Disclaimer: I own Digimon. Really. And I've got this nice bridge I'd like to sell...

Erm, Okay most of this takes place nine years after the end of the second season. I'm ignoring most of
episode 50 except the bits I like. Like Ken being a PI and Iori becoming a lawyer. Other than that, continuity
can pretty much go to hell.
Ken and Miyako...*shudders*...Not in *my* world...

This places their ages at:

Iori: Eighteen
Takeru, Hikari, and Daisuke: Twenty
Miyako and Ken: Twenty-one
Koushiro: Twenty-two
Taichi, Yamato, and Sora: Twenty-three
Jyou: Twenty-four

I have no plans to use Mimi at the moment, but if I do, she's twenty-two.

Let me know if you think I'm mistaken on anyone's age.

The Ghost


~Nine years ago~

Jyou Kido had lived his entire life for other people.

When his father had decided that Jyou would be a doctor, Jyou had given in without a whisper of protest--
even though he hated the idea.
.He worked hard for the perfect A average his parents wanted him to have, and when a friend needed a
shoulder to lean on or someone to just listen, good ol' Jyou was always there.

It was generally assumed that Jyou would live an average, quiet sort of life-finish school, accept a position at a respectable hospital, marry a nice girl, have a couple of kids, and be..well..normal.

Nobody ever thought to ask *Jyou* if that was what *he* wanted.

And no one ever stopped to wonder if maybe, just maybe, Jyou needed someone to listen to *him*.

Jyou Kido was sick of living his life for other people.

***********************

~Present day~

Ken surveyed his office with a vague sense of deja vu...the room was full of the Japanese digidestined, both
those he had kept in touch with and those he hadn't seen in years. It was intensely reminiscent of the
'destined meetings they used to have at Koushiro's place when he was twelve.

Nine years...God, had it been that long?

Ken Ichijouji was quite probably the best private investigator money could buy...and he would have been
the first to admit that it was largely because of the connections he'd kept with the digidestined. Even so, it
had been ages since they had all been in the same room.

Well, almost all..Ken winced as he was reminded why, nine years ago, the 'destined had stopped holding
regular meetings and drifted apart. It was just too painful to see that empty seat at every meeting, and know
that Jyou wasn't just late, or busy. Know that his seat would remain empty because he was gone...maybe
forever.

A glance towards the far corner calmed him as he confirmed that Daisuke was indeed raiding his
fridge..again.
Daisuke was his oldest and best friend, and the two were just as inseparable now as they'd always been.
It helped that Daisuke had joined the Odaiba police force the year after he graduated high school. The police
were frequently in need of a good consulting detective, and it was nice to have a reliable source in the
police force as well.

Ken's lips twitched as his best friend attempted to inhale three egg rolls at once...Daisuke had once told him
that free donuts were well worth the danger of being shot..he'd laughed at the time, but he had little doubt
that Daisuke meant it.

Seated at Ken's computer, Koushiro cleared his throat, calling the meeting to order and effectively ending
the various stumbling conversations and awkward silences of old friends no longer sure where they stood
with one another.

"I'm sure you're all wondering why Ken and I called you here...," he trailed off, waiting for the questions
he knew were coming.

As he so often had in the past, Taichi spoke for the group, "Well, you gotta admit, it is a little unusual...why
would Ken need our help on a case? He calls on you for computer related stuff all the time and most of
the others have been called in when he needs insight in an area they're an expert on..but..*all* of us?"

Daisuke brushed crumbs off his shirt and spoke up, "This is about the ghost, isn't it?"

"Ghost?"

Daisuke shook his head, "Not 'ghost' as in haunted houses and graveyards, 'ghost' as in the thief that's
been driving every cop in Japan nuts for the past five years. Ken's been consulting on the case."

Ken nodded when heads turned towards him for confirmation, "They call this thief the ghost because he..or
she..doesn't leave any evidence, not a fingerprint, not a hair, most of the time we don't even know how he
entered or left the building."

Iori frowned, "Exactly what does this have to do with us? If it were a matter of legal protocol or legislation,
you know I'd help..but *catching* a thief...?"

Ken hid a smirk, the eighteen year old had 'law school' written all over him, and wanted everyone to know
it.

Koushiro directed everyone's attention towards his computer, "*This* is why."

Taichi and Iori both stepped in to peer at the screen while Daisuke craned his neck behind them.

Takeru, still seated on the couch, didn't bother trying to get a closer look, "What is it?"

Koushiro steepled his fingers and explained for those who couldn't see the screen, "It's a snippet of a
conversation between a thief-who we believe to be the ghost-and someone we assume is a fence. The
reason this concerns all of us is that this conversation was held on a secure channel *I* set up...almost ten
years ago...for the digidestined."

*********************************

~Flashback~

~Eight years and seven months ago~

The bar was dark and ramshackle, situated in one the worst neighborhoods around, and the man with lank
silver hair eyed the other customers with hard eyes. Bored, he settled his attention on a slender teen with
dark shoulder-length hair.

Lazily he contemplated the boy's dirty, disheveled appearance, from his tangled hair to the furtive way he
clutched his glass of water. He wondered how long the boy had been on the streets and how long it had
been since his last meal.

As he watched, the boy cast a wary glance behind him and for a moment he saw the kid's face. Beneath the
grime and the smudged glasses he wore, the boy was surprisingly beautiful. His features were fine and his
eyes were dark and expressive. The man sat up a bit, no longer bored.

The man knew that if you gave a boy stolen money, he'd eat for a day, but if you taught a boy to steal he'd
eat for a lifetime, and be grateful. Very grateful. Maybe grateful enough to keep a lonely thief company on
all those long, cold nights.

And, if not, he'd learn to be.

As he stood and moved closer to the boy he grinned. It was not a nice grin.

Not a nice grin at all.

~End Flashback~

******************************

~Ken's office: Present day~

Taichi seemed slightly confused by the air of seriousness Koushiro was projecting, "All right, so somebody hacked one of our old forums. So?"

The redhead threw him an annoyed look, "Do you really think someone could hack something *I* set up?," his tone of voice said, very clearly, that this was not only impossible but completely inconceivable.

"Well, Kou, you *were* only thirteen...I'm sure nothing you set up *now* could be hacked, but, well..."

Koushiro looked deeply insulted by the insinuation, "It *wasn't* hacked. Trust me on this. These people had the password...it hasn't been changed since I set it up, because no one's *used* it in years."

Hikari placed a hand on her brother's arm--silencing whatever he'd been about to say--and slipped gracefully into the conversation, "Are you suggesting that one of us is the thief?"

She was looking at Koushiro when she spoke but Ken knew the question was directed at him, "No. Not at all.," he lied, "But..unless one of us gave that password away..there was a digidestined involved somewhere along the line. I need to know who."

Silence fell for a long stunned moment as the enormity of the situation sunk in. Then the first digidestined meeting to be held in nine years broke up in pandemonium.

***************************

~Tokyo: Three months ago~

Slender fingers worked the tumbler, midnight eyes narrowed in concentration behind wire-framed glasses, the thief known simply as 'the ghost' listened carefully for the clicks he needed to hear.

It wasn't the life he'd planned on when he'd been younger, but things change...and so do people.

By the time the night watchman's rounds brought him back to the safe the room was empty and undisturbed, and the thief was four million in diamonds richer.

And if the surveillance camera had captured the swish of blue hair like silk, confined in a loose braid-no one would ever know it: the fresh tape the thief had left in the camera showed nothing at all.

****************************

~TBC~