Author's Note: Meh, same story as the last Author's Note; though I must say I feel particularly clever and productive for splitting this up and actually naming chapters. Clever names too, I think. Don't kill my joy...
Disclaimer: In the minute since I wrote the last disclaimer I have unfortunately not managed to gain possession of anything else and still own nothing.
I hit the hard ground, the swirls of purple and green replaced by indigo and sunset pink. Duskmon stood before me, howling as a dark mist surrounded him and took the shape of Cherubimon's upper half. "Duskmon, you hesitate," it stated, it's voice a deep growl, its arms wrapping around the Digimon. "You alone posses the Spirit of Darkness. To realize its full power, mercy cannot exist. Remove this obstacle at once!"
"That's not what you really want Duskmon," I called, hoping to get through to him as much for his sake as for my own well being.
"Ignore him! Listen to the darkness in your heart. Destroy this human, and fulfill your destiny!" The mist pulled itself back into Duskmon's body, numbing his pain and smothering his new found emotion. He sighed, relaxing and staring at me with such hatred I winced.
"I will cover this world in darkness," he said coldly, unsheathing his swords.
"I can't let that happen," I retorted harshly. Whatever he was, friend of foe, I couldn't let him destroy the world I'd fought so hard to protect. Cherubimon's hold was too strong, I couldn't get through to the part I'd talked to. He was gone, vanished into the darkness. There was no option but to fight. I Spirit Evolved, trying to strike before he was ready. He was too fast, blocking or dodging every one of my attacks. Luckily, he wasn't doing any better. None of his attack hit, we were even. Wait... no we weren't. I had something he didn't, at least for the time being. I Slid Evolved, thinking my Beast Spirit would be more effective since it had always proved to be more powerful. It made me overly confident. He landed one effortless strike as I lunged and I de-Evolved back into a human, his hatred for me resonating in the crimson energy of his attack. His pain, the boy's pain, washed over me, mingling with my own. I crumpled.
"Anything else you'd like to try," he taunted, savoring the moment. His hatred gave him more strength then I could imagine, more power, all directed at me. Why? Why did he hate me so much? Why was he doing this to me? Were we just playing out the war between light and darkness? Or was there another war? Another game whose rules I was still learning?
"Got to do something," I groaned. "I know it's not supposed to end like this. I can't let Duskmon win. I just can't, not yet!" He was going to kill me. He was going to release all his wrath on me and I'd be washed away. That wasn't how the story went; light was supposed to triumph over darkness. Was there something about me? Had I done something wrong? The boy...
"It's time to say good bye. Any final thoughts?" The boy from before was gone, lost inside of Duskmon's furry. Duskmon couldn't help what he was, what he did. He was run by loathing, powered by suffering. I was different, I had a choice in how I treated people. I'd made some bad ones, acted out of pain and anger. I was saying something, something that made him freeze. I'd hurt the people close to me and now I regretted it. I'd never known how much it hurt to be rejected until now, how horrible it felt when someone struck you in agony. It wasn't her fault and it wasn't his fault. "No. Stop it!" I heard the boy, the hurt of my words. Why should my apology hurt him? Had I wronged him too? I had to make up for the pain I'd caused, undo the damage of my bitterness. Until I did I was no better than Duskmon. I resolved to apologize to my new mom, she was only trying to help, she didn't deserve what I'd done to her any more than I deserved what Duskmon was doing to me. "Enough!" I was going to give her those flowers I'd bought before I'd come to the Digital World, and he would not stop me.
There was a bright light, it pushed back the darkness and washed over me, carrying me into a warm place. I could see my Human Spirit and my Beast Spirit, next to me, offering me their power. The power to defeat the hatred and free the Spirit. I hesitated, remembering the boy, his torment. I didn't want to fight him, something was telling me not to hurt him. But he was Duskmon and Duskmon needed to be removed. He was dangerous. This new power could end it. "Execute, Fusion Evolution!" I felt my Spirits combine within me, like drinking hot miso broth infused with pure energy. It stung a little as my body was morphed, but it was worth the pain. I had to defeat Duskmon, there was no other way. "Beowulfmon!"
"I underestimated you," congratulated Duskmon, not sounding even mildly surprised. "But I don't understand, you're miserable Kouji, what do you have to fight for?"
"I have some unfinished business to attend to! Maybe you're so far-gone that you've given up on the ones you care about, but I've been given a second chance!" That made him mad. I could see newly ignited abhorrence in his eyes, as if he despised me all the more for embracing others in my life. He was... jealous. "And I'm gonna take it!" I lunged at him, our swords clashing violently, sparking with the power of our attacks. The dark mist began to seep from his body again as bright tendrils of light surrounded me. The two forces clashed around us, growing in intensity. I saw my human form reflected in his eyes, laid bare by the effort in our stale mate. Then, for just a second, I saw the boy in Duskmon, his eyes so far past their black they held a nonabsorbent crimson tint. I saw him, not just in a dream or in a fantasy, but here, fighting me, as real as I was. "Who is that!" That wasn't possible, he was just a figment of Duskmon's mind, a form he took to mess with me, a character from a bad dream. He couldn't be real. Yet there he was, as much a part of Duskmon as I was of Beowulfmon, hatred and anguish frozen in his eyes. He seemed completely unaware of what he was, but for a moment, there was a flicker of doubt, of life. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it. Our attacks were too strong to be maintained, they exploded out against us. We were thrown from the chamber, tossed as easily as debris into a forest so far away I could no longer see the complex that was Sakkakumon, the complex that had been our prison. Truth be told, I didn't really notice or care where I was. I had found my purpose and I would not let it slip away. "I have to find out," I whispered to myself, immediately on my feet and on his tail. I could no longer ignore my gut, it had been proven right and my reason faulty. Duskmon wasn't what he appeared, deep down he was just a child in pain. Just someone like me. I had to find him, I had to save him. That's when I knew beyond certainty we were more than enemies, bound together by more than fate. I just couldn't for the life of me figure out what was between us, why I needed him and why he knew me. All I knew for sure was that he was my question, my answer, and my future.
I took off immediately, chasing him, calling out to him, willing him to come back and face me. Unfortunately, he was as intent on avoiding me as I was on stalking him. Curious reversal, in the human world Kouichi had been the one stalking me. One of life's little jokes, I guess. I followed him all the way to a sunken mountain range of brown earth, a castle like complex filling a type of bizarre canyon. Some of the mountains, or tall hills, were hollowed out, windows carved into their thick walls to let the little light there was into the makeshift tent-like structure. He entered one, attempting to hide. I found him. The room was large and bare, abandoned for many years if it had ever served as a home at all. I entered cautiously, fully prepared for an ambush of some sort. What I didn't expect was an attempt at communication from Duskmon.
"Who are you?" His voice echoed through the room, questioning from the shadows.
"I could ask you the same question," I shot back. It was the same as before, except this time, we were both physically together. No games, no tricks, no illusions or phantoms. This was the real thing, this was Duskmon, fully and completely, demanding the knowledge we were both seeking.
"Why did you follow me here?" That was a little more difficult to answer. Why had I come? To destroy him? To interrogate him? To simply be with him? Logically it made no sense, I shouldn't have followed him. I should have regrouped with the others and continued to the Venus Rose. I should have approached him with the group instead of attempting to fight him alone again. But emotionally...
"Because I felt I had to." I gave the only answer that I could come up with, the only truth I could articulate. He didn't question it.
"Your presence is painful to me," he stated, still in the shadows, as if this was supposed to explain everything that had happened between us. I already knew I hurt him, what I didn't understand was how or why.
"Is that why you hide from me in the shadows?"
"It is not." Indignation rang through the chamber.
"Destiny." For a moment, I heard the boy in Duskmon's voice. I could hear Kouichi trying to tell me we were bound. I could hear myself, giving this pull I felt towards him a name.
"Destiny?" He paused for only a second, contemplating his explanation. I could hear his conflict in the silence. Whose destiny would he clarify? The one of the boy I knew was inside of him? Or the Warrior of Darkness?
"Darkness hides from the light until it is ready to destroy it." I could hear the distrust in his voice, the loathing, the glee at the idea of my demise. The words were cold, emotionless. He despised me, every part of him hated me and that hatred gave him strength to overrule the small voice of humanity that still whispered in his mind. It hurt to know that. Then he spoke again. "You, Warrior of Light, are my Destiny. Darkness will prevail. Your light shall be extinguished!" Without much more warning he jumped out, blades extended and attacked me. I was ready for him. After all, someone doesn't tell you your light will be extinguished and then just sit there and do nothing about it. Our blades met, and the intensity of our conflict laid our faces bare once more. This time, he was different. His eyes were navy blue again, and glinted with something I didn't recognize. It was like he was trying to tell me something, trying to force a message through his sword, but I couldn't hear him. I didn't understand.
The power exploded out like before, throwing us back, only this time the fighting didn't stop. We continued to throw attacks at each other until we destroyed the cavernous lair. Shattering it into large chunks of debris. The battle field was transformed into something resembling a World War Two war zone in Berlin, desolate, treacherous, the cloud of dust thick enough to obscure any figure. Even then we didn't stop, dancing around until we managed to fall into the one hole in the entire area. We landed in a large pool of water, a cave light by an eerie green glow with thick stone pillars branching up from the floor but never quite reaching the ceiling, standing solemnly. It was so much darker here, I couldn't see very well. He could though, and he used that to his advantage. I could tell he was in conflict, one side despising me, desiring nothing more than my demise, and the other hesitant, questioning. He knew he hated me, but he couldn't remember why. Why was always the question between us. All I knew for sure was that as the length of our battle increased, so did Duskmon's ferocity, until he finally managed to knock me down. He held his blades to my throat, ready to end me in one swift swing, and with me all the pain and uncertainty and confusion. With me the human heart that still beat within him. No more questions.
"You are mine," he said triumphantly, press the sharp edges in between my plates of armor. I groaned, looking away. I was still just a kid; I'd talk of glory and honor but there was no way I was actually ready for death. Then he hesitated again, as if he remembered that beneath the Digimon, there was still a human boy. A human boy that was his brother, the reason he became Duskmon to begin with. "Kouji," he breathed, loosening his grip. Just like in my dream, he paused and I acted. I threw him off, knocking his swords from his hands and pinning him to the nearest wall. He didn't struggle, or even try to fight me off. As I prepared the final blow, to end him instead, to see if he was just a Digimon or something more, he just stared at me. Now I realize what it was he was trying to do, but at the time it was so cryptic. I was going to stop my confusion by destroying its source, and he was giving me permission to do so. He wanted me to end it for him too. My own brother was going to let me kill him, and I was doing it. Something within me protested loudly, something that understood that hurting him was wrong, but my pride was louder.
Just as I was about to fire, Cherubimon showed up and stopped me. I was in so much pain from his preventive measures, I wasn't really sure what he was saying or doing. There was, however, one phrase that stuck out, that sends ice through my veins and makes my blood boil at the same time whenever I think about it. "Did you really think you could defeat the Son of Darkness, my own creation?" His creation. The result of his toying with my brother's thoughts and feelings, merging him with the Spirit of Darkness on a level far deeper than anything the rest of us experienced. He used him, whatever Kouichi says. He manipulated and used my twin, and I was playing along wonderfully. But there was one piece of the script I hadn't followed. Even then, as I fell through the darkness and Cherubimon gave Kouichi the Beast Sprit of Darkness and submerged his heart once more, the bond between us was fighting against the current of Cherubimon's 'destiny'. I had awakened something inside of Duskmon, something that had been sealed away, something whose connection to me was so ingrained in the both of us no one could ever truly make us forget each other. Unfortunately, Cherubimon wasn't going to rest until he had tried everything to separate the twins, including twisting Kouichi into a form less human than anything we ever encountered in the Digital World. Velgemon emerged from Cherubimon's grip, a massive and horrible raptor bird, with feathers like steel and horns out of a demonology book. His rage was far beyond anything I had ever experienced, his pain an ice storm as destructive as any wild fire, all directed at me.
"Light, enemy. Destroy light!" He looked down at me, his misty yellow eyes no longer holding anything remotely like Kouichi. At least, not the Kouichi the world sees. They burned with a cold intensity, one that will still flare in my brother's eyes when he feels strongly about something. I shudder just thinking about it. Velgemon stared intently at me, animalistic fury seeking an outlet. "Destroy!" He swooped down at me, talons ready, fangs bared. I pulled out my sword again, sending a wave of white energy to stop him, but he brushed right through it. Passed through my most powerful attack like it was nothing more than a breeze. He was too powerful, I couldn't so much as scratch him. Within thirty seconds he had reduced the underground cavern to debris just like before, only this time instead of helping him, I was crushed back into my human form. I managed to survive, but just barely, a mistake Velgemon had every intention of rectifying. I had no control, any influence I might have had was gone. He was an animal, an animal that was intent on destroying the source of his pain. Destroying me. And there was nothing I could do about it. I tried to move, to get out of the way and crawl to safety, I earnestly tried. My body, however, was less than able to carry out my request. The best I could manage was a slight twitch. My D-Tector fell out of my pocket, useless by my hand. I wanted to call out to him, beg him to stop, to wait, but it hurt to even move. My voice wasn't working properly.
Suddenly, there was a bright light beside me, a beam from the D-Tector. It hit the dark Digimon between the eyes and I felt a rush of air blow dust and small rocks into my face as Velgemon came to a complete halt before me, held back by the light. I could hear Ophanimon's voice, pleading with Velgemon to remember. "Remember, you must remember." A smart little voice in the back of my mind told me he must have been getting very tired of that word. Remember this, remember that, forgotten this, understand that. It must have been annoying, having so many people in your head telling you what to do. He must have been so confused, he must have needed me. I knew he needed me, and I wasn't there for him. Then she said something that caught my attention. "Remember your life in the human world." The human world, my world. So, we did know each other from before. My conscious mind didn't want to believe it, couldn't believe that the creature looming above me had been and was still, on some level, human. A human I was close to. Still, that little ESP side only accepted the information as conformation of what it already knew. Ophanimon was doing something to him, something that was causing him intense pain. She was forcing the memories back onto him, vaporizing the barriers Cherubimon had erected in his mind to keep his humanity subdued. He let out an animalistic howl, a sound that tore at my ears and ripped at my soul. I could hear the boy's scream of agony just beneath it, his pain resonating in my chest. His face filled my mind's eye, pleading, desperate, my mother's eyes spilling uncertain tears onto my face. I didn't understand, and I did. He looked just like me, but he wasn't me. He was a human, but not one that I had met in the Digital World or on the Trailmon. Someone from before...
"What are you," I yelled abruptly, screaming at the retreating form of the raptor-like Digimon. He groaned, withdrawing as quickly as his wings would allow him. "Answer me!" I pushed myself up threateningly, as if I was going to try and stop him. He was too far away, only my voice could reach him now, even if the drive for knowledge that had eased my pain could have also granted me wings. "Velgemon, just who are you to me!" He didn't answer, he didn't know, but I did. Even as I shouted the question to the sky I knew. My brother, my twin, the darkness to my light. Not in so many words. Nonetheless, the feeling was the same, the instinct, the attraction. There was only one thing in my mind. Find Duskmon, discover for certain what our bond was, and save him.
And that's it, really. You know the rest. I chased him until he stopped running, when his memories were complete enough for him to face me. That's when the truth came out, in that last fight. He flat out told me he was my brother, right before knocking me right back into my human form in the middle of the fight and almost killing me for about the fourth time. There had been no hesitation that time, no waver in his will. He didn't falter that last time and I couldn't bring myself to fight him now that I knew for certain how we were connected. Takuya had had to save me, and he had to help me finally free Kouichi from Duskmon. That's the side you saw any way. Like everything else that happened, you only saw the half truth of it. We did manage to bring Kouichi back to his human form and purify the Spirits of Darkness, but I never saved him from anything. Fact: I'd never failed at anything, pride wouldn't allow it, until I met Kouichi. I mean physically met him. (Yes, I know he didn't have a physical form in the Digital World because of that whole coma thing and I didn't technically 'meet' him in the flesh until we were back in the human world. I'm talking about 'physically met' as in not in a dream or flash from inside Duskmon.)
Kouichi needed me after his Grandma died, he needed his family and we weren't there for him. I wasn't there, I left him alone to face the world on his own. It was my duty as his brother to keep him safe, to protect him from anything. Yet when the time had come, when he was in danger, I didn't- couldn't see him. I didn't rescue him from the darkness, I sent him there. I didn't save him from Duskmon, I created Duskmon. Everything that happened to him in the Digital World, everything he's been through since his Grandmother (our Grandmother, I guess) died has been my fault. I failed. Kouichi knows this as well as I do, but he's deluded himself into thinking he's somehow responsible for everything, into thinking I'm completely blameless. Like I said, he's a really good liar. I guess he just doesn't want to give himself a reason to hate me again, no matter how founded that hatred is. At least he has the excuse of being brainwashed by an evil mastermind, I barely have the defense of not knowing. I knew, even if I wasn't told until that final battle. Not knowing and not being told isn't the same thing. All the clues, all the hints and gut instincts, it's really amazing I wasn't able to put the pieces together sooner. Guess I'm just thick like that. That's no defense either; I knew as well as he did we were brothers trying to kill each other. I sensed he was my brother and I still fought him, still intended to hurt him. The fact that I caused my twin so much pain it drove him to a type of insanity is one thing. Fighting him in earnest, knowingly hurting him on top of that is another.
So that's it, my big secret. I can't tell Takuya because empathy and suffering are two things the goggle-head isn't good at. He wouldn't understand. I can't tell Dad, or Mom or Kouichi's and my mother, they wouldn't believe me. Then there's Kouichi... If he could, he would take my memories of Duskmon as it is. Imagine what he'd do if he knew about all this. So I keep quiet. I sit on this guilt, keeping it deep inside of me. I try to forget about my responsibility, my failure, his agony. I try and ignore the self-loathing. But, like I said before, it's not my nature to keep secrets. I have to tell someone, before I burst and sill over in front of Kouichi. Because I hate myself for making him hate me, and that's not a burden he needs on his shoulders. Goodness knows he has enough of those.