Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon. I do however, own characters not created by Toei.

A/N: Whew, new project! I'm really excited to start this - plus, it's something different from what I've been working on for a while. For those familiar with the Drabbles - this is the beginning of the actual main story, where things are getting going. This means that this story takes place both after the end of 02 as well as Revenge of Diaboromon; it also incorporates the CD drama "Original Story: Year 2003 -Summer-", and characters may refer to "Tegami~Letter~". I don't really use much of the other two dramas, especially as "Michi e no Armor Shinka" is a bit ridiculous (tapdancing, boys? Tapdancing? XD) and I consider the events with Willis to be out of continuity (which sadly, means no "Door to the Summer" either...). I do intend for it to fit into canon otherwise, so it does eventually end up with the ending as seen at the end of 02, which means eventual couplings are Sorato and Kenyako. Other couplings may occur over time, but considering how the series end, these obviously will not last to the end. Except for Takari, which I'm perhaps a little too partial to...

This essentially means that I go by the Japanese timeline, and most other things regarding the Japanese version - this includes scenes deleted out of the English version, the difference between 01 and 02 being three years, and the naming of the Digi-eggs of whatever as Digimentals. Mostly though, since I did originally watch the dub version, I use dub names and keep the characters a little bit more geared towards their personalities in the dub version. The exception is the entire issue with Joe's older brothers, where Shin and Shuu were combined into one character in the dub. I kind of just call them Shin and Shuu.

This also means though, that this story incorporates the light Pokemon crossover prevalent in the Drabbles. There is fairly little of it planned in this particular installment of the story (aside from maybe a few jokes and scenes towards the end), but it's much more integrated further on. Essentially, that world exists, there are pokemon as characters, and they fight and interact with others, but that's basically it. Because this entire story is so incredibly based in the Digimon world, I felt it more acceptable to place it in the Digimon category rather than in one of the crossover ones, but the warning is there.

Finally, of the other stories of mine that are incorporated - "Message of Mewtwo" is directly related (as seen by the crossover part...), though that story is currently unfinished and may stay that way for quite some time to come unless I try to get back to it. Also, "Survival of Hope", in this timeline, takes place several months earlier in roughly February, and is referred to multiple times in this chapter. Neither is necessary to understand the events of this story, also as things should be explained throughout.

Phew, I think that's it. I'm happy to get this started!

*Edit 5/14/2011*

I'm going to make this note now - I did some calculating of things, and so have made a few subtle changes in the story from chapters 1-5. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Zenkyoshi - Disconnect

1 - Old and New

I love being a Digidestined. It means that life is never boring.

... even if it means that I get stuck in these kind of situations all the time.

Tai gazed wearily up at the cliff ledge as he hung from a few rocks jutting out of the side. He could still hear Greymon shouting, and the vibrations that shook the earth threatened to make him lose his grip. He took a wary glance downward; he was thankful he had managed to grab onto a rock rather than fall the entire way, else he certainly would not have lived . Now from where he was, the distance wasn't too far, so he would at least he would survive if he lost his grip... but he could also tell it would hurt very badly.

As he heard another roar, there was one last giant tremor through the ground. Tai winced and tried to retighten his grip. As he started wondering what the benefits of taking up rock climbing might be, he thought he heard some shouts – no, it wasn't Greymon, it was a female voice –


Kari poked her head over the edge, staring down in anxiety. "Nefertimon's coming over to help! Just hold on!"

He would have given her a thumbs up had he not been in this particular situation. "All right!" he shouted upwards, catching a very good view of his hands, white from clenching onto the rocks for so long, and the watch on his wrist.

4:49. Hooray, another minute!

Somehow, staring at his watch had become a very good way to distract himself from the possibility of falling and possibly shattering both legs… and if he was lucky, nothing else, he mentally added. He was starting to have trouble feeling his hands, and he worried that meant he would lose his grip. With a grimace, he attempted to pull himself up slightly, at least to maintain a better position. Hopefully, Nefertimon would come soon...

Fortunately, Tai had no need to worry. He heard the sound of wingbeats from below, accompanied by a sweeping wind that he was accustomed to from all his dealings with flying digimon. Sparing another glance downwards, he was filled with relief as he saw the familiar sphinx-like figure floating in the air beneath him.

"You can let go now Tai," she called up.

It was almost difficult to release his grip, after having been trying so hard not to. He had to force himself to open his hands and let himself fall, but there was no fear; only relief in that at least he was going to return back to the ground without having to hit it.

He landed on Nefertimon's back with a whoomph. "Thanks," he panted, as the digimon flapped her wings and began to make her ascent.

They flew past the rock where Tai had hung for the last several minutes, and then quickly back to the top of the cliff. Kari, her long open sweater flapping behind her, ran straight towards them as Nefertimon gently landed on the soil, looking relieved.

"Thank goodness you didn't fall," she breathed, shaking her head. "Are you okay?"

Tai just rolled himself off of Nefertimon's back, allowing himself to plop on the ground and lay on his stomach. "Yeah. Just lemme' sit here for a minute," he replied, glancing over at the nearby trees. He could still hear Greymon roaring, and every now and then he saw Birdramon rise up above them, before diving back down into them and out of view.

He frowned as he gazed. "Sora's over there?"

Kari nodded. "Yeah. She wanted to be nearby in case Birdramon needed to go Ultimate."

Tai felt worried, but held onto his confidence in their partners currently fighting in that forested area. He sat up, shaking out his hands. "She might need to," he commented, rubbing the feeling back into his fingers. "I know we thought three Champions would be enough, but I'm starting to think it's not."

"It's iffy, is what you're saying," Nefertimon rumbled with a deep sigh. "I'll go aid them."

At Kari's nod, the digimon leaped back into the air, rushing through the air and vanishing into the trees.

Realizing it might not be the safest to be sitting close to the edge of the cliff he had just fallen over, Tai stood, using only his legs to propel him up as he continued to shake his hands. He carefully walked a little bit closer to the trees, glancing warily at them as he heard the sounds of combat and explosions. There was a great booming noise and the ground shook again; he bent his knees to steady himself, keeping an eye on Kari, who was right behind him.

Then Birdramon shot out of the trees, flames lighting the path her wings took her. "Tai, Kari, to the side!" she shouted, landing close to the cliff edge and facing the trees once again.

The two humans immediately jumped away from her, running towards a few large rocks that would provide cover. The sound of an explosion came from the forest again, accompanied by an angry roar and booming footsteps that shook the ground. Tai winced as he watched, hoping that Greymon was all right –

Then the Drethmon appeared.

It was in a rage, charging forward on all four of its thick sturdy legs, grey scaled mottled skin reflecting the late afternoon sun. It bellowed out a deep horn-like sound, and waving its armored head around, brandishing its large pointed horns, went straight for Birdramon, who was still perched carefully, watching its approach.

Then, just as it was about to reach her, she leapt into the air.

Drethmon, going too fast to stop, ran straight off the edge of the cliff.

Tai pointedly looked away, gazing back at the trees to see if there was any sign of the other digimon and Sora. He mentally willed himself to ignore the sound of Drethmon making contact with the ground, though it was difficult considering his own position only moments earlier. And he knew that at this height, with Drethmon being considerably larger and heavier than him... he had just the slightest bit of sympathy.

Moments after the shockwave and the resulting burst of data, Sora emerged from the trees, looking exhausted. "Well, that's a wrap," she announced, pulling a twig from her hair and dusting some leaves and dirt off her school uniform. She eyed Tai concernedly, and she quickly jogged up to him as though to check and make sure he was unhurt. "You're okay Tai? How do you feel?"

Tai laughed weakly. "I feel like my hands are about to fall off, but I'm fine. Really."

Behind him, Kari sighed and shook her head. "If you hadn't managed to grab onto that rock, you would most certainly not be fine."

He shrugged. "Well, at least you kept going after the Drethmon when I shouted at you guys to."

"Sure sign that our leader is in relative health," Sora gently punched his arm, but he caught the glance in her eye. She had been greatly worried; thinking back to one particular battle several months earlier, he understood why.

The sound of loud footsteps echoed across the space, and Tai turned towards the trees to see a familiar figure with a few blue stripes decorating his orange hide. The digimon's eyes widened in relief, and he ran forward, the ground booming in response.

"Tai!" he shouted in relief. "I'm glad to see you weren't hurt."

He smiled, jogging up to his partner and giving him a few reassuring pats on the side. "Thanks. No need to worry any more, fight's over right?"

Greymon chuckled. "Right."

It had been that battle that had changed some of their thoughts on how they should fight. Now that Tai thought about it, it had really been a miracle that the humans hadn't too been badly injured or worse in all of their previous encounters. The reality was that they were much weaker than their partners and were vulnerable as targets, especially by themselves. The digimon were stronger for it, pushing themselves to fight and protect their human partners, but at the same time, it was a potential disadvantage.

He knew that with all that had happened, everyone had bonded closer together in their attempts to both continue acting as protectors of the Digital World while also keeping each other safe. If one person fell victim to something, everyone was quick to respond. They were more of a team than ever, working together and covering if one person could not be present, communicating and making sure that each and every fighter made it through the daily encounters.

He inwardly grimaced, remembering. The battle with Diaboromon, the fights with the wilder and more aggressive digimon, the conflicts arising with the more recent connection between the human and digital worlds, and everything involving that tower months earlier…

The sight of Nefertimon emerging from the trees broke him out of his thoughts. She trotted forward, glancing about at everyone present as though taking in the status of what had just occurred. Birdramon, who had been floating over the edge of the cliff watching to make sure that Drethmon was nothing more than streams of data, flew over and landed on the ground beside Sora.

"All clear," she reported, gazing at Tai.

He nodded in affirmation. "All right. So, we took care of Drethmon and kept this area pretty damage-free. Any post-battle comments?"

Sora spoke up first, crossing her arms and setting her jaw. "Well, considering we came with an experiment in mind, I'd have to say that we barely got through it without anyone getting hurt." She looked at Tai pointedly before continuing. "Also, we defeated the Drethmon by making it charge off a cliff rather than by an actual finishing blow, so from that, I think four Champions are a better match for a Drethmon than three. We probably should have let Izzy and Tentomon be our backups when they offered."

Tai scratched his back of his head uneasily. "Eh heh. Bad judgment on my part. But three did work. Uh, anything else?"

She shook her head. "Nope, that was mostly it for me."

"All right then. Other comments?" he turned to gaze at the digimon as well as Kari, who seemed a little deep in thought.

Nefertimon caught Greymon and Birdramon's eyes. "I think the labeling of Drethmon at the Champion level is accurate," she replied. "Though it was extremely powerful for one."

"To be honest, if it weren't for all of our previous battle experience, I'd think we'd definitely need more fighters," Greymon rumbled in an admitting tone.

"Yeah. It's no wonder that Yuki's team was nearly beaten. It's a good thing that Cody and Armadillomon were nearby," Birdramon also supplied, stretching out a wing and wincing slightly when she fully extended it. "Ow."

Sora gently placed on hand on her partner's leg. "Why don't you revert back? It'll recover more quickly."

"Good point." The digimon glanced up at the others. "Why haven't we reverted yet anyway?"

"I don't know," Greymon shrugged. "But it'll be nice to."

He glowed, the light surrounding his figure. Tai smiled as he watched both Birdramon and Nefertimon also begin to glow, as they quickly returned to their Rookie forms.

Moments later, Agumon stepped up to him. "Aw, now I'm shorter than you again," he whined slightly, but with his toothy grin Tai knew he was only joking around.

He laughed. "But you got a big heart, and that's what counts!"

The others grinned, as Gatomon and Biyomon returned to their respective partner's sides.

Biyomon stretched out her wing. "Much better," she exclaimed cheerfully. "Guess I'll stay this way for a while."

Tai had to smile. "Okay, anything else?" he asked, bringing the conversation back to its main topic.

Kari just sighed. "Yeah. Where are all these Drethmon coming from? They kind of just appear out of nowhere and start destroying things, they barely talk, and they try to kill any living thing they find. They're strong for their level, and they keep coming. Why are they here?"

"… I don't know. No one does," he spoke after a moment.

He had been thinking. The recent battles and a lot of hanging out with Izzy had made him better and taking information and forming good conclusions about them, and there was something he had been wondering about.

"Well, it's not really a comment, but I have a few ideas about where we should go on this," he announced, putting his hands in his pockets. "First of all, I'm taking in Ken's theory - do we know if these things are someone's flunkies or just wild digimon that happen to be really dangerous to everything? If it's the latter, we need to go do more patrols and keep an eye out, but if not, then something's up. I mean, the Drethmon we've run into have all popped up by themselves. I've never seen one close to another, so if we get two together, what'll happen? I mean, will they work together or try to kill each other? And are they being controlled? We have no idea. I think we've got some more work to do to figure this out. And the last thing we can let happen is have a Drethmon back in the human world, so if there's something else behind all of them, then this is pretty serious."

The others nodded in agreement. "You should bring this up with everyone else," Sora replied quietly, glancing around at the area as though surveying the damage. Tai gazed at a few splintered tree trunks and craters. He quietly thought to himself how lucky they were that this Drethmon had decided to appear in a relatively uninhabited area; the few who did live there had fled long before he and the others had arrived.

"I will," he answered. "Well, I guess that's it for now. Let's head back, and I'll write up the battle report."

"Sounds great," Gatomon smiled eagerly. "I can't wait for food!"

He laughed. "No kidding!"

They took their time walking back to the TV. It was one of those early autumn days, where the heat of the summer had already diminished, but only enough such that the air felt crisp and dry, lacking humidity while being just warm enough for everyone to feel comfortable. Tai knew the leaves hadn't begun to change color yet, but he was looking forward to when they did.

To some degree, it felt strange, noting the passage of time. He glanced over at Agumon, now having to look a fair ways down to do so, then over at Sora and Kari. He knew it was only because he'd grown recently that they seemed a little shorter to him than usual, and he had to grin to himself, wondering if Kari would end up taller than Sora in the end. It was a large contrast compared to how they had been four years earlier, when they had all first gone to the Digiworld.

"Can you guys believe it?" he asked, staring up into the sky. "One year ago, we were all trying to rebuild the Digiworld and knock down the old control spires. All of that stuff with Blackwargreymon and Oikawa hadn't started. And Ken wasn't even a part of our team yet."

Sora smiled, looking over towards him. "Yeah, it's funny huh? Not to mention Joe's in high school, and Yolei's in middle school with us, and she's still taller than Izzy..."

"Yet here we are, coming into the Digiworld every day to help deal with everything going on," Kari finished. "And with everyone knowing about digimon now, plus more and more people getting digivices and partners, it just feels like the two worlds are becoming more and more connected."


Tai had to grin a little, thinking about some of the more recent Digidestined. Some were family members – Joe's brothers had gained partners, as had both of Yolei's sisters (leaving a fairly jealous Mantarou Inoue without one, but they were sure that would change) and June Motomiya. Others were friends; he now knew a few at school, and Akira from Matt's band had recently been partnered with a very nice Penguinmon.

However, one of the biggest shocks had been towards the beginning of the summer when one of his father's coworkers had come home and asked to talk to him about digimon. Tai had been surprised to find the man a new partner of an Otamamon, and had gone to quite great lengths attempting to explain things to him, with Kari helping when she could and Gatomon providing some examples.

He glanced over at his sister, remembering what she had decided to do in the aftermath of that evening. "By the way Kari, you still have the original video file of that 'Digidestined Introductory Class' thing, right?"

She nodded. "Of course I do. Is there another new Digidestined you know who might need it?"

He shook his head. "No, but I think it might be a good idea to make copies and put them on CDs to give."

Kari laughed uneasily. "And we still keep the ending part? I've never really known what to do about that."

Beside Kari, Gatomon spoke up, paws crossed over her chest. "I think you should keep it. It's a reminder that as Chosen partners, we have the responsibility to protect the Digiworld and everything connected to it. Not to mention how suddenly things can change."

"Hey, things can happen pretty fast," Sora replied, smiling. "I'll take a few copies whenever you get them burned."

Kari nodded. "Okay. I'll work on that tonight."

They walked in silence for a short time, taking in the peace that the world was giving them. It felt so strange, knowing that with everything that had happened, the peace was only relative compared to the battles and conflicts that had occurred throughout the previous year. Yet, Tai was happy. They no longer had to worry about stability problems with the Digiworld, which gave them all confidence that the worst was over, hopefully for quite some time to come.

As an extra precaution though, they had returned their borrowed DigiCore to Azulongmon in order to make sure the fabric of the world could be better sustained and kept in secure balance. For a time, it had meant they had more difficulty in fighting and with digivolving, but as a certain battle at a tower several months earlier had showed them, they no longer needed to worry about limits. The fight with Diaboromon in the spring had even resulted in more digievolution than they had thought possible.

The thing that Tai was finding bothersome now was the Drethmon. They had started appearing a couple weeks earlier, often enough that he had had to ask other Digidestined around the world for help in making sure not too much damage was being done. Mimi was in charge of keeping tabs during hours when the Japanese Digidestined were either sleeping or in school, and she had done an excellent job of organizing things among their American allies (including both Hawaii and Alaska, which meant more time zones covered). There were also some in Europe – Tai had had a good time trying to communicate with an Italian girl with his limited English skills. Rather unfortunately, she was also apparently awful at the lingua franca and they had spent an hour trying to figure out what the other was saying until Ken had suggested they all just go to the Digiworld, which somehow had translation between languages built into it. He suspected it was due to recent advances in translation software written by human programmers.

He himself had ended up doing most of the organizing with Japanese Digidestined, communicating via email between different groups. Now there were several patrol teams that made sure of things, traveling and letting him know of events and other things going on that needed attention, if they had been unable to address them. The Drethmon threat had been one.

It had been frightening, that day when he received the email from Cody, as well as Yuki (one of the newer group leaders) that a strange digimon had attacked a small village of Gazimon. Despite Yuki having four other partner pairs in her group, they had only succeeded in managing to move the Drethmon from the village to a nearby abandoned field, before realizing they would likely lose the battle and sending out an urgent request for backup to everyone. Cody had been nearest, and with his and Armadillomon's aid, they had defeated Drethmon. The battle had resulted in three of the digimon in Yuki's team having to revert to In-training forms, and two casualties back at the Gazimon village.

Ever since then, the patrol teams were enlarged to include at least six human-digimon partner pairs, and every one of the major twelve Digidestined had taken to being ready as aid whenever necessary. The only real difficulty was dealing with everyone's schedules, particularly as the older group was busier than ever.

So somehow, peace truly was only relative. With so many more Digidestined and other allies, it was easier keep the Digiworld safe, and compared to all the conflicts that had taken place earlier, this was so far not as hard a continuous battle to fight. Regardless though, he still felt worried regarding this newer threat.

They saw the TV on the path up ahead. Tai smiled, hoping that the others had been successful in what they had been doing; he was also happy to go home, though he was not quite as happy about homework and his mother's cooking (though she had gotten a little better recently).

He stretched his arms up as they approached it. "Well, here we are. Portal back to the human world."

The others nodded with him, glancing around at the forest around them. They would be leaving this world that had become so much of a second home to them, where they spent much of their time trying to defend.

"Hey Biyomon, you're still coming home with me right?" Sora asked, kneeling down so she was closer to her partner's level.

The digimon jumped up into the air, flapping her wings excitedly, and canceling out Sora's need to lower her height. "Of course! I can't wait to see your mom! And her wonderful dinners!"

Sora laughed and stood up again. "Great! She said she was going to try cooking something new today, so we can both see what she makes."

Gatomon had already hopped into Kari's arms, as she always went home with her. Given some of the things Tai knew about his sister and several past experiences, he rather preferred it. He turned towards Agumon, who seemed to be considering the option.

"Are you coming with me today?" Tai asked his partner, leaning slightly to the side.

Agumon tilted his head. "You have soccer tomorrow right? And cram school?"

Tai winced at the thought of more studying for his entrance exams. His mother had been fairly adamant about him getting into a good high school. "Yeah."

The digimon sighed sadly. "As much as I'd like to, I should probably stay here, just in case more Drethmon show up. I'll keep a watch on everything."

Beside Sora, Biyomon frowned. "Do you want me to stay here too?"

Agumon grinned at her. "It's fine, you haven't been in the human world for a while and I know you were looking forward to seeing Mrs. Takenouchi. You can help me out another day."

Biyomon nodded in gratitude. "Thanks. How about in a couple days, that way you can hang out with Tai when he's got time."

"That sounds good. Thanks Biyomon."

Tai smiled, and quietly turned around to hug his partner. "Hey, just let me know if something comes up, and I'll be right there," he said reassuringly. "And be careful."

Agumon returned the gesture, and then they parted. "Don't worry, I will. Say hi to your parents for me!"

Tai laughed. "All right. I'll see you soon then."

"Ready?" Kari asked, Gatomon still in her arms as she twisted slightly with her D3 already out.


The five of them heading to the human world turned towards the TV. Tai waved one last time to Agumon, as he pulled out his own digivice and Sora took hers, and then the screen before them glowed.

The world warped and spiraled as they were drawn through. He no longer saw the trees and the light sky of the Digiworld, but sparkling colored flashes surrounding them, numbers, characters, kana, and symbols twirling about their figures. He felt the rush of data around him, the now familiar feel of traveling between worlds and the light surrounding them…

…and the customary lack of ground at the end.



"We're never getting this down, are we?"

The five of them lay in a pile on the hard computer room floor, groaning as they rubbed backs and began untangling themselves. Above them, they heard laughter.

"Oh shut up Matt, like you don't fall flat on your face every time you come back too," Tai grumbled, removing his foot from Biyomon's wing and sitting cross-legged on the linoleum, gazing upwards.

Matt just grinned at him. "Actually, I landed on my feet this time."

"Did not."

"He did," Joe sighed from his seat at another computer, where he had what looked like a writing program up. "Patamon, TK, and I were displeased."

"... lucky bastard."

Sora sat up as well, shaking her head and crawling away from the group on the floor to sit with her back to the wall by Matt. "I wish the air mattress idea had worked. At least we wouldn't be getting bruises every time we came back from the Digital World."

"It was a pretty amazing pop though," Gatomon commented, climbing up onto a desk as Kari stood and dusted herself off.

"Maybe one of us could donate a bed mattress?" she suggested as she moved herself away from the computer they had just sprouted out from.

"That might work…"

Tai also stood, glancing at the others present. Practically everyone had managed to come that day, which had been useful in organizing and sending everyone out with different tasks. At the time when they had arrived, there were only two Drethmon spotted, so two groups had gone after them with different objectives. As he had realized, both groups were now back, leaving the last group who had gone on patrol to check and make sure things were still going well.

Of those he knew should be in the computer room, two were missing. "Where's TK and Patamon?" he asked, heading towards one of the other computers to start writing the battle report.

"They went to grab food," Matt replied, as slid down the wall to seat himself beside Sora, giving her a light welcoming hug. "Mostly just snacks for all the digimon, since it's close enough to dinnertime as is."

Tai frowned. "Makes me kinda' sad that Agumon stayed behind. I don't see Gabumon or Gomamon either, so they're back in the Digiworld?"

Matt nodded in reply. "Yeah."

"Well they're missing out on the food," Biyomon laughed, trotting over towards Gatomon. "It's one of the things I love about the human world – the food. And there's always so much to do."

Gatomon smiled as she peered down over the edge of the desk. "And now that we don't have to hide any more, we can definitely do a whole lot in this world."

Tai opened up a document writing program and began to type. Gatomon was right – now that the world knew about digimon, many of the previously partnered ones had allowed themselves to become known. As far as he knew, most kept the identities of their partners secret, so as to keep media attention away from them, and purposefully showed themselves among more than one human to keep prying minds confused. For this, he was grateful; after all, the Digidestined had lives, and most were too young to deal with constant attention from an adult world they weren't quite ready for yet. He mentally thanked those such as TK and Matt's dad, who had worked in order to make sure those with partners stayed in relative anonymity.

Of course, there were those who saw the digimon as a threat. After all, the human world had been invaded and attacked by digimon several times, and it having been so recently that digimon had been revealed, many could not accept them so quickly. Even in the Digiworld, there were quite a few inhabitants bitter that the two worlds were becoming connected in such a way. The fact that more and more people were being paired with digimon every day meant that at least there would be understanding between the two, but he knew that there was still much to do before everyone accepted each other. Right now, both TK and Matt's mother and Sora's father were the ones busy with helping the general public in the human world understand and learn about the Digiworld, but only those Chosen partners with access to both worlds could really explain things to the digimon population. He was hoping that at some point, all the Chosen human and digimon partners could help mediate between the two parties to some extent.

He had already written part of the report down, listening idly as Sora and Matt debated about some store in Shinjuku, when he heard someone open the door to the computer room.

"Hey, we're back. Oh, you guys're done! Did it go okay?" TK exclaimed as he entered with a couple plastic bags laden with food. Patamon followed with one more bag, his wings flapping vigorously as he tried to stay aloft.


"But I gave you the bag with the bread..."

"It's still heavy!"

They set their cargo down on the desk by Gatomon and Biyomon, where both digimon squealed and began to search through for something to eat.

"Yeah, aside from one near fall to his doom," Kari replied, glancing at Tai as she approached TK. "What'd you get?"

"Some onigiri, yogurt drinks, melon bread... what happened?" he asked, his bright smile quickly becoming a worried frown.

Kari was about to answer, but Tai just raised a hand and waved. "It's fine, I'm not hurt or anything. Besides, you'll read about it when Izzy compiles the reports."

"Because we all know he's the only one of us older kids with free time these days," Joe interjected with a sigh.

"No kidding," both Sora and Matt answered in unison.

Joe just grinned at them with a slightly spiteful look. "Now you know what my life was like last year."

Tai rolled his eyes and leaned over to grab a piece of melon bread. He promptly tossed it at Joe, who caught it easily. "Whatever, we all know you enjoy studying anyway."

Joe laughed as he put the bread down, returning to the computer where he began typing again.

Ah, cram school, Tai thought. The thing that so many his age went through as they prepared for entrance exams into good high schools. He felt a slight bit of jealousy for American students, who didn't have them (unless they wanted to enter a private school, like he knew one of his American friends had done... crazy girl), particularly Mimi, who had just started eighth grade and would be entering high school the next year. Which of course meant that despite being a year younger, she would be starting high school with them. Oh, how many differences existed in the American school system.

He had finished writing down exactly how he had remembered the battle going – uses of location, attacks and tactics employed, observations about Drethmon – and was about to start on the post-battle comments when the computer screen with the Digiport on it glowed.

"Incoming," he reported, watching as Sora and Matt scrambled away to make room for what they knew was a fairly large group coming through.

Moments later, the room was filled with light as several figures materialized in the air. The figures quickly took complete form as they made the full transition from a data world to a more atom based one… and immediately crashed to the ground in a heap.

Tai shook his head. "Yeah Kari, maybe that bed mattress is a good idea."

The group groaned as they rubbed whatever had landed on either the floor or someone's more bony body part. "Why am I on the bottom?" Izzy moaned from somewhere in the pile, sounding very squashed. "Ugh, my back..."

Matt grinned, but Sora lightly smacked his arm. "No gloating," she told him sternly.

Davis and Veemon were the first ones to disentangle themselves from everyone else. "Nothing new to report," the boy announced as he picked up his partner and quickly stepped away from those still on the floor. "We checked all the areas that'd been attacked before, didn't find anything that might be related to the Drethmon." Then he glanced over towards the desk with the bags. "Oooh, food!"

"Is that all you think about?" Cody, still on the floor as the others around him stood, perched himself up on his elbows and gazed with an eyebrow raised.

"Hey, I'm a growing kid, I play soccer, and I'm a Digidestined. I need food."

Everyone laughed. "Well, make sure to save some for the digimon, they need it most," TK replied as he grinned at the goggle-headed boy.

Davis just crossed his arms. "Yeah yeah, I know. It was your turn to grab food today, right?"

TK nodded, watching as all the digimon who had just arrived made themselves busy with the food bag. "Yup. Which means it's your job tomorrow."

Biyomon, Gatomon, and Patamon all stepped away from the desk to give the other digimon room, moving towards Joe, who was further away and no longer typing. "Did you finish your battle report?" Gatomon asked, tilting her head as she gazed at the screen.

Joe nodded. "Yeah, already sent it too."

"How'd the battle go?" Ken glanced over, a serious look on his face. Tai was reminded that Ken had always been more concerned about this than the others, and had been the first to think there might be something else going on.

"Fine. Zudomon was more than a match for Drethmon, but only by a bit. We noticed some other things too, but that's all in the report."

"I look forward to reading this all later tonight."

"Me too," Yolei agreed quietly.

She then turned to Tai, who was watching them all in amusement. "How about your group?"

Noticing the gazes of Sora and Kari, both of whom seemed more than a little stern with him, he sighed. "Mostly okay. We defeated Drethmon, but had some problems – we also had to trick it into running off a cliff to beat it. Close call with me too, but it's in the report."

Close to the food bags, Tentomon looked at Tai with what he was sure was a serious glare. It was always hard to tell what Tentomon was thinking based off his facial expressions. "Okay, so I know we've all been on edge about people getting hurt, a lot more than we used to, but you don't need to be shy about saying what happened."

"Really, it's not that bad, and I'm not hurt at all. Maybe I'll have sore arms or something."

Wormmon paused from eating his onigiri. "Hmm, and I was wondering why your uniform was so dirty."

"Whose isn't?" Matt pointed out.

Everyone laughed a little weakly. True, there were smudges of dirt on just about everyone's clothing, from Davis' jacket and Yolei's tanktop to even TK's vest, despite having not been heavily involved in the battle he had taken part of. Cody even had patches of green on the knees of his cargo pants from where he had apparently been kneeling on some sort of grass or other plant life. It was a fairly regular occurrence these days, though sometimes it extended into clothing damage – Izzy had once needed to replace his uniform jacket after a battle left it irreparably ripped. It made Tai wonder why they didn't change into different clothes specifically for their work in the Digiworld, and why it had stopped changing the outfits of the younger kids when they went.

Despite that, Matt caught his eye. Tai knew that look, one that had become more commonplace ever since that tower battle several months earlier. Don't get in over your head, be careful.

He nodded silently. Yeah, I know.

He turned back to finish up the report. He recalled all the comments made by the digimon, Sora, and Kari, and his own thoughts – he typed up what he remembered, and added suggestions of what to do next.

Then he pulled out from the seat of the desk and stood. "Okay, done. Sora, you saw the last parts of the battle better than me, could you add in where I left it blank?"

"Yeah, sure," she replied with a smile and she stood to take Tai's place at the computer.

It was just in time to hear Davis yell out in disbelief. "You guys already ate everything?"

Tai whipped his head around. "What? No food left for the rest of us?"

"But we were hungry…" Armadillomon answered in a tiny voice. Hawkmon and Veemon nodded vigorously beside him.

"And you just spoiled your dinner too," Cody playfully scolded his partner.

Biyomon chirped cheerfully at all of them. "But at least we're ready to fight if we have to."

"Good point," Yolei agreed.

Tai turned over to Joe. "Hey, what happened to that melon bread I threw at you?" The older boy guiltily held up the empty wrapping. "Oh."

At that, Izzy stretched out his arms, glancing at everyone. "Well if that's the case, I suggest we all get dinner. It's close to the dinner hour anyway, and I know some of us need to get home." He gazed over apologetically to Ken.

The boy in question just smiled. "I'm eating at Davis' tonight. Then we're going via Digiport to get home."

Kari crossed her arms. "As long as your parents didn't turn off your computer, right?"

"Mine is on twenty-four seven, thankfully."

Joe grimaced. "Yeah, talk about bad luck when you try to get home using the Digiport and your family's turned off the home computer."

"You and your poor brothers, all trying to get home and ending up having to pop out at Yolei's apartment instead…"

"Momoe and Chizuru seemed happy enough about it," Hawkmon replied, gazing at Joe innocently.

He blushed, just as Yolei groaned. "I still can't believe you and your brothers went on a triple date with my sisters and June…"

Everyone laughed again, just as Sora stood from the computer.

"Finished the report," she announced, glancing at Tai. "Some of your grammar is awful."

"I write like I talk," he answered defensively. "Anyway, I guess this means that we're set for the day, and we should all get real food - and thanks for getting snacks today TK," he added, glancing over at the younger boy.

He grinned back. "No problem."

"And I'll have the final compilation done by tonight plus analyzing, watch your email," Izzy nodded, gazing at everyone. "And there's a meeting tomorrow evening after you guys get out of cram school," he glanced over towards Tai, Matt, and Sora, who all sighed in unison.

"Hooray," Sora pumped a weak fist into the air with tired sarcasm.

"Shouldn't you be happier? Trying to get into a good school and all?" Matt jided at her playfully.

"But when it's after tennis club? I'll be so tired by the end of the day…"

Everyone began talking and filing out of the computer room, which Tai was surprised was still their main base of operations. He thought he heard Matt say something about grabbing food at one of the places in the subway, and a couple others agree, but he stayed back briefly as he thought again about how much things had changed. It was another strange thing, how with everything regarding Drethmon, they were treating it in more and more of how they had their information, and what conclusions they had come to. Now they relied on Izzy to compile whatever they had learned, and the entire group met almost every other day to compare notes and figure out what best to do. In some aspects, it was much more organized than how they had used to operate, but at the same time Tai almost missed the days when they just dove in to do whatever they could.

It was as they were leaving the room that he caught sight of the clock on the wall. The time stated that it was close to the dinner hour, yes, but…

He glanced at his watch, then back at the clock, which read 5:52.

My watch says 6:12... huh, it must be getting really fast.

Without another thought, Tai quickly reset his watch and decided to join everyone in finding something to eat