This is it, the Epilogue. Gosh, this story took months! But anyway, it's finally come to an end. Anyway, once again, thanks to those who had read and enjoyed this story. Very special thanks to those who have reviewed, and a very special thanks to SerpentTreize, who kept reminding me of my lateness when writing, and to Takari's Baybee, who I think enjoys this stories much more than I enjoy writing them, and believe me, that's saying a lot. Well, once I'm done with that, I guess I have to say that I don't own Digimon. But I do own Mina, actually……doesn't that sound weird?

EPILOGUE

Four

Takeru slowly paced around his house's living room. His frown was the most remarkable sign of the preoccupation that troubled him. He looked at Mina's bedroom's door every once in a while, just to see that it was closed. And he didn't like that at all.

What if she warps away!?

Takeru could easily break into the bedroom…or not even break; he may be able to walk through it. But his personality prohibited such acts. He respected Mina's privacy, and if she didn't want to talk to him, so be it. He would accept it, even if Mina was trying to avoid a necessary conversation. After all, the two sorcerers had a lot to talk about. Besides, it wasn't TK could wait all day. He had a very important appointment the next day, and he wanted…no, he needed to have his situation with Mina solved before that. He walked in front of the door, and raised his right hand. He was about to knock when the door suddenly opened, startling him and forcing him to retreat against the opposite wall. Mina stormed out of the bedroom. And if Mina's look didn't worry Takeru, what she was holding definitely did.

"What the hell is that for?" Takeru asked her while pointing at the suitcase with his right index finger. Mina looked at him, and the glare she displayed was so threatening Takeru gulped. However, there was something else in that look that forced TK to walk a few steps forward. Beyond the anger, there was a unmistakable sadness. Mina looked away, but she couldn't avoid Takeru's gaze, who looked at her with utmost compassion.

"Mina, what are you doing?"

The girl had locked herself in her bedroom since their return from the graveyard, twenty-four hours before. She hadn't eaten, hadn't talked to him, and by looking at the rings under her eyes, Takeru concluded she hadn't slept either. But TK had never imagined that she would be busy…packing stuff.

Realizing that Mina was completely ignoring him, Takeru insisted. "Mina, may I please know what are you doing?"

His politeness wasn't a reflection of his feelings. Truth is, he was about to explode. But he couldn't just shout at her. For some reason, he just couldn't.

"Mina, please……"

"Isn't it obvious!?" Mina finally shouted, taking the blonde by surprise. "I'm packing!"

"That I can see." Takeru replied, trying his best to remain calm. "But may I ask why?"

Mina sighed. "Duh, you idiot, I'm leaving, of course!"

Takeru's anger faded, but the puzzled look he had kept since he saw her storm out of the bedroom remained. "I'd really like to know why you could possibly want to leave."

Mina lowered her head, closed her eyes and tightened her grip on the suitcase. She was about to cry, but she was forcing the tears back. "Because I'm a burden to you, just a burden!"

Takeru shook his head, feeling an incredible love for Mina in that moment. "Mina, you've never been a burden. Not before, not now, and I don't think you'll be later. Actually, I think it's been the other way around."

Mina raised her head again. "Okay, now you lost me."

"Of course!" Takeru stated with a smile. "I've been causing you trouble since the moment I entered your life. You even died, Mina!"

Mina looked away again. "She would have killed me anyway, with or without you."

"Maybe…" Takeru replied, walking a few steps towards her. Mina noticed and moved a few steps back until she made contact with a chair. "……but that doesn't take away the risks you've been through because of me. What if Evil had done something to you? I wouldn't have been able to live with that."

"Takeru……." Mina let go with a weak voice. Her defenses were slowly going down. Takeru insisted. "Now can you tell me why do you think you'll be a burden if you stay?"

Mina's strength suddenly returned, and she faced Takeru with fire in her eyes. "Because of this!" she said, placing her hand on her abdomen. Takeru shook his head. "Nope, I still don't get it."

Mina growled and silently cursed him before continuing. Takeru nervously fidgeted with the object he had in his pants' left pocket. The time was near, but he was ready……to give away everything. Who knows, it might even turn out great for him, after all, we're talking of Mina here……

"TK, you love her, you can't deny it!" Mina continued. Takeru replied with a weak nod. "I've never denied it, Mina, and I never will."

"That's exactly the point!" Mina replied furiously. This time she didn't even bother to hold the tears from falling down. "There's nothing that stops you from going to her know. You'll soon talk to her, and you'll start a relationship. This time is for sure."

"Yeah, that's a possibility." Takeru meekly said.

"A possibility!? Takeru, you love her! And she loves you, too! I could see it in her eyes, in the way she looked at you! I saw her at the Graveyard. She's ready to face her fears and give you a chance."

"Do you really think so?" Takeru said part happy, part concerned. That changed a lot, actually. He had already lost hope with Kari, but if Mina said he still had a chance (and Mina definitely knew more than him about women), then he would have to think twice about his current plans.

No…… Takeru thought. There's no other way……this is what I have to do, it's my responsibility…………

But Mina wasn't done. "TK, if I stay……if this child stays………how would Kari react? Even if she accepted it, you'd have to live with the burden brought to you by this child. You wouldn't be able to live with that……I wouldn't be able to live with that…….and let's not think about what he would have to say about it."

Mina had decided. It was the time. There was only one choice at the moment. He had to do it.

"Mina……" he said softly. This is harder than I thought……

"Yeah?" she replied matter-of-factly.

"Do……do you love me?"

The beauty looked at Takeru with a puzzled look. Why is he asking me that at a moment like this? I'm leaving, for God's sake!

But the words escaped her mouth and there was nothing she could do about it.

"You know I do."

"Then………I guess there's no problem if I do this." Takeru said as he leaned down a bit and took position so that he was standing on one knee. He grabbed Mina's right hand with his own, and softly caressed her soft skin while he spoke.

"Since...since the moment you met me, I've only received unimaginable love from you. I……I always appreciated it, somehow………but I guess it wasn't enough……and I accept it, I've been selfish. But now that I think about it, maybe it was fear………I used to be followed by girls when I was in the basketball team and stuff but………I've never been loved……the way you loved me, and, well….that…that kind of freaked me out……"

Mina noticed that Takeru was nervously looking for something in his left pocket. Isn't he going to…!?

Oh, yes, he was going to. Before she could finish her thought, her eyes met one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen in her seven-hundred-year life. A huge ruby was incrusted in the middle of the ring and very tiny sapphires were all around it. It was almost glowing in Takeru's hand. And it was for her.

"……but I guess that would be childish, huh? I mean, I've always thought of myself as a mature person…well, it's time to prove it. Mina……"

Takeru finally raised his head and faced Mina's gorgeous blue eyes, as beautiful and shiny as a million of those tiny sapphires. But not even Mina's lovely face would make…that less difficult to our poor Takeru.

"……even if you say no to this……" Takeru swallowed the saliva he had kept in his mouth during that last minute. "……proposal……I won't let you go……because that child is also mine and I plan to be a good father for him. And I……I have thought about this long enough, and I think……no, I'm sure that I love you as much as humanly possible, or at least to your normal standards, heh……I'm ending up like a total idiot here……anyway…………would you…………would you marry me?"

There, he had said it. An awkward silence followed, in which Takeru kept looking at her, with an almost pleading look, but maybe it was that he was getting tired of staying on his knees. Mina also stayed still, pondering what Takeru had just asked her, making sure it wasn't just an incredible dream……or a horrible nightmare. Takeru and Mina, they made a wonderful couple. They were both young (or in Mina's case, looked young), good-looking, and they simply made a damn look couple. But if Takeru's words were shocking, Mina's answer was even more.

"No."

"Huh?" Takeru mumbled, making sure his ears were clean and he had heard the right thing. Mina made herself clear enough.

"No, I won't marry you, Takeru."

"Wha-wha-what? Why?" Takeru said, plainly confused. Mina pulled him up, which forced her to raise her head to look at his eyes. So confused, so embarrassed, so……questioning. To Mina's eyes, Takeru looked just like a little child who still can't understand why their parents are scolding him. It was obvious that he wasn't ready for something like that……getting married……having a child……heck, now that I think of it, it's a little too much to me, too!

But those big cerulean eyes touched her in a way she couldn't understand, and in that moment her love for him grew to an incommensurable level. She slowly moved her arms around him and wrapped him in a tight hug. Takeru, a little slowly at first, mimicked her actions and placed his right arm around Mina's waist while his left hand caressed her long, dark hair. Mina hugged him even tighter, almost as if her maximum strength weren't enough. She felt so loved, yet so lonely at the same time. Just like she had felt in the underworld. She wanted to forget that place, she wanted to feel, and Takeru was giving her that pleasure. The closeness was so relieving, so nice it felt almost…erotic. She squirmed inside Takeru's firm hold, as if she tried to acquire his manly scent, her nostrils dilating to feel even the air he breathed. She wanted him so much, yet she couldn't………not anymore. She didn't want to let go, so she spoke as they remained locked in what she considered the Ultimate experience of her love life with Takeru Takaishi. The night they spend together, it might have been pleasant, but it hadn't been 100% true. What happened in that moment, when the two of them became one in a way not even sexual union can accomplish, that……that was love, pure love……real love.

"I believe you when you say you're doing this because of love. I can see it in your eyes, too. If I had my doubts about your feelings for me, now I'm sure. I was sure since the moment I saw you, when I opened my eyes to life again. But this……we cannot do this, it's……this is a mistake."

Takeru was barely listening to her, the experience was as unique to him as it was to Mina, but he still could get what his best friend/lover/partner/newfound soul mate said. "How can……but you…and I…"

Mina interrupted him. "Believe me, Takeru. Deep inside, you know I'm right. We can't get married just because I'm having your son. No matter how much I could want this……we can't do it."

"But…why?"

Mina tightened her grip to her limit, and Takeru didn't offer any resistance or even complained. They were so close……joined together by a fate neither of them had decided, yet they both now accepted with happiness. Mina looked up. She had stayed too long cuddling against Takeru's chest. She looked up, and ignoring the tears going down her face, yet not ignoring those going down Takeru's, she replied.

"Because no matter how strong your love for me grows……no matter how much your try to convince yourself that this necessary………your love for her will be even stronger."

Mina closed her eyes. It was just too much for her. Too much bliss, too much pain, too much everything. She loosened her grip on Takeru, not only because she was tired, as she realized the horrible truth: no matter how close their bodies were, even if they got rid of their clothes and squeezed their nudes bodies together, there would always be a barrier keeping their souls apart. Mina had to put an end to it, before the pain killed her.

"I can't accept, Takeru, and that's it. With that said, do you still want me to stay?"

Takeru, unable to move his body away from Mina's, replied with a soft yet firm voice. "Of course I do."

"Takeru……" Mina said, looking at the tears coming out of Takeru's eyes. "……you're crying like a little girl!"

Takeru released a short laugh, using his left hand to wipe away the tears. As soon as he was done, he continued caressing Mina's long hair. The girl closed her eyes and rested on her loved one's chest again.

"I told you……" Takeru started, then sobbed, then continued. "…I told you I wanted to be a good father for him………and if I can't be a good husband, then……" he couldn't said another word, and Mina thanked him for him. The mentioning of the word 'husband' felt like a huge hand squeezing her heart.

Husband……a husband……my Takeru………

Mina cried even louder. What she had been looking for her entire life, what she had been searching for: a man who really cared for her beyond her looks or her powers, a man who would do anything to be with her………she had found it, she had finally found it. Yet she was unable to take it. Her search was over, and it had just brought her infinite misery.

Takeru guided her to the sofa, where they both sat, Mina immediately cuddling close to him, crying loudly with her head buried on his chest. Takeru had to go on; he had to make her feel better…if that was possible.

"…Mina, if I can't be a good husband……" Mina yelled in pain while he said that. "……at least I want to try to be a good friend……I promise……I'll never leave you……and Takeru Takaishi has never broken a promise."

"But….but you love her…more than……"

"Mina………" Takeru said softly, forcing her to raise her head, placing his right hand on her left cheek. They looked at each other for a prolonged time before TK continued. "……if I had been forced to decide a few months ago, I would have said 'Hikari' without a doubt. But not anymore……"

"Takeru……"

"I love Kari too much to do something that could hurt her. And I love you too much to do something that could hurt you. So I have decided."

"What?"

"If I can't have both of you, then I'll have none."

Mina's eyes widened and her mouth opened as much as possible. He…he is willing to spend his life without her……just to………

Her eyes got filled with tears again, but this time it wasn't just sadness. There was also incredible happiness, and an endless feeling of gratitude.

"Oh, Takeru………" Mina said as she closed her eyes. Takeru easily took the hint and leaned closer, joining his lips with hers in the simplest, yet most meaningful of all kisses. Mina caressed his back while she moved closer, moaning in ecstasy. Takeru caressed her hair and her back, sliding his hand under her clothes to feel her soft skin. Mina was about to sit on his lap to go to…further levels of passion when Takeru forced her (and himself, too) to separate. Groaning a little bit, Mina reluctantly got up, soon followed by Takeru. Holding hands, they walked together through the hallway, only letting go when they reached the entrance to TK's bedroom.

"So……are we good?" Takeru asked. Mina playfully kissed the tip of his nose. Even if it was a little childish, Takeru felt electricity flowing from that kiss.

"Never been better." Mina replied seductively, finishing with a sexy wink. Takeru smiled and shook his head.

"You're going to drive me crazy…"

"That's the idea."

"Then I better enter my room before I end up in yours."

"Too bad. There's more than enough space in my bed for the two of us. But I guess you already know that, huh?"

"Very funny. Good night……" Takeru thought for a second before finishing the sentence. "…my love."

Mina gave him a quick kiss before responding. "See you tomorrow, hon."

She gracefully leapt to her room's door before looking back at Takeru. "Takeru……"

"Yes?" TK said while reopening the door he was about to close."

"The ring………can I keep it?"

It was then that Takeru noticed that Mina was actually using the ring on her right, well…ring finger.

"I……I guess."

Mina squealed in delight. "Great! I can't wait to see her look when I show her this…"

"MINA!"

"Just joking, Takeru! But……but I'll keep it as a treasure. It will be the symbol of our union."

"Our non-marital union."

"Exactly. Good night, my dear."

And Mina locked herself in her room, leaving a puzzled, yet satisfied Takeru Takaishi. He entered his own room, noticing that, even if she was just a few feet away, he already missed not being able to see her. Just like it happened with Kari.

Yep………this must be real love………makes me have second thoughts about polygamy…………

***The Next Day***

The bell rang. Then it rang again.

"Coming!" Mina shouted cheerfully at whoever was behind the door. First thing in the morning, Takeru had warned her that he was expecting two visitors that day. Well, actually, the first thing he did was kissing me... she thought excitedly, while hugging herself, unable to resist the butterflies in her stomach. She was happy, she was cheerfully, and best of all, what had changed after her rebirth: she was loved.

The doorbell rang for the third time. "Jeez, I'm on my way!" she shouted as she walked the short trek from the kitchen to the main entrance. She opened the door and met a pair of big brown eyes.

"Good morning, Mina."

"Good morning, Hikari."

Ignoring Mina's use of her full name, Kari walked inside the house, which was unbelievably clean.

"Someone's been busy this morning, huh?"

Mina's smile grew wider. "Well, someone had to clean. Takeru didn't even bother doing that while I was done."

Kari's expression softened. "You can't blame him. He spent all the time locked in the library, looking for a way to bring you back. And when he wasn't there……"

"……what?"

"……he was in your room."

"Oh……"

Both girls lowered her heads……and Kari noticed it. "That………that ring………"

Time for some fun. "Oh, this? Takeru gave it to me, can you believe it?"

Hikari's eyes grew the size of dishes. She couldn't believe it; she didn't want to believe it. Had Takeru actually……? From what Mina later called "her favorite Kodak moment", Kari's expression changed to one of intense sorrow. I'm not going to cry! I'll be strong! Be strong, Hikari!

Okay, enough. Mina thought. "Oh, it's not what you think!"

Kari looked up again with a newfound hope. "It isn't?"

"Of course, not, silly! Now, if you're looking for him, he's waiting for you at the library."

"Waiting for me? But I never told him I was coming. How did he……oh, right, magic."

Kari walked to the library's entrance, but she stopped right before opening the door. "Mina……"

"Yeah?"

"That ring……you wish it were what I thought it was, right?"

And she entered the library. Mina's smile didn't disappear, but her look sharpened a little bit. She had nothing against Kari, in fact, she considered her a good friend, and an excellent woman. She knew why Takeru loved Kari as much as he did. So she didn't complain about Kari's words. After all, Kari had no idea……

***Inside the library***

This is it. If yesterday was hard, this will be………God, Nova Dragon, anyone! Please give me strength!

Hikari Kamiya was in front of him. While he was on his comfy chair, behind his huge desk, Kari slowly walked and sat on a chair in front of his.

"I knew you would come, Kari."

Kari meekly nodded. She was obviously pondering something. Takeru was about to enter her mind to discover what it was when he remembered what happened the last time. So he waited.

"Hmm……could you…could you move out of there? I feel as if I were talking to the principal or something."

Takeru smiled. It was little smile that could melt any girl's heart. And that smile specially affected Hikari Kamiya. "Anything for you." He said softly as he moved his chair right next to hers. After a minute, Takeru and Hikari were just one foot apart, their eyes fixated on each other. Takeru pondered, concluded and compared. When he was around Mina, the love was strong, and it was almost as if he could touch the passion in the air. It was an eternal struggle not to suddenly take her and cover her with kisses. Around Kari, the feeling was different, yet just as strong. The proximity wasn't necessary. The fierce passion, the close contact, the feeling of each other's body…those weren't necessary. After all, the simple rub, those which take place in a matter of nanoseconds, yet could dive you insane……the sweet smiles, the tender words, the moments where he seemed unable to look away from her……after all, with Kari he had all that and more. The more he tried, the harder it got to choose between the two. Finally, he gave up.

"So……is there something you want to talk about, or is this just a friendly visit?"

Kari felt strange. TK had always treated her nicely, but never with such levels of politeness. He was always a carefree person when he was around her. In that moment, he was measuring every single word he said.

"Well……I guess……I should thank you for saving me that day……I think I never had the proper chance……"

TK shook his head. "It's not necessary. Besides, it was Mina who did most of the job."

"Yeah, I guess……" Kari said softly. She remembered the reason she was there, but she couldn't find the proper words. After all, Takeru was always the one who took the initiative. I guess that's why men are the ones supposed to do this.

"TK, I……I came here to……I came here because………I have to tell you…………" Kari took a deep breath. It's now or never.

"……TK, I love you and I want to be your girlfriend!"

She waited……one minute, and nothing. She looked at Takeru, and she met the most unexpected. He wasn't looking at her, he was looking at the floor, and his fists were clenched. She could perceive a slight shaking of Takeru's body, almost as if her words had hurt him somehow.

"TK……TK, are you okay?"

No, TK was not okay. After what Mina told him the day before, he kind of expected that, but he had never prepared for such straightforwardness. It was his turn to feel what Mina had felt the last night. The sensation of triumph, the discovery that he had achieved what he had worked for since the moment he met her. He had always waited for the day when Kari would finally feel the same way he felt about her, and the day had finally arrived. The determination of his voice, how she had said it, without a trace of doubt……she was ready. She had understood, and she was ready. She had finally grown up.

Yes, he felt exactly the same as Mina felt the night before, because, just as she did, he was now forced to reject Kari.

"I'm……I'm sorry, I'm so sorry……" Takeru said, the tears once again flooding his eyes. Each word hurt more than the one before.

Kari was unable to react. She had gone to sleep the last night with the encouraging words of Mimi, Yolei and Sora. "It's gonna be just fine!" they said. "You know he'll say yes right away!" they said. "You two are bound to be together! Come one!" they had said, too. And she had believed. After all, hadn't Takeru admitted that he loved her a few months before? Hadn't he always been with her, giving her clues every now and then, clues she was unable to catch until he finally found the will to confess his undeniable love for her? She had arrived to that house with the certainty that she would leave as the girlfriend of Takeru Takaishi. She had even considered the idea of moving to his house. After all, she was an adult, and she had the right to be with the one she loved. But of all things, she had never expected to be rejected.

"TK, what-what-what are you saying?"

Takeru continued crying, this time shaking his head in desperation. "I'm so, so sorry, but I can't……not anymore."

Any other woman might have gone berserk at that point, but not Hikari Kamiya. After her near death experience, she had promised herself three things. Number one: never shed any unnecessary tears. Number two: never let anger take control of her. And number three: never go out with someone she met at one of Tai's parties. Without any trace of anger in her voice, she pointed at the door.

"Is it because of her, Takeru?"

Kari caused more than damage than she imagined with that sentence. Not only she had used TK's full name, but she had also hit right on the nail. Takeru, who had managed to control the tears from going out, responded with a weak tone.

"………sort of."

He wasn't lying. It was because of her, yes, but it was mostly because of the one growing inside of her womb. He knew he could tell Kari about it, and maybe she would understand, but……he just couldn't.

"I'm a coward…I'm such a coward……" he said to himself. Kari heard it, too, but, unable to understand what he meant, preferred to insist on her main concern.

"But……but you love me, don't you, Takeru? Or maybe……you don't love me anymore……"

"OF COURSE I LOVE YOU!" Takeru shouted. He wouldn't let anyone deny his love for Kari, not even Kari herself. Then he broke into tears. The scene was strange. Kari, normally the weak, sentimental one looked at TK with a serious look, containing mixture of pity and confusion. On the other side, Takeru, usually the cool, strong type looked so withered and weak in front of Kari. Kari could tell it wasn't because the feelings were gone: Takeru's love for her was as strong as always.

Then……why?

Kari looked at Takeru, who kept crying and talking to himself. She felt so sorry for him, feeling his weakness and grief. She was about to cry herself. She had just been rejected by her loved one. But she was tired of crying every time. She was just tired.

***Outside the library***

"So…how do you feel?"

Koushiro Izumi still couldn't believe it. Mina Kirahashi was right in front of him, breathing, smiling, and living!

"Excellent, Koushiro. Thank you."

That's what he liked the most of her: she called him by his full name. After seven or eight years, the nickname was getting kind of annoying. That's probably why he still allowed Mimi to call him 'Kou-chan'. But he couldn't help but admire Mina in that moment. No marks, no signs of her death remained. Well, he still had to check for scars caused by the knives that killed her, according to Takeru.

"Mina……did they…the knives……did they leave scars?"

Mina looked at him and smiled. "Always the curious one, huh?" she said. Izzy blushed a little bit, but then he went through three different shades of red when Mina took up her t-shirt.

"Umm…Koushiro, you won't see if you keep your eyes closed."

Slowly opening his eyes, Koushiro found the answer to his question. Takeru had been delicate enough to erase any possible remains the mortal wounds could have left. However, he was still on the verge of a nosebleed. Come on, Koushiro, say something!

"Umm……nice bra." You idiot!!!

"My, thank you." Mina replied with her usual smile. She sat down next to him after putting her t-shirt on again. She, after all, had a question of her own.

"So……how are you, Koushiro?"

The redhead lowered his head. "I……I guess I'll live."

Mina almost wished there were something she could do. But she knew that there was no cure that would heal a lovesick. Love was the only cure, and she learned it the hard way. "Koushiro……"

"Yeah………?"

"Never lose hope. That's the worst thing you can do."

Koushiro looked at Mina, who was still smiling. Her smile had to be contagious, because Izzy replied with a smile of his own. "Thanks. I guess you're right."

Mina laughed a little bit. "Of course I'm right!" And then she did something Izzy never expected: she kissed him on the cheek.

"I hope that helps you get better."

"Believe me, it does."

"Oh, so now you have a way with words, too. Is it something all the Digi-Destined have, or…?"

Izzy smirked. "I thought you already knew Tai, Mina."

Both man and woman laughed until the sound of a door opening and closing caught their attention. Kari slowly walked through the hallway and reached the living room where they were. She was silent, and the grim look on her face said everything Mina and Izzy needed to know, or in Mina's case, already knew.

"Kari, are you…?" Mina began, but Kari immediately raised her left hand. The last thing she needed was Mina's pity. Izzy remained silent, and Kari appreciated Izzy's ability to know when to shut up. If someone said another word, she would burst into tears, and she didn't want to cry. She would cry as soon as she arrived to her room, not before. But she looked back at the door, as she realized she was making a stupid mistake.

Did TK give up when I rejected him……any of the times I did? Did he ever lose hope?

No, TK hadn't given up on her, so why should she give up on him? No, she would fight as hard as Takeru once fought for her love, if not harder. She would show everyone how strong she could be, how persistent she could be. The roles had been exchanged. It was her turn to prove her worth to him. It was her turn to make him love her. And just as Takeru triumphed, she would too win Takeru's heart again. She knew she could do it. She may not be Mina, but she was a woman, too, and even she had her ways to attract men. Oh, yes, she would do it.

Izzy finally spoke, saying words that brought surprise and even more enthusiasm to Kari's expression.

"Good luck, Hikari."

And with newfound courage, Hikari managed to show him her best smile. "Thank you, Koushiro."

Izzy couldn't help but notice Kari's use of his full name, but she left the house because he could ponder it any further. He had arrived to the house to talk with Takeru, but he wasn't sure if he should do it at a moment like that. Mina gave him the answer he needed.

"Go ahead. He is waiting for you."

He nodded and got up, giving one last smile to Mina, who replied with a thumbs-up and then blew him a kiss. Izzy hid the faint blush that was quickly forming on his cheeks and hurriedly entered the library.

"Last, but not least, my good friend Koushiro."

Izzy looked at Takeru and got impressed with the way he had hidden the recent events. There was no way he could have found out that TK had been crying and talking to himself like a maniac a few minutes before. His face was as radiant as always. Izzy didn't complain about the chairs' positions and took a seat in the one in front of TK's desk. Takeru had already moved his chair back to its original position.

"I……guess you have some questions to ask me, as usual."

"'Some' is not what I have in mind."

"Well, go ahead. I have more than enough time, and we can always ask Mina to prepare an extra portion for you. You know how much she enjoys cooking."

Koushiro smiled. "Well, then. First, about……Akane………"

Takeru's expression softened. "Yeah?"

"Can you tell me everything you know about her? I'd……I'd like to know who she really was."

"Well……actually, I think Mina's the one who should answer that question, I don't know as many details as she does. As you already heard, her hatred towards everything related to magic began when she was expulsed of the Academy. Ironic, huh? A brilliant student ends up against her masters because she was a little too powerful. Ironic, but clichéd."

Koushiro looked down. "Yeah, I guess……but I still feel sorry for her."

"We all do, Izzy, we all do. Even Mina, believe it or not."

Izzy nodded in agreement. He then proceeded with his next question. "What you did with the Crests…?"

"Oh, that? Well, think of it as self-flattery or whatever, but…well, it was one of the most brilliant things I've ever thought of."

Yes, Koushiro could tell that Takeru was proud of his latest discovery. His smile said the obvious. Without hiding his pleasure, Takeru explained.

"If those crests were able to restore a whole world, they may have the power I needed to create magic spells. At first I thought it wouldn't work, being the crests digital, not magical, but then I remembered that the crests also worked in the real world, making things like allowing Digievolutions and opening gates to the Digital World. So I gave it a try. I could have defeated Akane without the Crest Magic, but it was a nice experiment."

Koushiro nodded in response, yet he still had a question.

"But I thought the crests were only artifacts. After all, and as far as I remember, the crests' power came from its bearer, not within itself."

Takeru nodded. "Exactly. When I say 'Crest' I don't mean the small pendant thing, Koushiro. I'm talking about the personality treat related to each of those runic symbols, and their respective bearer. What I mean is that every one of the Digi-Destined has a little magic power within him…or her. We already saw Tai's and Matt's elemental power. Tai is Fire while Matt is Ice. Fire and Ice are opposing elements, so I expected them to have a pretty equal amount of power. But I noticed Tai's spell to be a little stronger. I guess it's because of Sora."

"Huh?"

"Magic is not just about doing flashy effects and being able to do things no other human could do. There is a complete theory behind the use of magic spells. If you want to fully understand magic, you have to learn a lot of things first. When I was in the Academy, Tomari forced me to learn Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology before teaching me the simplest spell."

"……psychology?"

"Yes, my friend, psychology. Magic is something that comes from within each person, so it is strongly influenced by each person's mental state: his emotions, his intentions, his aspirations and wishes, his desires……if a sorcerer has obscure intentions, it will be much easier for him to use dark magic instead of healing spells, for example. Every new student who arrives to the Academy goes through a Personality Test, which helps the teachers know which areas of magic are more suitable for each student. That's the reason Mina specializes in Healing and Transformations, while your Akane was more focused in Battling and the use of the Dark Arts."

"And…which is your specialty?"

"Mine? I can do a little bit of everything, but my top choice was Forbidden Magic."

"What's that?"

"Forbidden Magic, as the name says, is magic so strong, deadly and difficult to use that just the strongest magic users are allowed to learn. And by strong I don't mean bulky or something………I mean a strong mind, capable of resisting big, prolonged efforts. Someone like you, for example."

"M-me?" Koushiro asked, puzzled.

"Yeah, sure! I told you I know a little bit of psychology, so I could make a personality check on you. You would be great in Forbidden Magic. Forbidden Magic, Basic Mind Enhancements, Long-Range Weapons and Thunder-Elemental Magic. That's your stuff……if you were a sorcerer, that is. This takes me to my next point in today's agenda."

"Huh?"

Koushiro was puzzled. TK had just said he had talent as a sorcerer, with complete details. And now he seemed to be just about to ask him a question. I thought I was the one making the questions today……

"Is…is there something you want to ask me, Takeru?"

"Ask you? No, not at all……well, maybe later. In fact, why don't you finish asking me questions?"

Koushiro nodded. By the look on TK's face, he was plotting something. Unable to predict his moves, Izzy preferred to continue his interview.

"Mina……"

"You want to know how I did it, huh?" Koushiro meekly nodded in response. Takeru smiled.

"This is something only high-level magic users can know. Not even Mina knows of this, but I will tell you because I trust in you, and I trust you won't tell about this to anyone else. Can I trust in you, Koushiro?"

Izzy firmly nodded this time. TK's smile grew wider.

"Okay. To the sorcerer race, the most sacred of all holy creatures is the Nova Dragon, my mother."

"Your mother?" Izzy asked in disbelief.

"Don't take that literally, Izzy!" TK said before laughing. "You see, according to legends and ancient scripts, the Chosen One is also known as the Child of the Nova Dragon. Technically, she's the source of my powers."

Koushiro nodded as he understood. TK continued.

"The Nova Dragon is a creature so sacred that not even Evil can touch her. Few sorcerers have seen her, as she chooses the ones who will be honored with her sight. It is said only the Chosen One has the right to communicate with her at will."

"……can you do that?"

"Of course. Anyway, when the Nova Dragon shows up in front of a sorcerer, it's because she thinks that person is worthy of receiving her blessings."

"Blessings?"

"Depending of the person, the Nova Dragon blesses him or her with the Nova Dragon Blade skill or the Nova Dragon Elemental Magic."

Takeru went into further details before Izzy even asked.

"The Nova Dragon Blade is the strongest sword technique. A blade slash that pierces even the thread of time and space. It's the technique I used to defeat the Dark Dragon of Evil. As for the Nova Dragon Elemental Magic, there are eight of them, one for each element: Nova Dragon Flare, a Fire element; Nova Dragon Tundra, an Ice element; Nova Dragon Shock, a Thunder elemental; Nova Dragon Vortex, a Wind elemental; Nova Dragon Quake, an Earth element; Nova Dragon Tsunami, an Aqua element; Nova Dragon Dream, a Light-element; and finally, Nova Dragon Nightmare, a Dark-element."

Izzy tried to catch as much info as possible, as Takeru was talking the exact same way his teacher at college did. TK was giving him a lesson about magic, and he was expecting him to memorize that info.

"Now, the Chosen, being the Child of the Nova Dragon, can use these nine skills at will, of course. I've never used those spells, as that's unnecessary and they're extremely powerful. However, if the Nova Dragon considers it necessary, she can teach a Chosen One the two Ultimate spells: Nova Dragon Genesis and Nova Dragon Apocalypse. The spell of creation and the spell of destruction. I won't into details about the Nova Dragon Apocalypse as I never expect to use it. The Nova Dragon Genesis was the spell I used to bring Mina back."

"I see……so, with that spell……you can bring anyone to life?"

"Of course not, Izzy. I may be strong, but I'm not a God. The Nova Dragon Genesis requires immense, almost infinite amounts of energy to work. I could only use with plants and small animals."

"But, then, why……?"

"Izzy, Mina is not human."

Koushiro remained silent. He found all that magic stuff hard to believe, but TK had just gone over the edge, even if that explained Mina's……beyond-human beauty.

"You have to be kidding me."

"I'm not, Izzy. She's not a human being, and I'm sure she knows that. She won't tell me what she really is, though. In fact, I don't think she knows what she really is herself. After all, she said she has always had that form, and I believe her. But I can tell you, she's not human."

"But……how can you say that?"

"No human could have lived as long as she has, Izzy."

"Akane did! And don't tell me she wasn't human, because I saw her and I have no doubts about her humanity!"

"I bet you did see her, Koushiro." Takeru replied with a smirk, to which Izzy responded with a faint blush. Takeru continued.

"The only reason Akane was able to live that long was because she drank a very powerful potion called the Elixir of Eden. Tomari himself gave it to her, before she was expulsed of the Academy, of course. There was no way Master Tomari could have known she was going to end up like she did."

"Whatever……and what if…?"

Takeru interrupted him before he could finish. "Mina didn't drink the Elixir, Koushiro. There were very detailed records in Tomari's secret room. If Mina had taken the potion, her name would be there. Her longevity is natural……or at least, it was."

"What?"

TK remained silent for a minute, pondering if he could really tell Izzy what he had in his mind. Finally, he spoke.

"I haven't told Mina yet, but……I plan to tell her soon, of course. I guess I'll tell her the child's sex, too……"

"……child?"

"……I guess that makes two things I have to tell you."

But Izzy didn't need to be a genius to understand. "Is Mina…!?"

Takeru nodded.

"With your……!?"

TK nodded again. Koushiro gasped in shock. He had gone there to get some answer, but he wasn't expecting THAT much. His next question was the obvious one.

"Does Kari know?"

TK lowered his head. "No……but she'll eventually find out."

"Well, that's obvious!" Izzy replied. "Don't you prefer to tell her personally before she notices Mina looks a little fatter than the usual?"

Takeru sighed. "If you have to put it that way……I guess so."

Now it was Izzy the one giving TK a lesson. "And you have to tell the others, too. The two of you."

Takeru nodded. "I'll do that……as long as you don't do it first."

"Telling them has never been in my immediate plans."

"Well……"

"There was something else you wanted to tell me, right?"

"Yeah…" TK replied, looking much more depressed than a minute before. "I haven't told Mina, but when I brought her back, I wasn't able to bring her……exactly the way the left."

"What do you mean? The baby is alive, right?"

"Of course he's alive! Do you think I would revive Mina without bringing my son back, too!?"

"Ok, ok, sorry……so, what happened?"

"Mina………no longer has extended longevity. I brought her back as a nineteen-year-old sorceress with a baby growing in her womb. She'll live the average human lifespan from now on. As I didn't know what she really was, I had to bring her back as a human."

Koushiro remained silent. Then he asked another question. "Will you……raise the baby together?"

Takeru smirked. "I……asked her to marry me yesterday."

Izzy gasped again, his eyes the size of golf balls. Takeru continued. "You probably didn't see the ring. The weird thing is, she declined my proposal."

"She WHAT!?"

Koushiro couldn't understand. Mina loved Takeru, everybody knew that. And maybe he hadn't admitted it in public, but Takeru loved Mina, too. I guess something has changed between them……

Takeru, meanwhile, was softly laughing. "We might not be a married couple, but at least the baby will grow with a loving family, that's for sure."

Izzy nodded. He wasn't quite sure TK was ready for something like that, but at least he knew TK would definitely love that baby will all his heart. "Good luck, I guess."

"Thank you, Koushiro."

Izzy nodded in response. TK continued.

"And thanks for saving my life yesterday."

Koushiro's body froze right there on that chair. "I-I have no idea what you're talking about."

TK shook his head. "Izzy, Izzy, Izzy……you're so naïve. You still have lots to learn. I can see through your eyes, Koushiro. I can tell when they're lying, and when they're hiding the truth. What I want to say is……Izzy, I know."

Koushiro stared at Takeru's blue eyes, in an almost challenging way, but it was impossible to resist the energy behind Takeru's look. Izzy finally broke down, lowering his head, staring at the floor.

"I want to know everything, Koushiro. How, when, where, everything."

Izzy tried to resist one last time, but it was futile. There was no way around it. He finally began to talk.

"I…have no idea why, or how. Maybe my real parents were…you know, like you." Takeru nodded. "The thing is, I realized there was something wrong about me since the age of…what would that be, six? Maybe seven, who knows? It was one of the first things that made me suspect that I was……"

"……adopted?"

"……yeah. Of course, I remained silent. Could you imagine what you guys had said if I had told you I sometimes could move things with my mind? Could you imagine what had happened if I had done……magic during our trip in the Digital World?"

Takeru perfectly understood. "So you tried to keep a calm, rather distant personality in front of everyone. I guess you don't have control over your power, and it only comes out in extreme situations."

Izzy nodded. "Exactly."

"I guess proper training would correct that."

"Forget it."

"Huh?"

"I don't want to control it. I'd rather forget about it."

"But……why?"

"Don't you see, TK? I'm a skeptic. I only believed in magic when I saw in with my own eyes. My only religion is science, and I'm a fanatic of certainty and exactitude. And…what you do……magic just goes against everything I believe in! It defies the laws of nature!"

"Koushiro, there are no such things as 'laws of nature'! They are just an invention, a way to explain what humans couldn't understand. It's an expression as meaningless as 'future'! Magic is not something that comes out of nowhere, my friend……"

Koushiro remained silent.

"Izzy, there's an explanation to everything you've seen me do. I'm not defying any law when using a spell. You just can't explain magic with the knowledge humanity has at this point. If you allowed me to, I'd show you the truth……the real knowledge."

Izzy looked down. "But……"

"Izzy, I'm not forcing you to do it. I wouldn't be a friend if I do that. But at least I want you to consider the possibility. And I also want you to think what would happen if you refused my offer."

"What?"

"Koushiro, you're a very intelligent person. You'll eventually finish college and continue your life as an investigator. Knowing you, you'll accomplish great things, and science will progress greatly thanks to you. Who knows, maybe I'm looking at a future Nobel Prize."

"Stop it……" Izzy replied kind of embarrassed.

"No, really! But then……your powers would remain dormant, slowly increasing with the years, and you wouldn't have any control over them. What would happen if one of those days you released those powers without wanting to, and you did something bigger than moving a sword through the air or making a woman fall asleep?"

"I……I never thought of that……"

"Koushiro, magic is a great possibility. Maybe one day, when humans are prepared enough, sorcerers will reveal their unique abilities to the world. Meanwhile, we'll just assist humanity from the shadows. But magic is also a dangerous weapon; you should know that by now. Your former girlfriend is an excellent proof of it. She used magic to satisfy her desire for revenge. I can't allow you to leave just like that. If you don't learn to control your power, you'll become a potential threat. And you know what I do to get rid of threats, don't you, Koushiro?"

Koushiro gulped. He definitely didn't want to be Takeru's enemy. "If you put it that way………" Who knows, maybe being a sorcerer won't be that bad…

"Yeah, sure, why not? I'll give it a try."

TK clapped in excitement. "My first disciple, this is so cool!"

Koushiro sweatdropped. TK got up and dragged Izzy outside of the library, stopping before they reached the living room.

"Well, first things first. You have to move."

"What!?"

"Of course! You'll have to be here everyday for your training! It will be much more comfortable for everyone if you move here! Mina won't mind, actually, she may actually love it! And your university is closer to my house than you apartment. If your parents don't agree with the idea, Mina's mind control spell is excellent."

"TK!"

"It was a joke! Come on, Koushiro, be happy!"

Takeru dragged Izzy in front of Mina, who looked at the two boys with a puzzled look. Takeru, with one of the biggest smiles she had ever seen on him, and his right arm around Izzy in a friendly hug.

"Mina, make lunch and dinner for three! Izzy is moving to this house!"

The news took the girl by surprise, of course. "TK, we don't have enough rooms."

"What about the guests' room?"

"That will be eventually for…well…" Mina looked at Izzy. "You know who."

"Izzy already knows, Mina. But you have a point……" TK thought for a second before making a decision. "Okay, Izzy can move to my room and I'll sleep with you, I guess."

Mina reacted in nanoseconds. "Welcome to your new house, Koushiro! I'm sure we'll have a blast together!"

Both men sweatdropped. "You sure know how to persuade her, Takeru." Izzy whispered.

"Let her be. I was already thinking of building a second floor since the baby thing……"

"That's mean. And……I have one last question."

"Shoot."

Izzy looked at Mina, who with newfound excitement prepared a third portion of food. "When did you stop loving Kari?"

Takeru's smile disappeared. "Koushiro, I have never stopped loving her. The problem is, I love Mina, too."

"And she's having your baby."

"I'll just forget you just said that."

And grabbing Izzy by his right arm, Takeru took him to the couch where they both sat and celebrated drinking Cokes, of course. Takeru was having thoughts of his own while Izzy helped Mina serve the meals.

So many things have changed in just a few months……I'm gonna be a father, I have an apprentice…I guess it will be a busy year……it was tough last year, that's for sure, but right now, I couldn't feel better……

There was still sorrow in his heart, as he had been unable to settle things with Kari. He had made a choice, and he was sure it was the right one. It had been painful, but the smiling looks on Mina's face helped ease the pain. He and Kari would find peace, one day, that's for sure. At the moment, he had other things to think about. His son, for example.

What the Nova Dragon told me……he will be strong…powerful……even stronger than me……only a loving family will put him away from the path of evil. For his sake, and for the world's safety……I'll be the best father…the best friend that kid will ever have……

Mina noticed TK was looking at her and blew him a kiss. Takeru's smile grew bigger. And Mina will help me, of course. Is it just me, or she looks even more beautiful now than before she died?

Her hair, her eyes, her lips, her skin……to Takeru's eyes, what once had been forbidden to him now looked absolutely perfect. Mina has his and he was hers, and everything was okay…well, almost everything. But Kari was a completely different matter, just like it was a completely kind of love what he felt for her. His gaze shifted to Izzy, who was taking out the dishes and placing them on the table where the three of them would eat.

Who would believe it? Izzy, of all people……I guess the Nova Dragon warned me when I talked with her. I don't think I'll any problems with him taking the path of evil, I can trust in him. Maybe Izzy's powers unconsciously attracted Akane to him, instead of Joe, Davis or anyone else. If she had found out before I did……phew, don't wanna even think about it. So, Izzy, what does this make you?

"Izzy!"

The redhead looked at his friend. "What?"

"Can you believe it? From now on, you are officially………the Last Sorcerer!"

THE END

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Well, that's it……whoa. Once again, I can't believe I was the one who wrote that. Especially the part between TK and Mina, I honestly ignore where that came from. Anyway, thanks again, and see you! A sequel? Most probably……even if I still have to think what I'd write it for. Maybe write about Takeru's son, like, you know, making him the protagonist or something. Or about how things end up between Mina, Kari and Takeru, because the way I left things here, well……but I guess I should finish The Dragon Emperor first. I just want to warn you: if I finish that fic, it will turn out as a very steamy Takeru/Mimi fic……between the limits the R rating allows. I want to explain some thing I wrote in some chapters of this fic, and present you the Kari/Takeru/Mimi love triangle-sort of which took place before "Son of Darkness, Son of Light". And that will also explain Mimi's behavior towards him in the two "Chosen" stories I've written. Well, that's about it for now. See ya!

Daneel Rush (daneel_ff@hotmail.com)