Title: Fed to the Fire

Genre: Friendship/General

Summary: Impmon had seen a lot in his life. But nothing in the world could've prepared him for the horror he'd witness at the steps of West Shinjuku Middle School.

Author's Note: …I know, I know, this isn't the second chapter of 'That's What You Get.' I promised that thing would be up weeks ago, but some stuff's come up and it's been real tough. Anyway, this is set in the future where Ai and Mako are around thirteen or so. Hope you like it!

Fed to the Fire

Part One: Horror of West Shinjuku Middle

Impmon had seen a lot of things in his life. He'd seen death, destruction, violence—basically everything.

But nothing, not a damn thing on Earth or the Digital World, could've prepared him for the horrific scene he witnessed at the front steps of West Shinjuku Middle School.

There they stood, his 13-year-old Tamer and a blonde-haired boy he guessed was a wee bit older than her, talking and smiling. Nothing unusual, right?

But what was unusual and wrong on so many levels was how the boy tilted forward and pressed his lips to Ai's lightly, which even from this distance Impmon could tell her cheeks were on fire with a furious blush. From that point she was as frozen as he was, her eyes widened and face a nice shade of cherry. Only when the boy said goodbye and turned on his heel did she break out into a smile that could've split her face in half and start off down the steps with a bounce in her gait. Yet as she finally noticed her Partner's presence a good fifty feet away, her face was caught between turning an even darker shade of red as her friend had witnessed her first actual kiss, or draining of color altogether as it was him that witnessed it.

As the little demon started storming his way towards her, the words "Oh, no," left her mouth without thought.

"You'd better believe 'oh no!'" he started, not giving Ai a chance to speak first. Pointing a gloved finger over in the direction the boy left in, he bit out, "Who the heck was that?!"

Blinking owlishly, Ai wiggled out of her flustered state as she replied as evenly as she could, "That's Dustin, and he's a friend from Mrs. Asaji's class."

When her Partner put his fists on his hips and narrowed his eyes she shrugged into her hoodie like a retreating turtle and rocked onto the heels of her feet.

"Is that so? Ya let all your other friends peck ya on the mouth too, huh?"

Ai widened her eyes for a split second before glaring down at the little demon. "No! Dustin was just being nice, that's all!"

Impmon watched her for a moment. "Well, tell Dustin," she didn't miss how he obviously made it sound that he detested the boy already, saying his name as if he were referring to trash stuck to the bottom of his foot, "that the next time he feels like 'bein' nice,' he's gonna answer ta me."

With that he snapped his fingers and allowed a small plume of fire to erupt from the tips. Intentionally he fed it more juice than usual in order to make it bigger and to get his point across, though Ai's glare intensified and her hands balled into fists in her hoodie pocket.

"You wouldn't dare." She said lowly.

Meeting her glare with his own, Impmon smirked. "Wrong. I do dare."

Ai started to retort angrily, but was cut off when a hand clamped on her shoulder. She turned to face her grinning brother.

"What're you guys--?" He started to ask, though trailed off and let his grin fall when he noticed the tension between his sister and Partner. "Whoa, what'd I miss?"

"Nothing," Ai answered just a little too quickly. Forcing a smile she said brightly, "We were just waiting on your slow butt."

Unconvinced but not willing to pry into it, Mako just shrugged and started to head off towards the street. Ai glanced down to Impmon who turned towards her. Unable to hold his gaze, she looked to her brother's retreating back and followed his tracks.

Ai and Mako's mother knew something was up as soon as the kids and their Partner walked into the house. With Mako's avoiding gaze and evasive maneuvering out of any chance of conversation, Ai looking like a puppy that chewed up some merchandise and knew she was going to get nailed for it, Impmon looking like he was ready to bust someone's chops, and her all-knowing mother's intuition, she uncharacteristically felt the bite of worry as it sank its teeth into her heart.

Mako had already taken off upstairs in his room before she had a chance to catch him. She started to go for Ai, but realized she'd thrown her book bag on the couch and had left to probably go spend some time playing with Poochie, the little brown canine they'd had since the kids were six. Her last option was, unfortunately, the grumbling little demon that had entered the kitchen to grab a drink.

Glancing over to him as he took a swig out of the tea he'd gotten, she asked, "Alright, you three look like you robbed the president or something. What's up?"

As he swallowed the drink he shook his head and gazed down at the floor solemnly, very much unlike his usual self. She had found long ago that when Impmon wasn't raising all immortal hell, sleeping, playing with the kids, or eating, something was wrong.

"It's worse than that." He grumbled.

At this the older woman's eyes widened. "Oh? Was it shoplifting?"

Impmon shook his head.


Another shake.

"Wow, what's worse than homicide?"

Impmon cast a sideways glance to her and growled, "Some freakin' dude kissed Ai today, that's what's worse."

Silence. His Partners' mother blinked for a good five seconds as the words processed through her mind, occasionally running into the firewalls installed by her hereditary blonde locks. Impmon nearly spit his tea all over the floor when she started busting out laughing.

"What's so freakin' funny?" He asked irritably. "Not even in high school yet and she's already got boys ambushin' her, but you're laughin' 'bout it?!"

His words didn't seem to help as she laughed just a little bit harder, stepping back and leaning against the wall. Impmon fixed a glare on her as he waited for her to stop.

In between giggles she asked, "That's what everyone's so worked up about? Ai getting smooched?"

Impmon bared his fangs and snarled, "Well, yea! What else did ya expect?"

"I expected to find a body in their closet." She replied as she finished up a dying chuckle and regarded Impmon as coolly as she could. "But really, there's no need to—"

"No need to what? Worry? Get pissed? Like heck there ain't!" Impmon cut in, his free hand balled into a fist at his side.

"Calm down, calm down," She said gently, holding her hands up. "I got my first kiss when I was her age. Love, crushes, and boys in general are going to be a natural part of Ai's life. Same for Mako, except he'll be with ladies instead."

As she started to walk out of the room she glanced over her shoulder and added, "Just relax, alright? Whatever happens is going to happen for a reason."

The little demon glared at her retreating back before scowling down at his reflection shown from the contents of his cup. His green eyes narrowed as he vowed right then and there that if this was a natural part in Ai's life, then fine.

He'd use any means necessary to take the suckers foolish enough to approach her down, starting with the one from the school.

Dustin was a dead boy walking.