While I wrote this, I had music by Graeme Revell and Steve Jablonsky going through my headphones. believe me, it's the most oddly appropriate music you can possibly imagine, except maybe that stuff with ethereal chanting from anxious Tibetan monks in it.

So yeah. Hard chapter, this one, but not as depressing or as unnerving as I think many might have expected it to be. This chapter signals the end of this fanfiction. I wasn't planning on going outside of the 02 Digidestined, so this is pretty much all I have for you for now. Thank you for reading and offering your thoughts and reviews. I had... as much fun writing this as I could, given the subject.

"What do you call love, hate, charity, revenge, humanity,

magnanimity, forgiveness? Different results of the one

master impulse: the necessity of securing one's self-approval."

- Mark Twain.


He probably shouldn't be here.

He knows this. Every nerve ending in his body and every conscious thought in his head is aware of it. The Dark Gateway closed what feels like a long time ago, but is really only a few months. A few months since Kari had gripped his hand and held onto it tighter than anyone ever had before, even Sam when Ken was small and they were crossing a busy intersection together. A few months since Davis practically rammed their forgiveness down Ken's throat, and the pain of the Dark Spore splintered through him for the final time.

It feels like much longer.

Approximately one night every month, Ken finds himself here, standing barefoot in sand that's always inexplicably dry, no matter how many times the waves cover the beach. The Dark Ocean doesn't appear to have any kind of tidal pattern. He isn't sure whether the reaction is psychosomatic and it's just his imagination that takes him back. It feels as real as it ever did, only... less numb, Ken supposes. Because he's not hiding anymore. He's not afraid and he isn't lost; he's simply there.

People (specifically Davis) tend to think the Dark Ocean is a cold place –like the real ocean on a winter's day. To a person like Kari or Yolei it probably is. But they came to the Ocean for different reasons. They never really wanted to in the first place; they were dragged there by the darkness inside. Ken came of his own free will. The Ocean has never been cold to Ken –not entirely, anyway. It's lukewarm, except for on the surface. Like a skin of ice above a warm undercurrent.

Wormmon had asked him about it once. He had seemed slightly disturbed by Ken's description of standing in the Ocean as being like standing in a warm hug, all the way up your legs. He remembers the first time he visited, it had felt the same way. Warm with his pain and spite, to comfort him in his grief and draw him inwards until there was no way out.

Once, just to experiment, he took his D3 out of his pocket and held it beneath the water. Nothing happened, except maybe for a faint trickle of energy racing back up his arm. Izzy would've called that a dumb move. Reckless. They don't know what could happen. They shouldn't mess around with forces they don't understand. Izzy forgets, though, that Ken does understand. He understands better than any of them. The Dark Ocean may have seemingly created the D3, but the D3 is just a tool, manifested by something inside of Ken.

Some monotheist religions have a concept called purgatory: the place where the virtuous but non religious end up after their deaths. Ken isn't sure how accurate the analogy is, but the Ocean certainly feels like the descriptions of purgatory he's heard in the past –peaceful, melancholic and lonely. Maybe a little threatening, but it's not the world itself that threatens you; the Ocean is just a Parasite of the Digital World and the human, it's your memories and thoughts that make it what it is.

Another time, Ken walks until he reaches the lighthouse,. It's still standing somehow, and probably always will be no matter how many times they might try to demolish it. When he gets there, he finds that it isn't a lighthouse at all. It's a control spire, with a dark light carved into it. It's not one of his, but Ken wouldn't be surprised if it was the first. If it appeared the moment he plunged his Digivice beneath the waves and watched it become the first D3. He sits beneath the Spire for a while with his back against it, watching the tide going in and out. Sometimes he catches a glimpse of shadows, and hears the call of creatures in the clouds overhead –they're never close enough for him to see (or for they to see him, thankfully) but they're there. Evidence that this world is more than a dream. He's not alone in purgatory.

And really, there's no point in telling himself it will ever get better than this, because Ken might not be a genius anymore, but he's not stupid enough to believe that. The sadness and guilt will always be there deep down, and so will that little spark of chaos that turned him into the Emperor. Or brought the Emperor out of him. Whichever.

If there's one thing the last four years have taught Ken though, it's that sanity is overrated. Or rather, overestimated. Everyone has their own definitions of "appropriate" and "right", and, at one time, Ken Ichijoji would have apparantly fit quite neatly into all of them. Except that he never did. Not really. Nobody ever does. Everyone has their own Dark Ocean. True, most don't exist in a tangible sense, but that's just their good fortune and his bad luck, Ken supposes.

Ken likes to think of the Ocean as a warning. Kind of like visiting a prison must feel: it's strange, melancholic, and a little disturbing, but you know that so long as you stay on the straight and narrow, so long as you remember the pain you're capable of causing and ensure you never act it out, you don't have to be afraid.

Prisons are for convicts. Ken isn't a convict of the Kaiser anymore. Maybe he never was; after all the Kaiser was a part of him as well – not some distant, split personality the way Izzy had once theorised, but another aspect of Ken's personality that he doesn't to like very much.

And in a strange way, the Ocean is a beautiful place.

He doesn't need to come here for warmth anymore. Maybe the ocean is knows this. Maybe that's why it no longer hangs over his head like a nightmare: just a vaguely unsettling dream which has no more power than he allows it to have. All he has to do to leave is smile, or laugh, or speak out Davis's name under his breath, and the dream which isn't really a dream always ends with a warm snigger and the sensation of a hand wrapping around his wrist

We're right here with you.

So long as he doesn't run into Daemon, Ken reckons he'll be alright.

"People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain.It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you're letting society destroy your reality.

"You should stand up for your right to feel your pain."

- Jim Morrison