Genre: Mostly action/adventure, drama (not angst), and horror, but it also has a lot of epic, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, tragedy, family, and friendship qualities. Small splash of Humor (especially in the second arc) and Mystery.

Disclaimer: I do not own digimon, nor any of the characters used in this fic except one or two. XD No infringement intended.

Author's Note: I just wanted to point out that in Japan, most kids don't go to high school until they're 16 years old. In this fic, the Destined are freshman in high school, whereas Iori is still in middle.

Digimon 02: Parallels
My heart is just too dark to care.
I can't destroy what isn't there.
—Snuff by Slipknot

"None of them knew. Perhaps it was best not to know. Their ignorance gave them one more glad hour; and as it was to be their last hour on the island, let us rejoice that there were sixty glad minutes in it. They sang and danced in their night- gowns. Such a deliciously creepy song it was, in which they pretended to be frightened at their own shadows, little witting that so soon shadows would close in upon them, from whom they would shrink in real fear. So uproariously gay was the dance, and how they buffeted each other on the bed and out of it! It was a pillow fight rather than a dance, and when it was finished, the pillows insisted on one bout more, like partners who know that they may never meet again. The stories they told, before it was time for Wendy's good-night story!"
Peter Pan, Chapter 10 "The Happy Home"

Chapter Three
Cry My Name

A heart...

So fragile, so divine, so human.

Such innocence is a true heart. A pure heart.

And the Destined's hearts, most of all, were hearts to be taken advantage of.

Will you awaken him, Destined?

The beast, the monster, the fiercest of all?

The one who will



The creature stirred in his sweet silent abyss, filled with an empty darkness; filled with a loneliness that disabled life, thought, comprehension. The creature, heaving, slowly stood. His head tilted, a liquid stare boring amply into his iron-clad hand. So many lines. So many wrinkles. Such long fingers with so much blood on them; so much blood left to shed. Such strong, strong hands.

He is the one who will





He remembered a time ago they were three pairs of hands, and not just one pair. A long time ago, indeed.

But he was awake now.

And awake he would remain.

But for how long would the other Destined remain awake?


A day passed.

Then two days.

And three days.

Soon, it was a week, and after that, it was two weeks.

Hikari jolted, fingers thrashing into empty air as her body twisted and forced her to careen right off her bed and onto the floor in a jumble of tangled rosy bed sheets. She winced when she realized she was back in her room, no longer drifting in the infamous realm of nightmares. Needless to say, she'd woken up fighting.

However, Hikari's loud wake-up call apparently wasn't loud enough to rip her feline friend from her own abyss of blissfulness. Gatomon was still lying on the other half of Hikari's bed (which, even though Taichi no longer lived in the same apartment, remained a bunk bed), her body winded around the thin sheets Hikari hadn't nagged in her fall from grace. Gatomon was coiled into a firm ball similar to a centipede, her eyes only slightly open but glossy, as Hikari had seen them many times in the past. She used to think it meant Gatomon was awake, but she learned soon enough that Gatomon wasn't. If she were awake, she would've asked if Hikari was okay.

Watching Gatomon, she'd almost forgotten what so fitfully woke her up—almost. It didn't take her a long time to remember the sinking of fangs into palpable flesh, the heat of pincers seething into her legs, claws ripping into her neck. She also hadn't forgotten the feeling of the world fading around her.


No, that was wrong.

The world wasn't fading around her.

That didn't even begin to describe its feral reality, broken into a purple huff of angry aptitudes and unsettling disrupters. Thinking of the reality in her dreams, even though the real world around her became a colorless gray, she was able to shudder for the first time in weeks. She didn't remember what dreams felt like, all she remembered from her sleep was the fear, the chase, the knowledge that all was lost the moment that man's mighty blade met tremulous earth.

Most of all, she remembered the explosion that swallowed everything—not only her and the people around her (strangers, friends, acquaintances, loved ones), not only did it swallow the city or the country or even the world, but that explosion ricocheted until it hit the sun and the moon and the stars. It gripped Pluto and Mars and Venus, ripped Saturn's gleaming ring from its marble surface and propelled Mercury into Jupiter. It sent a rush of heat to consume Neptune as, slowly, tiredly, Uranus caved in on itself. Not even just the Milky Way was taken by that explosion of power.

It took the Digital World with it, too.

All the Digital Worlds.

And every night, for months now, Hikari dreamed about this monster. And every night, for two weeks now, the man with the dragon tattoo hadn't come once to save her. Now, she was alone.

Now, she was apathetic.

You don't have a heart, Hikari, was what Gatomon told her the day she woke up in the hospital. The digimon held her own face, trying to stop the tears inevitably forming and falling, but she wasn't keen on keeping them back. Gatomon always wanted to try to act tough, but in actuality, the cat digimon was just as weak as anyone. She was just as sad as anyone, and just as worried. She sniffled and looked back up at Hikari through glazed eyes and continued, I tried listening to it, but it's silent. No beat. No thump-thump. It's just... silent. Hollow. When the doctors tried to check for themselves, there was nothing. It's a miracle you're alive, but no one can explain how you are.

Hikari could explain it just fine.

It was that digimon, wasn't it? That...


who stole her heart.

Wasn't it?

What did it matter, anyway?

The past two weeks, the world lost all its color to Hikari, after all. Things were quiet. Peaceful.


Hikari didn't know what she wanted, what she felt, how she felt. All she knew was that there was a world around her that should've shined like it used to, but now, without her heart, everything seemed all that much more dull and pointless.

If it weren't for the voice she'd heard in her unconsciousness, Hikari wasn't even sure she'd bother. Ah, that voice was a sweet one. Feminine and light, there was a hint of concern and warmth in it, even though the voice was obviously disembodied. Hikari didn't know if she'd imagined it or if it was some higher power warning her of what was to come, but she did know that the one thing she did want was to listen to that voice.

Don't forget, the voice told her. Don't forget, Hikari, who you are. You'll fade someday, you know. If you want to stop from fading sooner, gather up a few friends. Find it.

Find your heart.

Don't let him keep what he's taken from you.

"Another nightmare?" said a voice above Hikari's head. The brunette blinked and looked up to see the feline blinking down at her, her elbow leaning against a goose-feather pillow as she lied on her side watching Hikari. Hikari blinked back, caught off-guard too quickly to react in time before the digimon smiled and stood. "You've been sitting on the floor for a while now."

She paused, sighed, and leapt off the bed. She landed beside Hikari, causing Niko nearby to frizzle and hiss, his feet pouncing backward as he diddled away from them. Hikari and Gatomon watched him run away before Gatomon laughed (much to her partner's silence) and turned to her partner, her head tilted to the side. "Come on, kid. Let's get breakfast."


"Mornin', Sleeping Beauty," greeted a voice from the kitchen doorway. Hikari blinked up to see Taichi giving her his normal debonair grin, white teeth poking out in their ever-so-cheery way. Hikari grinned at him as he brightened in his odd (but typical) Yagami-Taichi-Fashion. He bristled almost catlike when Hikari's dull gaze seized his own. He'd admitted many times since the "incident" that Hikari's eyes weren't as bright as they usually were. Staring into them was a bit like staring into the eyes of a witless cadaver, without a single spark from the ignition to trigger life into her body. Hikari disagreed by habit, even though they all knew it was true.

He then broke eye contact to rustle his new blue jacket, complimentary with a yellow star on each shoulder above two yellow stripes that wound around each arm. Beneath the jacket was a gray T-shirt that hung loosely around his blue jeans, which made a wispy whispery sound with every step Taichi took toward his younger sister.

When he was close enough, Hikari gave him a small smile, just enough to make him believe she was happy to see him. Well, she should've been happy to see him, at least. However, she felt more... numb about it than anything.

"Hey, Tai," she finally replied. "Why are you here?"

"B'aww, how could I let my little sis be all alone for two weeks in this big ole apartment? You'd be having parties every night without inviting me!"

"Oh yeah, with a keg and everything."

Taichi chuckled at the thought. Hikari grinned and folded her hands in front of her, ready for Taichi to reply when another voice filled the room. Both siblings looked at the hallway where they saw their mother, staring at Hikari with a raised eyebrow.

"That better be a joke, young lady," she said, walking into the kitchen to yoink a bagel and a carton of cream cheese in the fridge. She then turned back to the both of them and spoke in a very stern (yet kind) voice. "Listen, you two. Your father and I want to have a nice, uninterrupted time in Paris. If you disturb our second honeymoon... well, you can imagine what I'll do to you when I get back."

The two kids' eyes widened. Taichi was the first to pale and reply, "You wouldn't... you know... make dinner, would you? 'Cause, Mom, there's a reason why we ask Dad to cook."

Hikari clasped her mouth to stop herself from giggling. Mrs. Yagami, on the other hand, gave a sly smirk wide enough to send chills down Taichi's spine. She leaned toward her son, eyes ablaze in a furiously amused glint, and she said, "I'll make dinner, alright. I'll make dinner for a week."

"Oh, it'll be the death of us!" Taichi flailed his arms up into the air and sighed.

The two kids grinned toothily at their mother. Taichi stuffed his hands into his big pockets and at the same time winked, while Hikari just shook her head and turned to a yawning Gatomon as she shuffled into the room. Mrs. Yagami's eyes softened suddenly into a gentle, warm quality. It was always that look in them that caused Hikari to turn to putty. If she had to inherit anyone's eyes, she was glad she inherited her mother's.

They were always so kind.

"Another thing," she said, looking specifically toward Hikari. "I don't want any 'adventures' until we get back, okay? I think we've all had enough adventures lately to last us a life time."

Hikari blinked. That was an unusual request. Mrs. Yagami was accepting of her kids' duties to the Digital World—it was rare when she asked them not to do this or not to do that (at least, in regards to the "Magical World", as Mr. Yagami described it). In the beginning, she was weary of them leaving, but in the past three years, she'd loosened up a bit due to every single one of them ending happily ever after.

Well, why the hell do you think she's worried about you leaving, numbnut? Her inner-voice seethed, the tone fierce enough to feel like a conk upside the head. Hikari gave her mother a strained smile and nodded, reaching forward to hug her.

"No, we'll be fine," she said. "Have a good time, Mom. Tai will keep me safe. Right, bro?"

She turned to Taichi, who laughed and gave her a thumbs-up. A second later and he marched forward, embracing the both of them with arms large and long enough to enfold both of them sternly in his grip. Hikari hadn't realized just how much Taichi grew in the past few years—she could still remember a time when his arms couldn't even reach halfway across their mother's waist, much less fully.

Nevertheless, Taichi said, "Ah, she'll be safer than Safemon on safe day."


Safe day?

Wow, Taichi knew how to pull things out of his ass.

Hikari laughed anyway, even though their mother looked up with eyes sharp enough to cut diamond. Taichi snorted nervously and pulled away from the two women, his hands folded behind his back before he nodded.

"Uh, I mean, uh—she'll—uh—be good 'n' gooder when you back! I'll work like a Trojan to, uh, make this place, uh, Trojan-y, except I'll beware of Greeks bearing gifts and everything, ahaha!"

His high-pitched laughter was enough to make both Yagami women raise an eyebrow. In the end, however, their mother softened.

"Exactly," Mrs. Yagami replied, poking one of her fingers into Taichi's chest. After a second, she blinked and looked at his chest. Poked it again. Looked up at his face. Half-heartedly glared. "...Why have you been working out, mister?"

"Soccer season!" he said, smiling big.

"It wouldn't be because you're planning an adventure, now would it?"

"Psssh, of course not! Me? Adventures? That was sooo four years ago."

"Damn right four years ago," she added, resting her mitts on her hips as she then turned toward her daughter. Changing her expression to a warm smile like a bipolar shepherd with the brownest puppy dog eyes, she leaned forward to give Hikari a simple smackaroo on the cheek. "Well, the car's all loaded, so we'll be leaving in a few. You two have fun, just not too much fun. Ya' clear?"

"Crystal," Gatomon replied beneath Hikari with a bright smile. "Have fun, Mrs. Yagami!"

The old woman smiled at the digimon and nodded. Again, there was another swift expression change: this time to a big puppy grin to match the big puppy eyes.

"Oh, trust me..." she said, looking at her lean husband as he loaded the Chevy below their apartment. "I will."

Hikari and Taichi grinned at each other as their mother rushed toward her bedroom to pack just a few more things (which meant two more big bags of luggage, essentially). When she left, things were quiet for a while. Hikari grabbed a white bowl and some Cap'n Crunch from atop the fridge, ready to make herself the breakfast of champions. Gatomon leeched off her cereal, pawing at its contents until Hikari slapped the back of her paw and forced her to get a bowl of her own. Taichi, on the other hand, just watched the two as he folded his arms.

"Kari," he finally said. She blinked up at him before he again gave his typical Yagami grin and continued, "While Mom is gone, we should have an adventure."


She didn't even let him finish before she refilled her bowl and crunched down on her spoon, sweeping off grains of cereal and swallowing them without chewing. Taichi blinked at the firmness of her voice.


"I said no," Hikari repeated, taking another bite. She chewed this time and swallowed. "You—and all the others—have already suggested it a million times, and each time I've said no. Whoever did this to me did this and that's that. I'd just like to move on, please."

Especially because the memory of Chaosmon's words as he pumped his fist through her heart—"I'm warning you not to come looking for me"—was enough to send chills down her spine the second his slithering voice filled her head.

However, that wasn't enough for Taichi. He rushed toward her, slamming his palms against the table on either side of Hikari. His gaze bored into her own, regardless of their dull depths, as his brow crinkled into a half-glare half-concerned expression.

"Move on? That's a laugh," Taichi hissed. "You can't move on, Kari. Until we get back your heart—and your arm—you won't ever move on. And I know that for a fact."

He then pulled away from her, his hands clenched into trembling fists as he turned his back toward her. Hikari looked up at him with gaping eyes, the spoon dropping from her hand and clinking against the bowl. Gatomon looked up at him with a similar expression, however, another expression soon replaced the one before it—an expression that was an odd mix of agreement and worry, as if she wasn't sure if she should side with Taichi or tell him to back off.

In the end, she did the latter.

"Tai, your mom said—"

"I don't care what Mom said, she doesn't know all that happened out there," Taichi snapped, without looking back at them. Instead, he focused on what little golden light streamed from Hikari's open bedroom doorway and into the hallway connected to the kitchen. Still without looking back at them, he sighed and shook his head, his fingertips pressing against his temples. "I'm going to say goodbye to Dad and go to the gas station. Want twinkies or anything while I'm out?"

Hikari closed her mouth and cleared her throat. She picked her spoon back up and shook her head, the curve of the silver utensil dipping into the creamy white milk.

"No," she said. "I'm fine."

"You're not fine," he said crossly, moving toward the door. "Tell me when you've come to your senses, will ya'?"

And he was gone.


"Okay, seriously, Kari, you needed to get out of the house!" Miyako told Hikari as she tugged her into the mall. Hikari sighed and half-heartedly glared at Miyako, but the girl just grinned and winked. "Oh, c'mon, you know I'm right, you just don't want to admit it."

Hikari didn't know what she wanted, remember? Though, going by her normal personality, she would've guessed that she liked going shopping with the girls, especially because it was so few times when the Destined had enough time to get together. Mimi had even recently moved back to Japan after Seventeen decided they wanted her cooking show to take place in Japan, and Sora actually managed to get some free time from the office, which was rare for the talented designer.

"She's right, you know," Sora teased Hikari as they pulled into a shop with brilliant paintings and other artcrafts hanging on the walls. As the eight moved into the store, each of them were caught by a certain art form, be it picture, statue, figurine, or miscellaneous. However, Sora didn't allow that to distract her, even though Biyomon was tugging her in the direction of a nearby painting of some turtle doves. She grinned and ruffled Hikari's hair. "I haven't seen you all week!"

"I haven't seen you in months, kiddo!" Mimi gleamed, flinging both arms forward to embrace Hikari as she grinned at the younger girl. She winked and said, "Man, I'm so happy you still like pink nearly as much as I do. Tell me, what do you think of the hair?"

Hikari blinked and traced Mimi's newest hairdo with her eyes. She'd gotten rid of most the pink, but there were still brilliant streaks flashing over brown rolls of genuine Mimi hair. She'd also gotten rid of the star hairclips and replaced them with a pair of blue floral pins that held her bangs back from her face, framing it in a heart-shaped fashion.

What do you think of her hair, Hikari? She asked herself.

She gave Mimi a strained smile.

"It's cute," she said. "I like it."

At least, I think I do. I think I would.

(You would like it if what?)

"Ah, I knew you would!" Mimi giggled and slapped Hikari on the back. "I mean, who wouldn't?!"

"Good 'ole Mimi," Miyako chuckled. However, as they walked through the store, her eye caught something nearby. She blinked, stared at it for a few seconds, then grabbed Hikari by the elbow to pull her back.

"Yolei, careful," Hawkmon warned her.

Miyako grinned at him and turned to beam at Hikari. "Hey, hey, look at this!"

She pointed to a rectangular painting about the size of Hikari's hand. The painting itself was splayed with a variety of different cool colors, from sky blue and midnight purple to a vibrant green. Then, as if to liven it up, the artist added a splash of soft gold across a few clouds where the sun was attempting to peek through storm-embedded fluff. It wasn't the sun that Hikari lingered on, however. It was what was below the sun.

Two people—a man and a woman—were dancing beneath a wild winding storm. It wasn't like they were doing this tremendous duet. Quite to the contrary, it looked as if they were dancing just for the hell of dancing, without any rhythm without any rhyme without any thought other than the joy of it. The joy of each other's company. It was raining, specking the buildings and the roads and the nearby old 50's cars that looked as if somebody took cookie cutters and determined their shape that way. The best part about the picture—even though it was probably the smallest and least important detail of all—was the two people off on the sidelines of the picture. One was a maid who held a maroon umbrella above the lady in a long red gown, while the other was a butler in a black penguin suit as he held a black umbrella above the dancing gentleman's head with his tall black top hat.

Neither of the dancers seemed to realize the umbrellas were even there, though.

"So much detail for such a small painting," Miyako said with a toothy grin. "Isn't it pretty? Someday, that's gonna be Ken and me! We'll have servants and maids and go to balls... ah, wouldn't that be the life?"

Hikari knew right then and there she was going to buy that painting. She plucked it off its place on the stand and brought it over to the main desk, despite Miyako asking her what the heck she was doing.

"Hey, hey, careful with that, Kari!" Miyako said, chasing after her best friend as Hikari planted it on the desk.

"I want to buy this," she told the young well-dressed teenager standing at the cashier. He blinked at her from behind wiry black bangs, his head tilted to the side. She looked at his nametag to see his name was Kazenobu, and quite pleased to see such a name, she turned to him with a grin. "Kazenobu, these two people look so careless yet so happy. I want to have this for that simple reason, because a person can be both happy and careless, right?"

The cashier guy blinked and looked from Hikari to the painting, then back to Hikari. "I, er, suppose..."

"And they can find love, too, eh?"

"Yeah, I guess. Do you want it or not?"

"Of course!"

The cashier smiled at her and told her how much yen she'd need to pay, then turned to wink at Miyako as she came rushing forward to grab Hikari. As soon as he winked, however, she bit her bottom lip and giggled.

"Well, hello to you, too, handsome," she purred.

Hikari stopped herself from grinning and grabbed the painting as the man handed it to her. She then clasped Miyako by the hand and rushed back toward the others, a smile seemingly forever implanted on her face. She sighed and turned to Miyako, who was giving her a curious grin.

"What was that all about?" Miyako asked, taking her hand out of Hikari's as Hawkmon rushed back to her side. Gatomon blinked up at Hikari as if she was surprised by Hikari's sudden rush of happiness.

Well, granted, Gatomon would be surprised.

She was the one who saw Hikari's hollowness the most. Out of everyone, day in and day out, it was always Gatomon who watched both Hikari's good side and bad side unravel like yarn. She watched control leak from Hikari's grasp as if she were trying to grasp the ocean, yet the ocean was never quite solid enough to be hers.

However, in that moment, she picked up the picture and smiled at it warmly, her gaze tracing the woman's beautiful smile. "I... want to give it to my parents when they get back." She looked up at Miyako, then to Sora, Mimi, Palmon, and Biyomon as they glanced at her curiously. She smiled again and nodded. "It'll be their welcome back gift!"

What Hikari didn't know, however, was that her parents' new gift would mean more than that to her.

Soon enough, that gift would be one of the few things she clung onto in order to stay alive...

"Um, Kari?" Sora said, a light of concern glazing her ruby eyes. Hikari blinked up at her as she smiled sadly. "Are you... alright? You do want us to look for Chaosmon, right?"

Her smile faded.



At times, it seemed like Hikari was the only one who didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. Even though Taichi loved endless green fields, white painted lines in front of a netted goal, and leather-bound spheres, everyone knew that it wasn't what Taichi had in mind for a career. He was good enough at soccer to beat the best of them, but it definitely wasn't what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Instead, Taichi went into business and accounting—even earned himself enough moola (in a short amount of time) to buy a nice-sized apartment. He was a genius at business, which Hikari wasn't too surprised about. Her brother did have a sorta unique but powerful charisma skill that not many people held. Though, he managed to play in some very kickass soccer games at his university and was nationally recognized as one of Japan's top players.

Yamato entered university in America and decided to try a double major. No one thought he could do it, but he did it anyway. He majored in music and engineering, with a minor in astronomy. He didn't have a lot of time in recent years, yet he managed to maintain a very intense and passionate long-distance relationship with Sora, who remained in Japan when her mother's flower shop made a deal with a famous Japanese fashion magazine called "Seventeen".

Even though Sora wanted to continue playing tennis, she quickly became wrapped up in the wide world of fashion, which was an element no one saw coming for her. However, as always with Sora, she adjusted quickly and became one of the most popular fashion designers with the whole magazine, even though her mother was only supposed to deal with flowers during fashion shows! It began when Sora submitted tennis uniform designs, which enveloped her in other clothing designs that had Seventeen begging for more.

Other than Jou, Koushiro was the first of any of the Destined to decide what he wanted to be. Almost immediately after MaloMyotismon's defeat, Koushiro (and Jou) left Earth with Gennai for two years in order to train and learn about Digital Life. When he returned, even though he hadn't graduated high school or went to college, he already knew most of what other kids knew anyway! It wasn't hard at all for him to snag a spot in Human-Digimon relations right in the heart of Tokyo, where he worked even to this day. He and Gennai stayed in contact daily.

Jou was quick to decide, as well. When he was younger, he didn't want to become a doctor like his father. He always relied on his older brothers to have that fate—because Jou wanted to be different from the rest of them. He didn't want to play the part of a matched set. He wanted to make his own fate; he wanted to make his own destiny. His father taught him everything he needed to know for basic medical help and, as a diligent person, Jou followed every word he said—even though Jou himself hadn't really decided what he wanted to be.

However, when he saw Imperialdramon face MaloMyotismon, it hit him. He was going to be doctor like his father wanted him to be—but... he wasn't going to be a human doctor. After MaloMyotismon's defeat, he and Koushiro studied in the Digital World under Gennai, who also taught Jou everything he needed to know about digimon, including diseases, pandemics, epidemics, and anatomy. Jou wanted to help the world. Both worlds.

Now, everyone thought Mimi was going to be the fashion designer. When Sora became a fashion designer, everyone thought Sora was going to make Mimi her model. Of course, right? It's Mimi. Mimi Tachikawa. The Odaiba Princess. And hey, for a while, that was exactly what Mimi was: a model for Seventeen, working with each of Sora's marvelous designs—but then everything came tumbling down when Mimi decided she wanted to do something else (well, Mimi never could stick to one thing—she easily got bored being in a relationship with Koushiro, she ran away from any intimacy with Jou, for a while Yamato was thinking of leaving Sora for Mimi until the both of them realized that Mimi was too fickle and Yamato was too much in love with Sora, she hated anything physical with a passion so she was easily irritated being in a relationship with Taichi, and she and Michael were too similar to stay interested for too long; Mimi couldn't even stick with one major in college—she was constantly changing it from Interior Design to Politics to the Arts, et cetera).

She didn't want to smile in front of the camera day in and day out; for someone who loved the spotlight, it was strange because she valued friendship and family so much over a modeling career, which took up a lot of her day. It was then that Mimi chose her own career. Instead of being a model, Seventeen signed her on for a cooking show, where she would not only promote their magazine and fashions, but she would also fulfill her own wish of showing the world what an amazing cook she could be!

Daisuke was one of the first people Mimi asked to help her come up with recipes. A week before Mimi signed a contract to her new cooking show, the Motomiya family had a big party and invited all the Destined, where they got to experiment with Daisuke's many noodles recipes. Of course, they were all simply delicious—so delicious that his recipe was the first one Mimi wanted to do for her cooking show! Hikari supposed Daisuke's fate was sealed there and then. At the age of fifteen (one year ago), Daisuke had become a worldwide cook as famous as Emerald, if not even more famous due to his association with saving the world (thus bringing him to an almost Superman status). With his connections to Seventeen, he was going places! In one year, he'd already seen the Americas, Italy, Paris, New York, all the cooking capitals of the world! Bam!

Miyako, even though she had amazing grades and was quickly becoming as strong as She-Hulk, even though she could do anything she wanted and go wherever she wanted, decided she didn't want to do anything. If she needed to get by, she could leech off her siblings or even get a small job, but even though she seemed like the greedy type, in recent years, she'd learned that maybe less is more. Even so, Miyako still had a voracious appetite! Hikari doubted her plan would work, but if Miyako really wanted to, she was 100% sure she could get a job in a snap working under Koushiro in the Human-Digimon relations sector of Tokyo. But that was a long time away, right? They still had high school and college to go through, and Miyako wasn't planning on letting those go, even though she was pretty sure she just wanted to sit at home all day doing absolutely nothing for the rest of her life. To Hikari, who was an active person, that sounded like hell. To Miyako, who grew up trying to please everyone else and working to grab anything and everything she could before it was taken from her, doing nothing for once sounded like Heaven.

Ken wanted to help people. Like Hikari, he shared her desire to help the helpless, to save the saveless, to give kindness to the people who knew none. When Ken realized he wanted to do something regarding law, he realized he wanted to do it as soon as possible. With that knowledge, he began working harder than he ever worked before. He put his extravagant mind to work and realized that, even without the Dark Spore's influence, he could be just as smart and just as active as before! He was planning on graduating school in six months and attending a private academy somewhere on the edge of Hokkaido.

Takeru was similar to Hikari in that he wasn't quite sure what he wanted to be. Well, he wanted to be a writer—that he knew for sure. What kind of writer he wanted to be, not even he knew. Journalism? Eh. Fiction writer? Hm. Non-fiction writer? Maybe. After the defeat of MaloMyotismon, he told Hikari that he felt as if someone needed to record all the events. He didn't mean it as in a simple article way. He thought all their adventures should be recorded explicitly, so people could see exactly what happened. People could see why the Destined fought, and why they needed to fight. He... wanted to inspire people. So, he gathered information for this big book he was planning on writing. Hikari didn't know the details for it, all she knew was that the folder he kept all his notes in was more massive than Gatomon's fur balls—and that was pretty massive.

Even Iori, who wasn't even in high school yet, decided he wanted to do something great with his life. Most people recognized attorneys as these greedy, two-bit evildoers. Iori, on the other hand, wanted to change that misconception—like his father, like Oikawa, and like Ken, Iori wanted to fight and destroy evil. Unlike his father, unlike Oikawa, and unlike Ken, however, Iori didn't feel the need to correct this misconception through violence. He wanted to fight evil verbally. To ensnare them in places where they shouldn't pick up the soap, and to make them wish they'd never stepped a toe out of line. Iori was a lover, not a fighter... but... if you pissed him off, he was just as horrifying as Mimi on a bad hair day.

He wanted to become the next young Harvey Dent, minus the whole Two-Face ordeal. He saw it this way: when Ken knocked 'em down, Iori would place steel shackles on their wrists. Of course, this was meant metaphorically. It was up to the police to handcuff any villains. At the age of fourteen, Iori decided he was going to be a lawyer. He even already knew he was planning on attending either Harvard or Oxford, whichever one he could get a better scholarship for.

Speaking of Iori, he'd asked to come see Hikari after she was done with her little shopping masquerade. Despite not knowing exactly what she, herself, was going to be, Hikari did know that she had the grades and the stats to still do anything she wanted. Iori was a smart kid—but he still needed help, especially Hikari's. She did have a keen skill in teaching things, such as poise or maths. When Iori wanted to practice for a speech he was planning on giving, he usually visited Hikari to see how well he was doing.

"Here, hold your chin up," she told him with a nod. She stepped forward and demonstrated for him, then gave him a bright smile. "And make sure to smile big, too. People always listen to a smiler."

"Right," Iori replied with a grin. He followed her example and stood, chin raised, lips curled into an irresistible smile.

The kid definitely grew in the past four years. His hair was a bit longer now, falling in shaggy strands just an inch above his shoulders. As someone forced into soccer by Daisuke, he wasn't that same lanky boy anymore. His chest was a broad chestplate of memories, while his muscular legs held him into a constant graceful stride. His arms were probably the least muscular part of him, yet he held his notecards with a pristine professional look to him, as if Hikari could just dress him up in a suit and he'd be ready to become a lawyer right then and there.

As soon as he began his speech again, Hikari's smile quickly faded. Smiling was just an example, after all. There was nothing really to smile about, right? Nothing in the world to worry about. Even her sanity. What's the merit of sanity anyway? If you were sane, did you get more than a bunch of pats on the back and the stunning chance to be a popular member of society? Why was that even important?

Why was any of it important?

Again, Hikari gave Iori a small smile when he glanced at her. However, he slurred together the words "it" and "takes" at the same second, so Hikari sighed and stood to make a motion with her hands like two shells clamping down together at a rhythmic beat.

"Remember to annunciate," she told him, clamping her hands together then un-clamping them for emphasis. "If they can't tell what you're saying, how do you expect them to listen?"

"Sorry." He confidently nodded and opened his mouth to speak again. His lips hung mid-openly; the air began sucking backward into his mouth; one of his hands rose so his notecards were high enough for him to read.

But then he stopped.

Looked Hikari in the eye.

He gave her a deep, gentle look, his eyes like liquid to her reflection. She could see herself in his eyes (eyes that reminded her of endless Scottish fields and mercurial sea-green depths). Seeing herself echo in them, she realized she didn't like the darkness she brought to the miraculous shining eyes Iori had. She, herself, seemed not to hold the Crest of Light, but the Crest of Shadow...

Because she wasn't smiling.

She wasn't even frowning.

In fact, she was crouched over, loose strands of dark hair falling across her pallid expression. Dark circular sacks hung askew across each of her eyes, peering like a pair of clicking insects hoping to suck the soul out of anyone staring into them. Yagami Hikari was just... staring and staring, without a single lightbulb flickering in her own browns. They were dead eyes. Eyes she'd seen countless times and in countless battles, eyes she'd seen on humans and digimon alike. Eyes she never thought she would have until she would no longer have the ability to look at her reflection.

And Hikari knew that if even she could recognize the depthless glimmer in her reflection, Iori (a Destined of knowledge, fer Chrissakes) would be able to, as well.

"Kari," he began, suddenly sitting on her bed as he tossed his notecards aside. Hikari sighed and quickly looked away from him. He didn't stop. He only continued. "Kari, I'm... kind of worried. In fact, everyone's worried."

He knows. Iori knows.

It was a dark whisper in her ear, that seething draconic voice that pricked at bits and pieces of her skin. It was tearing at her like lightning that splits the sky, ready to rip and tear and send crackling tremors down a winding concrete road.

Her dragon arm pulsed.

You're dead. He knows you're dead, Kari. He knows you should be dead. He knows you act dead.

And there was nothing she could do about it.

Her black snakelike claws twitched on her lap, light pinpricks tearing holes the size of a mouse nose into her seams. It was hardly noticeable, except for the flaring pain that echoed through her leg and into her mind. She didn't even flinch.

"You've just seemed so... down lately."

Were you ever up?

Of course she was up at one time. Of course. Of course.

They're so worried about you. They're ALWAYS worried about YOU, Yagami.

That was true. Everyone was always worried about her, even when they weren't supposed to be. Hikari and Gatomon (and the others) were sent to protect someone from one of the Great Dragons. They were supposed to help Leomon and Ogremon. Yet, when they arrived, there was no trace of a battle nor the crinkle of sweat on anyone's brow but her own. They were supposed to protect someone, but they never got around to it. Afterwards, neither Gennai or Koushiro could find any trace of Leomon nor Ogremon. Sure, Gennai picked up a lead on their whereabouts a week ago, but he'd disappeared soon afterwards. Koushiro hadn't heard a word from him since.

You know what happened?

You failed in a mission and didn't get into trouble. If you'd WAITED, you would have a NORMAL arm and a HEART. If you HURRIED instead of interrogating Gatomon, maybe you could have ACCOMPLISHED what you SET OUT to DO. Either way, either path, you didn't do either, and so EVERYTHING is all YOUR fault, yet you get to walk away with warm embraces and tears while others wind up DEAD. Your arm was replaced by a dragon's arm, and you can't feel a single emotion building in your empty chest. Disgusting. You FAILED saving someone from the Great Dragons, and you know how everyone responds to you? They say, "Hey, Kari, are YOU alright?" Well, are you, Kari? Are you alright?

The dragon hand fisted. Her toes curled in their socks. Wind was pressing against her window, shaking it like the hand of God was reaching down and grabbing it from its place. Iori hadn't noticed a thing, he only continued to look down at his knees, like he knew he shouldn't be asking.

"Kari, it's like you're gone," he said. "Are you... alright?"

Are you?

"No," she whispered.



Iori spluttered backwards, feet and arms tangled in a gory mess of thick red liquid. His lips opened to ricochet a heart-tearing roar, his legs twisting around each other as they forced him to collide against one of Hikari's walls. With a loud fwump! His spine cracked against a few shelves of library books, while his eyes widened to see Hikari standing above him, her knuckles


as she rolled her wrist, as her fingers curled down, as her fingers uncurled and curled and uncurled until there was no other cracking to be done. Iori just held his chest as a spray of red fused with a flash of gray light, causing Iori to scream again, one of his legs kicking her desk. With a loud clatter, books and glass "I (Heart) Sister" mugs plowed into the carpet, splashing water and coffee across Hikari as she lurched toward him.

Hikari's door crashed open.

Armadillomon and Gatomon scuffled into the room, their eyes wide with profound shock before they realized exactly what happened. Hah. Hah. The girl they knew as "Hikari" stood tired and blood-soaked above a mangled and marred Iori as he struggled not to fall into sleepless oblivion.





"I'll kill you," she spat.

"What?" Iori spluttered, attempting to stand from his place. Hikari gave a choked scream, fingers clawing at the air as she jaggedly moved toward him.

"I'LL KILL YOU, YOU FUCKING SON OF A BITCH!" She lunged toward Iori. Armadillomon and Gatomon bolted forward, their hands clasping her wrists and ankles to stop her from even going near Iori. Heat radiated in her chest. "DO YOU THINK I'M ALRIGHT?!"

The heat spread from her chest to her cheeks.


Rose from her cheeks to her eyes.

Gatomon shrilly screamed her name, her paws clenching tightly enough around Hikari's wrists that bruises immediately formed. Hikari continued to struggle, her head facing the ceiling as her voice grew hoarse.


And from her eyes, all the heat fell. She could feel something clear—hot—something liquid—trickle down her cheeks to her chin. Somewhere along the way, that heat trailed across the corner of her lip, forcing her to taste... salt?

"I'll... see how okay you'd be..." she choked, her gaze landing on her bloodied dragon arm. "I'll... I'll—oh, God."

The world blurred around her, causing her to stir as Gatomon and Armadillomon released her wrists and ankles. She fell to her knees, one small hand reaching to brush her lips.

What makes you even more worthless, the voice seethed, is the fact that you just attacked one of your best friends. Don't you just love that?

When the thought entered her mind, it dropped like a rock into the pit of her stomach where it stayed like a festering, acidic disease eating her from the inside out. She covered her face with both hands, her body a shivering mess of blood and sudden fear.

Don't forget, Hikari, the disembodied memory reminded her. Don't forget...

Who you are.

"Cody..." she whimpered between cusped and dirty hands, both hiding her face from Iori's view.

It should've been a happy moment.

Hikari could feel again.

Yet, sitting there, the only thing she felt was melancholy; she could feel fear and anger, both aimed at herself as she realized the blood staining her dragon arm was Iori's. Aside from that, it wasn't even the dragon arm itself that'd touched him. It was a gray light that flashed forward—similar to Chaosmon's white wind—and struck him like the swift flash of the sword that dismembered her arm. Even so, by the time she muttered an apology, she could already feel a pair of arms wrap around her almost chokingly tight.

The rock in her stomach bobbed against the thin membrane of her side, causing her to squirm and look from between her hands to see whose warm arms held her so tightly.


But... she'd hurt him. She'd—she'd said—said things she didn't want to say. Things that weren't even true.

His finger lightly brushed her chin and tipped her face toward his so that he could get a better look at her tear-stained face. Giving her a warm smile, he tilted his head to the side and allowed, for just a single second, the acid to burn the rock away. Using crosses and holy water, that warm smile banished the festering spirit from its hiding spot in the darkest depths of her mind, expelling it from her tired body.

"Kari, I think it's time," he told her gently. He stood from his spot, releasing her chin to instead offer his hand to her. Tilting his head to the side, he smiled and nodded. "Let's find the digimon who stole your heart."

"Cody!" Then there was another emotion that rushed like the stride of a gallant stallion, buckling and calling her name as it rode the winds to the core of where her heart was supposed to be. And that feeling was love—pure, innocent love, for the brother she saw standing in front of her. She wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly, her voice shaking as she cried, "Cody, I'm sorry! I'm so, so sorry! Are you okay? Are you—do you—do you need a doctor? Are you—okay?"

"I'm fine," Iori laughed. He pulled away from her just slightly to point where she'd marred his shoulder, his eyes falling half-lidded as he smiled sadly. "It stings, but... you didn't hit anything vital. Obviously, I can still move. Besides..." He turned his smile toward her, the sadness swiftly swallowed by a surge of glowing cheer. "I was the one who broke Gatomon's fur-blowdryer that one day. I'm pretty sure we're even."

Hikari half-laughed and half-cried, her arms once again clasping him in a tight embrace. Iori joined her half-laugh half-cry, himself, as the two glanced toward their shocked digimon. Armadillomon was the first to rush forward, peeling Hikari away from his partner as he looked over Iori's wound.

"Stay away from 'im," Armadillomon growled at Hikari as he pressed his hand lightly against the wound. Wide-eyed and worried, Armadillomon asked, "Codeh, can ya breahthe alrigh', is there aneh way teh help ya? Do ya wan' meh to get some Advil or somethin'?"

"No, I'm alright, Armadillomon," Iori said with a smile before his gaze traced back to Hikari. Biting her bottom lip in thought, she was pale and sweaty, as if everything was finally beginning to take its true toll on her.

"C'mon," Armadillomon said, attempting to pull Iori closer to the door. "Weh gotta get that bandaged up feh ya."

"Kari," Gatomon said, wringing in her partner's attention. As she turned to Gatomon, the world brightened once again. The cat digimon smiled sadly and reached forward to take Hikari's hands in her paws, her head tilted slightly to the right. "For a second there, I thought I'd lost you…" she smiled warmly. "I'm glad I didn't."

"I'm glad you didn't, either," Hikari said through a small laugh. Gatomon smiled warmly again and leaned forward to kiss Hikari's forehead, her paws clasping the back of Hikari's neck to push her forward so she could hear Gatomon's own heart. Hikari's eyes widened at the sound of it. She could feel the beast inside her chest nearly scream in outrage; yet, at the same time, there was another monster inside her that smiled, bringing that same warmth to her chest. Ker-thump, the heart cooed. Ker-thump, ker-thump, ker-thump. However, this warmth was soft, like an elegy of the angels. "As long as this beats, Kari, I know I'll never lose you. Even if you don't have a heart, as partners, in a way, we're two halves of the same soul. Don't get me wrong—we're not soulmates or anything stupid like that—but we're two sides of the same coin. As long as I'm here, I'll be your heart. I promise, just... don't let me lose you again."

"I promise," she said in a snap, her gaze focusing on Gatomon's as she smiled brightly. Nodding, she drew her head away from Gatomon's chest to nod at her digimon, her fingers moving on their own as she held up two fingers and crossed her thumb. "Scout's honor."

"Oh, hush, you weren't ever a scout," Gatomon laughed. Hikari was about to join her when she noticed Armadillomon's reflection in her partner's left eye—while carefully helping Iori toward the door, he shed a single glance in Hikari's direction. His eyes narrowed into slits, a flash of anger riveting in their venomous nadir. Hikari watched the two exit, and smiled sadly as she bowed her head.