A/N= *peeks up* Oooh, look, it's me again… and with a new story, when I should be focusing on my ongoing series that are waiting to be finished. ^^;;

Ken = You know her, she just can't focus on one story at time.

Dai = *nods*

Nemesi = *coughs* In fact, other than Heart of Steel and the other fics you already know, I've several things whose first chapters are ready and begging me to be posted.

Ken = *slaps hand against forehead* Masochist.

Nems = err… you think so, Ken-chan? ^^;; *coughs* A/N 2 : This fic is based off of Rumiko Takahashi's homonymous manga, "Hono Tripper". I took the liberty to change some parts of the story, though, so that who's familiar with the manga will have new delicious Kensuke scenes to read. =)

A/N 3 = I wanted to enter this to Chyna Rose's Crossover contest, but she said clearly she doesn't want fic where the DD play the parts of the charas of another manga/anime. *snaps fingers* then I realized I could still post it, ne? So here it is. ;)

Disclaimer = Digimon and Hono Tripper, their characters and concepts are not mine, but belong to the right owners.

Couples = *dances* Kensuke! C'mon… what could you expect from =me= ?!^^v Plus, there are hints of Taito and Takori romance/friendship.

Warning = PG-13, maybe bordering to R, and NOT for graphic content. I mention blood and death in this chapter – all the DD are all right, don't worry. This fic is gonna have limey scented scenes in later chapters, though. *winkswinks*

Enjoy, minna! And pu-lease, review!!! You'll make a fanfic author happy!!! -^^-

Hono Tripper

Prelude – To me and you, toward destiny.

There was an explosion and billionths tongues of flames burst forth, seemingly out of nowhere. The huge chamber was no longer filled with shadows as the ravenous flames cast flickering light across its wooden walls. Crimson light and darkness melted and overflowed in the strangest games of heat and radiance. A billowing flame surged few inches in front of him and the little boy cried, rubbing at his eyes with his chubby little fists.

"Niisan…" he cried, his little chest heaving in jagged movements. "Niisan…"

The vortex of flames exploded in ripples of ruby heat, sending shattered particles of burning wood and sparkling flickers to flood the room. All around him the building began to crumble and fall away. The hot brilliance spread out, wiping away the remained darkness and destroying whatever it touched with cries of maniacal pleasure--sick, twisted, sadistic. The noises of the firestorm mixed and mingled in the air, a dreadful chorus to the glassy echo of the little bell giggling softly, almost tauntingly, secured to his side. The sickening cacophony would be punctuated every now and then by the noise of walls crumbling, of people yelling, of animals dying.

And in the middle of the hell, the kid kept crying softly, the flames engulfing his flesh, licking at his feet. He could feel the terrible heat rise all around him, the pungent odour of burnt cloth and flesh engulfed his nostril, mixed with the chocking taste of the ash coating the insides of his mouth.

"Niisan!!" he sobbed, fighting for air. "Niisan!!" Hot tears trailed down his cheeks, leaving sparkling marks on the grey ash. A lock of purple fell across his eyes and to brush his lips. Unconsciously, the little boy bit on it, his lips quivering hard. "…Niisan… niisan…"

The flames built up higher and higher around him, until all he could see was the livid cloud of smoke surrounding him. He kept sobbing, his fear overwhelming, fighting for precious air as the thick smoke clawed its way down his throat. His whispered call kept sliding out his lips, desperate, and rivulets of tears wet his ivory cheeks, now tainted with ash and mud. His lungs burned and so did his eyes. Tears blurred his vision, tightening his throat around any kind of scream for help. Something seemed to be holding him in place. At least, that's what he thought...

Then, something reached his ears and his scared violet eyes sprung wide open. More hellish flames licked his sides, but he paid them no heed, instead focusing on the blurred shape standing in the door way, hidden between wisps of black smoke. He squinted his eyes, a sparkle of hope igniting them as chocked yells made their way to his mind, shattering his state of quiet daze.

"… are… you…?! Answer… … … … where… … …?! Niichan! Niichan! Where… … … ?! I'm… …! Ken…!! Ken…!! KEN…!!!!"

"Niisan!!" they boy cried, reaching his little arms out. "Niisan!!"

"Ken…!!"

"Niisan!!"

The boy ran toward his brother, tears of relief falling down his face. His brother was there. With him. For him. There was nothing to worry about. Nothing… nothing… nothing but the ceiling suddenly collapsing, falling toward the boy in a mad rush. Falling for an embrace… a mortal embrace he couldn't escape.

The bell tinkled.

Everything afterwards happened like in a slow motion for the little child. His brother opened his mouth, screaming his name to the nothingness. The child stopped, scared to see the look of horror crossing the older boy's face. He turned around then, almost gracefully in all his innocence, purple air swirling around his ivory face. A flicker of confusion brighter than the thousands hues the flames had been casting into his wide eyes crossed his chubby features as he lifted his gaze to the crimson flames falling toward him. His heartbeat boomed loudly in his ears, blood pulsating through his veins almost painfully. His eyes widened, his fingers fidgeted as he fell backward, raising his arms in a futile resemblance of a shield.

The bell tinkled.

His mouth suddenly felt so dry that it seemed like filled with sand. And he could only stare as his destiny rushed toward him. Fire and pain burned around him, trapping him in a spiralling miasma of terror. And the mockingly twinkle of his silver bell was taunting him beyond belief. Echoing in his ears like a cold laughter, what had always appeared to him like a joyful sound was now the eerie mournful song for his death. His eyes widened even more, his throat tightened painfully. And when he screamed, it was a mute cry of terror. Then, as the world around him exploded in waves of painful hotness, the child let loose a cry, partly from pain, but mostly from fear, a feeling he had never felt before overwhelming him.

His insides clenched, his whole body seemed to go erect under the force of a bloodcurdling scream. His blood turned into ice. He felt each and every of his bone shatter like fragile glass. And then, he welcomed the cold embrace of darkness like an old friend, loosing himself in its depths as it took him in its arms and carried him away. Far, far away.

Again, the bell tinkled.

Voices reached him in his nestle of darkness; disembodied whispers interrogating him about things he didn't know, things he couldn't remember.

And the bell tinkled.

* * * * *

Chapter 01 – Of feelings and eternity

It was the epitome of a spring afternoon. The sun shone lazily in the yellow canvas of the sky, clothing each pearly wisps of clouds with a fine dress of gold. The sky behind the golden plate was painted with brilliant bright oranges, iridescent yellows, and blood reds, dimming to deep purples as the eye travelled toward the horizon. A sweet perfume hovered in the air and warmth spread through the desert streets, overflowing them with sweet brilliance.

The schoolboy was strolling home, his mind smitten by the sweet sound of the birdsong, mixed and melted with faint gurgle of children giggling in the close distance, and with the sweet echo of the tiny bell he had secured to his backpack. A red kite danced in the sky like a scarlet bird, touching the azure in small kisses and summoning stunning amethyst eyes over its warm hues.

The boy tipped his head skywards, the cool breezes of early summer beginning to stream trough his hair. A gentle smiles tugged at his lips and he shook his head, amazed by the strange contempt that filled him. He resumed his slow stroll then, smiling gently to the air. A small wind picked up, streaming through his hair to move its locks in a frantic dance of purple. An ivory hand ran through long silk in attempt to tame the wild locks, his focus diverging to the little crowd of children few meters below him, chatting in the pale umbra of a tree, at the border of the soccer camp.

Amethyst eyes brimmed with affection as they fell on the redhead in the middle of the crowd, and their owner thoughtlessly tug his hair behind a pale ear as he called. The little child turned immediately, grinning widely at his older friend before swirling around and waving a hurried goodbye to his playmates.

"Ken-shan!" the little one called, round cheeks flushing as he hurried on top of the hill. "Ken-shan!" The one the kid's whole attention was diverged to kneeled gracefully in front of the him, lips curved in a kind smile.

"Konnichiwa, Daiku." He said politely, accompanying the quiet whisper with a little motion of his head.

"Ken-shan!" The kid panted, waving away grumpily the hand that was gently patting his head. "Whel' haf you been??"

The older boy chuckled, patting the child's head one last time before resting his hand in his lap. "To School, Daiku, you'll soon have to go there, too." The kid grimaced, wiggling his petite nose in a comical huff.

"I don't like 'chool."

The boy chuckled, but had the promptness to cover it with a cough, sensing that somehow it wasn't clever to laugh at a six years old quintessence of pure energy when he's glaring up at you murderously.

"Oh, I'm sure that once there, you'll find something to your liking." The kid frowned, wiggling his nose.

"There's gonna be a PC there?"

"I fear not." Ken chuckled.

"A PlayStation?" He asked a bit more hopefully, but Ken shattered the child's newborn hopes with a shake of his head.

"Neither."

The kid looked thoughtful for a moment, the tip of his tongue escaping his mouth as his brows furrowed in thought.

"You gonna be zere?"

"Of course." Ken nodded.

"Then I can't wait to go to 'chool!" the kid whooped in delight, and once again Ken chuckled, this time drying a little tear at the corner of his right eye.

Quietly, almost unsure if it wanted to be heard or not, strapped to Ken's bag and following his every gesture, the bell tinkled.

Ken cocked his head to one side, studying the little kid's flushed cheeks and, noticing the way he gripped his shirt –rolled up to his chest- into two tight fists, the boy frowned in confusion.

"Why were you showing your belly to those other kids, Daiku-chan?" At this the boy's dark eyes lit up, and it was impossible to call them dark anymore.

"Look, look!" he squeaked in proud delight, raising his shirt further upward to reveal a rosy scar. "They've taken my appurentulix out!"

"Appendix." Ken corrected automatically, gently tracing the child's belly before helping him roll his shirt back down. "And-" the amethyst eyed boy smiled, touching his index finger to Daiku's nose. "-did you cry when they did it?"

"WHAT?!" Outraged, the kid huffed, puffing out his flushed cheeks like an animal that's trying to be scary. But if his aim was to scare Ken, he failed utterly, because the older boy just chuckled, covering his mouth politely. "I don't cly! I don't! I don't-don't-don't!" the kid shrieked, clenching his fists and stomping his foot. "Never –ever- ever- ever- ever- ever- ever!!! Boyz don't cly!"

"Okay, okay!" Ken conceded, taking Daiku's hand in his and guiding him outside the Park. "But if you just exited the hospital, you shouldn't be around playing."

"Oh, I'm stlong, you shouldn't wolly." Ken grinned, tossing his head teasingly.

"Oh. So you came to the Park only to show your friends your little scar and prove them how strong you are?" At this, Daiku threw back his shoulders, his chest raising proudly.

"Of course! I had my appendix out, *I*!" He wiggled his nose, as to hint at Ken how common mortals couldn't *possibly* have their appendix out. Again, Ken let loose a little chuckle, gently guiding the boy further down the street and toward home.

"Yeah, yeah, but your mom will surely be worried." At this Daiku's light sun-browned features twisted in a pout, and he faced forward, making his best I'm-not-sulking-even-if-it-looks-like-I-am face.

"Moms are strange. Who needz 'hem? Who needz women at all, for zat matter?"

Although tempted to agree, Ken just shook his head, and faced forward, ginning strangely.

"You'll discover that soon enough, I believe."

"Women are not fun." Ken chuckled again, barely subduing the urge to burst out laughing.

"You'll find one to your liking one day." He assured gently.

"Naaa…" Daiku shrugged, squeezing gently Ken's hand. "I don't need any woman bozzing me alound. I need only you."

Forgotten, the bell tinkled.

A rush of embarrassment tingeing his cheeks with sweet red, Ken ducked his head, allowing his hair to slide forward and obscure his features, and looked up at the street through his lashes, eyes squinted pensively. In a moment of peculiar clarity, Ken was analysing the little boy's words on a somewhat deeper level. Okay, Daiku was his friend. But… was him just a 'friend' do Daiku? A crush seemed to explain things better, even if one were to consider Daiku's fairly young age.

Oh, Lord.

If Daiku's father ever heard something like that, he would accuse Ken of corrupting an innocent into gay-ism – that was for sure. On the other hand, if Daiku or his own mother's were to heard a word of that…

…they would begin the preparations of his and Daiku's wedding, the hell with the age difference. Blushing some more, Ken grimaced, loosening a little his hold on Daiku's little hand, and gaining for this a quizzical look and a successive little pout that went unnoticed to him.

Quietly, softly, almost if whispering to Ken something important in a language unknown to him and that he thus couldn't comprehend, the bell tinkled.

//Oh well,// He concluded at last, turning to smile gently to an oblivious Daiku. //It's not like it hurts to have a boy as a first crush. I can only hope Daiku will find someone else to diverge his affection to soon. A female someone, if I want to survive his father's rage.// After all, his own first crush *had* been a boy. Oh, how he longed to remember more of the young man that had left him speechless and flushed for countless times! The only thing Ken remembered clearly of this Prince charming of his, were his bottomless ginger brown eyes that held countless flickers of gold that made them sparkle.

Ken turned towards the sky, squinting at it for a moment –lost in his thoughts. Then, feeling Daiku tugging at his hand impatiently, Ken looked at his feet, blushing a little, and the child snuggled closer to him.

"Ken-chan, whatcha thinking about?" Blinking quickly, Ken began to worry the hem of his shirt with his free hand, his blush deepening.

"I… uhm…" He stuttered, squeezing Daiku's hand a little.

//Yeah, what was I thinking about? Prince Charming and fairy tales? Please, Ichijouji…//

Blinking, Daiku pouted cutely, opening his eyes wide and fluttering his lashes at Ken.

"You wel ignoling me." Ken grinned, and shook his head in denial, but that would ruin Daiku's plan so the child shook his head too, fervently, and batted his eyelashes outrageously cutely. "You ale gonna come ovel and have dinnel with us, now, alen't you? If not, I could be so… so… *offended* I could even cly!" He shrieked, pouted and then blinked watery eyes. Ken arched a purple eyebrow at him, voice lowered to a mock-surprised gasp.

"I thought boys didn't cry!"

"Errr… this is an excemption."

"Exception." Ken shrugged. "I've to study, though…" Ken shoot a quick glance at the child and found Daiku giving him his better version of the "puppy" expression, complete with quivering bottom lip, glistening huge eyes, and fluttering eyelashes —and even if Ken tried to bite his laughter back, a small giggle still escaped him.

"Okay, why not?" He went, tossing his head as if to ponder the situation. Beside him, Daiku beamed and –satisfied- focused once again on the road. "Nee - How much time do you spend every day practicing that expression, Daiku-chan?" The purple haired boy laughed. Daiku blushed, managing to look even cuter.

"At least an houl. But don't tell mom, she thinks I'm a natulal." Then, every shyness forgotten, the kid beamed excitedly. "Ken-chan, guess what? I went on an amblulanz!"

"Ambulance."

Again, insistently, the bell tinkled.

A couple of men went walking past them, chatting animatedly about the latest soccer match transmitted on TV. Ken turned to look at them briefly as one of those brushed his shoulder, and when the man too turned and bowed his head apologetically, Ken smiled, nodded the man it was alright, and turned back around. Yet—

"Ehy… don't you smell… something like… gas?" The man muttered urgently. Ken froze, listening as the other man returned a panicked, "what?" and then turned around, just in time to see the building they were walking in front of deflagrate with a noise of billionths thunders striking.

The bell tinkled.

Ken's eyes widened. An electric current ran through him, settling in his legs and feet and paralysing him on the spot, despite instinct was demanding him to move. The explosion echoed in his ears, roaming terribly, and billionths tongues of flames burst forth, seemingly out of nowhere. The street was no longer filled with gentle orangey brilliance of the setting sun, but blood red light flickered and danced madly. A billowing flame surged few inches in front of him and Ken felt something in his chest twist. The sharp ache made it difficult to tell what it was. His heart, maybe?

Again, and again, the bell tinkled, as if laughing at Ken's helplessness.

Ken felt suddenly so very tired, too tired.

Giggles resounded… no, if he concentrated enough he could tell that was the bell tinkling.

Numbness was sinking slowly inside him, until his legs buckled and gave out from under him, letting him fall in the embrace of darkness.

And the bell tinkled.

* * * * *

The faint rushing sound of the wind reached Ken's ear even in his nestle of darkness; a disembodied whisper asking him to wake up.

And the bell tinkled.

Groaning, Ken cracked his eyes open, his fingers rasping unconsciously the floor underneath him. But when – instead of the cold asphalt of Tokio's streets – his fingers curled around fresh and wet mud, something in his mind clicked, and Ken raised his head, squinting glazed eyes against the pain. Groaning softly, Ken brought a hand on his forehead, moving matted purple hair from his eyes.

//What happened?// He asked himself, numbly, eyes still shut. Then, as the haze clouding his mind began to dissipate, //There… has been an explosion… due to the gas… and…// He remembered. Slowly, the still dazed teen let his lids flutter up, pressing a hand to his throbbing forehead, and lost completely the capacity to talk.

Where the smoking wreckage of the exploded building should be, there was only the blurred line of the horizon, with few, sporadic and far peaks standing against the fading light to embellish the sterile sight. Instead of solid asphalt, his feet dug into ductile mud, and instead of a blanket of grass and a procession of threes, where the Park should have been there were…

Corpses.

Dozens and dozens of those. What seemed the remains of a battlefield presented themselves to Ken's shocked eyes, and he could just stare, agape, at the myriad of bodies lying in front of him, seemingly asleep but too unchangeably still to have just surrendered to sleep. Trembling, Ken reached out, and touched gently the shoulder of a sleeping man -*sleeping* man- next to him, shaking him gently.

"Excuse me… sir…" When, as he feared, Ken received no answer, he became aware of a wet stickiness coating his hands. He raised them in bewilderment. Blinking, he moved them up, so that the fading sunlight could envelop them.

Blinking against a truth he didn't wan to see, Ken examined his hands in the light of the sun.

They were red.

Of course.

But not for the sunset light.

They were covered with blood.

Screaming, Ken backed away, and brought his knees up to his chest, wrapping shaking arms around them.

"Dead…" he whispered. "He's dead…" he repeated, as if he needed that truth to be said aloud to fully believe it. Then, staring unseeingly at the bodies laying all around him, Ken shivered softly, hugging his legs closer to his torso in his fright. "Dead… all dead… was it for the explosion?" Ken asked aloud, hopeful for an answer; and he was disappointed when he received none. Squinting his eyes to the sun overhead, Ken sighed, and then turned his attention back to the ones that shared this fragment of nightmare with him.

The glitters of armours caught in the sunlight welcomed him this time, and Ken felt his features twist into a frown, realizing with a shiver something his rational mind had refused to see before. What he had first labelled as a "strangely similar to a battlefield" area, revealed to be just what he'd first thought: a battlefield.

Broken swords, bows, arrows and lances could be seen lying next to their owners – or next to the ones they'd send to lie on the cold ground. Breastplates, armbands and various pieces of protective coverings were scattered around, even though most of them were still protecting bodies that needn't such careful care anymore. Ken shivered, out of what he wasn't sure, and backed away to the relative protection of the spot where he'd first found himself when he woke up, while praying silently to wake up from this nightmare soon, as soon as possible. For he didn't like this. Not at all.

But he was about to like it even less.

Shaking, Ken rose to his knees, only to hear a faint, wet murmur coming from close behind him.

"Young boy…" Shivering, Ken turned fully, the prayers in his head intensified to begging screams for help. Three men were now in front of him, eyes glinting with the unholy light of lust. "Pretty boy…" the same wet voice whispered huskily.

"He seems a girl…" the oldest of the three mused, craning his muscular neck.

"I like him…" A toothless, one-eyed man murmured back. Behind him, the third man chuckled evilly, clutching close to his chest the bunch of bloodstained spears he was carrying.

"I want him first."

Terrified, Ken held his breath until he almost lost consciousness. He finally exhaled and gasped for breath, expecting to wake up when he inhaled, but only screamed, for as the men saw his chest fall they moved, and suddenly where on him, pinning him down on the wet ground, tugging at his clothes, slapping his face, blocking his arms.

"Stop struggling!" One ordered drunkenly.

"Can I be the one to kill him afterwards?" Another muttered, licking his lips.

"No, I want the pleasure myself."

In the midst of the conversation, Ken's brain fully managed to process the enormousness of what about to happen. His thoughts suddenly stopped to run along the lines of, "I'm going to wake up soon," and transmuted into something that sounded more like, "Help me. I don't want this to happen, someone *please* help me…"

//Me, why me? Why, why, why *me*?// Ken sobbed helplessly, feeling his shirt being ripped and looking up with watery eyes as the man above him revelled in his success. //Help… please… I'd do anything… someone save me, please… *please*…//

And indeed someone came to his rescue.

The eyes of the man directly above him widened, and his head lolled first to one side, then to the other, before he fell face first on the mud, his arms loosening the vice-like hold they had of Ken's shoulders. His companions, startled, let go of Ken's arms and knees, so that he was free to curl into a ball of fright and weep. In front of his eyes, a flicker of silver flashed, and another one of his attacker was suddenly on the ground, a sword in his throat. The third one, scared, tried to use Ken as a cover, pushing him toward whoever was seeding justice through the ruins; but he failed, and watched helplessly as Ken was gently held, briefly rocked and then left free to kneel on the ground, before the third attacker too was send to meet his companion in the afterlife.

Sobbing, Ken covered his face to shield his eyes from the bloody show of killing skills played in front of them. After few moments, he dared looking up, vision blurred and breathing jagged. Blinking, Ken managed to clear his vision and focused briefly on his dead attackers, swallowing painfully.

Then, he saw the figure.

Slender - but not as much as he was - and muscular young boy with a tangled, spiky shock of burgundy hair appealingly tinged with red. Under his armour, his shirt was of a incredibly pristine white, while his spotted, rudimental breastplate was vivid blue at the top and rusty red the bottom, the colours separated by a pattern of what seemed yellow flames.

There was something about the young warrior that made Ken's breath caught. This encounter was special somehow, but Ken couldn't understand why. Part of him wanted to go to this stranger and gaze into the eyes he knew would be cinnamon-hued and bottomless. The other part of him wanted to run away, scared.

And when the boy turned toward him, handsome and dirty, for a moment Ken's fear was overcame by blinding, undeniable attraction; and the purple haired boy had to hold his breath and bit his bottom lip to prevent a strangled cry to escape him. God… that boy was… exquisite. Ken could feel his cheeks heating up quickly, all the blood in his body rushing toward his face to make it glow neon in the near darkness.

The mahogany haired young man approached him, smirking as he noticed Ken's soft blush. One of his strong hands streamed through the mane of wild spikes as if trying to tame them, and Ken felt his blush renew. When the two where one in front of the other, the warrior knelt down, and watched the trembling boy for a moment, then smirked. And Ken couldn't help but cry in alarm, clawing hysterically at the hands now curled around his arms. Even though, truth must be said, the blush was still strong on his face.

"No! stay away! Spare me, please!"

"What the fuck?!" the warrior spat out, trying to hold Ken still and at the same time to evade the nails trying to scratch his face. "I just saved you, genius! Why would I hurt you, now?! Calm down!"

"Daisuke?" As the call reached their ears, both Ken and the young warrior stopped struggling. The latter had a good hold of Ken's wrists now, and used it to lower Ken's arms and block them to the purple haired boy's sides, before smiling at him gently and experimentally letting him go. When Ken didn't move, the other boy grinned openly and turned toward the source of the call.

"Nee, Takeru, whaddya want?" The blonde boy jogged up to Daisuke's side, while the considerably shorter boy next to him paused to pick up a spear from one of the corpses. When he was done cleaning the weapon, the brunette too reached his other two friends, blinking cluelessly at the purple haired stranger who was still crying silently on the ground.

"Who is he?" The brunette asked the blonde, who shrugged, crouching in front of Ken.

"Dunno." Takeru admitted, and then proceeded on trying to slid Ken's ripped jacket off him, only to be slapped right across his face. "Why, you little--" The blonde roared, hands all but clutching his sword's handle. Whimpering, Ken cowered helplessly, and soon found himself enveloped in the arms of the mahogany haired warrior.

"Lay off, Takeru." Daisuke ordered hotly, his harsh words a strong contrast with the way he was lulling Ken gently. "Give him space to breathe, will you?"

"Whatever." The blonde shrugged, and proceeded on stomping toward the site his older brother was currently scanning for good weapons to take. The other boy nodded politely to Daisuke, his action earning him a grin.

"You know Takeru." The brunette muttered, bending down to pick up yet another spear. "Always acts before thinking. Obviously this fellow here is still scared and – damn this is useless." He muttered darkly, throwing the damaged weapon as far as he could across the battlefield.

"Don't worry Iori." Daisuke's grin just grew bigger. "It's all too known how much of a idiot Takeru is."

"I'm *not* deaf!" Came the admonishment from an unidentified spot behind Iori, and this time Daisuke couldn't bite back a full laugh, arms still caressing Ken's sides gently.

"Never thought you were." Daisuke assured, before another voice distracted him from his favourite pastime. "Whatcha want, Taichi?"

"Ehm, Daisuke, not to complain or anything but--- those three… don't they seem part Oikawa's crew to you?" Taichi asked, examining carefully the symbols adorning Ken's attacker's clothes and armours. Craning his neck to peer at the corpses above Ken's head Daisuke shrugged, nodding casually.

"Yes, the probably are. So what?" At Taichi's side, another blonde boy, a little older than Takeru, shrieked outrageously.

"So what?! Daisuke, do you realize what big a mess you put us in killing these-these-these…"

"Bastards." Daisuke provided, squinting his eyes and holding Ken – who was starting to feel strangely drowsy and comfortable in the boy's arms- even closer, startling and waking him up a bit. "Yamato, we shouldn't be scared of such bloody asses." Shaking his head, Yamato rose to his feet, dusting himself off carefully, obviously trying to evade an argument.

At the blonde's side, Taichi too rose to his feet and –jerking his thumb behind his shoulders- gave his leader a malicious grin.

"Their cart is down there, Daisuke. Thought you wanted to know." Smirking back just as maliciously, Daisuke began to move on his feet, gently guiding Ken up with him.

"Cool. Let's take it and bring it back with us." Then, turning to an unmoving Ken, he curled his fingers around the slender boy's wrist, making him hold his breath in another rush of fear. "C'mon, are you planning to stay there a lot longer? We've to move."

"Daisuke!" Takeru cried out, helping Iori hoist the spears they'd collected on the cart. "Do you want to bring him with us?!" Frowning, Daisuke shrugged, pulling Ken close to his chest with a rough pull.

"Of *course* I want to! Hell, I'm the one that found him, am I not?!" shaking his head, Takeru went back to his work, while Taichi and Yamato sniggered and proceeded on taking their position to pull the cart forward.

Carefully, Daisuke moved toward them and helped Ken up, silently making sure he was comfortable, before climbing up and sitting down next to him, signalling Takeru and Iori to start pushing the vehicle.

"It's *heavy*, you know?" Takeru groaned.

"But it's full of rice and weapons! Yuhuuuu!" Taichi cheered from his position.

"They must have attacked another village." Daisuke noted on a darker tone.

"Still, we needed this rice." Taichi pointed, and Daisuke nodded slowly, unaware of Ken's huge eyes fixed on his amber face.

Grunting to himself, the mahogany haired warrior reclined back, closing his eyes in a fit of rage.

"Those ugly bastards don't give a damn about human lives." At his side, Ken whimpered, rubbing his arms actively against the sudden cold overwhelming him.

"Where… are we?" He asked quietly, whimpering at the scared tone his voice held. Cracking one eyes open, Daisuke fixed one inquiring orb of melted brown on him.

"Uh?"

"Where… exactly… are we, now?" At that, Daisuke gave his shoulders a small shrug.

"On a cart, couldn't you tell?" Whimpering yet again, Ken shook his head and doubled his efforts to warm himself up.

"No, I--- I mean… what time…?" Daisuke opened both eyes this time, raising an eyebrow at the weird boy next to him.

"Are you blind or what? Can't you see it's the sunset, genius?"

In a sudden rush of rage, Ken whipped around, tears-streaks still wet and glittering on a face where several huge spots of mud were barely able to cover a delicious blush.

"Enough with this madness!" He shrieked, blinking back a round of fresh tears and standing up abruptly, whipping back around so not to have to stare into those incredibly brown eyes of Daisuke's another minute. "Let me go! That's it, I'm getting off! I must go back home and---" Ken couldn't finish that one of the wheels of the cart hit a rock, making the whole vehicle tremble and quake for a moment. It wasn't much, but it was enough to make the already shaken boy lose his equilibrium and start his fall toward the ground.

Eyes huge, Ken let out a little cry. Then, next thing he knew, his face was pressed against Daisuke's chest, his tanned arm strong around his shoulders, while slender and yet powerful fingers tugged at his wrist.

"What are you? Mad?" Daisuke screamed in rage, yet hugging Ken comfortingly, letting him lean his head on his shoulder. "Stop squirming, or you'll end up hurting yourself!" Something in the boy's voice made the fading blush return full force to Ken's face, who could just hide his face in the hollow of Daisuke's neck, so gently presented to Ken just to let him hide. Then, something else caught Ken's attention and his eyes sprung wide for a moment, focusing on the silvery bell attached to Daisuke's breastplate.

It was giggling contently, gently, and yet the sound made Ken shiver.

//A bell…// Sensing the other boy shiver, Daisuke shifted and allowed Ken to sank closer to him. Letting the boy's wrist go, Daisuke settled for just caressing his palm gently, the arm that was supporting Ken guiding him closer. Sighing, and yet again blushing, Ken leaned into Daisuke's warmth, unquestioningly and as mad as it could sound, trustingly.

* * * * *

It didn't take much for them to reach the village, and when that happened, it was swallowing down a disappointed moan that Ken felt Daisuke's arms move from around his shaking body. Voices began filling the air, all of them whispering excitedly, "Daisuke" or "Daisuke's back!" Shivering, and still trying to get rid of the unappreciated tremble by rubbing his arms actively, Ken looked around, eyes going wide with realization and shock as they run over the old rural costumes, the wooden huts, the rudimental weapons and the scattered roads.

//The 16th century?// He shivered. //During the civil war?//

He was startled out his reverie, though, when he heard Daisuke laugh. Blinking up at him, Ken saw Daisuke jump off the cart and give Taichi and Yamato each a pat on their shoulders before turning his attention back to him, smiling a somewhat goofy, somewhat warm smile that made Ken's knees buckle despite his growing worry.

He was saved from further embarrassment though, when a relatively old man limped toward them, eyeing Daisuke suspiciously.

"You're back." He said simply, and just as simply Daisuke replied, once he'd turned around, "Of course, father. I always do, don't I?" and with that he winked at the old man, before turning back around and helping Ken off the cart. "You can't get rid of me so easily. A simple clash can't possibly kill me." At this, the man behind him rolled his eyes, but did it good-naturally.

It was with far more distrust though, that they burned with once they were aligned on Ken.

"What's *that*?"

"Who *is* this *boy*, you mean?" Daisuke shoot back, mildly enraged by his father's display of bad manners. Then he paused, turning toward Ken with huge eyes. "You know? I haven't asked you your name, yet." Finding it difficult to breath, and not sure if that was for the fear still clinging to his heart of for the way Daisuke's hand was rubbing his back, Ken managed a small nod.

"K-Ken." He uttered at last. Daisuke grinned, repeating Ken's name as if trying to taste it. Then, he moved closer, bringing their faces few inches apart, and then – after studying Ken's blushing features for a minutes – snapped around, for someone was calling him.

"Daisuke!" A dark-haired child no older than six was scuttling toward the two of them, looking extremely composed even in his rush. His modest kimono swayed, spotted and tore in more than one point, as he approached, a smile tugging up his pale lips. Holding out his arms in a mute plea for Daisuke to hold him, the child moved closer, midnight blue eyes burning with barely tamed happiness and pale features burning with a barely tamed blush.

"Kenichitaro!" Daisuke shouted, grinning widely, and let go of Ken in a sudden rush, so that the boy felt suddenly cold and scared again. In a moment of madness, he found himself whishing *desperately* for Daisuke's hands to be on him once again.

Anywhere.

Everywhere.

Soon.

Unaware of Ken's swirling thoughts and of the way the purple haired boy had to shook his head to banish them, Daisuke kneeled in front of the child and ruffled his hair gently. Then, he hid his face in the kid's hair as the little one moved to enclose him in an almost comical resemblance of a hug.

"Have you been a good child?" Daisuke inquired with a grin when he pulled away, his fingers already disentangling the knot that secured the bell to his armour. The child nodded fervently in response, smiling gently up at the one he obviously looked up to and loved more than anything. Returning the grin, Daisuke placed the silver bell in the kid's palm, closing his fingers around it. "Then, this is a gift for you."

Trembling with happiness, Kenichitaro inhaled deeply, and blushed even more, clutching the bell to his chest as if it were his lifeline. But, as he moved, the bell began tinkling, and Ken found himself reeling back, shivering yet again as the bell filled his ears with thunder.

The bell was tinkling.

The bell was tinkling.

The bell was tinkling.

------- End of chapter 01.

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