A/N: FINALLY!! I bet you've been waiting for this forever! The final chapter to Vengeance! Hehe. Well, it was some two months in the making…and I could have split this up into more chapters, but I promised everyone that this would be the last. So here it is, in all its glory!

**Special Thanks To**

Sailormoonshadow and raine

Without whom this fic may have not been completed for another couple of months. Thanks for all the encouragement, reviews, IM's, proof reading, ideas, etc. etc.. You guys rock!

And to all of the readers, thanx for your time and input. Enjoy! ^_^

With each determined step Nancy took, an equal amount of foreboding coursed through her veins. What if he had already killed them? What if he refused to let them go? She drew up an unsteady hand and placed it over her wary eyes. She wished Malcolm were here beside her; she couldn't handle this by herself. It had been true, she always was a strong, outgoing woman, with a seemingly fearless exterior, but that was only a ploy to mask the fragility she bore in her heart.  Since their divorce, she felt she had to work even harder, not only to maintain her single-parent household, but also to ensure that T.K. would have a balanced upbringing, despite the constant lack of a father figure.

As she neared the abandoned warehouse, more remorseful thoughts raced through her troubled mind. It was the first time, in quite a while that she had considered her eldest son's feelings. He had appeared to distance himself from her ever since the breakup, and as the years rolled on, it felt as though the gap between them was growing in proportion. Of course this had to be true of T.K. and his father. Seldom was the opportunity they had any time to bond. Why of all times would she be thinking of this now?

Guilt. That was the primary reason. The saying was so cliché, yet it held much truth. You don't realize the value of what you have, until it is gone. To Nancy, her sons were a part of her, well of course they were, after all she was their mother. Without them, she felt lost, alone, and above all incomplete. Perhaps the basis for all this regretful reflecting was her self-conscious urging her to make a positive change. Yes, she thought, maybe…when this whole terrible ordeal is finished, she could make it up to T.K…. and Matt. Less time working, she contrived, and more time spent with the family. At least her intentions were good, but some of the best-laid plans, which had begun with good intentions, turned out to be disastrous.

Nancy shook her head, clearing it of her present thoughts. Now was not the time to lament. She had to stick to the plan or all would be lost. Standing not but twenty feet from the complex, she allowed her eyes to close as she took in a deep breath and released it. Biting her lower lip, she began to tread forward. Then something she hadn't mentally prepared for entered her field of vision. From a set of double doors burst two figures. Her heart immediately leapt up into her throat, as she recognized one to be a knife wielding Murphy. He held the blade at a lethal angle to her eldest son's neck.

"Mom!" Matt cried out, she could hear the waver of fear in his voice and her heart ached to help him.

"Yamato!" she responded, with an equally quavering voice. She clenched a fist to her chest, as if to keep her pounding heart contained therein. Tears pricked the outer rims of her eyelids and she defiantly blinked them back.

"Ah, Nancy…how long has it been?" Murphy smiled maliciously, pressing the deadly blade even closer to the soft flesh of Matt's neck. He let out a small whimper of discomfort, which brought a sadistic look of pleasure to the old man's face.

"Let him go Murphy!" Nancy pleaded, "He's not the one you want!" The young woman hoped that plea would be honored. Her eyes scanned the cold black orbs that were Murphy's. He looked as though he were contemplating the request. As Nancy awaited his answer, her eyes caught her son's figure. Needless to say his facial expression matched the haggard appearance of his body. A tremor of anger sustained itself in the pit of her stomach as she discovered the small bandage over his eye, as well as a few bruises that managed to manifest themselves. Had she a keener eye, she would have observed the injured limb, which slightly protruded from behind Matt's back, where Murphy held it tightly.

His hair, which was usually a beautiful blonde hue, showed scant traces of dried up blood. Nancy averted her eyes back to Murphy's. She had seen enough. A feeling of dread emanated in the nether reaches of her mind, as she could only imagine what they had done to T.K.

"Now, now Nancy. You know I'm not about to just hand over your son." The gangster grinned slyly. "By the way, just out of sheer curiosity, where is your delightful husband…oh, pardon me…EX-husband." He hissed.

Nancy's eyes scanned the ground for a suitable explanation. "Y-You said no cops!" she called out to him, "They were following us, so Malcolm decided to lead them on a wild goose chase!"

"Smart man." Murphy replied, "but unfortunate for him I'm afraid." The smile that played across the scar-faced man's lips grew wider.

"What do you mean?!" she cried, mechanically taking a few steps forward without realizing it.

"If he doesn't get here soon, he'll miss the death of his sons!" Murphy shot back with an amused tone.

"NO!" Nancy screamed. "Please!"

The young woman felt helpless as a small cackle erupted from the older man. Slowly rising in pitch until it was one long maniacal laugh.

Malcolm shifted into Neutral and slowly let the car coast to a stop in behind the line of big rigs just outside the warehouse. He hoped that the plan he and Nancy had formulated mere minutes ago would work. All she had to do was distract Murphy until he could find the boys. However, he hadn't considered the idea that Murphy may have been holding one of them hostage.

The wily reporter sprang from the vehicle and ducked behind one of the rigs. He quickly stole from one semi to the next, keeping a sharp eye out for any of Murphy's accomplices. If the situation required it, Malcolm could be quite stealth. Years of being a reporter had attributed to those skills. A brief scuffling noise caught his attention as he pressed his back up against one of the trailers. He cautiously peered around the side of the diesel-chugging monstrosity to see a line of black cars. He watched as a few tough looking gangsters piled into the vehicles. Arguing and prodding at eachother like school children trying to attain the best seat on the bus. After all the cars had dispersed, Malcolm took this opportunity to make a mad dash for the warehouse. Throwing one last glance around him, he sprinted over to one of the windows that decorated the first floor of the building.

Using the sleeve of his shirt, Malcolm wiped some of the soot from the filthy glass and cupped his hands around his face in order to peer in. As his gaze shifted around the dark environment he spotted a still figure seated in a chair.

"T.K.!" he whispered excitedly, as the white hat and yellow and turquoise shirt immediately gave his youngest son away. Not wanting to walk straight into a trap, Malcolm crept along the side of the building until he reached its corner. He could hear Nancy trying to bargain with the old gangster. Curious to see what was going on, and if his ex-wife was all right, he poked his head around the corner.

His brown eyes widened at the sight before him, as a small gasp escaped his lungs. Malcolm cupped his hand over his mouth to prevent himself from being spotted. Matt's father whirled around, his back against the wall, as his face twisted in concern. Things didn't look good, but he wasn't out of ideas yet. First things first, he thought, and that was to rescue T.K. Malcolm jogged back towards the window he had been looking in, and seeing no door around, he quickly began to loosen his neck tie. Licking his lips in anticipation, he wrapped the garment around his fist. He pulled the covered hand up to his mouth and gave it a brief kiss for good luck before driving it through the glass. Shards of the clear matter scattered everywhere, like so many raindrops cascading down onto the cold cement of the warehouse floor.

T.K.'s head whipped around and a relieved smile spread across his face as he watched his father clear the sharp pieces of glass from the windowsill and crawl through it. Malcolm looked down at his blood-covered hand, inspecting it for any splinters of glass that may have gotten wedged underneath his skin. When none could be found, he ran over to his youngest son's side.

"Dad! You came!" T.K. grinned, and in that moment had forgotten all his worries, including Matt and the bomb.

"T.K., are you alright? Did that bastard hurt you?" Malcolm asked, clutching his son to his chest.

"No worries dad, I'll be okay." He said in a muffled voice, trying to get his father's attention, who seemed to be wrapped up in an emotional moment.

"God it's good to see you!" he exclaimed finally pulling away from T.K. "Let's get you out of here and go save your brother."

"Hurry dad!" the younger boy replied anxiously, remembering the timer on the explosive.

"Take it easy, you'll be…" he was cut off by his son's fearful expression.

"Dad there's a bomb!" he finally cried, motioning down towards the floor with his face.

Malcolm averted his gaze over to where T.K. was signaling. His mouth gaped open as his hands worked faster to free his youngest boy. As the last of his restraints were tore free, T.K. jumped up from the chair, but was intercepted by his father, who grabbed his arm and began to drag him furiously towards the broken window.

"Come on! There's not much time! We have less than 20 seconds!" his father screamed, as the two raced towards the opening. Hastily, Malcolm hoisted up his son and shoved him through the window, as he pulled himself through mere seconds before a ball of fire tore through the warehouse, destroying everything in its path.

T.K. felt a blast of heat sear down his back as he and his father were thrown several feet from the explosion. Time appeared to move in slow motion, as the blonde boy felt himself lift off the ground, his body being hurdled through the air. As he and his father made impact with the hard earth, a swirl of dust engulfed them, and T.K. brought his hands up to cover his head from any falling debris. He could feel his father's arm laying over him protectively, as the crackle of flames and stinging odor of smoke invaded his senses.

Malcolm slowly lifted his head and shook the dust out of his hair. He glanced down at T.K., whose azure blue eyes peeked out at him innocently from behind the boy's arms, which he was currently using to encase his head.

"You okay?" he asked, inspecting his son further for any wounds or injuries.

T.K. only nodded, and allowed his father to help him to his feet. Without notice, the young boy's lower lip began to quiver, and his eyes welled up with tears as he latched onto his father.

"I'm so glad you made it in time dad, I started to lose hope, but Matt told me to never lose hope, he said it was my strongest feature and that's why I have my crest, and…and dad…" T.K. blurted out hysterically. His father could not comprehend his babbling fast enough.

"Y-Yes son?" he said, as it all began to sink in.

"I love you dad!" T.K. sobbed. Malcolm pulled his youngest son closer and held him tightly.

"I love you too Takeru." He sniffled, refusing to let his tears fall, as he rubbed T.K.'s back soothingly.

"I never thought I'd see you or mom again…" T.K. whimpered. He drew back from his father and used his sleeve to wipe the tears from his eyes.

"It's gonna be okay son." Malcolm tried to assure him, though he knew that nothing he could say would ever erase the traumatic experience from the teenager's memory.

Father and son turned to face the demolished warehouse; a shell of its former self. The windows had been blown out and the building teetered on its foundation. Smoke and flames billowed from every orifice of the rubble.

T.K. clutched his father's shirtsleeve and blinked in astonishment. The building he was now looking at, just moments ago…that could have been him…he thought. T.K. stumbled backwards as he lost his footing. Malcolm steadied the young boy.

"Are you sure you're okay?" he asked with concern.

T.K. nodded, "I'll be fine. I…I was just thinking, that…" Malcolm felt a small shudder course down the boy's back, as his muscles spasmed involuntarily.

"Come on son, let's go rescue your brother." He suggested, trying to take T.K.'s mind off his near-death experience…and onto…worse things, he thought, and mentally slapped himself as he led the boy back towards the car.

The earth rocked beneath him, as a wave of heat washed over the blonde teenager and his captor. The explosion both surprised and sent Matt stumbling forward and out of Murphy's grasp. The bewildered gangster fell to the ground from the force of the blast, the threatening knife flying free of his hand and landing mere inches away. Nancy covered her ears, as the sound of the blast ripped through her eardrums. She began to run forward a little, half expecting Matt to run to her, now that Murphy was incapacitated, but he didn't, and the sudden realization of why made her stomach lurch.

After regaining his balance, Matt whirled around to see the demolished building, billows of smoke and ash rising up into the almost crimson late afternoon sky, as the sun began to set over the ruins. Crimson, it reminded him of blood. He glanced down at his wrist, still encased in the splint, but with the bandages wearing thin around the broken pieces of wood. Not his blood, he thought, as his eyes glazed over with unshed tears. Matt suddenly felt weak in his knees, and even though he was relying on all his remaining strength to hold him up, he couldn't help but feel compelled to crumple to the ground. The world began to spin before his eyes, as he felt himself lose his grip on reality.

"No! No! Nooooo!!!" he screamed unto the heavens, as streams of tears flowed freely down his cheeks. "T.K.!" he cried, as he willed his legs to move him forward, closer to the rubble that once was the warehouse.

Nancy stopped dead in her tracks, unsure of what to do. She definitely had not been prepared for this. An agonizing wail originating in the depths of her heart, stomach, and lungs, pushed itself forth, until it breeched her vocal chords and escaped her lips, flooding the warm air with a mournful cry, as she buried her face in her hands.

Matt ran until he reached what used to be the entrance of the building. He sifted through the wreckage blocking the doorway until he could see into the complex. The doors had been blown out, and lay scattered among the debris. The determined teenager started to take a step forward, but a crackling noise and some dust alerted him to the doorway that was about to collapse. He took one last look inside to see everything engulfed in flames. Nothing could have survived that. And suddenly it all caved in, sending a cloud of smoke, dust, and debris over him. Matt shielded his eyes, as a coughing fit erupted from his lungs.

His brother was gone…being rushed further and further away from him, as the smoke carried the ashes skyward and with it a part of himself. He couldn't believe it. Worst of all was how he had lied to T.K. He had told to him to have hope, that help would arrive, but did it? His brother didn't deserve this; the traumatized youth clenched his fists, as more tears came. He stumbled away from the warehouse, away from the fallen debris and charred remains, away from his brother. All this time he had been so selfish, wondering whether T.K. still needed him, when in truth he should have been more concerned over whether he needed T.K…. he did. That was the answer plain and simple.

"Matt!" he could faintly hear his mother call out to him, but it didn't matter anymore. He wondered if anything would ever matter to him again. Slowly he turned around to see his mother, she that had abandoned him and left his father, took T.K. away…separated them…there she stood, arms outstretched, welcoming an embrace, but Matt was in no mood for comfort. He did not want comfort he wanted…vengeance. The blonde boy stared at his mother as she shuffled forward. A flash of light caught his eye and he dashed towards Nancy.

"Mom!" he yelled in warning. Nancy only looked at him somewhat puzzled. It didn't fully dawn on her what was going on until she caught a fleeting image of Murphy out of the corner of her eye.

"I will have my revenge!" he hollered insanely, as he dove toward her, knife in hand. The entire time she stood there, she had not noticed the older man crawl to his knees, as he violently grasped the knife, reclaiming the threatening weapon. Fortunately for her, Matt had witnessed this and was now racing towards his mother's would-be attacker. The blonde slammed into him full throttle, sending him back to the ground, as the two tumbled in the dust. Matt shakily propped himself up on his elbows and knees and warily glanced over to see if he was successful in knocking the blade from Murphy's hand, or at least sending the man sprawling. To his surprise, Murphy was scrambling up, recovering sooner than Matt had anticipated. Luckily he had succeeded in liberating the deadly blade from Murphy's hands. The scar-faced man was now searching the ground frantically for it.

Nancy, a new surge of adrenaline pumping through her, rushed over to Matt's side in order to help the injured boy up.

"Come on!" she cried, as she hoisted her son to his feet. Matt reached out for her hand and within seconds was standing upright again. The two started to take off in sprint when the angry ex-con's fist connected with the back of Nancy's head. Matt watched in horror as his mother fell to the ground.

"Leave her alone!" Matt cried, staring down the older man, a glimmer of defiance in his eyes, as he knelt next to his mother to inspect her injuries.

"I'm sick and tired of you and your interfering!" the disfigured man seethed, pointing an accusing finger at the blonde. Before Matt had a chance to react Murphy had delivered a well-executed kick to his rib cage. The teenager rolled onto his stomach, gasping for breath.

"You wanna mess with me boy!" Murphy cried as he continued to pummel the youth with blows to his midsection. The old gangster then noticed his trusty blade lying a short distance away. As Matt clutched his ribs and tried to recover from the previous attack, Murphy stumbled towards his knife.

The blow to the head did not leave Nancy on the sidelines for long. Groggily she brought herself to a standing position. She squeezed her eyes shut for a brief second, as the back of her head throbbed lightly. It only took her a moment to assess the situation. Her son lay on the ground in a fetal position, gasping for breath, while his attacker was staggering in the direction where his knife lay. Nancy shook her head, clearing it of any inhibitions. With that done, she took off in a wild run towards Murphy. Her foot swiftly connected with the elder man's ragged looking hand as he advanced upon the knife. A snarl of pain escaped the back of his throat as he whirled around angrily to see a defiant looking Nancy Takaishi, fists clenched and ready for action.

"I see where your son gets his arrogance!" he shouted, as his left fist flew out at her. Nancy quickly dodged this maneuver and proceeded with a counter attack, but being a novice when it came to fighting, she was unprepared for the right hook Murphy delivered with lightning quick speed. Mildly stunned, Nancy wobbled to and fro a bit before regaining her bearings. She knew that she would never win a fistfight against this opponent, but she was bound and determined to keep him from further injuring her son.

"Come now Nancy," Murphy mocked, "You're only delaying the inevitable. Why don't I just kill you now and you can be with your precious Takeru." He grinned.

Tears began to well up in her eyes, but Nancy blinked them back. Murphy began to move in closer and Nancy locked eyes with him.

"You killed my son." She said. "He had nothing to do with this. You took an innocent life."

"Aww…" Murphy teased, "You're little guilt trip isn't going to work on me, I've been waiting years for this. YEARS!" he screamed, back handing her across the face. Nancy reeled sideways, nearly falling, but catching herself as she drew her hands up to her nose. Warm blood flowed freely through her fingers as she held them to her face.

"And now…" Murphy announced, reaching into his holster to retrieve his gun, "…you die."

Nancy's eyes grew wide at the sight of the deadly weapon. Her muscles froze in fear as Murphy began to take aim from a point blank range.

With every ounce of strength left in him, Matt scrambled to his feet. He tried to stand erect, but only managed to teeter back and forth, which was fine with him, so long as he was able to stand at all.

Out of the corner of his eye, the old gangster spotted Matt's movement and hesitated, his finger gently squeezing the trigger but not so much as to fire the weapon.

"Didn't know you were so anxious to be with your brother!" he hissed, causing a spark of anger in Matt's normally docile blue eyes.

Nancy stared on in horror as Murphy pointed the gun towards Matt. The teenager slouched to one side, firmly holding his injured arm, his eyes looked tired and it appeared as though he hadn't a single iota of energy left in him.

The sound of a car engine revving up caught both of the opponent's attention. Matt curiously glanced over his shoulder to see what looked like his father's vehicle rounding the side of the demolished building.

Using this distraction to her advantage, Nancy lunged at Murphy, wrapping her arms around his neck. Using all her weight she managed to pull him backwards. This move both startled and enraged the scar-faced man and he began to fire the gun as he flailed his arms about. Bullets flew in all directions as the two struggled for control. Matt quickly ran a zigzag pattern towards Murphy, trying to the best of his ability not to get shot as bullets whizzed through the air right near him. When he was close enough, Matt grabbed for the hand containing the gun and ripped it free of Murphy's grasp, as the older man was preoccupied with attempting to free himself from Nancy. Ironically, this move worked to their disadvantage. With both hands free, Murphy reached around and latched onto Nancy's wrists and with a mighty heave, threw her into Matt. The blonde teenager and his mother landed in a heap a little distance away from him.

All the while, Malcolm and T.K. watched the scene unfold with great concern. T.K. looked over at his dad fearfully, knowing and dreading what he was about to do next.  Mr. Ishida slammed his foot down on the accelerator and sped towards the three. The instantaneous forward motion sent Takeru back into his seat. He clutched the sides of the seat cushion, his fingernails digging into the upholstery, as Malcolm's facial expression became more determined.

Murphy's steely black eyes caught sight of the car for a second time, and barely had time to move before it plowed right into him. The tires squalled as Malcolm hit the brakes and a loud thud was heard when the left side of the car made contact with Murphy's leg as he desperately tried to dive out of the path of danger. T.K.'s hands flew up, shielding his eyes from the horrible scene. From the agonizing sound of Murphy's moans, T.K. could tell the man had been incapacitated. As soon as the car stopped, he bolted from the passenger side, completely ignoring his father's request for him to stay in the vehicle.

"Takeru! T.K.!!" Malcolm screamed to no avail. He finally sighed and gave up, unbuckling his safety belt, and exiting the car. Without delay he followed suit of his youngest son, making his way to where Nancy and Matt were, glancing at Murphy from the corner of his eye to ensure his family's safety.

Murphy lay some distance away; a small moan came from the crippled gangster as he rolled over onto his side, all the while clutching at his broken leg.

"Mom! Matt!" T.K. cried joyfully, as he and his father came nearer.

"T.K.?" Matt questioned, giving the younger boy a thoughtful look as he sat up. "You're alive?"

No sooner were these words spoken when T.K. came barreling into his brother, nearly knocking him back to the ground.

"Whoa, take it easy squirt!" Matt slightly chuckled as the two embraced. The older boy was still in somewhat of a shock, seeing his brother alive again was almost too good to be true.

T.K. gave his older brother a lop-sided grin, giving Matt all the reassurance he needed.

"Course I am." He replied to the question, as he helped Matt up. The older boy let out a contented sigh as he allowed his brother to help him back towards the car. T.K. slung Matt's good arm over his shoulder and proceeded to lead him to the backseat. Gently and with great caution to avoid aggravating any of Matt's recent injuries, T.K. sat his brother down. The older boy waved off any further assistance, as he insisted T.K. go help their mother. Complying with Matt's wishes the younger boy jogged over to where Malcolm held Nancy in his arms.

"You're sure you're okay?" Malcolm asked sincerely, inspecting the bump that had manifested itself on the back of her head. Nancy only nodded, as Malcolm reached into his pocket and handed her a handkerchief, which she used to dab at the excess blood that slowly trickled from where Murphy had struck her.

"I'm fine Malcolm…really." She replied, slightly blushing from the amount of concern he displayed for her. Her gaze shifted from that of Malcolm's to T.K.'s, as she gently pushed him aside.

"Takeru? My son?" she squeaked, extending her hand out to him hoping it wasn't her imagination playing cruel tricks on her.

T.K. embraced his mother warmly, as Malcolm stood back admiring the mother/son moment. Slowly he began to step back, giving Nancy a chance to reunite with her youngest son after so many hours of worry and despair.

Matt leaned against the side of the car door frame. Now that his body was at rest he could feel the soreness in his tired muscles, the throbbing pain in his arm had returned, and he clutched the injured arm to his midsection, trying to sooth the pain that not only afflicted that area, but also where Murphy had recently beat him.

Malcolm finally made his way to Matt, who was now slumped over in the back seat, his legs dangling outside the car door.

"Yamato?" his father asked, as he knelt down in front of his son. Matt's eyes were cast downward as he concentrated on ignoring the ever growing pain in his side.

His blue eyes met those of his father's and he paused, his mouth slowly began to open as if he were about to say something as Malcolm brought his hand up to Matt's face. His father just stared at him, his eyes darting back and forth over Matt's features as if he were searching for something, or perhaps trying to memorize every detail of his son's face. Malcolm's hand gently snaked around the back of Matt's head as he pulled him forward into an embrace.

If Matt had anything to say earlier he was at a loss for words now. This act of affection, this feeling of love was almost new to him. He managed to drape his good arm over his dad's shoulder and pulled him in closer.

T.K. watched the scene fondly as his mother continued to hug him, sobbing into his shoulder. He rubbed her back soothingly, and whispered into her ear, assuring her everything was all right. The corners of his mouth began to twitch, as if he were about to smile, but held it back. When he was finally able to calm her down, he and his mother started towards the car, the sound of their shoes scraping over the loose dirt alerted Malcolm, who pulled back from the hug, and nonchalantly swiped at his eyes and cleared his throat.

"We better notify the police." He mumbled as he walked past T.K. firmly gripping his shoulder for a second before making his way to the driver's side where he had left his phone, in fear it would have rang while he was attempting to rescue his sons. The younger boy only nodded and began to walk his mother to the passenger side of the vehicle.

He had seen the tears in his father's eyes, no matter how he tried to hide it. T.K. felt that was a side of his dad that shouldn't be hidden. However, from years of experience with Matt he knew that was a subject best left untouched.

Malcolm pulled his car door open and reached over to the center console where his phone lay. Matt watched him idly, as he began to dial some numbers. Just as he was about to hit the send button something on the horizon averted his attention. In the distance, a cloud of dust led by a pack of black cars came looming into perspective.

"DAD!!" T.K. screamed, his mother whirling around to see the menacing looking vehicles closing in.

"Get in!!" Malcolm ordered, hailing his youngest son to the driver's side of the vehicle as Nancy all but threw herself into the seat and slammed the door shut.

She turned to face her eldest son whom she noticed was having some difficulty fastening his safety belt. With great care and swiftness she managed to buckle him in, completely avoiding the arm he cradled protectively at his side.

By this time, unbeknownst to T.K., Murphy had managed to crawl around to the passenger side of Malcolm's car. As the younger blonde began to sprint over to where his father was motioning to him, Murphy dragged himself in closer. Reaching out, he latched onto the younger boy's ankle, causing him to take an unexpected dive to the ground.

"T.K.!!!" Matt screamed, as he realized what had happened. In the same amount of time it had taken Nancy to buckle his seat belt, Matt had it off and frantically threw the back door open. The older boy started to lunge forward in an effort to help his brother, when a strong hand wrenched him backwards. Matt fell back onto the soft leather of the car's interior, jerking his head around to find his dad leaning over the back of his seat, firmly holding him in place.

"Dad?! What are you…" he started to yell, when a black blur screeched to a halt mere inches in front of his eyes. Matt watched with a horrified gasp as the car door was knocked off its hinges and carried along by the front bumper of the black car until it stopped. The older blonde's mouth gaped open as he realized what could have happened had he been hanging out of the vehicle just then.

Mac beamed with pride as he had positioned the car perfectly; right alongside Malcolm's. The front end obstructed Nancy's exit, and at the same time trapped Matt on his side. He chuckled sadistically as he watched Nancy struggle to open the car door. Seconds later, the rest of the pack joined him, creating a barrier on either side of Malcolm's vehicle.

T.K. lay on his stomach, shaking his head wearily, as he tried to piece together what had just happened. A few small coughs escaped him, as he had fallen face first into the dust. Slowly he brought his head up and his eyes widened at the sight of the front end of Murphy's familiar black car staring at him about a foot and a half away. The younger boy winced as the back door from his dad's car fell to the ground with a loud thud.

Vanni and a few of the other thugs wasted no time in retrieving their injured boss. Within seconds they had loaded him up into the car that Mac was currently driving.

"Get the boy!!" Murphy hissed angrily, as he signaled to his men to run along to the other side of the car where T.K. was located.

"NO!" Matt interjected, writhing free of his father's grasp. He bolted forward, only to be met by the sinister grin of Mac. Matt noticed a small pocket of a space he could probably fit through amid the cars. Ignoring the larger man leering at him, Matt made an effort to squeeze in between the two cars to reach T.K.

"T.K.!!" he screamed again, as he desperately tried to lean out to reach his brother.

Nancy twisted around in her seat, trying to get a better view of what was happening.

"Malcolm!!" she hollered, as a flash of metallic light caught her eye.

Her ex-husband craned his head to see what had caused her sudden outburst and was presently alarmed as he made another wild grab for Matt.

"Kill him." Murphy instructed, as Mac pulled out his revolver. Matt, however, was too busy trying to help T.K. to notice the deadly situation he was in. As the large man prepared to squeeze the trigger Malcolm's instincts went into overdrive as he jammed the key into the ignition and cranked it over.  Wasting no time, he pressed his foot to the floor sending the car forward.

The sudden movement startled the older teenager, as he lurched sideways, hitting the back of his mother's seat and landing on the floor of the vehicle. The sound of Mac's gun immediately brought him to his senses. Instead of hitting Matt, the bullet ricocheted off the backend of Malcolm's car, shattering the rear window in the process. Flinching, Matt covered his head with his good arm, as tiny shards of glass rained down upon him. At the sound of the gunshots, the other men fell back into their respective vehicles, awaiting Murphy's next command.

"Matt? Are you okay?" T.K. asked apprehensively, slowly edging towards his brother.

Upon opening his eyes, Matt was relieved to be greeted by T.K. The younger boy was still lying on his stomach, but since Matt had taken his spill onto the floor of the car, he was now eye level with T.K.

"Come on!" Matt said in reply, motioning with his uninjured arm. By moving the car forward, their dad had given T.K. plenty of room to enter the vehicle. He quickly scrambled up and dove into the backseat, practically landing on top of Matt.

"Go Malcolm!!" Nancy screamed, as she watched her youngest make it into the safety of the four-door.

Malcolm didn't even hesitate, as he put his foot to the floor. The back wheels spun for a brief second in the loose gravel, before ejecting the car forward.

In the meantime, Mac continued to fire at the vehicle, managing to hit the taillights and Nancy's side view mirror. He angrily gunned the engine and tossed his revolver into the backseat, narrowly missing Vanni, when his attempts proved futile.

"You always were a poor shot." Murphy criticized, glaring at the larger man. "Let's just hope your driving skills make up for your lack of marksmanship." He further mocked.

As Mac peeled out in pursuit of the Ishida/Takaishi clan, three other cars followed him.

"Don't worry boss, they won't get away." He growled maliciously, fully intent on catching the smaller tan colored car.

"Sorry Matt!" T.K. chimed, as he gently removed himself from his brother and dusted off the tiny pieces of glass that had littered the backseat.

Just the feeling of having T.K. back was well worth the minor discomfort he had just caused the older boy. T.K. offered his hand as he helped Matt back up into a sitting position.

"No prob…just glad to have you back." Matt grinned, although the pain shooting up his arm and side would have said otherwise.

"Now you two have your seatbelts on right!?" Nancy snapped; it was all she could do to suppress her motherly urge to jump in the backseat and smother the two.

"Uh huh." T.K. nodded, but Nancy was not satisfied until she heard a click on either side of her, indicating that they had indeed fastened their safety belts.

"Here." Malcolm said, tossing the cell phone to Nancy. "Call the police." He instructed as he clutched the wheel furiously. Keeping both eyes trained on the road, as well as the rear view mirror.

As much as T.K. enjoyed the fact that his family was doing something together after so many years of distance, he had to admit he wished it were under better circumstances. Lackadaisically his view went from his mother, whom he could partially see clutching her seat and glancing at his father anxiously every few seconds, to his father, muscles tensed, a pool of sweat soaking through the back of his shirt, and finally his eyes rested on his brother, whose mind and sight were on the cars trailing closely behind them.

Matt had been through so much the past few days, he thought…he wondered how his older brother was holding up. T.K.'s eyes fell to his brother's injured arm. The bandages he had used to splint the injury were scarcely visible under the caked on dirt and dust from his entire ordeal. T.K. watched his brother twist himself around so that he was able to get a better view from the back of the vehicle. His blonde hair, which had been stained with blood and dirt, was now blowing freely in the wind due to the lack of a rear window, as well as the missing door on T.K.'s side. The younger boy noted when Matt winced briefly and grabbed his arm, squeezing it tightly as if that would soothe the burning pain.

After a few moments Matt turned his head from the scene behind them. His gaze caught that of T.K.'s and he stared at the younger boy thoughtfully.

"What's up squirt?" he asked. T.K. only turned his head downwards, staring directly at the floorboard.

"T.K.?" Matt asked, he couldn't understand what was afflicting the boy now. Sure, they were being pursued by a band of angry gangsters, but at least they were all together again. At least they were safe for the time being. It was no reason to cast all their worries aside, but still, after all that had happened why was his brother acting this way towards him.

"You alright?" Matt queried again, lowering his voice to a whisper. If T.K. didn't even want to speak to him, he was sure he didn't want their parents involved either. Besides, their mom and dad had enough to keep their minds busy without adding to it. Matt leaned in closer to his brother, squinting slightly, as the air coming in from T.K.'s side of the car stung his eyes.

"Come on, I know something's bothering you." Matt stated forcefully. There was something inherent in the Ishida gene pool that made a person want to digress from their true feelings, and T.K. was no exception to this trait that was a little more prominent in his older sibling.

"I'm fine. Really." T.K. sighed, wishing his brother wouldn't prod so much. He wasn't in the mood to lament on all the guilt he had been feeling. Moreover, he really didn't want anyone to know about it.

Another characteristic from their father's side of the family was the unwillingness to give up, whether this greatly benefited or hindered them. Thus explaining how Nancy and Malcolm met, and eventually why they divorced. Not to mention the time when Matt and T.K. were in the Digital World and were separated. Matt nearly died of exposure searching for his brother. But it also proved useful in their battles with evil, as the will to push on gave them strength. At the moment one would classify this as being stubborn on both Matt and T.K.'s part.

"I'm not taking that as an answer. T.K…please tell me what's wrong." Matt was almost about to give up, but not quite. He was hoping if he held out just a bit longer, his brother would disclose the underlying reason for his current state.

A heated fury ran through the younger blonde's veins at that moment. He could not explain where this animosity had come from, but he knew he had to release it or else he'd explode.

"Look just lay off!" T.K. snapped, just above a whisper.

Matt was taken aback by his brother's sudden display of anger. He hadn't meant to rile him up; he was just concerned for his well-being. Wasn't that what an older brother was supposed to do?

Matt opened his mouth to retaliate, good intentions or not, he was not about to let T.K. off the hook that easily. However, he didn't even get a chance, when another onslaught came from the younger boy.

"I don't need you prying into my feelings all the time alright. Just leave me alone for a little bit." T.K. huffed, and folded his arms, turning away from Matt's hurt expression.

That had been the ultimate blow, hurting more than when he broke his wrist, more so than when Murphy had kicked him in the ribcage. The second time in Matt's life that his little brother had completely rejected him. There was more to Matt than met the eye, as is true with all people. When T.K. pushed him away, he felt as though he were the one being selfish, like he was interfering with his brother's life. In fact, it was the exact opposite, but he was blind to that. Being the bearer of the crest of friendship, he was in the habit of looking out for others. He knew he would overdo it every now and then, especially when T.K. was younger, but this time it was different. It wasn't as though he questioned T.K.'s ability to take care of himself…this time he just wanted to know what was troubling his sibling.

Matt began to question himself again, as he had done before when they were trapped inside the warehouse. Were his motives unnecessary? A long, heavy sigh escaped his lips as he brought his gaze down to the floorboards that had so interested T.K. a little while before.

Now you've done it Takeru. T.K.'s inner voice chided him. He was only trying to help.

How could you be such a jerk? That's really not like you. The guilt is becoming a little unnerving. These guys keep chasing us. I just want them to leave my family and I alone. I'm sorry Matt. I'm sorry I can't be as strong as you in these situations.

Memories immediately began to flood the younger boy's head.

He could remember a time in the Digital World, a time he had been so frightened. They had only been in their strange new surroundings for only a day or two. Being unfamiliar with the terrain and the territory, they had inadvertently roused the likes of an angry Seadramon.

And then T.K. was in the water. He barely knew how to swim at the time, but luckily Gomamon was there to help…as well as their other friends. But something still stuck out in the young boy's mind. The one thing he would never forget about that day.

Matt, with no regard for himself, had risked his life to save T.K. It didn't matter that their enemy was fifteen times the size of him; if T.K. were in danger, there was no stopping Matt's love and determination for his brother.

This time, it was T.K.'s turn to sigh as his eyes fell upon his older brother, who was also dealing with past occurrences of his own.

 T.K. had made it quite obvious that Matt was no longer of any use to him. He had imagined that once they were back in the custody of their parents, that T.K. would be happy once again, but it must have been Matt's constant pestering that turned his mood sour.

He knew that T.K. had proven to be more than capable of taking care of himself. Still the fact lingered on in his mind. Maybe he was too protective; maybe he didn't give his younger sibling enough space. His thoughts were interrupted as T.K. began to clear his throat to say something.

"Matt?" he said quietly, his voice wavering.

The older boy craned his head to face his brother. His features still held a look of self-pity, but most of that was forgotten as he studied his little brother's expression. It looked as though tears were welling up in his eyes…was he mistaken, or could it be the harsh wind stinging them?

"T.K.?" Matt paused, unsure if he should even inquire as to what was wrong. Finally, he decided that he didn't care how upset his brother got; he was determined to know what troubled the youth. "What's the matter?"

"I'm…I'm sorry, for snapping at you like that." He sniffled.

"Uh…" Matt was unsure upon how to react at this point. Why was he apologizing, wasn't it Matt who was at fault? Matt quickly shrugged off all the trivial technicalities of the situation, as he saw his brother succumb more to his emotions.

"It's alright T.K. It's alright." Matt said, completely ignoring his better judgment, he unfastened his safety belt and scooted closer to his brother. Using his good arm, he pulled T.K. close, almost cradling him in his arms as the boy began to sob into his chest. Matt squeezed his eyes shut; it was all he could do to stop the wind from whipping his hair into his eyes.

This scene reminded Matt of a time in which the boys were very, very young. He wasn't sure how old they were approximately, but he remembered the melodious sound of his harmonica being pierced by that of T.K.'s loud screaming.

Calmly, he stood up and toddled over to where the small boy sat weeping over a pile of scattered building blocks.

"Atta boy T.K." he smiled, picking his brother up and hugging him. T.K.'s bright blue eyes shined up at him as if in admiration. The crying stopped as a huge smile manifested on his face.

Matt wished now that a few comforting words and a hug would fix the situation, but he knew that the problem went much deeper than a few blocks being knocked over.

Matt rubbed T.K.'s back soothingly, as the younger boy struggled to compose himself.

"Tell me T.K…tell me what's bothering you." Matt requested.

Wiping his tears with the sleeve of his shirt, T.K. caught sight of Matt's injured arm again, eliciting more guilt-ridden tears.

"This is all my fault Matt." He pleaded. "Your arm, being kidnapped, everything!" This last confession caused him to sob more.

Nancy leaned around her seat to see what all the commotion from the backseat was about.

"T.K.? Are you alright son? Matt what's wrong?" she asked with concern. "Don't worry honey, I've notified the police, they should be here to help us shortly. We'll be alright. Your father's behind the wheel, and he's quite the speed demon when he wants to be." She said, though it seemed like she was trying more to assure herself than T.K.

T.K., eyes red and swollen from crying looked up at his mom.

"It's okay mom." He confirmed. "I know."

Nancy only smiled in relief and turned back to check on their current standings.

"It's still my fault." He whispered to Matt, breaking their embrace. "I caused this," he said, pointing to Matt's bandaged arm. "I'm responsible for this as well." He added, touching the gauze on Matt's forehead.

"No T.K. These were accidents." Matt pressed, pulling the boy's hand away from the wound on his head.

"No," T.K. refused, "If I hadn't have tried to take control of that car, it wouldn't have hit you!" he insisted.

Matt only shook his head and bit his lower lip. "This wouldn't have happened if those gangsters weren't after us. None of this is your fault." He confirmed.

T.K. contemplated this for a brief moment. "I still feel somewhat responsible." He frowned.

"Listen to me." Matt said strongly, almost as if it were an order, "You are in no way responsible for any of this. I don't blame you for any of it."

"Really?" T.K. asked, "You honestly don't feel I'm a burden to you?" he asked, his eyes shined sincerely.

"A burden?" Matt asked, taken aback by this statement. "T.K…you were never a burden to me…you're my brother." He urged, tears starting to form in his eyes.

"T.K. I'm sorry." Matt blurted before his brother could respond to his sentimental statement.

"You? But what do you have to be sorry for?" T.K. asked curiously.

"I'm overprotective…I'm the same selfish person I was in the Digital World…and…and…" Matt paused, hanging on the rest of his sentence, while T.K's eyes filled with disbelief. "…you don't need me anymore, and I just can't handle that." He said bowing his head, willing his tears not to fall.

T.K.'s mouth was agape in what only could be described as shock.

"Yama?" he said weakly, sounding almost as he did when he was younger. "How can you say that? After all this, how can you tell me that I don't need you? The only reason I'm alive now is because of you! Of course I need you!" T.K. cried, as he grabbed Matt's hands and squeezed them tightly in his own. "Don't you ever forget that! Never!" T.K. ordered.

Despite being in a life or death car chase, with a horde of angry gangsters in hot pursuit, Malcolm smiled proudly in the rearview mirror as he listened to his sons. However, this moment was cut short as his head darted to the left in time to see a black car careening toward them.

"Malcolm!!" Nancy screamed, as the vehicle collided with the left side of the car. Malcolm was thrown sideways, nearly landing in Nancy's lap, who smacked into the passenger side window. The car swerved to the left and right a bit before Malcolm could regain control of it.

In the backseat, Matt lurched forward, falling onto T.K.

"Are you alright?" T.K. asked holding the older boy up, who seemed to be a little stunned.

"Yeah…you?" he barely had a chance to ask when a second car made impact with the right side of the vehicle, sending Matt flying backwards and into the door of the left side of the car. A loud thump was heard as his head connected with the inside of the door, and he slumped down into the soft interior of the backseat.

"Matt!?!" T.K cried, a great wave of concern washing over his entire body, as his brother remained motionless.

Nancy was rocked to the other side, giving her no time to assess her own injuries, when she heard her son's cry. Quickly she whirled around to see Matt lying lifeless in the back, and T.K. struggling with his safety belt.

"Matt! T.K.!!" she cried, as a third car rear-ended them. Nancy was thrown forward; a sharp pain cut her across the chest as her seatbelt held it's ground, accompanied by Malcolm's strong arm. She warily gazed up to see him with one hand on the wheel, a look of determination in his eye, as his other hand shielded her from harm.

The jolt from behind only impeded T.K.'s progress momentarily, as he quickly bounced back, ripping his seatbelt off and making his way to Matt.

"Matt!?" he cried a second time, hoping to rouse the older boy.

Matt's eyes swam in his head., as he frantically tried to open them. A loud ringing in his ears and a mild feeling of discomfort on the back of his head was the only thing that stopped him from rebounding as fast as he wanted to. As the ringing subsided he could hear a voice…T.K.'s voice, calling to him.

The younger boy shook Matt's shoulders violently.

"Matt! Matt! Please wake up!" T.K. hollered.

"I'm here T.K." Matt said as he groggily opened his eyes. A blurry image of his brother came into view.

T.K. smiled in relief, but his smile was quickly replaced by a look of sudden terror. Matt looked up at him inquisitively, wondering what had caused the look of panic, when another hit from the side sent T.K. teetering back towards the missing car door.

"NOOOO!!" Matt screamed, his hand shooting out to grab his brother, ignoring all the pain that burned in his ribs and coursed through his arm as he threw himself forward, desperately trying to save his brother.

The younger boy could feel himself sailing through the air, and thought for sure he was a goner. Why had he taken off his seatbelt…and Matt seemed so very far away, scrambling to get to him.

"Now!" Murphy yelled, realizing their perfect chance. Mac slid the car towards the backend of Malcolm's vehicle; the two were now close enough to trade paint.

T.K. was presently surprised when a pair of hands grabbed him from underneath his arms and held him, suspended between the two cars, as Matt held him by his legs. Glancing over his shoulder, he noticed Mac driving the sinister black car, as Murphy sat next to him, as he brought his gaze up he realized that Vanni had been both his captor and unlikely savior.

"Let me go!" he demanded, not really meaning it, for if Vanni were to let him go, he would become an ugly mess on the side of the road.

"Malcolm!!" Murphy yelled from beside them. "I have your son!!! I think it would behoove you to pull over, or I'll have my associate let him go!"

"No!" Nancy screamed, hurrying to unbuckle her safety belt.

"Uh uh Nancy." Murphy warned, signaling for Mac to pull to the right.

Matt held on tightly as T.K.'s body began to stretch amid the two vehicles. T.K. squeezed his eyes shut, either expecting to be viciously pulled apart or dropped to the ground.

"Matt!!" he cried pitifully, not knowing what else to do.

"Malcolm, steer to the right!" Nancy shouted, her ex-husband complying, closing the gap between the two cars.

"What to do, what to do?" Murphy grinned evilly at the couple.

Glancing in the rear view mirror Malcolm could see flashing blue and red lights in the distance accompanied by sirens.

"Thank God." He said, sweat dripping from his brow. But they weren't out of the woods yet. There was still the matter of getting T.K. back, and Malcolm couldn't figure out how they could possibly do that when Murphy wouldn't even let Nancy get near him. Currently, they were sandwiched between the three cars, and their only path was forward. Even so, if they were able to, Malcolm couldn't make any fancy maneuvers with the car while his son was hanging out the side of it.

"Dammit!" he cursed under his breath.

There was nothing Matt could do. He felt so helpless…he dejected that feeling. His heart beat wildly as he tried to come up with a plan. There had to be a way, there just had to!

Then a thought occurred to him. Maybe…maybe if he could reach his arm out, then perhaps T.K. would be able to grab onto it, and Matt could pull him back inside…but no, this plan was no good. He didn't want to let go of T.K. He had to keep a hold of his legs to anchor him. Matt closed his eyes in deep thought.

Another memory forced itself into his mind. This time they were outside the diner, where he and Joe had been made to work against their will. He remembered Iron Vegiemon dangling T.K. from the rooftop, threatening to drop him. A similar situation was set before him now. Back then he had Joe and Weregarurumon to help him, oh how he wished his digimon companion were with him now.

"T.K. I won't let you fall!!" he cried, shattering the memory and bringing himself back to reality all in the same beat.

Without hesitation, Matt knew what he had to do. Firmly grasping T.K.'s leg with one hand, Matt brought his bandaged arm up to his teeth, and began tearing the bandages away. If he was going to rescue T.K., he wanted something that the younger boy could get a good hold on. As he ripped the rest of the bandages away and gently shook his arm freeing the splints, he heard a frightened gasp from his mother.

"Malcolm, we're nearing the end of the road!" she cried. Matt only paused briefly to catch a glimpse of the edge of a canyon coming up. Taking this into account made him work faster at his task.

Come on Matt! You can do this!! He pushed himself. With one last glance at his parents, Matt turned around and dove towards T.K., firmly securing his legs with his good arm.

"Grab my hand!!" Matt yelled.

T.K. looked at his brother fearfully.

"Come on! Trust me T.K.!" Matt pleaded.

Slowly, T.K. began to reach out for the older boy's hand. Seeing this, Vanni jerked him backwards, just as he was within mere inches of his brother's grasp.

"Try again T.K.!" Matt urged, refusing to let him give up.

Once again, T.K. leaned in forward, struggling against Vanni's hold. This time the greasy gangster decided that T.K. wouldn't be trying that again and began to brace himself against the car door, preparing to yank T.K. away from Matt permanently. Unfortunately for Vanni, he placed one foot on the door panel. A clicking noise made him cock his head curiously. He was about to pull back on T.K. when the power window began to roll up.

"You can do it T.K.!" Matt cheered, as their fingertips touched. "Just a little more squirt!"

"Vanni you moron!!" Murphy screamed as he glanced back to see the feeble-minded youth stuck in the window. "If I had my gun I'd shoot him myself." The gangster muttered, bringing his two index fingers up to his temples in frustration. He inhaled through his nose and shook his head exasperated. Suddenly, the old man's eyes shot open revealing a crazed look of malice. "Run them off the cliff!!" he screamed to Mac, as he grabbed the wheel tightly and jerked it to the left.

"Boss…I cank breaf…ack!" Vanni gurgled flailing his arms, and in the process dropping T.K.

The younger blonde's sapphire eyes went wide in horror, as he felt himself begin to fall back, still attempting to reach out to his brother.

Matt couldn't contain himself any longer and sprang into action. Despite the agonizing pain that ripped through his now throbbing arm, he lunged forward, letting go of T.K.'s legs so he could grab him with both hands. His muscles tensed under the strain, but he refused to let T.K. go.

"I gotcha! Hang on T.K." Matt cried in relief. Tears flowed down his cheeks freely as his chest heaved in and out. His sense of worry and panic subsided for the moment, as he concentrated on how to get his brother into the safety of the backseat.

T.K. hovered just outside the vehicle, his heart pumping wildly with adrenaline, as his brother proceeded to pull him back into the car.

Matt's eyes caught sight of the enormous black vehicle making a kamikaze maneuver towards them. With one last desperate tug, he managed to haul T.K. through the opening, as they landed safely onto the backseat before Murphy rammed into the side of them.

The car shimmied in the loose sand, as Malcolm struggled to regain control of the vehicle. Glancing in his side view mirror, he noticed the car behind him, as well as the car to his left backing off and abandoning their pursuit.

"Where do they think they're going!?!?" Murphy raged, as the lust for blood and vengeance completely took control of his better judgment. Mac stared out the windshield in terror.

"Boss!" He tried to reason, "We need to turn back now!!" he shouted, attempting to pull the steering wheel from Murphy's clutches.

"NO! NOOOO!!!" he screamed wild-eyed. "They're going to die!!" he cackled insanely, wrenching the wheel away from Mac.

"Malcolm, what are you doing!?" Nancy cried, searching her ex-husband's eyes for an explanation as he sped up towards the cliff's edge. "This is no time to be proving your manhood!!" she screamed.

Malcolm seemed to have the same crazy look in his eye as Murphy; however, his was justified as he gave Nancy a reassuring grin. The young woman nodded and latched onto his arm, squeezing it firmly, as if to say she trusted him.

With the other two cars gone, this gave Malcolm enough room to escape. At the last two hundred or so feet, he jerked the wheel sharply to the left, at the same time pumping the brakes, which made the car turn into a slight skid.

Murphy seethed with anger at this move and tried to counteract it by having Mac double back and ram them again, but by the time the car managed to turn, it was already too late. The squall of the tires as they desperately tried to grip the road, were the last sound  the passengers of the vehicle heard before careening off the side of the canyon.

The family came to a jerky halt, as Malcolm was finally able to stop the car using the emergency brake. He and Nancy watched as the dust settled in the direction where Murphy and his band had taken their last turn. The reporter's eyes quickly darted to the rearview mirror to inspect the welfare of his sons. As his gaze shifted from T.K. to Matt and back again, he managed to catch a glimpse of the flock of squad cars rounding up the two stray vehicles. Malcolm sighed in relief, being very grateful that their torment was now finally put to rest.

Nancy leaned back around, unbuckling her seatbelt anxiously.

"Are you boys alright?" she asked, all her emotions taking instant control. Both parents exited the car and ran around to the rear of the vehicle. Nancy raced over to T.K.'s side and pulled him out of the car and into her open arms, where she caressed the back of his head and showered him with a barrage of kisses.

Matt tried as best he could to prop himself up on his elbows, since he still lay sprawled across the back seat. He was presently surprised as the car door behind him opened and his dad reached in and pulled him out. He never knew his dad to be that strong. Malcolm embraced his son tightly, as if he would never let him go.

Then slowly, from either side of the car, the family stared at one another. Once again, they were separated, a dividing line drawn between them. Malcolm looked down at his son thoughtfully, trying to avoid eye contact with Nancy. He was at a loss for words. They had just been through the most horrendous ordeal of their lives, an ordeal that tested their strength, love, and bond for one another, and now it was over, and he seemed lost.

T.K. was the first to initiate any kind of movement, as he latched on to his mother's arm and dragged her around towards Matt and Malcolm. Matt seeing his brother's actions did the same, as the two divided families met in the middle of their paths.

It was silent for a very long time, as none of them were quite sure what to do next. It was a very awkward moment. Malcolm watched his wife and youngest son fondly. No words were spoken between the two brothers, they knew how one another felt in their hearts, and no words could quite express that.

Matt waited patiently for something to happen. He didn't really have any set expectations. He held out as long as his body would allow, ignoring the pain in his arm that had been aggravated further by his last actions of helping T.K. And finally it became too much to bear, as he gripped his arm tightly and leaned into his father.

Nancy could no longer abstain from her motherly instincts and rushed to his side.

"Oh Matt! Are you alright sweetie? I'm so sorry." She sobbed, having felt guilty for not rushing to him as she had done with T.K.

"It's okay Mom." Matt said calmly, his arms at his sides. He really hadn't the strength to return the hug, though he would have done so gratefully.

T.K. smiled up at his father, his blue eyes glistening in the rays of the setting sun. Slowly, he strode up beside Nancy and Matt and placed one arm around her back, using his other arm to beckon his father over. Malcolm fought back tears of joy as he took his place amongst his family. For that brief moment in time, a moment in which both T.K. and Matt treasured for the rest of their lives…they were a family again.

"And that's it." Matt said as he stood up to stretch, keeping in mind that his arm was still in a sling.

"That's all?!" A very intrigued Tai stated.

"Yeah. The cops came and we got to ride in an ambulance, and that's about all." T.K. shrugged; he really hadn't wanted to discuss the matter any further. And if left up to him, the matter would be immediately forgotten.

"That sounds like some adventure you two had." Izzy pointed out, looking up from his computer.

"Not exactly what I'd call an adventure." Matt corrected, scratching at the bandages around his wrist.

"The doctor said not to do that." T.K. mumbled, a slight chuckle escaping him, as he realized how much like his mother he had sounded at that moment.

"What the doctor doesn't know won't hurt him." Matt smirked.

"And who said the doctor wouldn't know?" Joe asked, tapping his foot, a remark that caused the whole group to burst into laughter.

"Well," Kari sighed, "I'm just glad you're both okay. Do you think things have changed between your folks since the ordeal?" the keeper of Light asked.

The question received discouraged looks from both boys, and that was all the answer Kari needed.

"At least you won't have any icky scars." Mimi added, getting a roomful of rolling eyes and exasperated sighs. "Well, it's the truth." Mimi blushed.

"Yeah," Sora agreed, after all, she did have a point, no matter how pointless it was to the conversation. Mimi smiled at the fact that someone agreed with her.

Just then, a sudden rap at the door startled everyone, as Tai rushed to answer it.

"Hey guys! I brought some snacks!" Yolei shouted as she burst through the doorway, with Davis, Ken, and Cody in tow.

"What'd we miss!?" Davis whined before he was distracted by the smell of Yolei's food.

Matt let out a small chuckle before his eyes caught sight of T.K. slowly making his way towards the hallway. Curious, Matt followed him.

Silently, he crept up behind his younger sibling.

"She's wrong y'know." He stated without emotion in his voice, his eyes staring mindlessly down the hall.

"What do you mean?" Matt queried.

"There are scars…just not on the outside." He continued, turning to face Matt with a closed fist, which he brought up to his chest, emphasizing the pain he felt in his heart.

The older blonde blinked and stared down at the carpet. "I know T.K…I know." He said, patting the younger boy on the back. Another knock at the door drew the attention of the two brothers. They both glanced at each other with puzzled looks.

No one else, in all the commotion of filling their faces with food, had heard the quiet knocking except for Matt and T.K. who stood closest to the door.

The two brothers both headed silently for the rapping sound. With hesitant hands, T.K. reached for the doorknob. Upon opening it, they realized nobody was there.

"That's strange." T.K. commented glancing down the hall as Matt looked in the other direction.

A small gasp from Matt brought T.K.'s eyes up to where he stood staring, his body petrified at the object embedded in the wall before him. At the same time T.K.'s eyes went wide in horror as he gripped the doorframe. There in front of them was Murphy's blade. Both boys shot each other worried looks in unison before slamming the door shut.

*…and cue Murphy's maniacal laughter!* Muwhahahahahahahaa!!!!!! *and cut! Roll credits!*



The End…for now.

Hey, I had to leave it open for a sequel. *grins* And that concludes my fic…I certainly hope it was worth the wait! And just think, *sits back and sighs* this all may have not been possible, had I not watched 3,000 Miles to Graceland some 4 or 5 months ago. lol. Okay, now back to work on my Taiora fic, which I've neglected for quite some time. *scampers off*  Oh yeah, and remember…review review review. I put a lot of time into this story and I'd like to know what everyone thought of it. Please!! *big grin* ^_^ Thanx!