... Friendless Friendship ...

When Davis Motomiya was younger, he was just as wild as he was when his adventures in the Digital World began. Some would say he was more wild, even. It wasn't that surprising—he was a hyperactive trainwreck who always had something to say.

It was an attitude that cost him many friends and potential friends, even though he never quite understood why. Or, perhaps, it was that Davis understood why they didn't want to be his friend, but he didn't want to understand it—because understanding it hurt too much, because that meant he wasn't "like everyone else", because that meant he was "different", because that meant...

...in order to make friends...

...he couldn't be who he wanted to be...

Because... if he were to be himself... no one would like him.

"You lost us the match, dumbass!" shouted a boy named Shouta. He wasn't a bad kid normally. In fact, most of the time, he was one of the nicer ones—the ones that just smiled and nodded when Davis spoke to him, but didn't really listen or reply. However, this time, Shouta was angry—angrier than Davis had ever seen him. "Why are you even on this team?! You just get in the way!"

Dirt caked his cheeks and matted his hair.

(Stop it.)

He bit his bottom lip as Shouta took a wavering, angry step toward him.

(Shut up.)

Shouta raised a shaking fist, his expression twisted into a vehement snarl.

(Don't.)

"I hate idiots like you..." His voice was shaking with rage. Even though Shouta didn't lower his fist, his eyes still burned like a lit cigarette bud. "Idiots who think they matter when they don't!"

(No...)

"You always go around, spouting crap about how you're this awesome soccer player who should have sooo many friends." Instead of punching Davis in the jaw, Shouta reached forward and grabbed him by the ruff of his shirt. Davis winced, ready for the punch, but Shouta merely glared. "You're nothing but an idiot who'll never do anything! Get used to it, Motomiya! You'll never be anybody! You're a loser!"

(I'll be somebody...)

"You'll never be good at soccer!"

(I'll fight to be the greatest soccer player of all...)

"You'll never do anything but scream 'I'm the best! Me, it's me!', but nobody will listen because we all know—KNOW—that you're the worst! DEAD worst!"

(I WILL be the best...)

"You'll never have any friends, because who would want to be friends with you?"

(But I WANT friends! Someday... any day... I'll... I'll have friends...)

Shouta's fist raised above Davis's head, ready to barrel down and snap the cartilage of his nose. Davis covered his face with his arms, praying to God that it wouldn't hurt badly. However, just when he expected Shouta's fist to meet his face with a meaty smack, there was instead silence. A blessed silence. For a second, Davis thought time stood still, but one's mind can play tricks on you when you least expect it to—he expected time to freeze, but he suddenly realized this wasn't true when he heard a bird softly coo to her baby birds in a nest above his head; he heard the wind whistle between the branches, felt the cool breeze pull at his heated skin, felt the intangible fear curl and uncurl like an iron fist inside his chest.

The world hadn't frozen.

That was confirmed when Davis removed his arms from his face and saw a fist clenched around Shouta's wrist. Shouta, recognizing that his prey wasn't grimacing anymore, gave an audible humph before shoving Davis away and turning to glare at the person who held his wrist.

It was a boy with wild brunette hair, the color of spring tree bark. Spring tree bark... You see, that would be an odd expression—"spring tree bark"—except, in Davis's eyes, tree bark looked different on a season-to-season basis. Perhaps it was how he analyzed the world, or maybe it was his young imaginative mind, but trees were bipolar creatures always changing, always shifting, always growing.

In summer, tree bark had a certain crisp, orangey tint to it, almost sunburned. It was the way the summer sun glinted against the trees; it gave it the brilliant appearance of burning bark. Trees in autumn took a darker, gloomier appearance, as if the trunk was dying along with its leaves. Some trees in autumn turned slightly sallow, even. Most people wouldn't recognize this because, to most people, sallow trees weren't possible... but to Davis, trees could convey all sorts of emotions, like fear, friendship, life, death, and even happiness. In winter, they took on the qualities of fear and, oddly enough, happiness. While their branches hung like dead, scraggly fingertips, their wood seemed brighter, reminding him of a Snow Queen's skin. White snow would reflect off the tree, making the tree both scary (in the sense that it looked alive with its thin finger-branches and coarse wood), but with its gentle and light-held background of a white wonderland, Davis couldn't help but smile when looking at a tree in winter. Trees of winter represented death and mirth at the same time.

Trees in spring, however, took on a lively tint. Autumn and winter were seasons of woe and mourning; spring was the bringer of life and prosperity. Trees furthered their roots, grew thicker and taller, their leaves manifested and became fuller. In springtime, tree bark was bright, so bright that, in Davis's eyes, he could see little dots of light traveling up from inside the tree as it traveled to the leaves to give them greater life than they'd had before. Bark in springtime was the skin of a tree, and during the season of beginnings, a tree's skin sparkled with life.

It wasn't only Tai's hair that reminded Davis of a springtime tree—it was Tai's whole being, himself. There was an animated, fierce glint glossing his russet-colored eyes. His lips were turned downward in a discerning sneer, his voice a low growl in the bottom of his chest.

"Tch—despicable," Tai said, eyes narrowing as he released Shouta's wrist. "Who wants to be part of a team that believes they lost because of one person's mistake? We're a soccer team—the loss of a game is a whole team's fault, not one person's. If you believe any different, you don't deserve to be on a team. You'll be the one to grow up lonely, unaccomplished, and afraid."

Afraid...

(to rely on other people...)

Afraid...

(to have the courage to rely on other people...)

Afraid...

(to believe in other people...)

"We've all made mistakes during this game," Tai said, eyes falling half-lidded as he turned toward the other members of his soccer team. As captain, he always knew when something should be said or done in any situation. Tai didn't always say something, nor the right thing, but this time was different. This time, he knew exactly what to say, because he'd seen this situation too many times to count on one hand—especially in regards to Davis Motomiya. "If you think for one second that you didn't help us lose, you might as well get the hell off my team."

"That's not the reason he was gonna' beat on Davis, Tai," said someone else—someone in the background, where Tai and Davis couldn't see him. "Davis coulda' won the game, but he missed the shot! That's only the beginning of the stupid things he does... It's so annoying!"

Tai raised an eyebrow at the person as if they'd asked him the oddest question in the world. "Annoying or not, Davis is my friend. Right, Davis?"

Davis's eyes widened slightly. He didn't really know what to say or do, other than to numbly nod his head and reply, "Yeah... yeah, of course... Tai."

When Davis responded, Tai's lips curled into a bright smile, showing the curve of his white teeth. With a tilt of his head, a tuft of hair fell across his eyes and he puffed it out of the way. In a single, simple gesture, he leaned forward, tapped Davis on the forehead, and said, "Hmph. Someday, this'll be the brains of a soccer-genius, just you wait, kid. Don't mind what they say—yeah, you're an idiot, and you suck at soccer, but... I got a feeling that destiny's gonna treat you kindly. You've got a lotta potential. Don't let 'em waste it."

"R—right!" Davis said, beginning to feel the makings of a big grin.

"Tch, that kid will never do anything good in life," one of the other soccer players mumbled before turning away. "Can't believe Tai defended him."

That was only the beginning...

"Tai! TAAAAAI!" came a voice in the near distance. Both Davis and Tai shot their gazes toward a girl in the near distance, who was running toward them with a warm, radiant smile, and a brilliant flash in her gentle eyes. Davis had to squint to see her fully, but as she drew closer to them, her features came into full view.

She was around his age, with a tenderness and gracefulness that was exploited in each of her steps. At times, it seemed like she danced when she walked, sometimes it seemed like she walked when she ran, and sometimes it seemed like she ran when she danced. Without a doubt, she was one of the most graceful people Davis ever saw... To boot, if he thought Tai was like springtime, Kari Kamiya was the embodiment of springtime. She was its vibrant green that spread across its rippling riches, she was the blue of the sky, the swirl of pink during soft laughter, she was a season of life and love, the first tide of light to fragment ice.

So when she ran up to the two boys, panting wildly as she clasped her knees and stared semi-angrily at her brother, Davis couldn't help but stare long and hard at her. She hadn't noticed him—and why would she? After all, Tai was her golden-boy brother, and Davis was a nobody. She stared up at him and said, "Tai, you said you'd meet me at WacDonald's ten minutes ago! What's the deal!"

Tai momentarily winced before taking a few steps forward. He turned his back to her and crouched low to the ground, then pointed at his back. Craning his neck to grin at his little sis, he finally replied, "Sorry. I got a little—" he tossed a lazy smile in Davis's direction "—caught up. With someone who'll be a very good friend someday, heh."

With a nod, he looked back at Kari and gave her the lop-sided Kamiya grin that only he could have. Staring at Tai's unique smile, Davis always tried to mimic it the best he could. In the end, Davis came up with the Motomiya grin, which he made his own; in the beginning, however, like Davis's goggles and Davis's hair, like Davis's soccer abilities and Davis's role as leader of the newer generation, Davis took the things that Tai inspired and made them his own.

"Tell ya' what," Tai began, looking at Kari as if he needed to say anything at all. "I'll give you a piggyback ride aaaaall the way home, and make you ice-cream there. Maybe we'll even have Davis tag along, and we can all have ice-cream together."

At that, Kari whipped around to see Davis looking up at her with big, watery doe eyes. She blinked as if she hadn't even realized he was there, then twisted her lips into a snarl. Her fierce expression alone was enough to send Davis several inches backwards in a wince, his teeth clenching as he suddenly realized the first time Kari Kamiya took a look at him, it was a venomous glare.

Here it comes, he thought. The thing I hear from everyone else.

Grumpily, she growled at the boy, "YOU are a POOP. You're the one everyone complains about aaaaall the time! You think you're so cool, but you kept my brother from me! And most of all, Shouta looks mad, too. Do you know how nice Shouta is? No one gets on Shouta's nerves, he's always so nice. What kind of JERK are you!"

Davis flushed. His nerves shot like trickles of electricity across his spine, his jaw loosening for just a second before he tore his gaze away from the girl. He wanted to reply with shouts and angry tirades of furious boasting, yet something kept him back. Maybe it was the smoldering look of hurt in her eye, or perhaps it was his own wounded pride, but the fight suddenly went out of him.

Her words said something scathing, but those eyes...

He didn't want to fight with Kari Kamiya. He didn't know why. He didn't even know her at all; this was the first time they'd spoken, yet there was something about her that struck him almost instantly. Something about her that wasn't her just grace, wasn't just her beauty or her impressive family. It was the look in her eye.

It was strange because, as she intensely glared into Davis's eyes hard enough to feel like bullets through his skull, he felt there was also an underlying kindness to her words that even she hadn't realized.

She'd never talked to Davis. She didn't know anything about him, she didn't want to know anything about him.

He'd never spoken to her, he didn't have any classes with her. He'd heard about her through people in his classes, about Kari Kamiya, sister of the best soccer player at Odaiba Elementary, gymnast and dancer. She knew everyone and everything about everyone.

But how could she know that he wasn't obnoxious because he thought he was great, but because no one else would look if he wasn't loud?

Well, he did think he was great and everything (not the best but not hopeless), but he still didn't know how to convey that without banging it over people's heads. Even though Kari judged him as harshly as all his other peers had, peers who never gave him a chance, he'd never quite seen eyes like those before.

"Yeah..." he said quietly. "That's me."

"That's mean, that's what it is," Kari said with a matter-of-fact tone. She gave him a hard expression before climbing up on her big brother's back and sighing. With a small, discontented frown, she continued, "Nah, Tai, let's have ice-cream just you 'n' me. Davis is a bully!"

Tai raised an eyebrow at his little sister. At her young age, it wasn't rare for Kari to label people in a snap. Maybe their parents allowed her to watch too many teen dramas, or maybe it was just who she was—but at her age, before she'd grown into the darling forgiving dear she became, she didn't trust Davis one bit. After all, he was a mean, narcissistic, pathetic bully who thought only his opinions and feelings mattered.

That's what everyone said about him.

Davis never thought that, though... he always cared about what everyone thought, and in some odd way, that was the reason why he was so obnoxious. Everyone was worried about giving their own opinion and being heard—recognized—for what they were saying. Even at his young age, people were screaming to be heard. Davis was one of the unlucky few who screamed just a bit too loud, and everything snowballed from there. In truth, he wasn't an apologetic guy, but Davis knew when he made a mistake, even if he had a lot of pride and didn't want to admit it.

"Well, alright," Tai sighed. He then grinned and nodded at Davis before turning away toward their nearby apartment. "See ya' around, Davis. Don't forget to work on those kicks."

Davis grinned and nodded at his idol. "I won't forget, sensei!"

Without turning in Davis's direction, Tai found himself nearly guffawing as he blinked what must've been a hundred times within a 20-second basis. However, a second later, he smiled and bowed his head, his eyelids falling to show a close-eyed expression of both surprise and acceptance.

"Heh, 'sensei'..." He opened his eyes. They were burning with determination. "I'll be the best damn sensei EVER!"

.---.

It happened almost instantly.

Tai and Davis were alone, practicing in the woods near the Kamiya apartment. They hadn't been training long, but Davis could tell almost immediately that something was wrong with Tai—there were dark, purple-tinted rings beneath his eyes, beads of sweat cascading down his temples and forehead, his eyes were thickly glazed-over and he wouldn't quit sniffling. Tai moved sluggishly, like his stomach was full of rocks. His face was red—and not red as in sunburned or like all the blood rose to his cheeks, but like he was in a sauna that wanted to crisp him into a tiny little puddle of ooziness.

When Tai missed a goal that even Davis could make, the future leader of the Destined suddenly furrowed his brow, one of his hands resting on Tai's shoulder. "Hey, are you okay?"

"I'm... I'm fin—"

He didn't finish his sentence.

At first, he stumbled backwards—wobbled—then went stiff as a board. While his face was redder than a cherry just seconds before, he was now stark white, as stark as Davis's great grandfather the day they buried him in the ground. Before Tai could fall to the ground, Davis launched himself forward and caught his idol, eyes widening in both confusion and worry. He said a few things even he didn't quite understand—are you alright? Wake up, Tai, wake up, you can't be dead!—but his words never reached Tai's ears. Davis was swift to move the boy onto his back as he ran like hell toward Tai's apartment.

The boy was bigger and heavier than Davis. By the time he reached the elevator and realized it was out of order, he was already panting and nearly sweating up an ocean. Tai, himself, was barely conscious—his eyes were open in slits, his pupils dilated, breathing ragged and uneven. Davis was just scared. He'd screamed for help maybe a million times, but no one heard him; no one was around to hear him.

In all honestly, it wasn't all that odd to Davis that no one heard him. For years, no one listened to anything he'd said – no matter how loud he was, no matter what he said, no matter how damn obnoxious he made himself, it still wasn't loud enough, because no one listened.

Listen to me! he wanted to scream. I'M RIGHT HERE, HELP ME!

But no one heard him.

But... but Tai listened... He bit his bottom lip and cradled the broken boy in his arms. He bowed his head, forehead resting against Tai's limp shoulder as his knees wobbled beneath him. Tai defended me... he called me his friend! He doesn't deserve to die here... he doesn't... I...

And then it hit Davis.

Maybe it would've been smarter to go around banging on doors or to look for a phone, to run outside to the nearest building and tell someone to call 911, but the only thing that ran through Davis's mind was Kari. Kari.

I have to get Tai to Kari.

It was almost irrational; hell, it was irrational.

But in that moment, Davis was completely and utterly alone, and completely, utterly afraid, and it was the one thing his head—his heart—was screaming at him to do.

Davis didn't know how he was able to make it up so many flights of stairs. Maybe it was the lightning rush of adrenaline, maybe it was his sheer willpower to save the first person (other than Jun or his parents) who ever cared about him, or maybe it was just because he was freaking Davis Motomiya, but he heaved Tai upon his shoulders and bolted up those stairs like he was a football player carrying a ladybug.

He should've gotten help. Maybe found someone nearby who could help him carry Tai up the stairs and call 911. He should've done something other than what he did, but Davis had never been smart. When Tai fainted in the woods, Davis did the one thing his riveting instincts told him to do: Get Tai to Kari, and quick.

When Davis swung open the door to Tai's apartment, there was another surge of emotion coming not only from him, but from the three other people who nearly jumped out of their skins when they heard the door bang against the wall behind it upon Davis's arrival. Davis whipped past Mr. and Mrs. Kamiya, his breath wheezing between clenched teeth, not even bothering to kick off his shoes, and nearly fell to a kneel in front of Kari when he spotted her on the off-white sofa nearby. Surprised that he still had some strength, Davis softly pulled Tai away from his back, proportioned the boy in front of him, and pulled him up (like some sort of desperate offering) to Kari. His arms were trembling from the weight; his knees were shaking from fright; his ears were ringing with fear; his stomach felt jumbled with nervousness; but the one thing Davis knew was something that was more clear to him than anything had ever been clear to him before.

He wanted Tai to live.

"Kari... he... he..." Davis choked, his elbows giving out as he held up Tai. He held the boy in his arms, tears falling from his eyes as he looked away from the goggle boy and to Kari, who stared at him wide-eyed and pale.

Mr. Kamiya didn't hesitate to pick up a phone to dial 911. Mrs. Kamiya tore Tai away from Davis and carried him to the bathroom, where she sat him in the tub and began drawing cold water from the dank faucet. The woman worked swiftly, grabbing ice cubes from the freezer and jogging back to the tub to pour them in the water. The Kamiya parents had experienced this several times with Kari. They knew the signs even before they asked questions—give him an ice bath until the ambulance arrived, and maybe—maybe—everything would be alright. There was something about the Kamiya siblings and soccer that made them faint, but even so, neither of them could ever get away from it.

By the time Tai was in the tub with many crystalline bobbing ice cubes, Davis was still shaking in front Kari.

He stared blankly at his hands. They were dirty. Sweaty. Callused.

He was sick... he thought, biting his bottom lip as he continued staring. He was sick, but still came out to play with me... he was sick.

(I almost killed him.)

The thought echoed in his mind.

(My first friend almost died.)

His fingers clenched into fists.

(I almost killed him.)

He buried his face into his fists, his heart pumping against his chest so hard he could feel even his ribs vibrating. The thought kept winding and playing in his mind, each time growing louder, weaker, stronger, broken.

I almost killed my best friend.

God, what if Tai died?

I almost killed him!

Killed him

Killed him

Killed him

"It's not your fault, Davis," Kari whispered softly. He felt her hand rest on his shoulder. Her skin felt like silk, her touch like being brushed by drapes caught in the wind. He snapped his gaze away from his fists to look into her lively brown eyes, which glistened with apologies and thanks as she stared back. It was the first time he'd heard her talk like that before; the first time Kari Kamiya recognized Davis Motomiya as someone who was trying to become a better person. As someone just as afraid as she was to step out into the world and make friends. As someone who just wanted friends, but was too afraid to show the world because they'd been hurt by the world.

"Don't blame yourself," she said with a nod. She turned to look out the window, shards of yellow light bouncing off the mild russet of her calm eyes. Without turning to look in his direction, she smiled at seemingly nothing and nodded. "Tai... is one of the most courageous people I know. If anyone can fight off a bad fever, it's him."

Davis didn't say anything. He wanted to, but the words got caught in his throat and came out only as a choked whisper that Kari didn't catch. He bowed his head and nodded, one of those fists resting against his lips.

When he remained silent, Kari turned just enough so she could see him. With her simple, serene Kari smile (the first time she'd ever smiled like that), she said, "Thank you, Davis... for helping him home."

What Davis didn't know was that, as Kari stared out her window toward the blazing sun, she had a sudden realization. She realized that Davis wasn't who she thought he was. She'd never had a real discussion with him before—the stories were enough evidence to her that he was a jerk who only cared about himself. Even so, how could such an uncaring person carry someone so much heavier than him up that many flights of stairs, by themselves, in this blaring heat? How could someone so uncaring care so much?

It was just a seed planted into the core of her psyche. The thought wouldn't grow at first, but eventually, Kari would come to realize that everyone was different than who they first appeared to be. At one time, Kari was the narcissistic, uncaring one. However, as time wore on, that changed—Davis changed—and he had been the one to begin that change.

Tai had been the one to begin changing Davis, but Kari was the first person who saw him change. Her brother might've seen the potential, but Kari was the one who nurtured that potential and was the first to see it blossom.

.---.

It was years later when Davis realized what friendship really meant to him. It meant love, it meant hope, it meant determination and courage and every other feeling burning inside him and the other Destined. When most people thought of him, they thought about the part of him that resembled courage.

That was all fine and well. Davis was the one who picked up Tai's mantle, after all. But when Davis thought of himself, he thought only of friendship.

"Are you sure?" Kari would ask him someday, after their tribulation against MaloMyotismon and the horrors of the Dark Ocean. He would grin and lean forward, his fingertips brushing her chin to lightly tilt her head toward his. With a wink, he would nod, and Kari would reach over him to turn off the lamp.

"I'm sure," he'd say. "Friendship was something I didn't think I deserved, until Tai gave me the courage to step forward and grab it. You were the first person I touched."

Davis was his own person.

And without the Kamiya family, he would've never found that person until it was too late.

---------------

Author's Note: Hey, everyone! Did you enjoy this simple one-shot? I hope you did! Sorry if the writing style isn't quite up to standards for my usual, I actually wrote this a year ago. I've improved my craft remarkably since then! Regardless, I hope you enjoyed! :) This was actually supposed to be Davis and Kari's backstory for "The Lighthouse", but due to plot, characterization, and interaction, I decided to scrap this idea for another more intense dynamic. Though, I still liked this meeting a lot, so I finally decided to post it. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon and I am not making money off of this fic. I do not own/make money off of any companies/music/shows/etc I mention. No infringement intended. Feedback is wanted and highly encouraged.