Disclaimer: (white flag)
Hm, well, not much to say except I've been absolutely dying to write a Digimon fiction. Could have made it easy on myself and written a simple one-shot, but that is incredibly tame when you think about it, and this idea had been swirling around for at least a few months, so why not begin a long fiction with twists and turns and multiple pairings? Exactly.
Main pairing is Takari; don't like? Don't read. Other main-ish pairings shall be Taiora and MiyaKen (Yolei and Ken). Also, whatever I decide to throw in, which may include but is not limited to: Sorato, Mimato, Mimi and Joe, Yolei and Izzy, basically, whatever floats my proverbial tugboat at the time.
The Digimon 02 Generation (Hikari, Takeru, Cody, Davis, Yolei) are seventeen, approximately three years following the end of Digimon 02, but without that godforsaken epilogue that made me want to tear out my hair. Age gap applies to each character present.
So like the amaranthine: Forever elusive, she wilts in solitude, the blessing and the curse.
: Amaranthine :
"Adjacent with our harbored skeletons
Chains bind our limbs, pinioning us to normalcy
The darkness of the human heart shall not be free."
Toss, turn. Toss, turn.
Sleep is not bestowed liberally upon the restless, no matter how they pray.
It is not the influx of coursework for the lower secondary students that rob them of restless sleep, although it is certainly an accusable respondent.
Fast-paced streets streaked with vivid color and decorated with the late-night businessmen with no guaranteed schedule and the hyperactive young dark-dwellers with hardly anything substantial to indulge in. Heels click and kiss the concrete in a hearty cadence spurned from liquor, caffeine, music, youth. Laughs echo. Lips brush crisp autumn air and let gossip flow. A surreal and white being hovers above the metropolitan scene with a quaint air of foreboding, as if perfection is unallowable. Yes; at least one person's night must be ruined.
Bathed in moonlight . . .
This Friday night at a mere mite: About ten minutes past one does Yagami Taichi break the decent silence that had long since descended on the apartment complex. With a passably pretty female on his arm and an equally passable smile that, yet, left no doubt it was forced for the girl's benefit; he seemed to be hurrying her along.
And, justifying his utterly clichéd blow-off:
" . . . And if my mother hears me comin' through the door at one in the morning, she'll flip! Not to mention recruit me as another taste-tester for more of her health dishes! I know! Disgusting! Ha ha ha!"
Unfortunately, the girl with the button nose and blue-gray eyes was one entrée short of a five-course meal regarding deduction and detection of a panicky prevaricator, and laughed obnoxiously along with him as he waved his arms about, telling of his fabrications in graphic detail.
But let's not discuss the latter threat.
Hands on his hips and head held high, he continued guffawing with an expression akin to a wide-mouthed bullfrog, his grim demeanor shattered by a choice stimulant.
"So . . . yeah, ah, I'd better go," he finished smoothly, a few notes of simulated laughter reverberating in his words. As she continued laughing. Laughing. Smiling without substance. Showing all of her teeth. Licking her lips. And laughing.
Tai stared. Where do I pick up these girls?
To his barely-concealed horror, she stepped into him and fiercely latched her arms around his neck, which was soaked in sweat from the painful unease he had endured most of that evening. A fleeting glimpse of her feral expression, and his face proceeded to be devoured by her ruddy, crimson lips.
By the girl who held the personality of a bucket of white paint.
An empty bucket of white paint.
"Ah—ah—ah!" The tall brunette interrupted, wrenching his face away and leaning back to escape her indulgent feeding. "Pleeeenty of time for that another day when my mom won't flip her over-boiled cooking pot! And when my little sister isn't home!"
Without uttering even a goodbye he put his hands on her shoulders, pecked her cheek (inwardly retching) and backed away, his hand scrambling behind him for the doorknob; her fingers swept against his jeans suggestively before she turned away, tucking her slightly mussed hair behind her ear.
Tai fell backward over the threshold and onto the wooden floor, shutting the door with his foot as he tugged his tight collar away from his neck and let out a sigh that seemed to extinguish his entire body. Something he had been holding in damn near all night.
His date descended the flight of stairs with no inkling of how closely or intensely she was being observed. No inkling of the narrowed russet eyes watching her every step down each stair and wishing, in a rather sanguine manner, that at least one of these steps would be missed. Cruel, true, and quite unlike her loving nature.
A woven, knitted hat pulled low over her field of vision. Head resting in her palm and fingers spread across her face, elbow propped up on the balcony railing and body slumped. Mouth twisted into a sadistic curl with tight unpainted lips and a twitchy reflex coursing through her other hand; promptly, that hand shot out and knocked the nearest object off the ledge. It only occurred to her a moment later, when the flowerpot was twenty feet away from being shattered into painful little pieces that she would not get back, that the salaciousness of the girl was not Tai's fault. Mostly.
Sora had the urge to scream a cruder title.
Ceramic met concrete.
Instantaneous regret flooded her along with the stinging pricks of hot, selfish tears. But they were held back, poised on long eyelashes and melted away by sheer will.
Age seventeen, and here is her refrain: No. More. Crying.
Yagami Taichi rarely welcomed the pin-drop ambience present in the apartment simply because it was a resolutely foreign feeling, and truth be told he would rather be in bed early than wander around the house creating those "bumps in the night" to jerk normal, resting people from their slumber. Kari included.
Strange noises in the night, speaking of. Usually sedentary and wholly unnoticed, low-key comings and goings, were the defining characteristics of the neighbors next door. Creators of problems or mischief they were not, so the sharp, frequent bangs against the shared wall between the apartments were unnerving, not to mention considerably annoying. As the lanky brunette pulled himself off the welcome mat and stood, stretching his arms to the ceiling, he rolled his eyes at the rhythmic thumps sounding against the drywall. Really, at one a.m.?
His stippled black and white soccer ball was nestled in a corner out of the path of those walking through the kitchen; he took it into stride easily, nudging it back and forth with his bare feet as he hovered within the refrigerator. Frowning. Eyebrow raised, head tilted. Was there nothing that was not organic or unidentifiable on those shelves? Mouth opening wide and breath catching; shrugging off his yawn he half-turned, shutting the magnolia-door, and proceeded down the hallway to the sleeping rooms, massaging the back of his neck as he ambled.
Past his parents' room and their closed door, and a quick peek on the other side of his younger sister's door which was, as always, ajar.
Whichever of the Yagami children crossed the threshold latest felt an involuntary need to check on the other sibling, and so it had forever been, and would eternally be. Yes, perhaps it was out of worry or habit or fear or a combination of those instinctual and sensitive emotions, and subtle changes in such were noticed by the sixth sense.
For all they had been through . . .
No slumbering expression of repose graced her pretty features, contrary to most nights, thus a ripple of worry stirred low in his stomach. Stepped carefully into the sleep-room and drank in surroundings for a clue: Substantial, thick textbooks stacked twice, thrice high upon her end table with papers splashed with variegated highlights peeking through the pages like cautious schools of motley fish, hidden coyly in murky, gray-green reeds. Former was certainly more threatening and impending than anything. Everything remained neat and only a few clothes were strewn across the guest futon at the foot of her bed, where a certain white cat with startling baby-blues would curl up on.
But she was not there now.
French windows agape, as if blithely tossed to the breezes. Soft coral sashes flapping, the wings of slowly dying butterflies. Tai caught a glimpse of Gatomon's irritably flicking, purple tail-end, gold ring balancing delicately, tuned with the swishing of the extremity. Agumon's curious but surprisingly mellifluous voice floated on a gentle waft.
"Has it been happening a lot?"
Avoiding his inquisitive gaze, the feline narrowed her sapphire, slanted eyes. "Yes. Some nights it's just horrible. Horrible. She wakes up clutching at her throat and . . ." Her voice trailed off.
"Could it be pneumonia again? You know, like a human sickness?" His inquiry was hopeful but went unappreciated. Gatomon shot him a potent glare.
"Hardly. One night she started . . ." Gatomon swallowed. "She started sinking into the bed, like she was being . . . pulled or something. There was this constant scratching noise from nowhere. She didn't open her eyes or anything, just grabbed at the sheets and began crying that they were taking her--"
"Thanks for telling me about it!" Tai interjected in a semi-strident whisper, folding his arms in indignation.
Both creatures jumped at his admonition; he was standing right behind them.
"You're home, Tai!" Agumon exclaimed, grinning toothily. "How'd it g--"
"Ugh, don't ask, 'cause I'm not tellin'. Anyway, what is this about Kari being sick?" While he had learned to control his temper regarding frequent worry about his little sister's health, his voice began to adopt an edgy tone.
"She's been really bad lately, Tai," Gatomon said quietly, still staring out over the railing off the balcony; in the building immediately across the street, on the terrace of the apartment directly opposite, a girl was carefully arranging ceramic shards into an indiscernible shape. Maybe a flowerpot? "She tells me it's exam nerves, but I don't believe it. Not when she wakes up in a cold sweat, clutching at her throat--"
"Again, no one told me this?" Uh-oh, protective brother tone. An answer to which neither obliged. "When did this happen?"
"The worst one was a few nights ago, the same night you were at Sor--"
Gatomon stomped on Agumon's foot in a manner none too subtle; the orange creature hopped up and down, yelping and oblivious to the sensitive subject he had breached. The lanky brunette shook his head as if getting rid of an insect pest, then turned on his heel and stalked into Kari's room.
Slim figure swallowed by a down, magenta comforter. Fair skinned arms curled against the delicate curve of her chest with a fringed sheet of notebook paper, quarter-folded, trapped in her fingers. The fragile gifts trapped in iron bars. Knuckles bone-white. Thighs pressing against her chest as if she wished for nothing more than to disappear forever within her fetal position. Hardly pathetic; Tai tugged the blanket over her shoulder to cover her neck and pale clavicle, watching her expression from windows in her carelessly strewn hair. Pained. When her grip relented on the torn sheet of paper, he gently took it from her fingers and unfolded it, curious.
"You seemed distant in Calculus . . . What's bothering you, Kar?"
Signed with a scribble, a crossed-out letter. A large space, and then "T.K."
"That's enough!" Tai said sharply, huffing and stomping out of the room and down the hallway; the dinosaur and feline dogged his heels.
He crossed the dark living room, scowling as he went. Stepping around the coffee table he raised his fist to the wall, painted a soft sage, and loudly rapped his knuckles against it.
"HEY! IT'S 1:30 AM!"
His only reply was an excruciating scratching, like dragging claws –Gaaari-gaaari—jarring him and setting the creatures near him, on edge. Something acute and internal twitched violently and without his mental acknowledgement or consent; as if it pulled his organs eversible within his torso and pierced his thoughts. The indefinable soft and fragile core. Passing through him, and through his companions, like an instable specter with a vengeance.
The feline's cerulean eyes broadened in the darkness, pupils black like coal. Whisker twitched. Agumon watched Tai shake his head, clearing the unseen, not present.
"I don't wanna hear nails on a chalkboard all night, either!" Tai yelled angrily, now pounding his fist.
Now the slams resumed, heavier and more jolting than before. It continued in a disjointed, swirling cadence, and they could only stand in stock-still-shock: Sounds of splintering wood and smashed furniture, tables overturning, and now . . . faint whimpers so pathetic only a trodden-on puppy had the ability to exude it. Throaty gasps. Gari-gari.
"Haigasha-san!" The neighbor's surname caught in the brunette's throat, out of fear and the suffocating frigidity that settled upon the room. Without cause. Source--less. "Say something!"
A creak of the floorboards; Kari stumbled out of the shadows of the unlit corridor and nearly hit the floor as she keeled over, breathing shallowly. Hair lank and soaked with sweat, plastered to a pretty, pale face with the complexion of a corpse underwater, now a quiet thunk! as her knees hit the carpet. Gatomon scampered to her side with a stricken countenance, teeth bared as her head swiveled to gaze at the wall; reminiscent of a house-bound feline, her back arched and hisses escaped from between her ivory teeth. Maddeningly feral.
Agumon succumbed to shakes. Tai kept pounding and calling over the increasing din, his words punctuated with curses.
Gatomon kept a paw in front of her mistress as Kari raised herself on hands and knees, choking and gasping and sweating. Her mask of a face frightening him. "Tai—please get--away from there!"
And the wall exploded.
Deafening: Throwing Tai's body sliding across the coffee table and onto the floor, the television tipping over and shattering upon the carpet, shards of glass joining the rest of the debris, the drywall and the beams and piping; Agumon being slammed against the back wall, head crashing through a framed painting and both slid down, leaving gouges; Gatomon shielded the child from stray shards of wood and glass pelting them as though ruthlessly thrown. Screaming, smoking from electrical outlets and wires reduced to shreds.
Kari raised her head first, wincing at the glass embedded in her forearm, and felt that chill. Hardly describable and untraceable, yet clouded and wrenched her mind this way and that—
And the bloody claws latched onto her tiny wrist, beckoning her, compelling her—
--and then she saw.
Shrouded in the darkness of the Haigasha's apartment, framed like a charcoal illustration of lines of gray and black, hunched the towering being that emitted the twisted cold which left minds pleading and stomachs retching. Inhuman. At its feet lay immobile figures, limbs splayed upon the carpet oddly and disturbingly marionette-like, eyes glossed. Like little dolls.
Moonlight granted the girl a peek. Silver, stark beams lit up the crimson faces, hardly recognizable from relentless claw slashes. Incised white faces. Looking at them now, few would have believed they had ever been alive.
Her mouth opened in silent scream, voice stolen by the utter crudity, the perversity.
Red puddles flowed beneath them like children spreading finger-paint across a blank canvas; the more color, the more proud mother and father would be.
And it latched onto her neck, dragging, leaving red rivulets upon her skin—
Kari's hands flew to her throat and she suppressed a whimper, praying that it wouldn't hear her. Or worse, sense her fear.
And then, it looked at her.
Every memory of the past broke free, free of every binding of reality and repression and obstacle possible, and tore threw her mind like a rabid, zealous animal. She began to shudder violently as the being, the animal, whatever it may have been, straightened and carried itself at full height. The likeness of a panther or another jungle--dwelling animal. Unable to look away, she watched it lumber awkwardly, heavily, and it let out a low, guttural growl.
Its head swooped; Kari and Gatomon flinched. One eye still on the girl, it snatched the feet of the woman into its mouth and little by little, began to drag it away and out of sight. The noise echoed in the stillness, of the bloody corpse being pulled across the carpet, scrcch, scrcch, and Kari could not take her eyes away from the glossy greens that stared at her from the floor.
And finally, Mrs. Haigasha was out of sight.
"Sounds like a real emergency," Matt murmured, letting the blinds fall over the brilliantly lit window. Even through the slats flashing lights shone through.
The younger sibling shuffled into the sitting room, rubbing his bright azure eyes, as luminous as the police lights outside. He stood next to his brother and, by a recent turn of unfortunate domestic events, his living companion, squinting.
"Where they headed?"
Ishida's gaze followed the squad, rousing plenty of sleeping apartment-dwellers as they went; he could see the procession between two buildings to the east.
"How long's it been since they needed so many officers?" T.K. asked, stifling a yawn.
Brother, my brother: Eyes widened in frightening unison.
The youngest immediately backed away from the window, startled, a proverbial deer in the headlights. After a moment, the front door was hurriedly unchained and swung open.
The eldest bit his lip for a second, then also took his leave, yanking a coat from hooks in the foyer.
To join his brother. To move as a mass of the curious and worried, the light sleepers and the victims of nocturnal schedules.
Among the clueless.
"Gari-gari" -- Sound of scratching (JP)
"Haigashi" -- victim (JP)
"Amaranthine" -- of an imaginary flower that never fades (ENG)