Hmm… don't have anything clever to say. Maybe I'll have thought of something by the end. Oh and thanks to those that reviewed the last chapter, sorry I never got back to you. I'll try to be better about that. Anyway…

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.

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Shinjuku, Matsuki Bakery

It had been a week since Vikaralamon's attack on Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward. By some miracle, there had been no casualties in the monster's rampage, but the damage to the part of the city where the Deva had appeared was heavy. The existence of Digimon was now common knowledge, and according to the news, several unidentified children had been seen alongside the monsters that appeared to fight the giant boar.

"Man…" said Takato as he sat on the lower bunk of his and Kou's bed, "imagine how mom's gonna react when we let them know who those kids are. I'm scared."

"I know," said Kou, climbing up top. "She freaks out enough when one of us gets a bloody nose. And… when we got home last week… did you see the looks on their faces? I don't think I've ever seen them that worried."

"But we're going to have to tell them," said Takato, hanging his head down. "We can't just… disappear. It wouldn't be right."

"Well… we have until Guilmon, Dorumon, or Renamon finds the portal to think about how to do it," said Kou. "But I think… we need to be ready. They've been searching for a week already; they'll find it soon. Maybe even tomorrow."

"Yeah," said Takato. "Let's get some sleep. Don't want to be late for school after all, if it is tomorrow… it could be our last day."

"Yeah. Night, Takato."

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Wong Apartment

For hours, Henry, with Terriermon on his shoulder, had been lost in thought at his computer. While Guilmon, Dorumon, and Renamon were out searching for a Digital Portal for the gang to go after Calumon, Henry had been searching in his own way. Together with his dad, he had designed a program that could detect Digital signals, but so far the only places it had pointed to were Rika's home, the Dino Hut, and his own bedroom. In essence, all it was picking up was the Tamers' partners.

"I've scanned the whole city, but still nothing…" mumbled Henry. "I really hope the others are having better luck than me."

"Henry!" called Janyu from the next room. "Get in here, you troublemaker!"

"Coming dad!" responded the blue-haired Tamer. Leaving the program running, he got up and walked to his father's room, where he found the man staring at a computer screen in much the same manner as he had been.

"Ah, there you are," said Janyu. "Gimme your portable Digi-thingy."

"Huh?" said Henry. "You mean my Digivice?"

"Yeah! I'll arm wrestle you for it," said Janyu.

"Well, if you put it that way…" said Henry quietly, removing the device from his pocket and handing it to his father.

"Hmm… when we designed the prototype of these things, it was meant as a way for children to communicate and control Digimon on the net," said the programmer, examining the device.

"Maybe mine's broken," said Henry. "I can't control Terriermon at all."

"It would take more than a piece of plastic to control me!" said Terriermon (still on Henry's shoulder), grinning.

"Haha," laughed Janyu. "But the plan was never for Digimon to show up in the real world."

"Why not?" asked Terriermon.

"Well, think about the damage caused by Vikaralamon," responded Janyu, "and multiply it by a thousand. Not a pleasant thought, is it?"

"Not at all…" said Henry.

"Anyway, my friends and I are trying to design a program to fix this mess, so until then I want you to stay out of trouble," said Janyu. "I don't want to have to tell Suzie that something's happened to her big brother."

"Hellooooo!" came a childish voice, catching all three off-guard. Terriermon quickly dropped off Henry's shoulder and sat limp on the ground, doing his best doll impression as Suzie walked into the room. "Dinner's ready… ahhhh, Terriermon!"

"Hehe, alright Suzie," said Janyu, standing up and giving his son his D-Arc back as Suzie picked up her favorite "doll," much to its chagrin. "Tell your mother we'll be there in a second."

"I won't, but Terriermon will!" said the little girl happily, skipping out of the room with the poor rabbit clenched tightly in her arms.

"Well, let's get going," said Janyu after his daughter left. "I'm hungry!"

"Um, Dad," said Henry nervously. "Actually, I've… got something to talk to you about…"

"Hm?" muttered the man. "What is it?"

"Well…" began Henry, but he found himself unsure of what to say.

"…well, just tell me at dinner son," said Janyu, walking out the door, leaving Henry in the room alone.

"Man…" thought the Tamer. "I don't know what to say… but I've got to say something… I guess I'll worry about it after dinner."

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Katou Restaurant

"Hey there Jeri, how are you?" greeted one of Mr. Katou's customers as the girl came down the stairs and opened the refrigerator.

"Just peachy, thank you!" she replied happily before turning back to the fridge and taking out a carton of orange juice.

"Shouldn't you be in bed by now?" asked Mr. Katou.

"I just wanted some juice!" said Jeri. Mr. Katou let out a sigh.

"Yeah, juice one minute, cookies the next…" said the man.

"Well, she is a growing child," said the customer as Jeri ran back up the stairs with a cup of the juice.

"Well thanks for the observation," replied the girl's father, "but if she keeps this up she'll be as tall as a tree!"

Upstairs, Jeri quietly walked into the room she shared with her brother, who was already asleep. And sleeping with her sock puppet, no less!

"So that's where you went!" she said, carefully slipping the "dog" from her little brother's arms and putting it on her hand. Then, she quietly snuck over to the window and stuck the puppet out. "Woof!"

"Ah, you're back," said Leomon, who was sitting on the roof.

"Yup!" said Jeri happily as she leaned out the window to face him. "I, um… brought you some juice…" She climbed out the window and carefully walked over to the large lion-man, who accepted the cup but had to take great care not to break it in his enormous hands.

"You are too kind," said Leomon.

"I know," responded Jeri, smiling and sitting down next to him. "Leomon… what's the Digital World like?"

"Are you… sure you want to go?"

"Of course! I hardly ever get to travel."

"Well… it's beautiful, but…" The proud lion paused a moment looked down into the remaining juice in his cup. "It's dangerous."

"Oh, I don't care about danger…" said Jeri. "as… as long as you're there with me. I just hope I live up to being your partner."

"Huh?" said Leomon, looking away from the glass to face his Tamer.

"Sometimes I think I'm not good enough…" said Jeri, clenching her yellow D-Arc tightly. Leomon raised a hand towards her for a moment, but put it down again and stared back into his juice.

"You're such a little thing, but…" said Leomon, "you… you have a lion's heart." Jeri gasped in response.

"W-Well… that's why we're perfect for each other!" said the girl, smiling.

"But… I do have one little favor to ask…"

"Huh?" responded Leomon. "What is it?"

"Well… you see…"

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Nonaka Residence

"Ugh."

"No luck with the brothers or Henry either, Rika?" asked Renamon as her Tamer hung up the phone.

"Nope," responded the girl. "Gogglehead said neither of their partners found anything and Henry's program only found us."

"Hmm…" said the fox. "Vikaralamon's effects are wearing off. We have to find the portal soon, but when we do…"

"Yes?"

"I don't want you to come," said Renamon. "The Digital World wasn't made for humans. There's no telling wh-" Renamon suddenly gasped and leapt back through Rika's bedroom door as Seiko came down the walkway to see her granddaughter. But it was too late, Renamon had been seen.

"Rika?" asked Seiko.

"I… I can explain!" said Rika nervously.

"Please, don't hide," said Seiko, turning to the door and taking several steps forward. "At my age I thought I was seeing things… but you're real, aren't you?" Renamon slowly walked back outside and kneeled down behind Rika as Seiko turned away to face the garden in the center of their home. "I've always known you had a guardian angel, Rika, but I never imagined it'd be a talking fox. Ah well, you've always been a special girl."

"So you don't… have a problem with her?" asked Rika cautiously.

"Not at all," said Seiko, turning toward the two again. "I think she's simply beautiful. I guess she's one of those creatures I've been hearing about on the news?"

"My name is Renamon," said the fox, bowing her head. "And I'm sorry if I've caused any trouble."

"Oh, you're no trouble at all," said Seiko. "You'll add some excitement to my life!"

"…Grandma, I'm going to be going away for a little while," said Rika suddenly.

"But why Rika?" asked Seiko. "Where are you going? You really should tell your mother."

"I can't," said Rika, clenching her hands into fists. "Please, don't tell mom. She won't understand."

"…She'll be worried about you," said the older woman, "but I'll do what I can. Renamon… you'll protect her?"

"I will protect her with my life," swore Renamon. "I promise you."

Rika gasped and turned around to stare at her partner.

"With… her life?" thought the girl.

"Thank you, Renamon," said Seiko, bowing to the fox.

"They shouldn't worry about me…" thought Rika. "Everything will be fine. I…I hope."

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Dino Hut

"Guilmon, Dorumon, you guys there?" called Takato as he and Kou ran up the stairs to their partners' home. When they reached the entrance, they found Dorumon sitting next to a very, very large hole.

"Uh… Dorumon?" said Kou. "What's, um… this?"

"Guil smelled something," replied Dorumon, "and started digging. I tried to help but to be honest I just get in the way."

"Taaaakaaaatoooo!" came a voice from the hole in the Dino Hut's back wall.

"What is it boy?" replied Takato, walking a short way into the tunnel before it suddenly went straight down. Guilmon's head poked out.

"I found something!" said the dinosaur enthusiastically before dropping back in. "Come see, come see!"

"Well… alright," said Takato. "You coming, Kou?"

"I'll stay with Dorumon in case you need someone to pull you out of there," said Kou.

"Suit yourself," said Takato, jumping into the hole.

"You know what it is, Dorumon?" asked Kou.

"I believe you'll find out in a moment, Sir Kou," replied the dinosaur with a grin.

"Kou!" yelled Takato. "It's the portal!"

"Why am I not surprised…" muttered Kou quietly before peeking down into the hole, which he could now see had another tunnel after the drop. "Really? You sure?"

"Just come look!"

"Oh, alright," said Kou, jumping down into the hole and walking through the short tunnel to where his brother and his partner were waiting.

"See, it's the portal!" said Guilmon, sticking his claw in the strange, square light in front of them. It immediately began to disappear.

"Whoa boy!" exclaimed Takato, pulling his partner away from it. "That was close! We don't know if it'll suck you in or anything, so stay away from it until tomorrow alright?"

"Hmm… okay!" said Guilmon, running back to the entrance of his tunnel and climbing back up into his and Dorumon's shed.

"Well that's another one Kou," said Takato. "Last night you said 'maybe even tomorrow,' and here we are."

"What do you mean?" said Kou.

"Predictions, Kou!" said Takato. "That's another one. You said we'd find it today."

"But I just kinda guessed… and I said maybe…" said Kou. "And besides, I was wrong about you and Guilmon defeating Indramon. I really think it's just a big coincidence."

"Knowing my dreams, Kou?" said Takato.

"Twin telepathy?" suggested Kou hopefully. Takato just stared at him. "Ok fine, yeah that was weird. But it's the least of our worries right now."

"Yeah, I guess you're right," said Takato. "But man, I'd love to be able to predict things. Then maybe I'd know when you're gonna tell me what's up with you and Rika."

Kou froze.

"Knew it," said Takato, crossing his arms. "So what's the deal?"

"I… I don't know," said Kou, looking away from his brother as his face started to turn red. "I'm not even sure what's up myself. I just get distracted really easy around her and feel all strange. It's weird."

"Uh…huh," said Takato. "Well, I can tell you what's up. You like Rika."

"I, um, uh, well, I, uh…" stammered Kou, trying to get out a word, but failing miserably. "I… I…" He let out a sigh. "I… guess you're right, huh?"

"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" asked Takato. "You know I can relate."

Kou turned and stared at his brother. It wasn't often that Takato outright admitted that he had a crush, even if he didn't actually say a name. "Did you think I'd make fun of you or something?"

"No… of course not Takato, it's just…" said Kou, looking away from his brother's eyes. "Well, I was having a hard enough time acknowledging it as it is. Telling you would have meant admitting it. Which I guess I just did, huh?"

"Heh, yeah," said Takato. "It's okay. But tell me next time something like this happens, okay? I was worried about you."

"Will do," agreed Kou. "I'm sorry."

"No problem," said Takato. "But the teasing stops here, because I can finally fight back!"

"Aw nuts," said Kou. "And that was so much fun too."

"Um… Sir Kou, Sir Takato?" said Dorumon, dropping down into the hole. "Don't you two have to go to that school place? Why are you standing around by the portal?"

Both brothers looked at Dorumon a moment before checking the time on their D-Arcs.

"Huh, yeah we do," said Kou. "Thanks Dorumon,"

"We were just talking," said Takato. "But yeah, we better go now, it's our last day. Dorumon, think you can keep Guilmon from getting near the portal?"

"Well, he'll want to dig so it will be tough, but I'll do my best Sir Takato," said Dorumon.

"Thanks," said Takato, walking by the dinosaur and climbing out the hole.

"By the way, Dorumon," said Kou, "we're going to be taking you two home with us tonight. If we're leaving tomorrow… we need to tell our parents what's going on, and we'll need you there for them to believe us. Alright?"

"It will be an honor to meet them," said Dorumon. "And I hate to act like them, but you're going to be late Sir Kou!"

"Momentai, Dorumon, Momentai!"

"Oh not you too…"

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, School

"Today we'll be discussing a story about a strange troll called Wakami the Weird," said Ms. Asaji as she walked down the rows of desks in her classroom. Her lesson was to be on the way adjectives were used to describe Wakami, however, not all of her students were paying close attention.

"What are we doing here?" thought Takato as he finished a drawing of Calumon in his notebook and looked out the window. "Tomorrow, we're going on the biggest adventure of our lives! I can't focus at all."

"Takato," said Ms. Asaji sternly, slamming her hand down on top of the boy's notebook. "Can you repeat anything I just said?"

"A-Ah!" exclaimed Takato, standing up. "I-I uh…"

"It's detention for you," said Ms. Asaji with a sigh. "I want an essay on the importance of paying attention."

"Yes, Ms. Asaji…" said Takato with his head hung down.

"Takato, I don't understand you," said Ms. Asaji. "Don't you care about your grades at all?"

"I guess so," replied the boy.

"Well you seem to care about your funny little drawings more," said the teacher. "I hate doing this, but if you're not punished…"

"Ms. Asaji!" said Jeri suddenly, raising her hand.

"Y-Yes?" responded the surprised teacher.

"I wasn't paying attention either," said Jeri.

"But, Jeri," said Ms. Asaji, confused. "Why are you-"

She didn't finish that sentence.

"Um, Ms Asaji," said Kou, standing up. "I actually wasn't paying attention either. What's going on?"

"Uh…" said the teacher, even more confused.

"I need to admit something too," said Kazu, also standing. "I haven't heard a word you've said all day. I was sleeping the whole time!"

"Yeah, me too!" said Kenta, joining his friends.

"It's… it's an all-out mutiny!" said Ms. Asaji, taking a step backwards. "Fine then! You ALL have detention, and I want essays from all of you! Now stand outside until class is over!"

-------------------------------

"This is the noblest thing I have ever done," said Kazu proudly, leaning on the wall outside the classroom.

"Dude, you just wanted to cut class," said Kenta.

"Whatever," said Kazu. "I'm just psyched we're going to the Digital World!"

"You know, this could be the last class we attend all year," said Jeri.

"Whoa," said Kou. "You're right. Are we gonna get held back or something?"

"Well… should we ask for extra homework so that doesn't happen?" asked Jeri.

"Hmm… nah!" replied all the boys.

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Yamaki's Apartment

It had been a week. A week since everything one Mitsuo Yamaki had worked for had gone up in flames at the hands of things he had tried to destroy. The loss of Hypnos's facilities had brought an end to his work. Now the once proud man merely sat in his home, staring into space and contemplating his downfall.

"Failure… does not become me," thought Yamaki. "Hypnos is gone, but it was always powerless anyway. I was powerless. Everything was always handled by those kids, and we… no, I refused to acknowledge it. In the end that monstrous boar was defeated by them, and all my attempts to interfere just made things worse."

"So, you're just gonna sit here and mope?" asked Riley, walking into the room.

"Well now, that sounds like a brilliant idea," replied Yamaki sarcastically.

"You can't shut yourself off just because Hypnos is gone!"

"Hypnos has nothing to do with it."

"Well there must be something you can do!"

"Hmm… actually…"

Yamaki suddenly looked down to the table in front of the couch he was sitting on, took the laptop from its surface, and started typing. In an instant he had the files he wanted displayed on the screen.

"There is something I can do," thought the man as he scrolled down through the list of names and pictures. "Those kids… they could be our last hope. If I can help them somehow… we may just have a chance."

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, School

"I need a break from this…" sighed Ms. Asaji as she finished grading her fifteenth math test. Truth be told, she hated them as much as her students did, but she'd never let them know it. "Might as well see what those essays say…"

Ms. Asaji turned her gaze to the stack of notebooks on the corner of her desk and picked up the red one on top. On the front was the name Kou Matsuki.

"So this will be Takato's essay then…"

Opening the book, she began to read the boy's words and allowed herself a laugh.

Dear Ms. Asaji,

Kou has my notebook. He took the wrong one again. But he's already started writing so I don't want to interrupt him. Anyway, I think you're a great teacher, so I'm sorry if I've offended you.

That was Takato alright. He may be a daydreamer but she knew he never actually tried to get on her nerves. He wasn't Kazu.

Also, I won't be in school after today. Please don't take that personally either.

"Huh?" said Ms. Asaji. "What is this?"

P.S. If I don't make it back, you can have the Fruit Roll-ups in my locker!

"What…?"

The now very concerned teacher closed the book and picked up the next one, the blue one labeled Takato Matsuki.

Dear Ms. Asaji,

I'm really, really sorry! And so's Takato I'm sure. It isn't anything personal, it's just… we've got a lot on our minds right now. We're going to be going away for a while… it's nothing personal, but we have no choice! We'll miss you!

P.S. Whoops, this is Takato's book…

Ms. Asaji quickly threw the book to the side and grabbed the next three all at once, flipping through them to find their essays and skimming over them.

We're going because it's our duty as responsible citizens!

What could Jeri mean by that?

We're off to kick butt in the Digital World! That can be educational, right?

Normally, she'd write this off as another of Kazu's jokes, but with the others saying these things too… he was serious!

I'm coming clean before I go! I stole the class hamster.

Then Kenta should return the poor animal and stay here to be punished!

"W-What's going on…?" said Ms. Asaji worriedly. "I… I have to stop them!"

-------------------------------

"Hey, Henry!" called Takato as he and the others arrived at the school's gate.

"It's about time!" said Terriermon from his spot on Henry's shoulder.

"By the time she reads those, we'll be long gone!" said Kazu as the group made their way to Henry.

"Stop!" yelled a panicked voice from behind them. The whole group froze and turned to a very confused Ms. Asaji, with all the notebooks in hand. "What is this!? What do you mean you're not coming back!?"

"Like we said," answered Takato. "We've gotta go to the Digital World."

"You have to do nothing of the sort!" said Ms. Asaji. "Wait a minute… are you… the children who were seen with the Digimon?"

"Ya talking about me?" said Terriermon, suddenly waving to the startled teacher. She gasped and took a step backwards.

"Ms. Asaji, we didn't want you to worry," said Jeri. "But we couldn't just leave without saying anything to you."

"And you don't want us around, we're nothing but trouble!" said Kazu.

"Haha, speak for yourself, doofus!" laughed Kenta.

"Is this supposed to be funny!?" yelled Ms Asaji suddenly, catching the whole group off guard. "How do you think this makes me feel? You're all… my responsibility! Those creatures… they're dangerous! You could get hurt! You could get… you could get killed! You… you can't even get through P.E. without getting hurt… who's supposed to take care of you!?"

"Ms. Asaji…" said Kou, "We know you care about us. But we have no choice. We're the only ones that can do this. We were meant to do this."

"You don't have to worry," said Takato. "We're going to go tell our parents right now. So… we'd appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone else about it until tomorrow."

"I promise, we'll be fine," said Jeri. "So don't worry!"

"But… you…."

"C'mon lady, Momentai!" said Terriermon.

"Huh?" said Ms. Asaji.

"Momentai," said Henry, echoing his partner. "It means 'take it easy,' or 'don't worry.'"

"Good bye, Ms. Asaji," said Takato. All of them then turned and walked away, not once looking back.

"Wait… please!"

"Buh-bye!" called Terriermon, waving with his ear as the group moved outside the gates and began making their way home.

"Impossible…" said Ms. Asaji, dropping to her knees as the Tamers left her sight. "They're… they're just kids…"

And then, Nami Asaji, known to her students as the coldest, meanest, most demonic teacher ever to walk the face of the earth, burst into tears. Her students, her children, were leaving. And no amount of detentions would stop them.

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Shinjuku, Matsuki Bakery

It was a normal day for Takahiro and Mei Matsuki. Their sons had woken up and gone to school, they had made their bread, opened their store for the day, and had made a normal amount of sales. It fact, it was so normal, it was rather dull. In the back, Takahiro's eyes were beginning to droop at the monotony of it all, while Mei was working the cash register up front. After making the last sale before closing time, she went to the back to check on her husband as her final customer made her way to the door. As the customer prepared to open it, however, someone else opened it from the outside. Being a regular to this bakery, the woman recognized the boy; he was one of the family's sons, Takato. She looked around to see if his brother Kou was present. He was. But so were a pair of…

"Monsters!" screamed the woman as she ran out the door and fled down the street. "Ahhhh!"

Takato and Kou were unfazed. It had happened a few times already. Together with Guilmon (who was having a very, very hard time restraining himself in the bakery, where the walls around him were lined with bread) and Dorumon, they made their way to the back of the store.

"Oh, hello boys," said Mei as the two walked into the kitchen. "How was your- OH DEAR LORD!"

"Don't freak mom," said Takato calmly.

"It's too late for that!" yelled Mei, taking several steps back, trying to distance herself from Guilmon and Dorumon.

"What is it, honey?" said Takahiro, turning around to see what all the commotion was about. His droopy eyes shot open immediately.

"Hi!" greeted Guilmon cheerfully, waving to the man.

"Ah!" exclaimed Takahiro. "Is… is that what was in the cardboard box? And ate all the bread!?"

"Excuse me," said Dorumon. "I must apologize. I was the one that ate the bread."

"W-What!?" said Takahiro.

"Oh come on, it was no big deal Dad," said Kou. "It was old anyway."

"The bread isn't a big deal… these things are!"

Both boys sighed. This was going to be hard.

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Wong Apartment

"Jump, Terriermon!" said Suzie, laughing and throwing her favorite "doll" into the air, causing it to land head-first on the couch.

"C'mon Henry, reveal the truth already so this torture can end!" thought Terriermon. "Enough courage building, this is SUZIE, she thinks I'm alive anyway dang it!"

"Hey Suzie," said Henry, as if on cue, "listen… I'm going on a little trip tomorrow."

"A twip!?" said Suzie happily, waving her arms and moving closer to her brother. "One day I'll be a big girl and go on twips too!"

"Haha, yeah!" said Henry, kneeling down to Suzie's level. "And there's something else you should know too."

"What's that?" asked Suzie.

"Ahem."

Suzie turned away from her brother to face a couch once more, where she found Terriermon, who she had left on his head, standing upright with his arms behind his back. She gasped, but after a moment her face had a look of pure joy, as if it was Christmas morning.

"Yup," said Terriermon, "I'm not a doll Suzie! I'm a lean, mean, digi-machine! Not Princess Pretty Pants. Although that does have a nice ring to it."

"Sorry I never told you," said Henry. Suzie just kept staring at Terriermon.

"Try not to miss us while we're gone!" said Terriermon. Suzie continued to stare at him.

"I, uh, sent Dad an email," said Henry, "but… it's a surprise, so don't tell anyone before we leave, ok?" No response. Just more staring.

"We're going stealth!" said Terriermon, changing his pose to make it appear as if he was trying to sneak around. "Like the shadows…"

"Terriermon!!!" cried Suzie suddenly, tackling the rabbit to the couch in a powerful hug. "I knew you were real! You'll come back soon, won't you?"

"O-Ok, just calm down," said Terriermon with a hint of fear in his voice.

Henry just laughed.

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Nonaka Residence

"Rika…"

"Weird, isn't it?"

Renamon didn't respond. She was unsure of what to make of this situation… for some reason she couldn't determine, her partner, despite all her animosity towards any outfit that didn't include jeans, had dressed herself in the frilliest, pinkest, and dare Renamon say prettiest dress her mother had bought her. Rumiko had been attempting to get Rika to wear it for a month, but as always she adamantly refused. But now, out of the blue, she had put it on, let her hair down, and was preparing to leave her room.

"Rika, why are you…?"

"I'm not. This never happened, Renamon."

With that, the girl left the room and made her way to the television room, where her mother and grandmother were watching the news. Neither noticed her presence; the entry to the room was behind the couch on which both women were sitting. Rika hesitated for a moment.

"Is this really a good idea?" thought the usually fiery Tamer. "I might send her the wrong idea. What if she starts thinking I've come around and starts making me shop with her even more? But… it's this or telling her about Renamon. If I tell her, she won't want me to go and will be mad when I do… at least this way I can show her that I care and leave on a happy note. Here goes…"

"Rika?"

Rumiko's voice snapped Rika out of her thoughts.

"Um…" said the girl nervously, "h-how do I look?"

"Just… radiant!" said Rumiko with a delighted look on her face. Seiko looked between her daughter and granddaughter and smiled.

"Oh Rika," thought the older woman, "you have no idea just how much this means to your mother."

"Rika…" said Rumiko, closing her eyes as a contented smile settled on her face, "thank you so much."

"Y-You're welcome," replied Rika, giving a smile of her own before directing her gaze off to the side and frowning slightly. "Goodbye, Mom…"

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Katou Restaurant

"Night, night…" whispered Jeri sweetly as she pulled up the covers over the form of her already sleeping little brother. She smiled before quietly walking over to the window and leaning outside.

"It's time, Leomon."

"Should I come now?"

"No… I want to talk to them first. I'll call you when I need you, ok?"

"Alright. I'll be waiting."

"Thanks!"

Closing the window (Leomon was too big to fit through anyway, he'd be using the front door), Jeri made her way outside the bedroom and down the stairs to where her father and step-mother were finishing cleaning up.

"Oh, Jeri," said Mrs. Katou. "Do you need something?"

"Shouldn't you be in bed?" asked Mr. Katou. "It's getting late, you know."

"I… have something I need to talk to you about first," said Jeri nervously. "Can we sit down?"

"Is something wrong?" asked the girl's step-mother worriedly.

"Not exactly… but it's important," said Jeri. "Please?"

"…alright," said Mr. Katou, taking a seat at one of the tables. Mrs. Katou sat next to him, and Jeri quickly ran over to the table and sat across from them. "So, what is it?"

"Well, I…" began Jeri, soon finding herself unsure of what to say. "Maybe I should have thought this out a little better."

"Are you in trouble, Jeri?" asked Mrs. Katou. "I can understand if you're nervous, it's not often you're in trouble for anything at school…"

"It's not that," said Jeri. "Even if I did get a detention today."

"Well, spit it out, we don't have all night," said Mr. Katou.

"I… I'm going to be going away for a while," said Jeri cautiously.

"So this is for a school trip?" asked Mrs. Katou.

"No," said Jeri. "I'm going… I'm going to the Digital World."

"Excuse me?" said Mr. Katou. "What is…" An idea clicked in his head. "…is this related to those "Digimon" that I've been hearing about on the news?"

Jeri hesitated. This is where it was going to get rough.

"…Yes," she replied. "I'm one of the children that was with the ones that fought for Shinjuku."

"WHAT!?" yelled Mr. Katou, getting up and slamming a hand on the table. "What are you doing hanging around those monsters!?"

"They're not monsters!" said Jeri. "Vikaralamon, the one that attacked, is nothing like the ones I know! They're all nice! They're the ones that saved us! And one of them's been kidnapped, so we have to go help him!"

"Out of the question!" yelled Mr. Katou harshly. Mrs. Katou looked between father and daughter worriedly. This could get ugly.

"Dear…" she started, only to be cut off.

"We have to dad!" said Jeri, pulling out her yellow-rimmed D-Arc. "It's our responsibility! We're the only ones that can save Calumon… and the whole city!"

"What's that supposed to mean!?" yelled Mr. Katou, snatching the device from Jeri's hand. "This toy doesn't prove a thing! I'm not going to let my only daughter-"

"That "toy" proves everything, sir," came a powerful-sounding voice from behind the man. Mr. Katou turned around and his eyes widened. Standing in his front doorway was a gigantic lion of a man who had a sword strapped to the back of the belt that was keeping up his long, ragged black pants. His feet looked like paws, and his hair was like a mane. Mr. Katou was speechless. His wife was frozen solid, clearly scared of the imposing figure in the doorway. Jeri, on the other hand, ran over to him happily.

"Leomon, I didn't call you yet, silly."

"I know, but I was getting tired of the yelling."

"Hehe," laughed the girl, turning back to her parents. "This is Leomon. He's my partner. He's going with me to the Digital World, where he's from, to protect me."

That's when it clicked in Mr. Katou's mind. This man wasn't like a lion. This man was a lion.

"I… uh…"

"Mr. Katou," said Leomon, stepping in front of Jeri, "I ask you to please let Jeri go. A dear friend of hers, the small Calumon, has been kidnapped, and she wishes to help him. That "toy" in your hand is proof of her bond with me; with it, she can give me strength. It is I that shall fight, not her. I will make sure she is never in any danger." Leomon kneeled down. "Please. I guarantee that no harm will come to her."

The room fell silent.

"…Dad?" said Jeri quietly. "Please?"

Mrs. Katou watched her husband worriedly. Jeri was all he had left of his old life… she meant the world to him. But this was something Jeri truly wanted to do, something she had shown a conviction in that Mrs. Katou had never seen in the girl before. She was going to go whether her father allowed it or not.

"Dear…" said the woman quietly, "let her go."

Mr. Katou turned away from everyone in the room and put the D-Arc down on the table.

"Take it," he said. "Now go to bed."

"Dad?" asked Jeri, confused.

"Take it and go to bed," repeated the man sternly. Jeri nodded and ran past Leomon, grabbing the D-Arc and running up the stairs. Once she was gone, Mr. Katou turned around to face Leomon. "Let me set something straight. I don't like this. But I know I can't stop her. You… Leomon, was it? You say you'll protect her?"

"I will die for her," said Leomon. "If that is what it takes to keep her safe."

"…I'll hold you to that," said Mr. Katou. At that, he turned and left the room. Mrs. Katou quickly got up to follow, but stopped for a moment.

"Leomon," she said, "please do protect her. She's the world to him. If she were to be hurt… I don't know what would happen."

"You have my word."

"Thank you."

Mrs. Katou quickly followed her husband, leaving Leomon alone in the room. Deciding that Jeri's father would probably be less than pleased to find him still inside in the morning, he walked outside and jumped back onto the roof to sleep. Tomorrow was the day he'd return home.

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Matsuki Bakery

After several hours of mental preparation by both the parents and the brothers, it was finally time to explain everything. Following Takato and Kou's entrance with their partners at their side, their mother had fainted. Takahiro had taken his wife to their room to rest, and impressed the boys by keeping relatively calm and telling them both to take their partners and wait in their room for her to recover, so they could talk. They now found themselves sitting across from their parents at the dinner table, with their partners at their sides. Takahiro sat across from Kou with a rather serious look on his face and his arms crossed. Mei was unable to calm down enough to sit, and was standing behind her husband and glancing between the two dinosaurs as if they might attack at any moment. Takato was the one who broke the silence.

"His name's Guilmon," said the gogglehead, motioning to the red dinosaur on his left.

"And this is Dorumon," said Kou, motioning to the purple one on his right. "They're our Digimon partners."

"I made drawings of Guilmon, and then one day he just appeared," said Takato. "Kou helped me take care of him…"

"…and then Dorumon showed up, and he and I became partners," said Kou. "We kept him secret because we knew you'd be worried and wouldn't let us keep them."

"You don't even let us keep goldfish," said Takato, trying to lighten the mood with a joke. It didn't work.

"A Digimon?" said Mei. "You mean like that horrible monsters that attacked us here in Shinjuku?"

"Monster?" asked Guilmon, turning his head to face Takato inquisitively. His movement caused Mei to take a step back and crouch a little behind her husband.

"Honey, calm down," said Takahiro. "Let's hear what they have to say."

"Our friends Henry, Rika, and Jeri have Digimon too," continued Takato. "They're nothing like the bad Digimon! In fact, Guilmon's the best friend I've ever had."

"Aww…" said Guilmon. "Thanks, Takato. See, I'm not a monster!"

"And the same goes for Dorumon," said Kou. "I've never met anyone as devoted and loyal as him."

"You flatter me, Sir Kou," said Dorumon with a grin.

"If you wanna know the truth… we and our Digimon keep the bad ones from making trouble," said Takato.

"We never told you because you'd probably ground us for life," said Kou. "And we didn't want you to worry. But we had to do it, because no one else could."

"But now, a little Digimon named Calumon has been kidnapped," said Takato. "And we have to go to the Digital World to rescue him."

"You can't!" yelled Mei. "Especially not with those creatures!"

"But mom," said Kou, "see, Calumon has these special powers. In the wrong hands, they could be used to destroy the city! We can't let that happen! And Calumon's our friend too… it's just like if Kazu or Kenta was taken. We have to help."

"Nonsense," said Mei, "why can't a grownup take care of this?"

"Well, they've tried…" said Takato. "But we're the only ones who can do anything about it. We're leaving tomorrow morning."

"We don't know what we're in for," said Kou. "so we'll need to pack as much food as possible."

"We know we're asking a lot," said Takato. "But… we need you to trust us just this once."

"Out of the question!" yelled Mei. "You're not going goodness knows where with these monsters! I won't allow it!"

"Please let us go," said Kou. Takahiro looked at him, and then at Takato, before standing up and leaving the room without a word. Mei watched him go, but instead of getting angry she just looked scared at losing her only ally in this fight.

"…Well, in any case, we can't let you miss school!" she said, turning back to the boys.

"But mom, if we don't do anything, there might not be a school to go to!" said Takato. Mei's eyes started to fill with tears as she turned and ran after her husband, leaving both boys feeling guilty for upsetting her so much. Mei found Takahiro in the kitchen.

"Honey, say something!" she said, starting to cry. "We… we can't…"

"Let them go," he said calmly, placing his hands into the bowl he had just gotten out and beginning to knead the dough for a loaf of bread.

"W-What?" gasped Mei.

"Obviously," continued Takahiro, "they've been able to take care of themselves so far."

"But…"

"Mei, all those strange happenings that we've been hearing about all make sense if you put their story with it. For example, do you remember the suspected terrorist attack on the bridge near the metropolitan building?"

"Y-Yes… the boys snuck out that night and… wait, are you saying-"

"That's exactly what I'm saying. I bet that if we asked them if a Digimon was responsible for that, they'd be able to tell us exactly what type of monster it was and how it happened. There were rumors of a flying black dragon that night, as well."

"But…"

"And look at their partners. Don't they look like smaller versions of the ones that fought the boar?"

"But… but even if all that's true… they're still just babies!"

"No they're not, and it's time we learned to trust them."

"But…" protested Mei, "but… they're… they're still my babies!"

All Mei's held back tears finally came flowing out as she latched onto her husband and sobbed. She didn't get to let it out for long though, because the pair was soon interrupted by a certain red dinosaur.

"I'm a baby!" said Guilmon happily as he walked into the room. Mei let go of Takahiro and quickly moved behind him.

"Guil, we're supposed to wait in…" Dorumon noticed both adults already staring at the two of them. "Oh, forget it."

"So you're Guilmon, huh?" said Takahiro, crouching down to the dinosaur's level.

"Yup!"

"Then I guess that makes you Dorumon?" asked the man, turning to Kou's partner.

"Indeed, milord," replied Dorumon with a bow.

"Milord?" asked Takahiro, puzzled.

"You are Sir Kou's father," said Dorumon. "I should address you with the appropriate amount of respect."

"You know, you're more polite than most of our customers!" said Takahiro with a smile before turning back to Guilmon. "You know, this explains a lot. Some of the boys' friends wanted me to make "Guilmon Bread" once. I guess they meant you, huh?"

"Bread shaped like me?" asked Guilmon excitedly, waving his arms around. "Oooooh I'm gonna be a bread roll, yummy!!!"

"I'll even make it life-size," said Takahiro. "You two just take care of our boys out there, alright?"

"Promise!" agreed Guilmon, continuing to flap his arms and singing about Guilmon Bread.

"I give you my word," said Dorumon. "Um… is it possible that…"

"They asked me about Dorumon Bread too," said Takahiro. "I think I'll make some of that, as well."

Dorumon beamed with happiness.

"Looks like even the little knight has his childish side," thought Takahiro. Smiling, he stood up and continued to knead the dough. "Mei, would you like to give me a hand?"

"…I still don't like this," said the boys' mother. "But… I guess we can't stop them, can we?"

"Doubt it."

"Then all I can do is help… which will you take?"

"Hmm… I'll make the Dorumon Bread."

Mei took a moment to look over and get a good look at Guilmon's head.

"Then I guess I'll make the bread for Takato's partner."

"Make enough and you might get used to him!"

"Don't push it Takahiro."

"Er… hehe, sorry."

Meanwhile, Takato and Kou had been hiding near the open doorway since their partners had run in the room. At first they had gotten up to stop them, but once the conversation had gone in a positive direction they had decided to just let things happen.

"Takato…" whispered Kou. "They're… they're gonna let us go. They're gonna let us go!"

"I don't believe it!" replied Takato excitedly. "Who'd of thought all we had to do was let those two talk to them?"

"Hehe," laughed Kou before getting more serious. "This is it though. They've placed their trust in us. We can't fail."

"Right," said Takato. "We'll come back safely, with Calumon too. To the Digital World!"

"To the Digital World!" repeated Kou. "We're coming, Calumon."

-------------------------------

Shinjuku, Dino Hut

"Jeri, Leomon, mornin'!" called Kazu as he and Kenta ran to catch up with the girl. They were walking down the path that lead to the Dino Hut, and the portal.

"Hi guys!" said Jeri, turning to face the boys.

"Guess what?" said Kazu, "I told my folks this was a school trip and they gave me permission to go!"

"I left mine a letter next to the coffee pot," said Kenta. "What about you Jeri?"

"Oh, erm… I had Leomon talk to my dad," said Jeri.

"Whoa," said Kenta. "You're a braver man than I am."

"Hi guys!" yelled Terriermon, waving and beckoning the three humans and one Digimon over to where the others had already gathered.

"What'd you pack Kazu, your whole room?" said Rika, pointing to the obscenely large pack on the boy's back. "We're just going for a couple of days."

"Lighten up, would ya? Sheesh," said Kazu.

"Hey, where are Takato and Kou?" asked Jeri, looking around and seeing neither one present.

"I dunno," said Guilmon.

"We got here early this morning, so Guilmon and I took a nap," said Dorumon. "They were gone when we woke up but left a note saying they forgot something."

"Sure," said Kazu. "How much you wanna bet Kou just grabbed the wrong thing?"

"Here comes the cavalry!" yelled Takato, running towards the group and waving some kind of homemade flag. Kou was nearby, with a pack of bread on his back.

"Sorry we're late!" said Kou as he and Takato reached the group.

"What the heck is that?" said Kazu, pointing at Takato's flag.

"It's our Tamer flag!" said Takato.

"Look, we even put everyone on it!" said Kou, pointing at the little felt faces that covered the flag's white surface. Under them all, in big block letters, were the words DIGIMON TAMERS.

"See, look, there's Kazu, Kenta, Jeri, Leomon, Calumon, Rika, Dorumon…" Takato paused and looked at the placement of Tamers and Digimon on the flag. "Kou! You switched up Dorumon and Renamon!"

"A-Ah!" said Kou, seeing the mistake. "S-Sorry!"

"And I'm not Takatomon's partner either," said Terriermon, seeing that he and Guilmon were switched too. He pointed at Guilmon. "That doofus is."

"Hey!"

"Well, I think its wonderful!" said Jeri.

"Aw thanks," said Takato, smiling. "We put a lot of work into it!"

"Wonderful? I got no nose!" said Kazu. Everyone laughed.

"Acting like this, it's hard to believe you're our only hope," came a voice.

"Who's there?" said Rika as the whole group spun to face the man that had just approached them. It was Yamaki.

"Oh, it's creepy dude," said Kenta.

"What do you want?" demanded Henry.

"So, you're taking off?" asked Yamaki.

"Yeah," replied Henry. "And you can't stop us."

"I can't let you go, not without this anyway," said Yamaki, pulling a device out of his pocket. Suddenly, he tossed it into the air towards the group. Takato dropped the flag (Kou immediately grabbed onto it before it could fall to the ground) and caught the device. He looked it over carefully before looking back to Yamaki.

"What… is this?" asked the gogglehead.

"It's a communication device," said Yamaki, removing his sunglasses and surprising them all by actually smiling. "So you can stay in touch. Now go get 'em."

"I don't believe this!" said Takato, smiling back.

"Looks like someone took a ride on the happy train!" said Terriermon.

"Alright guys!" said Kou, waving the flag in the air. "On to the Digital World!"

"Yeah!" came the unified response.

The whole group quickly made their way up to the Dino Hut and down into the cave Guilmon had dug. Takato was in front of the group, and was the first to reach the portal.

"Here we are," said Takato. "This is it. Is everyone ready?"

"Hold on," said Henry. "We don't want to get separated. Grab on to whoever's next to you, and we'll go in as a chain."

"Hmm, alright. Everyone got your partners?" Takato looked around to see Leomon at the back, holding Jeri firmly. Jeri's hand was in Kenta's, and the chain continued all the way up to himself, who had Guilmon's claw in his hand. He suppressed a laugh when he noticed Kou's hand in Rika's. "Alright, good! Then… here we go!"

Takato jumped into the portal, disappearing in a flash of light. Yamaki stood at the back, watching until the whole group had disappeared.

"Goodbye, Digimon Tamers," thought the former government agent. "Be safe. We're counting on you."

-------------------------------

Wooooo. So, for the record, this chapter was totally the longest thing I've ever written. Probably due to edits on Takato's scene for Kou and the addition of Jeri's scene. I had a great time writing this; I finally got a chance to really deviate and add on with this chapter. So I hope you enjoyed it!