Disclaimer:  I don't own Digimon.  Ian Van Dahl inspired some of the poetry in this story. 

Author's Notes:  Hey everyone, sorry this took so long, but I hope that it was worth the wait.  I thought of making this into two chapters, but I think that would have ruined the intensity.  Sorry it's so long. ^_^*  The poetry never seemed to form anything like I had hoped, so it's still pretty much random lol.  I would also like to thank Silver for beta reading this whole story; he was a major help! 

Let me know what you think of this story by emailing me at daisukefire@yahoo.com              Enjoy!

I want to thank Kalista, she inspired all the love scenes in this chapter and the past few nights has made me feel truly, completely alive…the nights we felt alive is so fitting…

The Nights We Felt Alive

Chapter Shi:  The Wings of Love

By DaisukeFire

… Is it better to live inside a dream,

Where everything goes your way,

Pain does not exist,

And love is a perfect fantasy,

Or to live in reality,

Where sorrow is commonplace,

And betrayal is everywhere,

But love, though not always perfect,

Is true…

The wedding was scheduled to take place that evening, just a few hours after she had kissed the lips of Dragomon, the Undersea Master, and accepted his proposal to marry him.  The time was now rapidly approaching, and Kari was frantically preparing for the biggest event that would probably ever take place in her life.  But, with Dragomon as her husband, the possibilities were endless.

             Kari had asked Adella to leave her alone for a while, and she used this time to reflect on the recent cascade of events that had taken place.  She sat in the candle-lit room combing her hair as she gazed into the large mirror of an elegant vanity.  She moved the ivory brush smoothly through the delicate strands of her dark hair repeatedly; nothing would be good enough for her King but perfection.  But as she stared at herself she began to realize how beautiful she had become since she had come to this once dismal but now enthralling world.  Kari stopped combing and set the brush down on the vanity and stared at herself.  The rose-red blush just dabbled her cheeks, and the same colored lipstick that lightly painted her lips emblazoned the soft, pale skin of her face.  Dark mascara highlighted her eyebrows and diamond earrings dangled from her ears, refracting the rays of candlelight and sending the sprays of luminosity in all directions across the room.  She smelled sweetly of flowers from a perfume that had been provided for her.  It was the finest in their world, or so she had been told. 

            She grabbed a white ribbon of silk that lay on the table, pulled her hair up, and tied the ribbon in her hair.  Kari placed her elbows on the table and rested her chin in the palms of her hands.  She continued to stare at the reflection in the mirror. 

Queen.  She would soon be the queen of this world.  Imagine how jealous the girls at her high school would be now, especially if they knew that she was so much more important them, as well as more beautiful.  Being with Dragomon had made her realize this.  There was something special about her, and Dragomon knew it. 

Kari.  The voice seemed familiar, drifting from some old, forgotten memory.  It was TK's voice, echoing in her ears.  We all miss you, and wish you were still close to us.  Kari scoffed at the memory.  Who was TK trying to fool?  They didn't need her; she had never been any real help to them.  But here she was needed, she would be Queen of a world so much more gorgeous and fantastic than any she had ever seen.  Then she remembered her Digivice.  It was still clipped at her side and she unhooked it, and then stared at it.  What did she need it for now?  A little angry, she tossed it to a corner of the vanity and proceeded to forget it had ever existed.

She looked in the mirror and smiled.  Everything here was what she had always dreamed of.  She remembered what the Dark Ocean had looked like when she first visited.  Dark and gloomy, it had made her heart sink instantly.  But now that Dragomon had opened her eyes, she realized that it was truly beautiful, and that she was too.  As she stared at herself in the mirror, her image began to darken and the white, silk dress she wore became one covered in black scales.  Her smile was no longer one of content, happiness or arrogance, but hate.  The room behind her was no longer in the mirror, but a rotting image of her own world, her home.  Kari sat back with her mouth wide open and gasped.  Was that her in the mirror?  Was she destined to be this queen of… darkness?  Then the mirror screeched as cracks radiated from its center, then it shattered and a large piece of the glass fell and smashed on the ground in front of her.  She jumped back, knocking over the chair, and shrieked.  Her heart raced, and a drop of sweat trickled off her head.  She was breathing heavily know, and she slowly… fearfully approached the shattered mirror.  In the scattered shards she no longer saw the queen of darkness, or the hopelessly beautiful bride, but herself crying in the rain, as she had been when she first came to the Dark Ocean. 

The door to her room burst open and Adella rushed in, looking desperately at her Queen to make sure that she was all right.  "What happened my Queen?  I heard you cry, you sounded like you were in terror!"

Kari stuttered for a moment and then cleared her throat, "Nothing Adella.  The mirror broke and it took me by surprise is all."

"Are you sure you're all right?  Are you cut?" 

"No, I'm fine.  Thank you."

"Would you like me to clean up the broken glass?"

"No…  The wedding is about to start.  We can worry about it later."  There was a knock at the door, and both Kari and Adella looked to the doorway to see General Odo standing in it, looking at them with a smile.  Kari straitened herself and addressed the visitor, "Yes General, may I help you?"

The General's face brightened and he entered the Queen's room, and though he was smiling, the dark glow still clung to him.  "I just wanted to see if you were ready for the big event."

"I am."

"Good," the General replied as he looked at the shattered mirror.  "What happened here?"

"Nothing… it was an accident."

"Oh," the General nodded, sounding a little unconvinced.  "Lord Dragomon has also asked me to tell you that he only knows a little about the weddings in you world, and that he has tried to incorporate some of your rituals into it, but it will still have many of the customs of our kingdom as well."

Kari nodded and smiled, "I understand.  I still have a lot to learn about your culture, and I look forward to it." 

"Excellent," the General smirked, his twitching lips slightly reminding Kari of two condescending worms wriggling on his face.  Of all the people she had met here, General Odo was definitely the creepiest, and she hoped that as Queen of the Dark Ocean she wouldn't have to deal with him much. 

Kari turned toward the door as she heard a metallic clanking approach the room.  A worried looking guard entered the room and bowed.  "Forgive me for interrupting your conversation, my Queen.  I have important news for General Odo that cannot wait."

General Odo grinned at Kari, "Excuse me, my Queen, I will try to make this short."  The General approached the soldier, who whispered something she could not hear.  General Odo frowned and glared at the soldier.  Kari managed to hear him whisper, "Send out a detachment and I will join them shortly."  The guard saluted and rushed out of the room.  The General turned back to Kari, "I'm sorry milady, but some important business has come up that requires my presence.  I will be back in time for the wedding, however.  Please excuse me."  The General whipped around and exited the room.

Kari looked to Adella who smiled, "Shall we go my Queen?  Lord Dragomon's joy must be uncontrollable, and I feel that you cannot wait to join as well?"

"Yes," Kari beamed, and took Adella's arm as they strode out of the room, and headed to the chapel where the wedding would soon commence.

… The reflection in the mirror,

Shows only the surface,

But if you look closer,

Into the eyes staring back at you,

You may see what burns inside too…

The enormous towers of the rotting castle loomed above the group as they lay behind a hill, trying to hide from any groups of Scubas patrolling the area.  TK blinked his eyes and pinched his nose, then he turned to Patamon, "I thought that we'd have grown used to the smell by now."

Patamon, looking a little green, choked, "I guess not."

TK turned back and stared at the slimy castle.  It was enormous, how would they ever find where Kari was being held prisoner?  He sighed.  She was probably scared out of her mind by now.  And what if the Scuba's had been torturing her?  He felt a sickness in his stomach that was not a result of the smell.  But then he shook his head.  Dragomon wanted her as his Queen; they wouldn't hurt her… not yet anyway.  At least they had a lot of time.  Kari was strong, and she would never agree to be that monster's queen, not unless it was to save the lives of her friends or something. 

He turned back toward his friends.  A wry smile came to his face when he realized how dirty they were, covered in the muck that grew on the grounds outside the castle.  Then he looked at his own arms and cloths, they too were saturated with the stinking goo.  He looked at Patamon and smirked, "I guess I probably shouldn't have worn my best clothes to impress Kari the other day."

Patamon chuckled, "Well, it's not like you knew we'd end up here."

"I'm just wondering what your parents are going to think," chimed in Gatomon.  "Who knows how long we've been here, they're probably worried sick."

TK lowered his head.  How were they going to explain all this to their parents?  Well, its not like their children were normal kids, they were Digidestined and what would be a far out explanation for most kids would only be another weird sounding adventure coming from them.  He looked over at Ater, who had been extremely quite for most of the quest.  "Hey Ater, you'll probably be a hero to your people now.  Ater the One-Winged, the only Nocturne to ever enter the Kingdom of Dragomon and survive!"

Ater turned to him and seemed to smile, "They would never believe me.  But I don't care about being a hero; I just want things to be like they were in the younger days of my people.  I would give my life to get our home back, and for our children to be able to play safely.  But it all seems so hopeless."

"Don't say that Ater.  It's going to be very difficult, but it's not hopeless.  Despite how bad things look, don't give up hope, it may be the only thing you have.  I should know, heh, hope is kinda my specialty."

"Right," Ater replied as he nodded forlornly.

TK smiled at his friend and then once again turned back to the castle walls.  He felt something's presence, and when his gaze climbed higher, in one of the highest towers of the castles, he saw a face.  It was too far away and dark to be positive it was Kari, but he could clearly see the face of someone, a woman presumably, behind a bared window. 

TK started to turn back toward the others, but as he did so a large gray foot stepped in front of his face.  He gulped and jumped back and up from his sitting position, and he could feel his friends doing the same.  Standing in front of them were six Scubas, some carrying weapons.  He whispered back to Patamon, "Kari's in there, I saw her.  Let's just try and get past these guys and get into the castle."

"Right," Patamon growled.

"Surrender and come with us peacefully, and we will not hurt you," the Scuba leader ordered, reaching his arm out in a motion of peace. 

"No way!" cried Gatomon as she leapt forward and tackled the lead Scuba. 

"Let's go!" yelled TK as he unclipped his glowing D3 from his belt, and raised it over his head.  Patamon began to glow and change, and then there was a burst of light and revealed his evolved form, Angemon.  With one quick stroke the angel smashed his staff into the Scuba that had been diving at TK, sending the creature flying back, stunned. 

TK turned back to Ater, "You and I will wait here until there's a clearing, then we need to get through and get into the castle.  Angemon and Gatomon should be able to handle these guys."

"Right," nodded Ater.

The fight was going strongly in their favor.  Despite the strength of the Scubas, Angemon was able to take on three of them without being overwhelmed.  Gatomon, on the other hand, was having a little trouble.  Her attacks weren't quite as powerful as Angemon's and she was spending more time dodging their attacks then forming her own.  She would back flip away from the swipe of a Scuba's fist, pounce off the back of another, and then hit another with a full blast from her paws. TK glanced at Ater and realized how unhappy he must be.  He too knew how it felt to be powerless, always having to have Angemon fight his battles for him.  But that was how a Digimon partner relationship worked; he gave Angemon the power needed to Digivolve and fight for him.  TK just wished there was a way for Ater to realize that even though he couldn't fight, he was still important to the team.

TK looked back to see Gatomon get hit and fly back, landing next to him.  He bent down to see if she was all right when she jumped up and swiped at something.  TK looked to see a spear had been thrown at him and that Gatomon had slashed it, severing the rusted iron tip from the shaft.  He looked back at Gatomon to thank her with wide eyes, but the purple striped cat just nodded and jumped back into the fight. 

Angemon hit one of the Scubas in the head with his staff, and a sickening crunch echoed through the battlefield.  The Scuba that had taken the blow fell into a lifeless heap on the ground.  Another of the Scubas rushed at the angel from behind, but Angemon saw him coming with the corner of his eye and grabbed the creature with his muscular hand.  Lifting the Scuba above his head, Angemon turned and threw it at the other one, causing both of them to fall into a stunned heap.  TK smiled, Angemon seemed to be doing fine. 

He looked back at the fight taking place between Gatomon and the Scubas, and to his dismay things were not going well for Kari's partner.  The other three Scubas were overwhelming her, and one hit her in the back, knocking her to the ground.  "Angemon!" cried TK to his partner, but when he looked back to Angemon, the angel was busy fighting off the other two Scubas again.  TK shifted his gaze frantically back to Gatomon to see that she was still on the ground not moving.  The Scubas circled her, one of them raising a rusted sword for a killing stroke. 

Angemon wouldn't be able to help her in time!  TK quickly bent down and grabbed the nearest thing to him, the shaft of the spear that had almost taken his life.  Then he ran toward the Scubas who had surrounded Gatomon.  Leaping into the air and letting out a furious cry, he brought the shaft down on the sword armed Scuba's shoulder.  The Scuba cried and dropped the sword, which fell to the ground with a wet clank.  TK backed up cautiously as the Scuba's turned on him, their red eyes filled with hatred.  TK panicked; there was no way he could take on three Scubas.  He glanced at Angemon, who was still fighting the other two off.  Gatomon still lay on the ground, moving just a little to show that life still fluttered through her tattered body.  TK gulped and raised the shaft into fighting position. 

The first of the Scubas rushed at him.  TK closed his eyes and swung the shaft as hard as he could.  He heard a dull thud and felt a dull tremor flow through the pole.  He quickly opened his eyes to see what he had done to the Scuba.  The creature had taken a few steps back and was sorely rubbing the left side of its face.  TK's heart dropped, that was his hardest swing and he had hoped that it would have done a little more damage than that.  But, it was better than nothing.  He swung the staff again, trying to hit one of the other two Scubas.  The Scuba that was closest dodged the blow and laughed at TK's pathetic attempts to fight them.   TK growled; he may not have been born a natural for combat, but he was fighting with his heart, and he believed in himself and his friends, and he knew that that's where true power lies. 

He swung again and the Scuba dodged, this time pushing in and kicking TK hard in the stomach.  TK fell to the ground with a grunt of surprise.  Shaking his head, he pushed himself back to his feet.  His gut filled with hot anger, and he wanted to swing the shaft furiously at one of them until he made contact, but he gained control of himself.  Blind rage was not an effective strategy when you were overpowered and outnumbered, he had think effectively if he wanted to hold the Scubas off long enough for Angemon to help him. 

Defense, TK thought.  He wouldn't need to beat them himself, all he had to do was hold them off long enough for Angemon to take care of the ones he was fighting now, and then Digivolve into MagnaAngemon and cream them. 

The Scuba that had kicked him laughed, "Give up your pathetic attempts, boy, you're no match for us!"

TK's face remained fixed on the creatures, a determined glare in his eyes.  One of the Scubas whispered something to the others and then made motions with his hands to surround the Digidestined.  One Scuba went right, the other left.  The last one remained in front of him, still chuckling lightly.  TK cautiously watched the two at his side through the corners of his eyes; constantly flicking his eyes back to scan and keep track of their positions.  Then the Scuba on the right made a motion and TK turned his head toward it, expecting an attack.  But the Scuba on the right had feigned the attack, and TK turned back to the one in front just as it was leaping on top of him.  Eyes closed and desperate, TK lifted the spear shaft and aimed it at the creature's chest, but as he did so he lost his footing on the slimy ground.  Falling to his back, TK felt the other end of the rod stick into the ground, the Scuba still pushed on the other side.  A loud gasp escaped the creature's mouth as his momentum carried him forward, pushing the staff deeper and finally through his chest.  Then the staff broke and the impaled creature toppled onto TK.  The heavy creature laid wheezing on top of him, a foul stench of rotten eggs and blood blasting TK in the face with each deteriorating exhale. 

TK groaned and pushed the fallen Scuba off of him.  He blinked and breathed in the comparably fresh air of the city, tying to regain his senses.  Then he heard the angry cries and looked up in time to see the two other Scubas running at him, one carrying the rusted sword of one of it's fallen comrades.  Gathering all his strength, TK climbed to his feet, unsure of what he should do next.  He didn't even have a weapon to defend himself with. 

He positioned his feet into battle stance and raised his fists.  There was no other choice but to try and throw in as many punches as he could before they overpowered him.  One of the dark creatures jumped into the air, its trajectory and full power aimed at TK's head.  TK clenched his teeth and closed his eyes.  Then cried out as he swung his fist at the creature.  He felt his knuckles brush against soft, slimy flesh and heard a grunt escape the creature's jaws.  Opening his eyes he looked to see the Scuba that had leapt at him tumbling across the ground and knocking the other Scuba down, causing it to drop the sword.  TK blinked in surprise and looked proudly at his fist, which hardly felt any pain considering the power of the blow.  Then he felt something touch the skin of his face, something silky.  He cautiously lifted his head, not sure what he expected to see.  There, a little bruised but still looking as strong and determined as ever, floated Angemon, raising his staff from the strike he had just dealt the Scuba.

The angel Digimon smiled and landed next to him.  "Sorry I couldn't get here sooner, TK."

TK grinned and laughed, "Hey, no problem.  They're not so tough!"  The two Scubas stood to their feet once again and glared at the two partners with hot hatred.  "Only two left, Angemon.  Think we can take them?"

"Easily," growled Angemon.

The Scubas began to approach again, but then stopped.  Their eyes lost all trace of hatred and were replaced by … fear.  TK was about to challenge them to bring it on when he felt a strong, moist wind blow against the back of his neck.  He turned and gaped at the monstrous creature now standing in front of them.  It wasn't a Scuba, or even a close relative.  It had two wings, but instead of being white and feathery like Angemon's, these demonic wings were black and oily, with sharp spikes of bone protruding along the lengths of the wings.  At the end of each wing was a small hand with three long, white claws flicking back and forth, making the sound that two knives make when rubbed against one another.  The legs, arms and chest were all covered with black hair and occasional gray stripes.  All of the muscles on the creature were bulging and spikes jetted from the creature's spinal column.  In place of hair, black tentacles hung from its head, flicking back and forth eagerly.  A small, sharp beak protruded from its face and two tiny eyes shone dimly from their deep sockets.  Some parts of the creature's body had been eaten away, and raw, gray flesh could be seen, fluids dripping from them.

 TK gulped and looked at his Digimon partner, who was staring fiercely at the newcomer.  "Who are you?" asked the angel firmly, not a tremor present in his voice.  TK had seen a lot of ugly Digimon, but this creature chilled his heart.  Like everything in this city, it too seemed to be rotting, but unlike the others, it rotted… while it still lived.

"Your friend knows me as General Odo," the creature's voice echoed out in gurgled rasps, "but like all servants of my Master, I have no true name."

"Let me guess, you've been sent here to destroy us," Gatomon growled, coming from behind TK rubbing one of her paws against her forehead.

Odo seemed to smile, though it wasn't possible with the ugly, immobile beak on his face.  "Queen Kari is happy here," he continued, "even if you manage to get her, I doubt that you'll be able to convince her to leave with you."

"You have got to be kidding," scoffed TK.  "There's no way that Kari would be happy here.  I mean just looking at you gives me nightmares."

 "Oh, she will have nightmares," Odo hissed, "Once my Master is through with her.  And there's no way you can stop him!"  The beast leapt forward, its clawed hands extended, aimed at TK's neck.

TK raised his hands to cover his face and then felt himself jolted and carried away from the attack.  He looked into Angemon's face thankfully.  Angemon set him down while Odo was still recovering from his missed blow.  "TK," Angemon said with a hurried voice, "we don't have time to sit here and fight all of Dragomon's forces.  I have a feeling that the time to rescue Kari is running out.  I'll stay here and fight, but you and Gatomon need to go find Kari, and fast!"

"Right," TK nodded firmly.  Then he pulled the Digivice from his belt and held it up, light glowing around it as he looked into Angemon's eyes.  "Good luck." 

The light shot from the Digivice and into Angemon, and another transformation took place.  "Angemon Digivolve to… MagnaAngemon!"  The newly formed angel was larger, had two more wings, and was stronger by ten fold. 

The Digidestined of Hope began to run toward the tower where he had seen the girl's face.  But then he looked back, remembering Ater.  To his surprise the little Nocturne was already following him, just a few steps behind.  TK slowed for Ater to catch up and Gatomon rushed to his side.  TK took one more look behind to see his partner and the beast circling each other warily through the air.  Good luck, MagnaAngemon, he thought.  Hang on, Kari.



…We all have fighting souls,

Some have a violent nature,

Coursing through their veins,

Others a caring heart,

Fighting for what they love,

And there are those,

That, though they appear weak,

Have more power and strength,

Welled inside them,

Than their enemies realize…

The Cathedral of Light, the place where Kari and Dragomon would wed, was the most massive and beautiful structure she had ever seen.  Large glass windows took up the majority of the domed walls, and the luxurious gardens of the castle could be seen through them on one side, on the other the beautiful scenery of the ocean as the city sank lower into the depths of the sea.  White stone sculptures adorned every aisle, some of them sculptures of Dragomon, with his angelic wings lifted high above his head, others of magnificent sea creatures, some of which Kari didn't recognize.  She stopped and gasped at a pair of statues. 

One was of Dragomon, but the other was of her.  She turned to Adella for an answer and the servant smiled, "How do you think our Lord recognized you?  Your coming has been prophesied for many ages."

Kari smiled and blushed.  Adella led her to a secluded room away from the open part of the cathedral.  "What am I to do here?" Kari asked.

Adella smiled at her, "We will have to wait here for a while before the wedding starts.  It shouldn't be too long.  Oh, I was also told to give you this!"  The servant quickly hurried over to a small box, opened it, and pulled out a thick, golden necklace embedded with many sparkling gems.  Kari's eyes were wide with amazement.  Adella motioned for her to bend down, and when Kari did Adella clasped the necklace around her neck.  It felt cool, but light on her neck and this final touch truly made her feel like royalty.  Adella produced a mirror and Kari gazed at herself in it, smiling with joy.  Then suddenly the mirror cracked and shattered, the glass trickling across the floor.  Kari stepped back in surprise, but then her face twisted angrily.  She would not settle for such incompetence in her servants.  She was the Queen after all, and she deserved the best!  She took a step forward and slapped Adella, sending the servant reeling across the room and the broken mirror rattling to the ground.  Kari looked at her hand, which was now slightly red from the blow.  Her mouth widened and she looked across the room, Adella lay on the floor in a heap, shaking.  What have I done? She thought.

Kari quickly rushed to Adella's side, but before she could bend down to help the girl up, the girl grabbed at Kari's feet, crying.  Kari looked at her deeply surprised.  "Please forgive me, my Queen." 

"No, no, I'm sorry Adella," Kari pleaded, "I don't know what came over me.  It's not your fault that the mirror broke; it was just an accident.  I had no right to hit you."

The servant looked up at Kari, her eyes filled with tears, "You mean you're not mad at me, my Queen?"

Kari smiled weakly, "I'm not mad at you, if anything, you're the one who should be mad at me."  She helped Adella to her feet and bent away, red with shame.

"It's alright, my Queen, you have every right to hit me whenever you want."

Kari looked at her in surprise, "Adella, just because I will be the Queen doesn't mean that I have the right to hit you.  I promise, I will never hit you again."  Kari bent her head and blushed, "This is still such a big change for me, and I know I love Dragomon, but you are still the only real friend I have here.  I want you by my side whenever Dragomon's not there, Adella.  You're going to be my number one girl!"  Kari smirked.

Adella smiled weakly, as if confused.  "I don't understand…"

"Just because I'm Queen doesn't mean that we can't be friends.  Who am I going to be with when Dragomon is away?  I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather have fun with than you!  I'll even get you servants of your own."

Now Adella blushed, "I'm honored, my Queen.  But we must continue to prepare for the wedding, the time is almost here!"

…Give me a reason,

To hold on to what we've got,

Tell me you love me,

Tell me we're true,

I want to feel alive again,

I want your love,

I want you…

TK gasped as one of the stone steps crumbled underneath his weight, and he almost fell sliding down the entire staircase.  "Are you alright?" he asked Ater as he scooped up the Nocturne he'd been carrying in his arms and while Gatomon helped him to his feet. 

"Yeah, I'm fine," the Nocturne replied.  "Let's keep going!  We're almost there."

TK nodded and continued climbing the circular, stone staircase of the tower.  The place was practically falling apart.  The walls on both sides were crumbling, and the greasy slime from the outside flowed thickly through the cracks of the wall and dripped from the ceiling. 

They hadn't met a single Scuba since they had gotten into the castle, and TK had expected them to be crawling everywhere.  They had been lucky that Gatomon was strong enough to punch through the rotting outer wall of the castle, because they couldn't see an entrance anywhere near, and they had barely been able to find the staircase that TK was sure led to where Kari was being held captive.  TK, like Angemon had said, also felt that the time to save Kari was quickly coming to an end.  His gut felt like it was tied in knots, the anxiety and frustration over finding Kari were tearing him up.  He was panting and sweating furiously as he continued to rush up the stairs.  TK bit his lip, he wished he could just teleport straight to Kari and make sure that she was all right. 

Gatomon's voice interrupted his thoughts, "This must be the top."

TK looked to see a door, similar looking to many they had passed already, except this was where the stairs ended.  This had to be the top, and Kari should be just inside!  Lunging forward, he grabbed the rusted knob of the door and pulled it open, despite the doors rusty creaks of defiance.  The three friends entered the room and looked around.  It was cold and thick patches of green slop matted the walls, ceiling and floor.  There was a small prison-like bed in one of the corners and a small table with a burning candle next to it.  On the other side of the room was a vanity, but its mirror was broken and pieces of it were strewn across the floor.  There was only one window in the cell, and it was weaved with rusted iron bars.  Standing in front of the window was a girl who was about Kari's size, but TK knew right away that it wasn't the friend he sought.  The girl had long, golden hair with a silver clasp clipped at the top of her head.  She wore a white dress that was just a little soiled at the bottom, where it had dragged across the grimy floor.  But, aside from the hair color, the thing that instantly told him it wasn't Kari, was the fact that two feathery wings, whiter than the dress, protruded from her back.

TK was a little unsure what he should do.  He wanted to approach the girl, but he wasn't sure if it was a shape-shifted Scuba left there as a trap.  Gatomon was worn out, and he hadn't been very effective in his fight against the Scubas earlier, and Ater wouldn't be much help either, so a confrontation would be exceedingly bad.  But something in his heart told him that he should talk to the girl and that she could be trusted.  He, at the very least, wanted to find out whom she was, what she was doing here. For all he knew, Dragomon could have kidnapped her as well, and perhaps she had seen Kari.  Maybe she could even help them find her. 

Cautiously he began to walk forward toward the girl and was about to say something to her when she called back to him, "The girl you seek is no longer here, she's in a place much more beautiful, and yet much more repulsive."  TK stopped mid stride, how could she have know why he was here?  The girl turned around and smiled brightly at him.  "I've been waiting for you, TK."

…Some dreams are really nightmares in disguise,

The one you love in your sleep,

Holds you and kisses you,

But in waking hours doesn't even know you exist,

And though this dream seems blissful,

It tears you up on the inside,

Because unless you confess your feelings,

The emotions that you feel,

It will never come true,

And sometimes it still doesn't…

MagnaAngemon circled the beast that called himself Odo, beating his wings occasionally to keep airborne.  Odo glared back at him from the ground, a string of saliva dripping from his beak.  The two Scubas that remained slowly came to the beast's side, and prepared for battle.

"Your friends will never find Kari," spat Odo, "and if they do, they will never be able to rescue her."

"Kari is strong," growled the angel, "whatever you're planning to do to her, she will never join you." 

Odo laughed, "But she already has!  She and Lord Dragomon will be wed shortly.  Once they are joined, the invasion of your world will begin."

"Your lies will not deceive me, Odo.  Kari would never marry Dragomon." 

"Kari is now ours and there's nothing you can do stop the invasion of your world."

"We'll see about that," growled MagnaAngemon as he held up his arm and a long, magenta blade rose out of the device on his wrist.  Then he lunged forward, planning to stick the blade in Odo's chest.  Odo dodged and flew behind the angel, and then kicked him, sending him crashing to the ground.

Odo dived at him, his claws stretched out in front of him.  With a single beat of his eight wings, MagnaAngemon rose over the attack as Odo crashed into the ground, sending a rain of slime through the air.  The angel dove in while Odo was still recovering and swung the magenta blade at him.  Odo turned just in time to catch the blade in his claws.  The two grappled, each one trying to overpower the other.  Then MagnaAngemon kicked Odo in the chest, sending the beast tumbling a few feet away.  The angel held his ground, smirking.  "Is that the best you can do, Odo?"  MagnaAngemon laughed.

Odo slowly rose to his feet as one of the Scubas tried to help him up.  Odo grabbed the Scuba, turned around and flung it at the angel.  The Scuba screamed as MagnaAngemon swiped through the air with his blade, cutting the Scuba in half, and sending the two halves to opposite sides so that neither of the pieces hit him. 

"You might have needed his help," MagnaAngemon said, now frowning.

"Ha," retorted Odo, "I haven't even begun to fight!"  The creature shot into the air, and MagnaAngemon quickly followed suite.  As Angemon swooped in to unleash another attack, Odo opened his beak and vomited a thick, black substance onto the angel.  MagnaAngemon let out a cry of pain as he tumbled to the ground below; light curls of gray smoke rising from his burned body.  The angel tried to stand back up, but as he looked up to find Odo's position, the clawed foot of his enemy crushed into his face.  MagnaAngemon fell back, landing hard on the slimy ground.  Before he had a chance to get up, Odo grabbed him by the neck and lifted him off the ground.  Then, with his free hand, Odo swung and cut three long gashes into MagnaAngemon's chest.  MagnaAngemon let out another cry of pain, and then Odo tossed him to the ground again. 

"All too easy," Odo sneered as he watched the angel try to rise.  "When I'm done with you, I'm going to enjoy making that kid of yours suffer.  I want him to know that you failed him, and that he failed Kari."

"TK," MagnaAngemon whispered to himself.  Then, with a new burst of strength, he stood up.  Glaring at Odo with anger and hatred he yelled, "I won't let you hurt TK!  It's time to end this!"  The angel growled and leapt into the air and then slowly made a circular motion with the magenta blade on his arm.  "Gate of Destiny!"  As he did so, a circle of light appeared.  Then a golden plate with symbols etched into it formed inside the circle of light.  The plate then began to spin, and then it split into two, revealing what looked like a whirlpool in the sky.  A loud whir filled the air as the gate began to suck everything in front of it in, including slime from the ground.  The Scuba that was still alive shrieked as the vacuum force from the gate pulled him in, disintegrating his body as soon as it hit the whirlpool. 

The claws on Odo's feet desperately grasped into the ground, but the slime was giving way and he was slowly being pulled forward.  MagnaAngemon leapt over to him, planning to knock him into the Gate of Destiny, but as he landed Odo grabbed onto him and released his footing on the ground.  The two fighters quickly flew toward the vortex, and MagnaAngemon tried vainly to wriggle out of Odo's grasp.  "If I go," Odo laughed, "then you're coming with me!"  The two of them hit the border of the gate, each one letting go of the other and grabbed onto the side of the gate, the deletion pool swirling just below their feet. 

MagnaAngemon grunted as he struggled to keep himself from being pulled in.  Odo was still laughing hysterically as he tried to loosen the angel's grip with his feet.  MagnaAngemon then looked at the beast with a scowl, "Now it ends."  Still desperately clutching the gate with one hand, he let go with his sword arm and the magenta sword rose from its device.  MagnaAngemon cried out as he plunged it into Odo's chest.  Odo's beady eyes widened and he let go of the gate to grab his wound.  He screamed as the vacuum pulled him into the pool, tearing his hideous body into thousands of fragments. 

MagnaAngemon drew back his sword and grabbed onto the side of the gate again.  Then he pulled his feet forward, sticking them out of the gate and pulling himself away from it.  The suction of the gate was strong, and he almost gave out trying to get away, but when his whole body was outside the gate he flung himself away from it and its vacuum.  Tumbling on the ground he watched as the plates of the gate closed and then the gate itself then disintegrated into the air.  He rested on the ground for a few minutes, and then the sound of something caught his attention.  He sat up and looked at the castle.  Nothing seemed out of place, but coming from one of the far corners were loud, high-pitched screams.  They were howls of celebration, he realized.  Had Odo been telling the truth?  Was Kari really going to marry Dragomon?  He knew he couldn't wait to find out, and though he was exhausted from the battle, he flew into the air and in the direction of the sound.

…Show me all the tears in your eyes,

Tell me all the secretes,

You hide deep inside,

Tell me why your heart aches,

I will listen,

Don't let any of those tears fall,

Because I am here for you…

When the girl turned to face them, Ater immediately dropped down into a bowing position, mumbling something furiously.  The girl laughed softly and said, "There is no need or time for that, Ater the one-winged.  We have more pressing matters right now.  Please stand up."  The girl's voice was soothing and calm, and it somehow reminded TK of a gentle stream.  It eased his anxiety and worry over Kari instantly, and she was the first creature who wasn't decaying that he'd met since he had entered the city.  Ater stood up, seeming a little uncertain.

TK was still, however, greatly confused, "W-who are you?" he managed to sputter. 

"Each world has its protectors, TK.  I am one belonging to this world, and I am known as Atalanta to the Nocturnes."

She was beautiful, TK realized.  She appeared no older than TK and her blue eyes shimmered with both wisdom and sadness from the milky-white skin of her face.  She took a few steps toward him.

"What do you mean by protectors?"

"Protectors come in many different varieties.  Some are immortal and do nothing more than inspire the people they protect to fight off the evils that appear.  Others directly fight the evil and destroy it.  I am not the first protector that you have met, though.  In the Digital World you met the protectors called Azoulongmon and Gennai, and another inhabited Kari's body at one time.  In fact, TK, both you and Kari are protectors of your world, as are the rest of the Digidestined and their partners.  You are among the most powerful protectors in existence, and you fight the evils that invade your world, and you also help struggling worlds like the Digital World and this one when darkness threatens to destroy the light completely.

"The Nocturnes think of us as gods, but that is a title far too prestigious for us.  Dragomon was once a member of my order, a protector of this world.  He once even looked as I do, angelic.  But he couldn't understand why we were supposed to 'protect' this world, when in reality we could rule it, and do whatever we wanted with it.  As his heart grew blacker, his wings fell off and he became a grotesque monster. 

"When he was fully unrecognizable, the monster you saw carrying Kari into the sky, was when he turned against us, and the war between he and the rest of my order began.  Unfortunately, he was more powerful than the rest of us and we were too weak to stop him from tearing apart this world.  So we turned to the peoples that populated the world, and in hopes of keeping Dragomon at bay with them, we appointed great leaders among them, such as the Daine of the Nocturnes.  And now, TK, you and Kari are our last hopes."

"So if Kari is a protector too, then what does Dragomon want with her?" asked Gatomon.  "I mean, shouldn't he be afraid of her or something?"

The girl's smile weakened, "Dragomon's hold on this world will soon be unbreakable, yet that is not enough for him.  He wants more, as many other worlds as he can conquer.  He is planning to invade your world as his next goal."

"But what does that have to do with Kari," cried TK.

Atalanta walked over to the shattered vanity, and motioned TK to join her.  He looked at her, wondering what the shattered mirror had to do with anything.  "Look into the glass," said Atalanta.

TK did as he was told and looked into the fragments still attached to the vanity.  "What the," he cried as he jumped back.  He looked at Atalanta again, and she motioned to him to keep looking.  He complied.  The reflection was not of the decomposing castle that they now stood in, but a majestic one.  Rather than being dark, the room was well light and the old bed was large and draped with colorful sheets.  But what had scared him when he first looked was that what he expected to see as his own reflection was, instead, that of a Scuba's.  Ater, in the corner of one of the fragments, looked the way that monster, Odo, had looked.  Gatomon appeared as a Scuba as well.  TK looked back at Atalanta, "But I don't understand."

Atalanta too moved in front of the mirror, and TK noticed that she looked similar to Dragomon, rather than the way he saw her.  But then the angelic girl gently touched a mirror fragment with her finger.  As she did so, it was as if she had dipped her finger in water and the mirror rippled for a few moments.  When the wave motion stopped, the mirror's reflection was normal.  TK, Gatomon, Ater and Atalanta all looked normal, while the castle was back to its putrid self. 

"Kari," continued Atalanta, "is being deceived.  Dragomon is a master of manipulation, and he is using and influencing a fantasy of Kari's to trick her into marrying him.  Normally, such tricks would not work on a protector as strong as Kari, but her recent depression has weakened her greatly.  She does not see Dragomon the way that he truly is, and she thinks that he loves her.  Though I have been trying to break the spell she remains completely consumed with her fantasy, and she thinks that she loves Dragomon.  She plans to marry him."

"What?  Why does Dragomon want to marry her?" TK cried.

"Though Dragomon is powerful," Atalanta answered, "he is not powerful enough to enter other worlds.  There is a prophecy that if he marries the "Queen of Light," her power will combine with his and he will have the ability to enter any other world he desires."

"We can't let that happen!" cried Gatomon.

"But what if Kari marries him and then realizes what she's done?" asked TK.  "Won't his power disappear if she leaves him?"

"If Kari marries him," Atalanta continued, "she will never wake up from the fantasy that Dragomon has planted in her mind.  She will slip deeper and deeper into darkness and even seeing the things she loves destroyed will not bring her back."

"Then we don't have any time to lose," growled TK, overcome with urgency and close to tears at hearing what might be the fate of one of his best friends.

"It will not be easy to wake Kari from her dream.  She will see you and your friends as enemies, and everything you say to her will seem like a lie.  You must tell her Dragomon's true reason for wanting to marry her.  But once you manage to bring Kari back to reality, it will take both of your strength combined to defeat him.  The wedding is starting.  Take this," she handed him Kari's pink D3, "She'll need it once you break Dragomon's spell.  I have helped you as much as I can, and now you must help yourself and Kari.  Good luck TK!"

"Right!" TK nodded and he ran from the room, Ater and Gatomon close at his heels.  He headed frantically back down the stairs, some of the stones broke under his feet, but he did not waver.  He did not know where the wedding was taking place, but he could feel it, and if he let his heart guide him, he would find it.  Right now, finding Kari and showing her how much he cared about her was all that had mattered, and that was all that had mattered for the past few days.  He would not let this quest end in disaster…

…Give me your heart,

Feel like a bird in the sky,

Flyin' on the wings of love,

Burst through the clouds,

Soar in the Sun,

Together,

We are one…

Kari held her arm through Adella's as she was escorted from the room where she had received the necklace to the open part of the cathedral.  The entire cathedral was filled with Dragomon's people; all of them had dressed their finest dress clothes.  She and Adella waited at the back of the cathedral, looking off into the distance at the other end, where a robed man was waiting. 

"Where is Dragomon?" she whispered to Adella.

"He will be here, my Queen, don't worry," Adella smiled.

Kari scanned the crowd to see if General Odo had made it, whatever he had gone to do had seemed very urgent.  She didn't see him anywhere.  As she looked at the faces in the crowd she suddenly realized how lonely she felt.  Here she was, a celebrity and soon to be Queen, people waiting on her hand and foot, and she felt lonely.  Adella and Dragomon were the only ones that she truly knew here.  She pushed the empty feeling out of her mind; she would have plenty of time to make friends here.  And there was always Dragomon, he alone could make her feel at home anywhere. 

Suddenly the enormous band at the front of the cathedral burst into music, and Kari saw Dragomon step onto platform where the man was.  She smiled.  Now was the time, the happiest day of her life. 

Adella grasped Kari's hand and smiled at her, "Are you ready, my Queen?"

"Yes," grinned Kari as the two began to stride slowly down the aisle.  As they stepped she could hear people whispering in the crowd.  Finally, the day has come!  She'll make a wonderful Queen.  Look at how beautiful she is!

As they reached the alter Dragomon happily beat his wings.  Adella bowed and strode off to the side, and then turned, watching her happily.  Dragomon placed his arm around Kari and whispered, "You've made me so happy, Kari."

Kari blushed, "And you've made me very happy."

Dragomon took his arm from around her and grasped her hand, and the two turned and faced the old, robed man.  The old man smiled and turned to Dragomon, "This is truly a joyous day in deed, Lord Dragomon."

"Yes it is," Dragomon replied, "I've never felt such joy."

The old man then turned to Kari, "And you, my Queen, look absolutely stunning.  Your presence will be a very welcome one in our kingdom."  Then he addressed the crowd, "We shall now proceed with the wedding of Lady Kari and Lord Dragomon."  The crowd erupted into furious cries of joy, massive applause and tears of delight.  Kari could feel the excitement burning in her chest.  A single tear managed to squeeze out the corner of her right eye, and Dragomon wiped it gently off with the back of his hand, smiling at her.

When the tempest of the crowd subsided the old man continued with the ceremony.  "As we have seen, love is a fleeting and mysterious thing.  But on rare occasions is it so strong between two people that everyone can feel it in their presence.  Today we are gathered here to join Lady Kari and Lord Dragomon in marriage."

"Lord Dragomon, with Lady Kari as your wife, will you give her everything that is yours?  All of your power, wealth, kingdom, and heart?"

"Yes, everything that is mine shall be hers."

"And Lady Kari, with Lord Dragomon as your husband, will you give him all of your power, your strength and your love?"

"I will," Kari turned and looked into Dragomon's face and grinned. 

"Good," the old man continued.  "Then please bring forward the rings that will bind these two lovers in marriage and life."  A small boy came forward, holding a bright satin pillow with two rings on it.  He came to a stop between the two and beamed as he looked up at Kari.  "Lord Dragomon, please take the ring from its bearer."  Dragomon did as he was instructed.  "Please place it on Lady Kari's finger, as a symbol of the love you share for her and the binding that you accept."  Dragomon tenderly took her hand and slid the ring, which was striped with silver and gold, and had many diamonds embedded into it, onto her ring finger.  Then he looked up into her eyes and she blushed again.

"Now Lady Kari, please do the same."

Kari took the ring from the pillow and then placed the plain gold band onto Dragomon's ring finger and smiled back at him. 

"Excellent," laughed the old man.  "Queen Kari and Lord Dragomon, you have promised each other everything you have and I now pronounce you-" 

He was cut off as the doors at the opposite end of the cathedral slammed open, and a voice cried out, "Kari, don't!"

Kari turned around and stared at the four figures standing in the doorway, panting.  They seemed so familiar, like memories from some forgotten life.  Quickly, the four rushed up toward the alter.  An eight-winged angel, similar to Dragomon, was with them.  One of the people sitting near the aisle stood in their way, and with one quick blow the small cat-like creature uppercut the man, sending him flying into the crowd.  Kari looked at Dragomon with confusion, but he smiled at her and then turned to the old man and said, "This is just a distraction, and not worth ruining this happy moment.  Please continue with the ceremony." 

The old man nodded, "Then I pronounce you-"

"No!" cried the boy as he rushed up to Kari.  "You can't do this Kari!  Dragomon is tricking you!"

Kari looked at him, still confused.  Then she hardened her face and yelled, "No!  I won't let you ruin what Dragomon and I have.  I don't know who you are or why you're here, but I demand you to leave this instant!"

TK took a step back, surprised at her outburst. "But Kari, its me, TK.  Gatomon and Ater are here too!"  He motioned to the cat and dragon at his side. 

Kari stared at them for a moment, then she remembered.  She had come to the Dark Ocean and TK and Gatomon had followed her.  "Why don't you leave, TK?" she growled.  "And take that one winged rat with you, it tried to get us to fight Dragomon when the Nocturnes are really the ones causing harm!"

TK squinted and looked at her, "What are you talking about?"

"Can't you see that Dragomon isn't evil, that he's really a wonderful King?  I mean look at him, what do you see?"

TK turned his gaze toward Dragomon, his eyes filled with hatred.  "What I see, Kari, will probably give me nightmares for the rest of my life."  Then he smirked, "What could you possibly like about this octopus?"

Kari gasped.  Then she stepped forward and slapped TK, "How dare you!  You're just jealous!"

Dragomon put his arm on her shoulder, "Remember Kari, that they are still blind to the truth.  They see me as a hideous monster, and my people as ghostly, gray creatures.  Do not be so harsh with them."

Kari continued to frown, "I still won't let him talk about you like that."

"But Kari," pleaded Gatomon, tears forming her eyes, "This is all just a trick!  You're trapped in some kind of dream and if you marry Dragomon he's going to invade Earth!"

Kari's face lightened as she looked to Gatomon, then she shook her head, "Gatomon, I thought that you wanted me to be happy.  Can't you see I'm happy here?"

"But Kari, its all fake.  It's just like MaloMyotismon's illusions!  I don't know what you're seeing, but it must be incredible to be covering up what I see.  I'm your partner Kari, and I would die for you, but I won't let you live in some kind of dream world!"

"You're just like TK," Kari sneered.  "You don't want me to be happy.  You're just jealous of me; that I am a Queen and that everyone here loves me!  You're no better than the people at my school!"  A strange pink glow began to form around Kari as her anger grew.

"Snap out of it Kari," said MagnaAngemon.

"Kari, wake up!" yelled TK.  "Dragomon doesn't love you!  We love you, your parents love you, the other Digidestined love you.  If you marry Dragomon he will ravage our world, but that would be nothing compared to the pain of losing you!"

Kari closed her eyes and yelled, "Shut up!"

Then she heard the hissing.  She looked down to see Ater, his one wing puffed out and he dug the claws of his left foot into the ground.  Then with a high-pitched, feral roar he leapt into the air.  Kari flinched and covered her face with her arms, but felt nothing.  She opened her eyes and moved her arms to see struggling at her side.  She turned to watch Dragomon batting at the Nocturne as it bit at his neck.  Dragomon got a hold of Ater and ripped the dragon from his neck, tearing a chunk of flesh out of his own neck at the same time.  There was no blood.  Dragomon then grabbed Ater's other wing and tore it off, and then slammed the Nocturne onto the ground and yelled, "You stupid dragon!  I should have destroyed your kind long ago!"  Then Dragomon kicked Ater, sending his body tumbling to a shocked TK's feet.

Kari turned back to Dragomon, her mouth wide open in dismay.  The angel looked at her, fiery hatred frothing in his eyes.  "I thought you would never hurt anyone…" she choked.  She then took a few steps back and then turned and ran to Ater.  She fell to her knees and cradled the battered dragon in her arms.  "Ater, why did you do that?"

The dragon looked at her painfully and laughed, "Hey, someone had to… snap you out of it."

"But he's so powerful, there was no way you could take him on alone.  You're just too small."

"I had to do my part," he coughed.  "If losing my life means that you won't live a life of misery… and that my people will get their home back, then it's a small price to pay."

Tears were now streaming down Kari's cheeks, "Don't say that!  You're going to be fine."

"Kari, believe in… yourself, you… are… strong…" Ater's mouth stopped moving and his head fell lightly back in her arms.

"No, Ater don't go!  I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!"  She shook the dragon, but there was no movement.  Weeping bitterly, she set the dragon down and looked up at TK's sorrowful face.  Then she looked back at Dragomon.  As she stared at him the feathers on his wings began to fall like leaves.  Then the wings themselves fell from his body and the flesh began to drip to the ground with splashes.  In just a few seconds time the once angelic being was now a monstrous creature with tentacles stretching out all over his body and an ugly octopus-like head protruding from the mass of the tentacles that wrapped together to form extremities.  She gasped and looked at the cathedral around her.  It was still a beautiful as before, but then instantly, like the shattering of the mirror, the image fell out of existence, revealing what was truly there.  There were no more beautiful people seated, but rows of Scubas and other creatures.  It was dark now, and everything seemed greasy.  The smell was almost unbearable to her and she looked out the glass wall of the chamber, nothing but black water.  It was the thrown room from her dream.  Still weeping, she turned back and looked at the old man.  He was just another Scuba.  She looked at herself; instead of the white wedding dress there was a scaly black one, the one she had seen in the mirror.  The gorgeous necklace she had worn was now a clawed iron collar.  She frantically looked to where Adella had been standing, another Scuba stood in her place. 

Kari screamed and fell to her knees, burying her face in her hands and crying as hard as she could.  Then she felt a hand on her shoulder, and she looked at TK with her hot, burning eyes.  "It's alright Kari.  We're here for you.  You couldn't have known."  He held out her D3 to her, and she grasped it with frail fingers, uncertain whether she deserved it.  "We can't stop now, Kari.  We have to fight him."

Kari stood up and turned around, glaring at the monster that was to be her husband.  "You," she snarled.

Dragomon laughed, "So now you see the truth Kari.  Well, if you will not marry me out of love, then how about out of fear?  If you still marry me I will spare all of your friends, but if not, I will kill them and keep you captive here until you agree to marry me!"

"Don't worry about us, Kari," MagnaAngemon growled, "If you marry him it will give him the power to invade other worlds and do to them what he has done to this one."

Kari nodded.  "Dragomon, you're going to pay for tricking me and for killing Ater.  You don't deserve to live!"  She held the D3 over her head and yelled, "Gatomon, Digivolve!"

"Let's do it!" cried Gatomon as she leapt into the air.  A beam of light shot from Kari's Digivice and into the Digimon.  "Gatomon Digivolve to…" The cat's body began to glow and a light silhouette of an angel grew from that of the cat's shadow.  The light burst off in an explosion and floating in the air was a glowing eight-winged angel draped with white tapestry.  "Angewoman!"

A deep laughing rose from the back of the chamber.  Everyone present, including the Scubas and Dragomon turned and looked at up at the ceiling above the doors.  The red and black cloak of Daemon slowly materialized out of the darkness, his crimson eyes shining like two stars.  "This is all very touching," Daemon scoffed, "but remember our deal now, TK.  Together we will destroy Dragomon!"

"It's about time you showed up. I was beginning to think you had chickened out," growled TK.

Kari turned to TK, "What deal is he talking about, TK?"

TK frowned and looked at her, "I promised to help him fight Dragomon if he would help me find you, and he kept his part of the bargain… well, sort of.  So we have to help him."

"Good!"  She turned back to Dragomon, "You won't get away."

Dragomon laughed, "None of you can even imagine the power that I possess!  It is you who will not escape."  He raised one of his tentacle arms into the air.  Particles began circling through the air and then materialized into a long, golden triton.  Once the triton had completely materialized, he grabbed it with another tentacle and swung it at the Digidestined.  MagnaAngemon and Angewomon lifted Kari and TK out of the triton's path and they watched as it hit the closest Scubas, tearing some apart and sending others flying.  The Scubas who had not been killed by Dragomon's blow began running and screaming chaotically, trying desperately to escape the room so as not to witness their Master's wrath.

The two angels set their partners down a safer distance from the monster and joined Daemon in the air.  "We need to work together to defeat him," ordered Angewoman.  "Daemon, you go right, MagnaAngemon you go left, and I'll take him straight on."

"No," growled Daemon, "I will take him straight on."  The demon flew forward, pulling his arms back and forming a ball of red static energy in his hands.  "Today, Dragomon, you die!" he yelled as he threw the ball at Dragomon.  Dragomon swung at the ball with his triton, shattering the energy into thousands of harmless fragments.

"Celestial Arrow!" cried Angewomon as a bow and arrow formed in her hand and as she drew the string back to its full length.  She let go of the string and the arrow screeched through the air, impaling Dragomon in one of the lower tentacles that formed his legs.  The monster growled angrily, and swung the triton at Angewomon, hitting her and sending her tumbling to the ground in front of TK and Kari.

"Are you alright!" cried Kari to Angewomon as she ran to her. 

Angewomon stood up and motioned Kari to stop, "I'm fine."  Then she flew back into the air to rejoin the battle.  MagnaAngemon had drawn his magenta blade and was clashing furiously with Dragomon's triton, while Daemon shot a blast of fire into Dragomon's back.  Dragomon let out a cry as the fire scorched his back, and he lashed out with one of his tentacles, hitting Daemon and sending him crashing against the glass wall.  A hissing crack formed in the glass, and the dark water of the ocean began to drip, and then spray into the chamber. 

Daemon shook the blow off and stood up.  He yelled to Dragomon, "You haven't even seen the beginning of my power either!"  Then he began to grow, and in must a matter of seconds he had reached Dragomon's size.  The two giants dwarfed the two angels.  The sound of tearing fabric echoed throughout the chamber, and the cloths that shrouded Daemon tore asunder, revealing a demonic, hairy beast with dripping fangs and two large horns sticking out each side of his head. 

Daemon lashed forward, cutting off some of Dragomon's tentacles.  Dragomon reeled back in pain and Daemon let out a roar of triumph.  MagnaAngemon, seeing that Dragomon's guard was down from being injured, swooped in and cut into one of his tentacles.  Dragomon stumbled to the ground as he was overwhelmed by the attacks.  

When Dragomon tried to stand back up, Angewomon raised her arms over her head and cried, "Heaven's Charm!"  A ring of pink light shot from her arms and crashed into Dragomon's head, knocking him back to the ground.

"Yes, make him suffer!" yelled Kari, the hateful look on her face disturbing TK.

Daemon towered over the Undersea Master, and laughed.  "I thought you would present more of a challenge, Dragomon.  I didn't even need their help to defeat you."

Dragomon scoffed in return, "Is that why you've been hiding from me the entire time you've been in my kingdom?  You fool!  I knew you wanted to destroy me, and in fact I knew you entered my city with the boy.  I planned on you being here, in fact, you've been my back-up plan!"

"What are you talking about?" barked Daemon.  "It's time for you to die!" 

"Daemon, don't!" cried MagnaAngemon.

Daemon raised and lowered his clawed hand, planning to crush Dragomon's head with one blow.  But as he leaned forward, Dragomon thrust the triton forward, impaling Daemon with all three spikes. 

Daemon's eyes widened and twitched in horror and pain as Dragomon rose and began wrapping his tentacles around him.  "I need your energy," Dragomon hissed as he began to squeeze Daemon's flailing body. 

"N-no!" spat Daemon as his body writhed, and then slowly began to disassociate and then it burst into millions of fragments of data.  Dragomon opened his mouth and began to suck Daemon's data from the air, making a loud sucking and slurping noises as he did so.  When the last bit of the data had been ingested, the tentacles that Dragomon had lost began to grow back and then the tentacles began to mold into spaghetti-like arms and legs.  Like Daemon, Dragomon began to grow, his head now reaching to the top of the chamber.  He let go of the triton, and it clattered and splashed loudly on the chamber floor.  Long claws forced their way out of the flesh of his psuedo-arms and the wings on his back tripled in size, but the flesh fell off them and only bones remained.  The boned wings crashed into the glass walls of the camber, letting in a flood of water from the cracked dome.  "What the…" gasped TK.

"T-that's… im-impossible," stuttered Kari.

TK and Kari were now standing in a thin layer of water on the ground.  The Scubas that still remained in the chamber screamed in terror, trying to get away from their Master.  A low rumbling laugh escaped from the massive giant who towered over the Digidestined like a skyscraper.  With one quick motion, he slammed one of his clawed arms down on the group of Scubas still in the room, killing dozens of them with a single blow.  His eyes beamed with delight and he turned and looked at Kari.

"He kills his own servants for fun," Angewomon murmured.

"Now I am unstoppable," Dragomon said to Kari.  "There's no way the two of your weak Digimon can possibly defeat me.  The offer still stands Kari, join me and I will spare your friends."

Kari stared at the flooded ground, tears dripping from her eyes.  Wondering, her eyes found the body of Ater.  She sadly walked to it, and lifted it in her arms.  "Ater," she murmured and began to cry again. 

TK, who had been watching her, turned back and yelled to MagnaAngemon, "Keep fighting, we can't give up!"

MagnaAngemon looked at Angewomon and the two nodded to each other.  Together they flew up toward Dragomon's head, Angewomon with her bow ready and MagnaAngemon with his sword drawn.  "We won't give up!" cried Angewoman as the two raced toward the monster's face.  But before they could make contact with enemy, Dragomon raised one of his clawed arms and brought it down on them like a bear swatting two flies.  Both of the angels let out cries of pain as they fell and crashed to the ground far below, then MagnaAngemon began to glow and shrunk back into Patamon.  Angewomon lay there, not moving.

"N…no…" TK stuttered, his lip quivering.  "Patamon, get up!" he cried.

"T… K…" Patamon said as he tried to raise himself off the ground, and then stumbled back down.  Then there was no sound but the loud rasps of Dragomon's breath as he looked down at his enemies.

"It's all over," Kari finally moaned as her legs gave out and she slowly fell to her knees, splashing the water.

TK wiped the sweat off of his brow, and then looked at her firmly.  "No, it's not over.  We have to keep fighting!"

"But I can't.  He's just too powerful…  This is all my fault!"

TK ran to her side, "It is not your fault, Kari.  Now get up, we can still fight him."  He held out his hand in order to help Kari up. 

Kari looked at it and then turned away.  "If I give up now, then he'll let the rest of you go.  I don't have any choice."  She strained her muscles and pushed herself up, still holding the body of Ater, and began to walk toward Dragomon.

"Yes, it is the only way," rumbled Dragomon from high above.  Kari nodded in defeat.  "Don't forget, I love you."

But she stopped as TK's hand grabbed her shoulder and spun her around.  He looked deep into her eyes and yelled, "I will not let you do this!"  Another crack burst in the dome and water began to shower and soak them.  The little light that was left in the chamber of the underground city began to fade into blackness, and only TK and Kari were there, the black water spraying onto them.

Kari looked at him firmly, "It doesn't matter, stopping Dragomon from killing you and our Digimon will be the most I've ever done to help anyone.  You need to get back to our world and warn everyone to prepare for Dragomon's invasion, there's nothing left for me there."

"Of course there is Kari!  What about your mom and dad?  What about Tai?  What about the rest of us?  You can't abandon us like this!"

"I'm-"
            "No, if you do this you will give Dragomon the power he wants, and the rest of us won't have any chance to stop him."

Her eyes closed, and TK was unsure if she was crying or if it was just the black water that dripped from her face.  She opened her eyes sadly; "Saving the world doesn't mean anything to me anymore, TK.  Everyone will be fine without me.  You told me earlier that you didn't know what destiny was.  Well know I now.  I'm doing my part and I'm accepting my destiny.  If we keep trying to fight, then he'll kill you and keep me here until I agree to marry him.  I'm a Digidestined, and it's about time I started acting like one."

TK stared at her, his eyes wide with desperation.  Then he shook his head; "I don't want you to."

Kari paused and then looked at him.  "Why?"

"Because… I need you."  He was silent for a moment and then continued, "Without you, I couldn't fight anymore.  I wouldn't care about anything."  He looked away from her and at the water covering his feet, "Remember the very first time we came to the Dark Ocean?  I told you earlier that day that I cared about you.  Well it wasn't till I lost you, when Dragomon was flying you away today, that I realized how much I cared.  Kari… I … I think I…" His words drifted into silence and he turned his head completely away from her.

Kari began to speak, "TK, I care-"

"I love you!"  TK was no longer looking away from her, but now stared straight into her face, breathing heavily.

Kari blinked and then shook her head.  "No… I know you care about me, but you don't love me.  No one could ever love me.  But you do care, I know that, and you don't want me to suffer."  TK moved closer to her.

"I would never want you to suffer, Kari.  But without you, I would suffer."  He wiped the water under Kari's eyes away with his thumbs and then held her face in his hands.  "Ever since you moved away thoughts of you have been haunting me.  I was constantly reminded of the times we had spent with each other and the fun that we had together.  I would always hear your voice and expect to turn around and see you, but you were never there.  I always ignored the memories and pushed the feelings to the back of my mind.  I figured that I would feel that way about losing any good friend, even my best friend.  But now I know.  I love you, Kari.  And I know you probably don't love me the way I love you, but I can't ignore what I feel.  I love you."

Kari blinked and tried to say something, but was unable.  Then TK pulled her face toward his and planted his lips on hers.  She was shocked and tried to pull away, but TK held her firm.  Then she slowly closed her eyes and gave in, returning his kiss.  The two held each other, and for a moment they were the only two in all of existence.  Dragomon, the two angels, the water spraying from the dome, and even the body of Ater were all nothing but a delusion.  Then TK pulled away and looked at her, and smiled.  "I love you, Kari.  And I'll die before I ever let you give yourself to Dragomon!" 

He let go if her and instantly the blackness that had isolated them from the world faded back into the dark aura of the chamber.  TK took a few steps away, his eyes still locked with Kari's, and then he turned, bent down, and picked up a sword that one of the Scubas had dropped in the confusion.  He lifted it over his head and let out a cry as he charged Dragomon. 

            Kari blinked, stunned for a moment, and then looked to see Dragomon raising his clawed arm, preparing to smash it down on TK.  "TK, no!" she cried out to him, her body beginning to glow a bright pink, "I love you too!"  Instantly, the pink aura that had surrounded Kari's body flared out, blasting through the chamber.  Dragomon checked his blow and covered his eyes, letting out a cry of pain as the pink light seared his eyes.  TK stopped and looked back at Kari.

Kari's body lifted into the air, as did Angewomon's.  The two silhouettes floated to each other and then another pink blast shot through the chamber, this one even stronger than the last.  Even though the light was bright, TK was surprised when he realized that it didn't hurt his eyes.  Dragomon was screaming in pain now, and most of the Scubas still left in the chamber burst into nothingness.

Then, the light cleared except for one pink star glimmering amidst the darkness.  The pink aura surrounded a figure that was neither Kari nor Angewomon.  It still had Angewomon's wings, but now there were ten of them.   Light silver armor covered most of the being's torso and a few plates decorated its upper arms.  The legs had armor on the upper thighs, metal kneepads, but metal chains were wrapped around the shins.  Two metal bands traveled around its forearms, and from each of these bands jetted a long, silver blade.  A long white ribbon flowed around its body, twisting around the left leg and ending a little past a silver boot.  TK realized that the being's face looked similar to Kari's, except that a silver visor covered her eyes, and two silver wings protruded out from the sides of the visor.  Long, chocolate hair flowed from the being's head.  A pink aura even surrounded the individual strands. 

The being spoke, and its voice was thunderous and echoing.  The voice was that of Kari; "I will not let you hurt him."

            Dragomon laughed, "We shall see."  Then he swung one of his clawed arms down at TK.  The figure shot down and grabbed one of Dragomon's claws, and though this new angel had not been any bigger than the other two angels, it had no trouble bringing Dragomon's blow to a stop, giving TK time to rush out its path.  Then the angel threw back Dragomon's arm, pushing him a steps backward. 

            "What have you done with Kari," growled Dragomon.

            The angel smirked, "I am Kari.  Now, Dragomon, you have to make a choice.  Fight me or give up.  If you fight me, you lose no matter what.  If I win, I kill you.  If you win, you kill me and lose the power that you need.  Either way, I will not let you hurt TK."

            "You can't protect him forever," Dragomon hissed as he attacked Kari with one of his clawed arms.  She held out her hands and grabbed onto it, but as she did so a tentacle shot out from one of Dragomon's legs, heading straight at TK. 

            "TK!" cried Kari as she let go of his arm and rushed toward TK, but she was too far away to make it in time. 

            "No!" cried Patamon, helpless to rescue his partner.  But just when the tentacle would have smashed into TK a Scuba leapt in front of it, taking the full strength of the blow.  The creature's body tumbled across the floor and smashed into the glass of the dome. 

            TK stood frozen for a second.  Had a Scuba just saved his life?  Kari looked at the broken body of the Scuba and then turned back to Dragomon.  "You'll pay for that," she growled and then swooped in on him.  She began swinging at him with the blades on her arms, cutting long gashes in his arms and chest.  The she flew around to his back, and she dashed through the air, both of her blade in front of her.  With one single swoop she severed one of Dragomon's bony wings and it splashed into the water below.

            Dragomon began to stumble toward Ater's body.  TK, seeing this, rushed in and grabbed the body of his friend before the monster's atrocious foot could flatten it.  He took the body and then ran over to Patamon, who was inspecting the Scuba who had saved TK.  "It's dead," Patamon said sadly when TK got there.  TK shook his head sadly and then looked back at the battle between Kari and Dragomon. 

            Dragomon managed to hit her with a tentacle that shot out of one of his arms, sending her tumbling through the air.  But Kari quickly regained her attitude, and she floated in the air, staring at Dragomon.  Dragomon was breathing heavily, and black ooze was dripping from the wounds all over his body.

            "Go Kari, finish him off!" cried TK.

            "Ha," laughed Dragomon, "all of these wounds are but scratches, my little angel."  He took one of his clawed arms and swung it back into the glass of the dome, shattering a large hole in it.  Water began to cascade in, and the dome was quickly beginning to fill.  "I can survive underwater, and perhaps so can you.  But your friend cannot!  Now you have a choice, my guardian angel.  We can keep on fighting, but your friend will drown in a matter of minutes.  Or you can save him, but I will get away, or even attack you while you grab him."  Dragomon's hideous face formed into what looked like a smirk.  "Now it is your turn to chose Kari!"

Kari scowled, "I will not let your evil terrorize this world any longer, and I will not let TK die either!"  She crossed her arms and as she did so a large, pink X formed in the air in front of her.   "Aaaaggghhhh!" cried Kari as she shot through the air, the X getting bigger as she got closer to the monster.  Dragomon crossed both of his clawed arms in hopes of parrying her blow, but as Kari made contact with his arms the metal burst asunder and his arms were torn from his body.  Kari did not stop there, but went faster.  The sound of her cry shook the city and waves began to form in the water below.  Dragomon cried out as she tore through his torso, ripping an enormous hole in it and sending a spray of rotting flesh splattering against the glass.  A river of black blood poured from Dragomon's body and to mixed with the dark water of the ocean. 

A hideous gurgling death cry escaped his lips as his body swayed back and forth.  All of the power that had flown coursed through him began to flee in bright bolts black lightning, blasting holes through the dome and into the surrounding city.  Kari emerged from Dragomon's back and shook off the black goo that covered her.  The city was rumbling as its foundations began to break and the castle was torn apart.  Kari stood in front of the defeated Dragomon's face, smirking as he looked at her with furious, dying eyes.  "Kari… I love you…" Dragomon moaned. 

"No you don't," Kari growled.  Dragomon roared and then went limp as his eyes closed.  Then his body, devoid of life, sunk flaccidly into the water, bubbles forming where he had sunk. 

A few of the black lightning bolts still ricocheted through the camber and one of them exploded near TK as he struggled in the rising water.  "Kari!" he cried out as he was sucked under water by an undercurrent caused by the bolt tearing a hole at the bottom of the dome.  Kari soared to where TK had sunk, and then dove into the water.  Kicking through the black water and struggling to see, she finally managed to see a thrashing TK, and she swam to him.  She resurface a few seconds later, TK clinging to her back, the bodies of Ater and the Scuba in her arms.  Patamon grabbed onto TK as Kari flew past him.  "Hold your breath!" she yelled back to them and then she burst through the glass of the upper dome and into the waters of the dark ocean.  The water grew calmer as Kari shot through the ocean, the waves spiraling around her celestial body.  She quickly reaching the surface of the water and broke out into the sky with a massive splash.  It was softly raining.  TK gasped for breath as Kari flew them toward the shore, just a little ways away from the town the Nocturnes had once lived in. 

Kari gently landed on the ground and TK hopped off, landing and then rolling in the wet sand.  He got up and looked at Kari, who smiled back at him.  TK smiled and laughed, "That was… amazing!"  Kari was about to say something, but then she remembered the two corpses she held in her arms. 

She knelt down and then placed them reverently on the sand.  She ran a hand through her drench hair.  "They gave their lives to save us," she said sadly.

"Maybe there's still hope," TK said quietly.

"There's always hope," she said and lifted her arms toward the sky.  As she did so, a beam of pink light broke through the clouds and shined on the Nocturne and the Scuba.  Slowly the Scuba's chest began to rise and fall again, and Ater coughed water out of his lungs. 

TK watched, wide eyed, as the Scuba sat up and looked at Kari.  Then it spoke, "Thank you, my Queen."  Its voice was unlike most Scubas' TK had heard; it was much more gentle and caring.

Kari smiled, "No, you are the one who deserves thanks, Adella."

"Yeah, thanks!  I thought I was a goner," TK chirped as he rubbed the back of his head.

Kari turned to Ater, "It cost you your last wing, but you saved me.  Thank you, Ater."  Ater seemed to smile, and then he fell back into the sand and rested.

Kari looked back at TK, and the two stared into each other's eyes.  Then she fell to her knees and the pink glow around her body began to glow brighter, and when it faded Kari was back to normal, and a small dog-like creature with light yellow skin and blushing cheeks was in Gatomon's place. 

TK rushed to Kari and hugged her, "How in the world did you do that?"

"I don't know," Kari blushed as she pulled away.  "I just knew I had to save you.  But I knew I had to be stronger, and the next thing I knew I had merged with Angewomon."

TK chuckled, "I knew you could do it!  So how does it feel to have been a Digimon?"

"I don't think I was really a Digimon," Kari smiled, "but something else entirely."

"Either way, you're my hero!" TK laughed.  "I bet Dragomon regretted trying to con you into marrying him."

"Yeah.  You're right, TK.  I am stronger than I thought."

TK nodded, "I just had to get you to realize it, and look what happened when you did.  I guess we should go tell the other Nocturnes that they're free to go back to their home now."

"What about them," asked Patamon, pointing down the beach to where a number of Scubas who had escaped the city were wondering aimlessly on the beach.

"I don't know what we will do now that we are free of Dragomon," replied Adella.  "We have no place to go now."

Kari looked at Adella and smiled, "We'll think of something."

…The promise of the rising stars,

Is testimony,

That there is always light amidst the darkness,

And hope fighting against despair…

For the first time in countless years the sky was clear, and, although it was still dark, faint stars glimmered in the heavens.  TK and Kari stood at the side of the stage of a large amphitheater in the Nocturne's reclaimed city.  It was slightly rundown from the neglect, but plans for the town's restoration were already in progress.

In the middle of the stage stood Atalanta, who had spoken to the Nocturnes that they could now return to their homes while the battle with Dragomon had taken place.  At her feet stood Ater.  "You have proven that you are brave and selfless," announced Atalanta to the crowd of Nocturnes, and Scubas, who had come to watch the ceremony.  "Ater the Wingless, I name you the Seventh Daine of the Nocturnes."  A loud cheer rose from the creatures in the crowd, even the Scubas.  Atalanta bent down and placed her right hand on Ater's forehead and then her hand began to glow.  When she removed her hand a white crystal shimmered from Ater's forehead.  The Nocturne took a step back and bowed to Atalanta. 

Atalanta then turned to another creature on stage.  She motioned Adella to come closer to her.  After a few debates, the Nocturnes and Scubas had agreed that they could live in peace.  The Nocturnes had also finally believed that Kari was not an evil demon as they had once thought. 

Adella complied and Atalanta turned to the crowd, "Adella, you shall be the first Queen of the Scubas.  Your land shall be the ocean in this bay, and you may at once begin leading your people in the reconstruction of your under water city."  She put her hand on the Scuba's gray head and when she removed it, a red jewel, similar to Ater's, had been placed on her forehead.  The crowd roared again.  "Queen Adella and Daine Ater, may you lead your people to work together in peace and prosperity."  A massive roar burst out from the crowd, and though Nocturnes and Scubas had always been enemies, the defeat of Dragomon was cause for all of them to set aside their differences and celebrate. 

Atalanta left the center of the stage and walked over toward Kari and TK, who were side-by-side, holding each other's hand.  She smiled at the two Digidestined and their partners, who stood at their feet.  "Have you said your goodbyes?" Atalanta asked.

"Yeah," said TK.  It had been hard for them to say goodbye, but the Scubas and Nocturnes would be hard to beat when they worked together, so there was no point for the Digidestined to stay.  Ater had promised to build statues in honor of Kari, TK, Gatomon and Patamon for destroying the darkness that had consumed their world.  Adella and Kari had hugged, and Adella had thanked Kari for helping her to realize that there was good in the Scuba race, and that they had the right to be free from slavery.  Kari had also spoken to Atalanta about giving the remaining Scubas land and recommended Adella to lead them.

"I'm sure we'll see them again, though," added Kari.

"Good, then are you ready to return home?" inquired Atalanta.

"Well, we're going to be in big trouble since we've probably been gone a few days, but I'm ready to go," said TK, "are you Kari?"  Kari nodded.

"Stay strong then, Digidestined," Atalanta said as she raised her hands into the air and a pink mist formed around them.  "We will meet again, Protectors of Earth!"

…You've shown me that I'm strong,

Stronger than I ever realized,

Now I have hope,

And life doesn't seem so shady,

I can and will go on…

"Well," TK said, "it's time to face the music.  I still think my parents are scarier than Dragomon any day.  What are we going to tell them?"  The two stood in front of Kari's home, glad to be in the bright sunlight of their world.  It wasn't till they had returned that Kari had realized how beautiful Nagoya really was. 

TK's dad's car was still parked in the driveway, so that meant that he was still there.  Strangely, they had expected police cars to be there, but there weren't.  Both Salamon and Patamon had snuck into Kari's bedroom through her window, in hope to avoid any blame that might be put on them.  Salamon had also slipped Kari a pair of clothes so she could change out of the creepy black dress and look normal.  Luckily no one had seen her wearing it yet.  She had pitched the metal collar into the ocean before they left.

"The truth of course," laughed Kari.

"We have done a lot of weird things, enough for our parents to believe us more than most kids, but I don't know if they'll believe this one.  Yeah Dad, we went to a world with no light and fought some bad guy and Kari turned into an angel!  It was so much fun!"

Kari punched his shoulder, "Don't be ridiculous.  Let's go."  They walked up to Kari's door and pushed it reluctantly open.  As they entered they saw Kari's and TK's father's sitting on the couch, chatting.  Kari's dad, being the first to notice, smiled and asked, "How was your weekend?"

TK and Kari stopped in their tracks and said simultaneously, "hunh?"

TK's dad chimed in, "Yeah, did you have fun hiking and camping?"

They were both completely speechless and confused.  Then, as if on cue, Davis walked into the room, talking to Kari's mom about soccer strategies.  As soon as Davis saw them he grinned and said, "It's about time you two got back!  I was worried you'd get lost out there."

"W-well, you know us," TK stammered.

"Well," said Kari's mother, "its good that all of you kids got to spend some quality time together.  I know it's been hard for Kari, not having all of her friends around."

"Hey, I promise to come up here the next chance I get."  Davis winked to TK and Kari, who only blinked in return.  "I'll even bring you with me, TK." 

"Of course I'll have to be the one to drive them both out here," laughed TK's dad.  He turned to TK, "Are you two about ready to go home?" 

"Uh, yeah," TK answered, still to stunned to sound sad.  "But first I want to talk to Davis about something."

"Sure, but make it quick, it's a long drive back to Odaiba."

"We will," Kari added as she and TK pulled Davis back to Kari's room.  As soon as they were in the room and the door was shut Kari looked at Davis with wide eyes and said, "What in the world is going on?"

"Well I'm glad to see you too, Kari!" Davis chuckled.  "It's actually a clever little plan I schemed."

"What do you mean," asked TK.

"Boy you two are grumpy!  If you want to know, I got a message on my D-Terminal from some chick named Atalanta."

TK squinted at him, "Atalanta sent you a message?"

"Yeah, whoever she is.  Anyways, it said that you two were stuck in the Dark Ocean fighting some bad guy and that you needed an alibi since you would be gone for a couple days."

"You mean, it's only Sunday evening?" asked Kari.

"Yup, and I'm really glad you two got here when you did.  I was having trouble keeping your parents distracted."

"What did you tell them?"

"Well, I got the email Friday evening, and so I did the only thing I could think of.  I called your parents and told them that Ken and I had come up to surprise you and take you and TK camping and hiking and that we'd be back on Sunday afternoon.  I told them that Ken's dad was driving us and he'd be with us the whole time, so they didn't suspect anything.  Then today I had my Dad drive me out here and I told your parents that Ken's dad had to go back early and that you two wanted to hang around town for a while and I wanted to talk to TK about some things on the way home.  I'm just lucky you came when you did, I have no idea what I would have done if you would have been any later, or if you hadn't shown up at all."  Davis laughed and then grinned mischievously, "I've used that excuse on my parents plenty of times, so far its flawless!"

Kari blinked and then laughed too, "That was really ingenious Davis!  You saved our butts for sure."  Then she turned to TK, "Atalanta must have been keeping track of us the whole time."

TK nodded, "I guess so."

"So," Davis said casually, "want to fill me in on what really happened in the Dark Ocean?"

"Well," replied TK, smirking at Kari, "we went to the dark ocean and fought some bad guy named Dragomon, and Kari turned into an angel and kicked his butt!  That's about all there was to it.  It was so much fun!"

"Uh, I think that makes sense," Davis frowned.  "Except for the whole Kari turning into an angel thing."

"That's a really long story," laughed Kari, "but we'll make sure to tell you about when we have more time."  She walked up to Davis and wrapped her arms around him, giving him a long hug.  When she let go she said to him, "I've missed you a lot too, Davis.  I wish we still had the weekend to spend together.  But didn't you have a soccer game today?"

Davis rubbed the back of his head, "Yeah, it was only the tournament's championship game, but I figured helping you guys was more important and that I can always win other championships."

"Thanks Davis," smiled TK.  "You're a great friend."

"No problem," smiled Davis as he patted TK on the back.

"TK, Davis, are you two about ready to go?" called TK's dad from the living room.

"Yeah, just a second Dad," yelled TK back.  Then he turned to Davis, "Uh, could Kari and I have a few moments alone?"

"Sure," Davis replied as he turned to leave the room, but then stopped.  "You two seem a lot closer than usual.  Are you two an item now or something?  Not that I'm jealous or anything… just curious."

TK looked at Kari and then back at Davis, "Well, you could say that."

Davis shrugged and smiled, "Cool, I'm glad for you.  That must have been a great adventure in the Dark Ocean.  You'd better tell me all about it on the way home, TP!"

TK laughed and nodded, "Definitely!"  Davis turned and left the room.  TK looked back to Kari, "What a great friend!"

"Definitely!"

TK smiled and took hold of Kari's hand, "I love you, Kari."

Kari smiled, "I love you too."

"It's going to be hard being so far apart from you, but we have to be strong Kari.  You'll make some new friends here; I know it.  I'll try to get back here as soon as I can, but for now let's just let things come as they will.  I would hate to keep you from meeting the right guy."

"We're still young, TK, but I wouldn't be surprised if we actually dated in college or something.  Who knows, we might even get married someday."  Kari giggled.

TK grinned, "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too."  The leaned toward each other kissed.  "But there's no harm in not looking for other guys if you've already found the one you'd like to keep, is there?"

TK smiled, "Naw, I doubt I'll meet any girls that could ever compare to you.  Hopefully we'll get a chance to be together someday."

"Right."

"Bye!"  TK grabbed his pack, which emitted the soft snoring of Patamon, opened the door and turned back to smile at her.

"Bye TK," Kari said quietly, as she followed him out the door.  They met Davis and TK's father in the living room, and then the guys left.  Kari watched and waved as the car drove away with two of her best friends, though she longed more for the blonde one to jump out and come running back.  Then she went to her room where Salamon was sleeping on a pillow.  She flopped down on the bed and stared at the ceiling.

…Lying beside you,

Time seems to fly,

My heart beats stronger,

With you by my side…

Kari opened up her locker and pulled out a picture of TK and her when they had been in Odaiba and taped it on the inside of her locker door.  As she did so, a tall girl with blonde hair at the locker next to hers turned to her and asked, "Is that your boyfriend?"

Kari smiled and replied, "Kinda, he lives in the city I just moved from."

"Oh, he's cute," the girl giggled.  "Hey, nice camera," she pointed to the camera that Kari had decided to start wearing again.  "You must be that new girl I've heard people talking about if you just moved here."

Kari shrugged, "Yeah, I moved here with my family a while ago."

"That's cool," the girl replied; then she looked away and began digging in her locker.

"Hey, Kari!" called a guy's voice and Kari looked to see Kazu approaching her, smiling and eyes bright.  "I missed you the other night, what happened?"

She looked at him, wanting to tell him to just go away, but replied, "I got tied up with some stuff… sorry."

"Oh… well, did you still want to go out some time?"

"No, not really.  I'm really not interested in dating you anymore.  Sorry."

"Oh," Kazu replied, looking flustered.  The brightness in his eyes faded and his smile stretched out into a grimace.  He bent his head down and looked down the hall.  "Well, see you later then."  He turned and said, "Hi," to the blonde girl and then walked away.

The girl ignored him, and when Kazu was gone she turned to Kari, looking amazed, and said, "Wow!  You do know that you just turned down the most popular guy in school, don't you?"

"Yeah," Kari replied as she shut her locker door.  "But he's not that great."

The other girl shut her locker door and said, "I agree.  He is so overrated."  She looked at Kari and laughed.  The two girls began walking down the hall together.  "Oh, my name's Sakura, by the way."

Kari smiled, "Nice to meet you, Sakura.  I'm Kari."

Sakura smiled, "You know, Kari, I've got some friends who I'm sure would love to meet you.  We get together and take pictures of stuff, ya know, kinda like a photography club.  If you want I could take you to meet them."

"That would be great!"

"Kari," she smiled, "I think we'll be great friends."  The two girls walked down the hall and turned at the corner, talking happily.

…Many beginnings start with an end,

And many ends start with a beginning,

Some both,

You choose.