Author's Note: Hey! Long time since I had a one-shot for Digimon, so I thought I'd finish it up and just post it. Sorry about the length, it just sort of kept going. I've been working on this for, like, months, so it'll probably be like a history essay: pretty good or really bad. Defiantly more mature than "Lullaby". I don't know; let's let you dudes read and be the critics, k? I'm on board with that. Let's do this!
Disclaimer: This is an artistic mixture of my own ideas with the plot and characters of Digimon Frontier. As such, only the things that aren't in the show came from my head, but I'm not making any kind of profit, so does it matter? What I'm trying to do is not claim any credit for copyrighted material... and have a new and interesting disclaimer. Did it work?
Hey. My name's Minamoto Kouji; you know, the kid with the long hair, antisocial attitude, and the psychotic twin brother? Yeah, that Kouji. I'm sorry if I don't come off as polite in any way, but I just don't think it's important. We put so much emphasis on the little ceremonies of life and by the time you've finished getting a conversation going it's over. Not that I needed to converse very often before I went to the Digital World. My father always wanted to show off his "only" son at business parties and the like, but my ill-mannered nature got me labeled too young for ten years. Then I grew up and my father could no longer hide me in the back room and not face the prying curiosity of his coworkers. So I was brought out and paraded around like a fine work of art, making civil small talk most of the time, engaging in witty remarks that brought out peals of hollow laughter, showing off my intellect and my father's wonderful family skills whenever possible. So, as you can imagine, I got enough of the polite chit-chat at home; I still do. It drives Dad absolutely up the wall when the pretense evaporates as soon as the last guest has left after every little 'get together', but what kind of son would I be if I didn't annoy my parents? Besides, now I've got Kouichi. It embarrasses him beyond all cuteness (If you have a sibling, you understand. Sometimes, no matter what they're doing, they'll get expressions on their faces that are just flat out adorable) whenever I say something improper, but he always managed to talk our way back into good graces... and he never gets angry with me.
Kouichi rarely gets angry at anything, actually, even when he has every right to be. He's one of those kids who just sits down and takes whatever is being dished out to him. Where I'm on my feet ready to show someone what years of kendo training can do, he just stays quiet, eyes downcast, apologizing. I swear that boy will apologize for anything.
'I burned the cookies!'
'I stubbed my toe!'
'Kouichi, I've got a lot of work to do, can you come back in an hour?'
Anything, any notion of displeasure from anyone else and he feels like he has to make up for it somehow. I know it's more of an 'I'm sorry you're not happy' type of thing, but still, not all lack of joy in the world is his fault. I really wish he could see that, and I sometimes wish he would let out his frustration before it burst. Because forget Hell and forget a woman's scorn, when Kouichi snaps the whole world freezes over. And it's not like he has any control either. He's just mad and that can be directed any which way. That scares him more than anything else, I think. When he loses it, he's little more than animal; an unstoppable weapon who's destructive capabilities can be pointed anywhere for any purpose as long as one knows the right words. You know what I'm talking about, and more importantly, he knows.
He remembers everything that happened in the Digital World, everything he saw, everything he said, everything he did. Kouichi will say differently, maybe he's even convinced himself differently, but he's a really good liar. Just not to me. The truth is that I can see Cherubimon whispering in his ear during the hard times, Duskmon lurking in his eyes when someone goes a little too far. Now I'm here, I can help him through; but before he had someone to talk to, before he had someone he could trust without scaring, I don't know what he did. If you look at him as a kid stuck watching his mother fight everyday against a world that's trying to kill her and starve her son combined with the normal pre-teen angst and the stress of not being financially well off while knowing that he was denied the best life imaginable simply because he was on the right instead of the left when our father grabbed his pick, well, it's easy to see where Duskmon came from.
Kouichi says he recognizes that, smiles politely when I bring it up, but I know he's actually struggling with it. He is darkness, it's his nature to deceive as much as it is mine to reveal. Neither of these is a good thing or a bad thing, trust me there's stuff in this world I wish Kouichi could shadow out of existence. They just are. Like us. So I can't help trying to force truth on him and Kouichi... How do you admit to wanting to destroy your own brother? And he did. He hated me. He feels so guilty about that. Understandably so, it is an awful thing to want; more than that, it's a sin. We both know that and I wish to whatever politically correct power there is that we didn't. That guilt is always there, that sin ever lurking between us, plain as day. Every time he looks at me, every time he does something for me, it's just another one of his apologies. I wish I could just be his brother instead of someone he'd tried to kill, if only for a day. Then again, I've always believed that you can't help the way you feel. If I don't hold his hatred against him, then what right did I have to be embittered by his guilt?
Sorry, I'm not usually this talkative. I do have a point. The fact of the matter is that there are things I keep from my brother. He's not the only one with secrets, about Duskmon I mean. Everything else is free game; we share everything else except for things related to the Digital World. Kouichi feels awkward discussing those events; after all, what would he say? 'That sounds like it was fun. I was being brainwashed by an evil mastermind at the time, but if I had had an ounce of free will and not hated you beyond all reason I would have loved to have been there.' Woo-hoo! Yeah, no. There are things he'd rather not tell us, and things he'd rather not hear. To be perfectly clear, Kouichi would like to think that finding out that he was Duskmon was a quick slap in the face that he was able to make better, and for the others that's exactly what it was. For me, things were a little different. It's almost funny, Kouichi has easily accepted this twin ESP thing ever since I confronted him on those little chunks of moon in the Digital World, accepted that we are connected somehow. Quite frankly it was that connection that pulled him from the corruption. He sensed me as Duskmon and "followed my light," as he says it. Ironically, the concept that this might have gone both ways has yet to occur to him as a plausible option.
Here's the truth, uncensored, plain and simple. I followed his darkness as much as he followed my light, though I didn't know that's what it was at the time. I knew Duskmon was my brother from the moment I first saw him, and I can't tell you how frustrating it was to have that little bit of information floating just above conscious thought, how depressing it was each time he hit me, how painful it was to watch Kouichi fight for existence inside the Digimon. Bet you didn't think of that. There are a lot of things about Duskmon that were never said, that should never be said. But I'm tired of biting my tongue every time it comes up. I'm not accustomed to hiding anything, even when the thing is one of those things that shouldn't be revealed. So here you go, I'm just going to say it. My side of the story, the things you didn't see.
Of course, things started when I got on that Trailmon. Yes, I know that's how all the stories start, just bare with me. I got on as a kid looking for his destiny, like all the others, and got off in the Digital World on a mission. It's hard to describe, but the second the text came, the call to become 'Digidestined' and save the Digital World (I hate how that sounds), I began to feel anxious, agitated. A knot twisted in my stomach and I don't think I've ever been that tense. My muscles burned when I ran from the flower shop, but ached even more as I stood still on the train to Shibuya. And all the while there was a sense of panic, like I was missing something... something important. It's kind of ironic; I felt so driven to get to wherever it was I was going to meet my brother when he was in the car next to me, just outside of the elevator doors, the whole time (I hate that too). The second I got off and Ophanimon told me that everything would be made clear, as if that was supposed to settle things; I knew I was there for a reason. I was looking for something. Something important. It was my intent to do this on my own, but things didn't quite work out and I got sucked in to the group. Despite my best efforts, they wouldn't just let me do my thing alone, and what with the evil Legendary Warriors out to get our Spirits, those things we used to turn into our own 'Legendary Warriors of Justice', and there was safety in numbers. I never told them about my search and they never guessed, though there were times when I started to think I was just a part of the group, that I wasn't there for something more. Not to sound big-headed, but the others were just there to save the Digital World. It seemed a little farfetched, as the truth usually does, to think I had a greater purpose. OK, not necessarily greater, just different. Throughout all the battles and traveling, I always knew there was something waiting for me. Kouichi thought I didn't want to have anything to do with him. The reality was I wanted to find him as badly as he wanted to find me. Maybe if he'd known that... But he didn't, so it doesn't matter.
Now, I don't mean to downplay anything that happened in the Digital World, every second changed me in some way and I'm a better person because I was there (I mean that, cheesy as it sounds), but things didn't really start to heat up until we reached the Dark Continent. The Venus Rose was right up ahead and our journey, as far as we could tell, was almost over. Then the Trailmon stopped and dumped us at the Dark Gate and hightailed it in the opposite direction. If that wasn't a bright warning sign, then Bokomon's enlightening little speech on the Continent itself definitely was. Honestly, the place had "Do Not Enter" all over it and any normal person would have needed a death wish to go in. But we weren't normal. Maybe it was because I had the Spirits of Light and they were calling to the Spirits of Darkness, or I sensed Kouichi, but I could feel myself being pulled towards the Gate. This was it. My questions, why I was here, the answers Ophanimon had promised me, they were all there beyond the door. The light had to venture into darkness and illuminate the truth. It was sickeningly poetic. Regardless, as soon as I hit the earth I knew that I was going into the Continent of Darkness with or without the others. I thought it was the Venus Rose, my commitment to the mission because what else could it be? No other explanation made sense at the time; nothing else could explain the magnetic affinity I had for this place. I felt excited and uneasy for no obvious reason, almost like déjà vu.
Of course, I didn't go alone. Izumi is probably the most stubborn girl in Japan, there was no way she would turn back even if the Dark Gate was made up entirely of snakes, spiders, and centipedes and there was... something unbelievably terrifying on the other side. Tomoki may have started off as an obnoxious little cry baby not worth my time, but by then he'd grown in every aspect but height and in any sort of struggle he had become more than capable. Junpei was never a coward, he's always just been smart and protective and where Izumi and Tomoki went, the power of thunder would always be behind them. And Takuya... where to start. It was his confident speech that solidified everyone else's intent to continue on our quest, what else is there to say. Seriously, that boy can eat, sleep, whine, yell, and give motivating speeches like no other. And for all his faults, he's my best friend after Kouichi.
So we marched onward, dragging an almost tearful Bokomon with nothing but the chilled twilight to light the way. It was slow progress, creepy at best and, when Izumi decided a well timed scream would liven things up, downright terrifying. To be blunt, it was an awful place, dark and dank with a distinctly evil aura. 'Course, we don't really know what the Dark Continent was supposed to look like, it may well have been as altered by Cherubimon's corrupted magic as my brother. Just the thought makes my blood boil- sorry, that was off topic. Like I said, slow, silent except for the occasional spattering of gasps and conversation. Quite dull actually, but in retrospect, preferable to what came next. About the time we were beginning to relax and have some fun, mostly due to some glowing moss and friendly Digimon, Petaldramon decided it was the opportune moment to attack. Oddly enough, that's not the important part. Not that it wasn't a riveting and exciting battle, but the only thing I actually care about happened after Duskmon had destroyed his own ally and started toying with us. When we crossed blades, when we first 'unofficially' met. I'm not sure what happened, it wasn't really a magical twin moment, but I could feel we weren't... strangers either, that there was something there. I felt his power, his wrath. His intent to eradicate us and serve his master. But beneath all that, there was a connection between us, a connection that fascinated and freighted me. Whatever it was, it didn't last long, because before I fully knew what was happening we were hightailing it out of there.
At the time, nothing would have made me happier than to never have seen his ruby eyes again. I didn't know what he was or wanted, only that to fight him would have been suicide and wrong on some level I didn't get either. Meeting him again was not something I wanted to go through. Nonetheless, or maybe because I was trying so hard to avoid him, he found us, found me. I'm not going to lie, I'd never been so scared before in my life. Since then I've had much more traumatic experiences, most of them- all of them actually, involving Kouichi in trouble, but before that nothing compared. Honestly, that boy's a danger magnet. He can't even walk down the street without tripping or getting hit by a bus or something. Anyway, Duskmon, fighting. I'd tried to tell Takuya he was too powerful, tried to explain that a friendship speech wouldn't work with this one. But the goggle-head had to go do something brash and I, being the only one with half an ounce of sense and no idealistic dreams of glory, had to go and save him. Of course, in true heroic fashion, that meant throwing myself in front of Duskmon's attack. Kind of a stupid thing to do in retrospect, an emotional decision if ever one existed. What happened next I can't say. I was either in excruciating pain or unconscious. All I knew was that it hurt like nothing I'd ever felt before, like icy needles pushing through every centimeter of flesh, then there was a wave of darkness, and the nightmares started.
Whether I dreamt once or across several nights is irrelevant because every time I closed my eyes from that point until I met him in his human body, the images flashed through my mind. They still do, occasionally, whenever he gives me that guilty look, the apology. I have half a mind to say it wasn't a dream at all, that it was something completely different and altogether unnatural. But that would mean admitting to a whole other world full of things I didn't understand. I can make the Digital World make sense because it's the physical manifestation of all the data we humans have on every computer we've created. But I was in the Digital World; twin ESP visions are something I'm not quite ready to accept in its full definition. If I did, then I would have to admit that there was a way for me to sense him before he fell into Cherubimon's manipulative grasp. A way to catch Kouichi before he fell into darkness. That I was responsible for letting him down. Any form of ESP would just be a constant reminder of my own guilt, something I don't need. Then again, I don't need twin ESP guilt to remind me of what happened between me and my brother, I have this ridiculous nightmare.
When Duskmon's sword cut through me, forcing me back into human form, Takuya started yelling my name. "Kouji. Kouji! Kouji!" I could hear him through the haze of icy pain, though that's not all I heard. There was another voice, someone else's pain rushing towards me in a black mist. Night surrounded me, formless, substances, just there. I tried to call out, but there was no sound, not even my breath whispered in my ears. Something moved beside me. Duskmon. I sensed him more than I saw him and I jumped back, falling into a fighting stance slowly, as if I was underwater. He came forward, his body completely black and human shaped, its edges misty. Everything about him seemed to waver, like I was staring at my reflection in a pool of shadow in the breeze. Definitely human shaped, but I couldn't distinguish anything beyond that. He stared at me, his eyes the burning red I'd seen before, glowing, empty, the only things not covered by the black shadow that surrounded him. They looked almost sad, pained somehow. His blood read swords materialized out of the night, glowing eerily in the gloom. I drew my own out of nowhere, a solid beam of light that pushed back the darkness.
"Kouji," he hissed in his low, gravel of a voice.
"Duskmon," I answered curtly. His eyes narrowed dangerously and he almost snarled.
"I know you." I didn't have time to contemplate this rather perplexing statement as half a second later he had lunged at me and our swords were pressing against each other. I circled the blade around, shoving his off to the side defensively. He gave me a fierce look and twisted his body so that the blade not held by my own was free to stab. I jumped back, but we were starting to move terribly slowly, like our fight was underwater. I caught the wrist holding the sword not pinned by my own and twisted it. Duskmon cried out in pain and dropped the blade. It clattered to the floor, ringing and bouncing slowly, surreally. We both looked down at it, crimson glittering against shadowed black. He knocked my blade aside as suddenly as the drag would allow, still managing to surprise me, and slicing towards my side. He had the perfect shot, right to the kidney, but at the last second he hesitated, freezing. I didn't make the same mistake. Time sped up; my movements were suddenly unrestrained and quick. I knocked his second blade aside and drove my own into his stomach, just as I would have any other Digimon.
But he wasn't any other Digimon. There was no fractal code, no floating Spirit, nothing. His form didn't darken; no glimmering ring of any kind surrounded his body. He didn't disintegrate and leave behind a glowing egg. I could feel my blade inside of his flesh, something wet running down towards the hilt. A liquid that seconds before had been hot touched my hand and I started, removing the blade quickly and tossing it aside. It clattered to the floor, next to Duskmon's. That was a curious juxtaposition, the red blade of darkness lying clean against the blade of light rusty with as strange liquid. Duskmon stumbled forward, grabbing my shoulder for support himself with one hand. I was too stunned to react. His other hand was pressed over the hole left by my sword, his head tilted down, staring at it. Slowly, fearfully, he pulled his hand up to eye level, so we both could see what had happened. The pale skin was stained with a bright red something, something that smelt of copper and salt. His form rippled in the darkness, then disappeared in small, black wisps.
Everything around me began to swell and contract, contorting organically like oil on water. I began to feel nauseous from the motion, or at least very uncomfortable. Letting out a groan, I reached down and grabbed my stomach, as if to sooth it, only to find it wet. Wet and slick. The stench of copper still hung in the air, only it was stronger, more intense, suffocating. What I thought was nausea was beginning to ache, and then hurt. With a gasp I pulled my hands up to my face, staring at them incredulously. Red, much brighter than I'd always envisioned. From the hole left by my own sword. I fell to my knees, colored orbs winking in the dark around me, and woke up.