It had taken upwards of five years, but the Digital World was finally rebuilt enough for some of the Digimon to start coming back. They came in a trickle, some still caught up in various responsibilities (like Kudamon and Gaomon) or still just exploring (as it was for Masaru and Agumon). But the ones who came back first were the ones for whom the separation had been the hardest. It was no surprise that Falcomon and Lalamon were among that group—they'd grown up with their human partners, and in Falcomon and Ikuto's case, they were practically siblings. But when Piyomon came through the Digital Dive, Chika ran up and hugged him in tears, overwhelmed by emotions she wasn't sure she'd felt until this moment.
"It's okay, Chika," he said, patting her back with a wing. "We have time to be friends now."
The adjustment period took some time. Digimon were no longer the closely guarded secret they'd been before Kurata's madness and Yggdrasil's judgment nearly destroyed the human world. But plenty of people remembered the Digimon as creatures who'd nearly brought the world to an end. Of course, there were plenty of people too who remembered that it was DATS Digimon and the Royal Knights who saved the world, and plenty of people who just hadn't come to any conclusion one way or the other. It still didn't make things any easier though.
Chika leaned over the balcony, staring up at the night sky. There were hardly any visible stars beyond the haze of city lights, but she could make out a few constellations. Papa said that the stars were so different in the Digital World, he'd had to learn whole new constellations. Sometimes Chika didn't know if she wanted to see them or not, just because of what it would mean.
"Chika, are you okay?" Piyomon asked, walking over. He stood next to her against the balcony, now at least two heads (or one Digimon head) shorter than her. It was hard to believe that they'd once been the same height.
"Yeah, I'm okay," she answered.
He didn't seem to believe her. "Are you upset that I'm here?"
"No, of course not!" she protested, staring at him in surprise. "I'm glad you're back. I just wish you could stay with me more."
He gave her a confused look as she looked back at the sky. "But I'm staying in the human world with you, right?"
"Yeah, but I can't take you with me everywhere. A lot of people still aren't ready for Digimon, so I can't have you with me in plain sight all the time. It'd be easier if I had a digivice like Yoshino-neechan and Ikuto, but…"
"But if you had a digivice, it would mean you'd have to fight," Piyomon realized. "Why don't you want to fight?"
Chika activated her DigiSoul—it came to her naturally now that she knew what it was and how to access it outside of dangerous situations—and stared at the sparkling light in her hand. It symbolized the bond between her and Piyomon, a bond hard-won and tempered by much heartache. "I don't like fighting. I hate it when Masaru-niichan and Agu-chan come back hurt. I know they're strong fighters and so are everybody else, and maybe I could be too. But it scares me." She deactivated her DigiSoul and looked at Piyomon. Even now, she hadn't told him about his previous life. She wondered if he knew why they had such an instinctual closeness, but on some level, she was afraid to know if he did. "I don't want to lose anyone. Papa almost didn't come back. The world was nearly destroyed. I know that everybody had to fight just to save the world, but I'm not a fighter like that. I guess Masaru-niichan would say I don't have my soul in my fists."
"You don't have to be a fighter," Piyomon insisted. "Not everyone in DATS is."
"You're right," she agreed. "Maybe I'm just being silly."
"It's not silly," he said. "You just want peace. There's nothing silly about that."
She smiled and put her arm around him, feeling him try to place a wing against her back. And so they stood on the balcony until the cold of the night forced them back inside.
Standard disclaimer applies: Digimon is the property of Toei Animation and is distributed by Disney. This fic was written for Custom Magnum on Live Journal for Christmas.