Don't let it destroy you
- No way, Goggle-Head.
- Oh, come on, Rika!
- I said, no way. Don't you dare asking me again, or you'll regret the D-Reaper didn't swallow you up.
- But Rika, what's the problem?
- I hate parties! End of conversation.
- I can't believe she hung up on me.
Henry looked at him.
- Don't take it personally. You know Rika.
Terriermon perched on Henry's shoulder smirked.
- Momentai, you two. If she doesn't want to party, we can't make her. She'll come around eventually.
- I sure hope she's alright.
- We haven't seen a single Digimon in a week. Don't you think that's weird?
Guilmon and Calumon were playing. Takato watched them for a while, then turned to Henry.
- Yeah, you're right.
Guilmon laughed and walk to his tamer.
- Maybe we could go to the park and play there.
- Good idea. What do you say?
- Fine by me.
Okay. I'll bring lunch for all of us.
Calumon jumped excitedly.
A small purple Digimon was taking a walk. Nobody seemed to notice him but he was used to it. He was still haunted by his past and the things he had done.
"How many nights will I wake up screamin'? This is getting humiliating. Even when I keep my eyes tightly shut I see it happening all over again."
"Why can't you see? Why won't you try to understand the truth?"
"He was right all along. Ta have power is not ta be strong. I was a power-hungry idiot who fell into that Sovereign's trap. When I agreeded ta that deal, I proved myself weak. Impmon, ya were such a fool ta think power would arrange everything."
He climbed in a tree and when a couple of teenagers neared it, he jumped out of it.
- Bada Boom!
A fireball hit the dirt. Two boys ran away, screaming.
Impmon hung his head.
- That's not even funny anymore. HUH!?
A girl was glaring at him, obviously not impress.
- Think you're scary, do you? I'll show you scary, you demonic troublemaker!
She threw a rock at him.
- WHA? HEY WATCH IT!
She threw another rock at him.
He dodged it.
And another one.
- OWWW!! Stop that ya little brat!
- I heard of you. You're the imp who enjoy terrifying couples, do you? Well, I won't take crap from you!
With that she threw another rock at him and walked away.
- Dammit! No sense of humor whatsoever. That girl should take a chill pill. This world is full of teenage hormone bombs waiting ta go off at any moment. They throw tantrums, scream, cry that they have problems and…
- You fit that description.
- Very funny, bunny-boy!
- I sure hope Ai and Mako don't turn out ta be like that. Defusing bombs? Not my favorite passtime.
Calumon waved at him.
- Hi, Impmon.
- You can play with us if you want to.
Impmon narrowed his eyes, getting suspicious.
Jeri turned to him.
- Don't you want to play with us, Impmon?
His eyes widened and he ran away.
- What's wrong with him?
Guilmon looked at him.
- I dunno, Takato, but he looked pretty scared.
- Come on, Guilmon. That's Impmon we're talking about.
Jeri picked up the backpack containing their lunch.
- He looked so sad too. Something's troubling him. We have to find him.
Impmon ran and ran, not even knowing where he was going.
"Damn flashbacks! When will it stop?"
He saw it happening all over again. He stabbed Leomon and the Digimon fell backward. The leonine Digimon started to dissolve into data. Jeri wailed and screamed. Then he saw something else, something he hadn't seen before. He was playing with the Digimon and the tamers when suddenly, Jeri fell backward, a bloody hole in her chest.
He sank to his knees and hung his head.
"Accidents can happen anytime. What if she got hurt or worse? Or any of them for that matter? I don't want ta hurt anybody else. I don't want ta cause pain and grief."
He heard voices behind him.
- I think he went that way.
- Are you sure?
- He's there! Impmon!
Impmon ran away.
- Impmon, wait!
- Wait for us!
- Aww, man, what kind of batteries are you running on? Energizer?
The small purple Digimon just kept running and running. A sob escaped him, he couldn't stop the tears from flowing and he made no effort to wipe them.
"I can't take it anymore. I just want da flashbacks and da nightmares to stop!"
"Then you know what you have to do. You can't run forever, Beelzemon."
That voice sounded familiar but he was so upset and tired that he couldn't remember whose voice it was. He felt a presence too, though he couldn't tell where it was.
- Come on, show yourself! I'm having a bad. Don't toy with me!
"I am not toying with you, Beelzemon and I can't show myself."
That was it! After everything he'd been through, he had a right to be angry.
- What's this about, huh? Who are you?
"I told you once,"to have power is not to be strong", but you didn't listen."
Impmon's eyes widened.
"You know now that I was telling the truth. You've learned from your mistakes."
- No! No!
Impmon sank to his knees, shaking and sobbing.
- Just leave me alone, please! Just leave me alone! No more torture, just please go away!
"Be at peace, Beelzemon."
As Leomon's spirit said that, Impmon was filled with inner peace. He knew it wouldn't last, but he was willing to take as much as he could. Anything was better than crushing pain.
"I was telling the truth, so you know I won't lie to you. I can help you but only if you take my advice."
- Which is?
"Go back to them. Stop running away. Stop lying to yourself and pretending you don't need anyone."
- I can't.
"Yes, you can."
- No! I can't go back ta them, ever. I can't risk hurting anybody else.
"Listen to me, Beelzemon. You can't spend the rest of your life worrying like that. You won't hurt them. You've become a kind and gentle Mon. You've made mistakes, but we all make mistakes. The important thing is to not repeat the same ones. You can also learn from others."
- So we're not destined ta repeat the same mistakes?
"No, we always have a choice. There's always a way to avoid the pain and that's not running away. That's dealing with it. It's the only way to heal."
- But I'm sick and tired of it.
"If you run away, it will just get worse and worse. Go back to them and accept their friendhip, their support. Only then will you start healing, and be whole again."
- Okay, I will.
Even Calumon the most enthusiastic of them all was tired. They sat for a moment, trying to catch their breath. Jeri was worried.
- Where did he go?
Henry turned to her.
- I don't know, but I've never seen him like this.
- What are you guys doing?
They all jumped to their feet. Rika and Renamon were there. Takato looked at them.
- Oh, Hi, Rika. We were looking for Impmon.
Renamon looked worried.
- Is he in trouble?
- You mean in trouble as in "he is in danger" or in trouble as in "he did something wrong"?
- You tell me.
- I don't think he's in danger. And as far as we know, he didn't do anything wrong. He was in the park, scared a couple of teenagers as ususal, but that was just a prank. And then, a girl threw some rocks at him and left and he started complaining about humans. He was just himself, you know.
- "Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way, and never again."
Rika looked at her.
- That's Hermann Hesse you're quoting. Something you want to tell me?
The vulpine Digimon shrugged.
- Your grandmother taught me to read and lent me one of her books. What happened after that, Takato?
Jeri looked at her, her eyes full of worry.
- I only asked him if he wanted to play with us. He looked at me with wide eyes and ran away. He seemed so upset, so sad.
Renamon crossed her arms and closed her eyes.
- Mmm. I see.
Takato seemed worried as well.
- Renamon, what on Earth is going on? Have you talked to him?
The vulpine Digimon shook her head.
- No, but…
She was interrupted by an exasperated Rika.
- Jeez, you guys are so slow. Haven't you figured it out yet? He's still mad with guilt and sorrow. Guilt over killing Leomon, Jeri's Digimon partner. And sorrow for the pain he caused her. He probably hates himself right now.
Takato turned to them.
- Well, we gotta find him and talk to him.
Jeri nodded. Henry looked the other way and gasped.
- Guys, I think we have a bigger problem right now. We have company.
A Digimon leapt in front of them, a few feet away and laughed.
Impmon jumped on his feet. He was ready to go back to the others, but he had to find them first. He was lost in thoughts when he heard a loud scream.
He started to glow and digivolved to Beelzemon, then he took flight. He soared through the sky and found the others just in time. A wild Digimon was about to attack them. He landed next to the others.
Rika took her D-Power.
- SkullMeramon, Flame type Digimon, Ultimate level.
Takato's eyes widened.
- Yeah, now I remember. In the TV show, one of Myotismon's minions was a SkullMeramon. Don't use fire attacks on him, it just makes him stronger and larger!
Henry looked determined.
- Are you ready, Terriermon?
- Mmm hmm!
Takato looked at Guilmon.
- And you, Guilmon?
- Let's go!
- Guilmon digivolve to… Growlmon!
- Terriermon digivolve to… Gargomon!
- Renamon digivolve to… Kyubimon!
Beelzemon was about to take flight and attack SkullMeramon, but Renamon stopped him.
- Stay here and protect Jeri!
- Dragon slash!
- Gargo laser!
SkullMeramon laughed at them.
- Flame chain!
Growlmon and Terriermon screamed in pain as SkullMeramon whipped them with his chain.
Kyubimon turned to Rika.
- I can't help them. When I'm Kyubimon, I only have fire attacks.
Beelzemon shielded Jeri and clenched his teeth.
He turned to Henry.
- Get her out of here, I'm gonna fight!
Wha? But… Gargomon…
Gargomon clenched his teeth.
- Do as he says, Henry! He's a mega Digimon and we need all the help we can get!
Henry took Jeri's hand and led her away.
Beelzemon took flight.
Takato yelled at the top of his lungs so the Digimon could hear him.
- DIGIVOLVE TO ULTIMATE LEVEL AND HELP HIM!
- I DON'T NEED HELP!
- Growlmon Matrix digivolve to… WarGrowlmon!
- Gargomon Matrix digivolve to… Rapidmon!
- Kyubimon Matrix digivolve to… Taomon!
Beelzemon drew a pentagram.
- Corona destroyer!
SkullMeramon laughed at him.
- You're a fool, Beelzemon! I'll show you what a real Digimon can do! Metal fireball!
Beelzemon tried to dodge but it was too fast. Burning hot liquid metal hit one of his wing and he fell, screaming in agony.
Takato, Henry and Rika looked at him in horror, screaming his name. SkullMeramon laughed maniacally.
- I will destroy you all!
- Atomic blaster!
- Rapid Fire!
- Flame chain!
They dodged and jumped at him. Even as the horrible pain shot through his wing, Beelzemon tried to take flight, but his efforts did not avail. Takato, Henry and Rika grabbed him and told him not to move.
WarGrowlmon looked at Rapidmon.
- Let's attack him together!
- Mmm hmm!
- Atomic blaster!
- Rapid fire!
- Thousand spells!
SkullMeramon dissolved into data. WarGrowlmon, Rapidmon and Taomon reverted back to Rookie level.
- WE DID IT!!
Calumon looked at Beelzemon.
- Are you gonna be okay?
- Leave me alone!
- Oww, no need to be mean!
Henry went to Jeri and told her she didn't need to hide anymore. Calumon jumped on her shoulder. She smiled at him. Then she saw Beelzemon.
- What happened?
Calumon looked at her.
- That big, mean Digimon hurted him. Burning hot liquid metal hit one of his wings. He can't fly. And he's in a mood.
- Well, wouldn't you be?
She hated it when a Digimon got hurt. And the thought of Beelzemon getting hurt was unbearable to her. Once, he had nearly died trying to save her. She approached him and looked at him.
- How bad are you hurt, Beelzemon?
His eyes widened and he looked away.
- Beelzemon, please, say something.
"What do you want me ta say, Jeri? That I'm sorry? That's not good enough. I can't ever make up for what I did. I wish I could change da past, but I can't."
The others joined them. He clenched his teeth. He just wanted to be left alone. He didn't want them to make a fuss over his wound. Besides, he was injured, tired and humiliated. He thought that any minute now the tamers and Digimon would laugh at him because that loud mouth "I don't need any help" Mega had been beaten in a heartbeat by an Ultimate Digimon.
Takato was standing right in front of him.
- We need to talk.
- He's right.
Jeri's eyes stung as they filled with tears, but she fought them back.
- Beelzemon, I know you still feel bad about what you did.
"That's an understatement."
- But don't let it destroy you. You can't keep torturing yourself like that.
- I don't have ta. Da flashbacks and da nightmares do da job just fine.
- I don't hate you. None of us do. And I'm not mad at you. I know you weren't yourself when you killed Leomon. Life has been cruel to you, I know that. You wanted the power to digivolve because you wanted to get strong enough so nobody could hurt you ever again. You were sick and tired of being walked all over. And you wanted to make sure that it would never happen again. Answer truthfully, am I right?
"When he told me that ta have power was not ta be strong, I couldn't accept it. Not after everything I'd been through. I know better now. Causing pain and grief is not worth it. It's too high a price ta pay. But I killed Leomon and I might as well use my power ta digivolve ta protect Jeri and fight the forces of evil. If I use that power ta do good and keep both world safe, then maybe I can honor Leomon and find some peace."
- Am I right, Beelzemon?
He nodded affirmatively.
- That sovereign manipulated you, used you, used your pain and despair against you. He's more guilty than you'll ever be. But it's time to start living on. Rehearsing over and over that you are hopelessly stupid and helplessly flawed is not gonna help. And that's so not true. Excessive guilt and sorrow can only lead to depression, despair and defeat. Sometimes, it leads to destruction. Don't make the same mistakes I made.
"You can also learn from others."
- look at me. I'm getting better, I even smile. Life is too short to live in the past. We have to move on, Beelzemon.
She was trying to reach out to him and he was listening to her.
- And we're not alone. We have lots of friends. You can count on us, on me. I believe in you and I always will. You are my friend and I will never let you down.
He stared at her with wide eyes.
- So, what do you say?
He looked at her with a genuine smile.
- I say… thank you.
He winced and tried to wrap his wings protectively around himself, but that just caused more pain to shoot through his wing. She looked worried.
- Don't move. Rika, do you still have that first-aid kit?
- Jeri's right, Beelzemon. You can count on us.
- Let us know if you need anything.
Guilmon and Calumon laughed joyfully.
- And you can play with us anytime you want.
"Accept their frienship, their support. Only then will you start healing, and be whole again."
The others gathered together to talk about the recent events.
Jeri approached Beelzemon with the first-aid kit.
- Let me take a look at it.
He shook his head.
- No need ta make a fuss about it.
- Oh, all right.
She touched the feathery (feathered) wing and gasped.
- What? What is it?
- Oh, nothing. I just didn't expect it to be that silky.
He brightened, a pleased smile upon his face.
- What about that wound? Is it bad?
- I'm not sure. Some of the feathers are covered in liquid metal. I think it's best to remove them. I can't see how bad it is.
- Do it.
- Will they grow back?
- I'm sorry.
He clenched his teeth.
- Do what you must.
When the damaged feathers were removed, she took a good look at the wound. She seemed relieved.
- It's not as bad as it looks. You were lucky. I know it hurts a lot, but the damage is limited to a small portion of the wing. You have blisters but nothing alarming. No flying until the wound is completely healed.
He hunged his head.
- I can't stand being useless.
She looked him in the eyes.
- You're not. You need time to heal. You have a lot of wounds to heal, you know what I'm talking about. And don't you think it's time to make peace with yourself? It's not a bad thing to retreat and take care of yourself, Beelzemon. You have Ai and Mako to keep you company. And we'll come and visit.
- Don't worry, I know how you feel. You want to fight and help us, but first you need to heal. And now, I will apply soothing balm to that wound on your wing. It might hurt a little, just stay still.
Beelzemon had reverted back to Impmon.
- I'm home, kids.
Ai and Mako ran to him and hugged him tight. He winced.
- Easy, toots. I'm hurt.
Ai looked at him.
- Are you gonna be okay?
- We didn't fight today, not once.
- I'm proud of you two.
Mako went to the kitchen and Ai sat on the sofa next to Impmon.
- We figured you'd be hungry when you'd come home. So we made you a snack.
They ate and then, Impmon looked so tired that Ai and Mako brought a blanket and covered him with it, wished him good night and went to bed.
"To be at peace with yourself is to be strong."
"Peace be with you, my friend."
- Da same ta you, Leomon. Da same ta you.
Jeri smiled as she opened her treasure box. Each and every one of her treasures reminded her of someone. A letter her mom had written to her, a picture Takato had drawn, a bracelet Calumon had found and given to her as a gift, a Digimon card with a picture of Leomon and a black, silky feather. A feather taken from the wing of a kind-hearted fallen angel. An affectionate smile played upon her lips as she carefully put the feather back into the box.
"He's a wonderful friend."