Date Started: February 4th, 2009
Date Finished: February 5th, 2009


Summary: He looks completely unlike the brother you remember seeing when you last saw him this morning.


Oniichan

You see him now when you know you shouldn't. He's home when you know he shouldn't be. His clothes are filthy and worn out and his hair is longer than it should be. He looks completely unlike the brother you remember seeing when you last saw him this morning. You think to yourself, trying hard to figure out how any of this makes sense. He shouldn't be here – he is supposed to be at camp in the mountains. And yet the more you look at him, the more different he seems and the more you believe your eyes are playing tricks on you and that this isn't really your brother here in the kitchen taking off his sporting gloves and putting down his soccer ball and opening the fridge and –

He's talking to himself now; something about it being a long time since he's been able to drink any cola. You begin to wonder about this: just what is going on? You aren't quite ready to show yourself to this is-he-your-brother-or-is-he-not. You take note that he at least still sounds very much like himself.

And then a voice breaks your train of thought – and it's not from this boy in front of you that quite easily passes for your brother. Your eyes travel, searching for the source of the sound. And then you see it: the soccer ball is talking! And what's more bizarre is that it's now drinking from the can of cola as well.

Your eyes widen, and a torrent of memories stream into your thoughts. Memories of a little creature hatching out of an egg that came out of the family computer; memories of a cute orange dinosaur that took you out on the streets and let you ride on its back; memories of a bigger and stronger one that protected both you and your brother from the large flying terror in the sky. The realization immediately comes to you that this is no soccer ball. It is Koromon. Taichi has finally found him and brought him home, and apparently it had been quite the journey.

In the midst of your thoughts you notice your brother staring at the day calendar. You hear him mumbling again. He seems shocked that it's still the first; he mentions something about spending weeks and months over there.

You step forward, curiously looking up at your brother. Both he and Koromon have noticed you by now as you stepped out of the bedroom. Taichi gasps at you in his surprise. He stares at you in silence a short while. Finally he lets out the breath he'd been holding, and by doing so he breathes out your name.

"Hikari…"

Your head is cocked to the side. You haven't yet bothered taking a step closer and as such you're still standing by the doorway. You have little doubt that this is indeed your brother now. You acknowledge him, but the confusion in your voice is noticeably apparent. "Oniichan, you're home…"

Koromon quickly pieces together that you two are brother and sister, and you're relieved with that fact being indeed true. He and Taichi bicker as your brother tries keep him silent and attempts to explain himself about what has happened to him and where he has been and why he is home right now. You find yourself wanting all those questions answered, too, but you have other thoughts on your mind. Your eyes trace the ball in your brother's arms. Koromon doesn't have spots, and you begin to wonder why you imagined him to be a simple soccer ball in the first place. He looks back at you and his eyes lock with yours. The memories wash over you again.

You decide to ask: "Koromon is with you?"

And then the silence fills the room again as both Taichi and Koromon stare at you wide eyed. Your brother is stunned. He contemplates your words, wonders why you know about Koromon. He wonders why you aren't afraid. His confusion directly confuses you as well. Why would you be afraid?

After all, Koromon is Koromon.


You're sitting on the sofa with Koromon. The two of you play together and clap your hands with his ears as Taichi stands by looking over you. His concern is written all over his face, though Koromon seems by far more interested in simply having fun. The smile on your face isn't nearly as big as Koromon's, but you're more than willing to oblige and continue your clapping game.

Taichi speaks to you during the game - he's wondering whether you've been home all this time. You are unphased by the question; you don't even bother to stop playing as you give him your answer. Though you are rather curious as to why he has forgotten you had a cold, but then he begins to speak of that other world again. He's once again making sure that you haven't gone there like he has.

You haven't.

He asks about mom and dad, and you decide to test him.

"They went to see grandma," You tell him. "They told us that this morning, do you not remember?"

He doesn't. You realize he's been gone a long time; far longer than the few hours since you've seen him last. What was that other world? Where had he been? And why wasn't he at the campsite?

"Oniichan," You begin, "Why are you home?"

"I was worried about you," he responds sheepishly. You can easily tell he's lying through his teeth. He had been gone long enough that he couldn't even remember you were sick. And as if that same realization comes to him, too, he continues. "How is your fever? Let me check if it went down."

He comes closer to you. By now you've stopped your game with Koromon and are holding him close to your chest in your arms. Your brother places his ungloved cool hand against your burning forehead. It is a soothing feeling, and you relax into his touch, leaning forward and trying to push his palm further against your skin. It is then that you realize even more differences in him. His hands were once sleek and smooth; his skin so soft and gentle that you ached for his touch. Now his hands are rugged and uneven; they tell the tales of harsh treks and endless journeys. You are aware that not even the full camping experience would have made his hands like so. You suddenly wish that it was him in your arms instead of Koromon. You want to comfort him and help him realize that he is back home. You want him to know that he never again needs to go back to that other world, and that he will never again find himself all alone in some strange world. The three of you are finally together again. Koromon is here now, and that is what matters. There is no need for your brother to worry about anything else. But this train of thought leads you astray, and you begin to wonder.

"By that other world, do you mean the world Koromon is from?" You voice your questions and your brother's reaction confirms your suspicions. "You weren't at camp like everyone else, were you?"

Taichi seems to pause at that last question. "Everyone else," he repeats. He looks away from you, still in thought. "Maybe they all came back here, too…"

He steps away from you towards the phone and begins dialing numbers. You look down at Koromon, still in your hands, and it registers to you what your brother had just said. There were others that went with him to that other world. He hadn't been there alone.

You move towards your brother. He's busy phoning friends of his. You recognize all the names: Koushiro-san and Sora-san from the soccer club, and Yamato-san from your brother's class. They are all supposed to be in camp with your brother, yet apparently they had all traveled to that other world instead.

None of his friends are home, and your brother looks worried. You remove the tablecloth and present him with the lunch your parents left you for the afternoon. You remember always being happy whenever Taichi would share his own bento with you, and you are certain sharing your own with him would cheer him up, too. After all, Koromon is certainly excited at the prospect of food.

Taichi's face brightens, as you knew it would. He has other plans for lunch, however. You watch him in awe as he prepares eggs for the three of you. He cracks the eggs and scrambles them with by far more experience then you remember him having. You are aware that your brother had always been somewhat familiar with the kitchen, but hadn't he just yesterday amateurishly burned himself on the stove? Looking at him now you are unable to see any trace of the boy from last night.

"Yamato taught me how to cook in the other world," he explains to you, and you are amazed that the difference in him is so apparent.


You bring Koromon out of the bathroom. Taichi stands, staring at the television screen as the news broadcast plays. He's speaking out loud. You hear a mention of Digimon and Digital World, but the words mean little to you. What you are able to gather from your brother's reaction is that he's finally able to see the monsters on the screen as well.

"You can see them, too?" he asks you.

You could; in fact you've told others about it before, including your brother, but they hadn't believed you. Taichi had waved it off when you had told him about them just yesterday. So why was he seeing them now? Were those monsters the digimon he spoke about? And that other world would then be the digital world?

The television suddenly shuts off. You hear something from behind you, and you turn around to look at the computer. A face appears on the monitor, and you instinctively call for your brother.

As the static clears you recognize the boy on the screen: It is Koushiro-san.

Taichi shouts into the monitor. You look on at the display. The image is breaking. Koushiro soon disappears from the screen. And Taichi is saddened all over again.

He speaks to you and Koromon about that other world. He realizes it's no longer a dream. He's really here and they're really there and he's stuck here and they're stuck there and he can't get there and they can't get here and in the end he's lost in this loop and lost in his thoughts.

You can tell he wants to go back, but you don't want him to go. You want him to remain home. You want him to stay here and be with you and only you. The memories flash again: you recall Koromon leaving you both as he disappeared into the sky. Now you're beginning to think that if it were to happen again, will it only be you that's left behind? You're worried about the answer to that question, and you don't like the idea of letting it happen.


Taichi takes the phone from your grasp. He lightly shoves you out of the way so he can hear who's on the other end. You look back to him, almost angry, but the minute you see his face any reason you had for being upset quickly fades from your mind. He holds the receiver with a quivering hand, and his eyes barely remain focused. He stands there in silence, unsure of what to do and unsure of what to say. You're aware that it's your mother on the other end of the line, and if Taichi has indeed been away in that other world for as long as he claims, then he hasn't had the chance to hear your mother's voice in just as long of a time.

Your brother slams the receiver down. The movement is so unexpected and so sudden that it startles you. You flinch, nearly recoiling back in fright from the action. You look up at your brother then, waiting for what he'll do next. His head drops in defeat. His voice is somber and he doesn't turn around. He speaks with Koromon about remaining here. He talks about his favorite foods, being able to sleep in a comfy bed, all the fun activities he wants to do during summer vacation… and then his voice finally cracks.

He grips a device in his hand, a small object he claims to be responsible for taking him to that other world. He lifts it over his head, and angrily prepares to toss it across the room. He is only stopped when the ground begins to shake. You're both startled, and he runs ahead of you towards the balcony. Not a moment later he runs by you again, quickly putting on his shoes and racing out the apartment door with Koromon in his arms.

He told you to stay back; but you're afraid he's going to leave for that other world and never come back.

You promptly decide to follow.


You catch up with Taichi and Koromon at a street corner. Your brother berates you for being outside, and then it happens all over again. A monster appears and attacks. It's large, muscular, green and terrifying. Koromon distracts it, taking the battle up to the air. They scale and climb up the walls from the surrounding buildings, jumping to and fro in order to avoid each other's offensives.

Taichi holds you close to him, careful not to let any of the debris hurt either of you. You stare up at him and at Koromon and the green monster that's battling him. And you realize that Taichi has been on the sidelines of battles like this more than once before. He seems fully aware of everything around him.

And then Koromon is hit. He cries out in pain as his little body begins to descend towards the ground. Taichi shouts, crying out in a mixture of pain and frustration as well. And then a light erupts from within his palm. It travels towards the sky and with a blinding flash opens a rift that slowly begins lifting all the destructive debris away from the ground.

Koromon becomes bigger again. You're aware of this new form. It is the same small dinosaur you remember riding out on the streets when you were little.

The green monster is being lifted up by the rift, and swiftly disappears. Koromon follows not too soon after, vanishing into the air as he floats higher and higher towards the big hole in the sky. You frown at the sight, remembering how the exact same scenario had happened the last time as well.

You look up at your brother. He's stepping forward, crying out Koromon's name. Only he's not calling him Koromon - he's calling him something else.

You move closer to him, extending your arms and grasping his own. He instantly stops upon your touch. You lean forward, resting against the flat of his back. He doesn't turn. He's unable to face you. He speaks to you, though his voice is strained. "Hikari… I'll be sure to come back."

You listen to his words, and you begin to feel the rift pulling him upwards. His body is lifted, yet you still hold on.

He's drifting away. You're the only thing keeping him grounded. He ascends higher and higher, and his arm at last slips through your fingers.

"Oniichan…" You call to him. You don't want him to leave. Your hands remain lingering into the air.

You look upwards, watching with teary eyes as Taichi is pulled away from you. He floats horizontally further and further upwards; his arm is still reaching for you as he at last disappears from sight. Along with him the rift fades away as well, and it looks as if it had never been.

You stand there now on the empty street, your worries proven true. Koromon had gone back to his home world once again, and had taken your brother along with him as well. Perhaps it was necessary, you think, in order to bring back the others still lost in that strange land of monsters. After all, Taichi promised to come back, didn't he?

But you can't help but wonder why it has to be you that's left behind and left alone all over again.


End Notes:
- "Oniichan," means older brother. Hikari refers to Taichi in this way.
- A bento is a boxed lunch. Sharing a lunch with someone is a very romantic and loving gesture in Japan.
- Koushiro, Sora, Taichi, and Daisuke all knew each other through the soccer club in their elementary school. It is only an assumption that Yamato and Taichi were classmates.
- It's worth noting that when Taichi arrives home, the three Chosen he calls to find out if they made it back too are Koushiro, Sora, and Yamato; and just before Koushiro leaves for his solo search for the eighth child, he calls Taichi, Sora, and Yamato to find out if they can come out to help. The obvious conclusion here is that Taichi, Sora, Yamato and Koushiro were all friends pre-Digital World.