One – The Unknown

You might say my perspective on brothers is…unique.

I grew up an only child, a loner at school, a boy who preferred to be on his own. Maybe it was due in part to having a single parent. I had more responsibility than most kids my age, and less time alone with my father. I had a few friends at school but wasn't really close to any of them.

And then my dad remarried.

She was young and friendly, a pretty woman who did all she could to make my life comfortable. She stayed out of my way when I was in a bad mood, made my favorite foods when I had a bad day, even bought me a new guitar for my birthday one year.

I suppose it could have been worse.

But Dad insisted I call her "Mom," even though he knew that I still ached for the birth mother I'd never known. He truly loved his new wife, I think, and really wanted her to be a part of the family.

My single greatest fear in those days was that I would soon have a new brother.

I was so used to being an only child, to not having to put up with a whiny little brother or a bossy older one, that I wouldn't have wanted a brother even if my real mom had somehow walked back into my life. I certainly didn't want a half brother to take over the house and get me shoved to the edges of the family.

…It's strange to remember the way I used to dread having a brother – now that I have one and all.

We met three years after my dad remarried, when I was called into the Digital World and began my quest for answers. He stepped into my life at the worst possible time; I was already frustrated with Takuya's imbecilic plans and didn't need a new enemy to worry about. But there he was: darkness. My antithesis. I hated and feared him from the moment we met.

And then he came to me in Sakkakumon, shoved my family problems in my face, forced me to deal with them.

I don't think he expected me to forgive them. He was already scared to face me, hurt by our father's betrayal, angry at the lies our lives were built upon. I think a part of him wanted to make me hate my own parents so that there would be room for him in my life.

Instead, I accepted the family I had, and in so doing I shut him out completely.

My tenuous new contentment was shattered when he told me who he was. I had accepted a new mother, but I still wasn't ready for a brother.

In the years since then, I've sometimes wondered if my own fears contributed to Duskmon's creation. I was afraid of my brother – of the change and uncertainty he brought, as well as of his current form – and when I found myself battling him, I realized that for the first time I had no clue what I should do, or even what I wanted to do.

It's a feeling I never forgot, a feeling that resurfaced from time to time after we went home. I don't handle uncertainty well – not when it's in me. Oh, sure, I can walk into the unknown without batting an eyelash, but I don't like being indecisive. Every time I face that kind of uncertainty, I freeze. I froze in the battle with Duskmon. I froze when Kouichi sacrificed himself during our battle with Lucemon.

I froze when my birth mother walked into the hospital Kouichi had been taken to. That was the first time I can remember being so terrified that I ran away from anything. How was I supposed to face her? How was I supposed to face my father?

I almost didn't go home that night, and when I did I froze at the sight of my father and step-mother. I'd forgotten it was their anniversary.

Finding a brother brought an abundance of uncertainty where I had once been in control. It scared me at first, scared me so much that I didn't meet my birth mother for three weeks, didn't tell my father about Kouichi for over a month.

But the more I came to know my brother, the more I found myself enjoying the surprises. Having a brother was an adventure – not quite as life-threatening as our adventure in the Digital World, but exciting nonetheless.

I used to be scared at the thought of having a brother, but now I realize it was what I needed all along.

Kouji Minamoto, 36 years old

And there you have it. The last of the Warriors. The first chapter of "And Then There Were Ten: Redux" (the next-gen fic featuring Taura, Jomei, Kado, and Naoko) will be up tomorrow!

In other news, I'm officially moved back into college (thus the late update). Fun Until tomorrow, thanks for reading!