A Moment of Vulnerability



Takuya was, for the lack of a better word, panicking.

"Kouji, are you okay?" he asked frantically, putting one hand against the other boy's shoulder, shaking him gently. "Kouji, answer me!" He thought back on the little first-aid lessons his mother had taught him after he broke his ankle in a camping trip so long ago, just in case and then to the TV shows he'd watched.

Check his pulse, Takuya told himself, forcing his eyes to look from the too-pale face of his friend to the equally pallid neck. With a shaking hand, he pressed his hand against it, trying to detect a pulse that might as well be nonexistent. Takuya shook his head and told himself to stop that; Kouji is alive. He had to be.

After a few seconds, something throbbed against Takuya's hand, and the latter breathed out a sigh, not knowing he'd held his breath. Relief made him light-headed, and Takuya fell back on his rear next to his friend. He tilted back his head and looked at the clear, starlit sky above, partially covered by the thick trees around them. Briefly, he wondered how this had gone so wrong in such a short amount of time.

This little misadventure probably started the moment Neemon voiced his hunger, in which Junpei quickly added his bit to it. Tomoki followed, and then even Izumi had complained. So they've gotten off their current Trainmon and headed for the forest close by, intending to find something (aside from Junpei's chocolate – how the guy never ran out of the thing was a mystery) to eat.

It had been peaceful enough, Takuya guessed. They found some mushrooms and then that apple tree which yielded fruits of raw meat, roasted it and generally having a merry time around the campfire and telling stories about their childhood and stuff. Takuya was recounting one of his trips to Osaka as a kid when Junpei went to relieve himself.

But he didn't come back. They only heard his scream.

All of them had climbed to their feet and dashed in the direction where the big guy's voice had come from. Takuya still remembered the shuffling noises and obvious signs of struggle when they reached the tiny clearing. There was no sign of Junpei, however, and Takuya had suggested they split up into pairs to go check around.

He'd, obviously, paired up with Kouji, leaving Izumi and Tomoki to go to the east and their two tag-along Digimons on their own to head west. They've walked for about ten minutes and Kouji had mentioned that they should turn back before they, too, got lost before all hell broke loose.

Takuya remembered vividly the hot, smelly breath that brushed against his neck. He remembered seeing Kouji's eyes flashed in horror, heard he scream, and then the other boy had grabbed his shoulders and shoved him aside. This was followed by the part he hated best but also the clearest.

Silently, Takuya shuddered as he recalled the sound of a fast-moving fist smack against flesh, Kouji's choked gasp and then the very vivid image of his friend doubled over, his eyes wide with shock and his body limp, supported only by the white, metal fist that was still pressed against his stomach.

Frozen by horror, Takuya sat stock-still as the fist's owner "hmphed" and tossed Kouji aside, the latter hitting the ground in a graceless heap of flailing limps. Then their attacker, his body still hidden by the shadows of the tree he stood beneath, turned toward Takuya, meeting his eyes with his purple, arrogant ones.

"Are all humans this pathetic?" a grumbling voice had asked.

That had snapped Takuya out of his shock-induced paralysis. With a cry of rage, Takuya's hand dug into his pocket and whipped out his Digivice, but before he had a chance to do anything, the arm faded. Went with it were the eyes, and in five seconds flat, Takuya was once again alone in the forest.

Well, almost.

Returning to the present, Takuya turned his eyes back onto his unconscious friend, breathing another sigh of relief at the gentle, shallow rise and fall of Kouji's chest. He really didn't want to think about the alternate ending to this little situation.

For a few minutes, Takuya merely sat there, watching Kouji with a sort of detached relief. When the winds started to blow, the brunette boy took that as a cue and rose to his feet. He should get Kouji back to their camp. Izumi could take care of the rest, or the others could. Takuya had no idea if their only female member had any knowledge in the medical field or not, but taking care of injured people wasn't his strong point. He'd rather leave that to the others who know what they are doing. Somebody in their group had to know something about medical stuff, right?

By the gods, he hoped so.

"Alright, buddy, time to move," Takuya said. He took time to maneuver Kouji, and a few minutes later, Takuya got to his feet, grunting as the other's weight pressed against his back. Shifting a bit to make sure his friend was secured where he was, Takuya turned back to the direction in which they've come from. Kouji had told him to make marks on the trees when they navigated the forest, so it wasn't too hard to follow them back to their campsite.

Takuya exhaled a tiny sigh, conscious of the soft breaths that brushed against his hair and the hands that looped around his neck. It was the first time he was forced to carry Kouji, and it probably would be the last. Takuya thought about what the usually-aloof boy would say about this once he got well again (probably act like this entire incident had never happened, knowing him), but then decided that it doesn't matter. What does matter was that his friend was safe and sound.

He had started to walk when the weight on his back shifted suddenly, and Takuya stilled once more. A soft groan was heard. "Kouji?" the brunette asked, turning his head slightly.

"Ta…Takuya?" came the reply, weak and breathy. Despite its weakness, Takuya heaved a sigh in relief. Kouji was up and talking; this might not be as bad as he'd feared. "What…what happened?"

"Some jerk in flashy armors showed up, you shoved me out of the way in your stupidity and got the punch of your life," Takuya answered, attempting to lighten the mood as he headed toward the tree closest to them, where an X could be seen scratched against the wood. He still felt guilty, though. If he'd paid a little more attention, this wouldn't have happened. Kouji wouldn't have been hurt and they were probably arguing about going back and searching a little further for their missing friend right now.

"You're welcome," Kouji shot back, although his reply held no heat in it. Instead, he just sounded strained and bone-weary. Takuya's stomach squeezed uncomfortably at the realization. He'd never heard his friend sound like this before, and it wasn't the least enjoyable.

Takuya violently kicked the entire ordeal's memories to the back of his mind and concentrated on setting one foot before the other, slowly making their way back to their camp. Next time, no venture out of Trainmon, the boy thought firmly. He'd rather starve than suffer this – or see his friends suffer like this.


Blinking, the brunette slowed his pace slightly at the soft call of his name. "Yeah?" he asked, a flash of apprehension racing through his brain. What if Kouji demanded that he let him walk by himself? Judging from the pallid complexion and the way his breathing was still painful, Takuya was afraid that was a wish he couldn't grant.

To his shock, the hands clasped together in front of his neck and Kouji pushed himself up, moving as if to secure his place on Takuya's back. His glassy eyes closed again. "Thanks."

For nearly half a minute, Takuya stood and blinked, trying to get what just happened into his brain. Then he smiled before continuing on his trek. "Yeah, you're welcome. Just don't be such a moron next time, will ya?" he said, swaying a bit but regaining his balance just as swiftly, his eyes searching for the next mark.

"Whatever." Again, the dismissal worried him, but Kouji continued, in a slightly more serious voice, "And this never happens, understood?"

A grin broke out on the other boy's lips. "Of course," he said way too cheerfully. "Anything for you, buddy." He could sense the dubious expression on Kouji's face, but the latter said nothing more. They continued on in silence. Three minutes later, Takuya asked one last question, not really expecting an answer.

"I wonder what I should tell Junpei if he decided to have a midnight snack next time." It had been meant for himself, but to his surprise, a sleepy voice gave him a reply.

"Tell him that you know he wears a pink t-shirt with rainbow and pony on it underneath his jumpsuit."

Despite himself, Takuya laughed. The hands around his neck tightened a bit more. Still chuckling, the brunette made his way past a thick bush of berries. Yes, he would definitely try that next time. Junpei wouldn't dare suggest another midnight snack in the woods after this.

An adorable picture on DeviantArt drove me to this. No, it's not yaoi. I don't do yaoi.


Edit: Performing a little experiment regarding time of publishing and numbers of hits. Don't mind me.