Summary: The Demon Lords have received their 7th member-as an egg. They must now contend with raising him into the Demon Lord of Gluttony, Beezlemon... Canon-compliant AU, Impmon-origin prequel to season 3 Tamers. (With some elements from the Adventure seasons.)

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon or anything related to it.

Notes: Been distracted with RL (of course) and another fandom—started making fanfic for Disney's animated "Beauty and the Beast." Such a good movie!

Ch. 17

Lilithmon was anxious to return for her hybrid the second her assigned time limit had passed. (Longing, she'd grudgingly admit to; guilt, never.)

She was searching the island now. There were times when digimon sensed her power, and stayed clear-this was one of those times.

Lilith also kept an eye out for WereGarurumon, but she was more interested in finding Yaamon first, or more likely a slightly older digimon that resembled him.

Finally she found him in a small clearing in the forest. Lilith was simply positive it was him-his head didn't look much different from when he was an infant, but then he turned and she saw the crisp whiteness of his face and his button nose. She was instantly reminded of her own appearance as Gatomon then-even more so when she noticed he wore gloves too (though they were a gaudy red) and while he was a fairly average-sized rookie level monster, he was also close to the proportions of her admittedly small champion form. Already Lilith knew Barbamon would overanalyze those minor similarities (not unlike what she just foolishly entertained—and of course, his green eyes remained the same, constantly reminding her of Wizardmon).

Her now fully grown child was facing off against a Veggiemon (even she could appreciate the irony of how that monster's previous form was a Floramon, though she imagined her hybrid would not feel the same). Her first instinct was to reveal herself and instantly crush the thing, but she stayed put. This was the whole point after all, to get him fending for himself more through survival training, even if she had sent WereGarurumon for insurance. If things got out of hand, she would intervene, unless her subordinate wasn't already-ah, there he was; Lilithmon's experienced eyes found her warrior lurking in the trees, watching the child, and herself (Lilith hadn't exactly planned on hiding, and only concealed herself now so that her hybrid didn't notice, but of course WereGarurumon would sense his own superior-Lilith wanted a captain that skilled).

Either way, Lilith concluded it wouldn't come to an intervention. The Veggiemon looked exhausted, more so than her hybrid; and she wondered if the child had cornered him when he was already weakened from another fight.

Her hybrid swiftly dodged the other monster's vines, dashing toward it until he was up in its face, and he blasted flame. His enemy still struggled and her hybrid wasn't unscathed, but soon it was completely on fire, and it broke apart into data, only a dark ash smear left in the dirt.

Lilithmon silently watched as her child absorbed the energy. Then when he was done, she stepped forward, not even paying attention to the twig her foot snapped.

The young Demon Lord of Gluttony immediately whirled around, a fire already lit in his hands-but that sputtered out when he realized who was there.

He looked at her with wide eyes, his mouth gaping, and Lilith instinctively counted how many small fangs he now had. She also prepared herself for his shouting and insults and questions and simple anger from him, she'd been expecting that for months when imagining her return for him...

Instead he bit his lip, his eyes starting to water; then he rushed forward, burying his face in her skirt and clutching at it, twisting the fabric in his three-fingered hands.

Dumbfounded, Lilith stiffly patted her non-Nazar hand on the back of his quivering head (his whole body was trembling). Then that hand relaxed, ruffling his fur slowly, gently (she realized it was a deeper violet now). Finally he stilled and stepped away slightly, wiping his eyes with the back of his hands, and sniffling (but Lilith noticed that her skirt wasn't that wet and that there weren't deep watery tracks down her child's cheeks, so he clearly restrained himself more than she thought).

"You came back," he said, dazed.

"I told you I would," she reminded him pointedly. Then she made a show of looking him over, and said, "You've grown handsomely, my dear."

Her hybrid blushed, self-consciously glancing at all the scratches and bruises he bore and the general unkemptness of his fur (but in Lilith's eyes, all that mattered was that he had evolved, and had won a fight and taken another's data in front of her own eyes, and generally had the air of a more seasoned rookie warrior).

"What do I call you now?"

"Oh, um, it's Impmon now."

"Impmon," she said, trying out the name on her tongue. "Impmon, I do believe that was a champion level."

Lilith's smirk made her hybrid blush harder with pleasure at the touch of pride he heard in her voice. He replied, looking down at his feet, "It was a three-way fight before. I kept my head down, he got the other guy, and when he was tuckered out, I got him."

Lilith gently took his chin, tilting it up. "Very good, my dear."

Impmon jerked away when he heard WereGarurumon approach. Lilithmon raised her eyebrows, rather amused when Impmon snarled and lit fire balls in his hand, standing protectively in front of her. He snapped at the wolf digimon, "What the hell do you want now?"

Ignoring the child's anger, WereGarurumon instead bowed before him and Lilith, saying, "Welcome back, My Lady."

"Thank you, Captain, for guarding my child."

"Of course, Lord Lilithmon."

Impmon's attack had long since flickered out, and his green eyes snapped back and forth between the two.

"Wait, what-you know this guy? He works for you? He was guarding me?"

Turning back to Impmon with a brow arched, Lilith answered, "Of course. I couldn't chance the possibility that you might fail and actually die, so I sent him to keep an eye on you."

"He tried to kill me!"

"Did he really?"

Impmon was about to snap, "Hell yes!"-but then he thought about his own conclusions that WereGarurumon was just toying with him whenever he apparently let him live; and realized that maybe WereGarurumon showing up to mow down other monsters that were attacking him wasn't just him being all blood-thirsty and possessive…but still-

"He beat me to a pulp!" The child insisted, stabbing an accusing finger at the wolf digimon, who persisted in gracefully ignoring him.

"Frankly, the type of training I demand for you to endure is more than strenuous."

Impmon looked fit to burst-but he bit back the very strong urge to curse both his procreator and his so-called bodyguard out, and instead huffed and folded his arms, refusing to look at either of them.

Glancing at WereGarurumon, Lilith asked, "Will you accompany us, Captain?"

The wolf digimon shook his head. "No my Lady, I will guard your flank and meet you back at the fortress later."

Lilith read between the lines for his real message, and she wasn't sure what to think when apparently WereGarurumon thought she needed alone time with her hybrid.

But she did not push the matter; she simply nodded to her superior, and then knelt down besides a still pouting Impmon. She softly placed a hand on one particularly swollen cheek. "Come-Belphemon and the rest have missed you, along with most of our subordinates." It's been far too quiet at the fortress, she silently thought, but was not about to say that out loud. "Lilymon is there. You can finally meet her, and she will heal all your wounds."

Stiffly, Impmon nodded, still trying to look indignant, but he scrambled quickly and eagerly onto her back, in between her wings and wrapping his arms around her neck.

"See you soon, Captain," Lilithmon said to WereGarurumon, who nodded back. The wolf digimon ignored the tongue Impmon stuck out at him.

Lilith then manipulated a data stream for home, and they were off.


Impmon had of course been pissed at his procreator, feeling utterly betrayed (feeling like it was his fault, he failed, he drove his procreator away)-but he still desperately clung to her promise that she'd be back.

After Leafmon died, he began to doubt her words-but instead of his anger growing with her, he just grew bleaker, giving up. He couldn't help but be overwhelmed with sheer shock and relief and longing when his procreator did return for him.

And even the smallest hint of pride she showed him was something, Impmon wanted so desperately to make her proud, to convince her that he wasn't a worthless nothing...

But it made him sick to his stomach to know that he was; with his failure to protect Leafmon, he realized Lilith was completely right about some things. Deep down, he felt he didn't even deserve scraps of pride from her-but still she gave them, so maybe he wasn't completely hopeless, his procreator had fairly good judgment, she had to, she just had to...

Impmon clung tighter to Lilith's neck. He just wanted to go home, he just wanted his procreator to value him, to not just be the disappointing remnant of her closet friend, Wizardmon, nothing but a poor replacement-

Impmon's heart felt a little lighter when the familiar fortress came into view.

Notes: Leave it to fic to make Impmon more screwed up. I was actually a little freaked out when I learned on a digimon wiki that Floramon can evolve into Veggiemon, and decided it had to be used. Anyway, comments and questions are always appreciated—I do love seeing that review alert in my inbox.