a/n: I still don't own Digimon. I'm sorry that this took forever to complete. I thought that I'd have more time to write during my summer break but it turns out summer often entices you to do other things and makes your laziness increase exponentially. D: Some of the happenings in this chapter may be surreal (I still haven't stepped into college yet, though I will be a few weeks from now!) so events may idealized and stuff Xd Very very sorry! I hope you enjoy this anyway! Once again, I'm sorry for the delay.

Also, I'm very much considering extending this to 8 parts because 7 might make latter parts a bit too rushed, but I'm not too sure yet so I'll try to pull it off in 7 for now 8D.

Thank you for everyone who have read this, enjoyed this, and most of all, left a review. I'm beyond thankful for your feedback :')

Do you know that feeling you get when you tear yourself away from something only to find out, for the first time, that you're not the same person anymore?

It's how he feels.

Even if Hikari was no longer there, no longer with him, no longer beside him, he still feels her and the way she painted him into an entirely different color.

(He doesn't even know who he is without her.)

iv. aftershocks

It's not the act of pulling out the band-aid, but the pain that comes afterwards that hurts.

During the first few months of college, his pillow was often damp and the buttons of his answering machine were worn from constant checking. But things weren't the same anymore. And it wasn't that he didn't expect things to be different, it was that he couldn't have expected things to be SO different. There were none of the senseless but fun conversations, none of the hellos in the morning and goodnights in the evening, and just none of her. She used to be such a staple in his life, and now it felt as though he was a building whose foundations crumbled. (And really, he didn't know what to do with the debris.)

During those times he felt bad enough that he could cry, Patamon would urge him to steal his roommate's ice cream. They'd take it and share, then face the fury of his roommate the following day.

The first letter caught him by surprise.

He had just come back from a morning jog around the campus when he asked for his mail by the counter, confused when it was a perfumed pink envelope that greeted him. He turned the envelope around to determine its sender's identity and was taken aback to read her name in tiny print letters along with her new address.

He doesn't remember exactly what was written on that letter anymore. All that he knew was that it was painfully civil and brief, and that reading each and every word brought him back to that night in Odaiba where a love he thought was endless ended.

But he read that letter countless times, as if he were looking for a hidden message beneath the lines of text. He kept on telling himself it was so he wouldn't forget Hikari and all the things they've shared. (But memories are memories, and after remembering, his heart only aches for the time that was once there.)

The task of sending a response always took him a long time.

He once believed that correspondence through letters was something incredibly romantic. Everything involved in the process of its creation could tell a thousand things about its sender. Handwriting, Hikari's in particular, reflected her penchant for neatness and reminded him of her pleasantness. The smell of her stationary provided him a vivid picture of her dormitory that smelled like old books and flowers. And, the way the papers were folded into the envelope made him think of Hikari's fingertips and whether she was eager or reluctant to send the letter out. But its contents – the most important thing – never told him anything. They always just seemed like accounts from a friend to another, updating him on how lessons were challenging and people were helpful.

It wasn't necessarily that they were impersonal. It's just that they were almost too painfully platonic that he never knew what to write back.

It takes him a while before he decides it's best to follow her example. They were clearly broken up after all, and he needed her in his life even if it were as a friend.

(Once you teach yourself how to lie, it gets easier.)

They send each other letters once a month.

And sometime between the fourth letter and the sixth, he teaches himself not to care as much. After all, it was college and he needed to do more than hang onto things he broke himself.

There's this sort of freedom in college that's different from anything he's ever felt in high school. It could be the fact that some of his classes take place in these large packed auditoriums, the fact that no one minds you when you don't want to be minded, or the fact that he could just duck out of a boring lecture to tinker with his laptop in the cafeteria.

It takes him a few months to finally decide that he likes it.

The independence was intimidating, but it was also an excellent opportunity. He may have been broken, but he couldn't find a better place to rebuild himself. And it's with this freedom to be anyone that he can build himself to be a writer. Maturity comes with experience after all.

Classes are difficult but he's learning more that he did in high school. He doesn't know if he'll be using much of this knowledge in the future though; it seems a little too complicated (and all he really wants is to lead a life without complications).

He's met people too, different people. He likes listening to their stories, things vastly different from how it was in Odaiba. Stories about traveling, cocktails and parties, and fathers and mothers.

When they ask, he tells them his. They never believe it when he says he's saved the world before. No one ever does.

There are also women in college. Of course there are.

(By this time, Hikari was just an envelope a month, neat handwriting on yellow paper, and a memory he's tucked in a box in his head.)

There's Olivia who he met in Classic Studies; she's half-Caucasian and he always thought she was kind of pretty. They got paired up for a project and he thought of how they liked all the same books. Then the day after their presentation, she kind of wove her hand in his, and that was that. It was very pleasant until they broke up over something stupid in sophomore year. Something about him never being open enough. (But he's always been reserved; didn't she know that?)

There's also Mika, who was cute and confessed to him on the empty bleachers after a university game. He thought she was kind of cute, and he didn't really see a point in breaking her heart. He broke up with her a few months later when he sees he thinks of her as a sister and notices her eyes glaze over when one of his underclassmen pass by.

And then there was Dylan, who he met at the end of junior year and was attracted to because she was so vibrant - like a firecracker. It's the first time he actually asked someone to go out with him, because it had always been a silent understanding or a confession he needed to answer until then. They were vastly different people, but it worked to an extent. It's the first time he feels as though he's falling in love again.

They teach each other things, like the words of great men (something he grew to have a fixation with) and the speeds to which runners and automobiles have reached to break records (something she was far too obsessed with, really). And it was great and definitely more grown-up than any other relationship he'd ever been in.

Nearing the end of senior year, she breaks up with him because of their differences. There's also comment thrown on how he always seems distracted. (But he almost fell in love with her, and he thinks that shouldn't have mattered.)

After that, he decides to slow down. He was twenty-two and thinking about it, it was probably ridiculous to have had on average, a different girlfriend a year. There was also the fact that every person he's been with has called him detached in some way, and admittedly, there was some truth to it.

(He feels a little guilty for going into relationships with only half his heart, but he doesn't really remember where he placed the other half.

He reckons it's best to not rush in relationships anymore.)

The night was quiet and the stars were twinkling. The breeze was pleasant and the grass beneath him tickled his neck. It was one of those calm moments where time could just stop and he'd have nothing to complain about.

"I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day. Vincent Van Gogh." He says out of whim, his English carrying a heavy Asian accent.

A low chuckle erupts from beside him. His brother, Yamato, sits on the ground with a laidback smile, looking at him with amusement. "Wow. Did you learn that in college?"

"Internet." He admits, joining Yamato in his laughter. He shifts his weight a little to face his brother, "It's nice to see you. It's been a while, especially since you skipped out on Christmas."

"Space waits for no one." Yamato says in an ominous voice, following it with a wink that negated any seriousness from the statement. A smile spreads across his face, "You're nearly a graduate, squirt. Would you say the tuition money was worth it?"

"I had a good run here, I think. Nothing to complain about." Takeru admits with his eyes fixed on the brilliant night sky and his fingers playing with the tips of grass blades. "But in a way, I thought I'd have more things figured out by now – like I'd be… I dunno, self-actualized after the experience. But I don't think I'm that much more a whole person now than I was before. A lot of the questions I had then are still unanswered."

"And they'll remain that way, squirt. Four years is nothing in the encompassing cosmic plan of the universe. In fact, I'd say your life is just beginning." Yamato ruffles Takeru's unruly blonde hair playfully before adding, "But who wants to talk about that? Tell me what happened with Dylan, Takeru. I feel like I'm out of the loop."

"Your astronaut jokes are getting old." Takeru rolls his eyes as he swats his brother's hand out of his hair. He then sighs, "I'm not really sure what happened with Dylan. I thought everything was going fine; apparently, it wasn't."

"Women." Yamato sighs and Takeru can't help but snicker. His brother's statement was so hilariously ironic because Yamato was probably the most notorious womanizer he knew. Yamato punches him playfully then says, "Can't live with them. Can't live without them."

"Are you ever settling down?" Takeru asks amidst laughter, half-seriously half-jokingly.

"I dunno. If I meet the right person, I guess. If the stars align, and all." Yamato answers, and Takeru can't help but think that's he's somehow avoiding the question.

"What if the stars align, but you pass the moment by?"

Yamato looks at him, and Takeru can't tell if the look in his brother's eyes spelled empathy or confusion. It takes a moment for Yamato to come up with an answer…

"If you really want it, do everything you can to make it align again. Stars may be old photographs but we're not stars, we're people. And we have feet."

Takeru's eyes met Yamato's and they shared a moment of silence before they began laughing at their own silliness.

There's a letter that comes a few days before his graduation. His room was a mess of boxes and littered candy wrappers (Patamon's fault – he just indulged in what his little friend shared with him), and he was bathing in his own sweat.

The envelope was pink and perfumed as always. And really, it was no different from the letters he got from Hikari in the past. There was the obligatory 'CONGRATULATIONS' written in big bold letters and a little bit on how she was so proud of him and how she always believed in him. She then proceeded to tell him of her own graduation, which he congratulated her for in a letter he had sent a few weeks ago. And then at the end, scribbled in an uncharacteristically messy way, were the words: I wish you had been here.

And there was nothing earth-shattering about that statement. In fact, it was a common cliche. But it struck him anyway.

He sunk onto his dormitory floor, overwhelmed by a sentence that probably meant nothing and at the same time, could possibly mean everything. And he sat there, convincing himself that if he had stopped her that night many years ago, things would have turned out differently. That he could have been there.

(And the sad part was that he knew it wouldn't have changed a thing.)

After graduation, he goes back home and decides to bunk with Yamato until he finds himself a job and enough money to get his own place. His brother doesn't mind, enjoying his company if not in the company of beautiful women and space ships.

He likes being back in Odaiba. For the four years he's been gone, not much has really changed. His old high school stands at the same spot he's always known, the candy shops and bookstores he frequented were all still there, and every turn and curve of the sidewalks were still the same ones etched in his memory.

He's met with a couple of friends who never really left - Daisuke, who now owned his own ramen stall, and Miyako and Ken, a young married couple expecting their firstborn. They were different from what he remembered, and at the same time, very much the same. Ironically, they actually said the same thing about him. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to be able to spend time with them once again and see that some things never really change.

When not catching up with old friends, looking for a job a lit major can have or apartment hunting, he settles down on Yamato's couch and types away on his laptop. He was busy in college - all the readings, the people, the women. Now, it seems like he has a lot of free time on his hands.

It was a pretty scary thought to him a few years ago, but he's slowly getting used to this whole 'grown-up' thing. At least, he's getting there. Because it's not like he's stopped being a kid entirely.

Taichi stops by Yamato's place sometimes. They still hang out after all this time, but he guesses some friendships never end. He's heard that Taichi was studying law - it wasn't what he thought Taichi would be taking, but it was oddly fitting. He often jokes how cool it would be if Taichi ended up becoming Prime Minister. He certainly was bossy enough!

(Once, he heard Taichi talking to Yamato from the living room. He said something about Hikari, and the word boyfriend was mixed in the sentence.

Takeru tried to ignore it, but his heart kind of throbbed.)

To be continued.

a/n: I'm very excited for what will happen in the next chapter. I've got most of it written out (but I tend to rewrite a lot of it DX!) so I think it will come out a lot faster than this one took. Hur hur. I know Yamato being an astronaut sound silly and the jokes are very corny, but I couldn't help it. Hehehe. Also, some of the things I've referenced to in this fic are obviously not mine and the idea of stars being old photographs? Taken from Alan Moore's Watchmen XD which is an incredibly graphic novel!

Thank you for reading this :D Please review if you can! They are very much appreciated.