THE LINK

Disclaimer: I do not own anything about Digimon.

CHAPTER ONE

MESSAGE

Sitting down at the wooden table located outside of the high school's cafeteria, Sora pulled a paper bag towards her. The simple action seemed too, well, simple. After everything that happened two years ago, everything in the real world seemed simple and unimportant. It would still take some getting used to.

The eighteen year old dumped the contents of her lunch onto the table- a sandwich, apple, and a container of green tea. She sighed. The usual. Only- the cherry red apple was now a bit bruised from where it had hit the table. Sora sighed again, wiping the food item off with a napkin.

She had grown out of being a tomboy in favor of pleasing her mother. That included giving up soccer and taking up ikebana, flower arranging. But Sora had been persistent, and her mother had conceded to allow her to take up another sport to keep in shape. Sora had chosen tennis.

Someone dropped down beside her on the old bench, and after a brief, initial panic, Sora relaxed. It was Taichi Kamiya, and being himself, hadn't thought to announce his presence. He had a bagged lunch too, but shifted through the contents inside, finding something he liked and left the rest still in the bag.

"How was the physics test? I heard it would be pretty hard." He asked, stuffing a couple of chips in his mouth and chewing a bit too loudly.

Wincing slightly, Sora smoothed out her skirt before taking up her sandwich. Living with her mother had its effects, as Sora and she were always doing things the proper way, even if the lazy path was easier.

"Well, I did some studying late into the night, but it was kind of a waste." She explained, taking a bite herself and chewing thoughtfully. She was careful to swallow before going on. "Only ten questions, sticking to the easiest facts possible." She rolled her eyes.

Today was supposed to be the big physics test that had all the Seniors freaking out. Mr. Toshi had promised that it would be harder then they were prepared for, and at least five hours of straight studying were needed. The test had come up, and Sora had zipped through it in five minutes. She had sat back, amazed, for double that time, wondering if she had the correct test.

Tai chuckled, crumpling the chip bag up. He had studied into the night, too, but still felt unprepared. The thought of going to college next year was what really got him into school work and he had matured out a bit.

"That's a relief. I need something easy to bring up my grade. I'm more of a biology guy."

Sora chuckled as well. She looked up, her eyes scanning the court yard. Everyone had entered the Odaibi High School this year and it was difficult for Sora to catch a moment alone with her Senior friends without one of the many Freshman approaching her. She loved all of her friends, but they were still kids in a way, and after a while, it got a bit tiring to see Davis run up to her and tell his latest perverted joke that he was already laughing at before even saying it.

"You'll ace this one." She promised, finishing the sandwich in dainty bites. She supposed it would pay off to become girly later on in her life. She was still relieved to be doing sports, especially one that her mom seemed to think highly of. She had said that soccer 'had too much physical contact for a girl her age.'

Tai leaned back casually, tossing the chip bag back and forth that now resembled a lumpy ball. His eyes narrowed suddenly, and his head swiveled around, checking to see if no one was around. They would probably be raided in a few seconds, so he had to be fast. It was their luck that all the Digidestined had the same designated lunch. Except for Izzy and Kari. However, Izzy stuck to the computer lab, and Kari had a fair amount of other friends to eat with, anyway.

"Sora, I wanted to ask you something the other day, but I kept forgetting." He looked sheepish for a moment, then plunged on. "I've noticed Kari's sort of been acting different. I don't know, it's like she's glowing."

He looked at Sora expectantly, waiting for her girl expertise to hit home and make sense of what was going on.

Sora, on the other hand, grinned broadly when she heard Taichi and had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing. Kari had changed incredibly about a week ago, going from slightly shy to positively elated.

About a week ago, on an annual visit to the Digiworld, TK had brought Kari aside, taking her through the forest a few ways to get away from the other kids. There, without warning, TK had kissed Kari as sincerely as he could manage. It had gone on for several moments, both surprised when it was finished.

When Kari had told her this over at her house, Sora had congratulated her. After the youngest Kamiya had left, Sora had let her sorrows escape. She wished Matt and her could go back to being like that. But he was growing busier than ever as the Teenage Wolves fans expanded past Odaibi. Sora now felt a bit ridicules trying to reach Matt- like hundreds of other girls.

But right now, Sora was trying not to concentrate on her own dwindling relationship, as she had the task of calming Tai, who considered himself the forever protector of his sister.

"Don't worry, Tai," she said patiently, standing up. Her words hadn't appeased Tai, who now looked even more confused. "It's out of your league, this one, but I guarantee no harm is coming to Kari."

Tai didn't looked completely convinced, but shrugged. "Where are you going? Lunch period isn't even half over. In fact, everyone's only just coming now." He waved at the group of teenagers casually walking over to his and Sora's table.

"Sorry, but I have to visit the library for some self research."

Now Tai looked really alarmed. Sora pretended to swat at him with her arm. Grinning, she tossed him her bruised apple, which he caught effortlessly.

"Give my best to everyone. And I'll catch you in last period!" She gave a cheerful wave, before trotting off in the direction of the school's library.

Tai looked down at the apple, frowning. He had only moments to get himself together before he was overcome by a multitude of friends, each babbling about their day. Tai shoved the apple in his backpack and joined in.


Meanwhile, Sora had easily located the library. She had paused while passing the auditorium, wondering if she should pop in for a quick hi. She had decided against it, knowing other members of the band were getting a bit ticked at her frequent interruptions.

With a sigh, she plopped down at a computer. She knew she was jealous of TK and Kari, but only to the point of how their relationship worked. They weren't open about in public, and most of the team had already noticed the change. Out of politeness, did they not say anything. It was only the hotheads who hadn't noticed yet. But, Sora was still envious.

She typed in a few words, moved the mouse around, and brought up a search engine on the Internet. Without pausing, she jotted the words down into the engine. Clicking 'enter,' Sora waited impatiently for the page to load.

She clicked on the first link that popped up. It was the website for Sugino Fashion College. Sora could only stare at the page. After a moment, she leaned back in her chair, dazed.

A couple days ago, she had picked up the mail and instantly became nervous when she saw the official looking envelope addressed to her. Her hands had shook while she quickly read through the letter. She had been accepted into fashion college. She had closed her eyes, letting out a slow breath. She had taken a great interest in fashion recently and decided to major in it. Now, she could.

Sora had yet to tell her friends the news. The only person who had spoken of getting into college was Izzy; heck, between him and Yolei that could be out of college by now. Izzy was riding home free on a full scholarship for four years.

She wasn't sure why she couldn't tell her friends; they would be elated that she would have this opportunity, and probably ask for something to be designed. Right now, all she could do was brush some hair out of her eyes.

Sora shut the computer down after printing out the first page of the website. Her finger pressed into the thick button for a moment, before removing it when the screen went black. She glanced at the clock.

She had twenty minutes before next period and didn't feel like going back to lunch. After school would be her usual tennis practice. People must have found out about her, because she had been offered a couple of athletic scholarships, before deciding to do something practical with her life. Tennis players were always traveling around, and Sora didn't want that.

Her fingers drummed on the desk next to the keyboard, still at a loss for what to do. She rose from her chair, walking over to the window. She was on the second story of the building, and looking down, could see her friends clearly splayed out on the grass and table, laughing.

Sora winced, pulling away. Maybe it was time to grow up finally…


That night, Matt was laid out on his bed, still fully clothed. He stared at the numerous pictures that lined the walls. Most of them were more recent, thanks to Kari's camera being on hand. Everyone looked so happy. The boy shifted to his side, staring across the room at a particular picture. He frowned now when he looked at it.

It was a picture of him and Sora right after Christmas, after they gotten together. Both of them looked cheerful and grateful for the other's company.

Everything had changed since then. The Teenage Wolves had gotten more popular than ever and spending time alone with Sora seemed impossible. Matt glanced down. A phone was in his right hand, half of the numbers already dialed to the Takenouchi residence. He clicked the off button, and the numbers cleared away.

Matt still harbored deep feelings for Sora, but he knew she was growing distant. She had always been the practical one; the one who refused to be left behind, even if it cost her pain. But now, Matt wasn't sure what to do. When ever he had free time, he immediately called Sora and a date was made. Recently, she had declined several of his offers, claiming that she had was busy. Matt supposed he couldn't blame her for not wanting to stick around and wait for him, but still.

Matt leaned backwards so he was staring up at the ceiling again. His eyes closed.

He couldn't blame their relationship for being in a rut; he and Sora were changing as they prepared for adulthood, and now they had to decide to become serious or end their fun little courtship. The blond knew he would never mind marrying Sora-she was hardworking, faithful, and dedicated. All attributes that he liked.

But they were still young, and marriage wasn't an option at the moment.

Sighing, Matt drifted into uneven sleep.


Next dawn brought an unusual morning for Sora. She still seemed in a daze, going through the motions, but like she wasn't there. At one point, she looked up in the mirror and was alarmed by her dead look. Dark, purple bags hung from under eyes and her hair was in clumps, they were never like that.

Sora smoothed out her hair with a brush, and applied some cover up makeup under her eyes. It did little to help, and she felt clumsy in the stuff. She couldn't explain the unusual appearance in the first place. It looked like she hadn't even slept.

But, she had, hadn't she? Sora shook her head in wonder. She couldn't remember any dreams, or staying awake. With a sigh, she doused her face in cold water, removing any signs of makeup.

Today was going to be hectic, Sora decided as she walked to school. She was legally able to drive, but chose not to. She wore her backpack and shouldered her tennis bag on one arm. Right now, she was busy thinking of possible excuses for her appearance. She wasn't into lying, and this time she was trying to find something to give herself as well.

Something changed just then, and she couldn't explain it.

Sora halted, staring off to the side of the pathway. Her bags slipped from her, sagging to the ground as papers spilled out. Sora noticed none of this.

What had caught her attention was an animated billboard that flashed signs at people's requests. The sign read as so:

'Sora Takenouchi. We wait for you. Do not run, for there is no where to hide. Do not scream, for there is no one to hear you. We will meet soon, and all your doubts will disappear.'

Sora blinked. The message was gone, replaced by an ad for vacuum cleaners. But Sora kept watching it, staring open mouthed.

In the distant, a bell sounded, bringing Sora from her daze. She cursed repeatedly as she seized the fallen papers, stuffing them in her backpack as she broke out in a run to the high school. Great. Now she was late.


Being forced to wait outside the classroom was not the ideal way to start the school day. Plus it was for Mr. Toshi's class, and he refused to even look at tardies. Sora felt exhausted, and slumped to the ground. She really did feel like she hadn't gotten any sleep.

Muffling a groan, her hands covered her face while she continued her prolonged wait.

"Sora?"

Sora glanced up as a familiar female voice greeted her. It was Kari Kamiya. She held a blue slip in her hand, which meant a note to the office. Humiliation washed over the older girl as she stared at the youngest Kamiya.

"Oh. Kari. Um, hi."

Kari held out her hand, and Sora accepted it as she was pulled to her feet. "Were you late?"

"Kind of. Well, yes." Sora admitted, holding her hands up sheepishly. "I was- ah- caught off guard this morning."

Now that she was standing, Kari could see exactly what Sora had been through. "Jeez, Sora! You look awful, did you sleep at all?"

"Of course I did! It just apparently did not help at all." Sora snapped back, but softened the retort then.

"To be frank, Sora, you look like hell." So maybe Kari was related to Tai. "I have to run this to the office, but meet me in the front hallway just after class gets out." Yep, definitely related to Tai. Sora had seen that determined glint only one other time.

"Yes, ma'am." Sora mumbled as Kari walked off. She turned her head, watching the younger girl. The high school demanded that uniforms be worn, and they now looked bulky and unusual on the younger group. Sora chuckled under her breath, knowing the uniforms would be grown in to by next year.


It was thirty minutes later when the bell finally rang, and Sora quickly made her way down the hallway. Mr. Toshi had called in her into the classroom for the last five minutes of class, and told her in a very serious tone that if she were late again, detention. He wasn't usually this tolerant, but he had a soft spot for Sora.

Well. Wasn't she lucky.

But right now, she really needed to get to the freshman hallway. Sora had decided about twenty three seconds ago to tell Kari everything and hope the fifteen year old could help her. Kari had experience in certain areas, and what she did lack, she made up for with knowledge. The opposite of Izzy's.

Practically flying down the hallway, Sora nearly slammed into someone who jumped out in front of her. She skidded to a stop, nearly doing a face-plant, had the person not caught her arm.

"Sora, come quick!"

It was the unusually panicky voice of Daisuke Motomiya. Sora was immediately on edge. Not much could make Davis sound like that.

"Lets go then," she replied, giving him a shove and he took off running, Sora close behind.

The two worked their way through the crowd, each step a loud thud by her heart, which was already racing away as she held her breath. What could have possibly gone wrong?

The answer was found once she and Davis were in the courtyard, shoving through a crowd of people. Sora recognized none of them. In the center of a circle, a boy was laying down on his back, eyes closed, and looking deathly pale. Sora knelt beside him, feeling for a pulse.

There was none.

Briefly, she closed her eyes, recounting her seventh grade health class- CPR and what not. Then she snapped into action.

"Someone get the nurse, now." She shouted, her hands already on the victim's body. She rested them over his heart and shoved down hard fifteen times. No reaction. Without pausing, she leaned over and pushed air into his mouth, then settled her head on his chest. Nothing.

Growing desperate, she repeated the process. When nothing happened again, she hollered. A couple of students had ran off, trying to find the alleged nurse, but no one had returned yet. By now, though, the crowd had grown as all eyes were on Sora.

Gasping, Sora felt like an ice cube had been slipped into her body and she shivered as the cold touch filled her head. Blinking, she looked up, realizing that everyone was fading away. Blackness over took her. Soon, it was only her and the fallen boy.

"We told you not to scream."

Sora flinched at the voice, so familiar, yet so far away. She wrapped her arms together, rubbing them with the opposite hand in a weak attempt to warm up. All of her senses seemed to be shutting down.

"We will not kill this time, but be wary of your decisions. We are always watching. Always listening." The voice was throaty, slightly deep. It began to fade as sight returned to Sora. "Be careful, Sora Takenouchi."

Before Sora could find a suitable reaction, the fallen boy suddenly sat up, rolling to his side and gagging. He spit out a piece of gum that had caused the problem.

Sora was jostled back as students surged forward. The nurse appeared then, ordering everyone back. By now, Sora was at the back of the crowd; no one seemed to notice her lapse. Turning on her heel, she fled from the scene, running even faster than when she had arrived.

After a while, she was forced to stop, as her lungs where screaming, and collapsed into a convenient park bench. Her hands were already covering her face as she leaned her elbows forward on her knees. A sob escaped from her, but she wrestled any further ones back. Eventually, she leaned back against the bench, her eyes bloodshot from unshed tears.

What had happened?

She had saved the boy. No. She had been the one to nearly kill him because she wanted to tell of the strange message she had received that morning. It had happened again, and this time she had run from school, leaving all of her things behind. She had no idea what to do now.

Realization came to Sora.

She knew the reason for her lack of sleep. She had dreamed last night. But it had been a dream of complete darkness.