Author's note: This is it. The last chapter. A year ago, I started this, with just an image in my head- Kari, her crest glowing, one of her friends having just taken a blast meant for her- and almost a year ago, I posted the first chapter. It's been a long year- I've had ups and downs, glories and sorrows and a lot of stress. Writing this and reading your reviews have gotten me through a lot. You guys have gotten me through a lot. My deepest thanks to the 18 who put this on their alerts, the 19 that put this on their favorites, and, of course, to my reviewers: Genun, Merryb, Liliana, KHLostEmpress, Assana73, Taeniaea, Digimonfan18, KHLostEmpress, M. Terlwyth, Natnatx, Kent, ARCtheElite, Squeakygirl, Rogue-Scholar07,Alexical, lesli, Wild Crowconaw, Selene's Daughter, Sari Meritt, Kagebana, Digidestind Angel, Kaito Lune, and finally, Crestoflight3. This one's for you, readers, all of you, for all your loyal, prompt reviews that made me so glad to be a writer. I could not have done this without you and your encouragement. Honestly! I always say to myself, ' oh, that's terrible, did I write that? It stinks!' but thanks to you, I feel really proud of my work. Thank you.
Thanks to Genun, MerryB, and Liliana for reviewing every single chapter, without fail.
Thank you to those of you that I know personally and in real life, for not taking advantage of knowing where I live to demand spoilers or kill me over those terrible, awful, wonderful cliffhangers, while still allowing me to talk my head off about how evil I was going to be. I owe you!
Thanks to Aragorn, for putting my name on TVtropes under Fanfic recs for Digimon. One of my greatest dreams, :)
And thank you everyone for over 100 reviews! I could not be happier- It was a dream come true, something I wasn't expecting to reach. What's more, not a single one of those reviews was a flame. That warms my heart. Thank you all so much.
This was a hard chapter to write- perhaps the hardest- because this is the end.*sniff* I hate endings, I'm simply awful at ending stories. And I always cry, even though I know that no story can go forever.I hope it is a good ending, and I hope that you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: *smiles* for old time's sake: I don't own digimon. But you knew that, clever reader, didn't you? Onward, then, to the finale. What you've all been waiting for...
Chapter.14/Epilogue: And the Sun Shall Rise/Home
The computer glowed brightly as Izzy and Jim leapt backwards, having just laid down the stack of cushions. Jim was still wary of the idea that there was a portal to another world- in the middle school, no less. But the glitter of white energy quickly put an end to his disbelief. Izzy had been explaining, with Joe's help, exactly what had happened in the past day and a half, when Davis, dusty, bleeding and tear stained, had coming racing into the halls, shouting for Joe.
Jim hadn't made out much of the younger boy's hurried speech, but Joe had, and the two had gone, vanishing back into the computer. After Davis and Joe had gone, borrowing a conveniently placed stretcher from a closet on the back wall, the redhead had stopped his explanation, and raced to arrange the pillows that Davis had displaced in his hurry to return to the Digiworld.
Izzy's mind raced along with his hands. Someone was hurt- badly, by the look of Davis. That would mean they'd need to call an ambulance- even having Jim around wouldn't be enough, not if whoever it was was in bad enough shape to need a stretcher. And since Kari was still being searched for, officially missing, the police would probably need to find out that she'd been found- if the others had rescued her, that was. It was possible that everything had gone wrong….But when the inevitable questions came, it would hardly do to say, 'Well, officer/detective/doctor/ sir/ma'am, our friend was hurt trying to save Kari Kamiya, the missing girl( unless it was Kari who was hurt) from Ken Ichijouji, who kidnapped her and took her to the Digital world through a computer portal, so that he could finally defeat us and take over the Digital world.' No, that would not work. Telling their parents the truth would be hard enough.
Jim was digging through his black bag, trying to find something. "Hey, don't panic about an excuse, we'll come up with something." He spoke quickly, but calmly( Izzy marveled at just how calm he sounded. After all, it wasn't like some bleeding, freaking out kid came out of a computer, grabbed your brother and went back into the computer every day.)
"I've got a few friends on the EMT squad, first responders on duty right now. They won't ask questions- at least not right away, if I ask them not to, you know? That should buy you and your friends some time."
His fingers fiddled with a cell phone, ready to call, just in case.
Light flashed before Izzy could respond, and someone emerged from the computer. Kari stumbled on the cushions, falling to one knee, and half crawling to one side.
Despite being dusty with tear stains and dark smudges under her eyes, Kari was smiling. One arm was wrapped around Gatomon, whose blue eyes shone with clarity.
"Kari!" Izzy cried, helping her to her feet. "Are you alright? What happened? Who's hurt?"
She nodded, dazed, standing unsteadily. "I'm ok," she sat in one of the chairs. "Ken tried to…kill me. T.K's hurt, bad." She paused. "But he's alive…" she held Gatomon close, as the computer lit up again.
Davis, Joe, Matt, and Tai emerged from this burst of light, bearing the stretcher that T.K. lay upon, trying not to jolt it around. As they carefully moved to the side, they lowered the contraption to the ground.
Again, the computer screen lit up, as Cody, Yolie, and the Digimon landed, quite a bit less delicately than the others, on the now trampled and dirty pillows.
Jim covered his mouth in surprise, and then hurried to T.K's side. "What exactly happened in there?" he asked as he felt for a pulse.
"Some kind of energy blast. It… It hit him and knocked him back into a control Spire." Patamon spoke quietly. To his credit, Jim didn't freak out- much- at the talking orange batpig.
"Ah." Jim nodded, still confused, before turning back to the others. "He's unconscious. My guess is a concussion, probably mild, and some damage to the ribs. There's not much I can do here, he needs to get to a hospital, the sooner the better. I'm calling my buddies; you'll have some time, but not a ton. You'd better come up with a story. It doesn't need to be plausible- you're kids, after all, and I can vouch for the fact that you're all in shock." He smiled slightly at that. Then he opened the phone, walking over to the window.
The Digidestined huddled, around T.K. Kari spoke up. "Tai, how are we going to explain this? We can't tell Mom the truth."
"No, we can't" her big brother agreed. "Jim's right, though. If Matt, Iz, Joe and I say we showed up after whatever you say happened, happened, that gets us off the hook for a story, and you can play the trauma card."
Izzy joined in. "I've given the matter some thought…Kari, what if you were in the school the whole time? You thought you saw Ken late Saturday afternoon at the school, walking in. When you saw the news cast, you thought there might be a clue, and somehow you got trapped in this classroom- the door sticks, and for some reason, the fuse blew, offline-ing the computers, so there was no way for you to signal for help."
Kari nodded. "It's not exactly a lie, either. But I'm a mess. And how do we explain everything else?"
"OOOH!" Davis straightened his shoulders, an idea burning. "We came looking for you, only we went through the park- the wooded area. I fell, and hit my head, only we were going to meet Joe at the school, and we figured he could patch me up. On the way.. uh…
Demi-Veemon, help me out here!"
"You were attacked by a sandstorm?" the little 'mon suggested.
"Fell in a sandbox?" Armadillomon shrugged.
"Dustbath?" Poromon squeaked.
Izzy( who had mysteriously vanished and returned, just after the computers turned off) spoke up, shaking his head. "You could always go wash up in the bathrooms. Your clothes are fine. And I hear sirens."
Although they didn't want to leave, Yolie and the boys got up and ran to the bathrooms down the hall. Kari stayed put. "I'll say I fell in the woods," she decided.
Glancing out the window, Tai saw an ambulance, lights flashing, pull up to the school gates.
Joe looked at Izzy. "Actually, you and I should go- the digimon probably shouldn't be here, and I've got to pick up Sora and Mimi at the airport soon." Izzy agreed quickly. His parents would want to hear about what had happened, and there would be little space for the kids in whatever ambulance and cars came. Patamon and Gatomon refused to leave, but the others agreed to go with Joe and Izzy to one of the few places they were both welcome and treated like sentient beings- Izzy's place.
True to Jim's promise, the EMTs didn't ask many questions- just who they were, and if anyone else was hurt. In the end, Kari and Matt rode in the ambulance with T.K and Cody( whose swollen arm was starting to throb painfully). Jim followed with Tai, Davis and Yolie crammed into his car.
The trip to the hospital was a short one, and very quiet. It was only after T.K had been wheeled in for x-rays that the doctor began to ask questions.
"What happened?" one of them- a tall man, a few years older than Jim, with dark hair and serious eyes. "You need to tell us. You won't get in trouble, ok?"
Kari shook her head, "I don't know." she related her rehearsed story, stroking Gatomon's fur
"…When they found me, T.K was already hurt- I dunno what happened, exactly… Joe got the stretcher, and then they called for help." It was near enough the truth after all.
The other doctor's eyes widened. "You're the missing girl!" he said, reaching for his radio. "Kari Kamiya!"
Kari nodded. "Uh-huh. I...I should probably call Momma and Dad."
As she spoke, Jim, dressed now in his white coat, entered, with Mr. and Mrs. Kamiya( and Tai) at his heels.
"Kari! We were so worried!" her father cried
"Oh, Sweetheart, don't ever frighten us like that again!" Mrs. Kamiya reached her daughter first, and hugged her tightly. Kari hugged her back, never wanting to let go.
"Oh, Mommy! Daddy! Tai!" she felt tears pricking at her eyes as her father and brother joined in the embrace.
Kari still clutched Gatomon, who (for once in her lives) was not throwing a fit about pretending to be a toy. Patamon sat on Matt's shoulder, on a bench outside of the X-ray room doors.
Kari again told the fictitious and digimon free version of what had happened to her, not only to her parents but to two detectives, the ones who had been investigating her disappearance. When she finished, they nodded.
"The other two-Ichijouji and Sato, have also been found. Sato turned up this morning, with his older brother- they'd gone camping. Ichijouji was found maybe half an hour ago, the theory is that he ran away, although we aren't certain." The woman, Detective Hayato, said, smiling a little. "We'll be going now," she indicated her partner. "Reports don't write themselves." She waved, and the pair of detectives were gone.
She'd returned the photo, and Kari's mother kept looking at it, and back at Kari, smiling so widely she thought her face might crack.
At long last, Jim returned, touching Kari gently on the shoulder. "Your friend is awake," he said, simply. "You and your brother can go in- Matt's already there." To the elder Kamiyas, he said simply, "We can't allow too many visitors at once, I'm afraid, but you can wait in the halls- it will be quieter there."
The group nodded, and followed the doctor through a set of swinging doors, and another, down one white-washed, sterile corridor, around a corner, and to a closed door.
Kari opened it, fingers shaking. Tai hurried her from behind, and she stumbled in.
Matt was sitting in a low metal chair, next to a bed where T.K. lay, propped up on pillows. His golden hair pocked through gaps in the white gauze wrapped around his head.
Kari was at a loss for words- after all, what do you say to someone who has saved your life, at the possible cost of his own? What do you say to someone who nearly died for you? Thank you? A Thank You seems to plain, to shallow.
"Hey," T.K croaked, smiling at her.
Kari sat in a second chair.
"Hi. Are.. Are you feeling better?"
Wincing slightly, T.K nodded. "I guess. Jim said I've got a 'slight contusion', whatever that is, and bruised ribs. He said I'm lucky they aren't broken. But they gave me something for the pain, and my head doesn't hurt at all." He smiled again, his beautiful, wonderful smile.
Matt stood. " Teeks, I'll be right back, I'm just going to call dad- Mom will be here soon, Ok?"
Patamon leapt from Matt's head to the bed, curling up on one pillow, just above his human's shoulder. Tai followed Matt into the hallways, leaving the two younger digidestined to speak in private.
"TeeKayy," Patamon sighed "you really had me worried. Can we not ever go through that again?"
T.K's face grew solemn. Kari felt a chill go down her spine.
"T.K… Thank you. For saving me. For...For doing what you did. But… I thought you were dead, and I couldn't take it. It was like Wizardmon, all over again, and It...It was all my fault, and…" Words were spilling out of her now, like a river loosed from a dam.
"Kari," T.K stopped her. "You're my best friend. I couldn't just let you…die. I'd do it again, in a heart beat. You were willing to, to save us."
"He's right, Kari," Gatomon whispered, her voice low.
"But I Promised that It would never happen Aga-" She started.
"And I Promised that I'd always protect you. Kari… We're both alive. We're both ok. What happened before didn't happen again. And it won't." he smiled at her.
Kari smiled too. T.K's right... everything turned out ok.
Suddenly, she remembered something. "I almost forgot!" she said, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a rather wrinkled bundle of cream cloth. "I found your hat." She held it out to him, and he took it, gingerly, and with Patamon's help, settled it on his head. It fell forwards, and Kari giggled, and then she began to laugh.
"She's laughing. She's happy." Despite the ache in his chest and throb in his head, T.K felt lighter than air. They had saved Gatomon, and Kari, and she was happy.
T.K's parents arrived then, not seeming to mind that the other was their- they hadn't fought in years, really. They demanded an explanation, and got one- the full story this time.
The other Digidestined were allowed in as well- Cody sported a light purple- blue sling for his arm, and Davis had a bandage covering the gash, which had looked worse than it was, on one cheek.
Joe showed up, with Mimi and Sora, and T.K told the whole story again- by now, the others were chipping in, and Kari related a little of what had happened on her side of the battle field. She did not speak about the night-terrors, or about the light that had sung in her mind. There would be time, she figured, for that later.
At last, Jim had to kick most of them out.
"He needs to rest. You all do, but if even half of what Matt and tai have told me is true, he needs it most." He explained that T.K would need to stick around for the next day or so, but after that, he'd be free to go home- "although I'd stay clear of monsters for a few weeks, if I were you. You were lucky."
T.K nodded. "I am lucky." He said simply.
Sora and Mimi, jet-lagged and falling over their own feet, were the first to leave, and Izzy followed- the digimon, still waiting in his room, would want to know how everyone was, he explained. Joe joined him, and Davis, Cody and Yolie chased after him, eagar to reunite with their partners.
At last, Kari and Tai tuned to leave. Kari felt worn to the bone, and drained, so tired she was. Had it really been just two, three days ago that all this had started? It seemed like weeks had passed.
"See you tomorrow?" T.K. asked, already falling asleep.
"See you tomorrow." Kari nodded, and though it was a world away, buried under dust and sand, where no one could see, a faint pink light shown like the very stars.
"See you tomorrow," she repeated, smiling at her dearest, closest, best friend as he smiled back." I Promise."
*Starts to cry* And that's it. A year of writing. Over 40,000 words. Who knows how many pages. Over a hundred reviews- I still can't quiet believe it…. Just like I can't believe that it's finished. I'm going to miss it- I'm going to miss you, all of you, writing to you and for you. So much has changed since I started, but I look back, and I'm proud of what I wrote. That's kind of a first for me. thank you, thank you all, for taking this crazy adventure with me. And thank you to anyone who's new, just started reading now, or even later- thank you for reading. *still crying* sorry for being so emotional, it's just… it's late and this is kinda my baby, and now it's all grown up, and…I still can't believe it's done.( No matter how many times I say it!)
Anyway. Thank you all again. * wipes eyes* It was wonderful, to have such amazing readers. I'd like to urge anyone reading this to review- just a little note, please. Did it live up to your expectations? Pass them? I hope so. I never dreamed that it would become such a huge story… but dreams are funny things- the ones that come true seem to be the ones we never knew we had.
So I'll stop my blubbering and yammering. I leave you with one final thought: HAPPY ENDINGS FOR THE WIN!
( and you were expecting something deep and poignant, weren't you? Silly goose!)
All my love and gratitude,
Hedgi Naysomay Aisling