Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
A/N: Hello, everyone! I suppose I should explain a little bit, especially to those of you who may not have read my story Following the Footsteps of Destiny. In that story, which takes place twenty-five years after season two, Gennai tells the new group of Digidestined (who are led by Davis' son, Daichi Motomiya) a little bit about the first Digidestined, the group that came before Tai's group. The children in this story are that group of Digidestined, and they have been mentioned several times in FTFOD. You will be seeing more of them there. Now, you do not actually have to read Following the Footsteps of Destiny to enjoy this story, but if you have a lot of time on your hands, it makes for quite an interesting read. (Well, at least I think it does!) Also, there is an OC digimon mentioned in this story who will be appearing in another of my stories, one that is not related to FTFOD. Just so you all know. Enjoy, and please review! Your feedback is what helps me to come up with these oneshots! Oh, and again, if you'd like to contribute an OC digimon of your own, (Inca, Mai, Seta, and Tal all need partners still) then please visit my forum Digital Connections for details on the contest. Thanks! Oh, and I should probably mention, this oneshot takes place on their second night in the Digital World. It doesn't have much of a plot to it because...well...it's all about the hints! That was the last note, I promise!
Standing silently by himself on a large stone balcony overlooking the quiet streets of a small digimon village, a village he now knew was located somewhere on an island called File Island, thirteen year old Takahiro Kuroki humbly bowed his golden head, his thoughts once again focusing on the argument he had had with Kenji earlier that afternoon, despite his efforts to forget it had ever taken place.
In front of him, unaware of the fact that he was being watched, thirteen year old Kenji Iwamoto sat rigidly on the front lawn all by himself, his back turned towards the stone house where they had decided to spend the night, and judging from the way his head was titled slightly upwards, it looked like he was gazing quietly at the moon, though Tal had no way of knowing for sure since he could not actually see the raven-haired Digidestined's face.
At the moment, Kenji was all alone, having left Halomon sleeping peacefully in the upstairs chamber of their little stone hideout, and in Tal's opinion, the raven-haired Digidestined appeared to be lost in thought.
Either that or he's stewing over how much he hates me...and not just me. It's like...it's like he hates...well...everyone...
At the sound of his name, Tal jumped in surprise, turning quickly to look over his shoulder, and immediately spotting thirteen year old Inca Sasaki standing in the doorway of the their little stone house, which a digimon named Floramon had graciously offered them for the night, he let out a sigh of relief, his whole body relaxing at the sight of a familiar face.
Since there wasn't an actual door leading onto the balcony, just a door frame to allow the warm rays of the sun and the comforting shadows of twilight to seep into the small bedroom where they had decided to camp out for the night, Tal could see eight year old Seta Sugiyama sleeping fitfully on one of the two double beds in the room, and on the opposite bed ten year old Mai Nakaniwa was snoring loudly in her sleep, occasionally mumbling a small phrase or sentence every time she shifted into a new position.
Since Seta had trouble sleeping in the dark, which normally didn't trouble the dark-haired boy much at home since he usually slept with a nightlight on, the youngest member of the Digidestined appeared to be having the hardest time adjusting to the trials and tribulations of being a foreigner in the Digital World, and unable to sleep by himself, which was something Seta was obviously very ashamed of, Tal had taken it upon himself to watch over the little boy until he fell asleep, an arrangement Seta had been immensely grateful for, and one Tal had been happy to agree to, despite Kenji's sarcasm and the way he had teased Seta for being afraid of the dark.
Tonight, though, unlike their first night in the Digital World, Halomon and the other digimon had offered to stay with Seta, giving Tal a few moments to himself, and although he was grateful to the five rookies for giving him a chance to be alone with his thoughts, he was starting to wonder if maybe he should have kept Seta company after all because at least then he would have had something other than Kenji to occupy his mind.
"Tal? Tal, are you okay?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah I'm fine. Sorry about that. I didn't mean to space out on you..."
"You're really worried about him, aren't you."
Tal felt, rather than saw, Inca step up beside him, and leaning his arms on the stone railing surrounding the balcony he smiled sheepishly and said, "That obvious, huh?"
"Maybe not to Kenji, but to me it is."
"Kenji...I wonder if he notices anything outside of that impenetrable wall he's constructed around himself."
"A wall that's starting to show a few cracks, I think," Inca said softly, placing a hand on his arm and giving him a gentle smile. "Though none of us have known Kenji for very long, I can tell he's the type of person who won't break easily. Don't you understand what that means, Tal? The fact that you've been able to get him to open up at all, even a little bit, is truly remarkable. You might not see it, but I can tell you've gotten to him. Give him time, Tal. I think...right now...that's all he needs."
Time...Maybe, but...how much time has he had already? We know so little about him. He's so secretive. I mean...I know almost nothing about him other than the fact that we both live at the Highton View Terrace Complex and that we've been in the same class twice in the six years that Kenji has lived in the area. Something I didn't even realize until he told me himself! Why didn't I ever notice him before? Subconsciously, I probably did, but since we didn't hang out with each other or know each other before we came to the Digital World, he wasn't someone I looked for everyday. I don't understand. How could I have missed someone so intriguing? Someone who was right in front of my eyes the whole time?
"Tal, there's no use beating yourself up about the past. Kenji's in my grade too, and though I've never been in his class, I didn't know him either, though I probably should have. You expect so much of yourself, but even you need to take a step back once in a while, no matter how much you don't want to. It's better than stumbling around in the dark, and it might help you put everything in perspective."
Scratching his sunny blond hair, his gray eyes sparkling in the moonlight, Tal turned to gaze at the female Digidestined in astonishment, and blushing slightly he said, "How do you do that?"
"Do what?" Inca asked, frowning in confusion.
"N-nothing, don't worry about it."
It's like she read my mind... Wow, she's good!
"Well, okay, if you're sure..."
Tal studied the female Digidestined's face for a moment and gazing into her penetrating dark brown eyes he felt a small shiver race down his spine. With her dark brown hair held up in bobby pins, brown eyes bordering on maroon, and a dazzling smile, Inca looked beautiful standing in the moonlight, and realizing he was staring Tal quickly turned back to face Kenji, his gaze once again focusing on the raven-haired Digidestined's back. "I don't get it. I just don't get it..."
"You know...when I first saw you and Kenji sitting together on that bench near the apartment complex, I really thought the two of you were good friends. And the way you two were talking so seriously to one another...you looked like you were really close."
In response to Inca's words, a pained expression crossed Tal's face, and fiddling with the sleeve of his yellow t-shirt he mumbled, "Really?"
"It's an easy enough mistake to make, Tal," Inca said gently, once again placing her hand on his arm. "I bet you can imagine just how surprised I was to find out that the two of you barely knew each other."
We didn't know each other at all. The only reason I even knew his name was because I went out of my way to find out what it was after I accidentally banged into him the day before I found him sitting on that bench. He was so rude to me. He acted like I'd run into him on purpose! I saw the look in his eyes when I apologized to him for almost knocking him over. Hatred...and yet under that hatred I saw fear. What is he hiding?
Rubbing his hands nervously on the knees of his white pants and anxiously adjusting the goggles on his head, Tal turned to look at Inca again, a hesitant smile appearing reluctantly on his face. Dressed in blue and white knee-length boots, a short white skirt, a blue shirt with sleeves that ended at the elbows, the front of it being decorated with a silver peace sign, and white and silver stripes along the arms, Inca looked quite stylish in her outfit, and raising her eyebrows she said softly, "Tal, I understand how you feel. I'm not really sure how to explain it, but...Kenji's behaviour is something new to you, isn't it. At school, everyone adores you, even the teachers who are constantly trying to get you into trouble. Being treated like an outcast is not something you're used to. It must be weighing heavily on your mind. Am I right?"
Resting his chin in his hands, Tal quickly lowered his eyes to the ground, and reluctantly nodding his head he said softly, "Maybe you're right."
No...she is right.
At school, Tal was the captain of the boys' soccer team, and although he wasn't boastful about it, he was also quite popular. It didn't matter where he was, or who he was hanging out with, everybody was always saying hello to him or waving to him in the hallways, or laughing at his jokes and smiling at his playful antics. Both he and his best friend Yosuke were the talk of the eight grade at their school, and because he was so used to be treated with respect, Kenji's behaviour towards him was slightly unnerving, like a hard slap in the face.
Being treated like garbage was not something Takahiro Kuroki was used to, and it was a feeling he didn't like one little bit. Kenji's behaviour towards him made him feel terrible inside, and it was something he had not only never experienced before, it was also something he hoped never to experience again.
No one's ever acted so hateful towards me before. I don't know what to do...
"Hey, Inca...if I tell you something, will you promise not to tell Kenji?"
Inca frowned at him, and crossing her arms over her chest she said hesitantly, "I guess so, but...um...why not?"
"Because...it might make him a little bit...upset..."
Forget that, if he knew what I saw, he'd totally freak out...
Inca waited in silence, her deep brown eyes studying his face, and blushing slightly he mumbled, "Do you remember seeing anything in Seermon's crystal ball?"
"Well...I remember seeing some stuff when she talked about the future...You know, the part about how we're the first Digidestined, but we won't be the last, and some of it didn't really make sense to me. The first thing I saw was this necklace. There was a chip in it and it was the same colour as your Data Core, only the symbol on it was different. I also saw a whistle and something that looked like a kendo stick."
Tal stared at Inca in surprise and lowering his voice he said, "Really?"
"Yes, what about you?"
"I...um...I saw some things like that too, but...I also saw something else..."
"What was it?" Inca whispered, glancing anxiously in Kenji's direction, as he afraid he might overhear them.
Tal stayed silent for a moment, and gazing thoughtfully at the raven-haired Digidestined sitting beneath them on the lawn, a silent figure who still did not seem to be aware of the fact that he was being watched, he said slowly, "I saw myself in that crystal ball, and Kenji was with me."
"That's right, and Kenji was standing next to me. He gave me something, only...I couldn't see what it was because there was this bright flash of light, and...the look on his face..."
"What kind of look?" Inca murmured, the expression on her own face indicating she was utterly fascinated by his story.
Unable to look the female Digidestined in the eyes, Tal quickly turned his face away, afraid that she would think he was going crazy or something, and speaking just barely above a whisper he said quietly, "He was smiling, but...at the same time he was also crying."
"Listen, I know it sounds-"
"Tal, it's okay. I believe you," Inca interrupted, reaching out to give his hand a quick squeeze.
"Of course I do. You're not a liar, Tal. I may not know you very well yet, but that much I do know for sure."
Feeling a sudden wave of relief wash over him, Tal quickly returned the female Digidestined's gesture of affection, and staring at the dark sky shimmering with the light of millions of tiny stars above him he said softly, "Thanks, Inca. I was afraid you were going to think I'm crazy, though I wouldn't blame you if you did think that. If you want to know the truth, I'm having a hard time convincing myself I'm still sane."
"Tal, you're not going crazy. If you are then that means I am too! Only, I am curious. What do you think this vision of yours meant?"
Tal smiled sheepishly at the female Digidestined, and twisting his hands together he mumbled, "Well, I was hoping you might know."
Inca's really good at reading people. She must have some idea of what's going on...
Unfortunately, the female Digidestined didn't seem to have any idea herself because instead of answering his question she said slowly, "I'm not sure. It's hard to imagine Kenji crying. Sometimes I feel as if it's been a long time since he last shed a tear for anyone or anything. He always seems so cold. Like a statue. Like...like he's forgotten what it means to feel love and compassion..."
For some reason Tal felt slightly offended by Inca's remark, and crossing his arms over his chest he said indignantly, "You don't really think he's like that, do you?"
Inca smiled sadly and shaking her head she said, "No, I don't, but that doesn't excuse his actions. There are a lot of things Kenji isn't telling us. I feel it."
"So do I."
"I knew you would. Have you ever noticed that Kenji never talks about his family or his past? I wonder..."
Studying the back of Kenji's raven head Tal murmured, "You're not the only one."
"And I know you're not going to like hearing this, but...I think you might be part of the reason why Kenji's been acting so secretive."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"I told you. When I saw the two of you sitting together, I felt...something...a connection of some sort. I don't really understand it, but...I have this feeling there's something special about you two."
Tal felt his heart start to pound rapidly in his chest, and clenching his hands together behind his back he mumbled, "Do you think what I saw could be...you know, a vision of the future?"
"Could be," Inca replied, shrugging her shoulders. "Hey, you know what else I don't understand? How come you guys are always asking me these things?"
Tal raised his eyebrows and winking at the female Digidestined he said said playfully, "What do you expect? You seem to know things and you have this unique talent for putting the pieces of any puzzle together, no matter how difficult it is. I can't explain it, but...you're really good at reading emotions. You're the one who's always coming up with the answers we need all the time. Maybe the way you're always over-analyzing everything to death is a good thing."
Laughing, Tal gave the female Digidestined's shoulder a quick squeeze, and growing suddenly serious he said quietly, "What would make Kenji so upset that he would actually allow himself to cry in front of me, of all people? How could he be crying and smiling at the same time? I just don't understand. Is it because of me? Did I do something to him?"
"Tal...I wish...I wish I had an answer for you, but unfortunately even I don't know what you were seeing. Unlike you, I get the feeling Kenji hasn't had a lot to smile about lately. I can't say for sure, but...I think he's having a hard time growing up. That's the impression I got when he wouldn't talk about his family earlier."
"Same here. Don't you see, Inca? That's why I want to help him so much! Only...that's never going to happen. You've seen the way he treats me. Kenji wants nothing to do with me. I bet he hates me."
"So it would seem."
Tal blinked in surprise and glancing suspiciously at the female Digidestined he said uncertainly, "What is that supposed to mean?"
Like I'm supposed to believe that.
"Listen, Tal, I don't like keeping secrets, but I think you're right about not mentioning any of this to Kenji. He's got enough on his plate to deal with at the moment, and I wouldn't want to give him any more reasons to upset you. But that doesn't mean we can keep your vision a secret forever. Once we do know what it means, we should say something to Kenji."
Tal hesitated a moment, and putting his face in his hands he whispered, "But...what if it's bad?"
"Good or bad, at least we'll know."
"Worrying about Kenji isn't going to change anything, Tal. Trust me, I know," a voice said quietly from the doorway.
Whirling around in surprise, Tal spotted Kenji's digimon partner hovering just inside the doorway, and letting out a sigh of relief he said fiercely, "Halomon, don't scare me like that! I thought you were asleep with the others."
Halomon frowned at him, and fluttering over to stand on the stone railing of the balcony the little rookie said soberly, "I couldn't sleep, not without Kenji by my side."
"Well, if that's the case, why don't you go sit with him?" Inca asked curiously, stroking the little rookie's fluffy ears.
"He said he wanted to be alone for a little while."
Why doesn't that surprise me?
Shaking his head, Tal gave the little rookie a sympathetic smile, and glaring at the back of Kenji's head he said angrily, "Why does he have to be so stubborn?"
"I wish I knew," Halomon grumbled, making a face.
"Halomon? I...has Kenji ever said anything about me to you? I mean...do you know why he's always so..."
"Well, I wouldn't put it like that..."
Halomon started to laugh and fluttering his ears he said, "It's okay, Tal, you don't have to pretend. I don't know why Kenji's so mean to you, but I think he's being really unfair."
"I don't care how Kenji feels about you!" Halomon said stubbornly, leaping into his arms and placing a small hand against his cheek. "I like you. You're really nice and I'm not going to let Kenji hate you for no reason!"
"Please, Tal? Don't give up in him," Halomon mumbled softly in his ear. "He needs you. I don't think you realize how much, but I do."
Tal hugged the little rookie tightly in his arms and squeezing his eyes shut he whispered, "I won't, I promise."
"We're here for you, Tal, all of us, and for Kenji," Inca said firmly, her words leaving no room for argument. "Don't give up on yourself, or Kenji, so easily."
"I know. Um...thanks for listening, guys. Even though we haven't gotten any closer to the truth, I feel a lot better now."
Inca smiled at him, and reaching out to give him a quick hug she said quietly in his ear, "You're such a sweetheart, Tal. What do you think friends are for? If you ever need to talk again, I'm always here to listen."
"Me too!" Halomon interrupted, wiggling his ears. "And you know your own partner will never let you down."
Tal turned to gaze fondly at his digimon partner, who was curled up next to Seta on the bed, and nodding his head he said softly, "I know. I'm...glad I met you guys."
"Same here," Inca replied, giving him a warm smile. "It's late. We should probably head back inside and get some sleep. Who knows what the Digital World has in store for us tomorrow? We need to be alert and ready for anything."
Yawning, Tal quickly stretched his arms over his head, and glancing once more at the raven-haired Digidestined, who hadn't moved even an inch since his dramatic exit from the little stone house, he said, "What about Kenji? He should be getting some sleep, too."
"He'll come when he's ready," Inca said softly, motioning for him to follow her.
Tal stood for a moment gazing at Kenji's back, and letting out a soft sigh, he proceeded to gaze quietly at the mysterious boy whose fate had somehow become intertwined with his own. Dark and shadowy, Kenji looked like a stone statue standing guard over the digimon village.
As cold as ice, and yet at the same time he appeared almost as fragile as glass.
Kenji...I promise I'll make everything better. I don't know how, but I'll find a way, even if it takes forever.
After all, he had promised Halomon.
One way or another, he was going to make Kenji his friend, even if it killed him.