Author's Notes: Beta'd by my friend, Moo. I own nothing. Please review especially if you enjoyed this oneshot of mine! I've been meaning to post this for a long while. I hope it was worth the wait. :)
To Finally Belong
"Often the test of courage is not to die but live." – Conte Vittorio Alfieri, Orestes
"Gah!" cried out Daisuke as he mashed the buttons on the video game controller. The other pre-teen ignored the other's complaints and everything that came out of his mouth.
Ken Ichijouji chuckled at his friend but kept his eyes on the screen. The two played a game Daisuke had bought after he saved money from chores. Ken wasn't sure how long but he knew he had enough when the brunet bought the game on its release.
He laughed to himself when he took him to the game shop and his shenanigans. The trip down memory lane was cut short when he realized once again he had defeated Daisuke's character.
"Aw, can't you let me win for once?" The brunet half-joked as he turned to give him a smile. Even though he knew Daisuke joked often, he still felt just a little bad. To show him that him he was aware of the joke, he smiled back.
"Do you want to try the role play mode?" Ken asked as he fumbled with the game controller, unsure where he should place it. He didn't want to accidentally insult his closest friend if he placed the game controller in the wrong area. He then offered it to the other and Daisuke took it as he nodded.
"Yeah, but I can always play it when I'm grounded," he said as he let out a few laughs at his own plan. Ken merely laughed along nervously and shook his head.
"It's fine. I can just watch you."
Daisuke shrugged. "Okay, but if I need help, I'll have you do it."
"I don't know what does what."
The brunet grabbed the game case from the ground and looked for the manual. Once he found the little booklet, he flipped through it and smiled triumphantly when he found the instructions. He then handed it to Ken.
"Read this and watch me!"
Ken sighed, defeated, as he reluctantly took the booklet. He immediately started to read it.
The two stayed in there for give or take an hour and Ken had already memorized everything in the game booklet. Ken watched the other play through though he did often give Daisuke some pointers.
However, Jun opened the door and stuck her head in. As usual, her hair was a mess. Daisuke once joked about how his enthusiastic sister got into Taichi's hair gel in order to be closer to Yamato.
"Daisuke, Mom needs to talk to you."
Ken slightly jumped at the sudden appearance of his friend's older sister but it didn't seem to faze Daisuke a bit. Instead, he didn't even seem to miss a beat when he responded.
"Aw, do I have to?" he whined as he continued to play the game.
Jun pushed the door opened and placed her hands on her hips as she grew a bit more agitated. This much was evident when she raised her voice.
"Yes, you do!"
The brunet let out an exasperated sigh as he pressed the pause button. As he walked out of the room, he glanced at Ken, who was a bit confused, and grinned at him. He pulled Ken aside and whispered in his ear for seemingly dramatic effects.
"Keep playing, this stage is kind of hard."
Ken gave Daisuke an incredulous look as he merely gave him a shameless grin.
Once he left, Ken heavily sighed as he made his way to Daisuke's previous seat. He pressed the pause button again but he heard the room door slam. He once again jumped at the sound.
They're too loud, he thought as he calmed down, No matter how many times I come over, they scare me when they close – or in their case, slam – the door shut. Ugh. But at least they're closer to each other than…
"Rawr!" yelled one of the virtual monsters from Ken mashed the buttons in a similar fashion he saw Daisuke do. As he made the character slice and dice the monster, other members of its species came to defend the other. Ken's character turned his attention to the other monsters and started to cast magic on them.
They were relentless.
You're not going to defeat me.
He didn't remember exactly what buttons in which order he pressed; but whatever he did he caused a massive attack. It caused them to slow down a little bit. He smirked. One at a time, he got out his new and improved sword and slashed at each at the frozen monsters.
Soon, in shorter time than he realized, the monsters had disappeared and time in the game went back to "normal". He let out a sigh he didn't know he held. Once again he heard the door behind him slam.
Yet this time, it didn't faze him.
He wasn't sure why he felt so relieved – it was just a video game. Pixels. Numbers. Words. Codes. There was something familiar about that particular train of thought. He then remembered when he was the Kaiser – how he used to treat the Digimon. He pressed pause as he realized how truly guilty he felt towards his behavior. Ken heard the door slam yet again but this time, he acknowledged it when he slightly jumped at the noise.
He needn't do turn to know who it was.
"How far did you get?" Daisuke asked, but his tone was different. It was strangely softer. Confused, Ken turned to see his friend who looked extremely sad. He instantly got worried for the brunet so he tried to go along with the flow and responded.
"Not very. I've been leveling up your character though. He learned a new move."
Unsure of what to do, he laughed a little and cracked a small smile. Ken hoped it would cheer him up at least a little bit.
Alas, it didn't. Ken felt even more guilty but he heard his ring tone play from his pocket. He gave him a sheepish smile but didn't see much of a reaction. He reached into his pocket and brought it to his ear as soon as he pressed it on with his thumb.
It was his mother and she asked him to go back home since it was rather late. Ken checked his watch to confirm the time.
"Okay," Ken said, "I'll be home. I love you too. Bye." He hung up his mobile phone and placed it back in his pocket where it was before. Ken turned to Daisuke and gave him another small smile. "Looks like I have to go. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
Not another word came out of his mouth but Daisuke walked towards his bed and laid down – he didn't say much of anything after that.
"Go away, Ken. I want to be alone right now."
Ken pulled back as he felt the brutal punch of guilt he had when he came to terms of his actions when he was the Kaiser. He bit his lip.
"Okay, Motomiya-san," he responded in a whisper. He used his last name in case he accidentally insulted him or something of the like.
With that, Ken finally left the now quiet apartment.
As Ken stood in the subway, he remembered what just happened earlier. He tried to make sense of the situation.
Did I do or say something wrong? The young man thought to himself. I was acting like that again. Just like when I was the Kaiser. I mean, I shouldn't have taken the controller… He shook his head. Calm down, Ichijouji! You're making a mountain out of a molehill! Besides, he'll be fine tomorrow.
He decided to e-mail Takeru and Hikari to tell them about what happened and if they saw him at school the next day.
After he sent the e-mail, he got one in return when he was on break from classes. It said:
We didn't see Daisuke at school today or this morning even. Want to try the Digital World?
Ken exhaled his breath in relief she responded. If he wasn't sick, maybe he needed some personal time. Maybe it's best to leave him alone.
He e-mailed them back his response, albeit slowly, and sent it. Almost immediately, he received one back quickly. This one said:
Oh, okay! We understand. Hey, we heard that Iori's having a birthday party. He's invited you too! Want to come?
He paused as he read the message over and over. Even though he became the others' friend, Iori was one of the few whom he felt still very awkward with. He decided to ask when it was. Ken really wanted to make up for what he did in any way he could.
When he noticed, at the corner of his eye, the other students headed back inside, he tried to hurry with proper grammar and spelling. Soon the bell had rung by the time Ken had finished and sent his message. He felt a sort of rush that he didn't want to feel again.
Thankfully, the teacher came in just in time after he turned it off and put it away. The class was all right by Ken's standards but he couldn't concentrate. Mostly because he was anxious to find out what was wrong with his friends.
He knew how to hide his anxiety well, however, so he did. When class was officially over, he let out a relieved sigh.
I thought class would never be over, he thought as he closed the door to his shoe locker. He smiled a little bit at himself. I'm starting to think like Daisuke. Once her had his own shoes back on, he turned on his phone. He realized he missed a couple of e-mails and mentally planned to read it when he had little to no distractions around him.
He took the usual route home but it felt like it took longer than usual. When he was on the subway, on a seat finally, he fiddled with his phone. Ken heard a couple of girls next to him as they gossiped. He glanced at them and could easily tell they weren't from his school since they wore different school uniforms than the ones he's used to. They caught him and Ken shifted his attention back to his phone. He heard them laugh amongst themselves and continued their conversation. He felt a little embarrassed as he tried to hide his blush.
Ken sighed after he placed his pencil on his desk. For the longest time, his phone beeped as a reminder of his unread e-mails. He remembered when he asked Miyako why his phone would beep.
She laughed, "Well that's because you have e-mail!" He gave her a look, which told her he was completely lost. She laughed once more and Ken felt small. "Here let me show you." The purple haired girl took his phone and almost gasped. "Oh wow! I haven't seen this model in ages! Aw man – it's still in great condition too!" She proceeded to teach him how to use his phone even though it was a little outdated.
Ken smiled at the memory but he had to check his email. The beeps annoyed him. One was from Hikari and the other was from Miyako. He selected Miyako's message because it was more recent:
How is your phone? I hope you'll upgrade it soon! Once you do, let me have your old one! I want to see what it looks on the inside. Try to go to Iori's party, okay? We need to hang out soon!
Next to the sentence was an emoticon that showed excitement with a heart and a couple of stars. He couldn't help but chuckle at it.
Oh, Inoue-san, how childish, he thought fondly as he switched to Hikari's message.
We went to the Digital World and asked V-mon if he had seen Daisuke. He said no. I think Daisuke just needs to spend time by himself. That'll give you a chance to hang out with us!
Ken smiled but it was short-lived. I wonder where Daisuke went… He sighed. He decided to go to the party so he e-mailed his RSPV. The pre-teen placed his mobile back down on the desk and searched for his charger. The sudden increase of its use drained its batteries. As soon as he found it, he placed it in his phone in the appropriate spot and left it alone.
Soon he heard a beep again. His curiosity got the better of him and he smiled at it when he got to the message. It essentially said they couldn't wait to see him. Ken felt content then he sighed once more. He couldn't put Daisuke out of his mind.
His head started to hurt.
I should go ahead and eat. Maybe I'll take a bath after I do my homework, he thought to himself as he lied down.
He woke up to his mother's voice. Ken glanced at his alarm clock and saw he slept for a few extra hours than he anticipated.
"Ken, don't you want some dinner? I've asked you over and over…" the woman said. She had a worried expression her face and Ken felt guilty all over again. He yawned and nodded at her question though. Her expression changed to a softer one. "I'll be downstairs. Wash your hands and face."
Ken's mother left finally and Ken went on to eat a late dinner.
As soon as he returned to his room, Ken hit the books and finished his homework for the night. When he finished, he glanced at the time. He only had enough time before the craft store closed. Ken wanted to make something for Iori on his birthday that night.
I don't think I'll do anything else tonight, he thought solemnly. He wanted to go to the Digital World to visit his own partner that night but he accidentally slept in longer. He supposed he'd find time eventually to get there himself. Ken e-mailed Hikari and told her about his situation. He gathered up what money from New Year's and what his relatives gave him.
Ken went out and grabbed a coat since his mother told him to. It was darker out so there wasn't as many people out as before. The young man sat down on the subway seat and, in a similar fashion from earlier, fiddled with his mobile. He sighed and merely waited to hear for his stop when he didn't receive anything.
Sooner, rather than later, he arrived. He was the only one to get off yet he felt like he was on the spotlight. He wanted to cower away even though no on even looked at him. Ken felt even sillier for those thoughts.
His mobile was still pretty quiet for the most part. Ken's mother called to make sure he made it there okay.
Ken purchased the things he needed to get – with extra yen to spare. He felt triumphant and celebrated a private victory to himself as he headed home.
This time, even less people was inside the subway. He did see a couple; they were clearly into each other. Ken averted his gaze once again and blushed slightly at the sight. He wasn't sure how soon his hormones planned to hit him.
When he returned home, he felt exhausted despite his nap earlier that evening. Since Iori's birthday was that weekend, he had to devote his extra time after his other commitments and engagements to make his gift.
That means that I can't make plans to go to the Digital World, he thought as he calculated the time schedule in his head.
Even though it was late, his mobile beeped anyway which honestly surprised him. Ken picked it up and saw it was from Hikari once more. He opened it and read it:
I'm sorry I didn't answer your e-mail earlier. Anyway, we checked the Digital World again for you because you got us worried. Don't worry! It's not your fault! We found V-mon again and we told him that if he sees Daisuke to tell him to e-mail you (and us!) because we're so worried for him. Other than that, we're all getting ready for Iori's birthday party. I wonder what you got him! Though whatever it is, I'm sure he'll love it. I'll see you this weekend, okay? Bye!
Ken grew a bit more worried but he ended up with a smile towards the end of the message. It also included a bunch of emoticons. He couldn't help but laugh at it. The pre-teen e-mailed Hikari back and thanked her in the most polite manner, and then he paused. After a brief moment, he added an emoticon of his own – a simple smiling one. He finally sent it.
Before he realized it, it was the day of Iori's party. Ken had to let his gift dry out overnight before he could wrap it up. He wanted to get up early to do so.
He got out some bamboo paper he purchased and carefully wrapped it. He tied it with a grass tie. Ken smiled a relieved smile. It was ready.
Despite the fact he hadn't talked to his closest friend in a week, he felt proud of himself. Also he had a good feeling about the party anyway. Needless to say, Ken Ichijouji was in a real good mood for the first time. Even when he sat down to eat breakfast with his parents, they noticed the change in their son; they couldn't have been anymore relieved. They gave Ken some extra money in case he got lost or if he wanted to buy something else.
With those thoughts in mind, he proceeded to get ready and to leave.
Ken arrived earlier than expected but he offered to help Iori's grandfather and his mother with the decorations. He placed his gift on the table deemed for presents. He didn't see everyone go in since he also offered to help Iori's mother with the cake and other snacks. Ken didn't even get to see Iori himself but he found he was okay with that. He figured Iori didn't want to have his surprise spoiled.
By the time Ken finished, it seemed everyone had arrived. Ken stuck out his chest and walked amongst them. The guests mostly consisted of the older Chosen Children, the younger ones – which included himself – and a couple of classmates from Iori's school.
Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw Yagami Taichi, the previous Chosen Children leader, but he was sure he had seen him in with Yamato. The two were always at each other's side no matter what, it seemed.
He concluded it could only be one person – Daisuke! He made his way through the crowd but not before he took a breath.
Once he made it to him, Ken picked up his courage and his arm. He tapped the boy's shoulder and the boy answered.
Ken's suspicions were confirmed – it was indeed Daisuke. He smiled brightly but dropped it soon after.
"Hey Ken! I didn't know you're going to be here!" Daisuke said enthusiastically. He gave the other a bright smile to which Ken gave him a small one back.
"Oh," Ken responded. "I-I I didn't get a chance to e-mail you. Sorry."
"Don't be sorry. It's okay. I know I've been away for a while. Actually," Daisuke then paused. He grabbed Ken's hand, "Follow me. I don't want the others to really know – especially Hikari. I have to act tough for her you know!" Ken couldn't help but roll his eyes and to release a chuckle at the comment.
It was silent between the two as Daisuke pulled him. Ken didn't understand why he felt at peace especially since he woke up with a good mood that morning. He knew his friend loved him yet he wondered why he still felt guilty.
Finally, they managed to be alone; despite the looks some guests gave them. Ken didn't care. He was just glad to be with his friend.
The young boy with blue hair couldn't help but feel a bit nervous. A million and one things ran though his mind. He felt his own heartbeat, well, beat against his chest harder and harder.
Ken thought he felt his heart rise to his throat so he swallowed nervously. Daisuke had turned when they arrived there; Ken could only assume he really wanted no one else to hear him. He felt happy and sort of special though he didn't want to show it.
Once the coast was clear, Daisuke turned to Ken and gave him a cheeky grin.
"Sorry about that, anyway. The reason why I was gone is because my grandfather died. They buried him by the time we got there, but I was so sad. I just didn't want to talk to anyone. We just got back last night so I was beat." Daisuke released a sad sigh. "I'm sorry if I worried you."
The only thing Ken thought would suit the situation was to nod his head yet he wanted to do something unpredictable. He stopped himself before he could. He didn't want to do anything that would cause Daisuke to stop their friendship. However, something bothered Ken enough to glower.
"What's wrong, Ken? You look sad," Daisuke said. "Hey, how come you're crying dude?"
Ken reached up and touched his eyes. Indeed he shed tears.
Looks likes I'll have to tell him everything, Ken thought. He took a deep breath and calmed down himself. He then talked about that day Daisuke found out about his grandfather. Especially with the video game he momentarily played with and his behavior. After he apologized, though, Hikari managed to find them and dragged them back to the party. She commented on how Daisuke encouraged Ken to continue his wallflower ways. The brunet merely laughed at it. Ken wanted to laugh but he felt a burden on his chest still.
He managed to escape Hikari's grasp. Ken went to the bathroom to wash his face. He couldn't face his new friends with a red puffy face, though he wasn't sure if he would be able to face Daisuke after that.
As soon as Ken found the familiar faces of his generation of the Chosen Children, he stuck by them.
Apparently it was time for Iori to open his present. Ken tried to move closer so he could see but then he bumped into Daisuke.
"Oh, sorry," he said politely. He did a double take and realized the brunet pre-teen didn't anything. Ken feared the worst.
Daisuke, instead, smiled and reached out to him.
"Come on, Ken! Iori's opening your present!" The current leader said.
Soon they made it to the front just as Iori pulled the grass string. He tore it from where Ken wrapped it so it came clean off. It revealed a hand-made journal; on the front it had Iori's first and last name romanized and it was done in beautiful calligraphy. Iori could tell it was done with special ink. The young boy flipped through the pages and saw that it was a journal. He smiled brightly and turned to Ken.
"Thank you, Ichijouji-san," he said humbly as he bowed in respect. Ken bowed in return and opened his mouth to speak.
"Please, call me Ken."
Ken didn't know and care what happened behind him. For the first time, he truly felt like he belonged with the other Chosen Children. That's what made him the happiest boy there even though it wasn't his birthday.