Ken Ichijouji was headed toward his house in Tamachi when he noticed an elderly man with his arms full of bags filled with presents and gifts. There was something different about him, he couldn't tell how old he was but there was a warm light in his gold eyes that Ken couldn't explain. He wore a long brown coat and black pants, he had some spectacles and seemed to be in a hurry.
"Do you need help?" he asked. All those packages looked heavy and the man might be having a hard time carrying them. He looked to be about sixty or so, but his blond hair was only tinted with a little gray. He couldn't really tell how old he was. But he seemed to have a youthful air about him.
"No, I'm alright really," the man replied. "But if you insist, take this," he handed Ken a bag.
"Where are you headed?" Ken asked.
"My younger brother's house. It's his birthday."
"That's nice," Ken replied. It made him miss his older brother Sam. He'd almost forgotten what it had been like to have a sibling.
"How old is he?" Ken asked, forgetting it was rude to ask other peoples' ages, besides that he was curious.
"Oh, that's a long story. I don't think I'd have time to tell it," the man said.
"I see. It must be nice to have a brother," Ken said.
"You don't have one?" the man asked.
"I had one, he died a few years ago though," Ken replied.
"How did he die?" the man asked.
"He died in a car accident when I was seven," Ken told him. "He wasn't always nice to me but it still hit me pretty hard."
"Brothers aren't supposed to be perfect, my mistakes nearly cost my brother his life, I was barely able to save him, but I gave up some very important things to keep him with me."
"You're lucky, at least he didn't die and you didn't feel like it was your fault. I wished my brother would just disappear, and then the accident happened."
"It's not like you killed him though," the man said. "If you keep blaming yourself you'll never be able to move on with your life."
"My friends told me that. But does it really work?"
"You have two good legs don't you? Get up and use them," the man said emphatically. "it's one of the things I live by."
"So what do you do for a living, or have you retired yet?"
"I'm technically retired but Tamachi University often has me come and teach chemistry and biology classes."
"You're a scientist then?"
"You could call me that. You go to Tamachi Middle School?"
"Yes," Ken replied.
"One of my great grandkids goes there. He plays soccer."
"Oh, what's his name, I might know him, I play soccer on that team."
"Maes," the man replied.
"I'll tell him I met you when I see him."
"Ah, he won't really care," the man looked out, staring as if seeing something far away.
"Something on your mind?" Ken asked him.
"You look like you have a huge weight on your shoulders. Like you've got a cloud over you kid."
"I did a lot of bad things, in order to ease the guilt of my brother's death. And I still haven't felt like I've atoned enough."
"Ah, Atonement, I know something about that too. I never felt that I did enough to atone for the mistakes that me and my brother made, but, in the end I gave up all my experiences and gained what I had wanted for him for so long. One day, you'll see that once you learn that gain can't come without sacrifice, then you'll realize that all your work to atone for what you've done will mean something."
"What do you mean?"
The man looked at him, "When you realized you were doing things to hurt others to deal with your guilt, what did you give up?"
"I gave up my genius intellect that I gained from choosing a dark path," Ken didn't like to think of his Digimon Emperor days, but he had to acknowledge them.
"What did you gain in return for giving up this genius intellect of yours?" the man asked.
"I gained my friends, and a best friend I had forgotten about, and I'm accepted by them despite all the horrible things I did to them."
"I see, you sacrificed your old ways and gained friends and love in return. Equivalent Exchange, to think it still works."
"I've never heard that before," Ken said. "Is that something you came up with?"
"No, but it's very important to me," the man said. They came to a stop in front of an apartment building. "Well we're here. Thanks for your help."
He turned to ken.
"What's your name son?" the man asked.
"Ken, Ken Ichijouji," Ken replied. "And who are you?"
"My name is—" the man began to answer when the door opened.
"Brother!" Another man greeted him. "It's nice of you to come!"
"Hey Al, happy birthday," the man greeted him.
"Hi there," Al greeted Ken. "Won't you come in?"
"I'm sorry, I have to go home. I just helped him carry the bags."
"Well come back and see us then, we'd like that wouldn't we Ed?" the man turned but the man he called Ed wasn't there. "There he goes again, not even telling you goodbye. Sorry about that. It was nice to meet you Ken. "
"Thanks Al, goodbye," Ken waved goodbye and headed home. He missed Sam a lot, but his conversation with Ed had made him feel better. He headed home, he was meeting with Davis and the rest of the DigiDestined to discuss what would be next for them with everything going on in the Digital World, but he'd visit Sam's grave first and pay his respects to his older brother. He would get up and move forward, like Ed told him. The future was going to be a good one.
If you haven't figured out who Ken is having this conversation with, shame on you, seriously. Shame on you. I was inspired by Romi Paku, and the fact that she plays Ken Ichijouji and another character I love to pieces.