My Brother
Chapter I: Runaway

It's been years since the accident. Ken's changed a lot since then, but he's always been...Well, Ken. You know? That nice and gentle kid who's always there to make you smile...

...Until about a year ago. He started playing this computer game and, well, he's been distant, quieter...Even darker. I guess he's got a hobby: Digimon. Whatever that is, I don't really follow current video games anymore. I'm stuck in the early-to-mid Playstation era. He's really hooked on it, too. I sometimes call for him outside his room and he doesn't answer, just comes out of his room at sundown.

The accident had an impact on everyone in the family. But Ken took it the hardest. I have no idea why, he acted almost like he was the one driving the car that day. I knew it would change everything but, in all honesty, he took things worse than anyone else did. I felt worse for him than I did for myself, that's how hard he took what happened. He was depressed for a long time and even when he was back to his old self he just wasn't happy, he still isn't all that happy. So when he's enjoying himself, I don't complain if he ignores me. I think he needs a break from me, I know I would. And I'm really the only one who notices him at home these days...

It was difficult, the first year or two after what happened. To say it was life changing would be an understatement. In the end, Ken was who got me through it. I owe him a lot for what he did for me.

So, like I said, if he wants to have fun playing Digimon instead of talking to me, he has every right to.

"Ken? ...KEN! Answer the door! Now!"

...Someone acknowledging Ken's existence? It's not his birthday... I have to see this.

I turn off the television and reach for the wooden cane leaning against the chair I'm sitting in. I gradually make it to Ken's room. Today is one of my slower days...Well, it's better than I was earlier this week, I'm getting back to my normal speed...I'm above snail, working my way to turtle.

"Mom? Dad? What's wrong?" I ask. They're both standing outside of Ken's room.

"Osamu, Ken is in his room, right?" Dad looks to me.

I nod. "I saw him go in there after he came back from school. I would have seen him leave, too. What's going on?"

"We're worried about Ken," Mom says. ...They're worried about Ken? Really? I was convinced I was the only one who could see him at this point. "We've realized just how distant he is and, well, he plays that game of his for hours on end. We've been trying to get him to answer his door for five minutes now...It's locked." Locked? ...Ken, just what kind of game is this?

"KEN! Open your door NOW! Don't make me break it down, I swear to the Gods I will!" Dad screams. ...Ken, are you...just trying to get any sort of attention from Mom and Dad? Not smart, especially for the 'New Ichijouji Genius.'

I wonder if any of this has to do with the soccer game against that Odaiba team the other day. He came home pretty excited for winning such a small-time game. I heard he had a bit of fun with his late entry, though. He completely humiliated the team captain, even got a "war wound," we'll call it. A pretty good scratch across his leg from a last minute block from the rival captain, Daisuke Something. Ken said he was an "all or nothing" sort of guy. Even gave Ken a slight limp, I asked if he wanted my cane for the night.

...And, of course, when Mom sees a bloody tissue in the trash she immediately thinks its mine and wants to know how I got hurt. Mom, didn't you see the soccer star limping into the apartment earlier? Did you know HIS legs can hurt, too? Shocking, I know!

...They didn't even know he had a game that day, part of why he was late. He took a cab over, I paid the fare for him. I wish I could have been there legs weren't their best that day, I barely made it down to the street. Ken told me he understood and wasn't upset that I couldn't be there. I told him I'd make it up to him later. I'll treat him to his favorite restaurant next time I can go on limpabout...Maybe get Mom and Dad to join us and talk about HIS achievements for a change instead of the usual "you know, when Osamu was your age, Ken..."

...Actually, the "when Osamu was your age" line isn't used much right now, Ken's around the same age I was when the accident happened... "Ken, when Osamu was your age, he was roadkill." ...I might use that to stop one of Mom's "my genius son" rants in front of Ken, I know he doesn't like those...He hears them all. The. Time. Yes, I'm a genius, I get it, I'm told that constantly, like, every day, Mom! Usually from you when something reminds you of when I was a kid and I won whatever school contest.

Ken, I can tell from his facial expressions, is getting tired of being compared to me whenever his grades come in. He's been getting high marks, winning a ton of academic competitions...And his usual "good going son" is hearing about when I won a similar competition when I was younger... ...Even I think that's...a little annoying.

Today he looked upset. Like something serious had gone down the night before. Must've been in his Digimon game, lost a character or major battle or something. Those MMOs can get pretty intense if you play like Ken does sometimes. Hours and hours on end... Though, the way he looked screamed 'more than a stupid game' to me. Mom and Dad, of course, didn't notice until I sort of hinted at it not-so-subtly at breakfast by saying "Ken, what's wrong? You look like someone ran over your brother or something." I loved the pissed off glare I got from my Mom and Dad for that one, but it got them to ask Ken what was bothering him...

...He said it "wasn't anything important." I think that translated to "I don't want our parents knowing." ...Sorry, Ken, I thought it'd help.

"KEN! OPEN THE DAMN DOOR!" Dad screams, pounding on Ken's door. We got separate rooms after the accident, I took over the guest bedroom while Ken kept our old one. The reason was because our old room wasn't very wheelchair friendly, the hall was too narrow for me to wheel myself and the door frame was barely big enough for the chair and it was just too cluttered with our stuff. The guest bedroom had a better layout for me.

Dad starts to back up, like he's going to ram the door. Crap, Dad! I didn't think you were serious! ...I doubt Ken did, either... This isn't going to be pretty.

...I'll defend you, Ken. I'm on your side because I'm sure you have your reasons for this.

I step back a couple steps, wincing as a sharp pain runs through my right knee. ...Bone, muscle and nerve damage all in one, joint replacement only made it hurt a little less. Lucky me. I can still move my legs, but it's making them move without hurting that's the trick. One wrong move and something hurts. It usually lasts for only a couple seconds, but it can be a really long couple of seconds...Or, sometimes, goes on for the rest of the day. Gods help me if I trip on something, especially.

Dad finally rams the door, repeatedly, the lock breaks without much effort. He looks around the room. "...Ken?"

I poke my head inside...Ken is nowhere to be seen. My parents go for the balcony, I look around the room. His computer is still on...

...Oh, Gods... "MOM! DAD! HERE!" I shout. On his computer is a message...

...He's run away. H-How? I-I would have seen him leave. ...Gods, Ken, don't tell me you tried to climb down from the balcony or something!

My parents read the letter, I stand behind them. Mom bursts into tears while Dad goes into the next room for the phone. Mom leaves the room after a few seconds, I read the letter...

...What the hell is this? "My destiny awaits?" This is...Ken, you're writing like you're in your video game or something... I mean, this language you use, the phrasing...It's hard to take this not roleplaying or something.

His browser is shrunk, I see the tab on his window bar...Maybe I can get a clue from there as to what's going on. I open it...It's of some kind. Is this that Digimon game-Wait...

...The graphics are...way too lifelike for this to be anything but a video feed. Or at least, I'd believe that if this...villain character (I'm guessing by his appearance) didn't have a little green worm running alongside him. "Ken-chan, a-are you sure about this-" Ken-chan...? Th-That thing spoke... And that cannot be CGI, the most advanced and 'lifelike' computer animations I've read about in magazines is nowhere close to that thing!

"I told you, stop calling me that!" The 'villain' turns, I see his face...Ken? I-Is that...KEN? What the hell is this? "I am the Digimon Kaiser to you, Wormmon!" Wormmon? "Chimaeramon will be my ultimate weapon against those fools! They'll regret ever hearing my name..." I-I'd...say this is Ken but...

...That's not the Ken I know. Just his voice, mannerisms, the way he's about whip that poor...Worm...thing! Ken? Is this your character-No, these graphics...It has to be a video feed...

...I know this sounds insane but... I think Ken is in his game. And...He's the villain, it looks like. I-I've never seen Ken act like this. Or even sound like this!

After threatening the green worm, he sits at a chair. He's in front of some sort of computer console with about a dozen screens. One shows a black and white map, another has a spinning black ring, another has a black spiral, a black tower. Others look to be video feeds, jungles, forests, what looks like a bunch of, I'm guessing, 'meddling kids.' They're so small, I can hardly tell...One's wearing goggles on his head...I think. That...makes him look more like some sort of video game avatar with an accessory more than some real adventurer. Then again, Ken's get up has the same feel to it, I mean, where did he come up with that? If it wasn't for that Worm, I'd swear this was some sort of live-action role play or something...

"KEN!" I shout. ...No response, he doesn't even flinch like heard me. It looks like the 'shout into the screen like an idiot' approach has failed. As suspected.

I reach into Ken's desk and look for a pen and paper to copy down the URL to this site...It's...a complex almost code-like URL. Long as hell, too-Wait...

...That device is gone. I-I've seen it in this drawer now and then for years since... ...the incident. I always regretted what I did that day and...It wasn't too long before the accident. I-I thought about it a lot in the hospital, especially after I saw how upset Ken was over the accident. When I got home, I gave it back to him, saying I was sorry and the device was his. I had no right to do or say what I did that day...Especially hitting him like that...I-I don't know why, I just...lost control over stupid.

...Ken threw it back to me, crying. I still put it in his drawer, saying, "It's yours, not mine. I shouldn't have taken it. Or hit you. ...I'm sorry, Ken." For years, I've seen it in that same spot more or less whenever I'd see Ken open his drawer. ...And now that it's gone...

...Something tells me that device has something to do with this. And Ken really the computer. The flash of light that day, the fact the thing came out of the screen! ...I-I always chalked that up to me seeing things.

I finish copying down the URL and close the browser, just as Dad comes back into the room. "Osamu, the police are on their way..."

I nod. "...I'll let them do their job. know if I can help somehow. I'm...sorry, Dad. I-I swear, I didn't see him leave. H-He couldn't have if the door was locked."

"I know, I know...It has nothing to do with you, Osamu," my Dad says. ...I strongly disagree with that. Ken's...sick and tired of things around here, and you're as blind as ever. I swear, one of these days one of us is going to snap-Well, okay, one of us DID just snap, but I meant in the 'scream at Mom and Dad' sense, not the magically transport to video game land sense. No-one ever sees that one coming.

I make my way out of the room, saying, "Let me know if the need me to give a statement or anything...I' in my room," I say.

...I need to think on this...If that really was Ken and...that was really a talking worm-thing...And I can't believe I'm even considering this as a possibility, but... Ken's in his video game, I guess.

Now I just need to figure out how to press start...

Original Author's (AKA Ori's) Notes:
And so begins the "Limping Osamu Project 2011." I call it that because...It's about Osamu. He's limping. And it's 2011. ...And I obviously suck at project names.

Hey, it's still better than the working title of Kako Mo Yadda Yadda Yadda: "I Need To Get More Sleep Fall 2010."

I begin with a content warning: Medical details on Osamu's accident (semi-graphic), the use\potential abuse of pain medication and really dark humor (eh, that one ain't so bad but might offend someone). Oh, and some strong language in a couple places (you shouldn't expect anything less from me, though). Just a heads up.

Anyway, let me know if this turns out to be a bad idea. I don't like continuing bad ideas for more than two or three chapters (this fic has eight to prove itself, Taiki made me agree to go up to his favorite chapter before I say "pull the plug" if it's bad). My other concern with this fic is that, until this, I've mostly stuck to humor and slash...So an adventure fic is new territory for me and I don't know how good\bad (probably bad) I am at that. And this is also the very first time I've ever attempted an AU fic or a "rewrite" of a season... ...So, yeah, I'm really...not sure how this is going to go.

One note: I was just watching the 02 Dub of the "How Ken Became Darth Vader" episode for some plot reference and... ...I gotta say this: I CANNOT STAND "SAM'S" VOICE! I'm using my trick for keeping Takato in-character: hearing Paku Romi (Ken\Osamu's VA) speaking English for his dialogue because the dub voice... ...would not help this fic. He doesn't have that insufferable genius tone to his voice, or even...GENIUS tone to his voice, I think. ...Though, the dialogue might also have something to do with it, too:

"What's this weird device that came out of the computer, Sam?"
"I dunno, Kenny-boy, the computer must have blown a fuse or something." ...The computer blew a fuse? That's your theory, "Sam?" Blown fuses create magical other-worldly devices? ...Really?

...Yeah, Ma and Pa Ichijouji must be real proud of that genius boy of theirs...

...Although, I wonder, if I overclock my processor a little too much... ...Digital World, I SO wanna have PicoDevimon as my partner! Got it? Time to do what I do best, destroy computer parts without even trying! DIGITAL GATE OPEN!

(This is either going to be a very awesome or very expensive adventure)

Though I will give the 02 dub props for Ken's voice (it's the one I use in my head for all Kaiser-Ken dialogue). No complaints there. Also, Wormmon's voice...Actually, I liked their choice, it does kind of remind me his original VA (Takahashi Nozomi) except deeper. Though, I really, really wish they did a better job at Wormmon's "Goodbye Ken, I'm gonna go die now, I'll say hi to Osamu for you!" speech with some actual emotion and not "I remember when you were a wee little Kaiser, trying to steal Christmas and taping over video rentals...When did you turn even more bad? Why did you go from Doofenshmirtz-level nasty to Prequel Trilogy Darth Vader 'evil?' You aren't even the good Darth Vader, Ken! You're the annoying whiney, emo Anakin Skywalker! I'm so disappointed in you! ...Ken-chan, are you actually trying to force-choke me right now?"
"...Yes, yes I am."
"It's not working."
"...I can still damn well try!"


(Okay, I will admit, after doing that mini-rant, I can see how much fun being one of those writers would have been but I still argue that they still picked a lot of really inappropriate places to throw in some really annoying jokes...I mean, crap, they just...sucked all the drama out of Ken in that episode!)

I warn: I may take some liberties with 02's plot just because I'm having trouble with the dub and the "dub jokes" are sort of getting in the way of level of plot detail I want. ...I seriously doubt the original dialogue between Mr. and Mrs. Ichijouji in the "Ken Runs Away" episode included the words "DONKEY MADNESS?" "I know, and we don't even own a Donkey..." ...Oy GOTT...

...Sorry for the rant, I usually turn to dubs these days for anime but I forgot how...bad...the 02 dub could be at times. It's literally been years since I've watched Adventure. It does bring back a lot of memories, though... ...And a lot of them involve an alcoholic Gomamon. ...What the hell was I ON back then?

Finally, this fic is only going to cover the Kaiser Arc...I'm not going to re-do all of 02, I don't think I have the ability to rewrite an entire season of Digimon. I don't even think I have the ability for this fic...I'm really not sure if this is something that I'm going to be all that good at writing...

...Zhuge Liang, help me...!

Taiki's Notes:

Good God, Ori, you rant worse than Piemon in that Dark Masters fic sometimes. I won't argue about the dub however. I've been watching the 02 Dub again as well in preparation for editing this fic and I agree there are more than a few groaners in there when it comes to the "jokes" they throw in.

I'm really excited about this project, Ori sent me a few previews and "practice chapters" he had written before really dedicating himself to LOP2011. There is one chapter between Ken and Osamu that I won't spoil but I could not get enough of it! Chapter eight, please let us know how you feel about that one!

Please give us feedback, positive or negative, Ori really wants to know if this is worth continuing or not.

Thank you and we hope you enjoy this fic!

-Taiki Matsuki