Date Started: April 5th, 2008
Date Finished: April 9th, 2008

Summary: On the eve of Taichi and Yamato's high school graduation, Takeru comes to realize the one thing he had always secretly hoped for will sadly never come to pass.


"Taichi-san is so awesome," Daisuke cooed

Takeru stood next to him as they silently observed their sempai make his speech. Today had marked an important date. It would be the day when Taichi, Yamato and Sora would graduate from high school and begin their new lives into adulthood.

The student speaker for this year was none other than Yagami Taichi. He was captain of the track team, the student committee representative for the third years, and the head member of the school's soccer club. He was a firm leader by example, greatly improving his studies and later taking great interest into national politics, including both Japan's home and international affairs. All that combined to help him land this honourable position as head of the Student Council.

Takeru had of course known Taichi would be doing the speech. He'd overheard him practicing several times upon his frequent trips visiting Hikari at the Yagami household. He was sure Daisuke had, too. Yet never had the two younger boys expected to see for themselves how strongly the student body respected Taichi and his leadership. Every member of both student and faculty seemed mesmerized by his words. And if Daisuke was of any proper indication, many of the guests beside them were, too.

"I am privileged to have been able to grow and mature alongside each and every one of you," Taichi was saying. He began recalling various memories shared in the school. The assembly shook their heads in disbelief when Taichi spoke of how he and a fellow named Minoru-kun avoided being late by sneaking into a second story classroom through an open window. They cheered at the mention of their soccer team bringing home the gold last summer, and laughed at the reminder of Yamato sneezing during his live vocal at the previous school festival.

Takeru frowned at that one.

Taichi easily played on the reactions of the crowd. He looked to be at ease with public speaking. And at last he came to a close, "As I at last begin handing out your graduation certificates on behalf of your home room teachers, I want everyone to know – that if any of you should find yourselves struggling after today, with anything at all be it employment or further studies, don't try to go it all alone. Turn to your friends for help; seek out the wonderful teachers you've met in your years here. None of them will abandon you, and neither will I."

He paused for a moment, and then motioned to the assembled classes. He called them up in order to receive their certificates. Yamato stood from his seat. "Ishida Yamato," he announced. "Substitute for our class leader, and currently representing class 3-A. All students are present and accounted for."

Taichi was 3-A's class leader, Takeru knew. The two older Chosen were in the same class, and Yamato was then acting in Taichi's place so the latter could be free to give out the diplomas instead.

Yamato began leading class 3-A to the podium. The two friends smiled at each other.

Takeru frowned again.

It was the aftermath to the graduation, a formal school gathering at the local banquet hall. It was a happy day. Everyone was thrilled, save for Takeru. This unpleasantness emitting from his partner didn't escape Patamon. He questioned it immediately. "What's wrong, Takeru?"

"Nothing," Takeru said firmly, leaving no room for further interrogations. They slowly began distancing themselves from the crowd.

Patamon looked over his partner as they walked. The last time he had spoken with such a tone was when Patamon prodded into his and Yamato's family life way back during their first adventure. It had led to one of their first major arguments and Patamon had flown off in anger. But thankfully they had both matured since then. Or not.

The digimon spoke with an insulting tone. "What? Are you eight again?"

Takeru remained silent. After a short pause he said, "I wish I was."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Patamon asked.

"It doesn't mean anything," Takeru once again avoided the question, leaning against the wall of the main lounge with both arms folded. "Maybe we should just go home."

"Is it about Yamato?" Patamon continued to press the issue, refusing to budge.

"It's not," Takeru grumbled. "Now lay off."

"Is it about me, then?" that wasn't Patamon. Takeru swirled around to see Taichi standing beside him. The older Chosen quirked a brow at Takeru's surprised look. "Well?"

Takeru shook his head. "Everything is fine."

"Oh good," Taichi replied casually. "Daisuke mentioned something about you being upset a bit during my speech, and that you wandered off from the party. Though after finding you here and seeing you spouting words with Patamon, it's good to know everything's just peachy."

Patamon wrinkled his nose in amusement.

Takeru sighed with Taichi's sarcasm having been completely obvious. He wondered when exactly Daisuke had found the time to see him at all troubled during all the gawking he had done during Taichi's speech. Takeru said, "You wouldn't understand."

"Knowing about it might help a bit there," Taichi said. His tone was still calm and maintained.

Takeru glared, though it quickly faded into a soft pout. He spoke quietly, audible yet still barely above a whisper, "When you left, everyone left."

"Takeru," Patamon frowned. He recognized what his partner was feeling almost immediately. Yes, it really was as though Takeru were eight years old once again.

"Everyone left?" Taichi was still trying to put the pieces together. He looked behind him; everyone was still there.

"Forget it," Takeru said, turning away. "I think I'm just going to head home."

With Taichi, however, it seemed that the bulb had clicked. "Hold on a second, is this about what happened after Etemon? When I got sucked into that huge rift with Agumon and you all got split up?"

The words stopped him cold. Takeru looked back towards the elder Chosen in surprise.

Taichi sighed. "Things were different back then. Conditions were different, circumstances were different. Heck, we were all very different. But I can assure you nobody is going to stop being friends just because I won't be around. The Chosen won't split up again."

Takeru was too surprised to interrupt at first, but he managed to find his voice again soon after. "It sounds rather silly when you say it like that. Plus that's not quite what I mean and you know it."

"What's troubling you exactly?" Taichi then asked. "Jyou graduated last year and we all still hang out with him. As much as I love having been able to bring you all together again back then, I assure you I take absolutely no credit for this one."

"It's not the same!" Takeru said. "Jyou-san is in Todai and he still lives at home. It's not even about you bringing us back together! It's not even about you leaving for Europe! It's about…"

He stopped, his eyes tearing, and he looked away.

Taichi frowned, turning a glance toward Patamon. The little digimon proved to be no help, choosing to stay silent until the argument was over.

"It's about everyone else leaving?" Taichi provided.

Takeru remained silent.

"This isn't about me going to study abroad at all," Taichi said. "It's about Yamato trying to decide on whether or not to go for that space program in America. It's about you seeing yourself here in three years and wondering if Daisuke and Hikari will be going off somewhere else by themselves, too."

"That's low, Taichi," Takeru said. Patamon's glare provided his agreement.

"But it's the truth, isn't it?"

"I suppose it is," Takeru replied. "If you're leaving Japan, I'm sure Yamato will be leaving too."

"I'm sure I'm not that big of an influence on him," Taichi half-smiled.

"It's funny, isn't it?" Takeru gave a soft laugh. "Here I thought I knew my brother, and here he is about to go overseas to spend the next six years trying to land a job at NASA."

"You should be happy for him," Taichi said.

"I – I can't. I mean, I was thrilled for you when I heard about your soccer scholarship, and of course I wish you all the best… but this… this is different."

"Why?" Taichi asked bluntly.

"Because it just is!" Takeru said. The words flowed freely as they exploded out of him. "Yamato is going to be off living in America for University. When he graduates it'll all be about finding a job there, too. Yeah, I could go to America after high school like him, but mom and dad will be back here in Japan. The four of us will never get the chance to live under one roof again. We haven't been a family since I was four and if Yamato leaves right now, we will never get another chance to be one again."

Taichi was quick to pick up that this was slightly above his expertise to deal with. He planned to come back to Japan after his studies were over. With Yamato, however, like Takeru said, it was different.

He was thankful when Patamon spoke up, saving him from scurrying out a dimwitted response.

"Takeru," the digimon said, coming to a perch on his partner's shoulder. "No matter how powerful your crest is, it can't bring your parents back together."

"I know that," Takeru said. His voice was cracking. He was eight all over again.

"And Yamato will continue to be your brother no matter where he is," Patamon continued. "He'll always be family, just like your mom and dad. And I will be, too."

"And so will I," Taichi offered. "Along with the other Chosen. We may not have lived together since our time in the digital world, but we're definitely all family – Daisuke, Miyako-chan, and Iori, too."

Rubbing the moistness from his eyes, Takeru tried to smile. "Thank you, Patamon, Taichi. I guess the only thing I can do is wait to hear Yamato's decision, and if he decides to go… then hopefully come autumn I'll be able to see him off with a smile."

"I hope to get the same type of farewell," Taichi smirked. "I won't be living with Hikari for at least four years, and by the time I come back she might be gone herself. I'm almost in the same boat as you are – might never get the chance to live with Hikari again."

"That is rather depressing," Takeru said.

"We'll still have the summer left until the new school year starts overseas," Taichi said. "Now that I've realized this, I'll definitely be trying my best to spend as much of that time as I can with Hikari."

There was a pause.

"I think I'll do the same and try to follow that example," Takeru suddenly said. "Come on Patamon, let's go find Yamato."

Taichi nodded his goodbye. "I'll always be willing to listen if you want to talk again."

"Thanks Taichi," Takeru said as they parted. "I'll be seeing you."

"Are you alright now?" Patamon chirped.

"There's a lot on my mind," Takeru said. "But you heard what Taichi said. Summer is right around the corner, and that's all that'll really be left."

"Hum," Patamon buzzed, in thought.

Takeru sighed. "There's still a lot of uncertainty, so I guess here's to the last summer of our lives. Now let's find my brother."

End Notes:
- Isolophobia is the fear of solitude; of being left alone.
- Takeru showed a severe fear of abandonment during the first Adventure. It's most noticeable as the weakness Pico Devimon (DemiDevimon) exploited when Yamato failed to come back to the amusement park. I'm 02 it's shown through his panic when Hikari disappears.
- "third years" - the Japanese High School is only grades 10, 11, and 12. The 12th grade graduates are known as third year students, while the freshmen 10th grades are known as first year students. Their middle school system has the same idea, the three grades there being grades 7, 8, and 9.
- There is no such thing as a valedictorian in the Japanese graduation ceremony: they have something similar, where the head of the Student Council comes up to say a few words to the graduating class. Normally this position isn't as important as I made it out to be (they wouldn't be the ones handing out diplomas, for example), but I decided to give Taichi a little bit more responsibility to emphasize his leadership quality.
- Todai is Tokyo University. It is the most prestigious public school in Japan.