The Dark Bandit

Epilogue

Miyako felt the warm water flow around her as she relaxed in the bathtub, letting the smell of the fragrant soaps fill her nostrils. For a few moments she reveled in the luxury of the bath as she cleared her mind from the thoughts of the last week's events.

But it only lasted a few moments. A short time later there was a banging on the door. Before she had a chance to reply, it burst open, and a red-headed girl wearing only a towel tied tightly around her chest entered.

"Are you going to be in here all morning?" Sora demanded. "You'll be late for breakfast!"

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Miyako grumbled as she reached for her towel. She wrapped one around her body and another around her long hair and stepped out of the tub. "What's the big deal about breakfast anyway?" she asked as she entered her bedroom in the suite she shared with Sora and Jun.

Sora fixed her with a ferocious glare and she knew to say no more. "Do you have everything packed?" Sora changed the subject.

"I was finished last night," Miyako replied as she pulled the dress she'd left out on the bed over her head.
Sora, in her own room, had dressed and was now running a comb through her hair. Piyomon watched her partner brush her hair while she preened her own feathers. "I think that looks great on you, Sora," she complimented.

"Thanks, Piyomon," Sora replied cheerfully. She had chosen for that occasion a blue dress with pink trim. It was neat, smooth, and impeccably clean.

"I wish you were coming back with me," Miyako spoke from the doorway where she was still fussing with her tangled hair. "It's so boring traveling alone."

Sora took the brush from her friend and yanked it through her long hair. "You're not going alone, remember? Ken and Daisuke are traveling with you." She paused in her brushing a moment to grin at her friend mischievously. "I didn't think you'd mind."

Miyako blushed slightly. "I don't," she admitted. "But I meant traveling without you."

Sora shrugged and yanked the brush again. "You'll be fine," she assured her. "Besides, I'll be along in a few weeks."

"I know. But what will I do without you for a few weeks?"
"Most likely the same things you always do," Hawkmon commented as he entered the room.

"But it won't be the same!" Miyako half-whined.

Sora pulled the brush through her hair one last time and handed it back. "You'll be fine," she told her, glancing over her appearance. "That dress looks really nice."
"Thanks," Miyako grinned. She had chosen a light blue dress with some pale yellow trim. "Yours does, too. Neat and everything."

A shrug was the response. "Come on, let's go or we'll be late."

***

Daisuke stood in the hallway beside his parent's door, alone with his thoughts. Jun and his father were still in there. Ken was – well – he didn't know where Ken was. V-mon was somewhere else, too. Daisuke didn't want to be in that room, then. There was no point anymore. Not now.

The door opened softly and shut again. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and the doctor's voice spoke. "You were just in time, Daisuke."

He didn't turn to see Jyou's face. He couldn't. He felt at that moment that if he saw anyone, he would cry. He didn't speak either, because a lump was in his throat. He just nodded, mutely, and looked at his shoes.

The doctor left then, his footsteps echoing down the hallway. Even Gomamon, riding on his shoulder, was unusually somber and silent. A sadness seemed to permeate the corridor, becoming audible even in those footsteps. Weakly, Daisuke sank down to the floor. The footsteps faded, and it was quiet again.

It had been several days since the battles on the hill. Daisuke was still somewhat weak from his numerous tortures. There were scars on his body that he would probably always have. There were mental scars that might last longer. Though the immediate physical danger was over, he somehow now felt weaker than he had in the dungeon.

He realized his cheeks were wet, and that tears were falling faster than he could stop them. He hadn't even noticed they had started. Feeling as though this sort of weakness was somehow wrong, he wiped them furiously away from his eyes. But they kept coming.

He became even more annoyed with his own weakness and furiously continued wiping, but the action only seemed to make them come faster. Before long he was sobbing, his breath coming in little hiccupped sobs and his nose clogging.

"Daisuke?"

He hadn't even noticed anyone coming, but suddenly, there she was. She must have moved so silently through the carpeted corridor that he hadn't heard her steps over his tears. Feeling very self-conscious, he wiped them away once more and sniffled. But he wouldn't meet her eyes.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

He nodded, still unable to speak, and sniffled again. He hiccupped again, and felt more tears run down his already wet cheeks. 'Darn it,' he thought. He didn't want her to see him like that.

She didn't believe his silent denial, however, and knelt beside him. "Daisuke, tell me what happened." Her voice was soft, soothing, coaxing. He couldn't help but to obey.

Through the glistening vision created by his tears, Daisuke turned his head. His throat was dry; he coughed a few times to try to clear it. "She- she's dead," he said then, softly, and his voice was still hoarse despite those efforts.

"Your mother?" she clarified, and he nodded. There was a long silence. Then something happened that he didn't expect.

She moved quickly, he didn't even see it, and then, suddenly, she was hugging him. Hikari wrapped her delicately strong arms around his weak body and, amazingly, he felt some of his strength return. As though he was drawing strength from her. "I'm so sorry," she said, but he barely noticed the words.

At first, he felt awkward, but then he felt that strength, felt that weakness leave him, felt as thought it was all somehow – right. His tears lessened a little, and suddenly the future wasn't quite so bleak.

After a moment, Hikari released him from the hug. She put one hand on his shoulder, lifted his head in her other hand, and looked into his still-watery eyes. "You going to be all right?"

He managed a smile. "I think so," he answered in his still hoarse voice.

"Want to talk about it?"

He shook his head. "Not yet."

She nodded. "You going to eat breakfast?"

A blank expression was his reply. Breakfast? What was that? Wait- what was that feeling in his stomach? No – past the uneasy, twisted, sick feeling. Hunger? Yes. He was a bit hungry.

"Maybe a little." She stood up, smiling at this response.

"You don't have to come and eat with everyone else, you know. It could be sent to your room."

He shook his head. "No, I'll come. Just – let me go wash up first." His hands were sticky from the salty residue of his tears.

She nodded, and turned to leave. She had gone a few, silent footsteps when she turned and looked back. "Daisuke?"

He looked up.

"You could always – stay here – for a while – if you wanted," she offered hesitantly.

He smiled. "Maybe I will," he answered. "After-," and his voice paused here, "we go home for a bit."

She nodded. "Anytime," she replied, and really did leave then.

***

Sora paused awkwardly in the hallway, causing Miyako to pause as well, and wonder about the awkwardness.

"What?"

"I – um." She was actually blushing.

"What?" Miyako demanded, all the more interested now.

Sora turned and stared down the corridor they were about to pass. "I -," she began again.

Miyako stared blankly down the hall. What was down the hall? Nothing much. A stairway, a few servants quarters, and –

And the royal family's quarters.

"You want to see Taichi," she realized.

Sora nodded. "I haven't seen him since -," she trailed off once more. There wasn't need to finish. How would she? Since he almost died? Since it was decided he would rule the country? Since his father died?

Miyako nodded. "Go ahead."

"You sure?"

"I'm sure. Go ahead."

Relief flooded the older girl's features. "Thanks," she replied with a grin. She started to elaborate, but Miyako shook her head.

"Just go. I'll see you before I leave."

And Sora was gone then, down the hall.

***

Breakfast was a shorter affair than Miyako had expected. Taichi, Sora explained, was feeling better, but not well enough yet to be up and about. Some of the burns he'd suffered were very severe and his body was still quite weak.

There were many missing from the meal. The Queen now wished to stay with her son through most meals, so she was absent. Daisuke came, but looked weak and slightly pale. His father and sister were eating alone – if they were eating at all. Everyone tried to offer condolences, sympathy, support. Hikari sat beside him and tried to make sure he ate. He did, but he appeared as though he barely tasted it.

Iori was busy with his work. Since the King was gone, that meant more work to be done, and the young advisor was running errands, filing paperwork, helping to run the country and prepare for the coronation ceremony that would take place as soon as the new King was well again.

Yamato and Takeru were there, but even the normally cheerful Takeru was somber. In soft, serious voices, they informed Miyako that they planned to stay on at the castle for a few weeks or even longer. Taichi needed their advice and assistance in these first few months, and they were prepared to give it. With their parents not getting along well, neither much liked being at home anyway.

Mimi, too, was at breakfast and planning on staying around for awhile. She could never resist a party, and as she had missed Hikari's cancelled birthday, she hoped to help plan the coronation. It would be combined with the birthday, and a double party, she explained, was twice as good.

Koushiro ate, but very quickly, and left quickly afterward. He explained that he was studiously searching for all the mentions of Demon he could find in his ancient digimon texts. He hoped to coerce Mimi into leading him back into the forest to see the old man, Gennai, she had met, deciding that he must have information the wizard himself was lacking.

The doctor, Jyou, was busy with the work he had missed a day of. A qualified workaholic in some cases, he took his job very seriously and was eager to get back to whatever he had missed. He, too, was staying on at the castle, "for at least as long as Taichi needs me."

The only one without an excuse was Ken. When questioned, Daisuke had only shrugged and replied he hadn't seen him all morning. Miyako suddenly felt afraid. She wanted to ask Daisuke if he thought Ken might have done something stupid – or if perhaps he had snuck off to observe from the rooftops as the Dark Bandit. But she dared not mention anything that might upset the boy, and she dared mention nothing about the Dark Bandit in front of the others. Besides, she had promised to keep her knowledge a secret from Daisuke for a while, and now seemed a bad time to divulge such information.

As soon as she had finished, Miyako rushed to the gardens, to Ken's room, to the archery field, to the hill, even to her own balcony, but she saw no sign of the mysterious young man. She couldn't look for long, because soon Iori came and told her that the carriage was ready to leave, and were all her things ready?
"I'm ready, Iori," Miyako replied impatiently. "I was looking for Ken, have you seen him?"

"Last I saw he was preparing to get on the carriage," the boy replied. "Why?"

With a sigh of relief, Miyako feigned casualness. "No reason," she lied. "I just was wondering."

***

Miyako realized with a somewhat depressed attitude that the long ride home would take longer than originally expected. Ken was going back home, which would require a detour. Not with the Motomiya family, but to his own home. He had received no further letters on the state of his father, and so therefore felt obliged to return home, assuming the worst. Therefore, the trip would take two days instead of the usual one.

The party was most certainly not a cheerful one. Jun, Daisuke, and Lord Motomiya were all quite saddened over the Lady's death, and the carriage containing her coffin was to follow them back home. Daisuke was still in a slightly stunned state, Jun was upset and had been sobbing nearly hysterically for most of the morning (and still was early afternoon when they set out), and the Lord was merely looking even more grave and serious than usual.

Ken was concerned for his father, concerned about going home again after quite some time, and concerned about the digimon who had decided he would someday have him for a servant. And a willing one at that.

Miyako stared at the blue sky overhead and marveled at the contradiction. If it had been raining, it would have added to the depressed mood, but the sunny day seemed to make it all the more pronounced, obvious, and visible.

There were three carriages back home as there had been three carriages on the way there, despite the fewer number of passengers. The third carried the coffin, and the first carried the Lord and Jun, who had decided to ride with her father.

Daisuke, too stunned to really make a decision on the matter, went with Ken and Miyako merely because he didn't want to ride all the way home with his uncontrollably weeping sister. They waved good-bye to the small crowd that gathered to say good-bye, promised to return in a month or so for the coronation/birthday party, climbed into the carriages, and were gone.

The first hour was ridden in silence. Daisuke stared blankly out one window, Ken stared blankly out another, and Miyako stared blankly at the wall at the back of the carriage. V-mon sat beside his partner and looked upset, Wormmon looked at his partner and looked upset, and Hawkmon looked a bit awkward before finally excusing himself from the scene to fly overhead. Being a bird digimon, he didn't much like confined spaces.

Miyako watched her digimon hop out the window and wished she could follow. The carriage was a depressing atmosphere. Normally, she would not have disliked such a ride, but this was nearly unbearable.

After the first hour, with Miyako feeling too awkward and the boys feeling too depressed to make conversation, the caravan stopped for a picnic meal. It, too, was eaten in silence except for the occasional "please pass the salt," and the sounds of chewing.

Miyako began to wonder if Jun's carriage was less depressing. She appeared to have at least stopped crying long enough to eat lunch, but was still a bit tearful.

After ten minutes of stifling silence on the next part of the ride, Miyako felt herself begin to drift off to sleep and was suddenly awakened.

"Doesn't anyone have anything to talk about?" Daisuke spoke up. Miyako and Ken looked at him blankly. "I mean – anything? You don't have to be silent on my account."

That statement loosened the tension just a little, and a conversation began. Ken told some of what he remembered about his parents and his home, and even a little about his brother. Miyako mentioned the upcoming coronation. Daisuke spoke about Hikari.

No one spoke about the dark demon, the death of the King, the death of Lady Motomiya, or the fate of Ken's father. The conversation became animated enough that Hawkmon even reentered the carriage for a bit to join in.

"What do you think you'll do now?" Miyako asked them both.

Daisuke shrugged. "I don't know," he admitted. "Everything's different now." He reached into his pocket and stared at the little blue box. "This thing must have incredible power." He glanced toward V-mon.

"Yeah! Think of what I could become!" the blue digimon declared, flexing his muscles and grinning.

"I think, if we get this thing to work, that we'll make an awesome fighting team," Daisuke agreed, matching his partner's grin. He glanced to Ken. "What about you?"
"What about me?"

"What are you going to do? Will you stay at home?"

He shrugged. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "It depends on how things are there. Mother may not need me."

Miyako wanted desperately to ask about the Dark Bandit, but she dared not open her mouth in front of Daisuke.

Daisuke very much wanted to know about the Dark Bandit's future, but he didn't think he'd have the chance with Miyako there.

Ken noticed the anxious, anticipatory looks on both their faces and wondered if he should spill the secret to Daisuke that Miyako knew. He laughed inwardly and decided against it, smiling slightly at his own inner joke.

"What's so funny?" Daisuke demanded, not in the least bit amused.

"Nothing," Ken replied with the same enigmatic smile.

Miyako chuckled silently and thought then that she understood the reasoning behind Ken's request.

***

It was a dark night, as all nights are, and pouring rain, when the carriage stopped at the dark-looking manor. Ken, Daisuke, and Miyako squinted through the windows at the tall building illuminated in the lightning. "This is it?" Daisuke wondered.

He had known Ken for many years, but had never really seen his home. In fact, he never had at all. Ken spent much time at his home, but very little at his own. The only times Daisuke had ever seen his parents were at the palace.

Ken nodded somewhat grimly. He did not appear to be dreading what was to come, but it was not welcoming, either. His expression was guarded, cautious, as though he didn't want to reveal what he truly thought. Miyako and Daisuke both regarded him with questioning glances, but he didn't reveal anything more.

"This is it," he answered instead. "Ichijouji Manor."

"It looks – huge," Miyako offered, trying to give an opinion but not really being able to give one about its looks in the darkness. A clap of thunder flashed.

Ken nodded bleakly again. Miyako wondered if perhaps he was afraid, and decided he must be.

The door to the carriage opened, and a servant poked his head in. "Please stay in here," he told them. "Lord Motomiya is going to enter first." The door shut again, and the rain soaked servant headed back to the relative dryness of the covered driving booth.

Lightning flashed again, and Daisuke was able to make out his father and a servant running through the rain towards the house. Then it was dark again. Another flash and he saw the servant pounding on the door. The door opened, and then it was dark again. A moment later, his father was gone and the servant was running back to the carriage.

A few minutes went by and then the servant was there again. "The Lady has offered shelter for the night," the servant explained, opening the door. "Go quickly, it's raining hard."

Miyako took a blanket from the inside of the carriage, held Hawkmon tight to her, and held the blanket over her head, trying to keep them both dry. Daisuke did the same for himself and V-mon and followed her.

The entrance hall of the massive manor was not much larger than Miyako's home. She wiped at her face, drying herself off, and Hawkmon shook himself. Daisuke and V-mon shivered in the warm interior and looked around at the room.

A servant led them down the hall and into a small parlor. A warm fire lit the room, and a few candles offered further light. Soft, green armchairs lined the room, and the servant gestured to them. Miyako and Daisuke awkwardly sat down, not knowing what to expect.

A moment later, Lord Motomiya entered, standing next to a small, somewhat frail-looking woman. "Good evening," she greeted. "I'm sorry I couldn't prepare for your arrival better, but I didn't know you were coming." She smiled slightly, trying to lighten the mood, and both her guests stood up.

"Lady, this is my son, Daisuke, and a friend, Miyako Inoue." Daisuke bowed somewhat awkwardly, and Miyako curtsied. "Miyako, Daisuke, this is Lady Ichijouji."

"I've already seen to your daughter's room," the woman explained to the Lord. "She'll be fine after a good night's sleep."
"Jun's sick?" Daisuke interrupted.

"Just a cold, Daisuke. The rain." Daisuke nodded, but the expression on his face betrayed to Miyako his true feelings. His mother had once had 'just a cold.'

"Won't you have some tea?" the Lady offered. "There's a meal being prepared, but it will take a few minutes. Warm up a bit after your journey." She gestured to the chairs and they sat down again. A tray was brought in with some teacups and handed to each of the guests. For a few moments, they sipped the tea, and then the door opened.

His hair was still wet, and falling slightly in his face. A few soft droplets dripped onto his nose, and his clothes were quite damp. Wormmon stood at his feet, looking only slightly drier.

Ken bowed politely to the room, but his eyes fell on the woman. "Mother."

She stood up then, and quickly made her way across the room. "Oh, Ken, you're soaking wet," she noted. "You couldn't dry off your hair a bit? Come in, have some tea. I should let you all change before we eat. Warm up a bit first, please?"

"Mother, I," Ken began awkwardly.

"Have some tea, Ken. We'll talk, I promise. Just have some tea first."

He nodded, clearly not too pleased with the situation but accepting it. He sat in the chair between Daisuke and his mother and accepted the cup of tea in silence. Daisuke glanced nervously at his friend for some sort of clue as to what to do, but Ken stared blankly at the cup and didn't meet his friend's eyes.

After a few more moments of silent sipping, Lady Ichijouji set her cup down. She looked a bit upset. "He died right after I sent the letter."

Ken looked into his half-empty cup and didn't reply. Daisuke could almost sense the sigh of relief. Even if what had happened at the castle hadn't happened, he would not have been able to make it home in time.

The Lady continued. "I didn't think to send it sooner – your father wanted – he didn't want to worry you. We knew you would be at the palace – with the party and all – we didn't want to infringe on such a happy time with sad news. He didn't know how bad it was until right then. Suddenly, he just got weaker and then - ," she trailed off, looking away, wiping the unshed tears from her eyes.

All eyes turned to Ken. Daisuke almost thought he could detect a few glistening tears in his friend's eyes, but said nothing.

"You could have told me anyway, Mother," he said in a soft voice, but didn't meet her eyes either.

She didn't reply.

There was a tap on the door and another servant entered. "The baths have been drawn," he reported.

****

Miyako felt dinner was a bit less awkward after a warm bath, and she felt better, too. She had changed into a warmer dress and dried off. She felt better now, and the hot food made her feel pleasant.

After dinner, everyone felt sleepy, and they went to their rooms. Daisuke and Miyako followed Ken, who led the way silently through the halls and up staircases to a wing where his room was located.

He pointed to two rooms in the hallway. "Pick whichever one you want," he said with a shrug.

Miyako picked the one on the left, Daisuke the one on the right. "Which one's yours?" Daisuke wondered.

He pointed silently to the room across the hall. "If you want to come in for a bit and talk or something, you can," he added, half-inviting them.

Miyako and Daisuke exchanged glances. "Sure." They hadn't talked since arriving there.

"It's a nice house," Miyako stated politely once they had entered the room. She and Daisuke both sat on the bed while Ken began to go look around his room.

"It's all right, I suppose," he replied. He set Wormmon on the bed between them.

"How do you feel?" Daisuke ventured to ask. As he was still in shock from his mother, he presumed he might be someone to try to help his friend.

Another shrug. He leaned against the wall in the far corner. "I'm not sure yet."
"Still in shock?"

"Yeah. I think. It feels weird to be here again."

"When's the last time you were home?" Miyako wondered.

He thought a moment. "I was home about four months ago. But only for a week. I forget why. Two months before that I was home for three weeks."

Miyako could only stare in surprise. "Is it really that horrible?"

He shrugged again. "There's nothing horrible," he replied, staring suddenly at the slightly dusty carpet on his floor. "It's just – I don't know – weird."

"Sad?"
"Yeah."

Daisuke stood up. Ken lifted his head at the sound and found his friend staring him in the eyes. "Whenever you want, you can come ho - you can stay with me. You know that."

"And me," Miyako spoke up. "I'm sure my parents wouldn't mind if you stayed with us for a while."

He nodded. "I know. I think I should be here for a little while, though."

"Are you sure that's safe?" Wormmon spoke up. He had a worried expression. "I mean – if this Demon guy is after you, should you be alone?"

Daisuke appeared alarmed. "That's right!" he remembered. "You can't stay here by yourself. Let me stay. Or come with me."

"You can't stay here," Ken reminded him. "You have to be home, too."

"No I don't. If you're not safe here, then I should be here, too. We're like family, remember?"

"Daisuke, I can take care of myself," he began rationally.

"Against this guy? I don't think so! I'm staying!"

"You're not staying."

"I am. You can't make me leave."

"Daisuke."

"I'm staying."

"You can't stay."

"Why not?"

"You have to be home."

"I have to be with you!"

"Daisuke, go home."

"No!"

"I can take care of myself."

"Against this guy? Breaking people out of jail, facing up to a King?" Daisuke forgot Miyako was in the room, all energy focused on the current argument. "This is nothing compared to what this Demon guy is going to do to you! You heard Koushiro! He's more powerful than all of us are put together. Dark Bandit stuff is not going to prepare you for this!"

Ken was silent, thinking. Daisuke was panting, his weariness showing.

Miyako spoke up. "I'm guessing that this guy doesn't want you right away," she rationalized, now that there was a break in the argument and both were willing to listen. "If he had wanted you, back there, on the hill, none of us would have been able to stop him, no matter how hard we had tried. He could have had you then. He didn't. So Daisuke staying isn't really going to help."

Daisuke listened to what she said and then realized what he had said. His eyes grew wide. "You – were here – all the time," he mumbled.

Miyako nodded. "Yeah, I came in with you, remember?" She was smiling slightly.

Daisuke turned back to Ken, who still had a thoughtful expression on his face as he considered what they had both said. "She – was here-," he stammered.

Ken broke out of his thoughts and blinked. "Who?"

"Miyako!"

He looked past him at Miyako, who was sitting on the bed. "Yes, I know," he replied with a shrug, and returned to his thoughts.

"Didn't you hear what I said?" He turned to Miyako. "Did you hear what I said?"

"'Dark Bandit stuff is not going to prepare you for this!'" Miyako quoted, imitating his dramatic tone. "What about it?"

Daisuke blinked several times. "You – you knew!"

Miyako feigned innocent confusion. "Knew what?"

"You knew! You knew!" he insisted, and turned to Ken. "She knew! She knows! How does she – You told her!"

Ken stared blankly (very good acting, Miyako thought) and blinked a few times. "Knew what? Told her what?"

"About you! She knew! Why? Why did you tell her?"

"Knew what?" Miyako repeated, trying very, very hard not to laugh.

"You knew! About him! That he's," he looked around to make sure no one else was around who might overhear. "That's he's the Dark Bandit," he concluded in a softer voice. He raised it again. "Why did you tell her?"

Ken shrugged, a smile now on his face. "She figured it out," he replied offhandedly, as though the idea to tell Daisuke had just now occurred to him.

He blinked. "Figured it out?" he stared at Miyako. "You did?"

She shrugged. "It wasn't that hard, actually."

"Why didn't you guys tell me this?"

Miyako pointed to Ken. "He wanted to keep it secret. I didn't care one way or the other."

"Oh. I see." Daisuke turned back to him now, a look of somewhat malignant indignation on his face. "This was your idea. To humiliate me!"

He was definitely grinning now, a sight that looked quite welcome after the last few hours of grim silence. "Yes."

"You realize – that we could have used her toward our advantage?"

Ken shook his head. "Doubtful. She didn't find out until we'd already been confined. After that, I only sneaked out once – to give Jun the letter and check on where the digimon were."

Daisuke only stared in complete astonishment. "How did she find out?"

"Process of elimination," Miyako replied. "He was the only one who was missing every time the Dark Bandit showed up."

Daisuke shook his head. "We'll have to be more careful," he muttered under his breath. "So what did you do? Confront him on the roof or something? Blackmail?"

"I asked him."

"Asked him?"

Ken spoke up. "She did. The first night we were in that room. I was cleaning you up, you fell asleep, we talked. That reminds me."

"Reminds you what?"

He didn't answer right away, instead rummaged through the trunk the servants had carried from the carriage. A moment later, he removed a small object, walked to Miyako, and held out his hand.

"A hair pin?"

"Yours."

She reached self-consciously up to her hair, then looked at Daisuke, then back to Ken. "You took it?"

He nodded. "I had to get out the window somehow or another. I forgot to give it back."
"How did you get it?"

A shrug. "You were sleeping. Wasn't hard. I wasn't even sure you'd notice."

"I wouldn't, ordinarily. Daisuke borrowed the other one and used it to open the window. I noticed there was only one left."

Ken looked mildly surprised. "You opened the window?"

"Yeah, surprised Takeru quite a bit. He was almost impressed." Daisuke chuckled.

"You're getting better."

"I learned from the best."

"Of course." A smile.

***

Daisuke and Miyako waved good-bye through the window of their carriage as it trudged off down the road. In the sun, the large manor looked a bit less gloomy, and they both felt a bit more optimistic about the future of their friend.

"I hope he'll be okay," Daisuke commented. "I haven't been away from him very much in the past few months," he confessed. "It feels weird."

"You've still got me!" V-mon reminded him.

"I know," Daisuke assured him, giving him another hug.

"Everything feels kind of – bland now," Miyako agreed. "It was so exciting the past week. Now it all goes back to normal. Mostly." She sighed, half bored, half contentedly.

Daisuke smiled then and looked out at the bright blue sky. "Yeah, but I don't think it'll be too boring for long," he reminded her. He felt his pocket holding his digivice as he spoke, and she agreed.

"I wonder what Hawkmon will be when he evolves," Miyako wondered, watching her digimon soar through the air.

Daisuke shrugged. "We'll probably find out soon enough."

"Really big and strong and powerful!" V-mon declared with a grin, and Daisuke nodded.

Only a few short hours later, they were home again, and Miyako was saying goodbye to Daisuke. It felt as though he had only just arrived to give her and Sora a ride to the palace, and now he was leaving again. She waved as the carriage went off and promised to see him again for the coronation/birthday party. Then the carriage was gone, and life somehow was unchanged. But never the same as it was.

The End

NOTES:

Can ya believe I considered writing this as a short one-shot before I got into it? One–shot. Me. Yeah, right. HA.

For those who care, some interesting background on this story…

I was inspired by many different things including:

Caspian, "My Father's Crown."  - From this I got the idea to have Taichi vs. Authority Figure/King dude. In that story, he admires his father, and fights his uncle. In this one he admires and fights his father. Cool, huh?

Time Lady, "A Digi Tale."  - (and many other Time Lady fairy tales) the idea to include digimon in the fairy tale-ish story and use them as weapons (although I did it a bit differently here).

Zorro (duh) – someone pointed this out in one of my earliest reviews. You got it right on the nose. I always loved Zorro, even the movie with Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas (I think).

In this story, in case you hadn't noticed, Digimon are partnered with everyone. Yes, even Jun. I wasn't going to include them in here, originally, but if I did, I had to give one to everyone. Getting the characters to a Digital World is hard without a computer, explaining it with magic would be difficult(and too easy), so I just made everyone have digimon. Only the Chosen (Taichi, Hikari, Daisuke, Ken, etc.) have digivices, so only those can evolve.

What to expect in the sequel:

Gosh, I haven't thought too much about this yet, but here's some things that will probably be in it to keep everyone interested and waiting. Some of this might change, nothing's definite yet, so if some of these don't appear, don't get mad. Well, you can, but I won't care too much. ^_^

First of all, there will most likely be something having to do with Demon. Don't expect the party to go perfectly. It'll probably start off with Miyako again – I try to focus on her in this series. That's all so far. Oh, and Wizarmon will make an appearance. I like him. ^_^

Anyway, thanks for reading, don't forget to review (please)! I hope everyone liked this story, because I liked writing it!

And never forget – I don't own Digimon (or Zorro) or anything else that might have influenced this plot. I do own the plot. Not the characters. Sue? You get no money. ^_^