Date Started: May 11th, 2009
Date Finished: May 11th, 2009

Summary: When Iori loses a baby tooth during an early skirmish to destroy a dark tower, the Kaiser leads him to believe that it is the Digital World tearing him apart due to it's rejection of imperfect humans.

Ivory Deceptions

Iori came to realize that it had all become one large routine. The group of Chosen would go to the Digital World, destroy one of the Kaiser's dark towers, and then would return home just in time for the family dinner. This would all be done successfully and conveniently during the after school activity hours, leaving no one the wiser as to what was really happening behind the closed doors of the school computer lab. The Chosen followed this routine to the letter, and aside from the current pair of absentees, today was meant to be no different.

Miyako was on vacation down south in beautiful Okinawa with her family – this left Daisuke green with envy – and Hikari had left school in a hurry as soon as classes ended, citing that she was to visit her grandparents that evening. This left the matter of bringing down the dark tower of the day to the three boys of the junior group.

Unfortunately for them Takeru had different plans for the day's events, and as a result their routine was finally broken.

"This isn't working out," he had told the other two when they met in the lab that day, "We free one territory and the Kaiser simply takes over several others elsewhere."

The screen full of black and white squares was displayed behind him to help prove his point. It was a representation of the conquered and liberated regions of the Digital World. Even as he spoke that last sentence, a white area had turned to black right in front of their eyes.

His solution was one that neither Iori nor Daisuke could have expected. He suggested they split up into three and take down a tower each. As great as the idea was in terms of efficiency, it had effectively been the main cause that led to Iori's current problem: being ambushed by the Kaiser before he could bring down his assigned tower.

Daisuke was closer to his position than Takeru was, and so Iori had decided to flee towards that direction. No doubt Daisuke was also mounted on Lighdramon, and was rapidly nearing in order to meet up with him as well. The waves of Airdramon flew overhead; every now and then one would do a flyby over his head to frighten him with a sudden gust of wind.

Iori knew that the Kaiser was enjoying this moment; that he was enjoying the fear in the younger child's eyes. He clung towards Digmon's back as his partner aimed to reach Daisuke in time.

During one of the Airdramon flybys, Digmon had to swerve to the side to avoid being hit in a direct collision. He clumsily tripped over the root of a nearby tree and both partner and Chosen went falling towards the ground.

The Airdramon surrounded them.

Iori heaved himself off the ground, bringing himself painfully up to one knee first before finally rising to stand on both his feet. He looked around. Digmon had devolved into Armadimon. Fighting was not an option. He needed to resume his attempt to escape yet again.

But something felt different about him when he stood. Something was in his mouth. He frowned, feeling the strange hard object around with his tongue. He clearly remembered not having been eating any candy earlier, and he briefly wondered if he had somehow managed to engulf a nearby rock. He tried to bite down at it at first, but it proved to be very hard and resilient. He was not prepared to swallow whatever it was, and thus he spit it out into his awaiting hand.

A tooth fell out of his mouth.

"Iori?" Armadimon spoke, "Are you alright?"

Iori continued to stare at his palm. He felt a strange salty and sour sensation in his mouth. A slight dash of red began to slowly ooze from his gaping jaw.

Armadimon's eyes widened, "Iori! What's happening to you?"

Iori shivered in fright. "I… I don't know!"

"I'll answer that for you," the Kaiser appeared. An arrogant smirk covered his lips as he surveyed the view. He seemed rather pleased and amused at what he saw.

"Daisuke-san will be here at any moment!" Iori countered. He tried to maintain his bravado, but the tears in his eyes were threatening to come out.

The Kaiser shrugged, "Let him come. He can't change what's happening to you. The process has already begun."

Iori's lips quivered, "What process?"

"I've warned you before," the Kaiser announced casually, "The Digital World is made only for perfect humans such as me."

"Don't listen to him, Iori," Armadimon said, "You have every right to be in this world!"

The Kaiser spat at Iori, "Your kind doesn't belong here, and the Digital World knows this. It will break you apart slowly and piece by piece until there is nothing left of you."

Iori's knees gave away, and he dropped towards the ground. His tears finally began flowing. His fear was all too real now.

"Enjoy your last few moments," the Kaiser spoke as he left him. He mounted an Airdramon and the entire group dispersed. Still, he remained overhead, out of Iori's sight, and eagerly watched what would happen next.

"That's just a load of rubbish," Daisuke announced once he had heard Iori's tale. "You just lost a baby tooth. It's nothing to worry about."

"How can you be so calm?" Iori cried out, "I'm falling apart!"

"You are not falling apart," Daisuke spoke impatiently, "You just lost a tooth!"

"How can you say that?" Iori countered, "Have you ever lost one? How would you know what this feels like?"

Daisuke resisted the urge to rub at his forehead in annoyance, "Of course I've lost a few teeth; they all fall out eventually."

"Aha! See, I am falling apart! First my teeth will fall out, then my nose, then my ears and my arms and legs and even my head!"

"I wish your mouth would fall off," Daisuke muttered silently to himself. He then turned to face Iori, "Look, baby teeth fall out. Mine did, too, it's nothing serious! Here, look."

Daisuke took this time to open his own jaw and point inside. There was clearly a tooth missing from his front set of teeth.

"That doesn't mean anything," Iori said, "You probably just got hit in the face with a soccer ball one too many times."

"What was that?" Daisuke growled. He raised his fists in anger. "You little…"

"Daisuke," V-mon tugged at his jacket, "This isn't helping."

"What do you know anyways?" Iori shot back, "You're just as new to the Digital World as I am! We've only been coming here for a little over a week!"

Daisuke folded his arms, "Fine! We'll just ask Takeru, then. He'll tell you there's no such thing as the Digital World breaking apart humans. He's been here before, and much longer than we have, too."

"Now there's an idea," Armadimon said, "See, Iori, you're going to be perfectly fine."

Iori stared at the tooth in his hand. He frowned, "We need to get out of the Digital World and get me some help before I fall apart any further."

"Have you been listening to a word I said?" Daisuke sighed. He took out his D-Terminal and began typing a message to Takeru.

Overhead, the Kaiser frowned, and immediately flew off towards his new destination. He raised his D3, and forced a few more of his slaves to awaken. He was not yet prepared to let his fun end.

"The tower should be somewhere around here," Takeru announced as he tried to shove himself through the thick jungle flora of the current area.

"We've been looking for it for half an hour," Patamon complained, "Let's go take one out that we can actually see."

"We'll have to take this one out eventually. It's best to do it now that we're here instead of saving it for later."

There was a rustling in the foliage nearby. Takeru shot upwards at the sound. Patamon came to attention as well, both having heard the movement nearby. A short beep came from his pockets at that moment, announcing the new message that had been sent to him. He waited silently, listening intently for further sounds of movement. When none came, he carefully lowered his hand to his pockets and took out his D-Terminal.

When he lifted it, and flipped open the lid, the creature from earlier finally appeared. A swift white blur passed by him, taking his D-Terminal and landing on the ground behind them. Both Takeru and Patamon twirled around to see their attacker.

A Tailmon stood before them. No doubt different from Hikari's partner, and enslaved with a dark ring. The Tailmon immediately began fleeing once their eyes met.

"That little furball stole my D-Terminal!" Takeru shouted, "After her!"

And the two sped off towards the retreating form.

"Hmm… Takeru's not responding," Daisuke frowned.

Iori's tears were near returning. "It's because he knows I'm falling apart and he doesn't want to break the news to me."

"That's not it!" Daisuke shouted, "Why would you believe the Kaiser over me anyways?"

"You're not a very credible source."

"And the Kaiser is? He's lying – get that through your thick head. He's just toying around with you."

Iori folded his arms stubbornly, "I want to leave the Digital World."

"That might be best," Armadimon said, "At least until Iori overcomes this problem."

Daisuke sighed. "Fine, let's go. Takeru will have to catch up with us later."

They began treading towards the nearest television. It proved to be a short distance away and very soon the two Chosen found themselves back at the school's computer lab. Iori looked around, his tooth still in his hands, "Maybe we should contact the older Chosen? They might be able to help me not fall apart."

"Fine, whatever," Daisuke spoke. He felt done trying to convince the younger Chosen otherwise. He decided it best to let Taichi-san and the others deal with him. He then added, "But you're the one that's telling Takeru we didn't manage to take out any dark towers today."

They took the time to send out a few e-mails. Though even after several minutes of waiting, none of them produced any replies.

Daisuke left Iori back at the computer lab to monitor for responses. He turned to head towards the telephone booths in the school lobby. Most of the older Chosen didn't even have D-Terminals, so it was possible they wouldn't even be able to read the messages. Calling would be the best option. Without a second opinion, he dialed in Taichi's number…

… and was greeted with a busy signal.

Hikari spoke into the phone, "Don't worry about them, Mimi. They think I'm visiting my grandparents today." After a short pause she let out a soft laugh, "Oh, yes, he was really cute in that yesterday…"

Daisuke let out a sneeze as he angrily smashed the receiver back down. He had considered the Chosen an unbeatable team, but if this had been a real danger to the Digital World then the place would've been long gone by the time he'd actually manage to round up the troops.

He sighed bitterly in frustration. Even Taichi had let him down.

"Geez, if this had been a real emergency…"

"This is a real emergency!" Iori insisted from behind him.

"What're you doing here?" Daisuke asked, "Did anyone reply?"

"I got a message from Jyou-san's brother. He gave me the address to his school and suggested we go meet him there."

"You want to go see Jyou?" Daisuke frowned. "He's a bit out of the way. Why don't we just go over to Taichi-san's instead?"

Iori creased his brows in determination, "I want to go see Jyou-san. If anyone can help me, it would be him."

Daisuke allowed his shoulder to slump in defeat. The things he did for his fellow Chosen…

They went back to the computer lab to retrieve Chibimon and Upamon. Once the two Digimon were once again with their partners, the group proceeded towards the nearest bus stop that would take them to Jyou's school.

They waited, and waited, and waited some more. Finally the bus arrived, but Daisuke held out his hand to hold Iori back, "This one is way too crowded, we should wait for another one to come by so we can sit down."

"Are you crazy?" Iori spoke uncharacteristically, "I might fall apart by the time the next bus comes. We're getting on this one here; a little standing won't kill us."

They got on the bus, and as Daisuke had figured, it was indeed very crowded. There were no vacant seats. The Chosen stood, hands barely holding the support railings as they tried to balance both themselves and their Digimon. Tall business men surrounded them on all sides.

Iori kept himself occupied by staring at the fallen tooth he held, and wondering which of his body parts would be the next to go. Daisuke ended up falling asleep on his feet.

When at last the stop for Jyou's school came, the crowd began shuffling. Iori and Daisuke began making their way out. Daisuke stepped off first. Iori followed right behind him, but a man in the crowd bumped into Iori as they stepped off the bus. Iori fell forward, both Upamon and his tooth flying out of his arms.

Daisuke was quick to react, catching Iori before he could collide with the pavement.

"Ouch, sorry kid," the older man said. He bent down to pick up Upamon, "Here's your toy; it doesn't look broken."

"Th-thank you," Iori stammered out as he regained his balance. As the older man walked off, Iori began feeling his pockets and panicked as he desperately looked around, "My tooth! Daisuke, I can't find my tooth!"

"I know where it is!" Chibimon announced.

"Where is it?" Iori cried out.

Chibimon pointed to a nearby sewer drain. "It rolled over and fell into there."

"The-the-the-the sewer?" Iori spoke in disbelief, "I lost my tooth!"

"It doesn't matter!" Daisuke berated him, "It's just a tooth!"

"It's not just a tooth!" Iori yelled back at him, "It's my tooth! I was hoping Jyou-san would be able to put it back in its place."

"He's not a miracle worker." Daisuke sighed.

"Upamon," Iori looked down at his partner. "I need you to evolve to Digmon."

Upamon looked upwards at his Chosen, "You want me to evolve? Why?"

Daisuke had quickly put two and two together. He spoke defiantly, and with authority, "You are not drilling a hole in the street just to try and get your tooth back."

"Yes, I am! I need it back!"

"No," Daisuke said, "You want it back because you don't know any better. There's a big difference."

"You're just a big jerk!" Iori shouted at him.

"Well you're being a little brat!" Daisuke retorted.

"Iori-kun? Daisuke?" A new voice interrupted them. "What are you two doing here?"

"Jyou-san!" Iori spoke with relief. He turned to face the elder Chosen. "I'm so glad you're here!"

"What's the trouble?" Jyou looked between the two of them.

"Iori lost a baby tooth and now he's freaking out." Daisuke explained.

"Your baby tooth fell out, Iori-kun?" Jyou asked. He smiled cheerfully, "That's wonderful news!"

"It is?" Iori asked in disbelief. "You mean my body isn't falling apart because of the Digital World?"

"Of course it isn't!" Daisuke said, "That's what I've been telling you all this time!"

Jyou let out a chuckle, "The Digital World has nothing to do with your tooth falling out, Iori-kun. Everyone loses their baby teeth at a young age; this allows new ones to grow."

"So… I'm not falling apart?"

Jyou nodded, "That's right."

Iori gave Upamon a tight hug in relief. He cried out in joy, "I'm not falling apart!"

A few hours later, the Chosen realized that behind this fake emergency there was actually a real one as well… and so they all went searching for Takeru.

And soon after Takeru was finally found (he was muttering unmentionables about a Tailmon), Iori found himself laying in bed ready for some sleep. He reflected upon the day's events and everything else Jyou had told him about his baby teeth. He nudged his sleeping partner.

"Hey, Upamon. Are you awake?"

"Hrm? What is it, Iori?" He let out a yawn.

"What do you think, Upamon?" Iori opened his mouth and pointed to the opening where his tooth was missing, "Can you see my new tooth growing yet?"

End Notes:
- Iori is about 9 years old; some children do tend to lose their baby teeth earlier, though.