Bet ya thought I wasn't still alive, huh? Bet you think I somehow got rights to Digimon and its characters, huh?

Well, you're wrong! I'm still alive, and I'm no closer to owning Digimon than I was when it first came out.

Timeline in this…is sometime after episode 25, but before episode 28. No pairings. Yes…I wrote a fic that wasn't a Kenyako. GASP!

Iori - Cody

Armadimon - Armadillomon

Faith (digimental/crest) - Reliability (digimental/crest)

-kun - Suffix to denote someone who is either the same age as the speaker or who is a male.

-san - Suffix to denote someone who is older or more experience than the speaker.

Story was edited/fixed (1/05/10).


Adaptation

Iori Hida was quite a few things. The Child of Knowledge and Faith, noble, lawful, and not that bad of a fighter when given a shinai-like weapon he could wield, thanks to his grandfather.

However, he was still only nine, still short, and currently without a weapon or Armadimon.

And currently, he was backed up in an alley, with four brutes surrounding him.

At least, to Iori, they were brutes. They probably were in Junior High since two of the four had uniforms on. The other two? Dropouts, perhaps…

Still, though it looked bad, Iori remained firm. "What do you want with me?"

"Isn't that cute? The kid don' know what kinda situation he's in." One of the non-uniformed guys sneered.

"I know perfectly well, but I'd like to know the reasoning behind this attack. I don't know you, and you don't know me," Iori shot back at them.

If nothing else, he always stood up strong in the face of injustice.

"We don' need a reason." The same one that spoke before grinned a smile that revealed a couple missing teeth.

"We're a gang, kid. So, this is how it works…you hand over yer money, valuables, and mebbe some food and we ain't gonna hurt ya," one of the uniformed kids smirked as he said this.

"I don't have any money, and I'm not carrying anything valuable." Iori sweated a bit, since he did have something valuable.

His D3 and D-Terminal.

"Wise guy, huh?" The uniformed kid in the back snapped his fingers. "Boys, show this kid what we do to wise guys."

The others laughed, and rounded on the boy.

Iori searched for anything he could possibly find to use as a weapon, but found none. A school text wouldn't cut it against more than one opponent. He couldn't run, since the brutes were blocking his only retreat.

The first hand came, and slammed him into the nearby wall. "So, ready to give what'cha got, yet?"

Iori narrowed his green eyes at them and pushed back his fear. There was no way he was going to give them the satisfaction of knowing that he was terrified.

"Kid won't learn till he's had some pain. Go ahead and mess him a bit. Just leave him in one piece…we don't want trouble with the cops," the kid in the back, whom Iori figured was the leader, instructed.

"Right!" the free hand that didn't hold Iori to the wall curled back in a fist.

Iori flinched and waited for the blow to come, when he heard a voice he never thought he'd hear in the real world. In fact, he didn't expect to hear it in Odaiba at all. The last time he heard that voice, it was after the incident with the Dark-Tower Golemon.

"I suggest you take your hands off of him, and step away."

Iori looked over in surprise and, sure enough, there he was.

Accredited boy-genius, former Digimon Kaiser, Ken Ichijouji. He was dressed in a white button-down shirt and a pair of gray Tamachi pants, a book bag over his shoulder. Violet eyes were narrowed angrily at the four brutes. He was tall, but the bullies were taller.

"Who are you to tell us what to do?" the non-uniform wearing kid that wasn't holding Iori sauntered up to Ken, then leered in his face. "Huh? Play'n hero or some'n?"

"The more, the merrier," the leader said with a snicker, "This one has a uniform for a private academy. He might have some money on him."

"If I give you some money, will you put that boy down and leave?" Ken never took his eyes off the bully that held Iori against the wall.

"Only if you've got enough to cover the both of you." the leader smirked. "Of course we will!"

Ken seemed to contemplate this as he stared hard at the leader.

Iori figured that Ken probably knew, but he decided to remind the boy, "They're lying! They have no intention of letting us go, and you know that, Ichijouji-san!"

The leader looked a bit startled. "Ichijouji…? The genius boy? Lucky us! Hey, boys! We've got us a celebrity here!"

"I hear ya good at karate." one of the bullies smirked.

"It's judo, and I'd rather not have to use it." Ken frowned. "I offered you a proposition. I'll give you the money I have, and you leave the boy alone."

"You're not included in this agreement?" the other uniformed boy raised an eyebrow.

"I doubt you'd let us go quietly," Ken stated, "And, now you seem eager to fight. At least let the boy go."

The leader seemed to think about it. "No. I have a better idea. You take the kid's place. We wail on you. You fight back, we mess up the kid."

Iori resisted the urge to interrupt. Like he'll do something selfless like…

"Alright."

Iori nearly choked.

Ken's eyes were still narrowed. "However…when you're done, you promise to leave. I suppose you want boasting rights, correct? Then, fine. But, if you break our agreement and harm the boy in any way, I'll put an end to this. I will get up, no matter what condition I'm in, and stop you should you make an attempt to hurt him. Do we have an understanding?"

"Deal. Taro, stand back with the kid. We don't want to give Ichijouji here a reason to break off his end of the bargain." The leader loosened his tie and cracked his knuckles with glee.

Ken placed his bag on the ground, and walked forward so that people passing by wouldn't see and get involved.

"You're brave, Ichijouji…but for a genius, you're an idiot," the leader stated, then slammed his fist into Ken's midsection.

Ken doubled over, then flinched when a hook caught him across the face. He crashed to the ground and gritted his teeth to avoid shouting from the pain.

Iori watched with wide eyes as the leader and other two then proceeded to punch, kick, and even body-slam the boy. Why? Why would he do that? And for me, even! We used to be enemies! And he's supposed to still be a jerk!

After a particularly harsh punch, Ken couldn't hold back, and cried out in pain. His lip was bleeding by then, there was blood on his cheek from one punch since the guy was wearing a ring, and his cloths were dirty.

Iori growled a bit. I can't just sit back and watch this! Even someone like Ichijouji-san doesn't deserve this! With that, he bit down as hard as he could on the hand that held him.

"Ow! God damn little brat!" the guy howled, but dropped him.

Iori scrambled out of the way of another grab, and lunged for his bag. At that moment, a textbook would do fine, as long as it was something…

Before he was able to reach it, pain exploded in his back, and he hit the ground with a yelp. He struggled, but the next thing he knew, his air supply was being cut off.

"You little whelp! If you'd just stayed quiet, you woulda gotten out!" the guy snarled as he squeezed on Iori's neck. "But, heh…there's no way Ichijouji can get to you now, so what's a little payback, eh?"

Iori choked, and clawed at the hands that held him, but was unable to pull them away.

Just when he thought he couldn't hold out anymore, the grasp was suddenly gone.

Iori fell to the ground, coughing and choking as he sucked oxygen back into his body and rubbed his neck. When he looked up, he was shocked at what he saw.

The three that had been beating on Ken were down on the ground and moaning over some part of their body. One clutched at a bloody nose, another at his knee, and the third wailing over a finger that was bent the wrong way.

And as for the guy that had held Ken…the boy had a grip on the man's hand by the fleshy part, and somehow got leverage…the bulky guy was on his knees and whimpering in pain.

"I told you…" Ken panted. "…not to hurt him."

Iori didn't know what to think. He hurt them…just like the Kaiser, but……if he didn't, then I would have been…

"I want you…and your friends," Ken's face was a visage of anger as he spoke in a harsh whisper to the guy he held in a lock, "to leave. What I did was only a fraction of what I can do. Even in this condition, I can pull it off. Get out of here, and don't bother this boy, or anyone else, again."

The guy nodded fearfully, and was off like a rocket the second Ken released him from the grip. The three others gathered themselves together and ran after their friends, screaming in fear.

Iori watched them go, mixed emotions running through him, and mind in turmoil. It was only when he heard a low moan that he brought himself out of it.

Despite what he had said, there was no way Ken could have done much more, and he knew it. But, the bluff worked, at least. His legs could barely support him, and he sunk down against the wall with a low groan of pain, eyes squeezed shut.

Iori coughed a couple of times, then swallowed. His throat still burned, but not as badly. He wanted to ask a million questions…why did Ken save him, why did he offer to get beaten up for him…but instead, he said:

"What…are you doing here?"

Ken flinched and opened up his right eye, then rasped out, "…school research project. You okay?"

Iori nodded, and mentally berated himself for asking such a stupid question. What did it matter that Ken was there? "Thank you."

"Don't worry about it," Ken replied, and closed his eye again.

Iori noticed that Ken's hands were clenched into fists, and, combined with the pinched expression the boy wore, realized that Ken was in a good amount of pain.

"How bad…did he have you?" Ken spoke again, despite the agony his body felt.

Iori shook his head. "Don't worry about me……but you're a mess." His voice was still a little hoarse from being choked, but the pain was receding…and he figured that it wasn't nearly as much pain as Ken was in.

"Why did you do that?"

Ken looked up at the sudden question.

"Why did you take that beating for me?"

"I couldn't leave it alone," Ken responded softly, eyes troubled. "You don't deserve it…"

"Neither do you!" Iori shouted. Both his words and action surprised them both, and the younger calmed himself down in the awkward silence that followed.

"Did you do it because you felt guilty about the Digital World? What you did there, and what you put us through?" Iori frowned.

Ken flinched, though it wasn't from external wounds this time. "Partially. But partially not."

"How do I know you're telling the truth?"

Ken coughed a couple times, then closed his eyes again. "…the only thing I can give you is my word…but I don't know how much that holds up anymore. And, unlike for harming someone…one doesn't need a reason to help another."

Iori said nothing in return. Maybe the others are right…he has changed. The Ken of the past never would have done this. Perhaps I'm not as open minded as I liked to believe, if I can't even give a misguided kid that thought the Digital World wasn't actually real a second chance. Sure, ignorance is still no excuse, but…he's just so different now as compared to then. Like another person.

A groan pulled Iori from his musings, and he looked up.

Ken had braced himself against the wall, and somehow managed to shakily get back to his feet again. "We shouldn't…stay in here. Is your house close? I can…take you if you want…"

Iori stared at him a moment, then stood up. "Are you crazy?"

Ken averted his gaze.

"In your condition, the only place you should be going is to a doctor!" Iori continued.

Ken looked at the boy, surprised. He was even more so when Iori positioned them so that Ken could lean on him.

Sure, it was awkward…and hard considering the height difference. Ken opened his mouth a couple times, but just closed it right afterwards.

Finally, he got out his words, "…why?"

"Why am I helping?" Iori shouldered his pack and Ken's with his free hand, then managed to smile a bit at the older boy. "Because…I don't need a reason to help someone."

Ken nearly chuckled as his own words were thrown back at him, but refrained from doing so since it would probably hurt.

As they headed out, Iori had plenty to think about. He's not who he used to be. He's not the Digimon Kaiser anymore. I'm still not sure how comfortable I am with him in our group, but…I think I can start to get used to the idea of him being our comrade.

Iori suddenly muttered under his breath, "…that's two I owe you…"

Ken blinked in confusion, and glanced down at the shorter boy as they slowly plodded towards the clinic. "Pardon?"

"First against Thunderballmon, now this…"

"You don't owe me anything, Iori-kun…"

"I make it a habit to repay debts."

"But you're not in my debt…"

"You saved my life, and to me, that's a debt."

Ken started to argue it, but gave up. He smiled slightly, and mused, "…stubborn…"

"What was that?"

"Nothing."

Iori glared at him, but the glare soon became a more relaxed expression. "I'm told that a lot."

"I think being stubborn can be a good thing, at times. You don't relinquish your views of what's right and wrong, and are able to stay on the right path because of it."

Iori glanced curiously up at the taller boy. "But being overly obstinate in one's views can lead to problems down the road. If one is too narrowly minded, they can't be open minded at the same time."

"Perhaps…but people can also change. In fact, that's our best trait as humans; Our ability to change ourselves and our minds for the better."

"I see your point. Yes, I believe that to be true…" That's right. People can change. Just like Ichijouji-san can change from the Digimon Kaiser to the Child of Kindness, I can change from hating him to tolerating him. Maybe one day, I'll even like him. Though, I have to admit…I think I feel some of that right now. It's not so bad, being with him.

The rest of the walk was spent in companionable silence that neither had the heart to break.

The younger gazed at the sky a moment. Although…the two of us are probably going to have the weirdest relationship in the entire group, I bet…

END