I'd like to apologize to you all for the terrible, disgusting chapter I put out earlier. It was horrible, it was a menace, it was downright putrid. And truly, I have an explanation for that chapter. See, about a year and a half ago, the computer that held all the future chapters, character information, and plot outlines suddenly stopped working, and I haven't been able to access it since. I was so depressed by it that I hadn't written anything about White Mice. So when I started writing it again, I had to go off my memory. Added to the stress of a killer project and finals to study for I couldn't write a good chapter.

So, to make up for it I'm going to try to update as speedily as possible! I've written a couple of chapters in advance so I can update as often as possible.

So without further ado here is the next chapter of White Mice in much better quality than the last.

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon Frontier. Please don't sue me.

chapter 6: fall out

A photo centered against white cardstock. An ornate black frame with the kanji for fire painted onto the top piece of wood in smooth, bold strokes. A tanned boy with heavily-gelled auburn hair with not a single stray strand to be found, smiling softly at the camera, his chocolate eyes shining with a certain spark of life. He was wearing a black vest over a white dress shirt, a lava red tie, black slacks, and shiny black shoes that reflected the light. To the right, a girl with a face structure matching the boy's, including high cheekbones and a high brow, dazzling white hair that just brushed her shoulders, and blue eyes that made Izumi think of a sky on a clear day perched on top of what seemed to be a stool concealed behind the rose cocktail dress she was wearing. Lined with lava red ribbons, cinched at the waist, and flowing elegantly in all directions, the rose dress was beautiful. A big red ribbon had been sewed over her collar bone. On her feet were white knee-high socks and white Mary-Jane's. In the girl's arms was a baby boy with large, puffy cheeks, the widest, softest brown eyes, and a slicked back head of bole-brown hair. On his face was a goofy smile. He was dressed in a baby's tuxedo, even with a miniature version of the older boy's red tie. A crib, pastel blue walls, and a wooden rocking chair were behind the three children.

"Is this…?" Izumi began her question hesitantly. The chocolate eyes from the photo crinkled with a grin. Izumi could see the spark in his eyes hadn't disappeared with age.

"We were four years old." Takuya joined Izumi on the staircase and gazed at the picture intently. "Mom had just sold the last house, and she wanted something to remember it by, so we took this picture. That crib used to be mine before Mom gave it to Shinya."

That explained the color of the crib then – baby blue, to indicate a boy's. Izumi gave Takuya a look, her green eyes blinking slowly. "Where did you move from?"

"Odaiba," Takuya said fondly, picking the picture frame off its hook and taking it in his hands. "We lived there for three years."

Izumi nodded. She didn't remember where Odaiba was, but she was sure she would learn about it soon enough in history class. Just like she would learn more about her boys and what had happened to them in the years she had been gone.

"Did you like Odaiba?" asked Izumi with curiosity.

"I don't remember a thing about it." Takuya grinned wider despite himself and inspected the picture some more. "Wish I did though, because those must have been some of the best years of my life."

Izumi cocked her head to the side. "What makes you say that?"

Takuya said, without taking his eyes off the image off of his younger brother, "C'mon… no school, no responsibilities, no work, free food. Don't you wish you were a baby?"

Izumi smirked. Takuya hadn't changed; truly, he was the same lazy person she had known in the Digital World. At the silence Takuya looked up. Seeing her smirk made him crinkle his face in confusion.

"What are you grinning at?" Takuya asked.

Having nothing to say, Izumi glanced around at the other pictures hung upon the staircase's wall. The Kanbara family, at various stages of development starting with just Mr. and Mrs. Kanbara, then Takuya and Saruchi, then the entire family, grinned at her widely with the same identical grin.

"…What's upstairs?" Izumi took a step upwards toward the second floor, then stopped. She was stopped by a hand on her arm pulling her backwards.

"Where are you going?" Takuya asked.

"I want to see your room!" pouted Izumi, putting her hand over his and prying it off.

"You can't go up there," muttered Takuya.

"And why not?" asked Izumi, putting her hands on her hips and getting a glint in her eye that could only be described as 'dangerous'.

"I just got a vicious dog. I kept him up there in my room, and he bites strangers." Takuya said as he replaced the

Izumi, instantly distracted by the dog, softened her expression a bit. "I suppose that's alright then."

Takuya refastened the picture frame to the brass hook on the wall. Izumi watched him as he worked. He had steady hands, she noticed. "Sorry," Takuya said.

Now it was Izumi's turn to be confused. "What for?"

"I wish I could've let you see my room today, but if I let you up, Chiizu (A/N: Cheese in Japanese) will bite your hand off as soon as you enter the door…"

Izumi burst out laughing. Chiizu?

"What? …Did I say something funny?"

"No…" Izumi said, smiling. "It's nothing."

Suddenly a loud banging noise, rather like the sound of two pots being smashed together, echoed through the house. It pounded rhythmically and increased in volume. At the bottom of the stairs, Takuya's twin appeared wearing a pink apron, chef's hat, and oven mitts. In her hand she was banging a wooden spoon against an empty pot. She smiled beautifully at them.

"What's the noise for, Saruchi?" Takuya asked.

Saruchi smiled wider. "Dinner's ready, so you can come eat now! Orimoto-chan, I saved you a head seat!"

Izumi blushed. "No, no, you shouldn't have…" she started, gesturing wildly.

"But I did, so let's just eat with no arguments, 'kay?" she smiled wider and disappeared.

"Did she really cook by herself?" Izumi asked Takuya. "I should've helped… I feel bad now." Izumi didn't mention that she was quite skillfull in foreign dishes, but lacked any capacity to create Japanese food.

It was the thought that counted, after all.

"Don't be worried," Takuya reassured.

"Are you sure?" asked Izumi.

"Sure as sugar."

Izumi stepped out of the cab and closed the door. It merged into traffic and crawled away. As usual, puffs of CO2 clouded Izumi, causing her to cough violently. When she had regained clear lungs she walked across the wide sidewalk and began her ascent up the huge staircase. Was a huge staircase like this really necessary for a school? she thought as she walked up the first flight. Keeping her head down, she avoided groups of students chatting on the staircase, although there were considerably less voices than her first day of school given the fact that she had come a little bit later today.

"Hey Orimoto-chan!"

"Good morning, New Girl-chan!"

Izumi looked up at the sound of her name. A group of boys to her left, sitting on the staircase in a circle and smiling at her like a pack of tricky foxes… one could obviously see the two who had yelled, a girl and a boy, the only two who were standing in the middle of the group: a tall thin girl with a black hair done in a pixie cut, and a boy with dark brown hair that stood up straight from his head and fell outward, like leaves on a pineapple. They were leering dangerously at Izumi, the expressions in their eyes unreadable. By their expressions, Izumi judged they were not talking to her for purposes that she cared about in spite of how friendly their voices sounded. Izumi slowed to a walk, feeling her shoulders tense. She had had barely any sleep the night before and she was not in the mood to be played with by some rich school rumor-mongers.

"Shouldn't you be in class instead of bullying me?" Izumi said.

"Maybe we'll go to class when you answer to these rumors," said the boy.

"What rumors?"

The girl stepped forward with a small smile on her face. "Is it true that you went home with Kanbara after the party on Saturday?" She had a mousy voice, quite unsuitable for any type of singing.

Izumi frowned and stopped walking. Why would they be interested in something like that?

"Yes I did," she answered, moving her hand to her bag protectively. The standing students' eyes widened. The boys around them started snickering. Suddenly Izumi sensed that this day wasn't going to be good, no, not at all. Ignoring the rapid beating of her heart and the flush on her cheeks, she turned the heat up in her gaze.

"What's it to you?" Izumi half-snapped at the pair. The giggles of the boys subsided.

"Where'd you go?" the girl asked.

"He took me for a walk and then we went to his house."

"How long were you there?" she pressed.

"About two hours," Izumi said, still not getting the point of this little interrogation.

The girl turned to her friends and whispered something. Izumi stared at them and put her hand on her hip.

"That'll be all," snickered the boy. "Go away."

"Hmph," said Izumi, then she turned on her heel, but not before noticing one of the boys in the group pull out a white iPhone. She started again up the staircase. Engrossed in her thoughts, her eyes were only on the double doors at the top of the stairs. She failed to notice the curious stares that followed after her.

Takuya approached his locker, his eyes scanning over a piece of paper and thus, he almost ran into a girl.

"Woah… hey!" Takuya said, looking up for the first time… and seeing a girl and a boy making out on his locker. PDA wasn't allowed at NSA, but students got away with it as often as they could at lunch, in the bathrooms, and in the halls between classes. Not that Takuya would know that, of course, or have any reason to make use of the PDA times. Takuya had a rather interesting history when it came to girlfriends. After Izumi had left, he had gone through a period when he rather despised girls. He had prayed to every god of masculinity, including gods from Western cultures, and become obsessed with judo. Saruchi, horrified by her twin's display of manliness, had smacked him across the face and told their mother. Mrs. Kanbara said nothing about it, but she told Mr. Kanbara, who told Takuya to get a girlfriend or he'd stop paying for the gas for his scooter, it was such a shame he was twelve and hadn't sent White Day chocolates since kindergarten (where everyone was bloody hell required to), did he want to embarrass the family and make his mother and sister cry? So Saruchi, feeling sorry for Takuya, paired him with one of her friends, a girl named Kari Yagami. Kari had been nice. She listened to him when he talked about sports and didn't mind at all when he told her he had a crush on another girl (as it happened, she had a crush on another guy, too). He and Kari Yagami went out until 8th grade, when things got too busy. They split apart amicably. Takuya had almost forgotten about the girl with the ruby red eyes. But for now, he wasn't looking for a girlfriend, he just wanted to get to his locker.

"Excuse me," Takuya said politely, but they continued sucking face. It was rather disgusting to view, and as such he waved his paper in front of their faces.

"Excuse me," he said louder. Just then he heard a familiar voice in the hallway calling his name.

"Takuya! Takuya, my man," yelled Daisuke Motomiya, Takuya's soccer classmate and all-around main annoyance. Takuya didn't turn around.

"Excuse me," Takuya said again, to the couple making out on his locker. Again, they ignored him. Takuya sighed. Daisuke was getting closer… it wasn't like he needed his math textbook that badly, anyway… with a huff he started walking in the opposite direction of Daisuke.

"Hey! Where're you going—hey!" Takuya heard footsteps behind him that could only be Daisuke's. They got closer and closer until they were right behind him. "Guess what?" came Daisuke's voice from right behind him.

"You and Kari did it?" He fell into step alongside Daisuke and they walked together down the hall.

"No! Don't be—that's—" Daisuke spluttered sounding indignant and offended. Takuya thought he had no right to. Daisuke was highly disagreeable, or, to borrow one of Shinya's phrases, a 'sick festering bum'.

"Did someone say I did it?" Daisuke asked in a hopeful voice that made Takuya want to vomit.

"Yeah," Takuya lied.


Takuya said nothing. Daisuke grabbed Takuya's face.

"Tell me!"

"Er… Yamamoto."

"That bastard!" Daisuke glared at a point in front of him.

"You guys left together. The worst had to be assumed," Takuya said, shrugging as if to say, 'So goes the rumor mill.'

"We went to get drinks!" he fumed.

Takuya put his hands over Daisuke's and pried Daisuke's hands off his cheeks.

"So what's up? Why'd you call for me?"

"Did you get the latest text?"

Takuya pulled out his phone, a sleek Japanese-style phone with thin black casing. The phone was decorated with miniature red dragons, and a small fire charm dangled from its antennae. Takuya wasn't paying any attention to the decorations now as he scrolled through his recent messages with a flick of his thumb. There were no new messages.

"No, I don't think so," Takuya said.

"Kanbara Takuya!" Kouji's voice said harshly. Takuya looked up in surprise. Walking – no, charging – at him was Kouji. In one of his arms was Izumi. Izumi looked as if she'd been crying – her purple eyeshadow was smeared across her cheeks, which used to be caked with blush but said blush was now just a stain on her blue NSA blazer. The expression on Kouji's face was one of pure fury. Takuya now noticed that everyone in the hallway was staring at them.

Takuya gulped. An angry Kouji usually foreboded a punishment for him. Feeling on edge, Takuya glanced sideways at Daisuke. The soccer player looked knowing, as if he knew what was coming. Daisuke noticed his friend's gaze and met it with a smirk. Then he put his hand up to his neck and did a horizontal slashing motion in the air that made Takuya's blood run cold.

Of White Mice and Sakura Trees