Chapter 5:

Doubts, And Other Unfortunate Surprises

For the first time in all of the nearly seventeen years of his life, Willis realized that ordinary hot air could physically hurt you. Or at least that was what the blond teen felt as he valiantly tried to make his way through the raging sea of pedestrians heading in every possible direction, that surrounded him. He had never had claustrophobia before but the American boy thought he was starting to realize how people who did suffer from it felt when facing this particular fear. The bustling crowd around him seemed to be about to crush him at any given moment. His vision was always obscured by one person or another, each one of them in a hurry to do some meaningless to the boy task. With every step he made Willis felt one step away from losing either the backpack swung over his shoulder in which was currently stuffed one very grumpy Terriermon, or the short-sleeved red shirt he had swung over the other.

It didn't help that his otherwise highly resistant nose was constantly invaded by the stench of sweat, both his own, and of the hundreds of people passing him by, and the smell of dozens upon dozens of deodorants and perfumes which stubbornly kept on fighting a losing battle against the aforementioned stink. Willis scrunched his nose and after tugging the collar of his white, and very damp, T-shirt in a vain attempt to cool of his body, readjusted the backpack on his shoulder. The blond thought he had heard an indignant muffle coming from inside it but whatever Terriermon had wanted to say, it had gotten drowned by the various noises of the stampeding crowd.

That was probably the only thing around him that didn't affect Willis in a bad way- the noise. Albeit growing up in his parents' quiet summer house surrounded by the vast open spaces of Colorado, the American boy had found out long ago that he preferred the loud noise to the silence. Maybe it was just natural teenage rebelliousness towards the quaint things or maybe he had grown to like the hustle and bustle one was surrounded by when travelling with a group of peers. Whatever it was, Willis had found out he enjoyed the chattering of the crowds and the various noises of the metropolis on his previous visits to his friends in Tokyo.

Speaking of which, the teen couldn't help but ask himself whether he would find his Japanese 'colleagues' if he just took the train to Odaiba. Maybe doing that was a good idea and he would find them there just as he remembered them. Davis trying to beat TK in his usual race for Kari's heart. Kari herself burying her face in her hands because of said suitor's usual foolish antics. Yolei fawning over Ken who was trying to talk Davis out of his usual schemes once again. And little Cody quietly watching all of them with amusement hidden behind a stoic face.

But something told Willis that wasn't the case. True, he had never been to Shinjuku before but something felt off about the whole place. Suddenly waking up half a world away from home and finding out he was enrolled in a local high school aside, everything around him felt out of place. Willis had tried subtly questioning his parents after he had realized he was in Japan but all he got were normal answers. As normal as they could have been given the situation. The blond teen certainly didn't remember moving in to Tokyo in the beginning of the year. The absence of any other Digimon around besides his own was also troubling. Considering the last 30 hours of his life, the spontaneous decision of hiding Terriermon under his bed when his mother had knocked on the door, had been the right thing to do.

It was as if Willis had woken up in another world. A world where Digimon were still unknown and not part of the everyday picture. A world without the DigiDestined he knew.

Willis was sure about it. The way Leomon and Ogremon had explained things made it clear. DigiDestined were just now being introduced to this world. What troubled him even more was his own place in the bigger picture. After Xander's rather unexpected departure, the blond teen had confronted the two Champions about his situation. But all he got from the Sovereigns' messengers were confused shrugs and the explanation that they had been sent to find only three people. And that Fanglongmon had appointed Xander as the leader. A role the Yamashita had immediately cast away. Leomon had politely pointed out that since Willis already had a partner and didn't even have one of the new and improved digivices, they could not have been sent for him.

In other words, Willis wasn't supposed to be a part of the team. He wasn't supposed to be even there.

With such heavy thoughts on his mind, the blond teen nearly failed to realize the light had turned green. As the never-ending crowd of pedestrians pushed him across the road and back into the real world, Willis glanced at the waiting cars that had lined up along the stream of pedestrians. His weary eyes found it somewhat amusing to peer for a second into the world of the people behind the windshields.

A broad-shouldered man just finishing his hamburger behind the wheel. A mother checking up on her kids on the back seat. A vain woman applying even more lip-gloss to her already sparkling lips. A businessman completely immersed into some important talk over the phone. All of them people who knew their place in this world, who had a clear destination. Unlike some people he saw everyday in the mirror, Willis concluded with a sigh.

The teen's blue gaze lazily passed from one vehicle over the other until he reached the last in the line. The simple fact that it was a limousine caught his attention enough for him to notice that the usual glass shield that separated the passengers from the driver was down. Curious as to what the balding middle-aged and filthy rich man who probably owned the vehicles could be doing while waiting for the light to change, Willis slowed down his pace a little and threw a look at the occupant of the limo's back seat.

To Willis' great surprise, instead of the chubby suite-wearing guy he was expecting to see, his eyes came across a girl. A lithe, cerulean-eyed girl his age, who was completely immersed in the chatter with the stoic bodyguard on the front seat. Willis found himself unconsciously slowing down even more as his eyes darted from the golden curls of the girl's cascading hair to the smiling ruby lips which contrasted with her pale smooth skin. She finally noticed that someone was staring at her intently and as she lifted her curios sky-blue gaze and her eyes met with Willis' for a fraction of the second… he walked right into someone and ended up with his butt on the hot sidewalk.

"Hey, watch where you're going!" cried said someone and swiftly threw himself in a brave attempt to save his scattered groceries from the stampeding crowd.

"S-sorry, my bad," muttered Willis and immediately removed his aching behind from the scorching ground. Just behind him he could hear the cars driving off in their respective directions upon the light turning green. "Wait a sec, don't I know you?"

The plump guy ceased his grocery-retrieving quest and looked up in surprise. "Huh? Oh yeah, you're that guy who mouthed off to that scary science teacher and got detention on your first day!"

"Somehow, it sounds even worse when you put it that way," sighed the blond teen and grabbed a few stray tomatoes before they managed to roll over on the pavement. "I'm Willis. And you?"

"I'm Isamu. But my friends call me Sam. Or at least they would if I had any," quipped the curly-haired boy nonchalantly, as if he had just said the most ordinary thing.

"Awkward!" screamed a voice inside Willis' head "Nice to meet you, Sam. And, err, sorry from bumping in you aga-"

A sudden yank from inside his backpack that nearly pulled him back on the ground alerted Willis that his partner had once again picked up the worst moment to do whatever his crazy mind had thought of this time. The American boy cursed Terriermon's timing once again for good measure and as he tried to keep the wriggling backpack in its place, flashed an innocent grin at Sam and bolted away.

"Kay, nice meeting you, gotta go, see you later, bye!"

"Terriermon, if all you want to do is ask when's lunch, I swear to God, I'm stuffing you in there for the rest of your life," growled Willis to no one in particular as his eyes darted around in search of some shady secluded alley. After finding such appropriate, and quite smelly, place, Willis took off his backpack and spilled its grumbling contents on the ground.

"Hey, what's that for?" asked accusingly the dog-bunny hybrid after plopping on the dirty ground.

"That's what I should be asking, Terriermon. What is it this time?" sighed the blond teen and looked around to make sure no one was spying on them.

"Well, your teeny-tiny backpack is too small to contain my awesomeness so I thought I could use a stretch," nonchalantly explained Terriermon and dusted off his cream-and-green fur with his long ears.

"Or maybe you're just getting fat," replied Willis with a blank look, managing to still be amazed by his partner's ego even after all their years together "Terriermon, this place isn't home. You can't just stroll around whenever you feel like it."

"I know that, Willis," replied the digital bunny with unexpectedly serious voice "But bear with me a little. Even when you were little all I had to do is pretend I'm a stuffed animal or hide under the bed. And I didn't even have to hide for the last 5 years! Now I'm suddenly forced to stay all day long in some stuffy backpack! I'm a wild child, Willis! I need my space!"

Laughing at his partner's last comment, Willis plopped down next to him on the ground, without a single care for the effect of the dirt on his khaki shorts.

"Any bright ideas how to go back home, genius?"

"They'll come in time. Things always turn out fine in the end," pointed out the digital bunny with paws behind his back and one ear high in the air as if to underline his statement "Remember that one summer in New York when we got stuck in that weird snowy pocket dimension?"

"Well yeah, but that was because of Davis. Plus, Mimi was with us and there was always the probability of fixing things by punching Davis into unconsciousness," laughed the blue-eyed boy.

"I can punch you if you think it'll help," innocently suggested Terriermon and balled the tips of his ears in mocking fists.

But before Willis could turn down the suggestion, his partner's beady black eyes widened and his long ears perked up.

"Willis, there's another Digimon nearby!"

"Just great. And we don't even know if you can digivolve here," grumbled the blond teen and pulled out a small device from his pocket. It seemed even smaller when he thought of the ones the latest DigiDestined had. He had never being envious of Davis and co's D3s but now the keychain-like device in his sweaty palm looked useless.

"Come on, Freud, with so much contemplating you're gonna end up piercing your navel," quipped Terriermon and wrapped his ear around Willis' wrist before dragging the boy deeper into the maze of back streets.

After a dozen or so twists and turns, the duo came close enough for Willis' ears to pick up the other Digimon's noise. A strange hissing sound was coming from just around the corner and the American boy prepared himself for facing a dangerous, possibly serpentine opponent. With a valiant battle cry, both human and Digimon jumped around the corner ready to fight until the bitter end.

"Sheesh, dipsticks, keep it down a little! I'm workin' on a true masterpiece here."

Willis and Terriermon blinked once, twice, and then a third time to make sure their eyes weren't deceiving them. A child-sized Digimon with light blue skin and sporting a pair of black leather pants was standing atop one of the garbage cans while adding the finishing touches to the sophisticated graffiti he had scribbled on the brick wall.

"Dracmon was here. Humans are losers. So long, dipsticks!"announced the tag with bright red letters.

"Whatcha starin' at?" asked the mask-clad Digimon rather rudely after a single glance over his shoulder "I know I'm gorgeous and all that but 'ya gotta wait 'till I'm finished 'ere. Then I'll give 'ya da autographs."

"Talk about being full of hot air. This guy's sure full of himself," snickered Terriermon.

"He kinda reminds me of you," Willis pointed out with a smirk.

"Ya got a problem with me, Droopy-ears?" interjected Dracmon and jumped down on the ground in front of Terriermon. He pointed one of his crimson claws at the dog-bunny hybrid and smirked "Ya want a piece o' me? Come and get it then! I'm gonna force-feed 'ya this spray can 'till all 'ya can do is cough red air!"

"Oooh, I'm sooo scared," deadpanned Terriermon and waved his long ears in the air for emphasis.

"Hope you're done with your will, dipstick, 'cause you're in for a whole new world of pain!" announced Dracmon and narrowed the red and green cat-like eyes drawn on his mask at Terriermon.

Before his blabbering and overly-confident partner could worsen the situation, Willis decided it was high time he interfered.

"Come on now, guys. Surely you can both satisfy your enormous egos in some other way than fighting."

"Hah! You're just scared that I'm gonna whoop your digital pet's ass into oblivion," snickered Dracmon and flashed a grin filled with shark-like teeth "Like 'ya losers can even hope to hold a candle to me, Dracmon, prankster extraordinaire and da future king of this world, in battle."

"I bet you can't prank your way of a paper bag, much less fight it. You're all bark and no bite," smirked Terriermon and crossed his stubby arms in front of his chest.

"We'll see about that! How about a prank duel then, dipstick? Whoever finishes his challenge first wins and da loser has to be his slave for a day! I challenge you to find a police cruiser and paint it pink with floral patterns without 'em cops noticing!"

"I accept!"

"What?" bellowed Willis in shock.

"My challenge is," Terriermon pondered and looked around for inspiration "kidnap whoever it is in that fancy limo and ask for a ransom!" announced the dog-bunny hybrid and pointed at the far end of the alley with his long ear.

There, beyond the bustling crowd marching on the sidewalk, was the limousine of the girl Willis had seen earlier, now stuck in one of Tokyo's usual traffic jams.

"Figures," Dracmon smirked "a lame challenge by a lame loser. Then again, a challenge is a challenge. Just watch, dipsticks!" the blue-skinned Digimon shouted and took off in the limo's direction with breakneck speed.

"Terriermon!"

"What? I thought he'd chicken out. No one ever listens to me!"

"And you say it like it's bad thing. Let's go!"

"Hey!"

But before Willis and his lippy partner had even reached the end of the alley, Dracmon had managed to dart right into the jungle of marching legs and somehow make it to the street without getting stomped by the crowd. Cackling like mad all the while, the mischievous blood-sucker hopped onto the roof of the nearest car and from there- all the way to the limousine.

At first, no one paid attention to the strange creature. Nothing out of the ordinary considering that everyone was busy minding his or her own business and trying to get to said business as soon as possible. The lack of attention didn't go unnoticed by Dracmon and the blue-skinned vampire plunged his now energy-coated claws into the vehicle's roof before promptly ripping part of it off and throwing it away. The flying piece of metal and the blood-curdling scream the girl in said vehicle let out certainly got everybody's attention.

"Listen up, dipsticks, 'cause this 'ere handsome Digimon has an announcement to make! I'm taking da girlie 'ere hostage. Ya gotta gimme one gazillion green ones or otherwise, KAPOW! No more Princess Pretty Eyes! Got it?" Dracmon asked the public from his triumphant position atop the limo's roof.

The vehicle's back door was hastily swung open and one very distressed teenage girl stammered out and tried to reach the safety of the encircling crowd. Dracmon hopped off after her but before he could reach the blonde, the bodyguard and the driver had already gotten out of the limousine as well and were aiming their guns at him.

"Don't move, whatever you are!" ordered one of the armed men and tried to hide his insecurity of facing such a strange foe. "Stand down or we'll shoot you, monster!" added the other.

"Hah! Like 'ya losers can even hope to match me! Take this, preppies! Eye of Nightmare!"

Dracmon stuck out his palms at the duo and all Willis could see from his place among the murmuring crowd was a soft green and red glow being emanated from them.

"Yo, dipsticks! Slap each other 'till 'ya drop!"

Upon hearing the ridiculous command, the two grown men immediately dropped their guns and proceeded to lunge at each other and exchange slaps that looked, and sounded, strong enough to pierce a set of medieval armor.

"Hanz! Peter! Stop it! Please, both of you!"

Dracmon turned around to see that his would-be capture had stopped running and was trying to talk some sense into her protectors. Sadly, the hypnotized duo paid no heed to her pleas and the blonde could only stand among the abandoned vehicles filling the road and watch, one slim gentle hand covering her mouth as she pondered what to do.

"Meh, easier for me," the blue-skinned Digimon shrugged before lunging at his future victim once more. "Come 'ere, girlie! I've a challenge to win!"

Willis hopelessly tried to push his way through the crowd, knowing all too well that everybody was waiting for someone else to react- as usual in situations like this.

"Terriermon!"

"No need to tell me twice, Willis," replied his partner with determination before jumping off the boy's shoulder. The dog-bunny used his long ears to hover in the air for a while before landing on top of someone's head and proceeding forward with a laugh. "I'm on it!"

Even more people panicked upon seeing the dog-bunny hybrid using other onlookers as leverage. In a matter of seconds a wide gap opened in the middle of the crowd and Terriermon was quick to use the makeshift corridor. Just as Dracmon was about to wrap his claws around the girl's wrists, one rather cocky rabbit-like Digimon, spinning like a top no less, pushed him away and straight into the limousine.

"Not so fast there, bucko. That's no way to treat a lady."

"Why 'ya double-crossin' human pet!" shouted Dracmon as he made his way out of the vehicle's wreckage. "No more Mr. Nice Mon. Ya wanna cheat? Lemme introduce 'ya to a whole new world o' pain then."

Terriermon, with the triumphant smirk still refusing to leave his face, crossed his stubby arms in front of his chest and motioned at Dracmon with one of his long ears. "Bring!"

Both Digimon looked ready for battle and their squinted eyes were locked onto each other. The crowd just silently stood and waited for the inevitable to happen. And then, just like it always happened in the cheesy westerns, wind blew by.

But this wind, this wind made Willis shiver. It was as if each of Aeolus' breaths brought winter in their wake, chilling everything they went through on their endless journey. The heat returned immediately after the sudden gust subsided only to be driven away by the cold wind once again mere seconds later. And as Willis stood among the suddenly mute crowd, he just couldn't shake off the feeling of familiarity that the wind had brought.

A feeling that just got stronger when he saw the wind getting somewhat… pixelated and a nearby lamppost was suddenly crushed, as if by some invisible hand, before exploding. The sound of bursting glass and metal tore out the crowd from their stupor. Willis was suddenly overwhelmed by screaming people running in every direction as the pixelated wind left crushed cars and exploding telephone boots in its wake. And when the winds finally calmed down and headed towards the dark alley on the other side of the street, Willis could only mutter one thing.

"Impossible."

A deafening roar echoed around the now empty street, save for the two blond teens, the Digimon duo and the two grown men that were still slapping each other senseless. One long hand coated in brown and black fur, far too long to be normal, shot out from the shadows of the alley. The claws balled into a fist and the spring-like arm came crashing into the already wrecked limousine.

The unfortunate vehicle flew just above the shocked Dracmon's head, past Terriermon and the startled girl, before colliding with the building right behind Willis. The blond teen didn't need to see his partner's face to know what Terriermon was thinking as his beady black eyes focused on the bipedal beast emerging from the shadows.

"Kokomon."