A/N: And finally it is done! It was originally going to be part of a larger chapter, but I felt given the events and everything it should be given it's own segment. So here it is. :) Only one new character and one new digimon, but there's also a little bit of ground-rule making here for one of the systems in the story as a whole, plus more plot fun. I don't know a whole lot about what happens prior to being released from the hospital after an extended stay or a surgery, seeing as it's been long enough for me that I either don't remember or wasn't lucid enough to remember, so here's hoping those sequences are all right.
Also, in the timeline that I put together, the day this chapter occurs on happens to be Autumnal Equinox Day, which made it interesting for me to be able to add in what normally happens on that day.
20 – Recovery and Remembrance
"And that's what we're doing now," Joe finished reading the report, and he sat back with a satisfied look on his face.
Cody nodded at him, propped up with several pillows and feeling rather amazed with everything that he had missed. He knew his teammates were rarely idle, and the new breed of Drethmon could only take up even more of their time, but the amount of information they had gathered in the few days since that battle at the ruins astounded him.
He was proud of what they had accomplished. He just wished he could help them more.
He already knew the extent of his injuries; as soon as he was conscious and feeling well enough, Mrs. Tachibana, a few from the surgical team, and his family had all come in and told him. Even before the full diagnosis he could tell how badly he had been hurt just from waking up.
And everything hurt. His chest, his back, his broken arm, his head, more. Any movement made pain shoot through something in his body, making him more than happy to remain still, despite the doctor's insistence that he sit up for short periods of time. There was a slight numbness that came with whatever pain relief medication they had given him, and he knew that in his current state everything could feel far worse, but his head still spun and left him feeling constantly nauseous.
The news from Joe lifted his spirits. It meant that they had yet another path forward. Yet Cody's current state made him feel both very excited and very useless.
Maybe I can get Upamon to Submarimon from here and send him to the Digiworld… but I don't think the room is big enough…
His family was sitting in the room along with him, just as impressed.
"It's good to know you've been busy," his grandfather commented, sounding pleased. "Making good use of the extra time the Digiworld can give you."
Joe grimaced at that, folding the sheet of paper and stuffing it into his hoodie pocket. "True, but when it's the Digiworld having issues, that makes it easier for us to miss things if we spend time here."
Upamon, sitting on the bed next to Cody but not on him, bounced a bit as he looked around the room and at the door. "That's why everyone else is staying there when they're not at school or busy, right," he said, sighing. "Gomamon too?"
Cody saw his mother look briefly to the door as though something was on her mind. She turned back to Joe, concerned. "Is this the younger children too? What do they do if their families aren't accepting of digimon, or don't know about their children being Chosen?"
The expression on Joe's face told Cody that the others hadn't quite addressed this. He did seem troubled, and at Mrs. Hida's inquisitive look, he sighed and shook his head.
"Yeah. The younger kids are involved too. You may not condone this, but I feel like you would understand why – those who have to sneak around are still doing so. They're just… sneaking more."
Cody's recognized his mother's displeased gaze, but she remained silent. His grandfather gave a resigned chuckle. "As I did say at that meeting, Digidestined will continue their work despite what obstacles come in their way, family disapproval or otherwise. Trying to stop them only pushes them the other way."
Joe cracked an odd nostalgic smile, something that Cody recognized and understood. He remembered perfectly well what it was like sneaking his partner around, even including that situation where he lied to get Joe out of class so he could help the team. He had heard only a bland summary of the events at the hospital Friday evening, but knew enough to realize that life for Megan and Mikemon would be particularly difficult in the coming days.
"Regardless, families should still know what their Chosen children are doing," his mother frowned. "We can't be there to fight with you or protect you directly, but we still have that right. I'm glad that you tell us Cody," she nodded at him with a kind look, "And I wish we could be more helpful."
"You're keeping reporters away," Cody answered gratefully, despite the mask over his face and the gentle mechanical wheeze that came with it. "That and lawyers and other people like that. Most of us don't know how to deal with it."
Everyone in the room looked simultaneously happy and anxious, something that Cody knew was due to just the act of him speaking. In his state, covered in bandages with a heavy cast on his arm, the IV and heart monitor, even the CPAP machine that was supposed to support the function of his lungs – any normal act of his could garner some hope and concern. His voice sounded weak. He felt weak. His stomach tilted and he wanted to throw up.
Despite it all, he tried to smile for the sake of everyone there. He hoped they could see through his mask with all of its tubing.
His mother placed her hand to her mouth and stood, approaching his bedside with a proud, yet saddened look in her eyes. Cody felt a comforting warmth as she gently stroked his forehead, keeping a loving watch on him.
"We try, darling," she murmured, moving some of the hair from his face. "I only wish we could do more."
He could only imagine how terrifying that night must have been, for her and for the families of all the other injured Chosen. Remembering how his father's loss had affected both her and his grandfather only brought up the guilt of his constant role as a fighter amongst the Chosen and the dangers he so often faced.
"I'm sorry mom, grandpa," he said, glancing at his grandfather as well and feeling an aching lump rise in his throat. "Sorry for making you worry."
His mother leaned forward and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, giving an embrace he physically could not return. "I'm sorry, really…" he protested.
"We're so proud of you," she replied, releasing him and hovering above with soft, smiling gaze. "There's no need to be sorry for doing your duty."
Hearing the word 'duty' from his mother made Cody freeze. Perhaps it was his current status, that of an invalid in bed after a disaster of that magnitude, or the fact that this moment reminded him too strongly of someone else who did his duty. And left his family behind.
It's like with Dad. Just like Dad. But I'm not Dad, and I can't – I won't – I won't leave mom and grandpa –
His mother had sat back again, thankfully unaware of the words running through Cody's mind. He felt incredibly conflicted, not wanting to burden her with more, but he himself still had a responsibility to the Digiworld and everything involving the world balance. He knew how rare it was for parents to allow children to fight battles they could not, and here his family was doing so. Were they really proud, believing in him despite his youth and maturity, able to let him go? Proud or resentful of what fate had in store for him? He knew the purpose of his grandfather's kendo lessons these past several months, and his mother did whatever she could to support him, but he still had to wonder.
Upamon suddenly cleared his throat, clearly trying to change the subject and lighten the atmosphere. "So, how did you guys divide up teams?"
Joe blinked, as though surprised that attention had returned to him. Cody's mother moved to the side so that her son could see the older boy.
"Well, we have Yolei's search squad recruiting digimon and getting field information," he stated, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. "Then Izzy's intel group, which I suspect may be making its permanent meeting place at the temple base until they find a good defensible location with more electric ports. We've organized patrols to happen daily again like they used to, but each with an Ultimate plus the usual backup, and we try to cover the American patrol routes when they're busy. Vice versa. It means we're all pretty stretched, but Tai's working on getting help from the European teams right now. They're the only fully organized coalition of Chosen that could spare anyone to help us out, since all the other teams are a little more scattered or less manned."
Cody was glad for the change in focus. Word of everyone's tasks helped him keep his mind off his oddly numbed, nauseous body as well as his sense of guilt.
"Is there anyone going to check out Zenkyoshi?" he asked. "One of the other teams?"
Joe shrugged. "No one right now, though Gomamon's sure up to it. Sora and Biyomon flew over it though, apparently it's pretty nice."
Cody frowned. He knew that Joe and Upamon were both looking at him, and given information about this particular temple, he knew his assistance would be very useful. But useful was about the last thing he was right now though, he thought grimly as he glanced at the IV drip beside him and the CPAP mask still over his face.
"I wish I could help," he replied. "But being bedridden does make that kind of hard… I really do sound like an alien," he suddenly remarked before he could stop himself. It was true though; aside from sounding weak, he just sounded strange, and he'd been shoving away that comment ever since awakening.
He didn't expect the room to burst into gentle laughter.
"It's true," he said earnestly, feeling the tension in his chest relax.
His grandfather smiled back. "Indeed. Though, I have to ask, are you even supposed to be talking with that mask on?"
Cody gave a slightly stiff and pained shrug. "I don't know… I mean, it's just supposed to help keep my lung from collapsing while it heals…"
He suddenly noticed the smile on his grandfather's face grow wider. His mother had also turned to gaze back at him, her eyes fond and more joyful. He just blinked back at them and wondered what he had said for this reaction.
It took him a moment to register Joe, who actually seemed, of all things, excited.
A quick glance at Upamon told him that his partner shared his bewilderment.
Joe finally released short breath, chuckling nervously. "You look confused, but don't worry. There's actually something else I wanted to tell you, and it has to do with you being injured – it's not a bad thing!" he quickly added as Cody felt a flash of horror.
"We wanted it to be a surprise," his mother nodded kindly.
Upamon bounced towards the edge of the bed. "What kind?"
Joe was practically grinning now. "The kind that gets you back in full health in a matter of minutes."
It had to be really good news then. "Okay, go for it," Cody said.
"No I'm serious. We have a digimon healer here at the hospital and she's going to heal you today."
Cody's jaw dropped.
Not that anyone else could really tell with the mask on, but he certainly felt his heart rise and body lighten, and world seemed so much brighter and filled with hope. He had no idea how else to react besides jumping and screaming for joy, neither of which he could physically do; all he could do was sit and gape as sheer joy pulsed through him.
"That's – that's – wow," he barely managed, feeling breathless. Then his responsible side jumped in. "And everyone else?"
"Them too," Joe replied, still smiling broadly. "Actually, it's already started. Ailbemon's doing Kouta right now, you're next. Yeah, she's a healer too! Sorry it took a little while, but we had to get the okay from the department, the hospital board of directors and lots of other people, and then we had to talk to everyone's families, then nearly the entire department wanted to watch so everyone's going to have random doctors visiting in – anyway, so that's the gist of it. Surprise?"
Cody started laughing. Even when painful spasms almost immediately ended it, he couldn't stop himself from feeling that giddy happiness within.
All of us then, we'll be back to normal, we can fight again, everything will be okay –
The moment was interrupted by a quick knock at the door. The room sat up in attention, but the stirring in Cody's chest calmed at the sight of a familiar bespectacled doctor.
"Oh good, all of you are here. And I haven't missed Ailbemon yet."
Cody's grandfather stood up to greet him. "No, I believe she's still with Nakamura. Are things going well, Dr. Sato?"
"As well as they could be right now. Ah, Hida! How are you feeling?"
In some circumstances, they had been lucky. Dr. Sato, the attending physician assigned to Cody, was himself a Digidestined, chosen a couple months earlier. He and his partner had kept this secret from everyone in an attempt to maintain a professional life separate from everything else; only with this sudden influx of digimon-induced injuries in the Chosen's line of work had his secret been revealed. The Chosen themselves celebrated happily welcomed the pair as one of their own, as they always did with new members, but no one knew how the revelation would affect the surgeon's image and career.
Cody nodded in reply. "I'm feeling all right… considering."
The doctor smiled. He was relatively young compared to the majority of the department, and from what Cody had learned, had only joined in the last year.
"Considering," he tilted his head. "Well, it's good to hear. I take it you've heard the good news then?" At confirmation from the others in the room, he continued. "As nervous as I am with allowing this kind of healing to occur, especially outside of current medical protocol, I have heard good things from the digimon side. Then again, you already went through all the hoops to make sure this could be done," he added, lifting an eyebrow at Joe.
The older boy looked rather pleased with himself. "It could've been worse," he rubbed the back of his head. "I'm surprised it wasn't harder."
"I'm sure things will become very interesting in the coming days," Dr. Sato acknowledged. "Especially once the media finds out. Though you have people there keeping things quiet, apparently."
"Mostly parents and family friends. It does help though."
Dr. Sato looked over at Cody's family. Then his gaze moved to Upamon, then back to Cody himself.
"Regardless, as your attending physician, I need to make sure that you are well and able even after this is done. I do have faith in my partner's recommendation, but would still like to keep you here until the point of recovery where we would normally release you."
Cody nodded, as did his family. Joe had an oddly amused smile on his face.
"I don't think it'll take that long," Upamon commented. "Digimon healers are pretty fast."
"So I've heard," Dr. Sato replied, chuckling. "Digimon in general recover very quickly; it means the healers know most about very traumatic injuries or long term digital illnesses. But somehow I don't think they're as familiar with human anatomy and physiology."
Upamon let out a small exclamation, and everyone's attention turned to him. "Yeah, you're probably right. Wow, how much did your partner tell you about Ailbemon?"
Cody was curious too. He didn't know how renowned the digimon was outside of Miro Sanctuary, though it was clear that she had been keeping a relatively low profile for many years.
The doctor smiled. He seemed eager to speak with others associated with the digital world; two months of secrecy would make anyone appreciative. "Quite a lot. I'm looking forward to meeting Ailbemon myself."
There was the growing sound of excited voices from the hall, which made Cody think that this meeting would come very soon. He wondered how many people had watched Ailbemon with Kouta and whether this was in fact the post-healing result. If it meant that Kouta was well now, it meant promise for his team as well, plus Cody himself and Morgana, wherever she was. He realized he hadn't seen Megan, Kouta, or Naomi since the desert, only heard from medical staff and other visiting Chosen what states they were in. Even brief moments with a tired Yuichi and a despondent Hikaru, both in wheelchairs, gave him a more visual recognition of the battle's consequences, if his own painful position wasn't enough.
Now he was excited too, but not just for his own recovery – there was Kouta, his team, Morgana, anyone else that could return to full physical freedom and normality…
Then there was a knock and Mrs. Tachibana opened the door.
"A few more visitors for Mr. Hida," she announced, smiling a little as she held it open.
Cody's eyes widened and he couldn't help but smile as he saw TK and Patamon walk in through the door, both practically glowing with happiness and relief.
"Cody! We're here!"
He lifted his weak right hand to wave. "TK, Patamon! I'm so glad to see you - "
The digimon that walked in after them, humanoid but tree-like in her dryad form, caught all of his attention.
"Cody," Ailbemon spoke, bowing once and then meeting his eyes with a kind, but stern gaze. It reminded him of his grandfather. "It is good to see you again, though I wish in better circumstances."
He nodded and gave another small wave. He didn't think he could manage more. "Thank you so much for coming," he said gratefully. "I… I don't know how to say how much I appreciate this, or how amazing, or what we can do to repay you - "
Ailbemon let out a melodious laugh. "Keep doing what it is you have always done. There's no gratitude necessary. You are a young warrior, you and the rest of your fellow Chosen. It's the least I can do for you."
She had a reassuring effect on the entire room, all humans and digimon gazing at her in both anticipation and respect. Though Mrs. Tachibana had left, presumably to deal with her other duties, the three remaining adults in particular seemed more reverent of the warrior digimon, for reasons that Cody guessed had to do with her abilities and the fact none of them had ever met or worked with her before. He supposed that familiarity lessened any intimidating aura she might have had, though it certainly didn't diminish the high esteem she was held in.
Ailbemon gave a curt nod to the digimon still on his bed. "Upamon." Then she turned and bowed to the rest of the room. "Joe. And the three of you… I do not believe we've met. I am Ailbemon, resident of Miro Sanctuary and combat trainer. As of now, also healer."
Cody saw his mother glance at his grandfather, who stood and returned the bow. "Chikara Hida, Cody's grandfather. This is his mother, Fumiko."
The warrior dryad digimon smiled in understanding. "I see. Then this healing will ease your hearts as well. You must be proud of Cody."
His mother's eyes glittered. "Very."
Then Ailbemon tilted her head at the last adult present. "You are one of the doctors here?"
"Ah, yes," Dr. Sato gave his own respectful bow, seeming slightly flustered. "Ailbemon, it's a pleasure to meet you. Dr. Chihiro Sato. I've heard a lot about you. I'm Ashtimon's partner."
Ailbemon's eyes widened and she straightened. "Ashtimon? Truly?! She's…" The digimon burst out with a bright, excited expression. "How is she these days? Clearly your partner, I'm so happy for her! I do hope she's kept with her sword work, she was quite talented in that regard."
Dr. Sato chuckled. "Yes, I've never felt safer walking alone at night. She's doing very well, enjoying the city and all its sights, though she's also very protective of me."
That brought a mirthful smile to Ailbemon's face. "She hasn't changed."
The only information Cody gathered from that conversation was that Ailbemon and Ashtimon knew each other, something he already knew. His confusion was allayed when Ailbemon turned to the side towards the others.
"Ashtimon was a student of mine long ago," she explained. Joe let out an understanding murmur, while both TK and Patamon replied with a surprised "Oh!"
Then she returned to Dr. Sato. "Please, give her a greeting from me, and an invitation. It would be lovely to see her again. But on to our task. You were not present while I worked with Kouta, so I shall give an explanation as I work with Cody, if that is preferable." She paused for a moment, eyes briefly blank. "Hmm. Actually, how much of healing has Ashtimon told you? And is she nearby?"
The man shook his head, and Cody thought he saw a weary look cross his face. "Well, on the matter of healing, very little. She said she didn't remember much. And no to the second, she… thought it best to remain hidden for the time being."
Everyone else in the room glanced at him. Cody noticed that they all seemed concerned, though he could only guess as to what.
"Is it the Tomitas?" Joe asked, frowning.
Dr. Sato gave a long, tired sigh, which seemed enough for the group. Cody just wondered what exactly he had missed.
I know Megan's parents were pretty unhappy that night, but what's happened since then?
His inquisitive gaze must have caught his mother's attention. She sighed and shook her head. "We'll tell you once you've recovered."
Recovered meant he would know within the next several minutes if Ailbemon's healing worked out. Cody knew he could wait.
Ailbemon had a disconcerted look on her face. She shook her head, seemingly thinking about something faintly related to the current situation. Then she quickly resumed her calm demeanor.
"Well, tell Ashtimon to see me when she is available; I think, considering your occupation, there are some pieces of her training she might be willing to revisit. Healing itself is, for digimon, a transfer of digital energy. It's the energy for us to rebuild ourselves and recover. I understand that this is similar in humans in that the body must recover, but humankind has been without a similar energy to use as we do. Digimon naturally recover within a matter of days, or they may revert to a lower form in order to better do so, but digimon healing occurs in moments. It's not a reversal of the injury, nor a speeding of time, but instead a reconnection and repairing. Scars are quite rare among digimon, but have a greater chance of forming the longer an injury is left alone before being healed.
"Now," Ailbemon glanced back at Dr. Sato, beckoning him towards the bed, "The important thing is that anything out of place – bones, organs, and so on – are in their correct locations before I actually start the healing process. This will not move a dislocated joint back into place; in fact, it may heal things incorrectly. In addition, things like screws, pins, or other devices holding parts together will be healed around, as they normally would be for the being in natural recovery. The secondary surgery is required to remove them, which I can still aid with. So, I shall ask now – for Cody, is everything in place as it normally would be?" she asked. Dr. Sato blinked. "As it would be in a healthy young human," she clarified.
The man quickly nodded. "Except for the left arm, yes."
"So everything is safe but for the left arm. Good," Ailbemon stated, and she strode purposefully to the bedside. She glanced at Upamon, who immediately hopped away and into TK's waiting arms. "Now, then, Cody."
He looked up at her as her branch-like hands gently pulled away the blanket over him. "I'm ready," he said.
Ailbemon looked vaguely amused. "I would believe so. Days of bed rest will make anyone restless," she spoke as her palms hovered over his chest. They subtly changed position as though adjusting to the right place. "It makes me feel impressed with your patience, as forced and trying as it must be. Relax now."
Despite her words, Cody felt his heart speed as he lay still, and he closed his eyes in the attempt calm himself. For a moment, he heard just the beep of the monitor, the hum of the CPAP, and his own labored breathing, but he knew the others were in the room with him, watching as this healing was about to unfold.
Then a cool, gentle rush of something flowed in through his skin, and he felt an odd burst of the desire to stand and run. It seemed to familiarize itself with his pulse and life energy as everything outside him seemed to whir, leaving him lightheaded yet peaceful. Soon the pain became distant, and he noticed a tickling sensation in his chest, a gentle evanescent fluttering that reminded him of butterfly wings, somehow drawing him into an odd waking rest.
Ailbemon was saying something else, with Dr. Sato making a few comments here and there, but Cody wasn't listening. He had never felt anything quite like this before, and the experience was enough to make him pay attention. He opened his eyes slightly to see sparkling energy, almost like pieces data he sometimes saw in the Digiworld, floating above his chest where Ailbemon's hands were, sometimes moving towards his stomach, but otherwise remaining close to the center of his body.
Then he realized that the fluttering was fading now, while his sense of the world was returning to him. Yet the pain did not come with it, and now that he realized it, only his arm remained numbly aching as it had before. Everything else was…
The energy faded, and Ailbemon smiled, stepping back. "I'm done."
Cody gasped and sat up, pulling the mask off of his face before anyone could stop him. He felt… almost normal. He was still dizzy and his headache had only lessened, and there was still the exhaustion and resulting weakness from his last few days lying in a bed, but it all paled compared to how he had been only minutes earlier. There was no pain when he inhaled. Ribs expanded equally on both sides, just like they had his entire life.
"It's… this…" he breathed freely, clutching at his chest in shock. He knew what it reminded him of, but he had never been this badly injured and this felt like so much more of a drastic difference.
"Take it slowly," Ailbemon spoke, holding up a hand. "Do not overexert yourself."
He settled back down into the indentation of his body in the pillows, feeling half overwhelmed and suppressing the impulse to jump up into the air.
I feel great, it's so much better, I just want to get up and run around because I know I can, I can breathe, I almost don't hurt anymore, this is…!
"This is amazing," he replied, feeling strength in his voice again. He knew a huge smile had plastered itself on his face. "Ailbemon… thank you, this is just… it's so amazing. Wow."
Ailbemon bowed gracefully. "It was my pleasure. I'm honored to have helped you."
She retreated from the bed, and Cody looked up to see everyone nearly frozen but gazing with such joy and gratitude that he found it hard not to grin at them. Then his mother broke the stillness by rushing forward and embracing him.
"Cody… oh, my dear baby, Cody…"
He made sure to hug her as tightly as he could, even with his broken arm. He was just so happy now, that he was well enough that he didn't need to worry her for the time being, that he could go home with his family, that he was in a state where he could go back to the Digiworld and return to the work everyone knew he was needed for.
Then she let go and was replaced by his grandfather, then Upamon leaped at him with TK, Patamon, and Joe all laughing with mirth, and all the while Cody could only join them, so caught up in all the security and freedom that came with being amongst those he cared for.
It was some time before they calmed, Cody now sitting cross-legged on the bed with Upamon in his lap, feeling wonderful at just being able to do so. He had never realized how much he took his normal physical abilities for granted.
Ailbemon and Dr. Sato were towards the back of the room, both watching in quiet contentment. It seemed that some conversation had passed between them, as the doctor seemed a little more comfortable and had a look of better understanding.
"It's great that you're well," he said, nodding. "This is pretty incredible, and though there are several things we need to do, I think given this there may be a chance you could be released today."
Cody felt his heart leap. "Really?"
Dr. Sato smiled. "Really. Um, Ailbemon wanted to ask you something first before she went to the next patient."
The digimon glanced at him, then turned her attention to Cody. "Yes, I feel a need to ask you this. You've been healed before, though circumstances were very different. How did this compare?"
Dr. Sato's brow wrinkled as he stopped and stared, astounded. Cody noticed both his mother and grandfather looking slightly confused as well.
TK turned to them while chuckling nervously. "Uh… you know, February, that whole thing. Big mystical light that healed everyone." The two Hidas relaxed and nodded in recognition, though Dr. Sato only seemed more bewildered.
Cody knew that Ailbemon was aware of TK and Kari's abilities, but he felt more surprised at her knowledge of previous injuries and healing during the tower battle. As far as he knew, the battle itself and the resulting struggle at the climax were relatively known in more information heavy areas of the Digiworld, but its purpose and most of the details remained with the Chosen. He guessed that TK had told her.
"Well, it's, uh…" he paused, trying to remember. There was a distinct difference, now that he realized it. "This time, when you healed me, it felt like some kind of cool energy entered my body and made me want to move, but then it settled and made everything kind of… flutter. Then it, um… did that until you finished. Before, there was just warmth flooding in and any pain just sort of faded. And injuries were all gone."
Ailbemon had a very intrigued look on her face. "Hmm…" she murmured thoughtfully.
Looking about the room, Cody could see that TK and Joe, as well as Patamon and Upamon, all seemed just as interested. They remember too. I guess TK and Kari's powers aren't quite like digimon's? I bet this has something to do with Kari's powers, Ailbemon is her teacher after all.
"Well, thank you Cody," the digimon said. "Please, do rest though. As I understand, once you've returned to active duty you may not have much chance."
He inwardly cringed at that, because despite his eagerness to go back to the Digiworld and help again, he knew her words were true.
"I will," he replied. "Thank you again, Ailbemon."
She smiled. "It was my pleasure. I will remain here at the hospital for a bit longer after tending to everyone. Dr. Sato, did the Sugiyama family arrive? They were not present when I went to work with Kouta."
The man still looked confused, but he nodded. "Yes, I saw them in the hall on my way to this room."
"Excellent. I will take my leave then. TK, Patamon, I will come find you when I am finished, or you may look for me. Best of luck, Cody, Chosen. I wish you all well."
With that, Ailbemon gave a formal bow and strode to the door.
Cody watched her leave, feeling as though everything that had just happened was fairly surreal. He had plenty of experience in dealing with the unknown, given all of the wacky things he had experienced as a Digidestined, but he still found it hard to quickly absorb.
"All right then!" Dr. Sato exclaimed warmly. He made his way to the bed, where TK and Joe backed away to allow him space. "So, there's still several items on the agenda before I can release you, but this includes some tests and making sure of things. You aren't fully recovered, obviously," he tilted his head at the cast on Cody's left arm, "So besides confirmation checks, and I suppose removing several stitches, we also need to schedule one more surgery for your arm. I talked briefly with Ailbemon, she said she would love to help during it, which means… well, you would be fully recovered afterwards."
Cody smiled, though he felt simultaneously happy and frustrated. He would be completely back to normal, something he was at this point greatly looking forward to, but at the same time he had to go through the entire hospital process one more time. Even if he had been unconscious for the majority of this current one, he had decided that the only reason he could tolerate being a patient was the promise of regaining his health.
Joe suddenly raised his hand. Dr. Sato raised an eyebrow and nodded. "Yes?"
The older boy looked oddly excited. "If it's okay, Dr. Sato… and you Cody," he grinned sheepishly at him, as though worried that he might be intruding or offending on the matter, "Could I… watch this surgery?"
Cody's answer was immediate. "Sure!"
He really didn't have any problems about it. Joe was a fellow Digidestined, a mentor, a friend, and for that matter someone with medical aspirations. Of course he was going to let him watch.
Dr. Sato blinked, glancing from Cody, back to his mother and grandfather, then to Joe.
"Personally I have no qualms and think it would be a great learning experience," he answered, smiling as though appreciating the enthusiasm. "You would need to fill out paperwork and likely be affiliated with the hospital, which we can do. However, I am not the surgeon doing this procedure, as it's not my specialty. You will need to ask him."
Joe's brows furrowed for a moment. "It was… Dr. Fukuhara, right?"
Dr. Sato nodded. "Yes. I'll be sure to let him know of your request. And I imagine he'll need to speak with Ailbemon."
TK suddenly burst out into a huge grin. "He already did," he laughed. "He was there when Kouta got healed – he practically pounced on her after she finished and asked if he could work with her. Well, so did like half the room. I don't think I'd ever seen Ailbemon so flustered before."
Cody had a hard time thinking of Ailbemon flustered. He could only imagine what the room must have been like.
Dr. Sato chuckled. "Well, in all honesty I would like to see this work as well. A digimon healer in the operating room could work wonders, though there's plenty about human anatomy they would need to learn. And our knowledge and medical procedures can likely go towards digimon as well. I think there's much we can gain from each other."
It's true. I guess this is one good way of helping the two worlds connect. Surgeons and digimon healers probably make a really good combo.
It reminded him of the others in that battle, the rest of Kouta's team currently in the hospital along with him. And while he was glad for them, with Ailbemon currently healing the entire group, it drew his thoughts back to the moment earlier with mention of Ashtimon and then the Tomita family.
He supposed this was probably a better moment than not.
"So, um… I'm mostly recovered now, so… what's going on with the Tomitas?"
The entire room suddenly fell still. TK and Patamon both glanced back at Dr. Sato, who had grown solemn at the mention, though Cody noticed the pair seeming oddly tense.
He saw his mother and grandfather hesitant, and even Upamon had lost his usual excitement, his ears drooping. "I don't like those two," he stated.
Joe chuckled darkly. "Yes, well after what happened that night I don't think they're that popular. We're all worried about Megan now. There haven't been incidents between Mikemon and Megan's parents, right?"
Cody was starting to think that he shouldn't have brought up the subject. But he did want to know, and if it had anything to do with digimon or the other Chosen, he felt as if he had a right to.
Dr. Sato shook his head, just as Cody began to speak.
"I heard that – oh, sorry - "
"Go ahead, it's okay."
Cody grimaced. "I've heard about Friday night, kind of. I know that Megan's parents don't like digimon, and they were really unhappy that night, but I don't really know what's happened after. I guess they aren't too accepting?"
Naomi had told him several things about her team, and Megan's parents disliking digimon was one of them. He knew that this situation applied to more than just Digidestined, but from his experience parents grew warmer towards digimon once finding out about their child's status as a Chosen.
TK suddenly gave a barking laugh. "Ha," he said bitterly. "They really aren't. That was really not a great night. I'm guessing more's happened since then?"
"Oh yes," Cody's grandfather replied, shaking his head. "They refused to give consent to allow Ailbemon to heal Megan and want to move her to a different hospital."
Both TK and Patamon let out angered groans. Cody froze.
"What?! But… they can't be that stubborn!"
"Oh, even worse," his grandfather continued. He glanced at Dr. Sato, who nodded in approval. "With everyone knowing of Dr. Sato as one of the Chosen, and him being a part of this department… things are complicated. And in particular, Mrs. Tomita is pursuing action to have him removed."
TK and Patamon's voices joined Cody's. They sounded just as outraged as he felt, and he almost wanted to hit something.
"That's awful!" Patamon cried, flapping his wings and lifting into the air, madly hovering as he continued shouting. "She can't do that! It can't be just because you're a Digidestined, she… she really hates digimon that much? He doesn't deserve this! This is injustice!"
"No kidding," TK answered, fists clenched. "With everything, and yet…"
Upamon shuddered. Cody had noticed his partner's lack of reaction, and he gently rubbed the digimon's head. "I'm guessing you knew?"
He nodded sadly. "Your grandpa told me. It's not fair! He helped save your life and just because he's a Digidestined that awful woman wants him to lose his job? It's not fair!"
Cody closed his eyes for a moment, then gazed on the remainder of the room. All four were solemn, still in place as they watched.
"That's why we didn't want to tell you until you had recovered," his mother said. She shook her head. "I'm unhappy that this is the case, but we intend to fight this as much as we can. There are far more people supporting Dr. Sato than not."
"And I'm grateful for it, truly," the doctor replied, smiling half-heartedly. "We'll see where things go. But anyway!" He clapped his hands together as though trying to refocus and change the subject. "Let's work on getting you released today, okay?"
The change was abrupt, and Cody wondered if this was something Dr. Sato was used to. Situations, trauma, emergency rooms, probably even deaths, and yet he could continue on and remain professional and upbeat. Even all of this now with the Tomitas and he still stood there doing his duty. As a fellow Chosen, Cody just wanted to help him.
Joe crossed his arms, downcast but with a hard look in his eyes.
"Dr. Sato, it won't happen."
The man glanced back at him. Joe continued.
"She's just one woman, and even with her husband they're just two people, and you've already done so much for us, you and the rest of the surgical team and this department and everyone. And now with Ailbemon helping, there's just so much possibility and medicine could even be changed because of this, with the worlds converging and all. Everyone else was excited, right TK?" The boy in question nodded. "You have a lot of people who think this could be great. And not just them either – there's the rest of the Chosen. You're one of us now, we all look out for each other. We don't walk an easy road. We all need as much help as we can get."
Dr. Sato sighed. He seemed skeptical, despite Joe's hopeful words. "I suppose," he replied. "I'll be grateful, either way. The worlds are changing, and it's hard to know what will happen."
Joe's mouth had already opened to reply, and Cody saw his grandfather move to stand, but the door suddenly burst open before anyone could speak.
"I CAN RUN!"
Hikaru barged in, still in his hospital gown as he danced about ecstatically.
"I'm okay! I'm not on an IV! Cody, you're better too! Ailbemon is so awesome! I can play baseball again! I'm healthy! I'm okay!"
He gave another whoop and raced back out.
The occupants of the hospital room just stared at the doorway, particularly as a nurse ran by after the boy.
"… I have… never seen Hikaru act like that ever," Cody stated, flabbergasted.
Joe gave a nervous chuckle. "Well, he was told he would be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. Ailbemon just saved him from that… I'm sure he was happy."
Now that Cody was more or less well, he absolutely empathized.
"He's not supposed to be off the IV, is he?" TK asked, looking half amused.
Dr. Sato sighed, though even Cody could see the man cringe. "It looks like he yanked the needle out. He's likely fine given the circumstances, but really…"
Cody glanced at the needle inserted into the crook of his own elbow and wondered when it might be removed. Despite having already done so earlier, he felt oddly nervous about even bending his arm with the needle there, and now that he felt almost perfectly healthy with the strength to move, he wasn't fully sure what to do about his IV.
But that was so amusingly minor with everything at the moment. He thought of Hikaru, running through the halls, of Kouta likely celebrating with his family, of Naomi being able to help in her family's restaurant, Yuichi whining about the heat and begging for air conditioning, and himself, shinai gripped in hands as he sparred with his grandfather. Even Megan, who despite her family's refusal to allow Ailbemon's help, might one day be able to run, cartwheel, and fly again. Then he looked at the doctor before him and realized just how many beings, both digimon and human, had saved them that Friday evening.
"It'll be okay," he stated directly to Dr. Sato. "I'm sure. You're a doctor, a Digidestined, and with Ailbemon and your partner, I'm sure you can do anything. The world will see how much digimon can help."
The man paused, and Cody thought he saw a hint of a glimmer beyond his glasses. Then he gave a genuine, gratified smile.
"Thank you Cody. I certainly hope so, but I guess we'll have to see - "
Pagumon suddenly bounced past the door. "Hikaruuuuu!" he wailed.
Everyone looked at each other and burst out laughing.
Somehow the odd moment had dissolved much of the tension in the room, returning it to the state of rejoicing from earlier. Yet it was a more informed one, and Cody was aware of how many issues he was returning to. His time in the hospital seemed more of an enclosed bubble now – a painful one, but a bubble nonetheless.
He had a duty to return to.
"Well, I'd like to make it home today too," he said. "And get everything going again. There's a lot to catch up on… and a temple to explore," he added, patting Upamon and nodding at Joe. The older boy didn't reply, but he looked excited.
"Then we'll get right to it!" Dr. Sato answered enthusiastically. "Now, I need to refer you to Dr. Fukuhara, we'll get Mrs. Tachibana or one of the others to start some tests, and I think a couple x-rays are in order… ah, apologies, if you can give me a few moments…"
He chuckled to himself and strode to the nearby monitor, presumably to update Cody's medical file with several things. Everyone in the room smiled at him as he did so. Cody really did like his doctor.
"Well, I for one am very glad with how everything's gone," his mother said. She gazed at him with a grateful, but almost sad glint in her eye. "If you can get released today then… it looks like you can come with us to your father's grave after all."
Cody felt his heart jump and throat choke. Given all his thoughts earlier, memories of his father and any thoughts of duty, it seemed extremely coincidental. "That's… that's today, isn't it?"
Both his mother and grandfather nodded.
He closed his eyes. Everything came to him, the battle in the desert, the past several hours, everything he had heard about from the others and his own healing. It felt like a whirlwind of events he had been first trapped in and then protected from, a life he was part of no matter what he decided to do. The worlds were changing and he didn't want to be left behind.
Yet sometimes, he had to turn back to the past and be thankful for what it had given him. He had always looked up to his father, the memory and honor of him more as he grew older. He wanted to remember. He wondered if all the things he did these days lived up to the job and sacrifice made for duty and the sake of all his father had loved.
He opened his eyes again, seeing Joe there, TK and Patamon, Upamon still in his lap, Dr. Sato intent at the monitor, his family before him. He had so much to be grateful for, and so much he still had to do.
"All right. That's great," Cody smiled, feeling a sense of peace overcome him. "I've… I've got a lot to tell him about everything."
And I hope he's proud of me.