DISCLAIMER: I don't own Digimon, but I do own the OCs introduced in this story and later stories (except where stated).


His Goggles


Stevens and Flynn Residence

04:17 JST

5th July 2010

Mari's mouth was held slightly open, as she stared on at the boy sitting in the end of the bed, a silence having descended since Ryder greeted her. She was speechless as she looked at him, her mind trying to comprehend what her eyes were seeing. Wasn't he in the hospital? Did he escape? Why? Or was he a ghost? Had he…had he…died?

She glanced over him, noting the complete disappearance of all of his injuries and the damage to his clothes. His D-Vice was strapped to his arm, but the time on the screen changed arbitrarily each time she looked back to it. She cocked an eyebrow at this, before deciding that she'd need to ask to find out what was really going on here.

"Aren't…are you…" she spluttered, finally getting past her speechlessness into a state that was unfortunately no more coherent.

"Dead? No…not exactly" Ryder answered, as Mari continued to stare on. He said that a bit too confidently, not completely like him. Had he suffered brain damage or something?

"So…did…did you…recover?" she asked, the words returning to her gradually. "Really quickly?" she added, pointing out the fact that, if this was actually him, he'd made a remarkable recovery in a short space of time. An unprecedented recovery, in fact, after his injuries.

Ryder shook his head, glancing down at the bed, and then back to Mari. Mari gestured for him to come closer, and he did, moving along the side of the bed. Mari put out her hand, and touched his shoulder, Ryder watching her expressions as her eyes widened in amazement as contact was made. He didn't seem to be a ghost.

"You're real?" she asked, reaching out further to touch his cheek, feeling the warmth as she paused in amazement.

Ryder frowned, nodding as she drew him close, leaning into each other and sharing a kiss that was definitely real. After pulling away, Mari stared into Ryder's eyes in a mix of surprise and happiness, before she frowned as he sat up straight again, trying to figure out was exactly was going on here. Something was definitely amiss.

"What happened to your injuries?" she asked, pressing her hand against his side carefully, then harder, noting that he didn't exhibit any pain, or have any damage to the skin underneath. She lifted his shirt slightly, noting that there really were no visible signs of injury. Had…had she dreamt the whole thing? Did Ryder never go to hospital in the first place? Was Rika really pregnant? Was Rey telling her the truth about the Angels?

Ryder sighed, looking to her and putting his hand on top of hers as she looked up into his glance intently, waiting for his answer. "Mari…you're asleep…" he said, his voice wavering oddly as he said it, like it wasn't fixed on a particular voice.

"Huh?" Mari asked, cocking her head as the pair looked into each others' eyes. She couldn't understand what he was implying; she didn't remember going to sleep. Quite the opposite, actually, she struggled to get to sleep in the first place. "What do you mean?" she asked, voicing her concerns.

"Mari, I'm not really Ryder, I'm simply a figment of your imagination" he answered, his voice wavering once again as he closed his eyes to speak, opening them and looking back into hers. His eyes had oddly changed colour, going from brown to green. This disturbed Mari, as she tried to comprehend what he was telling her. A figment of her imagination? So why was she imagining him then? She pondered whether she had gone insane at some point.

"A figment of my imagination? But…" she began, but Ryder interrupted her.

"Think of something you want me to say. Imagine it into existence. You know, like you can do in your dreams."

Mari closed her eyes and concentrated on a series of words that she presumed were unnatural for him to say, opening them again as Ryder spoke, confirming what he had said in the process.

"The Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is 42" Ryder said, in a voice not quite like his own. It seemed to vary slightly as well as he spoke, even switching to an odd American accent at one point from his usual British one. Mari frowned, she'd imagined him to say those words; he really was just a figment of her imagination.

"Oh…" she said, as Ryder nodded, noting the realisation dawning on the girl. "So why are you here? When did I fall asleep?" she asked.

"Well, you couldn't get to sleep, could you? So you may have finally just fallen asleep…" he suggested.

"I see."

"And as to why I'm here…I have no idea, maybe you subconsciously dreamt me into existence in order to get some answers? I can understand why. Well, not me, but you, but me…this is confusing for me too, and I'm actually you" Ryder said, groaning to mirror Mari's current confusion on the subject. Dreams never made sense when analysed closely.

"Well…I could do with some answers…" she began, before pausing and frowning as a thought occurred to her. "…but…if you're a figment of my imagination, you can't give me any new answers, can you?"

Ryder frowned, shaking his head slightly. "Still looks like you could do with someone to talk to though" he answered, his voice caring and his stance open to talking.

"Yeah" Mari answered. She frowned as she glanced around the room, noticing a few inaccuracies within it. The shape of walls. The colours of objects. The fact that there seemed to be light despite no light source being turned on. This really was a dream world.

She eventually turned back to Ryder, who seemed to have not taken on an impatient stance after her hesitation. Whoever he was, he was not a real person. But maybe he could answer some of her questions anyway.

"Are you going to recover?" she asked, once again not wanting to hear the answer. She didn't want her fears to be confirmed, it was better to have a sliver of hope in her mind. But she still wanted to know nonetheless.

"Do you think I will?" he replied, confirming that he couldn't actually give her any new information beyond what she already knew. He awaited her answer, as she paused, formulating her response to the question that had surprised her slightly.

"I hope you do…but I've learnt to hope for the best but expect the worst" she answered.

"Understandable…" he replied, in a voice once again distant from his own, as he nodded. "What are you going to do once I wake up?" he asked, looking back into her eyes.

"I will want to find out why you froze up…and…I want to find out about Ivy…" she answered, hesitating in nervousness about the last part.

"I see" he responded, his pause echoing her uncertainty and nervousness about the issue. "So you think I will wake up then?" he asked, changing the subject slightly. Mari frowned; she knew that it was actually herself dodging the issue.

"Well…maybe…I hope you do…" she began, hesitating, before simply spilling her feelings that she'd had plenty of time to mull over. "I don't know what I'd do without you to be honest."

Ryder frowned at her sadness, glancing down to the bed, before looking back up to Mari with a knowing expression as he moved to the other thing she had planned once he woke up. "I think you already know why I froze up."

"Huh?" she replied, blindsided by the change of subject, as Ryder continued to talk nonetheless.

"You deny it continuously to avoid coming to terms with it. But in your dreams…in this dream…you have less control over what you think. And I know what you think" he stated, matter-of-factly, as his confident gaze cast deep into her soul.

Mari nodded, smiling weakly as she decided that she wasn't going to answer him in this case, and instead decided to humour him. "You always were able to give complex explanations for things" she answered, a larger smile taking on her face.

"Yeah…did it make any sense?" he answered, breaking into a grin. This was definitely more like him, incomprehensible explanations followed by uncertainty at whether anyone understood what he had actually just blabbered on about. It was amusing as well to watch.

"A bit" she replied, he chuckling in response.

"Good" he replied, as they paused, awaiting who would ask a question next. Mari realised that it'd have to be her.

"So what about Ivy?" she asked, her gaze and expression turning more serious as she tilted her head inquisitively.

"You will need to find that out from me myself" he answered, switching back to his serious tone.

"I see" she replied, her gaze moving from his as she looked to the bed, noting that rather than the blankets feeling soft and comfortable, they felt solid and rough. She pondered why she was having this particular dream.

"Why are you at home?" Ryder asked, Mari looking at him oddly until she realised that it was her own deep question that she was asking herself. His eyes gazed into her, searching her with his question, or rather her question. A question that she could only acknowledge once it was asked to her by someone else, or at least a manifestation of someone else. It saddened her to think how much she had pushed away these searching questions to avoid finding answers she didn't want, as she frowned, her gaze deviating from his, before moving back as she felt that she was pulled back into his stare.

"They suggested…I needed…some rest…" she answered, feeling uneasy under his gaze. She wasn't entirely sure why, it wasn't actually him, but…it seemed so real. "I wanted to be by your side" she added, trying to justify herself and shift the blame. Ryder frowned, before putting his hand on hers upon noticing her saddened expression.

"Hope for the best, but expect the worst…" he answered, smiling to reassure her as their gazes met. She nodded, noting how he echoed her own words back to her. Mari frowned, looking down once again as she swallowed a lump in her throat.

"I want to be there when…if…you die…" she answered nervously, there being a pause of hesitancy afterwards as Mari couldn't bring herself to share his glance. Ryder nodded, a grin coming across his face, as he lifted her head to face him, smiling at her as she looked to him curiously.

"Well hurry up then" he said, before vanishing into thin air. The world vanished to an inky blackness before Mari could reply with her surprise at what he had said.

Her brown eyes blinked open, dispelling one darkness for another one that was slightly brighter, as she sat up, feeling reality set in again. The room was lit dully by a window, but other from that (and her D-Vice left on the side-table) it was still dark. She yawned, and then pinched herself, wincing at the pain.

'This is definitely reality' she thought, as she rubbed her now-sore arm.

She reached across and switched on the bed table lamp. She groaned groggily as she sat up, her eyes adjusting to the blinding light as she closed them periodically. She opened them again, waiting for her eyes to adapt to it, and pushed herself up, reaching across to pick up her D-Vice. She lifted it to her eyes, reading the numbers with a frown.

"Half four…great…and I was hoping to get some sleep…" she muttered, standing up and strapping the D-Vice on her wrist as she did so. She frowned, was she really planning to go to the hospital entirely based on a dream? Did he really mean that she had to get there? Then again, it was her own mind telling her that she had to go, so was she just telling herself something she subconsciously knew already?

Mari groaned. She doubted she could get back to sleep anyway. She looked over to her jeans, plain black t-shirt and green jacket strewn over a chair, as she walked over to them, beginning to change and collecting various items from drawers as a curious thought occurred to her.

'Ryder's going to need a new attire…' she realised, recalling that his clothes were now ripped and damaged beyond repair by both the impact and the hospital staff needing to remove them in order to operate.

A thought crossed her mind, and she considered the origins of that particular shirt which was now ripped in two. It was a shame to lose it; it looked good on him, particularly since it had his Pendant symbol on it. At the time she had been unknowing of how it happened exactly, but now she reasoned that it was Ryder subconsciously using his retcon ability. Either that, or the universe truly was completely screwed up and illogical.

She realised that lately there had been plenty of evidence for the later, as her arms went into the dull green jacket's sleeves. She rolled the sleeves along to their full length; it would no doubt be cold out at this time in the morning, even if it was supposed to be the summer. She placed her cell phone into her pocket, and walked over to the mirror, seeing her ruffled auburn hair. She frowned, adjusting it into its normal style, before pausing. She swept the hair back from her eyes, leaving it flowing around the face rather than down it like usually flowed. She pulled it back behind her head and put a hairband around it, forming a short ponytail pointing down the back of her neck. Her hair sprung loose, however, in places around the top of her head and her face, ironically improving on the look in her opinion.

She sighed; she was merely stalling for time while she confronted what she really was asking herself. Was she really going to the hospital at this early hour? She shook the uncertainty from her mind; she'd go there just to be sure. She was an Angel after all; who knew where she could be placing subtle hints for herself? Then again, subtle didn't exactly describe the hint this time around; it was far more explicit than that. Ryder may as well have said "Go to the hospital now." Then again, it was her own memory telling her that. She groaned, this was getting far too confusing.

"DarkRenamon…" she whispered unsurely, both because of not knowing whether DarkRenamon would come at the sound of her voice like her yellow counterpart did for Rika, and whether she was waking her partner in the process, something she didn't particularly want to do.

A black Kitsune materialised in front of her after a few seconds. She looked to her partner and cocked her head, both in response to the girl's changed hairstyle and the fact that she was up this early in the morning, when she expected the girl to be fast asleep. "You called?" she asked, a tone of curiously tied into her question. What did Mari want at this late hour? She'd observed Mari in the past even before they became partners (although trying not to infringe on her privacy), and she'd never woken up in the middle of the night for anything.

"I'm…going to see him…" the girl stated. DarkRenamon, without moving her face significantly, seemed to have concern about this. Mari frowned, she was clearly questioning her intentions, and she didn't blame the Kitsune for doing so.

"Isn't it a bit early?" the fox asked, one eye widening more than the other, which was imposing enough for Mari to feel the eyes looking deep into her for any hints. She couldn't think of a response, but she knew that she had to do what she had planned.

"Yeah…but…just trust me on this…I just have a feeling, that's all."

DarkRenamon closed her eyes, contemplating the situation and striking unease into Mari's heart. The fox nodded in response to an internal decision, and reopening her eyelids, once again revealing her green orbs. "Okay then. Shall we bring Rey and Realmon?" she asked, tilting her head and observing Mari.

"Hmm…" Mari pondered, quietly opening the door to the living room and walking to stand overlooking the figure sleeping peacefully on the sofa. From this point, she could also see a yellow fox sleeping calmly on the floor below, her tails pressed against her head in a strange manner which Mari decided not to inquire into. Mari turned to her partner and shook her head.

DarkRenamon nodded, as a few words drifted over their connection."She…peaceful…sleeps…"

Mari and DarkRenamon shared a frown, as Mari walked over to her lightly tanned brown bag, picking it up and putting the long strap over her shoulder. She turned to glimpse at the room, hearing Rey's and Realmon's gentle snores and smelling the remains of a pizza ordered the night before in the absence of any time to make actual dinner (although ironically, it made little difference as to the quality of the food. One of them someday had to actually learn how to cook).

Mari mused about how it was those little things in life that made it truly interesting (and bearable) and hoped they would be able to continue their lives that way once Ryder recovered. She turned, quietly leaving the apartment and heading to the elevator, her partner silently following, her step as graceful on the short carpets as it was on the metal floor of the elevator once it finally arrived.

Mari searched her pocket for a card, and pulled it out, as the elevator doors opened, and they walked out into the foyer. DarkRenamon glanced over at the card, Mari noticing. DarkRenamon nodded, as they walked outside into the cold air, Mari periodically wishing she'd brought more than her normal jacket. She wrapped it around herself, doing up the zip for warmth, as she turned to her partner once they reached the sidewalk.

"Ready?" she asked the fox, who nodded.

"As you wish…" the vixen replied, her voice calm and her stance refined.

"DIGI-MODIFY…Digivolution Activate!" Mari called, a flame-like dark blue light encompassing her partner as her D-Vice's screen spelt out the name of the process now to take place.


DarkRenamon Digivolve to…Youkomon!

Youkomon gestured onto her back with her tails. Mari stepped out of her momentary daze both at the awe of the process, and at the fact it was her partner doing so. A warm feeling filled her heart as she climbed onto the fox's back, grabbing onto the mane as she put her legs either side. Youkomon's green orbs looked up to her inquisitively.

"Are you ready Mari?" she asked.

"Yeah, let's get moving" Mari answered, as Youkomon began to move.


The dark area with starlight pinpricks had returned, leaving Ryder near the end of his tether in boredom. "Why won't something happen?!" he asked annoyed, receiving no echo this time and merely a few blinks from the 'stars'. He sighed, glancing down sadly. However, down didn't exist, he had found that whatever way he was orientated, it made no difference. No up, no down, no nothing, just…nothing.

How was he going to get out of here? How long would it be? Was he unconscious? Or was he dead? Did all sense just go out the window or something?

The stars rapidly flew into a new image, as Ryder found himself back in his body, or rather, a dream representation of it. He felt surprised, but no expression to that respect showed on his face, as he recognised where he was. It was his old school again, on a typically boring school day during a boring break from their boring lessons. MiniDonmon's feet, a cross between talons and dinosaur feet, softly gripped onto his hair. If they became any tighter, Ryder knew that it'd get painful, but for now he decided to let it pass, as he felt a gentle wind ripple through the playground, ruffling up the grass nearby on the expansive fields, a site of many a battle in their time. They were always the toughest of bioemergences to deal with, since they were the most public. It had, or it would (Ryder still was unsure of exactly which position in time he had ended up in), prove to be the unveiling of their Digimon to the school, which would make their lives both easier and harder at the same time.

Before he'd left his world, MiniDonmon was even ending up causing him trouble with his teachers by not completely understanding the concept of being quiet, or doing work in class. He also seemed to have an amusing habit with computers where he managed to manipulate the systems using his abilities as a Digimon. This proved to annoy teachers, and Ryder on occasion, by changing the webpage on everyone's screens to a variety of pages, ranging from the disturbing to the amazing. Of course, normally, it had ended up on a Digimon website, which was always a giveaway. However, the bat had proved useful while explaining Digimon to the others using the internet, since he was able to circumvent the filters that normally blocked them.

Ryder was always the biggest fan of Digimon, one of the other boys in the group had a passing knowledge of it, and the rest all learnt as they went along, both from Ryder's teachings and from battle experience. This passion for the series led to Ryder having fantasies about things in the TV series: dark digivolution, biomerging, D-Reaper, you name it, he considered it. And of course, there was one thing he was considering right now, as Ryder felt the words he had spoken in the past escape his mouth without provocation.

"Maybe I should get some Goggles..." Ryder pondered, as another bored break time was passing by. His four fellow Tamers were nearby, either sitting on the bench he was on, or standing and watching. To one side of Ryder sat Ivy, her long blonde hair brushed up by the gentle winds as Lunamon sat on her lap, contemplating. On the other side sat the shortest of the three boys, with light brown hair. Leormon, his partner, lurked in the shadows nearby, watching. A taller boy (although still shorter than Ryder, who seemed to be taller than almost everyone) with short mid-blonde hair stood leaning against the back of the bench on one side, his partner, a Gaomon, also hiding in the shadows to avoid being noticed. Ryder reasoned that this was before their unintended unveiling to the school because of this. On the other side of the bench, mirroring the Gaomon Tamer, leaned a girl with short red hair, Lalamon floating above her head, but staying close so as not to arouse suspicion that she was more than a stuffed animal. In this school, even a stuffed animal looked odd: Britain was a world away from Japan in that respect.

"Ryder, that would not only make you look insane, but also, do you really think our school would let you wear that as well as the uniform?" the boy sitting next to Ryder said, catching Ryder's gaze.

"Yeah, I guess Marvin…" Ryder answered, sighing. Another of his ideas had been rejected. Reflecting on it, it wasn't exactly the best idea either.

"You could always wear sunglasses?" Ivy suggested, Ryder glancing to her with a light blush on his cheeks.

"Yeah…" Ryder answered nervously, as the other two boys rolled their eyes at the sight, previously thought to only be something of anime worlds until they began to notice the hints between the two.

"I don't think that could really match the Gogglehead style that way" Lunamon noted.

"Yeah, it's all about the Goggles…" Ryder joked, chuckling.

"Well, we can call you Gogglehead anyway if you want us to?" the other girl asked, a hint of teasing in her voice, not noticing the others' reactions to Ryder and Ivy's actions at all.

"Heh, if you want Melissa, but I prefer Ryder…" Ryder answered. "Still, every Digimon Leader is a Gogglehead…except Marcus, of course…"

"Hold on a second…" the other boy (leaning against the bench) interrupted. "I still have to ask, who made you the leader?"

"Douglas has a point…" Melissa noted, adding to the glares and glances now colliding with Ryder's head, as he looked around, not sure how to respond to his newfound spotlight in the group.

"Well…" he began, fishing for ideas in his mind. "I was the first to get a Digimon…" Ryder answered. "And I am the first on scene at most of the battles…and I do know the most about all of this…" he rambled.

"Ryder, stop boasting…" Melissa complained.

"Yeah, it doesn't exactly suit you…" Ivy noted.

"You're only the first on the scene because you run all the time" Douglas commented.

"What, and none of you do?" Ryder asked, looking around at the others who shook their heads. A genuine look of surprise came to Ryder's face, surely they were joking?

"Nope, never needed to…" Marvin answered.

"Yeah, you do kinda always get there first Ryder" Ivy noted.

"Oh…" Ryder answered, realising they were being all-too serious. Did none of them really try to be hasty at all in getting to battles? Wasn't that like…a huge risk?

"….isn't time a factor in this kind of thing?" MiniDonmon asked. "You know, everyone dies otherwise and everything?"

"I know for a fact that you have arrived at battles before the fog has Ryder" Douglas noted.

Ryder chuckled nervously. "Yeah, I guess…hey, gets me exercise at least!" he joked, the others sighing.

"Have none of you really ever even tried to get to battles faster than walking pace then?" MiniDonmon asked, glancing around.

"Well…maybe…" Douglas noted. "But not running at full pelt though…plus, your partner can fly, why doesn't he fly you to battles?"

"Have you ever tried flying?" MiniDonmon joked. "It's hard enough without a heavy weight below…"

"Use your champion form then" Lunamon mooted. Ivy looked to Ryder, curious as to his response.

"I guess we could…although it would waste a lot of Donmon's energy…" Ryder noted, sitting back and pondering the situation.

Ryder's 'dream form' smiled, it was good to see them all again, the same as they always were. He and his partner MiniDonmon, the leader of the group with his trusty bat/dragon partner. Ivy and Lunamon: Ryder's kind love interest and her faithful rabbit-like partner. Douglas and his partner Gaomon, a good friend who could be slightly arrogant at times and his power-packed partner. Melissa and Lalamon: a girl who was sometimes slightly too easily irritated (although pleasant and considerate of people's feelings for the rest of the time), with her plant-like partner who proved her use both in and out of battle. And finally Marvin and Leormon: a smart tactical fellow and his sometimes battle-eager partner, both complimenting each others strengths.

A perfect team: Leader, love interest, powerhouse, carer and smart-guy.

And now it was missing him.

Ryder frowned, albeit no expression showing on his face as pondered where he recalled this conversation from.

Ryder's eyes widened, although once again nothing happened in reality, as he realised what day this was, his eyes opened to the truth.

'This is the day I got lost in the Digital World…' he thought.

It had been a short while after Arkadimon had first attacked in his rookie form, and Donnermon had dealt with him. Arkadimon had escaped, but he'd been angry. On the way home from school, he had kidnapped Ryder, and during the following weekend, the other Tamers had been unable to find him. Ryder had been deposited in the Digital World while Arkadimon attacked his friends, which was the same time when Lunamon had first digivolved to Lekismon, holding him back. Ryder had managed to get back home by bioemerging like a Digimon during the same battle, and Ryder had felt that it was a continuation of how bad things happened to him. Nothing was the same ever again after that first trip to the Digital World, he had felt more mature once he had to deal with the fact that he had no food, no shelter and nothing but him and his partner. Still, it gave him first hand experience in their later trip to the Digital World as a group, which proved invaluable in their survival.

It was still a long while before they really settled down as a proper group, and tensions were still high between them because of this, although they were rarely truly at each other's throats. Good natured teasing was usually the subject of the day, and no-one took it particularly seriously.

"How long until break is over?" Lalamon asked. Melissa glanced at her D-Vice, frowning at the time.

"Five minutes" she answered.

Douglas groaned. "Don't remind me."

"Bored in break, bored in lesson, bored at home" Marvin noted.

"I want a battle, it always make things interesting…" Leormon noted, stepping quietly from the shadows.

The sound of bleeping D-Vices was music to his ears, as he sat up, fully stepping forth and looking to Marvin.

"And I want a girlfriend!" Ryder cheered, hoping that it was a magical form of power that was now granting wishes.

"And I want a million pounds…" Douglas said dryly, glancing to Ivy and back to Ryder as Gaomon stepped forth. "Shame neither will ever happen" he teased.

Ivy glanced up curiously, as she noticed the glare Ryder gave Douglas. "Huh, what's going on?" she asked, causing Ryder to pause and blush.

"Nothing, don't worry…" he said, as he changed the subject, MiniDonmon leaping off his shoulder. "Ready buddy?" he asked, hand on his D-Vice. The bat nodded, small fists being clenched.

"You betcha!" replied his partner.

"Great!" Ryder answered, tapping his D-Vice as he executed the digivolution program.


MiniDonmon, Di…

Suddenly, the world flickered, like someone had pulled out the plug, as it faded to black all of a sudden, Ryder looking around as he suddenly broke free from the vision and felt able to move again.

"What the…" Ryder began to curse, as all light faded. "No…" he said weakly, as he felt even his consciousness in his dream world begin to fade.

Shinjuku General Hospital

05:10 JST

Fumiko Imai yawned, as she entered the waiting room. She had been paged about Mari arriving by the receptionist, and it had surprised her that the girl had turned up. She hadn't called her or anything, she'd just turned up. Regardless, it was Mari's choice, and she had no problems with her seeing Ryder. As for Ryder himself, he had been mostly stable, only a few minor moves up and down in heart rate and state, and all of which were easily dealt with.

She noticed Mari's changed hair style. It wasn't too dramatic a change, primarily since her pony-tail was short and her hair was loose around her face still, although less neat as it had been previously. Maybe Mari was implying a literal change or something, or maybe she was reading too much into things. Fumiko gave a weak smile to the girl, who looked back to her, an odd mix of concern and determination in her eyes.

"Good morning" Fumiko greeted, Mari nodding in response. "You're here early?"

"Yeah…I spoke to someone and realised I should be here" Mari answered, leaving the identity in question.

Fumiko glanced to DarkRenamon, following her Tamer quietly and gracefully.'It must have been her partner who spoke to her'. Fumiko smiled slightly, moving her gaze back to Mari.

Mari decided it was better if Dr Imai thought that it was DarkRenamon who had talked to her, rather than a figment of her own imagination looking like her boyfriend who was in a coma. Things were just easier that way.

"So…how is he?" Mari asked, cocking her head as curiosity and worry joined her growing list of tones in her voice and expression.

Dr Imai looked to her, smiling. "He's fine…I'll take you to him."


Dr Imai led Mari back along the hallway, a now familiar hallway from the previous day's events. It was early in the morning, so there were no other visitors, but there were still staff pacing around. The fluorescent lights made the hospital always seem permanently stuck in a time between day and night, although most of the rooms themselves had their lights switched off to facilitate sleeping.

Dr Imai pushed the door to Ryder's room open, and held it for Mari, who, mouthing her thanks, stepped through and walked straight over to Ryder's bed, standing over it with a dejected pose. Dr Imai closed the door, and walked over to stand next to her.

'He's still asleep…' Mari thought, a tinge of sadness in her thoughts, but balanced out by the relief he hadn't died. Her hand went out and gently stroked his cheek, before looking to his D-Vice on his arm, still active as ever, albeit flickering on and off from time to time.

Dr Imai put her hand on the girl's shoulder to reassure her, as Mari glanced up to her. Dr Imai nodded, and Mari looked back, lifting her hand away from him. She frowned, as Dr Imai checked the drips and readouts around him, checking for any faults. Thankfully, there were none.

"Everything is functioning norm…" she began, before pausing suddenly, tapping the heart rate monitor. Mari glanced to her, noticing her hesitation, before looking back to Ryder as her eyes widened. The beeps sped up, Dr Imai rushing around and grabbing defibrillator paddles as other doctors and nurses arrived.

"No..." Mari said weakly. It was happening again, he was dying. And she was going to lose him this time for sure, flukes never happen twice. A tear dripped down her cheek, as she watched them rush around. She felt so helpless. She was losing everything. She reached out, gripping his hand and holding tight, feeling his weakening pulse.

"He's crashing…" she heard Fumiko say, as zaps of electricity ran through him, followed by calls of "Clear". "No, not again!" Fumiko growled, before momentarily glancing up to see Mari clutching the boys hand as the electric shock ran through him.

Why wasn't she being electrocuted?

Mari's shield merged with Ryder's periodically; as she bent down to kiss him. The kiss was short, as the continuous bleep began, Fumiko breathing deeply to calm herself as she stopped defibrillating. Ryder's shield faded, breaking away as Mari let go of his hand, gradually moving hers away. "I love you…" she whispered sadly. "Ryder, I won't forget you…"


"I love you…Ryder, I won't forget you…" were the last words Ryder heard as his dream-consciousness faded, everything turning black as the darkness swept towards him. It was happening again. He wasn't sure what it was, but it tried to consume him. It was darker than anything in existence, and cold. No life came from it; it was the antipathy of life.

A faint light glinted in the darkness, Ryder's eyes snapping open to see something hidden in the dark. Several things.

Tiny lines, moved towards a central point, roaring as they did so, but it was nothing compared to the sounds to follow. The lines impacted in a compact supernova, far more energised than anything in existence. It erupted, blurring vision as it sucked light into itself and sending him in the opposite direction. His eyes widened as he flew back, the darkness now illuminated by lights as small squares began to assemble like pixels, into a blinding light that filled his vision as he felt a rush of senses returning to him.

He felt his lungs gasp for air, as the light continued. His ears rung, he felt numb all over. It slowly subsided, being able to begin hearing again soon enough.

"Ryder?" asked a desperate voice. "Ryder!" it continued.

"It happened again…" a voice noted from nearby, an unfamiliar female one that seemed to emit gravitas and wisdom, but mixed in with fear and bewilderment, along with speechlessness.

The bright light started to fade, faint outlines of auburn hair and a pale pink face beginning to come into view. "Ryder…" the voice called again. "Are you awake?" she asked. "Ryder…" she repeated, as he felt a hand on his head. Softly, gently, it touched near his eyes, and ran through his hair.

Ryder felt groggy. No, that didn't describe it. It was a lot worse than that. He felt incredible tiredness, well beyond anything conceivable to anyone else. Every limb ached, every part of his body in pain, the pain ironically numbed by pain itself. He struggled to open his mouth, uttering only one word that seemed to have crossed his mind: upon feeling the gentle touch, the beautiful outline of the face (although the hair was slightly different), the voice with loving and caring tones. It was her.

"Mari…" He wasn't even sure if he said what he thought he had or not, but he must have said something right, as he felt arms grip him and pull him into an embrace.

"Dr Imai, isn't that danger…" an intern began, noticing the hazardous sudden movement of the boy. Dr Imai gestured for the person to stop, raising her hand in objection. She nodded to confirm what the intern had said, but smiled as well. She couldn't break this up. Ryder didn't seem to be in any pain from it anyway.

As if responding to her thought, he winced slightly as Mari lifted him, proving her wrong.

"Sorry…" Mari apologised, as Ryder felt his vision clarify, staring into her eyes as she hovered over him, intently staring back. He noticed her changed hair, but decided that it was worth asking about later.

"Where...where am I?" Ryder asked, speechless at how everything had changed so quickly, and still feeling dazed.

"You're in hospital…" Mari said emotionally, smiling bravely in an attempt to reassure him. She wasn't sure whether he could see her clearly or not.

"Oh…" he replied quickly. "Oh…" he repeated, this time more in realisation.

Mari frowned; clearly everything was only just dawning on him. "Everything is going to be alright" she said, briefly glancing up to Dr Imai who nodded in agreement.

"Oh…good…" Ryder answered. The pair tilted their heads, moving forward and engaging in a deep kiss. Both had missed the other, one literally, one metaphorically. Worlds apart even when they were so close together. And both never wanted to be that far apart again. Ryder felt her arms cling around him, he himself feeling too weak to do the same.

When she pulled away from him, they simply smiled to each other for a while, before a thoughtful and confused look crossed Ryder's face.

"So…um…I've kinda been unconscious…I think…so…care to fill me in?"

"You were knocked by Mammothmon's trunk into a building" Mari answered, Ryder gradually understanding what she was saying, still feeling groggy and dazed by what had happened to him in the last few minutes.

"I see…" he uttered finally.

"MegaDonnermon and Youkomon took out the Mammothmon and the Bakamon, and an ambulance came to take you to hospital. I was so scared, I didn't know if you'd recover or not. I thought you could…die" she said, a tear dripping down her face. Ryder weakly raised a hand to wipe it away (although failing mainly, as his arm fell weakly back to the bed). Mari smiled weakly at the gesture.

"Don't cry…" he comforted, looking into her eyes.

She nodded in a mix of sadness and joy, continuing with what she was saying. "And then you did die" she said, Ryder pausing in surprise at what she had said. What on earth was she talking about? He died?

"Huh?" was all he said, perfectly voicing his confusion.

"You died Ryder…twice…once yesterday, once just now" she elaborated, further confusion coming to his expression as he tried to figure out whether this was a morbid joke or not.

"What are you talking about?"

Dr Imai stepped forward, her seniority confirming to Ryder that it was not a joke. "You had a textbook death, complete failure of all organs and no pulse. Even defibrillation didn't work. Even if you were alive, it would've killed you, not to mention the fact you died twice."

"So…I died? But…I'm alive now…I came back?" Ryder spluttered, confused.

"Yes Ryder…" Mari answered, as if she were a teacher explaining something to a pupil. "And when you were revived you uttered something about the darkness…the end…'there is nothing'…I wasn't sure what you meant…" she added.

"I spoke? When I was unconscious?" Ryder asked, surprised at what she was suggesting.

"It is not uncommon for a person to speak whilst in a coma, contrary to popular perception" Dr Imai explained, Ryder glancing to her as he listened to the new medical knowledge imparted to him.

"So…I actually died?" he asked, still amazed.

"Yes…and then you just…recovered…just like that…I have no idea how you did it…neither do you, it appears…" Mari answered, looking to Ryder as he slowly comprehends all of the information he had been told, taking it all in.

He had died. He had actually died. That was surprising enough, but on top of that, he'd somehow come back from the dead. How? Why? Who intervened? Was it something to do with the Angels? What did death feel like anyway? Would he have seen anything?

Ryder's eyes widened as he put two and two together, and he felt unable to speak as he realised what this all suggested.

"The Darkness…the end…I know what that means…" he began, staring down the bed, before hesitating and thinking about what was going on, as his eyes glazed over in thought, going through everything that he had seen and heard. "I recall it…I recall thinking and saying some of those things in my dream world…" he continued, finding it hard to talk through his amazement.

"So what are they?" Mari asked, enthralled by what Ryder was talking about. Her amazement was quickly subsided.

"Death…" Ryder answered, turning to her. His eyes were saddened, his mouth turning down at the edges as Mari comprehended the severity of what he was talking about. She was about to reply, but paused as Ryder's eyes widened. "Oh dear lord, there really is nothing!" he said in alarm, everything suddenly running into his mind and overloading his senses, as he sat up rapidly, attempting to breathe deeply but ending up with hasty breaths paced into the pattern.

"Ryder, calm down!" Mari said, as his heart rate increased on the machine. Mari gripped him, placing her hands on his shoulders as she tried to get his gaze onto her eyes. She found all fear about what he was talking about flee her mind as she concentrated entirely on him. It was an odd feeling of confidence she felt, confidence that was there despite the alarm of the boy she was looking at. Fear filled his eyes, before suddenly changing to terror.

"Shit…" Ryder cursed. "I killed someone…" he said, his eyes going wider than ever as he looked up into Mari's eyes in horror. Mari felt helpless in the face of Ryder's emotions, as she tried to stop them.

"No…" Mari began, but was interrupted. At any other time she would've complained about his interrupting, but this simply wasn't the time for that.

"I sent Taiki to nothing…that's worse than hell or anything…" Ryder said, his voice weakened and wavering in revulsion at himself.

"It was either him or us…" Mari tried to reassure, using an argument that others had used plenty of times the previous day. Ryder's breathing had become erratic and panicky, as he turned, looking into her eyes and trying to calm himself from his surging self-loathing.

"Then why didn't we make it us?" he asked, challenging the argument she was giving.

"Huh?" she asked, surprised at his reply.

"What makes us more important than him?" he asked.

"We're…we're fighting for good…" Mari replied, hearing her words waver in the face of his glare.

"How can we be sure of that?!" Ryder argued back, snapping at Mari.

Mari hesitated, wanting to reply but no knowing how, as Ryder sighed, his anger subsiding as he looked down at the bed sadly.

"Whatever I do, it always turns sour…" he moaned, speaking quietly and bluntly. "You should know that the most…" he added, his voice exasperated and frustrated.

Mari pulled him up into an embrace, a few drip wires breaking from his skin as she did so. He groaned as she did so, clutching his painful side and feeling his wounds, which had some stitches in them. Mari pulled away to let him see more clearly, as he looked down, frowning sadly at his injuries, placing his hand on them.

"God this is painful…" he complained, his voice on the edge of tears as he ran his hand along the tear.

"I know…I'm here for you…" Mari encouraged, her voice more confident and caring, as she placed her hand on his and pulled it away from his injuries.

"Thanks…" Ryder replied, a tear dripping down to be wiped away by Mari, who smiled to him bravely as she put her arms round him, albeit not pulling him close. His yelps of pain previously had taught her that that would be a bad move.

Dr Imai glanced around at those watching, frowning and gesturing for them to leave. Patients could die while these doctors and nurses were busy watching this emotional reunion. Some of them had remembered their duties and had already left, and the rest promptly followed after Fumiko's command. She looked back to the hospital bed with its occupant and the girl sitting on the side of it, pondering whether she herself should leave. She glanced to DarkRenamon, who shook her head smiling to reassure her that she wasn't intruding on anything. She nodded, continuing to watch as Ryder lay back down on the bed, Mari sitting on the side, nervously side-stepping around the question on her mind (or rather, one of them at least) and pondering whether to ask it. She swallowed a lump in her throat.

"Why did you freeze up?"

Ryder paused, the memories returning to him as he recalled his thoughts just before being hit. Sorrowful and depressed thoughts. "I ran out…I wanted to stop Mammothmon with retcon…and then let MegaDonnermon move in for the kill…and then I stopped. I saw Taiki, his partner, every single Digimon we've ever killed…and I hated myself for it. And then, I felt a sharp pain in my side…and then I entered a strange dream world."

"A…dream world?" Mari asked curiously at the concept. Ryder nodded in response. "What kind of dreams?" Mari inquired, curious both as to what he had seen, and to whether she could get answers to some of the questions raised by his sleep-talking.

"They were really vivid ones. Really real ones. And then one of them…two of them…collapsed suddenly during the dream, and then I got thrown out of the deep darkness that I was going towards by a huge explosion of light…that must have been it…that must have been my death…but…what stopped me dying?" Ryder asked, unfortunately straying back onto the saddening subject once again.

Mari shrugged slightly, shaking her head. "I was hoping that you'd know."

Ryder frowned, shaking his own head in response. "No idea…it's…it's pretty amazing though…" he said, voice going up to emphasise the awe.

"What did you see in these dreams? What happened?" Mari pressed, curious as to whether she could find out the answer to another of her questions, namely about a particular girl.

"I…I saw us when we met…and when I met MiniDonmon" he answered, Mari frowning in response. She hoped it wouldn't come to this, she hoped he'd explain it on his own.

"Ryder…it was more than that, wasn't it? I heard you say a name…you said Ivy…who's Ivy?"

Ryder's smile dropped into a frown, as he looked back into Mari's eyes.'Damn…' he thought. "Um…yeah, I had dreams about my old team…and…I saw my funeral and…hey, you don't happen to know anything about a feather or something, do you?" he asked, changing the subject slightly.

"A feather?" she asked, curious as to this. She'd never heard anything mentioned about something like that before.

"Yeah, it appeared on the spot I left…it was a red and orange feather, and it was beautiful. I gave it to Ivy and…"

"Huh? You gave it to Ivy?" Mari interrupted, tone of vexation in her voice.

"Yeah…they were really strange dreams, sometimes I was myself in them and reliving old memories, other times I was watching from a distance like a TV show. And then…then there was this one time, when I was actually able to walk around while events happened…I was in my house, and it was before my funeral…they all think I've died" he answered, frowning sadly and looking down to the bed at the last part.

Mari frowned, saddened by the thought, even if she didn't want Ryder to go back. She felt tinges of selfishness at that, but they were outweighed by his wishes for him to stay.

"And…Ivy arrived…I wasn't sure why at first, it was only later I figured out the whole funeral thing…and she came into my room and left this feather thing, saying she'd found it the previous time she'd been there. She spoke to me…well, not actually me, but she spoke kinda in a 'talking to someone who isn't really there' kind of way…and…I lifted the feather up and gave it back…and she took it thankfully. She didn't know it was really me though. I think I was a ghost" he explained.

Mari sighed slightly, she was never really sure what to think of the situation back in his home world as regards his old crush, and this seemed to be going beyond that into new illogical realms of confusion.

"Anyway, then I was suddenly at the funeral, and I saw the headstone. She had hope that I'd return…so there wasn't a date of death. It was all really…strange."

Mari nodded in agreement, albeit still slightly vexed by the situation. "Ryder, I think that was a dream. I mean, it couldn't actually be your world, could it?"

"Actually, I think it was real" Ryder replied, surprising her. Had he gone completely insane?

"Why?" she inquired.

Ryder frowned, swallowing a lump in his throat. He hoped he wouldn't have to tell her this. Unfortunately, being stuck in limbo had given him a chance to think, and he realised that they would never get anywhere if he didn't tell her the truth. Everything on television had told him that. If he didn't tell her now, she'd find out later from some other method with disastrous consequences for their relationship. She noticed his saliva-swallowing, and braced herself for something pretty big.

"Because I grabbed her hand…and she saw me…and we spoke…and then…and then…I'm going to admit this to you…we…we…" he said, pausing on the last part as Mari's eyes widened in realisation.

"Kissed?" Mari asked, a sharp tone in her voice as she looked to him, although the rest of her expression unchanged.

Ryder nodded sadly, quickly losing her gaze. He knew that he couldn't keep it a secret anyway. Mari frowned, before her expression turned to anger. She turned, walking away as DarkRenamon looked up in surprise. She paused at the door, turning back and speaking with spiteful tones only.

"I can't believe you…" she uttered quietly, leaving as DarkRenamon promptly followed her Tamer, gracefully as always.

Ryder groaned, falling back on the pillow. Even when he did the right thing, it still got him in trouble. Was there any right way of doing anything?

Was he ever meant to be happy?

Shinjuku Park

05:39 JST

The morning light shone across the park as the sun came out above the horizon and cast its rays diagonally on the trees, spreading shadows long and far. Across playground equipment soon to be used, across vagrants sleeping with nowhere else to go, across a small white and purple fairy sleeping in a tree, and across a familiar concrete utility closet, currently inhabited by only one creature.

Not the usual, however.

Renamon groaned, as the sun penetrated her eyelids and forced her to wake from her slumber. She felt groggy, assuming it was the result of chasing Realmon the previous day and generally being awake for long hours. She leaned against the back wall of the hideout, surprised at how deep a sleep she had had, normally staying at least a bit conscious in order to be able to protect herself or others in case they needed it.

She pondered how Guilmon could ever sleep in this place. The floor was solid, the wall was painful, her arms ached; she herself wasn't really sure why she'd gone to sleep here. Then again, Guilmon didn't sleep here any more either, not since he'd been able to use his Tamer's room. Well, he almost didn't sleep here any more; he did have to on occasion, either because Takato was away, or for other reasons.

Renamon yawned. Maybe the pains and aches were simply tiredness taking its toll for once. Still, she oddly felt happy and relaxed at the same time as her grogginess, as she peered out of the hideout, looking up and out over the park, appreciating the beauty of a summer's morning in their city as the light shone off the buildings and trees.

She pulled her legs closer, preparing to stand up, but felt something block their movement. Something solid that wouldn't budge, even when she repeated her movements.

An eyebrow rose, as she paused. 'How odd…' she thought, before reaching out to figure out whatever was stopping her standing up in her normal manner. She pushed it from one paw into another, noting its size as she moved to lift it with both paws. The object was smooth, and near-spherical (although it seemed more of a stretched sphere shape), as she felt it with her paws.

She lifted it in front of her, staring at it for a short while before her mind began to register what it was as the grogginess faded suddenly. She blinked a few times at the object. Black rings ran around its surface, the gaps in-between alternately filled by yellow and red colouring.

"Oh god no…" she noted, pressing a hand into it to check it was real, as she glanced down, and back to it.

Renamon stared at the digi-egg for a few moments, as everything began to add up in her mind.

This…this was going to take some explaining…


Oh, I do love continuing to surprise my readers (although some could've seen this one coming). A few things are now left unresolved for the next fic to cover. The next book is Book Six: Tricks, and will start to be published soon (once I finish planning it all out and everything). Please review, I'd like to know what people felt of how I dealt with everything in this chapter.

I also plan to get out another chapter of Deviations too for all of those fans out there eager to read the next instalment.

Yes, I am aware of the fact this Book, intended to be a shorter one than Book Four, is actually the same length. Ah well, it's good all the same.

And now, a little preview of what is to come in this epic saga…

(Cue dramatic music, anything from the new Doctor Who or Torchwood series will do, or anything else that's dramatic. 'All the Strange, Strange Creatures' (for slower readers), 'The Futurekind' (for medium-speed readers) or 'The Master Tape' (for fast readers, since it's not that long a song) from the Dr Who Series 3 OTS would do best. Or, you know, you could listen without music, and lose some of the dramatics. Meh, do whatever you want.)


"We are at war…"

"Can you really do it? Could you kill her? Even if you killed him, I don't believe you have the guts."

"Be it one Demon, or all of us, the results will be the same…"

"Ten Angels, Nine Demons…perhaps the odds are against us…or are they?"

"You all have secrets…things which you keep so secret that they prevent you from ever finding happiness…I'm doing you a favour…"

"You wanted a way home…now take it!"

A boy, afraid of the duties he will soon have to fulfil, and yet knowing he will have to be by her side, as well as by his partner's side…


A dino, trying to protect his partner from things beyond his control, and also having to contend to a conundrum regarding his love…

"You have EXACTLY 5 seconds to run before I personally destroy every single last piece of your data."

She, split between protecting her lover, her partner and their respective partner/lover, the situation worsening when her deepest, darkest secret becomes clear to her, as well as another problem…

"I'm sorry…"

She, knowing that her idea for one night has lead to events that will spiral out of her control, and feeling that she lacks anyone by her side, even when he, she and the Angels are at her side…


The First Angel, knowing that he doesn't even belong in the universe he has ended up in, and keeping his deepest secret merely to maintain his existence, and not destroy their lives, particularly not hers…

"I'm going after him! Even if it kills me…"

She, watching as her love takes so much punishment, and have his life twisted out of control, even when it is his own choice, as soon as he feels he has found what he is looking for, a life, with friends, allies, and a partner to fight alongside…

"I'm coming with you…"

He, having to stand alongside as his Tamer pays the ultimate price, and stare on as he is prevented from finding more about feelings that have manifested about her…

"Everyone never thinks twice about me…that I could be deeper than it seems…"

She, stuck in the middle of a triangle and seeing everything that happens in it, yet with no idea of what to do about it, to go with either him, or him…

"Mari…um…I need some advice…"

He, the (un)lovable joker who suddenly has to contend with both the consequences of his actions, and the new found feelings he has about another, while at the same time keeping his Tamer from thinking that he can just stand back from the oncoming war and have it all turn out fine…


He, having to deal not only with protecting his friends, but also supporting them when the battles become nearly impossible…

"We have one minute before it's all over…isn't there anything we can do?"

She, feeling an un-discussed guilt for what happened in the past (as does her partner), and who lets it nearly kill her…

"Grab my hand!"

He, who takes sacrifices for others without considering how it will affect him in the process…

"This is our last chance!"

She, who lets an obsession with things being 'black and white' prevent her from seeing that nothing is ever as simple as 'good and evil'…

"No…you can't be…it just…isn't true…"

He, who finds himself fighting in a war beyond a last second reprieve…

"We really need a miracle…"

She, who finds herself having to care for those who have lost their world…

"I really don't know how to help…"

She, hopeful in a world where all hope is lost…

"How can you give up?!"

She, finding herself lost in time and wandering forever, her only confider in her secret depression being her partner…

"I have to stop this before it happens!"

She, knowing that her Tamer is hiding more than she lets on, and being unable to do anything about it…

"Rey, are you sure you really want to do this?"

He, feeling alone in a world where everyone else is moving on…

"Turns out there are a lot more to people than it seems Patamon…"

They, fighting a losing battle in a world without their leader…

"You can mourn him forever Ivy, but we have to fight now…"

He, finding himself in a world different to that in which he grew up…


He, a powerless figure in a world where all around can do anything…

"Every day I see Rey, I see Ryder, I see all of them, fighting to save the world, and I'm useless…and I hate all of them…"

Everyone, entering a new world of war, of death and misery, all by their 'Lord and Master's' hands…

"One day…it'll all be back to normal…"

"The Angels can believe what they want; it is all over…this world is pushed into darkness…"

"It's what you always wanted, isn't it?"

"I've done a lot of thinking, and learnt a lot of new things…and…I've decided to tell you all the truth…you may not like it though…"

All's fair in Love and War…


The truth…is far worse than what it seems…

"Whatever happens…"

Until next time…