WARNING: Sonfaro in no way promotes, supports or encourages the smoking, chewing, or any form of the ingestion of tobacco products. This fanfic is simply a means to bridge the gap between Years Two and Three of Digimon: Anniversary. Thank you for your patience and enjoy the fic.
July 13th, 2005
Yamato "Matt" Ishida slammed the door to his father's apartment and stomped head long towards his room, forgetting even to remove his shoes at the door. His father looked up long enough from his cigarette to notice the blonde attempt unsuccessfully to hide his emotion. That and the bloody lip. And the torn shirt. And the tears that flowed down his son's eyes. Hero Ishida set down his paper and turned to the young man. "You alright?"
Matt bit his lower lip. Fighting back tears. "My best friend is in jail. My girlfriend was assaulted by bigots and thugs. I saw a friend who has saved my life on more than one occasion shot multiple times with a gun from a clown in a freakin' disco outfit. And I couldn't do anything to stop it…"
Hero Ishida blinked slow, cigarette draped across the edge of his lip. His son stood stone still in the middle of their dirty dining room, tears falling slowly across his dried, pale face. He reached into his pocket. "…You want one?"
Matt frowned when his father held a spare cigarette in his hand. "What?"
Hero looked at him. Sincere. "Do you want one?"
Matt hesitated, his eyes focused on the strip of tobacco. "A cigarette?"
"A drag, yeah."
Matt closed his eyes. His father's cigarettes smelled of cheap tobacco, old paper, and thick, black smoke. They burned his eyes, clogged his lungs, and always, always pissed off his mother whenever she'd drop T.K. off for Heros weekend. But his father never seemed to get angry when he smoked, always calm, always thinking, always rational. And more than anything Matt needed that right now. And so he reached across the expanse between them, his upper lip curling already in disgust, but his fingers already on the edge of the drag. "Fine."
"Take your shoes off."
Matt nodded. "Alright."
When he came back, his father was waiting for him. Hero held the tip of his Zippo lighter to the edge of the stick and struck once, the small flame igniting the end of the cigarette until the embers turned as ruddy and orange as the strands of Sora's head. Matt coughed once. They hurt his chest. And they tasted horrible. But once he inhaled…really inhaled, a sudden wave of calm flooded over him, and his eyes began to water for different reasons.
He was beginning to feel better already.
Matt cradled the cigarette in his hands, blue eyes furrowed. "Did you hear about Shinjuku?"
"Yeah, big riot, shots fired. A few arrests…" Hero monitored his sons suddenly guilty face and frowned. "That was you?"
"We didn't start it," the words were focused, but his eyes had drifted away.
Hero took a stronger drag of his cigarette. "You need to tell me what happened and tell me now son."
Matt looked up. "I got most of this second hand. But Sora… my girlfriend Sora…"
"I know Sora, Matt."
Matt blinked, then nodded. "Sora and Tai had gotten a train from some garden show Sora talked him into seeing in Shinjuku. They had brought Biyomon and Agumon along with them because… Well… We're kind of protesting HADD here and… "
Hero furrowed his eyes. "Protesting HADD…"
"Humans Against Di-"
"Digital Demons. I'm in the news business Matt. I keep up."
"Sorry", Matt coughed.
"It's this protesting business I'm worried about."
Matt sniffed. "We're just… We take them, our partners, into public places. We don't bother anyone. We don't talk to anyone. We keep to ourselves and leave. The idea is that if they see us with our partners… and nobody is getting hurt, then there's no need to hate them in the first place."
"That was the idea."
Hero frowned. "So how did the riot start if you kids were being non-violent?"
"Well somebody in the car recognized Tai from T.V. or something. And so they were talking to each other, and then next thing anybody knows they get surrounded by some guys who were going to that rally in the city. That big Anti-Digimon rally… I don't know how it all started. All I know is they caught one look at Agumon and went ballistic. And before anyone knew it things got out of hand, and they had to call in support and Joe showed up and… and everything just snowballed…"
Hero frowned again. "Tai? As in Tai Kamiya?"
Matt nodded. "Yeah."
"You let him on a date with your girlfriend?"
Matt frowned. "It wasn't a date. Sora's flower shop was selected for some contest or other, but Sora's mom had to man the shop, and she didn't want to ride to Shinjuku by herself. I had band practice, and Tai was bored so…"
"He was bored?" Hero raised an eyebrow. "Can you honestly trust them?"
Matt made a face. "I trust Sora. She's the most honest person I know. She's the farthest I've gotten with any girl, in any relationship period. And Tai…" He puffed his cigarette, his face twisting into a frown. "I'd trust Tai with my life."
"Fair enough. It's just odd son. A man shouldn't let his woman off with another."
"I trust them dad. I'm not as overprotective as you were of mom…" He blinked, and an ember from his cigarette fell to the floor. A part of him realized that he had probably cut to deep. He looked sheepishly at the stick between his fingers. "Sorry."
Hero shook his head. "No… No, go ahead."
Matt coughed, but took another drag anyway. His nerves were soothing themselves. "They called in for help. They had to leave the train a station or so before they wanted to because passengers were throwing beer bottles and cans and coins. And then it just… just spilled into the street. By that time Joe had arrived to help them get out; he had gotten there first. In the mayhem though, Tai got separated from Sora, and somebody pushed Joe into the bay and Gomamon had to digivolve to save him."
"Joe. Joe Kido?"
Matt affirmed his father's question. "Yeah."
Hero frowned. "He can't swim."
"No he can't."
"Good thing for Gomamon huh?"
Matt nodded. "By the time I got there with Gabumon the police were pulling Joe from Ikakkumon's back. I finally got to Sora and Biyomon; she's broken someones nose. Tai's caught up with Izzy, but they are being swept away by the riot. But it looks like people are calming down. And then…" He bit his lip. "Then we heard the gunshots and saw Ikkakumon fall into the water, and this maniac on the top of the bus is screaming at the top of his lungs… 'Style' I think. That's what they are calling him." He takes another hit, and coughs hard, but maintains his stability. "…Joe's screaming. I'm screaming. The people are screaming for our blood and the police look like they were willing to give. We grab Gomamon from the water and he's… I don't know if you've seen a wounded Digimon in the real world dad… he's bleeding this black tar substance that smells like burning iron. Izzy says it's realized data. And it's Gomamon's and its spilling out over the pier."
Hero's face told the story. "Damn…"
"Yeah." Matt took a second hit. "It was bad."
"We had to get out. Gomamon's was slipping into Bukamon at this point and if he's deleted in the real world we may never see him again. So Tai has Agumon Digivolve and set fire to the truck the Style was standing on, and that gives Izzy enough time to find a gate and get us into the Digitalworld. We pulled him inside in time… but he's back to Pitchmon… His fresh form dad. His first form. It's like… I don't know. He's like a baby again. Like he's lost all of his mental capacities and he just… he's just shivering in Joe's arms…"
Matt shook his head. "We don't know. Joe said he was nearly an egg at one point. They get the riot police and calm everyone down. We manage to send the Digimon back in the portal before they arrive, but they have to arrest somebody to satisfy the crowd. So Tai… Tai stayed behind." The look on Matt's face was one of chilled frustration. "He's rotting in a cell because people don't know… people don't understand."
"It's alright son."
Hero finished off his own cigarette with one last puff. "I can't promise you this will get any easier," he said while stamping out the flame. "I can understand their side you know? Gorbamon can be quite intimidating sometimes."
Matt nodded. The truth was he understood it as well. Lord knows their first week int the Digiworld he had been silently horrified at the prospect of these creatures. Even so, he had moved past that initial fear. He looked down at the cigarette that lay in his finger tips. "This is one of the reasons mom left?" he said after taking another hit.
"One of many," Hero grumbled.
"I can see why you wouldn't want to give it up."
Hero frowned. "I do."
Matt nodded. "Then I can see why you couldn't."
"I should have. I should have along time ago. I should have been a lot of things, you know? A better husband. A better father…" Hero sighed. "Obviously I'm still doing a horrible job thus far."
Matt frowned, concern showing on his young face. "What do you mean?"
Hero raised his eyes to gaze on his first born. "My eighteen-year old son is smoking my cigarettes."
Matt paused, before finding a reason to smile. "It could be worse," he mused. "It could be Dwayne's blunts."
Hero made a face. "Ah. Dwayne." He obviously had no idea who Matt was talking about.
Matt chuckled lightly, though his mirth was lost within the sounds of coughs. "You're not doing a bad job dad. You're doing the best you can. I know that." He sighed, smoked pouring from his mouth. He was getting better at this. "Its just hard knowing that I've got some ginormous responsibility to protect a world that doesn't want me some times."
Hero nodded. He set a hand against Matt's shoulder. "I know it's tough. I know you kids have a lot of pressure. From the government, from the people... From your parents. I can't promise you this will get any easier. But I can promise you that... no matter what, I'll be there for you son." And he took the blond in his big arms and embraced him, holding the drag as far from the boys' body as his arms would allow. "Always."
Matt smiled. "Thanks dad."
And he meant that.
"You want another hit?" His father asked when he pulled back.
Matt looked down to see his cigarette had died. He felt conflicted. For a moment. But by this point, his answer was unquestionable. "…Sure."
"You know you shouldn't."
"Neither should you."
Hero sighed. "Touché." He reached over and handed Matt his second.
"Dad?" Matt asked as his father lit him up.
Hero waved him off. "Don't mention it." He grunted. And then his father grinned, slow and steady. "So…"
Matt blinked. "Yeah?"
"Exactly how far have you gotten with Sora?"
Matt found his face matched the end of the drag in his mouth as he coughed. The rest of the night was spent assuring his teasing father that nothing covert was happening between he and his girlfriend, while secretly hoping the man didn't check his top drawer where he kept his condoms. Matt would have many more cigarettes; harmful, dangerous, life-shortening, Sora-angering cigarettes. He would grow to despise them. To hate them. To quit them nearly as many times as he smoked them.
But despite the harm they caused, he never quite forgot his first drag, nor the man who had given it to him.