A/N= *takes a deep breath* PLEASE read this note. PLEASE, PLEASE, *PLEASE* read it before going on.

Some of you could find this chapter not to their liking because halfway through it one of the characters will *fear*to be related to the ones he love.

The plot this fic is based off is Rumiko Takahashi's, and it does *not* sport an incestuous relationship. It only deals with a poor boy (a girl in the original manga) torturing himself with the *possibility* of being related to the one he loves when, ((SPOILER)) in truth, he's not. Just keep in mind: this *is* a Daiken/Kensuke and will remain one till the end. I'm a sucker for happy endings. All you need to enjoy this fic is to trust me. ^_^v

If you can stand to read digimon characters dealing with 'incest' please go on and read this fic, and if you have time, please review. =)

If you -however- don't think you could stand the mentioning of a relationship like that, and yet you decide to read, please do *not* send flames. Again- incest is *only* mentioned, but does *not* happen

I'm sorry for the mini-rant, but I thought I had to warn you all. *bows* Now, we can go on with the fic


A/N 2= The 'feeling' of this chapter is somewhat different from the one permeating the original story: Shukumaru and Suzuko were somehow 'calm', despite everything. Dai and Ken are more anxious, worried about each other, each dreading the prospective of being without the other one. That makes all the Kensuke scenes a whole lot sweeter! X

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

Hono Tripper Epilogue - Memory and Desire

The sky was breathtaking that night.
Countless starts glittered on the shadowed mantle of night, and even the moon had gone hiding somewhere in the folds of said mantle not to eclipse with his milky radiance the stars' gentle twinkle. Such act of generosity was wasted though, when a stranger came to subtract a corner of sky to the stars.

It was just for a moment, quickest than what you'd need to blink, but it was enough to darken the mood of a otherwise serene night.

An arrow had crossed the sky, coming from the general direction of the hills to wedge itself in the fence that protected the village. And the message it carried was clear.

Death to the ones that dared to stand up against Oikawa.


* * * * *

Being somewhat used to waking up to the excited buzz of men working on the fence, Ken doubted that birdsongs would be enough to wake him up now that the work had been completed. But when he first opened his eyes that morning, it was to a far more loud and excited buzz than the other days, and Ken could just frown, puzzled beyond words, before hurrying to meet Daisuke in their usual meeting point.

In his hurry Ken ended up securing the buttons of his shirt while dashing across the streets, a feeling of dread filling his heart as he saw the elders reunited in the chief's hut. And noticing all of Daisuke's soldiers were instructing and guiding women and children toward some refuges, while yelling at the older men to wear something that could protect them and collect some weapons, only made his dread double.

When Ken reached a screeching halt in the middle of the plaza, it wasn't because of the dozens of people running like the current of a river against him. It wasn't for the screamed attempts of some of the younger girls -Hikari and Miyako, or so Ken thought- to have him reach them in the safety of an underground refuge. It was because, a he'd most feared, Daisuke wasn't there.

They'd met up in the same place, at the exact same hour for almost a week now, and no matter how quick Ken would scramble up his strew mattress and dash down the street, Daisuke would always be there first, some bread wrapped in a tore towel to bring along for lunch and some sake swaying in the bamboo little flask he had secured to his side.

But this morning, now matter how Ken searched, Daisuke wasn't there. He was nowhere Ken's eyes could reach him, and that made the purple haired boy -who had stopped resisting the current of men and was now being dragged toward the fence- feel the need to cry.

He wanted to see Daisuke. Now. He wanted to know that the warrior was safe, and wasn't about to be hurt anytime soon. But no matter where he looked, how much he squinted his eyes, Ken couldn't see Daisuke. He'd lost him.
//Like Daiku// the thought alone was enough to make a sob wrench its way out of Ken throat, and the purple haired boy was suddenly fighting the dozens of arms pushing him away from the plaza with unexpected vigour.
"Daisuke!" Ken hollered, whipping around convulsedly. "Daisuke!!" No, no, no, no he hadn't lose him. Daisuke wasn't gone. Daisuke wasn't Daiku: he could take care of himself. He would come back. He would, *he would* he would

His keen eyes quickly scanned the squirming crowd, looking for any sign of red hairs and flamed armours. That until a tiny pressure around his wrist made him spin quickly, his eyes wide, but his fists clenched and ready.
"Who--" Ken swallowed the rest of his sentence when the long-searched red haired warrior jumped out of the dense crowd, gripping Ken's wrist in a surprisingly gentle vicelike grip.

Ken was yanked against Daisuke's chest, and before he knew, he'd been dragged away from the plaza, that was now the gathering place for all the men equipped with a weapon and waiting for an order. Scarcely aware of his actions, once the two of them found themselves in a most confined space, created jointly by a scattered awning and a wall of rotten wood, Ken threw his arms around Daisuke's neck, running his fingers through the wild russet spikes.

Daisuke said nothing, but embraced Ken back, gently, and rocked him almost imperceptibly while trying to comfort him. Ken noticed the way Daisuke's arms were shaking though, but chose to ask nothing, and just tried to give back as much comfort as he was given.

Voices echoed in flashing silver waves beyond the sheltering overhang under which they had taken sanctuary, and the air suddenly became hot, gaining the head-twisting smell of writhing flowers. Ken refused to acknowledge the voices. Daisuke wanted to do that as well, but he couldn't, and both he and Ken whimpered when he moved away. Luckily, Ken was reasonable -strong- enough not to try and hug the warrior again. He may haven't been able to let go this time.

"Oikawa's men are on the move." Despite his worry, Daisuke hadn't lost his innate arrogance, and it leaked profusely from his every word, mixed with a self-confidence that somehow reassured Ken enough to nod slowly against the warrior's chest. "We can't go searching the battlefields today Ken. I'm sorry." Daisuke whispered gently and yet surely, as if not questioning at all the result of the upcoming battle.

Ken's reaction was to just shook his head, punching with inexistent strength at Daisuke's chest.
"Baka." He muttered brokenly. "Tomorrow Tomorrow"
"Yes." Daisuke murmured back, effectively stopping Ken's quiet mantra, and touched his lips to the top of Ken's head. Then, abruptly, he moved away, pushing Ken away as gently and yet quickly as he could. "Go hide somewhere. As long as you're inside the fence, there's no danger for you. Just wait for me"

And with that the russet haired warrior turned around and ran -for the first time in his life- praying for something.
To be back.

* * * * *

Never few hours had felt longer to Ken. Obedient to Daisuke's wishes, Ken hadn't left the village and had -in truth- spent best of the morning to find a secure corner where he could wait for him. Amidst all the commotion, Ken felt utterly and completely *useless*, and there was nothing he could do to tame this feeling.

He had grown up in one of the richest quarters of a technological and prosperous 21st century Tokio, and thus wasn't trained to react properly in such a perilous situation. The men around him, even though giving the impression to be dashing around aimlessly, knew very well what to do and when to do it. Like the mechanism of a clock, each and every little move of every men was accomplished knowing very well another one would follow, in an escalation that would led to the perfect battle asset.

Ken could feel fears and uncertainty came to rust the gears and make them groan like the ones of a failing machinery, yet, everyone was setting aside their personal turmoil for the village's sake. Obviously, in such a surprising organization, Ken felt out of place. Like the only one gear that was rusty for real, rotten to the core, and thus could determine the decline of the whole system it was set in.

Unable to help the men readying the village for the attack, the next best thing would have been -maybe- go hiding with the weak, the ill, the too old and the too young people in one of the underground refuges, but Ken had no heart to waste precious room. He couldn't even bring himself to go in there with those few entrusted with taking care and nurse them, for he knew that -in his current state- he could be helpful to no one. It seemed more like he could use some help himself.

Actually, Ken felt drained. And he would never admit -not even to himself- the major cause of his distress wasn't Daiku's disappearance, even though the tauntingly image of the poor child kept materializing in his eyes each time he turned to the streaming water. And the imaginary Daiku was sobbing, his little naked body racked by heavy shudders, Ken's name the only thing that could slide out his lips, turned purple for the coldness.

The purple haired boy bit his lip. Daiku was alive. Probably warm and happy somewhere on the other side of the fence. He wasn't cold alone lost dead.
Right?

Yet, as worried as he was for the child, Ken couldn't help but wonder with just as much worry if not more, when he would see Daisuke again. Only few hours had passed since Ken had last seen the russet-haired warrior, and yet he couldn't help but long, desperately, too see him right then and there.

Drawing his legs closer to his torso, Ken turned watery eyes to the river and stood there, motionless, for a small eternity. Finally, his lids fluttered close, and when amethyst eyes focused back on their reflection, Ken wasn't surprised to see warm molten brown eyes peer up at him from the water.

Of course the purple haired boy wasn't about to admit it, neither he would do it anytime soon, but somehow, he could feel it whenever Daisuke was near, so he'd felt him even before seeing him.
"Daisuke" Grinning, the warrior moved from behind the tree he was behind and began strolling leisurely around Ken, scanning their surroundings with unnatural nonchalance.

It wasn't like Daisuke to act that way -ignoring Ken completely- so the purple haired boy shifted in his spot to look up at the warrior, and was rewarded by a quick, sideways glance.
"Nee, Ken I was wondering" He started, nonchalantly.
"Yes?" Ken prompted, eyes searching the ones expertly avoiding his.

Daisuke remained silent from a moment, yet stealing glances of Ken every so often. Ken caught his eyes at last, and smiled, and Daisuke immediately turned his head away with a blush that matched the one currently tingeing Ken's cheeks.

Still not looking directly at Ken, Daisuke made himself comfortable next to him, and cleared his throat with visibly growing nervousness.
"You see, Ken, I was wondering how old are you?" Ken arched an eyebrow at the question, disappointed that his heart had leapt into his throat apparently for no reason at all.
"Why?" He asked back, face twisted into a pout.
"Just out of curiosity" Daisuke shrugged, indifference personified.
"Well" Ken leaned back slightly, weighting himself on his hands. "I'm seventeen."

Daisuke immediately whipped around, eyes incredibly huge.
"Ken!" He shrieked out in a strangely squeaky voice, and Ken had the feeling of being mocked. "Seventeen?! You're *too* old to be still single!" Blushing, Ken glared at Daisuke in panic, raising his voice without meaning.
"Old? Your people marry so young?" But Daisuke paid Ken almost no heed at all, scratching the back of his head sheepishly.

"What a shame" he muttered as his cheeks tinged momentarily. "You're almost older than me oh, wellllllllllllllll" with that the warrior turned, surprising the boy next to him with a conspiratorial wink. "I don't think it will be a problem. Having a consort your age can't be that bad." Ken felt like the blush that had faded from Daisuke's cheek had spread over his own. Blinking, he dared to ask a timid "What?" only to have Daisuke patting his shoulders energetically, virtually ignoring every kind of uncertainty Ken may be displaying.

"It's settled!" the warrior announced as he rose to his feet. "We're getting married as soon as Oikawa's out of the court."
"But!!" Ken tried to reply something -anything. He really did, but not only Daisuke wouldn't listen to him, his own *voice* wouldn't listen to what his brain was asking, and left him to just open and close his mouth repeatedly, gaping at a cheerful Daisuke as he walked away, stretching his arms in the air as if in a small dance of victory. "Wait!!"
"It's settled! Settled!" Daisuke sang as he walked down the path and finally out of Ken's vision.

Was it was it a proposal, Ken wondered. Falling down bonelessly to sit back on his heels, Ken turned unseeing eyes to his reflection, mind lost in a avalanche of swirling thoughts. Daisuke if Ken didn't make it back home, Daisuke was the only one he could count on. The only one that seemed to really care for him. The only one Ken felt like he could ever care for.

Daisuke was special to Ken, and in all honesty Ken doubted anyone would ever take in his heart the place Daisuke had. In this lost place, so incredibly far from his home, Daisuke was everything to Ken. Absolutely everything.

Ken couldn't deny Daisuke's proposal had made him delirious with happiness, speeding his heartbeat to unknown speed and yet something about it was troubling Ken. Why proposing so suddenly? What had led the vibrant warrior to throw away his mask of security and let known his feelings, even if in such an odd way? Ken wondered this, and so much more else as he rose to shaky feet and dragged himself toward his hut as if in trance.

Voices didn't reach him in the midst of his thoughts. He almost couldn't feel at all the people pushing him here and there in their hurry, for he was too focused in his thoughts. As fast as his feet could carry him -which was, in truth, really slowly- Ken reached his hut, and collapsed on a heap of wood laying against one of the walls.

//Why so suddenly?// Ken asked himself for the umpteenth time as he looked around unseeingly, eyes going huge as blurred shapes dashed in front of them. //Why now? Now that the village is in such agitation? Why doing it in such a critic moment?// Ken knew the answer. Oh Lord, if he knew it.

//It means he's ready to die.//

The thought alone made Ken's chest contract in a fit of pain. Living in that place dangerous and scattered was a dreaded prospective for Ken. Living there, but with Daisuke, tasted blissfully. But spending his life in a place where there wasn't Daisuke was it a comfortable, high-tech apartment in a 21st century Tamachi or a falling hut of rotten wood in a 16th century village it was unbearable. Simply heart-wrenching.

//Daisukeno, no I don't want to lose him, no//

Suddenly, coming out from nowhere, the bell tinkled.

Startled, Ken turned toward the silvery giggle that was coming closer, and found a smiling Kenichitaro strolling toward him, looking perfect and composed even in all that commotion. And Ken found himself calling the child without meaning it.
"Yes?" Kenichitaro chirped, and proceeded to climb up the woods to sit as close as Ken as he could, rubbing his head against the purple-haired boy's side. Kenichitaro could love Daisuke, but the child simply *adored* being near Ken, and used every occasion he had to stay with him.

At first, Ken had tried not to spend time with the child, due to the bell that would laugh at him each time the kid moved, but as days passed, he'd started to find Kenichitaro's company as fascinating as Daisuke's. Being with the kid felt good in a different way, surely, but not less enjoyable for that, and Ken had even begun to like the sound of the bell that accompanied his every move. This time, in fact, the gentle giggling made the corner of his lips turn up in a smile that made him look glad and sad at once.

"What a pretty bell you have, Kenichitaro" Looking up at Ken with big blue eyes, Kenichitaro waved his bell and gave it to Ken, chubby cheeks puffed out.
"You want it?"
"No" Ken shook his head, but took the bell nevertheless, making it tinkle softly. "I had one just like this when I was little it was rusty, and spotted and didn't ring as good as this one, but" Sighing, Ken let his hand stream through Kenichitaro's dark hair. "You know, I'm not the Ichijouji's real son. Their real son, Osamu, died when he was nothing but a child, and that's why they decided to keep me when they found me." Again Ken sighed, running a thumb across the little bell.

"They say the found me on the riverside, just outside an abandoned building yard, wearing a spotted and burned kimono. And the only thing I had with me was this bell that" Realizing his words, Ken felt his heart stop. Breathing became suddenly difficult as he whipped around to stare at the child sleeping contently at his side.

Without thinking, Ken took the child in his arms, and carried him inside the hut to let him lie down on his bed, all the time looking at him intently. Kenichitaro's hair, which Ken had always defined simply 'dark', were in truth of a velvety black colour that varied to deep purple when the light hit it the right way. Probably with the years it would turn to a marine tone of purple, just like Ken's own had.

His skin, so incredibly pale to be a shocking contrast with the olive skin of his brother, held a milky undertone that was no stranger to Ken's own skin. And his eyes, that Ken had never cared to stare into enough to define, were glittering amethysts, whose remembrance was enough to make Ken's body begin to tremble. Amethyst his eyes too were amethyst

"No" Ken chocked back a sob, combing gently Kenochitaro's hair with one hand as the other flew up to cover his trembling mouth. Never Ken had felt a deeper pain and he doubted he ever would. If what he was thinking was true then then Daisuke, his only friend, his protector, his rescuer, his hero, his

love

his brother.

"No" but there was no point in denying something that suddenly appeared so blinding clear. The signs were all there, almost too clear, too visible. But even too often what we can't see it's right in front of our eyes, glittering and inviting, and yet invisible just because of its unreal clarity.

Surrendering to sobs, Ken's shoulders began jerking up and down, even though tears refused to come. No wonder Ken felt so connected to Daisuke. No wonder he felt like he'd know him from before. He did. No wonder he felt like he knew and loved those eyes of Daisuke's. He did. Those eyes were the eyes of his first crush, his beloved brother, his Dai-chan

Ken began shuddering, sobbing quietly in front of the cruel irony of a fate that had taken him his home and his brother only to give them back to him as his doom and his love. He couldn't he couldn't those feelings he had for Daisuke were forbidden, wrong, completely immoral and yet now that he knew what it felt like to love Daisuke, he doubted he could stop loving him.

"No, no, no" Ken moaned as he staggered on shaky legs outside the hut, wiping his red and dry eyes with lose fists, like a child would. Once outside, Ken leaned against the wall and wrapped his arms around his upper torso, shaking.

Few were the things he remembered of his childhood, of the time before he was Ken Ichijouji. He remembered warm brown eyes he loved incredibly, and icy blue ones of an old man that would call him my Ken-chan. And then then he remembered a bell tinkling and he remembered

Flames.

Ken's eyes sprung wide open, and indeed flames were around him. People all around him were screaming, running for shelter as horsemen delivered death with their rusty spears.

Unnoticed to Ken, too lost in his pain, Oikawa's men had broken into the village and set it on fire with burning arrows. One flaming dart came to wedge itself in the wall against with Ken had retreated, and Ken turned to look at it with empty eyes.

Flames, flames, flames everywhere flames like the ones that had embraced him that time when he was a kid that time in the hut with the bell gigging the people screaming the animal's last cries of pain and the flames the flames everywhere, trying to touch him, to lull him in an endless sleep

Terrified, Ken opened his mouth to scream, but found himself unable to, and just sank on his knees and stared emptily as people all around him began falling in pools of shimmering red liquid. A now familiar panic began filling Ken, making his body shook like a leaf. No matter where he looked, flames filled his vision, a far corner of his mind noted that was wrong, very wrong.

Flames couldn't possibly have eaten the whole village like that, so quickly, so completely, without leaving any trace behind. Yet, right then Ken's world was composed solely by flames swaying endlessly around him in the most dreadful of dances. Like waves, like water made of fire, the flames were lapping at his body, and as Ken widened his eyes, he felt himself sinking down in the familiar embrace of darkness.

Liquid darkness, almost as hot as the flames, was curling around Ken's ankles and dragging him in its deeps, and the purple haired boy found his mind split in two parts, each screaming something different.
//I'm going home//
//I'm leaving Daisuke//

Horrified by the mere prospective of leaving the other boy, Ken tried to shake his head clear, and inhaled deeply, almost expecting the liquid darkness to fill his lungs as he did, but nothing happened. Fighting against the invisible restrains making him sink deeper and deeper in the darkness, Ken began praying for strength, refusing to give up even when only his head was out of the shadows.
//Daisuke//

Then, something happened, and Ken snapped watery purple eyes open to the dreadful scene of Daisuke's village burning as its villagers were injured and killed mercilessly. A ringing sound filled Ken's ears as the boy wondered how he'd escaped the hole, and then, as the noise clarified, Ken had his answer, suddenly, almost too much.

The bell was tingling.

And chorusing the silvery noise there was a terrified holler. Inside the now burning hut, Kenichitaro was screaming, calling out in fear for his brother to come and save him. The aftershock of his sudden awakening still streaming through his veins in a rush of adrenaline, Ken scrambled to his feet, as bits and flashes of a forgotten past came back to his mind, unwanted, unneeded, unasked for.

Flames he'd always feared flames

Ken reached out a hand, screaming out Kenichitaro's name, but he was prevented from moving when one of Oikawa's horsemen gripped his shoulder, spinning him around to face a bloody sword. Daisuke's name escaped Ken's lips in the form of a scared scream even before Ken had time to consider his actions, and just as quickly the warrior leapt from behind a burning heap in front of Ken.

The horseman turned briefly to where his dead steer laid, and then whipped to glare at Daisuke, and straightened, dragging Ken to his feet. He held the boy against his chest as he raised his sword, but Daisuke was faster, stronger, simply more accustomed to fight on even ground than one of those horseman would ever be - and thus, the young warrior swung his sword, and the horseman was sent lying on the ground before he could grasp what had hit him, a bleeding gash tingeing his neck with crimson.

Flames flames

Not daring sheathing his weapon, Daisuke wiped his sweaty forehead and went to Ken. The boy stood leaning against what remained of the hut's wall. His hands covered his face as he shook.

Flames he'd always feared flames, because

Daisuke took Ken in his arms and held his trembling body. Or at least tried to, since as soon as he felt Daisuke's touch Ken reeled backwards, not allowing anything more but a ghost contact, his head snapping up.

"Ken" Daisuke tried gently to touch Ken, but the boy would have none of it now.
"Daisuke!" Ken shook his head, confused, scared, and yet considering with surprising lucidity what he had to do. "Kenichitaro is in the hut! Reach him! Now! Fast!" Daisuke's eyes grew wide, as he felt an electric charge building in his body. Wasting no time asking more, and even forgetting completely every caution, Daisuke leapt inside the hut, screaming his brother's name at the top of his lungs. Ken could do nothing more than peek inside, his fear holding him back as invisible chains.

Flames gods, how much he feared flames

The ravenous flames cast flickering light across the huge chamber and crimson light and darkness melted and overflowed in the strangest games of heat and radiance. A billowing flame surged few inches in front of what Ken managed to recognize as Daisuke's brother even through the tick smoke, 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"

Ken had the sudden urge to tell Daisuke where the kid was, sure beyond explanation the warrior hadn't seen him yet, but found himself unable to speak. 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. 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, from the core of the firestorm.

The flames were everywhere now, unstoppable, invincible and Ken shook in fear, feeling tears gathering in his eyes. How much he feared flames

Daisuke tried to step forward, searching the fire with keen eyes, but the vortex of flames exploded in ripples of ruby heat just few inches from him, sending shattered particles of burning wood and sparkling flickers to flood the room. The redhead warrior raised his arms to shield his face and right from the middle of the hell, he heard Kenichitaro crying softly, the flames engulfing his flesh, licking at his feet.
"Niisan!!" The child 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"

The flames built up higher and higher around the boy, 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 Kenichitaro's 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.
"Kenichitaro, where are you?! Answer me, kiddo! Where are you?! Niichan! Niichan! Where are you?! I'm Daisuke! Kenichitaro!! Kenichitaro! KENICHITARO!!!!"
"Niisan!!" they boy cried, reaching his little arms out. "Niisan!!"
"Kenichitaro!!" Daisuke hollered, finally spotting his brother in the midst of the crumbling inferno. And Ken's head shot up again, hope filling the young man's heart.

"Niisan!!" Kenichitaro 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.

Everything afterwards happened like in a slow motion for Ken.

Daisuke opened his mouth, screaming his brother's 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.

And then the flames reached him, enclosing him a hug of mortal passion.

Daisuke readied himself to leap forward, but something happened then that would remain seared in his memory for all eternity. Something Ken needn't to see to know. Something that made fresh tears leak out from his red eyes.

The flames curled around Kenichitaro's little body and the air around him seemed to form ripples like the surface of a stormed lake. And then, in front of Daisuke's eyes, Kenichitaro's little body disappeared, vanishing in a cloud of shimmering flickers of light.

Ken slid down until he was on his knees, shivering madly as Daisuke kept staring in the now empty hut, his fingers loosening around the handle of his weapon.

Ken had always feared flames because they had brought him away from his home

Daisuke keep shaking his head in denial, unable to talk. But in war there's no time to weep, no room for sorrow. No one gives their enemies time to say goodbye to whoever they'd lost to the hunger of the war, and this occasion was no different. Before the sword could slid off Daisuke's hand, his tanned fingers curled around it with renewed rage because a mocking voice dared disturb him as he prayed for his brother.

"Where's Daisuke, the mighty protector of this bunch of cowards?" A sneer followed the question, and Daisuke's knuckles turned white around the sword-handle. "Come out and face me if you dare, you coward!" Oikawa made his horse halt just outside the hut Daisuke was in. And when the boy leaped out form the hut -the structure collapsing behind him- he was welcome by a rich, ricocheting laugh.

Fuelled by the unpleasant sneer ringing in his ears, Daisuke's rage anger became an inferno. This abomination had killedor whatever else had happened to him, his only brother, his precious Kenichitaro, and was daring to laugh.
He wasn't going to survive it.

Oikawa gave Ken a long look, letting a small trail of droll trickle down his chin as he licked his lips. Shivers returned to shook Ken's body, even though he wasn't sure he'd ever gone away. Oikawa's pitch black eyes, set in a face almost too white to be a living creature's, aligned on Daisuke then, and another laugh escaped him.
"So you hide like a girl now, oh mighty warrior? Or were you just hoping to have some last minutes of bliss with your slut before going to meet your relatives in hell?"

"Don't. You. Dare!!" Daisuke shrieked, leaping at his opponent nothing more but blinding rage guiding him. No one could dare to say *anything* about his relatives or to hurt them. No one could dare to call him a coward. And, moreover, no one could dare say anything, anything at all to Ken and hope to survive.

Forgetting his rationality when fighting proved to be a deadly mistake though, because soon enough Daisuke found himself slammed to the ground by the hoofs of Oikawa's horse.

Daisuke brought his sword up to absorb the shock when he saw the stallion's hoof descend on him, but the blade didn't survive the blow and shattered, leaving Daisuke's breastplat-ed chest open for Oikawa to hit it as he pleased. And that's what he did, using his spear to draw a long scar across the pattern of flames on the armour.

Daisuke rolled away before Oikawa could calibrate better his force and hit him again, and ended up knocking his shoulder against one heap of rocks, causing the small pile to crumble down. Oikawa laughed, obviously enjoying the sight of a struggling and winching Daisuke and sank his heels violently in his stallion's sides, urging it forward.

For some fighting can be an art, some others even see it as a mere sport, but all those would agree that fighting has its rules and laws. For Daisuke fighting meant keep on living, and the only rule he'd follow on a battlefield was, "there are no rules". That's why he didn't hesitate to grab one of the biggest rock on the ground and to throw it to his opponent, effectively stopping his run and knocking the spear out of his hands.

Again the laugh came, and Oikawa just rubbed his injured hand on the front of his ebony armour, derision evident in his eyes.
"Was that supposed to hurt me?" He sneered, reaching down for his sword.
"No" Daisuke took his time to wipe away the trail of blood that ran down his chin, then continued. "It wasn't but *this* is!" With a almost animal growl Daisuke clutched a bloody spear laying at his side -maybe Oikawa's own, no one can tell for sure- and summoning every ounce of strength he had in his body threw it at what through the throbbing pain clouding his mind seemed his opponent.

Even if injured Daisuke hadn't lost his capacity to aim, and the spear hit Oikawa with all the force of Daisuke's desperation, wedging itself deep into his throat, causing him to reel backwards, mortally wounded. Grinning to himself Daisuke watched silently as his opponent struggled not to fall off his horse, gasping for breath as he lowered his eyes, gazing wonderingly at the wooden staff that protruded from his neck.

Daisuke somehow rose to his feet, and dashed toward Oikawa to finish him, but the horseman had other plans. The black-haired bandit lifted his head a bit, and Daisuke was astonished to see a smile forming on those lilac lips of his.

The human body is the most perfect machine. But -in some cases- its perfection becomes monstrous. It's all too known that pushed to their limits humans can obtain few moments of incredible power from their own desperation. A mere matter of chemicals mixing, or maybe something deeper like souls and hearts are involved, no one is to know this - the fact is, that Oikawa *did* obtain that power in his final moments.

Grinning madly, like one of those scary broken dolls of the old times, he kicked his horse's sides and urged it forward to collide with Daisuke and send him sprawled on the floor. Daisuke couldn't stand it when he hit his head this time, and passed out, his body going limp.

Forcing his stallion to proceed forward, Oikawa made it rise on two legs as he grabbed with unexpected force a relatively huge piece of burning wood. His laughed resounded clear in the suddenly cold air, and in his dreamless slumber Daisuke let out a low groan, as if sensing danger even if he was unconscious.

The next moments seemed to last an eternity for Ken. Realization dawned on him, first with the sudden knowledge that Oikawa would, indeed, kill Daisuke without a second thought, despite being almost dead himself. Then with an paralysing certainty Ken saw that no matter what he or Daisuke did, Oikawa was going to have his revenge.

Ken thought he could hear the muscles in Oikawa's arm tightening as he lowered his weapon to hit Daisuke, as the same time as his mount lowered his anterior hoofs to squash Daisuke's chest, and he suddenly found himself moving.

Even before his mind had time to go around what he was doing Ken was sprawled over Daisuke, shielding the other boy with his own body, his arms circling Daisuke's neck and his head hid in the crock of his neck. Feeling the flames and the hoofs coming closer, Ken closed his eyes, and ordered the liquid darkness to come and take him.

And -absurdly- as the crackling of the flames rushed closer, Ken found himself falling, holding Daisuke as hard as he could. He was sinking in the darkness now. He had no sense of anything moving in the close proximity, but Ken felt clearly rippling motions against his body, as if he was completely submerged in something that felt like but didn't behave like a liquid.

//Flames a crackling fire//

Slowly, the warm liquid darkness retreated and Ken could feel distinctly a light breeze streaming through his hair.
//I was always scared whenever I saw a fire//

Ken's eyes fluttered open and stared sadly at the face an inch from his own, unbelievable molten brown eyes shut peacefully. A dark pink suffused Ken's cheeks, and he straightened to give a better look first a the boy laying with his head on his lap and then at their surroundings.

The two were on the riverside, just outside an abandoned building yard Ken knew to be not far from his house a place Ken knew to be the one where he'd been found, lost and alone, when he was a child.
"Now I know." I whispered in an exhalation. "It's a power I have." It wasn't the bell; it had never been the bell. It was the flames. And Ken' fear of them.

Ken smiled falsely at his surroundings, and then down at Daisuke, running a hand across Daisuke's cheek. Slowly, as if to keep the enchantment of the moment, Ken leaned forward, and inhaled Daisuke's aroma.

As Ken closed his eyes, tears gathered behind his lowered eyelids, and a single glistening teardrop slid down his face and onto Daisuke's dark amber cheek.

His Daisuke


* * * * *

The sunrays made a dancing pattern across the room as a light breeze wafted the snowy curtains. Stranger noises reached Daisuke's ears. Something was clicking rhythmically nearby, and from somewhere below the warm, soft and sweet-smelling mattress he was upon, artificial roars would ring out from time to time.

Noises he didn't know, places he didn't know and smells and feelings he didn't know welcomed him as he awoke, yet Daisuke felt at peace, safe. The noise of water trickling caught his attention, and a moment later a dripping cloth was wiping his dirty face with extreme tenderness.

Daisuke cracked his eyes open, only a little, and regarded quizzically the white ceiling and the golden pendant lamp hanging over his head. Gentle finger moved a lock of brown from his clammy forehead and Daisuke forced himself to turn his head and stare into eyes he knew to be purple.
"Ken" he croaked hoarsely, licking his lips immediately afterwards and swallowing, in hope to have his voice regaining its usual deep tone.

Pulling away, Ken smiled gently at the still dazed boy, giving his head a slight toss to get rid of a fallen lock, not wanting to touch his hair with soaked hands.
"You're finally awake" he whispered, and the relief in his voice twined with barely restrained worry. Daisuke felt a light brush on his cheek, and leaned in the feeling of the finger running across his cheek. In the silent morning air, Ken could almost ear Daisuke's heart beating quietly, and Ken's eyes misted over with tears.

That heart beat for him and yet Ken had to stop that. He had to stop loving and being loved by Daisuke. No matter how much it would hurt, that was for the best. He'd set Daisuke free; he'd convince the warrior that Ken felt nothing but pale friendship for him, and then he'd step back and watch as the one that had his heart in his hands found someone else to be with and went on with his life, forgetting him forever as it was right.

Shutting his eyes, Ken whipped away, concentrating on washing in the small bow of warm water the cloth he'd been using to clean Daisuke's face. Daisuke's tired, squinty eyes lolled to Ken's back, and the warrior felt his features twist in worry. He had never seen the young boy so sad before, not even when he was tormenting himself over the disappearance of that friend of his. Seeing a friend sad, or in pain, had always troubled Daisuke. But seeing Ken, of all people, hurting, seemed unbearable.

Daisuke tried to get up to a sitting position in order to speak to Ken more comfortably, but a throbbing ache in the back of his head stopped him, and he collapsed back on the bed, eyes shut tightly. A low moan escaped his lips, and within seconds Ken returned to his side, glassy violet eyes wide with concern.
"Daisuke?!" He murmured in panic, tracing the curves of Daisuke's forehead and cheeks with the wet washcloth. Daisuke groaned in pain, and when he forced his eyes open, he was reminded of the oddness of is surroundings.

"Where are we?" He asked lowly, shifting in a more comfortable position. At first Ken did nothing but whip around, sinking both hands in the water with the excuse of washing the cloth, while in truth he just needed to hide his trembles. Then, he answered.
"This is my home. That's my bed. You don't know how hard it was to drag you here. You're heavy, you know?" Ken had raised his voice to a somewhat playful tone, but he himself could felt the weakness behind it. He just hoped Daisuke wouldn't.

If Daisuke had noticed the way Ken's voice faltered, either he didn't find it worrying or he just decided he'd ask later about it, and just focused back on the ceiling were pale shadows projected from the open window melted and stretched to bizarre lengths. Then, his eyes widened, and were focused on Ken again.
"Oikawa?" Daisuke watched as Ken's shoulders gave a shrug, and then turned back up to his shadows.
"Dead I suppose."

Daisuke paid Ken's answer almost no heed at all, for his mind was already clouded by another question.
"I wonder what happened to Kenichitaro" He said softly, pain shimmering underneath the languid quietness of his voice. Ken's hands paused their motions, but the water they were immersed in kept forming ripples and waves, for the trembling hadn't ceased. If anything, it had increased its tempo.

Ken couldn't move. He didn't do anything. He didn't say anything. For a moment he just gazed blankly at his ripping reflection, until a voice came from outside and forced him out of his haze.
"Daiku, don't go wandering, you've just exited the hospital!"
"C'mon mommy, don't wolly! I'm just gonna zee my friendz at the Palk! Bye!"

Ken was scarcely aware of his action as he staggered to his feet and reached the window, trusting his torso forward to see the adorable redhead dashing down the street in a crowd of kids his age, wearing his beloved blue shirt. Ken had to lean against the wall in order not to fall, for his knees had gone weak under him. Daiku had just exited the hospital That meant today was

"Daiku, stop! Don't go the Park!" Ken found himself hollering even before he could complete his thought, but the kid ignored him and kept dashing down the sidewalk. His brain fogged with hope, Ken took a step backward, watching the kid disappear behind a corner. He had a chance to go back and save Daiku. To prevent him from going lost in the 16th century he just needed to reach the Park before the explosion, and before the Ken of that time could.

A quick glance to the clock told Ken he had plenty of time yet. It was two and Ken was sure the explosion couldn't have taken place before five. Whipping around, the purple haired boy fell on his knees in front of the bed, and hurried to open the large box of gauze and bandages he'd set on the floor. Daisuke's wounds needed to be dressed, that was the more pressing matter now. He knew he had three hours to save Daiku, but Daisuke he didn't know, and didn't want to take the risk.

Rummaging through the bends and making most of them fall on the floor in his haste, Ken found himself shaking again, out of what, he wasn't sure. Daisuke noticed it too, and when Ken turned around with a plaster in his shaky finger, Daisuke took hold of his thin wrist, his other hand slipping behind Ken's neck to gently pull him closer.

Ken stuttered, a blush rushing to his cheeks as his eyes focused on Daisuke's mouth. Ken couldn't help it. It was just stronger than him. As he gazed at Daisuke's face he felt his feelings burning stronger than ever and pinning him in that spot; to that perfect moment.

The warrior moaned softly in anticipation, giving up understanding the feelings Ken could send ragging in him even with just a look, and just wanting to finally know how Ken tasted and felt against him.

Ken's heartbeat grew faster as Daisuke's face inched closer to his own. The initial shock of having Daisuke so close was somewhat fading, and Ken was willing himself to pull away. However, he couldn't help but gaze at Daisuke and realize just how much he loved him

another, deeper blush came to him, and Ken finally managed to turn away from those intense yet caring and reassuring eyes of Daisuke.
"I I have to dress your wounds." He exhaled shakily, and as Ken gently pushed him back on the mattress Daisuke whipped his head around, pouting childishly over not getting his kiss, and glared lopsidedly at Ken.

Shakily, Ken began running the wet washcloth across Daisuke's finely chiselled bare chest and belly, taking care not to let his fingers brush the skin for fear of the electric jolts he knew that would come. Gently, Ken cleaned away every trace of blood and sweat that marred the bronzed muscles of Daisuke's body, even though with great difficulty.

For once, Ken couldn't stop his shaking, and since he couldn't bring himself to actually touch Daisuke flesh, it was difficult for him not to proceed really slowly. Then again, Daisuke wasn't helping either. He had given up kissing or even touching Ken, but wouldn't stop squirming. And when Ken had thoroughly soaked a cotton ball with peroxide Daisuke had even begun yelping and trashing around. In fact the warrior had actually backed away, almost falling off the bed in his haste, when Ken had brought the cotton ball to his chest.

With pleading eyes Daisuke had asked Ken not to do it. He promised the other boy he'd be good if Ken put down that, but the bluenette just arched an eyebrow. There was no way Daisuke could know peroxide would sting, being him native of an era where peroxide didn't even existand such behaviour puzzled Ken.

Concluding that Daisuke was just fishing around for some additional attention the purple haired boy gave the warrior's behaviour nothing more than few seconds of attention and then proceeded with his ministration, even though he had to pin Daisuke to the mattress and hold him still, whispering soothingly nonsense all the while.

"You're covered in scars" Ken said softly, dressing a still bleeding wound on Daisuke's side. "Old and new, big, small" Ken's voice lowered to a whisper as he inspected the wounds, trying not to imagine how many times Daisuke must have had -and would- put his life in danger.

Still squirming madly, Daisuke groaned out a response, his face displaying an almost perfect puppy dog eyes look that would have worked even on Ken this time. Turning around to take a plaster and apply it to the wound, Ken found his eyes drawn by a clearly deeper scar.
"What's that? This seems so much more deep" He mused loudly as he ran a gentle finger across it, making Daisuke squirm yet again. Cracking his eyes open, Daisuke looked down at the wound Ken was touching and then turned eyes glazed with pain to Ken's bowed head.

Ken had returned to his previous activities, not really expecting Daisuke to answer, when the warrior cleared his throat.
"Of course it is, genius." Daisuke said lowly, his voice back to its usual deep and rich tone and yet gaining a strangely pompous quality. "That's where they've taken my appurentulix out."
"Appendix." Ken corrected automatically, with a bit of nonchalance that went completely lost when his eyes grew incredibly wide. His head shot up, and Daisuke couldn't help but notice that, for as strange at it was the look of complete shock on Ken's face was really appealing.

"Appurentulix?!" Ken shrieked out, grabbing Daisuke's shoulders and shaking him madly. The warrior rose to a seated position, and if he wasn't still that shocked Ken would wonder if all the moans and groans of pain he'd let loose before weren't just a ploy to have Ken taking care of him.
"What?!" Daisuke hollered just as patchily, his voice hitting a high pitched note. But again, Ken paid Daisuke and his shock and worry no heed, his brain and eyes and fingertips busy exploring Daisuke's features.

Rich brown hair that held a faint undertone of red.
Skin of the same colour as honey and bottomless pools of molten brown for eyes.

Ken inhaled a shaky breath and held it in, feeling moisture leaking out the corner of his eyes. The purple haired boy loosened the hold he had on Daisuke's shoulders enough to let the warrior sit up properly, and made himself comfortable on the bed, reaching up to brush his fingertips across Daisuke's face.

The breath caught in the redhead's throat as Ken gently traced his face with shaky fingers, and the blush that seemingly loved to graze Ken's cheek was suffusing across Daisuke's face. Biting his bottom lip gently, as if to prevent sobs from escaping him, Ken let out a chocked little giggle, sniffling. Oh yes, Ken could be Kenichitaro, but Daisuke Daisuke
"Daisuke" Ken whispered in an exhalation, sighing softly. "You're you're Daiku" Puzzled, Daisuke shook his head, and then tilted it to a side to give a better look at Ken's face, now glowing with happiness.

Ken could almost see what had happened, and it became all so clear in his mind to be blinding.

The flames born from the explosion had made Ken's power go crazy and the time-hole had swallowed both him and Daiku. Somewhere through the journey that was brining him back home Ken must have lost Daiku's hand, and the kid had ended up voyaging further backward, landing almost ten years before Ken's own arrival.

It was incredibly simple and yet so incredibly, incredibly, complex

Kenichitaro, at the age of six, had been swallowed in the folds of time and became Ken Ichijouji.
At the age of seventeen Ken Ichijouji was hauled back in the folds of time and taken back home, bringing with him the little Daiku.
And Daiku, lost and alone in the inhospitable lands of a 16th century Japan raked by an endless war, was found and raised to become Daisuke.
The same Daisuke that Kenichitaro -Ken- called 'brother'.

Crazy; absurd; foolish even. Ken had no terms to define this situation with. All he knew was his infinite happiness. Daisuke was his Daiku. Daisuke was his love. Simpler even.

Daisuke was his.

Not wanting to stop touching Daisuke now, just has much as he didn't want to do it before, Ken had restarted dressing Daisuke's wounds, and the bluenette took the opportunity to kiss tenderly the tip of the other boy's nose when applying a plaster on its bridge.

Ken felt guilty thinking of the poor little Daiku lost in an unknown land because of him. And thinking that all the scars that grazed Daisuke's body wouldn't be there if he hadn't voyaged through time and were -thus- virtually Ken's fault, made the purple haired boy's heart constrict.

Daisuke squirmed slightly whenever Ken fingered his wounds, still pleading with his eyes not to have peroxide put on his wounds, and yet he was visibly more relaxed, the change in Ken's attitude affecting his own as well. When Ken kissed his nose, though, Daisuke seized the moment to grab Ken's wrist and press them together and against his chest.

Ken blinked when one of his hands was pressed over Daisuke's beating heart. Smiling gently he placed one of Daisuke's hands over his own heart, and wasn't shocked when he felt their heartbeats sing in synchronous. Leaning forward, Daisuke touched his forehead with Ken's and spoke, gently, softly, his voice gaining a trembling insecurity that was unknown to it.
"Ken" Daisuke said softly. "I must go back home."

Ken inhaled shakily. He didn't want Daisuke to leave. Not now, not ever. He'd lost him too many times already and he felt like he wouldn't have survived another separation. A glance at the clock hanging from the wall told Ken it would be easy, absurdly simple for Daisuke to go back. In few minutes the explosion that had brought Daiku to become Daisuke in the first place would happen, and Daisuke just needed Ken to use his power and send him back.

Shaking his head Ken tried to pull away, thinking to himself that Daisuke would be better if they stayed there. Of course he couldn't tell the Motomiyas that Daisuke was Daiku, but they were his family after all, and they had the right to be together. But

weren't Takeru, Iori, Yamato and Takeru his family too? Weren't they *Ken's* family as well? Confused, Ken shook his head again, and Daisuke took the motion as a silent plea to stay.
"Ken, I can't stay here they need me" Ken whimpered quietly, his confusion growing.

The poor boy felt like he was about to drown, confused and desperate. Crying wasn't an option and yet Ken felt the tears gathering. He was expecting to stop breathing soon, overwhelmed by his feeling, and yet nothing was happening.

He wanted to stay with Daisuke. He needed to. But their families, and their homes, and the war, and the safety of Tamachi and and and
"Come with me." Daisuke said gently, smiling softly at the surprised look that tinged Ken's face. Ken's hands were pressed more firmly against Daisuke's chest for a moment and then the warrior pulled away, his mask of security back on his face, even if cracked and tore in more than one point.

A genuine smile was tugging up Daisuke's lips and the small child Ken cared for could be seen through the ruptures on the mask. A child gentle and caring, and breathtakingly in love with Ken.
"You want to go back there? You don't mind how?" Ken asked as Daisuke kneeled down to retrieve his clothing.

"They can't make it without me." Daisuke said, currently wearing his armour. "And then again, I'm in debt with my father. He found me wandering through the same battlefield where I found you when I was a child, and since then he raised me as his son." Ken's eyes clouded and the boy watched the other getting ready for a journey he didn't even know where to start.

They'd just have to go to the Park Ken knew that. The only thing Daisuke needed to go back home was to have Ken leading him there but
"Daisuke isn't your life hard?" Ken murmured quietly, watching carefully as each and every scar on Daisuke's body disappeared under his clothing and armour. And to Ken it seemed as if Daisuke was trying to conceal them to him, to tame his guilt.

"Not at all." Daisuke replied simply. "I've lots of friends and then" Daisuke's lips curved up in a smile that made him look both innocent and mischievous, a some sort of mix between Daiku's sweet smile and Daisuke's usual grin.

"Now" Daisuke paused, but not out of hesitation. "I have something far more important. I have you." Daisuke hold his hand out for Ken to grasp it, but the other boy ignored it completely and flung his arms around Daisuke's neck, feeling strong arms curling around his waist.

"Daisuke" Ken murmured, rubbing his forehead against Daisuke's chest. "Will you protect me?" Without hesitation, Daisuke tightened his hold around Ken's waist and whispered, "Of course. Always. Forever."

And Ken's decision was made.


* * * * *

"Are you sure we'll go back home just staying here doing nothing?" Daisuke asked, eyeing strangely the bizarre buildings that sided the Park they were in. In response Ken chuckled, squeezing Daisuke's hand gently.
"It won't take long, trust me." Home yes, despite everything Ken and Daisuke were going home. Because there wasn't a place one of them could call home if the other wasn't there with him.

As the minutes passed Ken squeezed Daisuke's hand a little tighter and when Daisuke turned to him it was just to see Ken snuggle closer, yet again wrapping his arms around his neck.
"Ken?" Daisuke could see Ken was scared, but as much as he could think about it, he could never guess what it was, even though what scared Ken was really similar to what was troubling Daisuke in the first place.

Be apart.

The prospecting of being apart terrified both boys, even if each was fearing a different situation. Daisuke feared, *dreaded*, that Ken would refuse to marry him and that he'd be stuck watching his one love choosing a bride from the girls of the village.

Ken dreaded separation itself. Each time he'd used his power it had separated the two of them, and Ken feared that this occasion would be no different. Losing Daisuke again to the caprice of time Ken wasn't sure he could take that *again*. Seeking comfort in Daisuke's arms, Ken raised his chin to meet Daisuke's eyes and found their faces dangerously close.

Strangely enough it was Daisuke the one that blushed when they inched closer, and even stranger, it was Ken the one that initiated the kiss.
"Hold me Daisuke." He pleaded softly, his breath fanning across Daisuke's mouth. "Whatever happens, hold me tight, and never let go"
"Ever" Daisuke agreed in a whisper, and when his lips pressed to Ken's in that first gentle kiss, the shyness left his body, as his senses rejoiced in finally having proofs that Ken was born to fit in his arms, just like he'd always thought.

//This time we'll stay together//

Ken moaned a little in the kiss and a pleasureful purr scraped out Daisuke's throat to answer him. The electricity was instantaneous. Undeniable. Shocking them both to the core. Daisuke's tongue pushed Ken's mouth open, and he submitted with a throaty moan.

Daisuke was already mad with the need to touch Ken, and seeing his same desire evident in every Ken's movement made him delirious. His hands pressed against the small of Ken's back and forced their whole bodies to do what their mouths were doing and press together, blissfully.

Need to breath forced them apart, though, and when Ken felt Daisuke's arms tighten around him as his mouth fell open in shock, he knew it was time. Turning around to stare at what Daisuke was staring at, Ken saw himself and a younger Daisuke strolling, blissfully unaware of their destiny, toward them.

Daisuke tried to say something as Ken hold him even closer, but the explosion swallowed his words whole. The building at their right deflagrated with a noise of billionths thunders striking. A now familiar electric current ran through Ken, making the hair on his arms go bristled.

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.

Not too far, the bell the other Ken had strapped to his backpack tinkled gently, and this Ken had the sudden urge to go and warn them. To tell the other himself about Daiku, about Daisuke. But he couldn't do that. That could change the story. Change the story could prevent him from being with Daisuke. And Daisuke was all that mattered to Ken now.

Ken felt suddenly incredibly sleepy, even though he was fighting not to surrender to sleep. The liquid darkness came and lapped at his feet, almost telling him it was time, and soon enough Ken found himself sinking down, deeper and deeper in the depths of time and then

everything went black.

* * * * *

The old man wandered through the remains of the village, watching silently the burned rests of the town that had seen him be born and grow old. Making his way through the fuming wreckages the man reached the old hut where they'd let that stranger -Ken- live in, and through the ruins found something he didn't expect to be there.

Half-burned and hid under a huge rock there was a small shirt. A very minute one, purple and with a white-yellow band in the middle, obviously designed for a small child to wear. Such pieces of clothing were most unusual there, and thus almost no one in the village could forget who first wore it. But the men that was now soaking the little shirt with his tears couldn't bring himself to forget it for reasons completely different from its peculiarity.

His older son, his Daisuke, was wearing that one shirt when he'd found him, ten years before, wandering through the battlefield. He'd raised the child as his own, teaching him the art of war as he grew too old to protect the village. It never mattered to him that there were no blood relations, Daisuke was his son, and the man was proud to know Daisuke considered and loved him as his real father.

A warm hand came to cup the man's shoulder, and he -startled- looked up, gazing wonderingly at the blonde warrior at his side.
"Yamato." The man croaked, rubbing his face harshly with his palms. "News?"
"Well" The blonde swallowed and moved closer to the old man, who finally noticed the brunette all but hanging from Yamato's neck.

Taichi grinned at the older man as Yamato helped him to sit down, careful no to damage furthermore his broken leg.
"What are you doing here, Taichi?" the man sighed, looking away from the boy so stunningly similar to his lost son. "You should be resting."
"And leave you like this? Not a chance in Hell." Taichi beamed and patted the man on the back, when Yamato cleared his throat, kneeling in front of to him.

"Chief," Yamato shoot a glance at Taichi, who nodded back silently. "We lost no one in the battle." The man sighed, clutching the shirt tighter. "We've few dozens of people wounded, but no one died or is about to."
"I see" the man couldn't suppress a sob this time, and looked down at Daisuke's shirt longingly. "Anyone's missing?" At the question, Yamato drew in a sharp breath, and even Taichi's grin faded.
"Chief" the brunette began, carefully. "Only three are still missing"

"I lost all my sons" The man whispered back quietly. "I don't even have their corpses to bury. My Kenichitaro my Daisuke" The man paused, fingering the muddy piece of cloth. "Even Ken. He was about to become my son, and I think I could grow to love him as I love Daisuke, but lost him too. I lost all of them, for good." Dry sobs shook the man's now suddenly fragile-looking frame, and both boys at his sides could do nothing more but pat his back, whispering soothingly.

Surrendering to tears was a shame to the old man, but he could barely breathing straight, and his burning eyes were quickly swelling with moisture. Daisuke had always told him a real man does not cry, but Daisuke was not there anymore to humour him if he cried.

Maybe if he cried, like Taichi and Yamato were telling him, he would feel better. Maybe his teardrops would fall on the ground and somehow produce a noise so high that it would call his sons back from whenever they were.

Yes, a teardrop only one teardrop---and maybe they'd be back.

As the burning single tear traced a white line across the man's cheek, two shapes loomed at the horizon, standing clearly against the setting sun. No one knows who saw them first, but somewhere amidst the ruins of the village a voice rose and identified the two.

"Daisuke!" The voice cried out excitedly. "Ken!" And not all the arguing and attempts to put a face to the disembodied voice that would occur in the years to follow could ever divulge which said it. Someone did, though, and immediately everyone stopped their ministration to look up at the sun and at the two boy strolling slowly toward them.

Again, no one knows who started it, but the whole village broke into an ovation and ran toward the two. Daisuke hold Ken even closer when a crowd began gathering around them, and Ken was happy to lean into his love's warmth, sighing gently into his chest.

Voices began throwing questions at the two of them. Someone screamed, someone began to cry, someone squealed, pointing at the hug the two boys were wrapped him, while someone could just repeat their names, happy. But amidst the voices one resounded clearer and higher, somewhat impossible to ignore.

"Daisuke!" Daisuke's father was unable to say more and just rubbed his nose, a suspicious gesture that made Daisuke grin.
"You cried, pop?"
"Shut up, you little idiot." Despite everything, the two men were smiling, as humouring each other was a ritual to show their attachment. Jogging up to his side Takeru and Iori both gave Daisuke a brief hug, even though it was difficult to hug someone that refuses to pry his arms off someone else.

Ken too wasn't willing to let Daisuke go anytime soon. As promised, Daisuke hadn't let him go, but for Ken it wasn't yet enough. He didn't want to be apart from Daisuke. Never in his life.

Stepping back after giving each just a friendly pat on Daisuke's shoulder, Takeru and Iori too put their arms around each other, just like Ken and Daisuke. If it was for support or for something else, that's theirs to known and ours to wonder, but the look on their faces was the same: joy.

"Where have you been?!" Taichi inquired from his resting spot in Yamato's arms, squirming and pouting about not being noticed first, the blonde torn between laughing and crying.

Throwing his head back, Daisuke laughed, and picked Ken up, spinning him around in joy. Ken chuckled, but still refused to let Daisuke go, and kept his arms around his neck even when he was put back down and gifted with another breathtaking kiss.

Gingerly, Ken reached out and placed his hand on Daisuke's neck, feeling his heart pace at the same rhythm of his own. All thoughts of guilt and regret, all doubts and insecurity were gone from his mind as he closed his eyes and surrendered to the intoxicating feeling of Daisuke's kiss.

For the first time he could recall, Ken was completely and utterly happy. He felt complete, at ease with life. The whole world could fall and shatter for all he cared right then. He had Daisuke and that was all that mattered.

Everything else could wait.

"Where I've been doesn't matter now!" Daisuke grinned as he broke the kiss, caressing Ken's face gently before whipping around to face their audience, throwing one hand over his head with a shout of joy. "We've other things to think about we have a wedding to organize!"

Well, maybe not everything

~Fin


*falls over* This is the second chaptered Kensuke I end and in less than a month!! *yelps happily* Liked it? Hated it? You think the ending wasn't good enough? Drop me and review and tell me! ^^