Chapter XV: Don't Smile
...I-I...I couldn't believe he...sacrificed himself for Ken like that...
When it happened, Ken... ...Broke down in a way I had never seen him before. Ever.
I-I think he actually had a flashback to the day of the accident, too...When Wormmon died, Ken collapsed and just screamed "Wormmon" and "Osamu" over and over for...I don't even know how long. After he finally stopped, he said, "I came here...so I wouldn't feel like this ever again..."
I told the others I'd take care of him, they went back to Earth. Ken spent a good hour or so crying, holding onto me. I couldn't make sense of anything he said for a while.
Kunemon took Wormmon's death hard, too. I had Ken in my arms and Kunemon at my side. When Ken finally calmed down, we went in search of an exit point...
We returned in my room, I managed to sneak Ken to his room without Mom seeing him. I told our Mother, after Ken was in bed, that he...needed some time alone. We agreed that, when Dad asked how Ken got home, I'd say I found him like this in the city on my way back from the "camping trip" with the others.
Mom...didn't quite understand what I meant when I told her his "partner" had died. It took some explanation. Unfortunately, I think she's currently equating it to the death of a pet...It's a lot more than that but she sort of understands, at least...
It's been a day, Ken got his space from Mom and Dad...They checked on him once last night before going to bed, he...was pretty much unresponsive and still in tears. It's painful for them to see him like this.
I need to go see my brother now. He's had his time and... ...I need to know if he can live with himself. When he first realized I was holding onto him, letting him cry on my shoulder in the Digital World...He tried to resist and push himself away. Not because he hated me, he was apologizing...He kept repeating the words "I'm sorry" after I got him to stop pushing away... ...I know he's realized everything he's said to me this whole time, the look on his face when he realized I was the one he was crying on...It was obvious he had some regrets. He cried even harder when he saw it was me, when he tried to get away I held him tighter and said, "It's okay, Ken. Take your time...Just take your time. I'm here...I won't leave. I'm here for you."
...Time to see if my one strategy from the very beginning worked. Hopefully, it's the one plan of mine in this whole mess that does work...Please, Gods, that's all I ask...Let Ken live with himself.
I left Minomon in my room, he's hopefully eating some of the food I left him...He doesn't have much of an appetite right now. I think bringing him with me for this would remind Ken too much of Wormmon.
...I'm debating as to whether or not I should tell Ken about Beginnings, what I read about in Koushirou's notes on The Digital World. ...If Digimon really are reborn, will Wormmon still be Wormmon or is his data just...recycled and he has no memories of the past? For that matter, will he even be Wormmon in terms of appearance any more? ...I don't want to get Ken's hopes up...I don't want to get my hopes up.
I did find out that "turn to dust" thing I'd been seeing with evil rings and Ken's uniform the other day, that's "deletion," when something in The Digital World turns back into data to be reconfigured...Jyou explained it to me, he called last night to find out how Ken was doing...He expressed his condolences over Wormmon's death. I was glad he called, I...needed someone to talk to about all this, someone who understood what was going on. We spent most of the night on the phone...I-I needed to talk to a friend after all that...I was so thankful for Jyou's call.
...The Digimon Kaiser had trouble believing Digimon were real. I have trouble believing they're "data." I've come to a conclusion: I'm too logical of a thinker for things like The Digital World...It's too weird for me. Ken...Ken had that imagination, he's the sort of person who would love something like The Digital World, especially when he was a little kid... ...Just...what inspired The Digimon Kaiser? It's...nothing I've ever seen in Ken...
I...I really hope there's more to it than this... That dream I had years ago... ...I-I know there's something to this but...What?
I knock on Ken's door. "...Ken. I'm coming in." I say, quietly. There's no response, but I can hear him starting to cry again. ...Please, Gods, let this work. ...I don't want Ken to hate himself. I-I hate seeing him like this... ...Digimon Kaiser or Ken Ichijouji, he's my little brother. He always will be my little brother. ...I'm...just glad that The Digimon Kaiser is now in the past... ...Ken Ichijouji won. The Digimon Kaiser is dead.
I open the door, Ken's room is dark. The only source of light is the sliding glass door to the outside balcony, but the blinds are drawn. He's on our old bunk bed, the bottom bunk.
I close the door and walk over to Ken's bed, resting my cane against his nightstand. "...Ken?"
He just cries harder. I know he's upset about Wormmon but...Just the fact he's crying harder because I'm here...He's regretting everything he said.
I put a hand on Ken's shoulder, saying, "I'm not mad." ...That's...probably a good way to start. And I'm not mad...I forgave you a long time ago, Ken.
Ken buries his face into his arms after I say that. His crying gets worse, I wait with my hand on his shoulder for...I don't know how long before he can finally manage to say something. "...Osamu...I'm so sorry."
"What do you mean 'for what?' E-Everything...I-I said... F-For even...thinking...any of it... I-I'm a monster...I said all of that to your face... ...I-I was still wishing... ...that...horrible wish... I-I'm so sorry but... I-I know it...won't make up for any of that..."
"...Ken, I have a question for you, please answer it, okay? That's all I want from you. An answer." I say. ...This is it...Please let this have worked...
"...Anything," Ken whispers.
"Why did Osamu Ichijouji cross the road?"
"Wh-What?" Ken lifts his head up, he finally looks at me. Tears streaming down his cheeks but...He looks at me like I'm insane.
"Why did Osamu Ichijouji cross the road?"
"...Osamu..." Ken...looks like he's going to cry harder...This has to work.
"Answer it, Ken," I say with a half-smile.
Ken stares at me for almost a full minute before he faces forward again and buries his head in his arms. "...To get to the other side... ...Like he should have." ...Not the answer I was expecting but... ...Appropriate.
I laugh, "Clever." It really was. It's good to know there's an Ichijouji genius who can balance out my darker humor.
"You can't...really joke about it like that..."
"I do, Ken," I say. "And I forgive you. For everything. You don't even have to apologize." I know that won't stop him, but...I thought it might help if he heard that.
Ken lifts his head up, he rolls onto his side and...stares forward. "I...I can't be forgiven...I wished my own brother dead...And then it almost happened...I-I told you about my wish to your face...I never wanted you to know about that...I wanted to somehow forget I made that wish, even though I knew...I never could...And then I joked about the accident...I told you...you should have died...I-I hate myself so much for that stupid wish!" Ken breaks down again after saying that last portion, I pat his shoulder. When he calms down, he says, "When it happened...because of that wish...I felt like I was the one...that was driving...I-I caused it. I killed my own brother..." ...I knew it.
"Ken, I've seen you play Driving Sims. I wish you were the one driving. I'd be in a lot better shape right now."
"It's...not a joke..." Ken sighs. "I'm so sorry, Osamu..."
"Ken, in case you haven't noticed...I joke about the accident all the time." I say. "I'm glad you joked about it, too, even if The Kaiser was just trying to be mean. I'd rather look back on that day and find some way to chuckle than remember it as the worst day of my life. You get what I'm saying?"
"...Come on, tell one," I say.
"...Fine, don't smile ever again." Time for my secret weapon.
"Don't smile, Ken."
"Doooooon't smile." Just one and Ken's already holding back a laugh. ...Always works on him. No matter what. "Dooooon't smile." Ken laughs.
"Wh-Why...A-Are you doing-" Ken laughs harder, still crying but...Crying and laughing. "-th-this...haha-After...A-All..." He can't stop.
"Doooooooon't smile...Ken, you're smiling! Doooooon't smile..."
"-I-I said and...ha ha ha...! D-Did...all those...ha ha...h-h-horrible things...to y-yo-you!" I love how hard Ken is laughing as he says that. "P-Please! STOP!"
"...All right," I say, chuckling. I wait for Ken to calm down before I speak again, "Ken, the day of the...Digivice incident, I...I overreacted so much, I even hit you. I haven't forgiven myself for that. And if you wished I was dead because of that...I don't blame you. Okay? Even if you just said it because you were mad, I really understand. I'd probably have done the same. It was just a stupid thing you thought when you were mad at me...That was it."
"...Osamu, I-I still-"
"Ken, that wish didn't cause the accident...It was just...the worst coincidence in the history of coincidences," I say. "Answer my question from before, you gave me the wrong answer: Why did Osamu Ichijouji cross the road?"
"I will absolve you of all your fratricidal thoughts if you answer it, okay?" I say. "Why did Osamu Ichijouji cross the road?"
"...He didn't," Ken says. It lacked emotion and he looks like he's going to cry again, but...Thank you, Ken.
I reach for my cane. "You are hereby absolved." I tap him lightly on the head with the hook. "...I can't thank you enough for this thing, by the way."
"What do you mean?" Ken's giving me that 'you're insane' look again, but...He's not crying anymore and looks...a little cheerier. Granted, 'cheerier' in the sense that he only looks like he's at a funeral, but...Still cheerier than before.
"Ken, I had given up, remember?" I give my cane a twirl. "I was 'happy' to just stay in that wheelchair for the rest of my life...If you weren't there, Ken, I'd still be in it. ...Thank you, I really mean it. Thank you." I stop twirling the cane, resting the tip on the ground, putting both hands on the hook and leaning into it a little. "...Ken, you're a great little brother-No, you're the best little brother I could ever have. I...I was the worst big brother you could have had. Even now with this...'shadow' crap Mom and Dad have been pulling that I...didn't do anything about. ...Ken, if you want to blame yourself for killing an Osamu that day, you killed the bigger jerk I was before. And for that, I invite you to dance on his grave with me, okay?"
"You...You can't mean that..."
"I do," I say. "Ken, no matter what, you're my little brother. Even as The Digimon Kaiser, I would still see traces of that little brother in there. I treated you and him like two different people...Even when The Kaiser was at his worst I'd see traces of the kid who had that Crest of Kindness." ...Crest of Kindness...I could sense that the others were asking themselves how Ken Ichijouji of all people had the Crest of Kindness...
...I knew exactly why Ken Ichijouji had the Crest of Kindness.
Ken sits up, wiping his eyes. I set my cane aside and give him a hug. "Ken, I forgive you for everything. From wishing me dead to the car jokes, I don't even need to give it a second thought. Please, forgive yourself...You're upset enough about Wormmon...We all are. So, don't be upset about what you said to me...I'm not, so you shouldn't be either."
"Osamu...I threatened to break your legs again with your own cane..." Ken ends the hug, starting to cry again. "I-I almost did it..."
"'Almost' being the key word...I knew you'd beat back the Kaiser that day," I say, passing him my cane. "The Kaiser wasn't you, Ken. The Kaiser was the one who threatened to do that...And my little brother beat The Kaiser and saved me...I'm proud of you for that."
"...Everything I did...I was a monster..." Ken sighs, gripping my cane tightly with a sob. "...I-I...Everything I did to Wormmon alone... Let alone...The Digital World..."
"...Ken, I...I don't...want to get your hopes up on this, but... ...There's a place in The Digital World called 'Beginnings.' When a Digimon dies, its data is sent there to be reborn..."
"...Reborn..." Ken lets out a long sigh. "...Is it...really true? I-I remember hearing, Digimon were 'reconfigured' after they die, but..."
"...I don't know if he'll...still be Wormmon but..." I sigh. "...There might be a chance." I get up, going to Ken's computer, I access the Digital Gate. I see Ken's digivice and his crest on the keyboard, I reach into my pocket for my own digivice.
"...Osamu, wait." Ken gets up and walks toward me. "...Could I go alone?"
"...Are you sure?" I'm...worried about him being recognized, but...If he wants to do it alone, I understand why.
Ken nods. "...I-I need to...do this myself...I need to tell Wormmon how sorry I am..."
I nod. "All right. Be careful." I pass him his digivice and crest, he passes me my cane. "...I'll let Mom know where you are and that you'll be safe." ...Beginnings, from what Koushirou described, sounds... ...pretty tame, especially by Digital World standards.
Ken nods. "...Thank you."
"I hope you see Wormmon again."
"...I hope he'll want to see me again." If I know Wormmon, Ken...He'll be happier than ever to see you again.
Ken stands before the computer, he does some typing then holds up his digivice. "...Digital Gate. Open." And in a flash of light, he's gone...
I know...you still haven't really forgiven yourself for what you said to me, I know it'll take a long time for that...And I know it may never happen that you'll forgive yourself for being The Digimon Kaiser...
...But I'll be here to help you through it. You're Ken Ichijouji, the Next Ichijouji Genius...
...And you're also Ken Ichijouji, my little brother. And the kindest, most gentle kid I know...
Things can only get better from here, Ken.
...We have two Minomon, now. Leafmon evolved this morning...We tied a blue ribbon onto my partner to tell the difference. He and "Wormmon-niichan" are playing in my room with Ken.
When Ken came back with Leafmon, I brought Minomon to see him... ...I-I swear, that is the most emotional insect I've ever seen. But he was happier than ever to see his "big brother" again...Ha ha ha, my little brother's partner is my partner's big brother...I like that.
I asked Ken to watch them for a little bit to distract him. I have a little project I've been working on since Ken returned home almost a week ago...
"Thanks again, Mrs. Murayama, I'll bring it back tonight," I say, bowing my head to one of our neighbors. The Murayamas, they have a daughter named Haruko. I'm borrowing the bright pink sports car to one of Haruko's dolls...
...I wish it wasn't bright pink but...I didn't have the time to run out and get something better. "Vroom! Vroom!" I chuckle to myself, 'driving' the car in the air and walking down the hall. In the sports car is...a slightly narcissistic side project I've been working on and something The Digimon Kaiser would have loved to have...
...An Osamu Ichijouji voodoo doll. ...Okay, it's not really a voodoo doll (I made sure, I stuck a pin in it earlier) but...It's an Osamu doll.
I get back to the apartment, saying, "Mom! Dad! Please come to the dining room and wait! I'll get Ken!"
Dad comes out of the dining room, actually. "Osamu...What's...with all that on the dining room table?"
"Just something you've been blind to," I reply.
"...Why do you have a doll car?"
"It's for my dolls. I think my Mino-chan plush will love it!" I reply, walking past Dad and going to my room.
I love the worried look on his face as I pass by, he really doesn't like the fact I'm 'playing with a worm plush.' Possibly more than he doesn't like my sense of humor. I sort of play into it, just for when he does find out that "Mino-chan" is a real, living, talking creature. Oh, I can't wait to see the look on his face...
I knock on the door. "Ken, come with me to the dining room." I say.
My door opens, I see two Minomon bouncing around on my bed. "I can't believe the amount of energy those two have..." He says.
"You obviously haven't seen either of them eat yet," I reply.
"Osamu, why...do you have a hot pink doll car?" Ken says.
"You'll see..." I chuckle, almost Kaiser-like...Ha ha ha! I even have the 'smug bastard' grin, too.
Ken follows me to the dining room, his eyes go wide. He stammers for a moment. "...O-Osamu... What is all this?"
"I don't know all of them for sure, I just know it's a bunch of trophies, awards and grades and stuff like that...And it all came out of your room," I reply, smiling. Mom and Dad are sitting at the head of the table, there's another chair pulled out for Ken near them and a chair hidden behind two giant soccer trophies.
"...Osamu, what are you...planning?" Dad says, I like that worried tone he has...Granted, I think he's more worried about the fact his fifteen year-old son is walking around with a bright pink Barbie convertible than the fact I'm up to no good.
I stand at the table, across from Ken. I pull out the Osamu voodoo doll and place it on the table...Mom cringes, she knows exactly where this is going. "Vroom! Vroom! SCREEEEECH! THUMP! AUUUGH!" I place the car on top of my doll...See why I checked to make sure it wasn't really a voodoo doll? "Until that doll is out from under that car, Ken is an only child." I say.
"...Osamu..." Dad groans. "Why? WHY do you joke about that?" ...'Cause I love the reaction it gets. Hehehe!
"Sorry, I can't hear you. I'm dead." I reply. "Though, I really wish I could have found that scale model Cresta like I wanted...Death by hot pink convertible...Not the best way to go and, trust me, I'm expert at this sort of thing."
"Osamu, I know you're dead right now, but...Can I say something?" Ken asks, looking to me.
We both burst into a fit of laughs as Mom and Dad both give us a confused look.
"'Obviously?'" Mom asks.
"It's...a joke between us..." I laugh. I-I love how Ken still does that one whenever I say or do something crazy. Like now. ...It's...the only joke he's comfortable with making, but it's a start. I really want him to go back to joking like before, he was so good at it!
"...Does it involve traffic?" Dad gives Ken a frown. "You're joining him in those stupid jokes? Ken, how-" Don't, Dad, don't.
"Dad, don't be mad. Especially because Ken is really good at them," I say with a laugh. "We'll give you some of our greatest hits later, though." I look to Ken. "Ken...Show Mom and Dad what you've been up to since I became worm food. I'll be behind the two giant soccer trophies listening in when I'm not too busy being dead." I pass Ken the Ken Ichijouji scrapbook I've been working on. "I'd suggest starting with this, by the way..."
Ken nods, looking through my scrapbook. "...You made this?"
"Ever since the trophy incident, I started keeping whatever newspaper articles I came across, things like that," I say. "I wanted to show Mom and Dad when I filled it but... ...Well, I thought a preview would be nice." I go to my seat and sit down. "Now go show Mom and Dad the awesome genius they raised. The one named Ken."
Ken is a little embarrassed doing this but...He shows Mom and Dad everything they've been missing out on. I'm also a little embarrassed, because a few of these trophies and awards were news to me, too...
...Sorry, Ken. I pass the spotlight onto you. And, please, keep it as long as you want.
And, tomorrow, you, Wormmon, Kunemon and I will head to the Digital World and destroy some Dark Towers together and see if Wormmon's ready to join in the fun.
...And we'll tell that Spider Lady I hate her...
*Whew* ...And that's the end of the Kaiser Arc. And the fic. Sorry, I just...don't want to rewrite all of 02. I might do some "mid-season" fics, but...No promises for now. ...Seriously, I just saw the word count for this thing...I-I can't believe I wrote all this so quickly! Seriously!
Hope you enjoyed this experiment in "What if Osamu Had Lived Adventure 02." I had fun writing it, I just hope you enjoyed it. I really had some trouble with the Chimaeramon chapters, though...Mostly the dialogue and...episode-novelization-ness feeling. ...Oy gevalt... Though, my favorite part of those two chapters was when Osamu realized Ken thought he was in a game...That, I loved writing.
The whole "Ken's achievements" ending...Like I said, I really think Ken's parents would have gone into Osamu-Obsessive-Overdrive if he had lived, they wouldn't want to miss a minute of his life because he almost died... ...And Ken would be tossed aside again and become, possibly, more bitter depending on how he was treated. Ken sort of takes on an even more selfish persona as The Digimon Kaiser in this, especially the start of the Chimaeramon battle.
Oh, and I realize I took a major plot liberty without realizing it: "I wish Osamu was dead." Turns out... Okay, I thought this was a case of the English version trying to avoid the word "death" (...in an episode about Osamu dying...Yeah, logic has never been my thing), but it turns out in both versions...Ken just wished Osamu would "disappear." Even after getting smacked for taking "Osamu's" digivice, he never wanted Osamu dead, just "not there." Seriously, I thought the smack and verbal new one tearing would have sent him over the edge, but...Nope, "I wish Osamu would disappear."
...Yeah, it's sort of the same thing but different, I mean, "disappear" could also mean, instead of being killed, Osamu could have been kidnapped by Yakuza drug lords or something and never heard from again...But not dead, you know? Just in the hands of Yakuza drug lords...
...Okay, I SO have to do that one now...
"Osamu-niichan, what's going on-"
"STAY OUT OF THIS, KEN! This goes way over your head!"
"Where's our money, Ichijouji?"
"...My friend has it."
"Then where is your friend?"
"Right here! SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!"
"Get 'em, Kunemon!"
...That could either be a very bad or very funny fic... ...Most likely bad.
Thank you everyone for reading and reviewing! I'm so glad you enjoyed this fic, my first AU attempt. Hopefully, it won't be my last, hehehe!
Thanks again, everyone!
Aw, I love those brotherly moments between Ken and Osamu! Especially how Osamu was doing everything he could to make Ken feel better and know that he was forgiven. And good thing he checked to make sure that wasn't a voodoo doll, I can only imagine what he'd say if that happened to him twice!
And I really liked Kunemon calling Wormmon his big brother in the last few chapters! Kunemon's really quite cute in this fic, I think.
I also want to thank everyone for reading and reviewing this fic! I'll try to find out what Ori's up to and put some info on the profile. Thank you so very much and we'll see you next fic!