Author's Notes

I always forget to mention this: when I say I'm not updating and/or uploading new stories, it doesn't apply to random oneshots, namely ones I manage to get done throughout breaks in study, though I had actually started this before I went off on exam break.

And there is (sort of) a point to this story.

Disclaimer: don't own Digimon.

Enjoy...or don't. Not exactly the most enlightening fic in the world. For some reason, that's what I produce during exam revision. Same thing happened with the mid years, nothing light...I guess that's just me.


They had all gone. And it was time I joined them. After all, it was unlikely I would ever reawaken once I embraced the dark sleep which offered me its reprieve…Kouichi's POV

Kouichi K/Koichi

Rating: T

Genre/s: Friendship/Tragedy

He was our unofficial leader. The rock that pushed us forward through the currents even as they raged against us. The one that remained hopeful even when all other hope is lost, the one who refuses to accept defeat even when it seems inevitable, and turns a sure loss into victory . The one who took the forefront in the face of danger even when rationale eluded him. The one who kick-started the whole it was only to be expected that Takuya would be the first to go as well.

He died at sixteen, at that age where death seemed far off, even for those of us who had witnessed it earlier in life. The age where it seems our entire lives are ahead of us – only for one's to be suddenly cut short at the prime.

Soccer was his heart and soul, the thing he occupied himself with when his time was not consumed with home life, school and friends. He thrived off the adrenaline, the action...sometimes it seemed that he was almost back in the Digital World, fighting enemies while running circles around the other players and scoring goals.

Everybody who knew him expected him to die a hero. And to some extent, he did. On the field, going in for the final strike. The weather was dismal; rain poured in sheets, all in all rather befitting of the becoming tragedy. But still his energy burned, the passionate flame which flickered bright as the leg twisted back, only to trip as the opposition tackled him down – just as another player tried to kick the ball out from under his feet. The ball rolled away just seconds before as the two players fell to the floor, and by then it was too far gone to stop as the kick, hard and strong, connected where the ball had been a moment before, striking the side of his head.

Even now, six years later, I can still see that moment in astounding clarity, and what came after. He got up, like he always does, brushing off the paramedics and worried family and friends with his usual, cheerful air and the blood and wound were cleaned and bandaged. He was dragged home soon after, despite his best efforts to convince his mother to let him stay for the victory celebration; another teammate had taken the stagnant ball and scored the final goal in his stead.

And that was the last we saw of him. He went to sleep that night, and never woke back up.

We still stayed together after that, trying to hold onto what remained of our team while death had blasted our eyes open and the prospect that we would one day, perhaps soon, lose each other, blared bright amidst our senses.

Inevitably we shut others out; at that age, the wound death leaves is great, and after an old near experience, my own, which still left wounds, I don't think any of us were prepared to share that special part of us only to either give or receive more pain as a result.

About a year after, we remained like that, connected at the hip, inseparable...till Izumi's parents decided to move back to Italy, and take her.

The farewell was tearful, but as much so as it would have been had we known what would happen next. But how could we? None has the power to foresee the future, even if one believes it to be cemented beneath our feet.

After that, the four of us remained: Tomoki, Junpei, Kouji and I. Another year passed, our long made promise never to separate binding us together; even if distance and death divided us, our bonds did not. We remained in contact with Izumi as much as we were able, emails mostly though there was the occasional telephone.

And then she was coming back, to visit. We were ecstatic, though the dull echo where our sixth member once stood still remained. Until we were informed a day later that the plane had crashed en route.

No-one survived.

After that, the four of us that remained inevitably drifted apart. Kouji and I left school, Junpei having left a year earlier, and Tomoki alone remained in his second last year. It was unavoidable as our paths split; after leaving school, Junpei selected to undergo an apprenticeship with an electrician, while Kouji entered the local university to further his study. Myself, we could not afford the tertiary tuition fees; it would have been far too much a burden on our finance, so I worked wherever I could without a tertiary degree, mainly local convenience stores and fast food places that required cheap full or part time staff.

Because of this, the time we spent together was limited, and we were, to some extent, forced to reopen to other people, in either the work or school community in which we would otherwise stand alone. But regardless, we met when we could, and the largest proportion of our hearts remained with our family and the other five who were so in all but blood, the bare minimum, simply enough to avoid coming across as rude, was spared for those outside that circle.

Not even a year passed since then, and after-school classes were keeping Tomoki increasingly late at school. When we could, we met up at the gates seeing as though that seemed to be one of the only times we could all get together at the same place, sometimes all of us, sometimes only one, and, though quite rarely, sometimes none when work, university and/or family matters kept us elsewhere, in which case he would simply head on home alone.

It was one of those days when it happened. Satomi was sick with the flu, so Kouji had remained home to look after her, while Junpei's apprenticeship had taken him to Osaka from where he wouldn't return till the following day. Myself, I wasn't exactly unavailable, simply late as a last minute customer had kept my hands full and resulted in me missing the connecting bus and having to wait for the next one.

Later, I cursed myself for getting delayed, then that customer for delaying me, especially seeing as though Tomoki, assuming we were all unavailable, had set off home on his own...and what happened next.

None of us know the details; the why, the how. But we all knew the what and the when, and what hurt the most was that if I hadn't been that little bit too late, I could have prevented it.

And then I cursed the ones who did it, their sick minds in attacking an innocent passerby for their own amusement.

He had just turned seventeen.

Seeing so much death, being at the doors myself...I suppose you could say I wound up with an overall cynical outlook on the cycle as a whole. Not that the deaths of my closest friends didn't affect me; believe me, they did. But it was more like the dull acceptance; we were all going to die, and the way things were going, all young.

We made a promise to stay together, and not even death could prevent us from keeping it. But we also made a promise to let it take its natural course, to further ourselves even if others remained stagnant, to go on with life even while those around us died...and we, the three of us that still remained, honoured that.

Within our circle, three had already died, and at that stage, I was not the only one who figured we would all die young, one by one. In a sense, it had no real shock to us anymore if one of us, or all, would just drop dead in the darker moments where life's light remained veiled.

But things went on, for a time, as they do. Kouji and I alternated houses on weekends as we had done since we were newly twelve; one weekend we would spend at 'kaa-san's, while the next at 'tou-sans, and both our parents were able to spend time with us while we remained together. On occasion, Junpei would join us, or we him when his parents invited the two of us to dinner, a sleepover or the occasional celebration, or we, at either of our houses, do the same.

For us, all those outside the circle were superficial. Only our families, and the three ex-legendary warriors who remained, a family in all but the slightest ties of blood.

But 'kaa-san had been sick for a while, since I was seven to be precise, but she had always endured. I suppose to some extent, despite the deaths which ridded our lives, I held onto the childish notion that the parent was always invincible. After all, whenever she was ill, she simply endured, smiling the smile I (and Kouji too though at this stage neither one of us showed it often to those outside our little circle) inherited from her gracing her beautiful features, and tell me that she was fine. Perhaps it was the simple fact that she was my mother, or perhaps the memory of 'baa-san's death where I had crawled into her lap, despite being eleven at the time, and cried in fear of the prospect of losing her as well, and the soothing words she had hummed to me in reassurance. The same promise that we had made, only weeks later, after our return from the digital world, and my release from the hospital...that we would remain together, forever.

But 'kaa-san was no more invincible than 'baa-san, or Takuya, or Izumi, or Tomoko. And deep down, I knew that. And eventually, her body gave out as the terminal disease caught up with her, and she was admitted.

A few days passed since then, but there was no hope for recovery, and she passed away.

Suffice to say, it was a painfully secluded twentieth birthday.

I lived with Kouji, my father, and my stepmother after that, despite being old enough legally to live alone. I didn't think I'd be able to bear the solitude, now that another part of my heart had died as well. Things progressed...slowly, as the new arrangements required adaption; the jobs I had taken on were too far, and no longer needed though I hated to depend on someone else, and 'tou-san clearly knew that. But he needed the chance to raise the son he never could, and there was so sense in defying something so futile.

And it gave me the chance to pursue further study and advance towards the dreams I had pushed dormant. And while Kouji leaned towards the sciences, I chose the arts. Funnily enough, in a sense, I followed Satomi's footsteps, taking aesthetic pleasure from sketching nature into dormancy, or letting the pen fly across the page as I poured my thoughts out into paper, or simply thinking about how people think, their expression of emotion, perception, their personality and what defines them...if I had ever the chance to major, Satomi at least agrees that the subject would have been psychology.

That brought us closer together, sharing that comment interest, and it was good, because that particular bond had always been slightly disconnected, as is with all new family members, especially between two in which there is a degree of awkwardness...and it brought up uncomfortable memories, some, though not all, attributed to Duskmon.

I mean, even before the Digital World, back where I was only five at most, I would think about 'tou-san, happy with another woman, and hate her for taking that away from my own mother, too young then to listen to the more rational part of my brain which, and later simply to deep in darkness, to see that they had only met two years after the divorce, and in all sense, she was the last person one could blame for it all.

But it wouldn't last long. Within the year of my mother's death, Junpei, too, died. Almost at graduation, he, along with another trainee, had been working on the Yamanote railway lines when an accident at the power station caused the lines to short-circuit and the electricity to shoot through the metal rails and any who stood upon them.

Six people were killed in that accident. He was one of them.

Then it was just Kouji and I. And what remained of our family: 'tou-san and Satomi, who for all her kindness I could never bear to call 'kaa-san, and she never expected me too.

Then two weeks later, death's final swipe felled us too.

We were all in 'tou-san's car, Kouji and I at the back, 'tou-san driving and Satomi at the front with him, on our way to the graveyard, the place where our circle had been buried, side by side. The weather was dismal, the rain poured, and all in all reflected the day where the first of us Chosen had fallen just over five years hence.

Not the picture-perfect twenty-first, but once again, rather befitting, and in a sense, there was the silver lining in the grey clouds that from that day, had loomed above us.

The slated rain made it rather difficult for any driver to see the road, even more so to drive smoothly while both blinded and lacking friction. It's hard to say what happened next, but I would assume another vehicle spun out of control, because the first I knew of anything save the despairing rain was the sudden noise which filled my ears, sort of a cross between a screech and a squeal, followed by the sound of metal crunching metal...then darkness and an all too familiar pain.

The pain of having your digi-code ripped forcibly from your body is enough to make anyone, even one not physically on the plane of existence, pass out from it all, but I figured then and there that that would be the worst I would ever experience.

I was wrong, because upon waking up to a white room and the smell of anaesthetic and medication despite the tube through my nostrils and throat and the needle pinching into my skin, I felt worse.

The physical pain had been slightly numbed by anaesthetic, but both my body and my soul screamed as though they were being torn from each other, and the world. Perhaps they had been then, I do not know. My senses drowned and my heart pumped ferociously in a futile effort to sustain my life, as even as my eyes flickered of their own accord, their sight dimmed, people adorned in masks, doctors, nurses, came into view, each wearing the same grim expression on their face.

One opened their mouth, but whatever they were going to say, all I wanted to know was one thing.

'My family,' I croaked, my throat screaming in protest yet just as desperate as the rest of me to know. 'Where-?'

'Dead.' The speaker turned away, but I had the answer I needed, or rather, the confirmation, because despite the desperation in which my heart still pounded vitality, it was empty, the last embers which had held our circle together had died out, or was soon to die.

Sleep beckoned, and I embraced its call. They had all gone. And it was time I joined them. After all, it was unlikely I would ever reawaken once I embraced the dark sleep which offered me its reprieve.

It wasn't an awakening, not really. More so, it was time in which death would soon knock on the doors. I wondered if the others had felt the same, felt their eyes open as their senses shut, and the call of the heavens to echo through their ears and coax the spirit from its worldly bondage. I wondered if they had felt the soothing sensation which numbed the worldly pain, physical, emotional...I wondered if they had this moment of tranquillity before their ties with this world were cut.

I hoped they did, and somewhere, somehow, I felt they did too. And as darkness once more gathered me into its embrace, I could hear their voices, Kouji's, my parents', Junpei's, Tomoki's, Izumi's, Takuya's...calling me, calling the promise we made long ago to be honoured.

Yeah...I wouldn't be waking from this dream, in which the promises bound us all eternally. Where death had brought us into our eternal circle, the gaps that had formed over the years whole again and now ever enduring. The hereafter which would always last...

...because nothing could separate us, not even death.

Because the ceaseless bliss shrouded all else, covering all with its heavenly blanket as the monotone beep faded into nothingness...

Notes: If anyone lost track or got confused, here's the ages where each character died, their order, and the age Kouichi was at the time of death seeing as though he's the narrator:

Takuya – died at sixteen (Kouichi was also sixteen)

Izumi – died at eighteen (Kouichi was also eighteen)

Tomoki – died at seventeen (when Kouichi was nineteen)

Tomoko – died at forty-two (when Kouichi was twenty)

Junpei – died at twenty-two (when Kouichi was twenty)

Kousei – died at forty-seven (when Kouichi was twenty-one)

Satomi – died at forty (" ... ")

Kouji – died at twenty-one (" ... ")

Kouichi – died at twenty-one

And if anyone is confused as to the time and context, this was on Kouichi's deathbed, and that last section took place in a slightly longer time span from which it is read. It just reads shorter because his senses are going downhill.

And when the senses drowned, it was first taste, then feeling, then smelling, then seeing, then finally hearing.

Ja mata ne.