(The only thing I own here is the plot and the original characters. For the extended author's notes, please refer to my site forum.)
The Fifth Eye
The only thing worse than a long, sleepless night is when it's brought to an end by the grey light of morning. He sat up in bed facing the window, the linen curtains making the early morning haze outside look even blurrier. He exhaled slowly, rolling his neck and letting his shoulders relax. The warm body in bed behind him stirred.
She wrapped her arms around his chest, covering them both with the white bed sheet. He shuddered at the feel of her warm chest pressed to his bare back, and the skin of his neck tingled where she kissed it.
"Bonjour," she said to him as her golden locks fell over his shoulders.
"How'd you sleep?"
"Beautifully. And you?"
He breathed in deeply through his nose and coughed. "I didn't."
She squeezed him and gently rubbed her cheek against his. "What has you so worried?"
He reached up to rub his eyes. "I don't know."
"Don't hold back now, Takeru."
He smiled. "You know no one calls me that."
"Zen it is my name for you, no?"
"I suppose so."
She looked out the window. The view wasn't very good, but the City of Lights rarely offers a bad view. "Are you happy?"
He nodded. "Of course."
"So why can't you sleep?"
"I don't know," he said. "Just stress I guess. This whole book thing is really getting to me."
"Worrying won't make it any better, silly."
"You're right about that," he said. "Catherine?"
"Are you happy?"
She nodded. "Very happy."
He inhaled slowly. It was the answer he wanted, the answer he expected, but it left him strangely unsettled. He exhaled. "What do you regret the most?"
"What do you mean?"
"In your whole life, is there anything you wish you could have done differently?"
"Non. Not a thing."
"Really? Not even when we got caught out in the rain the other day?"
She smiled. "And miss out on drying you off? Never."
He snickered to himself, but said nothing more.
"Sometimes, life is best when walking in ze rain."
He sighed and leaned back against her, which made her tighten her hold.
"Takeru, what do you regret?"
"Do not act so coy. You asked because you already had an answer."
"No holding back."
"Alright," he said after a moment. "I do regret one thing."
"And zat is?"
"I regret how I left things back home."
"Zen you would change it?"
"If I could."
She was quiet for a long moment. When she did speak up, her voice sounded very soft. "Do you regret coming here?"
He pulled away and turned to face her, a surprised look on his face. "Of course not! I just wish things had gone a little bit better is all."
"But if zey had, zen you may not have come and we would not have met, no?"
"It's not like that at all. You know I love you more than anyone else in the world. I would never give that up."
She nodded slowly then looked him in the eye. "So if you had ze chance to change things, you would not take it? You would be happy to lose her?"
"I…" He hesitated. It was only for a second, but it was there, the silence of indecision. "I wouldn't be happy about it. It doesn't matter though, right? It's not like you can change the past anyway."
She turned away from him. "So you regret it. You wish you still had her, yes?"
"No, that's not true!" he insisted, placing his hands on her shoulders. "I loved her, I really did. You know that about me. But now I love you, and I've never been happier."
"I love you too, my Takeru," she said with a smile. "Love is not selfish, you know. I am happy for your past love."
He sighed in relief. "Glad to hear it."
"I do worry, you know," she said after a second. "I worry zat you would miss lost love so much zat you would lose sight of ze love you have."
This time it was he that wrapped his arms around her. "That won't happen," he said.
They didn't bring it up again, but they did fight. They fought about little things and big things, about money and missed dinners, about doing the dishes and the color of the new curtains. That's what they believed they were fighting about at least. They always made up, but another fight would be waiting for them. Within a month they were once again living on opposite ends of the world. By the time this story begins—more than two years later—his greatest regret was that he lost her for as long as he did.
October 7, 2017
"Coming!" Davis called out, jumping up and running over to the front door. He ran a hand through his hair to try to smooth it out, but that never really did work with his hair. He opened the door with a big smile. "Hey guys!"
"Hi, Davis," Kari said with a smile of her own. She was wearing a mottled pink dress with a yellow jacket. For the first time in years she was wearing her hair short again, if for no other reason than easy management. "Sorry we're a little early."
"Don't worry about it," Davis said dismissively. He was dressed in just a pair of dark sweatpants and a light blue t-shirt: his usual attire for a day off.
"Traffic was a lot lighter than we were expecting," said Jack, Kari's husband. He was an American with shaggy brown hair, a matching five o'clock shadow and dark, keen eyes. He was wearing a red polo shirt with tan slacks and a gray woolen sport jacket. In his right arm he held their sleeping son and in his left hand he carried a satchel.
"Funny how light traffic seems when you swerve around it," Kari pointed out with a smirk.
Jack rolled his eyes. "I'm a very safe driver!"
"Well don't stand around all day," said Davis. "Come on in, take it easy."
"We can't stay too long," said Kari. "We're meeting Tai at his place to see the baby."
"Well you are a little early," Davis grinned.
"He's right, you know," Jack pointed out.
"Well it would be nice to stretch out our legs for a few minutes," said Kari.
They stepped inside and took their shoes off by the doorway. It wasn't the world's biggest apartment, but for a single guy it was more than enough. Of course some of the bachelor pad appeal had diminished since Davis' two-year-old son Masaru started living their part time. At the moment he was sitting in the living room, playing with his favorite toy.
Kari smiled. "I can't believe you let him play with those."
Davis looked at his son and shrugged. "Nothing I can do about it. He screams whenever you try to take them." He was, of course, referring to his old goggles. "Masaru! Say hi to Uncle Jack and Aunt Kari."
"Hi!" Masaru called without looking up from what he was doing.
Kari shook her head. "He's just adorable, Davis. Looks just like you, too."
Davis blushed. "Well, I guess I am pretty adorable."
Kari giggled and playfully slapped Davis' chest. "Oh stop already."
"Thanks again for agreeing to baby-sit," said Jack. "I love him to death, but I can't even remember the last time we had a minute away."
"It's totally not a problem," Davis assured them. "Besides, I already have Masaru today and I figured how much harder could two kids be than one?"
"I don't know about that," said Kari. "I mean just one two-year-old can be a hassle, but taking care of two—"
"So how's the noodle cart doing?" Jack asked quickly.
"Check it out," Davis said as he rolled up his right sleeve and flexed. "Is that awesome or what? Best exercise I ever got."
"I think he was asking more about the money," Kari whispered to Davis.
"Well…" Davis hesitated.
"Steady?" asked Jack.
Davis nodded. "That's one way of putting it."
"Well as long as it's enough to keep food on the table and a roof overhead," said Jack.
"No worries about that," said Davis.
"Speaking of food," Kari began, "you do have some around for the kids, right?"
"Would you relax?" asked Davis. "I do have my own son, you know."
"Didn't you give him a whole lot of wasabi once?" asked Jack.
"Well I didn't know he'd try and eat it!" Davis protested.
"Just to be safe, we packed a few of his favorite things," Kari went on. "Oh, and he's been asleep for hours, so he should be waking up any time now."
"C'mon, you know me," Davis said with an air of confidence. "I've got this handled. Can I at least hold the little guy?"
"Speaking of waking up…" Jack nodded to his son, who was stirring. "Hey kiddo. How'd you sleep?" He only made a tired, somewhat cranky grunt. "Right then. Davis? You're on deck."
Davis gingerly extended his arms and accepted the boy. "Wow, he's gotten a lot bigger since the last time I saw him," he said. "And I hate to break it to you, Jack, but I think he looks more like Kari."
"Nonsense," said Kari.
"Well he's got your hair," Jack admitted.
"Hey there, Akira," Davis cooed to the boy. "You remember your Uncle Davis, don'cha?"
"Don't forget this," Jack said as he passed his satchel to Davis. "Should be everything he could possibly need this afternoon."
"And no scary stories," Kari added.
"Not a problem," said Davis.
"No reading them TV Guide either," Kari went on.
"Oh now you're just being unreasonable," said Davis.
"I'm serious, Davis," Kari chided.
"Honey, we both know Davis will do a great job, right?" asked Jack.
Kari sighed. "Of course. Sorry to be so uptight."
"Hey, no worries," said Davis. "I know what it's like. Just relax and let me worry about everything tonight, okay?"
"We should probably get going," said Jack.
"Okay," Kari nodded. "Thanks again for helping us out, Davis. We really appreciate it."
"Just remember that if I ever need you guys to baby-sit," Davis said slyly.
"We should be back before it gets too late," Jack said as he slipped his shoes back on over by the door.
"Y'know, if you guys have the time this weekend we should do something," said Davis.
"We'd love to," Kari said as she got her shoes as well. "How does tomorrow night sound?"
"Sounds great," Davis said, joining them by the door.
"See you in a few hours," Kari said as she stepped outside.
Jack leaned over and kissed Akira on the forehead. "See you in a little bit, kiddo."
"Bye-bye, daddy," Akira mumbled.
As the apartment door closed again, Davis felt energized. It was looking to be a pretty good afternoon off; watch the kids, order a pizza, maybe put on a movie. He'd make it look easy.
"Uh-oh, looks like rain," Jack noted as the pair headed back to their car.
"That's weird," said Kari. "It was supposed to be clear all weekend."
Miles away, Izzy had just learned he'd be working a little longer that night than he had thought. He jogged into the workshop, a part of the building characterized by high ceilings, concrete floors, fluorescent lights and hundreds of engineers and technicians working on as many different projects. This was the one place where Izzy knew he could always find his boss.
"Mr. Tanaka!" Izzy shouted as he turned the corner and skidded to a stop.
Yosho Tanaka was a man beginning to show his age. His once jet-black hair was now streaked with grey, especially along the sides and back; his face, with its sturdy jaw line, arced eyebrows and pale, biting eyes had begun to droop and fade, but the smile he always wore seemed unchanged for his whole life if one were to look at old pictures of him. He wore only the vestiges of a business suit, the coat and tie being discarded, the sleeves of his shirt rolled up and his forearms stained with grease.
"Mr. Tanaka, we've got a problem," Izzy went on as he ran up to his superior.
"I should say we do," he nodded. "Everyone has to wear goggles in the workshop, no exceptions."
Knowing that was as far as he'd get without doing as he was told, Izzy reached into his pocket, fished out his safety goggles and held them over his eyes.
"Now then, what was so urgent, Mr. Izumi?" asked Mr. Tanaka.
"We've got an incoming," Izzy whispered, still trying to catch his breath. "Should be any time now, somewhere inside the city."
"I see," Mr. Tanaka nodded slowly. "Didn't our projections indicate we had another month?"
"Well there's no mistaking it," Izzy went on. "Things must be even worse than we thought they were."
"Indeed. Well, no time for regrets now. Have you managed to integrate that little program of yours into our system yet?"
"The Yuggoth?" Izzy shook his head. "It's still not ready for a live test. The only thing we'd do is burn out our own servers."
"Well then, I suppose we'll have to wait for our guest to show up before we can put our countermeasures into action."
"I really don't think that's a good idea," Izzy cautioned. "We need to alert the SDF and let them take care of it until we can get the Yuggoth working."
Mr. Tanaka raised an eyebrow. "Sounds like you don't have much faith in your own program."
"If I'd been the one who wrote it, it wouldn't be so dangerous," said Izzy. "Using the Juggernaut now would be like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer."
"You worry too much, my boy," Mr. Tanaka said goodheartedly. "We both know we can't have the SDF battling it out in the streets with civilians around, and until the Yuggoth is in place this is the safest course of action for everybody."
"But we've only done a single live test. There's no guarantee it will even work against a real target."
"Well then, sounds like the perfect time to find out," Mr. Tanaka said with a warm smile. He patted Izzy on the shoulder. "Come on; let's go tell the boys to fire up the generators. I'm sure you'll want to see your pride and joy on its maiden voyage won't you?"
Davis had finally gotten comfortable again when there was a knock at the door. Not expecting anyone, he hesitated for a second. He shrugged and stood up again with a grunt; while pushing around a noodle cart was great for his muscles, the strain on his back was something he hadn't counted on.
"Cody?" he asked as he opened the door.
"Hi Davis," said Cody, his one-year-old daughter Mei in one arm and a duffel bag brimming with Kendo equipment in the other. "Could I ask a teensy favor?"
Davis narrowed his eyes and bit his lower lip. "What sort of favor?" he asked smoothly.
"Nothing too big," Cody said hesitantly. "You see, Tomoko is teaching kendo down at the police academy today."
Davis nodded. "Uh-huh."
"She grabbed the wrong bag on her way out though," Cody went on. "So now I have to bring the right one down to her."
Davis arched his eyebrow. "I see."
"And so, I was kind of hoping I could get you to watch Mei until I get back."
"Well…" Davis peered back into his apartment. The boys were quietly playing in the middle of the carpet. "I guess one more couldn't hurt. You're sure it won't take too long?"
"I promise to be back as soon as I possibly can," Cody said humbly.
"Ah, you're okay," Davis said with a grin. "Say hi for me. Oh, and if you get roped into a match with her, try not to get your butt kicked this time."
Cody blushed. "I'll…try not to."
By the time Jack and Kari had made it to Tai's apartment the rain had already started to fall. It was a heavy drizzle, but it only hovered over a small part of town, which accounted for the bright orange sky and the rainbow to the east. They were just happy to be inside for it, but it did raise a few worries.
"Anyone still feel like trudging to the restaurant in this?" Jack asked as he peered out the window for the seventh time.
Naturally enough, he got no responses. Fortunately, he had Kari there with him to change the subject. "Li is absolutely adorable," she said to the proud parents. "I can't believe that hair of his."
"The doctor said she couldn't either," Min said with a little laugh. She was Tai's wife and as of three months earlier a new mother. She was Chinese, though born and raised in Japan. She stood more than six inches shorter than Tai and had a swarthy complexion with black, shoulder-length hair drawn back into a ponytail. She was wearing a floral blouse and a pair of jeans.
"Taking after me already I guess," Tai said with a grin, scratching at his own, typically shaggy mane. Admittedly it was nowhere near as long as it had once been, but there still seemed to be no taming it. He was sitting with Min on the couch opposing the chair Kari had taken to and was dressed in baggy brown shorts and a blue windbreaker with a star insignia over the left breast.
"Well I'm just glad we could finally make it down," said Kari.
"You made it for the birth though, so it's no problem," Tai pointed out to his little sister.
"I know, but it's nice to get together when everyone's a little more relaxed is all."
"So how was the drive down?" asked Min.
"Oh, it wasn't too bad," said Kari. "Nice view of the ocean, good weather, and Akira slept the whole way."
"I made amazing time," said Jack.
Tai spun around on the sofa to talk to him. "Yeah? You find a shortcut or something?"
"Nah, it's all about just knowing how to drive," said Jack.
Min rolled her eyes at Kari. "Mention fast cars and men just turn into boys, don't they?"
"At least you didn't have to ride with one," said Kari. "Can you believe he wanted a high-five for passing a truck?"
"Hey, you have to admit I timed it just right," Jack defended himself.
"I didn't even get a high-five for passing a person out of my body," Kari shot back.
"You ever notice it always seems to come back to that?" Tai asked Jack. "I swear if you even mention babies, women just go nuts."
"Tell you what," said Min. "If you give birth to a car, you can talk about it all you want and I'll never complain. How's that sound?" They shared a laugh over that one, though the girls seemed to laugh a little louder.
"So Tai," Kari began after a few seconds. "What's my big brother think of being a daddy?"
Tai turned back to Kari and thought for a moment before answering. "Well…I've had about five hours of sleep this whole week, the apartment has never smelled worse, and I have less and less time in the day to do my job. All in all, though, I'd have to say I'm pretty happy."
Kari smiled. "I'm glad to hear it."
"You know, Kari," Tai went on, "when you first told me you were pregnant, I thought you were still too young for it. Even I still felt too young for it."
"You always have been watching out for me," Kari added.
"Yeah, but I think I get it now," said Tai. "It really does change everything."
"Hey I know," Min said suddenly. "Tai, why don't you take Jack and Kari to our favorite place?"
"Where's that?" asked Kari.
"Oh it's this nice little restaurant just down on the corner," Min explained. "It's fast and it's close, so you shouldn't have any problem with the rain."
"That and the fact that it's cheap are what make it our favorite place," Tai added.
"Sounds like a plan to me," Jack said with a shrug. "Kari? What do you think?"
"Well, I am getting a little hungry," said Kari.
"Perfect," said Tai. "Min, you want to grab Li and come along?"
"No thanks," she said. "I think I'll just stay here with the baby and try to get a nap in."
"Want us to bring you something?" asked Tai.
"I'd love that. Just get me my usual."
Jack heard the low rumble of thunder. "Well I think we'd better hurry if we want to beat this storm."
There was another knock at Davis' door, but this time he knew what to expect, though it did seem like the pizza guy had gotten there a lot faster than usual. He grabbed the money off his kitchen counter and ran to the front door.
"Hi Davis!" TK greeted him when he opened the door.
Davis looked at TK, then at the seventeen-month-old boy in his arms. "Well this is familiar," he muttered.
"Thanks for doing this, Davis," TK began. "I wish I could stay but I really need to make sure I get down there on time."
"What?" asked Davis.
TK eyed him. "You didn't forget, did you?"
TK shook his head. "Come on, we planned this a week ago. You'd take Tristan when I had to meet my publisher and I'd take Masaru when you and Hoshi were both working."
Davis slapped his forehead. "I can't believe I forgot."
"Well I can," said TK. "Come on, I know this is your day off, so I don't see a problem."
Davis stood to the side, giving TK a view of the three children in his apartment. Mei was crying and the boys were fighting over his old goggles. "See it now?"
TK sighed. "Alright, so I'll owe you for this, but I really need to meet with my publisher right now and I don't have the time to find someone else."
"What about Matt and Sora?" Davis suggested.
"In this weather?" asked TK. "It'll take all night to get there and back."
"Cody?" Davis suggested. "No, he's gone. Well there's Tai and—no, they've got company. You could always try—no, they're all the way over in Tamachi. You know what? Everyone is too spread out; the whole system's breaking down!"
"Davis, I really don't have time for—"
"Your mom!" Davis said in a stroke of brilliance. "She loves kids, right? Not that I don't, but I've kind of got my hands full, see, and I really don't think I could handle any more—"
"Davis, really, I just need you to take him for a couple hours," TK insisted. "I promise I'll be back then and if you want I can even lend you a hand with all this, but I have to meet with my publisher right now and I can't do it with my son strapped to my chest."
Davis' head slumped forward. He was beaten and he knew it. "Alright, but this is where I draw the line, okay?"
As crazy as things were getting at Davis' apartment, he would not have envied Izzy's problems. He and his boss had gathered their team in the single largest lab on company property, which had been entirely dedicated to their pet project. The lighting was kept low except for a few dozen monitors burned brightly. One entire wall was lined with servers, each humming constantly. Izzy never did like this lab much, mostly because it was always too humid, no matter what they did. This was the first time in months that he'd seen it so busy, and this was the first time he'd see it used for its intended purpose. He found himself with a serious case of butterflies in his stomach.
"Are we tracking yet?" Mr. Tanaka asked, leaning over someone's shoulder.
"The signal keeps fading in and out," said the man. "You were right about the origin point though—our test site was the initial point of incursion. It hasn't emerged yet though. Izzy, can you get satellite imaging? That might give us something to go on."
"Working on it," said Izzy, who was at the next terminal over.
"Take it easy, now," Mr. Tanaka said calmly. "It's no different from the drills, everyone. Except this time we can't have any mistakes."
"Damn," Izzy said in frustration. "The satellite's got nothing with this storm moving in."
"That's alright," said Mr. Tanaka. "We shouldn't expect much until it emerges anyway. Any readings from our other incursion points?"
"We've got nothing," said another team member. "There's no activity through any known incursion points other than the Tokyo Bay test site."
"Well keep an eye out," said Mr. Tanaka. "We don't want a second signal sneaking in while we're watching this one. Mr. Izumi, I need you to check the generators. We'll be trying this at five percent, but we're going to need reserves in case we need to go higher."
"Mr. Tanaka, I don't think we're ready for this," Izzy reiterated. "Even at five percent the Juggernaut will open up another incursion point."
"Then we'll need to get the Yuggoth working as soon as we can, won't we?" asked Mr. Tanaka. "I know it's not a perfect solution, Mr. Izumi, but it's better than letting things get out of hand. How is our charge looking?"
"Seven percent and climbing," said Izzy.
"And the target?"
"Still hasn't emerged," said another technician. "Do you think it can't? It almost seems to be stuck between worlds."
Mr. Tanaka smiled. "Well if it can't then drinks are on me tonight. If it can, though, we'd better be ready for it."
Minutes ticked away one after another as the storm slowly rolled in from the bay. Izzy stared at his monitor almost unblinkingly, gnawing on his thumb and taking in what he could of the data that was pouring in from the first digimon to cross over in over four years. As nervous as he was, he was more excited than he had been in a long time. This could only mean that he was one step closer to finding a way to reopen the gate intentionally; one step closer to going back, to seeing Tentomon and all the others. His dream for the past fourteen years was finally within arm's reach.
Around the city, of course, things remained pretty calm. A little rain was unexpected, but not exactly a rare thing for fall. It wasn't even much of a concern for Tai, Jack and Kari as they made it down to the restaurant. It was crowded, which wasn't helped by the fact that it was a small space to begin with. Still, Tai managed to get the three of them a table that was clearly meant for just two. Of course they weren't there for the atmosphere; it was the food that had Tai telling them about it. They'd hardly sat down before they found three bowls of rice plopped down in front of them, and they didn't have time to finish that before their orders were ready. It was fast, good, and cheap, which Tai liked enough to order a bottle of sake for the table.
Davis' problems were a lot more domestic by comparison. While some of his friends were dining out or saving the world, there he was trying to watch four kids and failing. His half-eaten pizza sat abandoned on the coffee table, the movie was running but ignored, and it was all drowned out by fighting and screaming. This was the sound Jun heard when she answered her phone.
"Hi Jun," Davis said as though nothing were wrong. He held the phone with one hand while jingling his keys in front of Tristan with the other.
"Davis?" Jun asked on the other end. "What is going on over there?"
"Oh, you know the usual."
"I can barely hear you!"
"Must be the reception," Davis said quickly. "Hey, you used to do a lot of babysitting in high school, right?"
"A lot?" she asked, now distracted from her original question. "Try every day, and mom and dad never even paid me for it. Can you believe that?"
"What? No! I don't mean me!" Davis corrected her. "I mean, y'know, actual babies."
"Do you not remember how you were as a kid?" she asked.
"You're not helping! Look, I've got a babysitting question."
"Okay, what do you want to know?"
"Could you come over here and help me?"
There was a moment of silence on the other hand, though certainly not in Davis' apartment. "That's not really a babysitting question, Davis."
"Sure it is! It's a question about you coming over and babysitting."
"I'm sure you can handle Masaru all by yourself," Jun assured him. "I mean you've done alright so far. Well, except for that time with the wasabi…"
"Would people stop bringing that up already?" asked Davis. "Besides, I can handle Masaru fine when it's just him, but now he's teamed up with the other three and they're working against me."
"Wait, other three?" asked Jun. "What happened?"
"I got suckered," said Davis. "So come on, I need your help already!"
"Davis, do you remember when I was sixteen and went to the school dance with Shiro?"
"Well do you remember when he came to the door and you told him I wasn't ready yet because I was 'shaving my moustache?'"
Davis giggled. "Oh yeah, I remember that now! That was a great night, wasn't it?"
Jun chuckled back. "Yeah. You know what else is great? Payback. Goodnight, Davis." She laughed a little louder.
Davis grumbled, though he wasn't about to let her get in the last word. "Hang on, Jun. Masaru wants to say hi." He promptly put the phone up to his screaming son. So he was out of luck there, but at least he'd given as much as he'd gotten with Jun.
Just as he was hanging up there was yet another knock at the door. He just looked at it, frozen. Who could it possibly be? Neighbors complaining about the noise? The landlord demanding the rent early? What fresh hell could possibly await him beyond that door? Of course it wasn't like he could pretend he wasn't home, what with all the noise. "We don't want any!" he finally shouted.
"Davis, open up!" a familiar voice shouted from outside.
All the color drained from his face. It was even worse than he'd expected. He grudgingly tiptoed over to the door and opened it. There was Yolei holding her daughter Keiko, who was almost three. Before Yolei could get a word out, Davis struck first. "No."
He tried to close the door, but Yolei was just too quick, jamming her foot between it and the frame. "So I hear you're babysitting," Yolei said sweetly.
"Yolei, I can't take any more," Davis warned her as he braced himself against the door. "Not tonight."
"Come on, Davis. You're the only one I can get on such short notice," Yolei pleaded. "See my parents—"
"Save the sob story. I don't care what you're doing all the way over here from Tamachi. I don't even care how hard it's raining. There is no vacancy at Casa de Davis."
"Listen up, buster," Yolei said in her stern voice. "If I don't go down to my parents' store and help them, then it's going to flood in this weather. If the store floods, they lose all their merchandise. If they lose their merchandise, either they lose the store or they have to call in their debts. Now you wouldn't want me to have to ring up the tab you've been racking up for the last fifteen years, right?"
Davis slowly peeked through the crack in the door. "What are your terms?"
"Ken gets off work in an hour," she said. "When he does, he's coming right here. You take care of Keiko until then and Ken is all yours for as long as you need him."
Davis and Yolei squinted at one another. Already Davis was beginning to realize that this was not a fight he could win, but at least he could try for a sweeter deal. "I'm a little thirsty from the pizza," he said. "Make sure Ken brings over some beer."
"Done," Yolei said hastily.
He could get more. "And some cake!"
"Don't push it, Motimiya," Yolei warned him.
"I get cake or this door's closing right now!"
"Okay! Fine," said Yolei. "You'll get Ken, you'll get your beer, and you'll get your cake. You just make sure you keep the wasabi put away."
"Oh come on already!" Davis barked. "Did somebody send out a press release or something?"
"Do we have a deal?" asked Yolei.
The door swung open again and Davis stepped out to take Keiko. Davis and Yolei squinted at one another again. "We've got a deal," he said.
Kari stood outside under the awning in front of the restaurant waiting for Jack and Tai. "I think the rain's starting to let up," she called back to them.
"Well that's good news," Jack said, joining her.
A bolt of lightning flashed in the clouds high overhead, and the thunder from it echoed down through the dense maze of buildings a few seconds later.
"This is so weird," said Jack. "I've never seen a storm just suddenly appear like this."
"Is Tai doing okay in there?" she asked.
"Last I saw he was showing off family photos to the waitress," said Jack.
Kari rolled her eyes. "Would you go in and get him? We don't want Min waiting for dinner all night."
"I'm on it," Jack said as he pushed his way back into the crowded restaurant.
Kari continued to look up at the dark clouds. There was another low rumble of thunder and a gust of bitter cold wind. Jack was right about this being a weird storm; in fact, Kari couldn't help feeling it was a bit more than just weird. It made her uneasy. She told herself to look down at her feet, but she never did.
Suddenly, she could see a figure up in the clouds, a tiny black blur dipping just below the roof of the sky. She stepped out from under the awning to get a better look. It didn't look like a plane. It didn't look like anything, really. It continued to fall though, or so she thought. It took her a few seconds to realize that as it was dropping toward the earth it was also getting larger, diving toward her like a falcon.
The figure leveled out only twenty feet above the ground, down the street as far as Kari could see, and still it was flying forward incredibly fast, but also silently. As it came into focus Kari took a few nervous steps back. She couldn't believe what she saw, but it looked like a giant bird digimon, though something looked wrong about it. It was completely blue in color. Lightning again cracked the sky open a moment before the great bird soared right in front of where Kari stood, the gust of wind it caused nearly knocking her over backwards.
She continued to watch as it pulled back and once again ascended toward the clouds. Jack appeared behind her a second later.
"He'll be right out," said Jack. "He just needs to—Kari? Are you alright?"
"There's a digimon here," Kari whispered.
Jack looked around nervously. "Where is it?" he asked.
"It just flew right in front of me, as big as a house. I…I don't think anyone else could see it."
Kari was right. She and Jack looked at the other patrons gathered around the entrance, the people walking by on the street, the cars up and down both intersecting streets. No one seemed to have noticed a thing beyond the gust of wind.
"How is that possible?" asked Jack.
"It's happened before," said Kari. "Just before it all began back in 1999, they started showing up all over the world but nobody could see them."
"So what do we do?"
Kari shook her head. "I have no—look! Up there!" She pointed skyward. Jack immediately followed her gaze right up to the digimon, hovering high overhead.
"It's just sitting there," he said. "Kari, get inside."
"Not a chance," she told him.
"Kari it's not safe," Jack warned her.
"So you think I'll leave you out here alone?"
"Kari this is no time to argue. We need to do something before—"
Without warning the digimon let out a piercing screech. In the same instant a bolt of lightning shot straight down and struck the digimon, creating a brilliant blue flash where it hit. From that flash burst a great plume of fog that hung in the air a few seconds before dissipating, revealing the digimon, his brilliant plumage now showing all its different colors.
The sudden eruption of shocked gasps from all sides told Jack and Kari that the digimon had suddenly become quite visible. The digimon seemed to realize the same thing too, for in an instant it dove from the sky and landed hard, digging its talons into the first two cars it could find and letting out another screech.
"It's Thunderbirmon," Jack announced ominously from where he and Kari had crouched down,
Thunderbirmon was a fearsome armor digimon, about the size of a truck and carrying itself proudly with a pair of sweeping blue wings with long, lightning bolt-shaped golden feathers. The feathers around its neck and down its back were white, though its long tail was blue with golden stripes and over its head it wore a mask with the same sharp angles that the rest of its body seemed to show off.
It was chaos. After the initial shock wore off everyone was running, screaming; pandemonium. Jack and Kari had to press back against the building to stay out of the human wave while Tai found himself pinned inside the restaurant. By the way it looked, Thunderbirmon was eating it up.
"Tai!" Kari shouted into the door. "Where are you?"
"Kari!" he called back, barely able to hear her. "Get out of here!"
Thunderbirmon tossed one of the cars it had grabbed aside like it was nothing and perched on top of the second one, puffing its chest proudly and spreading its wings out wide. Electrical sparks coursed from feather to feather, sometimes latching onto nearby vehicles and traffic signals. "Spark Wing!" it shrieked.
Jack grabbed Kari around the waist and spun her around toward the building, positioning himself between her and Thunderbirmon. With one mighty beat of its wings, Thunderbirmon sent out a surge of electrical energy that scorched everything it touched, knocking out power and blowing out windows down both streets for more than a block.
"Well that sucked," Jack groaned as a thin veil of smoke wafted off his back. His hair was all standing on end and his eyes looked bloodshot, but other than that he seemed alright.
"Jack, sit down for a minute," said Kari. "I need to get Tai so we can come up with something."
"We…we should get everyone out of here," Jack told her even as she helped lower him to the ground.
"I think they're doing that by themselves," Kari pointed out as she looked around her, seeing people continue to scatter away from the invading digimon.
As for Thunderbirmon, it let out a proud call. With a few mighty flaps it was airborne again, dropping the car it still held once it was about ten feet up. Judging by the glow of its eyes, it was already charging up for another attack.
"Kari!" Tai shouted as he burst through the front door, pushing a wall of people out of his way in the process.
"Tai, Jack's hurt!"
Tai immediately bent down next to the pair. "Are you alright?"
"I'll be fine," Jack said, rubbing his eyes. "Let's just worry about Thunderbirmon for now though."
"Thunder Storm!" the armored digimon roared. With another beat of its wings a torrent of lightning bolts fell around it on all sides, blasting abandoned vehicles into the air and cracking open the street itself. Thunderbirmon celebrated the destruction with another pompous screech.
Tai crouched low with the others as bits of glass and asphalt pelted them. He gritted his teeth and waited. When he was able to look up again, there was Thunderbirmon, haughtily flapping his wings and strutting among the ruined cars, his tail feathers sweeping side-to-side. "You just wait here," Tai told the other two.
"Tai?" asked Kari. She was too late, though, as Tai was already on the move. "Tai!"
While Thunderbirmon's back was turned, Tai ran up behind him. In a few quick bounds he scrambled up onto the roof of a car and then jumped straight out and landed with an iron grip on Thunderbirmon's tail. The digimon let out a shocked squawk and then turned its head to look. Tai was already clamoring up its tail feathers, so the brute tried to shake him off with a few quick wags of his tail. Tai held on tight, and though he was left a little sickly for the ride, he wasn't giving up so easily.
Of course Thunderbirmon wasn't about to give in either; it had a new plan. It faced forward again with its wings spread wide and head hanging low. It started to run as Tai continued to pull himself along, inching up its tail. Tai's plans hit a snag though when Thunderbirmon took off at full speed, the city streets whipping below them in a blur. The digimon banked left and right sharply. Tai came within feet of being dragged along a building or two when the beast turned at a few sudden corners.
More determined than ever, Tai dug his fingers into the white feathers of the digimon's back. Almost seeming insulted, Thunderbirmon grew determined to shake Tai off no matter what; it folded its wings back and went into a spin. Though he was thrown to the side, Tai's grip held strong and thankfully so did the feathers. After a few spins Thunderbirmon had to spread his wings and level off again to keep from crashing, which was Tai's chance to keep on climbing.
The enraged digimon was ready to make a last-ditch effort to get the human off. It began to beat its wings furiously, slowly pitching upward and moving faster by the second. As Tai continued to climb he couldn't help but notice the buildings all around him quickly dropping away beneath him, but he couldn't exactly stop now. The faster and higher they flew the more biting the cold became; the wind and the rain sheared right through his jacket and left his teeth chattering. A bolt of lightning passed right next to them as Thunderbirmon climbed higher and higher, swerving back and forth on its tireless trek back up to the storm clouds.
Tai had finally made it up to Thunderbirmon's head. Slick with rain and blinded by the wind, he wrapped his legs around the beast's sturdy neck and held on tight, leaving his hands free. He reached up to his neck and unzipped his windbreaker in one swift motion. The jacket was almost ripped right out of his hands by the sheer strength of the wind blowing in his face. Even though the digimon kept rolling around, bucking and fiercely pumping its wings, Tai still had the resolve to push his torso forward again, right up to the edge of the digimon's mask. Taking his jacket in one hand, he swung it under Thunderbirmon's chin and grabbed the other sleeve in his free hand. With his makeshift reins in place, Tai tightened his legs' hold and pulled back with all his strength.
Thunderbirmon's head immediately jerked back and its whole body followed, rolling up and over before taking aim straight down again. Tai pressed his body flat against Thunderbirmon's neck as they went into the fastest part of the wild ride yet. The digimon let out a long, piercing wail as it plummeted back toward the earth. Tai was nearly flung free out into the open air, his fingers being almost numb with pain and soaking wet. As Thunderbirmon spread its wings and tried to regain control, Tai jerked its head toward the left, trying to steer it toward a street. It turned, but much too fast, going into a sharp spin and folding its wings back again. Tai fought against the weather, the digimon and the force of gravity itself all the way down.
Another quick jerk brought the spin to a stop. They had the right heading, but they were coming in fast. Even with Thunderbirmon fighting him the whole way, Tai intended to come in for a safe landing and do something about the digimon menace at the same time. For the moment, the former of those was his goal, so as they once again dipped below the skyline, Tai pulled on the reins and the digimon reared back, talons kicking away in front, wings ferociously slapping at invisible enemies and its head staring up at the sky. Unfortunately for both Tai and the digimon, this meant neither of them could see where they were going. The Thunderbirmon's talons caught on a bus and it pitched forward violently, flinging Tai from its back and landing the digimon face-first in the street. Everything went dark for a moment.
Tai found himself being shaken awake a short while later. Though dazed, soaking wet and numb from the cold, he could still make out a hazy blur and a voice. He slowly sat up, not entirely sure of where he was.
"Tai?" Kari asked as she kneeled beside her big brother. "Are you okay? How many fingers am I holding up?"
Tai rubbed his head woozily and tried to wipe some of his drenched hair out of his eyes. "…Kari?" he groaned.
Kari immediately grabbed him in a tight squeeze. "Don't you ever do something that stupid again, Tai!"
"Unh," he grunted. "Don't ride the digimon, Kari."
"Tai, I need you to stay alert, okay?" she asked. "You could have a concussion."
Tai shook his head to try clearing it. "I'll…I'll be fine."
"Hey Kari!" Jack shouted from over where the Thunderbirmon had fallen, almost sixty feet away. "It's out cold! We should be good!"
"What about the ambulance?" she called back.
"On its way!"
"You hear that?" Kari asked of Tai. "The ambulance is on the way, okay?"
"Kari, I'm fine," Tai said a bit more lucidly. "Just a little bump on the head."
"Yeah right," she said. "And when you broke your leg climbing that tree it was just a bruise, right?"
"Hey, you know me," he smirked. "My skull's the hardest bone in my body."
All of a sudden, the rain stopped falling all at once. Jack looked skyward and froze; there was something there, but it seemed like a mirage. The sky overhead started to twist and turn in on itself, and then there was an explosion of light.
Kari and Tai covered their eyes as the whole street was washed over with a red glow. A shimmering hole had opened in the sky about eighty feet directly above Thunderbirmon. It flickered sporadically between shades of yellow and orange and almost completely white, casting heavy shadows on anything its light did not reach. As they looked on in awe, everything not cemented down began to be drawn upward toward the burning maw. Glass, cars, debris, garbage, and Thunderbirmon himself all slowly began ascending. Unfortunately, what applied to all those things applied to Jack as well. As his feet left the pavement he scrambled to grab onto anything he could.
Tai and Kari took off running at almost the same instant, but Tai's aching body and dazed mind kept him from keeping up with her. Kari ran as fast as she could, and when she was close enough she ran up onto the roof of a car and jumped to Jack's outstretched hand. She caught him and the two sunk back toward the ground. That is to say, they sunk by about a foot, but then they kept right on rising amidst a tangled mess of debris.
"Tai!" Kari shouted to her big brother.
The first bits of wreckage were reaching the portal's threshold just then, breaking down into a million pieces before fading away into the light. Before long the same would happen to cars, the bus, Thunderbirmon, and eventually them as well.
"Try to find something to grab onto," Jack said as he tried pushing off a taxi hovering by his feet. It didn't work very well.
"I can't reach!" Kari said as she stretched her hand out toward a stationary street sign.
"Hang on!" Tai yelled as he ran toward them as best as he could. "I'm coming!"
"Hurry it along, Tai!" Jack said nervously.
Thunderbirmon's data began to break down overhead and he disappeared.
Tai ran up the same car that Kari had used to climb up. He and his sister reached out to one another, and for a second their fingertips touched. It wasn't enough though, as Kari's hand slipped through his grasp and he fell to one knee, mere inches from saving them.
"Kari!" he shrieked.
"Tai!" she yelled back to him as she and Jack were drawn up into the unknown.