There was a long silence from inside the room. There was nothing to be heard. After several long minutes, the lock clicked. The door creaked open, flooding lightly into the dark room. Davis stood on the other side of the door, sweat dripping down the side of his face and his arms now completely empty. Ken took a cautious step forward and placed his hand on the other boy's shoulder. "Davis? Davis, can you hear me?"
"Yeah, I-I'm fine," Davis said, offering a smile. He stepped out of the doorway and turned around to close the door behind him, exposing what looked like a gash of dark energy that had appeared down the back of his neck.
"Davis..." Ken began, still careful. He remembered this happening to him. The change was far from instantaneous, but the hosts were still susceptible to tantrums if provoked enough. "I need to wrap your neck. You have a nasty gash back there."
"It'll be fine," Davis said with a wave of his hand.
"Look," Pinamon gasped. It seemed as if the energy was being sucked into his skin, the energy spinning as if down a drain, the gash slowly getting smaller.
Ken watched with sad, guilty eyes. "Oh, Davis... You didn't have to do that..."
"It seemed like the best idea at the time," Davis said, coming to touch the back of his neck, making what was left of the dark energy spread from his fingers in smoky wisps. He turned back around and let out a gentle laugh. "Hurt a bit more than I thought it would, though."
Ken nodded meekly. "It hurts a lot. I thought I was going to throw up when it happened to me." Unable to fight his instincts, Ken threw his arms around Davis in a hug. "What do we do now?"
"I don't know," Davis said quietly, biting his lip a bit. "If this ever happened... I asked Taichi to have a place in his home open for you. I don't want you to stay here and get hurt."
"I'm not leaving," Ken insisted and tightened his hold. "You never gave up on me. I'm not about to give up on you."
"You have to," Davis said with a shake of his head. "I don't want you to get hurt and I certainly don't want to be the one to do it. Besides, the other chosen children need to know what's going on and I can't go and tell them. Plus..." he looked down at Chibimon, Wormmon, and Pinamon at his feet. "These guys all have homes much better than this place and they need to go to before something bad happens."
"No!" Ken said again, shaking his head firmly. "I'm staying with you!"
Davis let out a long breath, his shoulders squaring up a little. "I guess I can't stop you. Just promise me you'll get out of here if it gets dangerous."
Ken lifted his head. "Davis, when I was the Kaiser, I wanted nothing more than to have someone with me. I needed another human around. That's why I'm going to stay, but... I promise to leave if it gets too dangerous."
Davis nodded thankfully. "Good." He'd gone back to rubbing his neck, again laughing, attempting to lighten the mood as he said, "The good news is, there's no shell or yolk to clean up."
The pale boy laughed weakly. "That's always a plus." He looked at the door Davis had just closed and had a thought. "Why don't we... Deactivate the rings, Davis?"
Davis hesitated. "Why?"
"Well... Don't you think the Digimon should be set free? Deactivating the rings and spirals will give them their freedom will back."
"That's true, but..." Davis said, rubbing the back of his neck. "As long as you're still here... don't you think it could be dangerous to let them loose? They'll want to come after you."
Ken looked down and then back up. "I'm not the Kaiser anymore, though."
"They don't know that," Davis said with a small frown. "And trying to explain that to every Digimon won't turn out so well. Besides, even if they did understand, they may not care."
"But don't they deserve to be set free?" Ken asked. "Whether I free them now or later, won't they have the same feelings?"
"If we let them go when you're already back in the real world, then we won't have a problem with them hurting you," Davis said firmly. "I'm not going to let them go until you're out of here, where they can't come after you."
Except Ken really wanted to do this. "But... If we set them free, they must realize I'm not the Kaiser anymore. If I was, why would I let them go?"
"Is that really what they're going to be thinking when they get let go?" Davis asked, folding his hands behind his back. "They won't care why you let them go. They're just going to storm the citadel."
"So... So they have to stay mindless prisoners?" Ken hung his head in disappointment. "I'm finally back in control of myself and I feel totally helpless."
"We'll eventually get to a time when it'll be okay. We'll work piece by piece and figure out a safe way to let them go," Davis said with a shake of his head, reaching forward and putting his hands on Ken's shoulders.
Ken nodded. "All right. So, in the meantime... What do we do? Even if we don't set the Digimon free, maybe we can try fixing the Digital World." He put on a hopeful smile. "That way it will be really nice for them."
"Alright," Davis said with a smile. "We'll get to planning that, then."
Ken nodded again. "It's a bit late, though. Maybe we should sleep on it and begin work tomorrow."
"That's fine with me," Davis said with a smile. "C'mon." He gestured back towards the bedroom, and soon led the pack back to it. "We'll work on moving you guys back into the bedroom," Davis said decidedly to the Digimon. "We'll make you guys beds instead of nests. Unless you want to keep your nest, Wormmon," Davis said suddenly.
"Either option is fine with me, Davis. Thank you," Wormmon responded.
Davis opened the door to Wormmon's room, and the little green Digimon went inside, with Pinamon close on his tail. Davis looked down at Chibimon, looking up at him with big, sad red eyes. He crouched down and picked the Digimon up, hugging him gently. "Get a good night's sleep, Chibimon."
Chibimon nuzzled up under Davis' chin. "Are you sure you feel okay, Davis?" he squeaked.
"I feel fine, Chibimon," Davis said quietly. "Get some rest. You did an awesome job today."
"You'll let me know if you start to feel funny, right?"
"Of course, Chibimon," Davis said as he put the Digimon down, patting him on the head. "I'll let you know right away."
"Good." He scampered into the room then and settled into his nest.
Ken followed Davis to the bedroom, but he stopped about halfway in. "Oh, right... There's only one bed. I guess I can take a pillow and sleep in the tub."
"Don't worry about that," Davis said with a wave of his hand. "It's big enough for us to share."
"You sure you don't mind? I know I'm not the Kaiser anymore. You share a bed with someone you love... Not me." Ken tucked some hair behind his ear only for his fingers to keep moving and slip through the full length of his locks. Indigo eyes watched as his hair fell, seeming awed and even a little confused.
"Yeah, but it's your bed. I'm not gonna kick you out of it." Davis said, going over to the bed and sitting down on its side, only to notice that Ken was curiously playing with his hair. "Don't remember growing it out?" he asked.
"Not particularly..." he answered. "I don't know all the details exactly. I saw some things happen, but didn't necessarily feel them."
"Apparently I told you I liked it long at one point, and you kept it like that," Davis said with a quiet laugh, putting his hands behind his head and laying back onto the pillows.
Ken looked shyly up at Davis. "Do you still like it?"
"It still looks nice," Davis said with a smile and nod.
Do you like it better up or down?"
"Well... I'm used to seeing it in a ponytail, but it always looked good down, too," Davis said, shrugging slightly, only for a yawn to break through his lips. Even though he hadn't been up for much time at all, he suddenly felt very tired.
Ken smiled and crawled into the bed beside Davis. "I think I'll wear it down then." He moved in close at first, but then moved back on a second thought. "Sorry..."
"It's okay," Davis said as he looked over at Ken. "Just do what you feel comfortable with. I'm alright with it."
"You don't know me yet," Ken said with a slight shake of his head. "It wouldn't be right. I just know you so well. I keep forgetting."
"Alright," Davis said with a nod. "Let's just get some sleep, then," he said as another yawn broke through his lips.
"Okay..." Ken leaned over and stole a peck on Davis' cheek before scurrying back over to his side of the bed and curling up in the sheets. Davis put a hand on his cheek, looking over at Ken only to see him hiding in the sheets. He rolled his eyes with a smile and turned over as well. It didn't take long at all for him to drift off to sleep. The room was quiet for a long while, until Davis suddenly began to move. He began to twitch and whimper quietly, the sounds steadily getting louder. Ken was sleeping soundly until he felt the mattress moving and the sheets shifting. He sat up and looked at the other boy; the distressed and scared sounds making him frown. "Davis?" Ken reached out and gently shook him. "Davis, wake up. You're having a bad dream."
"No!" Davis suddenly shouted. His hands moved as if restricted, trying to reach at something he was dreaming, writhing and starting to yell.
"Davis!" Ken put both hands on the other boy, shaking him a bit harder now. "Davis, wake up! Wake up!" Davis wouldn't wake up. He continued to scream until he finally fell limp. Once he did, he began to mumble under his breath, turning one way, then the other, before his hand came to grip Ken's leg. He continued to whimper and mumble, his legs kicking for a while before they suddenly became stiff, as if locked into place, and he screamed once more as he back arched, like it had been hit. Ken's hands flew to his mouth, eyes wide. "No... Oh God no!" He at once wrapped his arms around Davis and pulled him up, holding him. It was all Ken knew how to do. "It'll be okay, Davis. This will be over soon. It's okay... I'm here..."
Hours went by. Davis continued to writhe and scream, gripping at Ken's shirt, shaking his head. He made strange, animalistic noises, arms and legs locked in place, back arching with every whimper of pain. He was sweating and his voice was nearly gone when he finally seemed to calm. He reached himself up, shakily placing a kiss on Ken's jaw. "M-... m-master," came breathlessly through his lips before he finally collapsed back into calm sleep.
Silent tears fell from Ken's eyes. Was this how Davis felt watching the Kaiser suffer? Why did anybody have to feel like this anymore? "Not anymore," Ken whispered. He stroked Davis' cheek and kissed his forehead. "You don't have a master anymore." When morning came, Davis woke, almost perfectly at the crack of dawn. His eyes snapped open, his breathing suddenly picking up only to calm down again. He looked around, swallowing and then glancing up. He was curled up in Ken's arms. The other boy was laying back against the pillows, having fallen asleep when Davis finally drifted into a calm rest himself. There were tear stains still running down the pale boy's face. Davis exhaled and lifted his hand up, wiping away what was left of his tears. Ken flinched slightly. Even though he was asleep, he was still tuned to any sounds or movements Davis might make. Not quite sure what Davis was doing, Ken reached to grab Davis' hand, holding it gently. "Sshhh... It's okay..." he said wearily. "It's okay. I'm here."
"Ken," Davis said quietly, almost whispering. "Ken, I had a dream."
"I know. I know you did." Ken breathed slowly. "And I'm sorry."
"Was that..." he breathed. "Was that really the first day I got captured?" he asked, as he touched his neck subconsciously, where the Dark Ring had first been clamped. "I remember it all so vividly now."
Ken choked, but nodded. "I'm so... so... so sorry..."
"Don't apologize... that was a long time ago," Davis said with a shake of his head.
"But I am," Ken said. "I'm so deeply sorry, Davis. I was a monster. You... You should hate me." Despite his words, Ken drew Davis closer, tucking the boy beneath his chin protectively. "I don't know how I can ever atone for my sins."
"You know... you started to do a pretty good job, even as the Kaiser," Davis murmured. He didn't push Ken away, just allowed himself to be pulled closer. He felt like he'd barely gotten any sleep at all. "Now that you're Ken, it should just be worlds easier."
"What... What do you mean? I didn't do anything."
"You may not remember, but the Kaiser tried so hard to be someone I could love, Ken," Davis said. "The Kaiser tried everything possible. He let me go from the Dark Spiral because I told him I wanted to love him for real, and he gave me anything I asked for as long as I stayed with him in return."
"Yes, but... You loved him. I'm not the Kaiser anymore, Davis. His love for you was the same as mine, but your love for him is not the same for me. Whatever you loved about him... Is probably gone now."
"Are you suggesting that I loved the psychotic part?" Davis asked, quirking his brow.
Ken shook his head. "No, no, of course not, but... Our personalities were different. The Kaiser had a sharp tongue, a firm hand, a regality about him. Me..." He absently pet Davis' hair. "I'm only a meek boy with a gentle heart and all too frail body."
"I'm sure you guys share some similarities," Davis said, leaning his head into Ken's chest. "And I guarantee you that I'll know them when I see them."
"I... I'll do my best to give you the things you want too, Davis. Regardless of anything, I do love you. I have loved you for a long time."
Davis smiled slightly, nodding his head. "That's something," he said. They sat there in silence for a long time before Davis spoke again. "Do you think I should tell Chibimon about my dream?"
Ken shrugged gently. "I don't know the answer to that question, Davis. It all depends on your relationship with him. I know... that if it was me... I would tell Wormmon, but like said... that's me."
"I just don't want to worry him," Davis said with a gentle frown. "If he knew that something was already happening... he wouldn't even think about leaving me to go back to the real world."
"He wouldn't leave you anyway," Ken said. "You know that."
"I know, but... it would just be so much better for him if he did. He wouldn't get hurt..."
"Our Digimon love us so much deeper than we know, Davis. I never wanted Wormmon to get hurt, but he did, and he did it because he loves me. Chibimon is going to do the same for you."
"All he ever did was sacrifice himself for me," Davis said with a frown. "And now I can never return the favor. The best I can do is try to convince him to get out before it's too late. That way, I'm at least trying to keep him safe."
"Being with us is all they ever want, Davis," Ken said. "They waited for us for a long time. What could have been one hundred years for all we know. When you wait that long for someone, you are never going to let them go..."
Davis exhaled and nodded slightly. "I guess you're right... he just deserves better."
"They all deserve better, Davis."
Davis nodded, before throwing his head back with a sigh. "I'm still tired," he murmured, obviously showing that he was done with the subject.
"You should go back to sleep," Ken suggested quietly. "I'll stay here with you. I promise." Davis swallowed slightly. What if he had that dream again? He thought about it for a few moments before shaking his head adamantly. There was no way he could have such a vivid dream a second time. And with that, he gave Ken a nod and slowly let himself slip back into slumber.
Ken sat at the vanity Davis allowed him to keep. It had been a few weeks since the other boy had been infected, but already Davis was suffering... changing. He was even reformatting the citadel to his image. While there were days Ken had braided his hair, it was now worn down at all times at Davis' firm insistence. Ken knew better than anyone not to go against Davis. He'd been on that side before and knew how angry and violent he could get if told no. So he sat there brushing the incredibly long locks he was still amazed by. "Maybe we should see about restoring some foliage to the area," Ken suggested.
Davis was standing in front of the closet, debating his clothing for the day. He'd taken to only dressing in white. Everything else had been thrown into a box and stashed at the back of the closet. Now he was sliding white pants up over white boxers. "I've got a better idea in the works," Davis said curtly as he began to push the hangers from side to side to pick his shirt.
"Oh?" Ken looked over his shoulder toward the voice coming from the closet. "What sort of idea?"
"You'll see," Davis said as he finally picked a white muscle shirt and put it on. He then sauntered over to the vanity, leaning against the back of Ken's chair and fixing his own hair in the mirror. His eyes were nearly bloodshot and bags were forming beneath them because he barely ever got a wink of sleep. Every night he relived another day that he'd forgotten while under the control of the Dark Ring, and he always woke up feeling as if he hadn't even slept.
Ken hated seeing Davis like this. If he'd known being infected by Millenniummon would cause shared memories, Ken would have never allowed Davis to take the egg. Davis was changing, and fast. While Ken still managed more sleep than the other, he suffered his own hours of holding a terrified Davis in his arms, cradling the dark-skinned boy and hushing him gently. Ken wasn't so sure four years worth of night terrors was survivable. "I was thinking... Maybe if you fall asleep listening to music, you won't have so many nightmares."
"Music?" Davis asked, quirking a brow with a frown. "How would that help?" He brushed back his spiky hair, frowning at it as it bounced back into place. He tried to scruff it up, but that just made it worse and he sighed, rolling his shoulders back.
"It can distract you," Ken explained. "Listening to music as you fall asleep can alter your brainwave patterns so that you think about something else. Sleeping in silence invites the steady habit of memories, but music can change the pattern of subconscious thinking." He watched Davis struggle with his hair. "What do you want it to look like?" Ken asked.
"Dunno," Davis said with a frown. "Just... not like normal. I dunno." He then let his mind drift back to the music idea. "That might be a good idea. I'll try that." He yawned, but shook it off. "I'll try and get some more work done on the citadel today. I'm almost done with it."
Ken smiled. "Here, maybe I can help." He dug through one of the drawers and pulled out a canister of hair gel. "I used this back when my hair was short." Dipping his fingers into the stuff, Ken then began to mold Davis' hair. He smoothed it back on the sides, even catching all the feathered strands, and then the top was smoothed forward creating a short bang that turned up just slightly off his forehead. "Do you like that?"
Davis peered into a mirror, and a smarmy grin cracked across his face. "Yeah, I dig it. Much better," he said with a laugh, running his fingertips over the smoothed back hairs. "You'll have to teach me how to do that myself later."
"I'd be happy to." Ken put the gel on the vanity top and followed Davis out of their room. "All the changes you've been making are really nice, Davis. All the dark metals were so depressing before."
"Mhm, this suits the place much better," Davis said as they emerged into the hall. He'd turned all of the dark steel white. White carpet on the floors and white wallpaper on the walls. "I'm thinking of putting some gold in today," he said as he began to walk towards the control room. They'd tried sitting Ken down at the controls once, a week or so ago, but the boy had found he couldn't remember everything that went into working the thing. That was enough invitation for Davis to pick up the controls and start making his own choices. "And all the water outside is almost gone, so I can start working outside soon, too." He watched as a Gazimon passed them by and made a face. "I can look into putting these guys back where they belong and getting some new Digimon to help out around here, too. Maybe some Gatomon or Tapirmon or something."
Ken found that comment to be a bit strange. He found all of this to be a bit strange, actually. It seemed so unusual for Millenniummon's possessed personality to go from one extreme to the other. While Ken had been pure evil and dark, Davis seemed to be on the other end of the spectrum; obsessed with pure good and light. "Davis... How do you feel about some Patamon?" he asked experimentally.
"Patamon would be nice, though I don't think they'd be very good at carrying things," Davis said with a shrug as they continued to walk along. "But some Angemon guards to replace the Apemon would be good..."
"What about Kudamon? Loillmon?"
"Yeah, yeah," Davis said with a grin, nodding. "Those would be good too. I wonder how easy it would be to find some..." he pondered as they came upon the control room. He swung the door open and flicked on the lights, which was something that never happened in that room before Davis had taken over. Normally, the place was kept totally in shadow. But now it was brilliantly lit, even more so by the giant screens that kicked to light. He'd changed the Kaiser's dismal, dark throne into a golden one and quickly jumped into it, kicking up his feet as he began to turn on all of the systems. "Maybe some Cupimon, too."
"Davis..." Ken came to stand beside the throne, his eyes on the boy rather than the screen. "Do you notice anything about all those Digimon we just listed?"
"Hm? What do you mean?" Davis asked as he brought the keyboard close to his face, starting to type. "They seem like they'd be better company than these jerk Gazimon, if that's what you mean."
"That's it? Not that they're... Holy Beast Digimon?"
"Are they?" Davis asked as he set down a few lines of code, making white carpet pixelate all across the metal floor. "Didn't realize it. I'd like to have some of those around, though."
Ken nodded. "I see... Davis, what kind of vision do you have for the Digital World?" Ken picked his feet up when the floor changed. Davis was making everything so pure, but were his intentions the same?
"I want to fix it. Make it look nice, get rid of all the violence and barrenness that has been the Digital World for so many years," Davis said. "I'm gonna turn it into heaven."
"Heaven..." Ken gasped softly. No, this wasn't good at all. "Davis, we should just put it back the way it was, don't you think? There was nothing wrong with the Digital World before the Kaiser got his hands on it. That's what you need to do. Just set things right again. Don't change anything."
"I think what was wrong with it was that it was able to be corrupted," Davis said with a wave of his finger. "If it's heaven, no one will ever corrupt it again."
"Davis, every heaven has its Lucifer," Ken warned.
Davis just gave Ken an odd look only to shrug his shoulders and lean back in his chair, typing again on the keyboard. "It'll be fine," he said firmly.
"You aren't a god, Davis. You can't protect this world just because you put in a few clouds and a golden gate. Everything here has free will." Ken tried to explain it as calmly and rationally as he could in hopes that Davis would abandon this divine pursuit. "Paradise is unobtainable."
"Don't tell me what's unob... what I can't do!" Davis suddenly snapped, his fingers landing harder on the keys. "I've got a great plan. I've failed the Digital World so many times, and this time I'm going to make sure nothing can go wrong!"
"Even Eden had a snake!" Ken cried. "You won't fail the Digital World by returning its original form. You'll be doing what always needed to be done. Protect that world, not this false paradise."
"Those are stories, Ken. This is real," Davis snorted. "Real life doesn't have a moral to teach, stuff just happens. The good get punished and the bad succeed just based on who has the power." He again waved his finger. "And with me at the helm, that'll be swapped."
"Then..." Ken began, calculating, "if you're good, and in control, then what hope does evil have regardless of whether the Digital World looks like heaven or not?"
"None, I just want it to look that way," Davis said. "Maybe it'll inspire the Digimon to be less violent. Keep them calm. And the Holy Digimon can set a perfect example."
Ken bit his lip. "What will you do with the Digimon who are still... misbehaved?"
"Dunno," Davis murmured with a shrug. "I'll figure something out eventually..."
"When you finish the landscape, do you think we can take their rings and spirals off?"
"Yeah... I'm not a fan of the Dark Rings," Davis said as he pulled up the file that contained the design of the dark device. He frowned at it, pressing a few buttons that made it spin on-screen. "Once I decide what the best way to make sure that everything is secure is, I can get rid of these."
"And we can go outside again?" Ken asked hopefully. Even when trapped in his own body while the Kaiser was in control, Ken longed for the outdoors. Thanks to the flooding, they weren't able to leave the citadel until recently, but even with the waters gone, Davis insisted it wasn't safe. "I want to go walking, Davis."
"Hm? Yeah, of course we can go outside. Once it's safe." Brown eyes looked up at Ken as his fingers pawed across the keys of the keyboard. "I just don't want you to get hurt, Ken. You know that."
Ken nodded. "I do know, Davis, and I appreciate your concern. I really do. I'm just eager to see the outside world again, that's all."
"Don't worry, I'll be done soon. And then we can go outside as much as you want," he murmured, as he pressed another button. On-screen, the black ring turned gold.
The pale boy frowned slightly. "What's that? What are you doing?"
"Just messing around with it," Davis said with a wave of his hand. "I never got to see how this thing really worked..." The on-screen image zoomed in so he could take a look at the inner-workings of the ring and began to spin it around so he could see everything.
Ken bit his lip again. He knew what Davis was really doing. "Controlling them to do good is still controlling them."
Davis cast Ken an annoyed glance. "I know what I'm doing, Ken."
"I'm sorry..." Ken fell quiet then. He folded his hands in front of his body and took to looking down at the floor, the blinding white floor.
Davis continued to work in silence for a while. Some of the changes couldn't be seen, but he could watch golden crown molding appear in the room. After following it with his eyes, they glanced back at Ken, who was still staring at the ground. "So, Ken," he started, "How long are you planning on staying here?"
"Hm?" Ken finally glanced up. "You mean in the room or here in the Digital World?"
"The Digital World," Davis said, glancing up at the boy with a frown. "You're obviously not happy with what I'm doing here, but you've got a one-way ticket back to the real world that you're refusing."
He shook his head. "It's not that I'm unhappy with what you're doing, Davis. This just isn't what I thought we would be doing, that's all."
Davis looked skeptical at first, but then nodded contently as he turned back to the screen. "That makes sense, then. But once you see it all together, you'll be glad we did this instead."
"I just don't want to see the Digimon get hurt anymore," Ken insisted. "That's all I ask. They've suffered enough already."
"I intend to do just the opposite," Davis said with a smile. "I'm going to bring forth peace in the Digital World. Isn't that okay?"
Ken smiled back. "Of course, Davis. I always told myself that if I was ever set free of the Kaiser, the first thing I would do is set all the Digimon free as well. I would fix everything I had broken. I would make things good, peaceful, and happy."
"Then we're thinking alike," Davis said as he turned off the computer after clicking one last thing. He stood up, brushing his new bang back a bit. "This is going to need an hour or so before I can get back to work," he explained as he stepped over to Ken's side.
His smile softened into a shy one. "So what do you want to do until then?"
Davis smirked, offering his hand. "You want to go for that walk?"
Ken's entire face brightened. "Yes, of course!" He instantly grabbed Davis' hand, squeezing it gently, and nodded eagerly. Davis' grin widened and he lead the way out of the control room. They had to head down tons of staircases to get to the ground below. Some of them were decked out in Davis' new décor, white carpet with gold railings, some were in the middle of being changed just as they walked down them, and some were still the depressing gray metal that had been the Kaiser's taste. As they stepped outside, Davis squinted his eyes a bit against the sun and frowned as he stepped out onto the sand. Ken saw the frown. He curled both his arms around Davis' one and leaned his head against a square shoulder. "Everything will grow back," he said reassuringly. "All the water that was here will keep the ground moist and the sun will keep the buds warm once they start to bloom. You'll see."
"Hm," Davis just hummed, as if in thought. "Let me see if I remember how this worked..." he said, putting his finger up to indicate that he needed a moment. He then stepped back into the threshold of the citadel and began to play with a mechanism inside the door, until slowly, pavement began to flicker over the sand before solidifying. Buildings and trees were erected, and soon Digital Odaiba was once more sprawling out before them, sans people. "This'll be fine until I finish out here," Davis whistled as he rejoined Ken out on what was now the pavement.
Ken smiled at the familiar surroundings. Davis had been back here multiples times and knew its true form, but Ken was perfectly happy with the holographic memory. "We can go to my apartment!" the boy suddenly suggested. "I can show you all my things. I have a special lamp I like to sleep with, the bunk beds, my balcony, my books... Everything!"
Davis looked surprised at the suggestion. "I never went to either of our apartments before..." he said as he looked back out at the digital city. "So I can't guarantee it'll be there, but... sure, let's take a look."
"Isn't this the same program the Kaiser installed? I'm sure he made everything the same." Ken pulled Davis along gently so as not to upset him. More and more recently, Ken wished he could call Davis his boyfriend, but did they have that kind of relationship? Davis' personality was going through changes that made it difficult to tell what or how he was feeling. Ken got to hold hands, sleep in the same bed, and always be with the other boy, so he supposed that was good enough. "This is my building!" he chirped excitedly. So far so good. Normally Ken might think it was weird that the front door was unlocked, but in Digital Odaiba, there was no real danger. He opened the door only to be met with a dreadfully drab apartment. Ken frowned. "What...?" All the pale furniture was gone, having been replaced by dark colored upholstery and a completely different layout. The kitchen was painted a different color. His parents' room was now a study. His own room looked like the bedroom of a young couple with a queen sized bed against the wall and hints of female decor. "Where... Where's all my stuff?"
Davis' eyes widened a bit as they walked into the apartment. Why was it like this? Davis knew that Ken's parents had passed away while he was in the Digital World. But he also knew that Digital Odaiba was a clone of Odaiba from four years ago. So why was this apartment up to date while the rest of the city was still frozen in time? Davis stopped when they entered Ken's room and tugged on his hand slightly. "Ken... Ken, c'mon. Let's go back."
Ken pulled away from Davis. He moved around the room that he knew was his, but at the same time felt like he'd never been here before. The closet door was thrown open and he began to look through the clothes in there. Dresses were ripped from their hangers and cast onto the floor. Loafers, sandals, ties, belts, hats... Soon the floor was littered in clothing Ken never wore. "None of this is mine. Where are the bunk beds? Where's my lamp? Where's my photo of Osamu?" Ken moved to the stained bamboo nightstand and picked up a photo of a couple on their honeymoon in Paris. "Who are these people? Why are they living in my house? Where are my parents?"
"Ken..." Davis sighed quietly, walking over to the boy and putting a hand on his shoulder. "Your parents passed away while you were in the Digital World. After you'd been gone for all those years."
Ken stared at Davis with wide eyes. His throat ran dry, cracking painfully when he suddenly shouted, "No!"
Davis glanced down slightly, but then looked back into the other boy's eyes. "I'm sorry, Ken. Neither of them could take having lost both of their children."
"No! No, that isn't true!" Ken clamped his hands over his ears. "They're still in the real world! They'll wait for me! They will!" He looked at the wall where a dresser and mirror now stood. "My bunk beds will still be there. I'll sleep on top because Osamu always slept on the bottom." Ken pushed past Davis back out into the rest of the apartment. "Mama's slippers will be by the door in her room every morning before she gets up. Dad's sweaters will be hanging out of the hamper because he has such bad aim. The white couch will still be here, a-and our family crest will be there above the fireplace. The kitchen will smell like cookies because mama bakes them all the time. Her apron will be hanging right here!" He pointed desperately to an outside corner where the living room turned into the kitchen.
Davis followed behind Ken with a frown on his face, just watching as he freaked out. Davis understood; this was exactly how he felt on the inside when he found out his parents had buried him. But he'd kept all of that inside. When Ken stopped, Davis came up behind him and braced his hands on either of the other boy's arms, gently pulling down his extended arm to his side. "Ken... don't make this harder for yourself."
Ken's body was stiff in Davis' hands. He'd gone completely rigid, breathing rapidly, hyperventilating. "I killed them..." the boy breathed.
"You didn't kill them," Davis said with a shake of his head. "You know that if it weren't for the dark spore, you never would have left in the first place. You're not to blame."
"I killed them! I left and I killed them!" Ken cried. "Oh God! I killed them!"
"Ken!" Davis snapped, shaking the other boy's shoulders. "It's not your fault!"
His body suddenly went limp, sagging in Davis' hold. "But if I hadn't left..."
"If the Kaiser hadn't left," Davis corrected firmly. "Did you really want to leave, Ken?"
Ken shook his head. "I... I never wanted to go anywhere with him."
"Then it isn't your fault, is it?" Davis continued. "Ken... no one wanted anything that happened. The only one that can be blamed is Millenniummon and the things he has created."
Tears finally started to form. "Mama... She... She's..."
"Ken..." Davis sighed. He turned the boy around and pulled Ken close to his chest. "Go on, let it out." There were a few seconds of silence before Ken began to painfully bawl into the front of Davis' shirt. His eyes flooded with tears and his nose ran on the white fabric. Body shaking, Ken gripped Davis as hard as he could but still ended up losing his legs and slumping where he stood. Davis let them slowly descend to the ground, allowing Ken to kneel rather than try to stand on legs that were too weak to do the job. He allowed Ken to cry into his shirt, one hand around his back and the other holding his head as he silently listened. He remembered being in the real world, in that jail cell, when his own tears had finally started to fall. All he'd ever wanted then was to be able to pass through those bars and actually be held. It was only right that Ken receive that comfort. Eventually Ken stopped crying, or maybe he just ran out of tears. Pulling himself together, Ken got to his feet again, wiping his eyes and nose clean. He moved to the front door and opened it, waiting for Davis to pass through. It was time to leave. Davis nodded knowingly, getting silently to his feet and leading the way back outside. He knew he wouldn't have wanted to hang around if he was Ken. As they started to walk out of the apartment building, Davis cast Ken a sideways glance and offered his hand once again. Ken took the offered hand. He gripped it fast and squeezed it hard. Never wanting to let go ever again.