them lifts the hair off his cheeks and neck. The draft mimics the temperature outside, wintry and indolent.
Ken finds the place in the chapter his class left off at prior to being dismissed for the break and skims through the introduction, which makes little sense. Characters melt into one another, congealing into great masses of black Ken finds himself unable to decipher. He's tired and the bulb in his lamp is giving out and he is no longer Ken, preteen genius on the fast track to fame, fortune, or one hell of a burn out. The fame has long since vanished, the fortune never came to pass, and the burn out is a side effect of salvaging his humanity.
He closes the book.
The quadratic equation can wait until tomorrow.
What comes after saving the world is anticlimactic.
There's nothing especially surprising about getting stuck going to school a week after stopping a crazed Digimon and a mentally unbalanced computer programmer from jump starting the Apocalypse. In Daisuke's opinion, it was flat out inconsiderable of MaloMyotismon to try and destroy the world during winter vacation. Could he have waited until they returned to class? Saving the planet would have been a valid excuse for missing a few days of school here and there.
But there he is, yawning his way through a lesson, thinking not about the character the teacher is meticulously crafting on the chalkboard but the creatures he and the other chosen left behind. The Digital World had been revitalized, but there was still some internal clean up to be done, explanations to be passed around to the Digimon who hadn't been present at the final battle. They had been gone less than a week and Daisuke already missed them. Chibimon may have almost eaten him out of house and home but there was no denying the potency of the connection they shared. He can still feel the Digimon buzzing in the back of his brain, a thought that refuses to be banished, but the distance dividing them has definitely dulled the link between he and his partner.
I don't know how Hikari and Takeru made it through three years without seeing Tailmon and Patamon. It must have made them nuts.
Daisuke makes an apologetic bow and sinks back into his seat, the flush mounting his cheeks invoked by both anger and embarrassment. A chorus of giggles rises from the back of the room, and the muffled laughter only serves to deepen the blush. Hikari eyes him for a moment, then lowers her pencil back to her notebook. She scribbles something hastily on the corner of her paper and rips the portion now decorated with her handwriting. As soon as the teacher's back is turned, she flicks the note at Daisuke.
"Now, it's very important to follow the stroke order with this character in order to create..."
It takes Daisuke only a moment to skim over what Hikari has written, but the message makes him smile nevertheless.
It's okay. I can't concentrate either.
Daisuke greets Ken after school dressed in a jacket whose mass nearly doubles his ordinary size and scarf. The wind tugs at the latter article of clothing, seeking to unravel the knot he has the material bunched in. The boy's cheeks and nose are flushed from the cold, and his breath emerges in white streams as he salutes his friend with a wave. "Hey, Ken!" he says jovially.
"Daisuke!" Ken says, starting. In his shock, he drops his bag, but rescues it before its contents are introduced to the pavement. "W-what are you doing here?"
"I wanted to know if you could hang out today," says Daisuke. "We haven't seen one another since...you know." He shrugs, the effectiveness of the gesture hampered by the coat.
"In other words, you're inviting yourself over."
"Duh," says Daisuke, slinging an arm around Ken's shoulders in an affable embrace.
Ken ducks out of the half-circle formed by the other boy's arm and adjusts the strap of his bag along the ridge of his shoulders. "How did you get here so fast?" he inquiries. "I just got out of class a few minutes ago."
"I high tailed it from my school--that's how," says Daisuke. When Ken raises an eyebrow, he sighs. "Okay, okay," he confesses, "Jyou's brother saw me running and asked if I wanted a ride. But I did manage to get a good four blocks before he picked me up."
"I'm in awe of your athletic ability," says Ken, mouth pitching up the first smile he has been able to conjure all day. "However did you manage to run four whole blocks?" This remark earns the former boy genius an elbow in the gut.
"They were long blocks, okay? And I had to dodge snails pretending to be pedestrians," Daisuke says. He grabs Ken's upper arm and grabs his sleeve, propelling the other young man into motion.
"I didn't realize," Ken says with a laugh.
They take the train, which is all but bursting at the seams with businessmen, shoppers and high school students on their way to juku. Ken insists he has no issue with standing in the crowded car, but Daisuke will not hear of it. The brunette commandeers two seats near the back after much skillful shoving, ducking, and weaving, tugging the other boy along by the wrist. He either does not notice or does not care he has incensed half the train in his quest, but Ken does. The irate comments of the other passengers prick his ears like wasps.
"There," says Daisuke, throwing himself into one of the empty seats. "Told ya I could do it."
Ken slowly follows his friend, glancing warily around the car. "You made people angry," he says. "You can't just--"
"No one was in these seats. It's not like we threw a little old lady out on her butt to get them." Daisuke's hands arrange themselves around the summit of one kneecap. The nails make transient contact with the opposing fingers, then break apart. His skin, even this deep into winter, still retains a faint tan from the summer months. He does not look perpetually ill the way Ken does. "Anyway, how's school going?"
"Oh...all right." Ken does not think school ever be anything more than tolerable. The student body appears to have come to the unanimous conclusion that the sudden appearance of monsters on Christmas Day is a far more interesting topic than the drastic decline in his IQ, but he does not derive the same satisfaction from his classes as he once did. Ken is no intellectual; it was the Dark Spore which invested him with genius.
"Same old, same old?" prods Daisuke.
"I suppose so."
"Me too. You know, I expected things to be...I dunno, different after everything that happened," Daisuke says, shoulders collapsing in a slump. Ken can clearly see the blades bite through the fabric of the other boy's jacket like bone wings blooming beneath the cloth.
"You wanted a parade in our honor?" asks Ken dryly.
"Well, I didn't want to take a math quiz this morning," says Daisuke. "I mean, come on. It's not like I had any time to study! It's just unfair. I could see if I was goofing off or something, but..."
"Your teacher doesn't know what we did," says Ken. "You can't blame her."
Daisuke's eyes creep towards Ken, but his face remains in profile. The sunset erupts behind him, spreading wisps of orange light across the faint remnants of blue the sky manages to sustain. "Adults don't know anything," he says. "If she really looked, she would see what's been going on for the last year."
Ken shrugs. "That's just the way adults are. On the news they're saying all the Digimon that appeared on Christmas Day were the result of a mass hallucination."
"That's so dumb," Daisuke says with a snarl, and descends further into in his seat. "I hate grown ups. Let's never get old and stupid, okay?"
Ken's mouth assembles itself into a smile. "Whatever you say, Daisuke."
With both Ken's mother and father at work, the Ichijouji residence is submerged in a near total silence that thunders in Daisuke's ears. Appliances orchestra quiet symphonies in the kitchen. A sparrow who has not yet retired for the night trills a tune to its fellow birds in the courtyard below. Daisuke has to restrain himself from going directly to either the stereo or the television to banish the quiet that has settled so deeply in the heart of the apartment.
Ken closes the door behind them and bends at the waist to remove his shoes. Once he has peeled them off his feet, he places them next to the formation of slippers gathered on the left side of the foyer. Daisuke follows suit, though the placement of his shoes is not nearly as mathematically precise; they are askew, the laces speckled with mud he has not bothered to scrub away.
"I'm gonna call home and tell them I'm hanging out over here," says Daisuke, bounding out into the hallway. "Be right back!" Ken opens his mouth to remind him where the telephone is, but the other boy disappears into the living room before he can jog Daisuke's memory.
Moments later, he cheers a cheerful exclamation of: "Hey Jun--"
The sound of Daisuke discussing his plans with his sister comes as a relief to Ken. During his days the Kaiser, in what he has come to think of as a previous existence all together, he relished solitude, went so far as to covet moments alone. In this life however, he dreads the seclusion he is faced with at home.
Daisuke is done conversing with Jun soon enough and wastes no time in slamming the phone down in its cradle and springing into the living room where Ken is waiting. "We spent our winter vacation saving the world," he says, plopping down on the couch. "I think we deserve an actual break. A few mind numbing hours of watching cartoons should do the trick. Or are boy geniuses too good for cartoons?" He tips Ken a wink.
"Not at all," says Ken, and sits down beside the other boy.
As Daisuke flips through the channels searching for the perfect program, Ken wonders if his friend will ever abandon childish pursuits like cartoons. The answer is probably "no". Daisuke will watch cartoons, play video games and daydream long after the rest of their group has moved on to more mature activities.
In a way, Ken respects his friend's blatant refusal to grown up. He himself harbors no fondness for the adult world after been exposed to it. In the past, teachers, reporters, the general public, even his parents regarded him with uneasy fascination. With the loss of his genius, the interest of all those save the chijoujis became indifference. He is one of the mob, an ordinary preteen going through the motions of adolescence. Bright yes, but no longer exceptional.
Ken drops his eyes to his white fists. They make swift passes over the fine ridges of his knuckles and he tries not to notice how rainbow stripes of light creep across Daisuke's beaming face. Their radiance threatens to outdo the brilliance of the other boy's quirking lips and the dimples crumpling his cheeks.
"Do you think it'll be like this forever?" asks Ken softly.
Daisuke tears his eyes from the rapidly flashing images on the screen and looks at him. "Huh? What do you mean?"
"Do you think we'll stay friends, all of us? Now that the Digital World is safe, we really don't have much to..." Ken flounders, scouring through his considerable vocabulary for the combination of words which will summarize the complexity of the matter. "We really don't have much to bond over," he says at last.
"We have tons to bond over!" Daisuke says. "We all still have our Digimon--that's huge. And it doesn't seem like anyone but us can get into the Digital World. Maybe that'll change in the future but for now…." He removes the remote from the arm of the sofa and punches his thumb down on the 'Mute' button, returning the room to the thick silence that had so disturbed him earlier. "Anyway, even without any of the Digital World stuff, we're still friends. We won't grow apart."
Ken nods, but he cannot seem to extract his gaze from the carpet. "I suppose so."
"You suppose so? Ken, it's a fact!" exclaims Daisuke. "Just because we don't have to stop bad guys from ruining both worlds anymore doesn't mean we're never going to get together. Look at today. We aren't destroying Control Spires--we're watching cartoons. We're hanging out. We're being totally normal kids."
"I don't think any of us knows how to be a 'normal' kid anymore," Ken replies. Daisuke is forced to internally concure with the other boy's melancholy observation. He doesn't know what normal is, not anymore.
But...that's not true.Not quite.
Daisuke knows what normal is. He can explain the concept just as a dictionary would define it, but being able to describe something does not mean he has the ability to demonstrate it. Normal, as outlined by Daisuke in the most academic of terms, is a setting on appliances such as washers, dryers and television sets. It can refer to a right angles according to both his teacher and Ken, the opinion of the latter being of far greater value than that of the former. "Normal" is 1.39 kids. "Normal" is a workweek spent caged in an office smaller than his present bedroom. "Normal" is a wife who knows how to parade around the apartment in heels.
"Normal" has nothing to do with the iris eyes cast down beside him, the absurd dreams of ramen stands he secrets away. It has nothing to do with fingers crashing into one another on the train as ordained by fate and gravity. "Normal" is not smiles as intoxicating as July lightning. It is not promises that weigh heavy in his gut like stones.
His friend is right. They don't know how to be normal, and that's all the more reason for them to not abandon one another. Ever.
"Ken, look at me."
With considerable reluctance, the boy raises his head. Daisuke reaches out and takes Ken's face in cupped hands. It is, as ever, the most effective way to force him to make eye contact.
"We're going to stay together, okay? No matter what. You're my best friend and getting older isn't going to change that." He frees one of his hands from Ken's cheek and places it over his heart. "I swear."
"You can't know that."
"Yeah, I do. Didn't anyone tell you I'm psychic?" His smile is toothpaste scrubbed, undaunted by Ken's failure to return it.
"Did anyone ever tell you that you think way too much, Ichijouji?" says Daisuke, and kisses him.
There are no fireworks exploding, no chorus launching into a medley of love songs, no voice announcing that the kiss is somehow a part of the interlocking destiny which joined them together in the first place. It is a kiss, a first kiss, the kiss of an eleven-year-old boy. It is clumsy and brief and hopelessly sincere in is execution.
It is everything they are and ever will be encapsulated in a single, solitary moment.
Take it from me--
The world is saved.
-- Stina Nordenstam