A/N: I don't own Digimon.

XxXxX

Once upon a time.

That's how it always begins, right?

Maybe next you'll say, "In a kingdom far, far away." All good stories take place somewhere else: a place where real mystery still lives and breathes like any one of us.

And, coincidentally, the best stories take place wherever you, the listener, are not. There's probably a lesson in that…

That's what makes it hard to write the best fiction. You, the author, have to put yourself into a place which you may never have seen nor been to. Maybe that place doesn't actually exist, and no one knows a thing about it—except for you. Because you've dreamed it up, out of your seemingly limitless imagination.

There's beauty in those visions, which dance behind your eyes, hidden from the world. The trick is getting it onto the paper like an artist paints his masterpiece or a composer writes his greatest symphony.

And that's where I'm running into trouble.

I lean back in my chair and rub my eyes tiredly. It's hard to say if writing during the day or in the middle of the night—when there are fewer distractions—is easier. I'm currently experimenting with the latter, and the glowing computer screen isn't the kindest of friends in this setting. But even if I knew the best time to do it, I still wouldn't have much of a clue where to go from here.

I see a looming mountain shrouded in transient mist. I've got a good feeling about it, actually, so I doubt it's the hidden lair of some villain bent on conquering the world. I also see a sweet, green forest at the foot of that great peak. And, deep within those shadowy boughs, there are soft lights dancing to an old, old melody: they entrance me if I think about them for very long.

Obviously, I've got a picture in my mind. And I know there's a story behind it, but I've yet to figure out what it is.

Because everything has a story.

I figure it's one of those things about life that you come to realize. Look closely enough at any object, at any scene you'll ever come across, and you'll find it's got a past of some kind. But more so…what you see isn't just a history. It's not all facts and dates, trivia and data: there's beauty and truth hiding in everything. Take a look around, and you see a mosaic of colorful bits and pieces.

And I think it's when you start trying to fit those shards of reality together into different arrangements and patterns that you get fantasy.

That's what makes me wonder where this image in my mind came from. Is there a grain of truth hidden like a pearl within this secret world of my mind?

I really hope so. The mountain, the forest, and the lights are tugging at my heartstrings even now; it'd be a blessed world that held such a sight in reality, even if it were just in part.

And as I think about it, I find that its allure comes from something other than just what my mind's eye sees. It's not visual, not in the least. There's a sense of something greater than the material world which I'm looking at.

That's what I'm looking for. If I could pin that down, and immerse myself in it, I might have something to share with people. A story built on something that inexorably draws people to itself, by virtue of its beauty.

Those kinds of stories are called myths, I think: those collections of words that try to capture something timeless. Something permanent, something that people can look at again and again over the years, and yet always come away with something new, and never leave empty-handed.

…heh. See me ramble to myself…

I stretch for a few moments, with my hands reaching toward the ceiling—and beyond that, the heavens—beyond I shut off the blank, blindingly white screen. There's time to find words later; I just can't do it tonight.

But as I rise from my chair, I realize that I'm restless. Thinking about this so intently for hours on end past midnight has wound me up. Even if I crawl back into bed, and cover up with those warm, fluffy blankets, there's no way I'll be asleep even by the time the sun rises. That's the way it always works when these waking dreams fill up my nights.

Ah, well. Who needs sleep, anyway?

The best thing to do now is to step outside and get some air. Maybe go for a walk. Tokyo's always bright, and it's not got the cleanest air around, but Shinjuku's a good place to clear your mind regardless.

So, leaving Guilmon snoring quietly on his bed of cushions, I grab a jacket and tiptoe through my bedroom door. Coming down the stairs, I carefully avoid that squeaky step halfway to the bottom, pass my parents' room without a peep, and steal out into the night like a shadow.

The breeze on my face refreshes me even more than coffee does. There's something cleaner and more wholesome to the wind than there is to that dark drink, and I'm glad I didn't partake of the latter tonight.

Passing from the dim radiance of one streetlamp to the next, I make my way through the still, winding streets. You can never see the stars above Tokyo, and that disappoints me—clear starlight is the closest thing I've ever actually seen to that timelessness I'm imagining—but sometimes it's better to ponder things beneath a murky sky. I know I, at least, feel more self-contained, and it's easier to concentrate solely on that one thing; I don't get distracted by that which I'm thinking about in the first place, so to speak.

It's lonely in its own way, of course; I don't have those great lights shining down on me, guiding my steps. But then, seeing how far away they are, on a clear night outside the city, can be isolating, too. To everything, there is a season.

Eventually, my shoes leave the pavement and step onto gravel. It's a nice touch to the park, really, these loose trails. It feels more natural than treading upon a cold, hard, smooth surface. And if there's one thing that I've come understand, it's that nature does a lot of things right.

I walk without purpose for a length of time which I don't keep track of, but I eventually come upon that old, concrete hut that I know so well. I'm not surprised; I merely wonder if there's something special that drew me here, tonight in particular, or if I should keep on walking until I find something to calm my spirits…

Hm. Well, if a friend is special—and I'd say so—then I think I'll be staying. An unexpected meeting in the middle of the night probably isn't going to allay the restlessness that drove me here, but it's worth it.

I know my presence has been noticed, but, receiving no acknowledgement, I simply wander over and lay down on the soft grass. Linking my hands behind my head and gazing up into the cloudy, dimly light night sky, I still don't speak. I've learned more than a few things over the years; one of them is the value of silence. I know my reasons, but who can say why she picked a night to abandon hearth and home for our little clearing in the park?

So we lay side by side, eyes cast upward into the haze. It's not exactly inspiring, but, as I've said, there's beauty in everything if you look for it.

Even more so in people, of course. I wonder if that's what drew us together tonight, like two moths circling a flame. It's hard to resist, and it's harder to imagine why you'd want to.

Eventually, after long minutes of companionable silence, she turns her head to look at me. Long locks of coppery-red hair fall across her uncharacteristically gentle face and her amethyst eyes, which look both far-off and wonderfully peaceful. Serene, even. I half smile at her apparent contentedness, and raise an inquisitive brow.

Her own lips quirk upwards. "Something kept me from sleeping tonight."

"Something on your mind, you mean?" I ask. She doesn't look distressed in any way, shape, or form, so I'm guessing it's something a little more enjoyable. Intriguing.

She ponders her response for a little while before replying, "You," with emphasis on that first word, "might say it's some need tugging at my heartstrings. You've been poetic like that lately."

"Ah. I know what you mean. And yeah, I suppose you could say that I've found something satisfying in using the right words."

"Hm." She turns her head back to the dark, cloudy heavens. "I pulled out an old story book yesterday, when it was raining. I curled up in a chair and read it, like I was a little girl again. It was…different."

"By which you mean…?" I prompted.

"I'd forgotten that I loved those fairy tales so much when I was young. And I rediscovered it, I suppose. I couldn't stop think about them all night, trying to figure out what makes them so special. Things weren't much different today."

I shift to get the blood flowing in my hands again. "Sounds familiar."

As wonderful as words are, we don't need many to communicate everything. She glances back at me and quips warmly, "You've been reading children's stories in my room?"

I roll my eyes and answer her actual question. "I've been trying to write. Trying to find what it is that makes a story so dear to its reader. Trying to discover where its power comes from."

"It's not easy, is it?"

"Not at all. But it's worth the while."

We're silent for another time and a half, however long that is.

"Tell me about what you're writing." She rolls over onto her stomach so that she's pressed ever so lightly against my side. She inclines her head, looking down at me slightly.

I take a moment to gather my thoughts, leaving her to expectantly watch my eyes flicker from one idea to another vision to yet another distant musing.

"…it starts out with a…message of some sort," I begin, piecing together shadows and half-remembered dreams. "A revelation, you might say. And then there's a journey, through wind and rain, forests and canyons, fire and ice." One of my hands rises, almost of its own accord, and begins to mime pen strokes in the night air. "It's a quest, of course, but it starts out with a single person seeking a treasure that you can't hold in a chest. After that, when he starts finding clues and answers, other people join him. The group grows, because everyone's searching for the same thing—even if they don't know it. But they all still see him as the leader, because he's so much closer to the truth of…whatever their journey means."

After a long pause, she nods me on. I chuckle, understanding how vague and strange it all sounds.

"…how do you find the path to something, some truth, when you don't even know what you're looking for? Or if you're not even capable of understanding that which you seek? That's the question, really, and for two reasons. It's the question I'm asking the reader, in a roundabout way, and it's also the question I'm asking myself in trying to write the answer."

She puzzles out my meaning—my riddle wrapped in an enigma—for a little while, and I spend that time tracing the curves of her arm, her shoulder, and her neck with my eyes. I take a moment to marvel at how her physical form matches the elegant beauty of her whole being, particularly now.

Heh. Would you have heard me speak or think such things in times now gone, times lost to all but the mystic chords of memory?

…I don't think so. This kind of perception of the world seems to come with experience and with a certain introspective contemplation. It's incredible how the accumulation of such little things—past events and half-absorbed ideas—can so change a person. Not to mention the indulgence of imagination, dreams, and an inquisitive mind…

Eventually, her voice sets my train of thought back on track.

"It's ironic that the writer and the hero are on the same pilgrimage," she remarks with a small smirk.

I smile in response, appreciating how she plays along with my wonder for these things. "Maybe so. I think it adds a ring of truth, really."

"Mm. Then it's doubly ironic."

"…heh. The puppeteer gives to his marionettes, merely by virtue of their being and by his intent for them, the very purpose which the puppets themselves blindly pursue."

She smiles softly—with a hint of humor and something more behind it—and nestles down into the grass, resting her head against my shoulder. We've never really been this close, either in terms of measurable distance or by our mutual interests, hobbies, and passions…but I can taste something special in the night. Something that draws us together and bonds us in a curious manner.

Tonight is a nascent herald of the ideas and dreams that I've been pondering for the last couple of years. Even now, things are starting to come together, to form bridges and connections within the realm of my mind. It's an epiphany in the making—even if I won't be able to join the full communion of these mysterious thoughts for years to come, if ever.

But I come to one realization: you never find the path on your own. That's why I'm here, now, with her.

The intuitive knowledge gently nestling into my silent thoughts leaves me at peace. I may yet write my story, in the distant future, but I'm already a little closer to that answer now.

Hm. If this is what follows from time with a newly loved one, then I know how I intend to spend my life. Because, in love, you find the good, the true, and the beautiful. And what more could we ever seek?

XxXxX

A/N: Our world could do with a little more thoughtfulness, and a lot less mindless stimulation. How do you answer a question when your life is overfilling with trivialities?

On another note, many of my loyal readers will doubtless have noticed the glaring lack of updates to Digital Realms. Well, that's college life for you. On the bright side, I'm spending more time thinking, as well as looking at things like this, so it's a good deal on my end. Perhaps you'll all still be patiently waiting by the time I can get back to writing DR. Heh.

Till next time.