Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon, rightful ownership belongs to Akiyoshi Hongo, Bandai, and Toei.

Front Line

Chapter 7: The Mystery Gang

Kazu Shioda

"So this is what it feels like to make a girl cry," I sighed as my feet shuffled across the dusty cemented footpath dragging a small rock that was crumbling with every push. The rock shattered into tiny pieces before I lost my concentration and absurdly yelled at the sky releasing or my anger and frustrations towards it. It felt extremely good to do that, it relieved the guilty conscious that I carried temporarily.

A few seconds later I was back to shuffling my feet, Kapurimon still hanging around my neck sleeping soundly –multitasking. I had made tonnes of girls cry in the past due to my arrogance, but this set a new level for me. Firstly Jeri being a good friend having taken my arrogance on first hand previously many times, why now did she choose to cry?

A moan lingered from my throat as my eyes scattered to the city ahead. I had hesitantly followed after Jeri the whole time leaving Kenta and MarineAngemon behind. Kenta had insisted that it was my duty as the one who made her cry to make things right. We had certainly debated, and I even suggested the both of us apologised but somehow...somehow Kenta saw through it and consulted it would be best for me. I had to agree it seemed that when I spoke she broke out into tears.

Arrggghhhh...girls are so hard to read. At least Kapurimon is asleep for now; I wouldn't want any interruptions during my apology. Now I just had to overcome the not wanting to apologise part and actually think of something smart to say without losing my cool. I had been thinking it over many times already, but each attempt sounded like a failure in my mind.

"Jeri..." I murmured. I felt movement around my neck and realised Kapurimon was beginning to wake up. I came my eyes focused on the road ahead but spoke to my buddy, "You finally awake Kapurimon."

"Good morning Kazu," the Digimon said hazily.

"Good afternoon Kapurimon," I corrected, "It's only been about an hour since you fell asleep."

"I am sorry about my miscalculation," Kapurimon apologised.

"You can't get the time of day right, but you're able to use big words," I tried calculating things for myself. I laughed at the thought, but had to resist it out loud when my feet stopped just before a collision. I hadn't realised who I had almost collided with in the minor instant I was distracted.

"Mr. Mitsuo and Ms. Ootori," I gasped seeing the woman's hand forcing a link within the man's black sleeved arm.

"Boy who I know, but name escapes me," Yamaki was first to greet, as my head flexed to get a good view of both adults, the blonde bowed his head in respect while there was a scowl on the women beside him...Riley was it.

Assuming it was Riley, she struck out her left hand confidently maneuvering her fingers trying to flash the expensive looking gold ring. I sheepishly laughed wondering what she was trying to emphasise until she spoke up, "And remember I'm Mrs. Ootori from now on."

"Ohh, I forgot the two of you ended up sharing last names," I bluntly grasped laughing innocently with my hands on my hips.

Riley merely face palmed at my action and then looked over Yamaki who had been awkwardly silent. His face was utterly still with the slightest twitch under his left eye – he was clearly not wearing his proclaimed sunglasses tonight.

"That is kind of the point of be becoming his fiancé," Riley sighed.

"You do have a choice if you want to keep your last name or not, I know for sure when that day comes I'll be sticking with Shioda!" I honoured my last name not wanting it to be lost amongst other families in the future years.

"You're too young to be thinking about marriage anyway," Riley advised, "Besides whoever you marry your last name will remain the same. You are the guy."

I flushed from embarrassment, raising my voice, "Of course I am!"

Riley offered a conquered grin to my scowling face before Yamaki joined the conversation, "We're going to be late for our reservation if we don't hurry up."

"Well I was heading off somewhere just now as well," I replied not totally a lie, I had to catch up with Jeri.

"Okay we'll let you be to it then erm...," Yamaki paused.

"It's Kazu," I muttered about to scurry off into the sun setting afternoon when a very familiar voice rang all three of our minds.

"Kazu!"

All three heads turned to the source, it sounded like Jeri. It was Jeri.

"Katou!" I called out before my senses overwhelmed me and I pulled back. My hands withdrew from the exclaiming action they did just before.

Jeri slowed down into a walk and her face softened at my sight, had she forgiven me. Even if so, I could not forgive myself, at least not right away. Why had her face alone forced me to crumble under pressure – I was arrogant I made people crumble under my magnificent presence. I scowled and let out a low grumble noticing Riley and Yamaki raised their eyebrows in confusion.

"Kazu, there's something important I have to tell you," Jeri alerted before realising Yamaki and Riley's presence therefore casually bowing in respect.

The four of us under a flickering lamp beside a closing down convenience store embarked the scenery of the destiny that awaited us. Kapurimon was observing from behind my neck sending a slight tingling feeling through my spine as his furry tail brushed it. I decided to pick the guy off from my neck and hold him in my hands; I thought it'd be more convenient for the both of us. My neck was beginning to feel a little stiff as well. Stretching it out before Jeri continued her tale.

"Mr and Mrs. Mitsuo," Jeri commended while Riley offered another winning grin at me which I merely snuffed at, "I didn't expect to bump into the two of you as well, but it's important now that you are. I saw something suspicious."

"What exactly?" Yamaki inquired his voice deepening.

"I had taken a seat further down at the bus stop and was disturbed when a creature jumped into the alleyway in front of me, engulfed itself in blue light and then ran off. It strongly resembled a human as it tried to run away."

"Another Digimon?" I asked.

"I'm not sure, it looked like a Digimon at first and then when I saw the blue light it looked human," Jeri confirmed.

"A Digimon becoming a human?" I pursued in questions.

"Possibly a Digimon digivolving to a humanoid based Digimon, there are many that are quite close to resembling a human," Riley suggested.

Jeri waved her head in denial, "No I can assure you it was definitely a human at the end."

"How long ago did you see this person?" Yamaki requested his hands tensing amongst the new information.

"It took me about ten minutes to run back this way," Jeri responded, "The thing could still probably be around the area."

"It would have been long gone by now then especially if you said it was running," Riley assumed, Jeri's head lowered in disbelief. I pondered on the thought, if something Digital was on the loose it wouldn't be safe for anyone in the area and I was the only one currently with a Digimon on hand – not entirely strong but could offer in the least a little bit of protection if we were to bump into it.

"Jeri I'll look for the thing with you," I offered and her eyes lighting up with so much joyful emotion. I couldn't help but offer a genuine smile.

"What if this creature is dangerous, as an adult I can't let two kids running around at night looking for a supposed monster?" Riley mothered.

"I've got Kapurimon with me," I reassured.

"At his weak level there is no way he could defend against an enemy," Yamaki informed, relying on his knowledge of Digimon to countermeasure the possible threat, "Like Riley, I won't let the two of you run around at night unsupervised."

"You two maybe married, but you aren't our parents," I jerked, my hands tightening around my Digimon knowing he had taken offense at Yamaki's statement, "Let's go Jeri," my voice angered.

"It's dangerous," Yamaki firmly stated.

"Either way we have to walk back home," Jeri tried to side an opinion that wouldn't cause an unnecessary argument. There I went again, my loud mouth making her upset again...my mouth opened and closed several times wanting to say aloud something inappropriate but feeling Jeri's soft hands hold my own my mind calmed down returning to its senses.

"Jeri," I murmured.

I turned back to the pair of adults, only to see them giving each other faces that could only show the level of the level relationship they shared syncing minds without the need of vocalisation. Yamaki stared back down at Jeri and I before the both of us gulped.

"If we take my car, we might be able to catch this thing," Yamaki suggested.

"I told you we're going!" my mouth exclaimed on its own, before I just realised what had happened, "Wait, what?"

Yamaki chuckled, Jeri giggled and Riley sighed helplessly.

"We're cashing in our reservation to help you guys find this thing," Riley explained, separating herself from her husband and folding her arms. Her royal blue evening dress was creasing under the pressure.

Now just realising the circumstance could only imagine my face looking dumbfounded to everyone, how was I supposed to respond. Two adults I hardly ever spoke with were offering to help Jeri and I – something was up right?

"You can't be doing this out of the bottom of your hearts, there has to be a catch," I jerked an eyebrow while the two adults raised their eyebrows with offense.

"And you don't believe we can be nice," Riley was becoming slightly ticked arching over me. My face furrowed at her slightly aging and foundation covered face, I was not backing down.

"Fair enough, Yamaki had a change of heart – but you always find ways of blackmail later on," I identified, it had happened a couple times in the past year whenever I had bumped into her. One time being when I accidentally mistook her tweezers for being something used for dissecting and took apart an insect which covered it in guts and resulted in me having to buy her a new pair. And having to go the extra mile to the mall just to buy them earning stares from strange women in the beauty aisle – I suffered humiliation to an extent that can't ever be forgotten.

"Excuse me," Riley jerked.

"I am not going to trust you so easily," I informed earning a worried glare from Jeri. Her hand let go of mine and lightly on her chest.

"C'mon Yamaki, we still have time to hit the restaurant," Riley mentioned earning the biggest death glare from me.

"Are you falling to the hands of a child Riley?" Yamaki hesitated pulling Riley into his arms and staring at her with deep passion – this was a rare sight, "That's not the level headed person I know."

Riley pouted, "At least make the brat apologise."

"Brat! Excuse me! No way in hell am I apologising."

"Kazu!" Jeri yelled unexpectedly. Her high voice rang through each of our ears and somehow unwillingly I bowed my head and apologised mumbling.

"Say it louder Kazu, I didn't hear it," Jeri ordered, where was this authority coming from.

"No!" I refrained.

"Kazu..." Jeri lingered.

"Sheesh," I whinged like a child, was with it and women always having to get their way, "Sorry old lady."

"That's bet- hey wait! Old Lady! Who are you calling old lady you brat!" Riley snapped and I chuckled earning an elbow in my gut by Jeri.

"What was that for?" I questioned, massaging my gut to reduce the pain. Who knew Jeri could be so tough.

Despite my question Jeri didn't reply but gave me a steady glare. I was officially afraid, this was the first time a women was taking authority other than Rika countless times, Rika was the excuse for everything. Wait...was Jeri doing this on purpose? I shook my head, she couldn't be.

Yamaki stomped his foot and took authority as the man he was, "Would the lot of you quit your arguing, the longer we linger around, the longer it'll take us to catch up that Digital entity?"

"Fine" both myself and Riley barked.

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Hopping out of Yamaki's newly bought black Honda Civic, which I must admit was impressed by I was a little annoyed due to the fact he parked the car as close to public eye and yet out of harm's way to not damage the car according to Jeri's instructions. The road was simply the next over and only took ten minutes to be able to travel right round since the road felt almost endless.

"Thanks for the ride Mr. Mitsuo," Jeri expectedly acknowledged. Yamaki waved his hand in gratitude and gave me a disbelieving look as if I should have mentioned something to, but what these two adults had to realise was that I was wasn't anything like Jeri. I was arrogant and darn proud of it.

Being ushered by Jeri into an alley way that seemed vaguely familiar, I recounted it as a time I had used as a getaway after being kicked out of a grocery. Good times. The alley was empty, a few water puddles in the ground reflecting light from the flickering street lamp ahead and the mixture of orange hues swarming the sky as the sun was setting. A dumpster half open against a barren brick wall that seemed untouched for years and in need of a cleaning. A corporate logo on the dumpster faded, and an unpleasant smell filling up our nostrils. I held my fingers together around my nose to try block the smell out as much as I could.

I was behind Jeri before she turned around as if struck with an idea, she grabbed my hand and tailed out of the alleyway further down the street which was going downhill so the speed picked up. What was she chasing after, and why couldn't she do it without clinging to me. Yamaki and Riley barely a few feet behind trying to dodge past people walking in the street and other objects, Jeri finally halted and I skidded to a stop, the adults following.

Regaining composure as well as air into my lungs, I asked, "Jeri? Where the heck did you run to so instantly?"

Something I had missed perhaps as she pulled out a chocolate wrapper from her pocket and then bent over picking up a similar one in her left hand. A strong smile planted on her face, assured about something she spoke up, "That thing came this way."

"Your serious?"

"Yep"

"How do you know?"

"This chocolate wrapper I picked up back at the alleyway in the exact same spot in front of the dumpster in view of the bus stop at where I was seated at. This wrapper also links up with the one we found just now," Jeri seemed completely confident about this theory.

By now Mr. Mitsuo and his annoying wife and caught up, his wife clinging on to him and Yamaki inspecting the situation. He arched over to get a good look at the wrappers in Jeri's hands. He had most likely heard her theory and in a few seconds he stood back upright and folded his arms. An uncertain smirk and a raised eyebrow I couldn't read through his face. Was he believing Jeri's theory or thinking she was a total idiot and had sent them on a wild goose chase.

"So do you think this could lead on to something?" I asked, wanting to stop this unbarring silence of thoughts.

A moan came from Yamaki while Riley rolled her eyes and Jeri lowered her head and tensed her eyebrows, were they ignoring me?

"Did any of you hear me?" I ranted.

"We heard you," Riley grunted increasing the tension between us. Seriously what was her problem; she couldn't have said it with a nicer tone. I folded my arms in response.

"Jeri? Mr. Mitsuo?" I pestered further, laughing at the fact Riley felt ignored.

"Mr. Mitsuo, maybe if we keep running along this footpath, we may come across another clue or even the culprit itself," Jeri optimistically suggested. I slapped my forehead; we were not the Mystery Gang, but the thought ran through me playing on character roles. Yamaki was a good lead for Fred, Riley the annoying Daphne, Jeri as mystery solver Velma, Kapurimon as Scooby and I as Shaggy...on second though scratch that. We were getting nowhere being optimistic about this.

"It wouldn't hurt," Yamaki pondered lowering his arms to his side and taking the wrapper out of Jeri's hands gently. He analysed it before speaking up, "Or we could just take this back to Hypnos, get it analysed for any digital traces or finger prints for that matter and save ourselves a bunch of time looking around this place."

Riley agreed to his idea, while Jeri saddened, I feel she enjoyed the partially bonding time the four of us were receiving along with the hype of trying to solve a 'not so much mystery' mystery.

"Can we even be positive this wrapper was left behind by what you saw Jeri?" my mind finally thought for a bit as I questioned. Jeri doubted herself for a moment before shaking her head and denying I even said anything. This was beginning to get annoying – everything I was saying was being rejected or ignored as if my words didn't even matter. I snuffed hot air at myself.

I could have sworn Riley eyeing me through the corner of my eyes, but I didn't further hesitate the paranoia as I took the other half of the wrapper from Jeri and gave it a look for myself. Looking at the light and silver design reflecting in the lamp mosquito infested light above us. A silver line ran through the front of the wrapper with the logo printed downwards reading 'Yama-Yummy'. This label gave me a chill, as I remembered the chocolate name from a few years back.

It had been a chocolate that I used to be extremely fond off, the flavours ranging from white to dark chocolate and milk always being my favourite. The company was owned by a medium sized factory in Shibuya, and the only time I had ever tasted it was when I got the chance on an elementary school excursion to tour the factory. It was like heaven to a child in the 4th year.

"I recognise this wrapper," I alerted, this time actually attracting everyone's attention.

"And..." Riley lingered, which only extended the pause for my explanation.

"The company is owned by the Shibayama's," I stated, remembering the welcoming aging couple who gave us free samples of their great chocolate on that school trip.

"Is this information helping us?" Riley angered; I had it up to the top with her annoying nagging tone. I may have been exaggerating her annoyance, but it was something I couldn't take anymore.

"The Shibayama's are known for their chocolate factory, which is all the way in Shibuya. Their products are only sold in the Shibuya District, meaning our culprit had to have travelled a fair distance to find this wrapper in West Shinjuku," I blurted, my mind not holding back, "So either this thing is really athletic walking a good hour away from the Train Station, or had a Digimon to ride on to get here."

"What if it took the bus?" Riley suggested.

"Jeri was sitting at the bus seat, there was no bus at the time," I replied.

"But that doesn't explain where the Digimon comes in, Jeri only stated she saw one thing being engulfed in light and then running away," Yamaki contemplated.

"Hmmm..." I thought a bit and came to a reasonable conclusion, "What if she missed it, I mean the Digimon could have returned to a smaller size, hidden in a bag and acted as if the Digimon wasn't even there to begin with. Jeri did say she saw a Digital Light."

"Wow, Kazu I'm extremely surprised," Jeri praised, this helped my angered mood lighten up a little. I responded with a crooked grin and a chuckle. She only smiled in return.

"I have my moments you know," I stated cockily, Riley rolling her eyes and Yamaki looking as if he wanted to just leave.

"There are possibilities for other children to become Tamers, I mean you and Kenta both got one," Riley concluded poking my tongue at her in return. While Jeri and Yamaki both laughed. What children!

"How about we conclude the search for the night, it's getting late and well around 7pm by now. Your parents are bound to start growing anxious for the two of you to return home before Dinner," Yamaki suggested and then offered, "I'll drive the two of you back home and then tomorrow morning, come round Hypnos for the results of the chocolate wrapper. Does that make everyone happy?"

I pondered on the thought a bit before finding it more useful to be driven home than having to walk several blocks at night back to my parent's apartment building. And I'm sure Jeri would be on the same track once she gave up sulking on the mystery idea.

"Okay," Jeri and I confirmed before walking back the way we came to Yamaki's car. He sure loved to show it off.

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A quarter moon had hit the midnight blue sky in its centre of the busy intersection that crossed over to many shops which remained open for late night brewers on this fine night. Fine trees grown, blooming and trimmed perfectly along the footpath swayed in the breeze as many humans, mostly adults walked about getting to their destinations while shivering in the process never expecting the sudden chill of this Spring night. Off the intersection, down the main road was a popular shopping boulevard which ran underground, lighted the entire hall way, shops running along both sides yet the area was inactive.

Only the occasional person taking the shortcut through the quiet area, one young partially overweight boy turned into the boulevard limping on one leg and a body sore to its very core. His breathing going off beat with every step as he struggled. To a regular passerby not offering a minute help he seemed to be a late night teenager avoiding his curfew, but on closer inspection the lad was suffering with high amounts of pain.

Coming to a stop in the centre of the boulevard in clear sight of an owner of a Hairdresser Boutique, the pretty lady glanced over her counter curious to the boy's actions and with no customers just watched. Her eyes widened with surprise at the auburn haired boy as it took him milliseconds to plummet to the ground with a loud echoing thud. Things seemed to stop in a heartbeat as her hand automatically slipped into her apron pocket. Dialling the code for immediate ambulance service and then racing out of her shop to the victim.

She struggled to roll him over on his side and with first aid knowledge supporting her actions she opens his mouth and checked his air passage ways. There was a clear irregular pattern of his chest falling and rising, she grew panicked – trying to remain calm as a few other workers with nothing better to do came outside to witness what the alert was about.

One old man cared to ask, "Is the lad alive?"

The young hairdresser nodded and responded, "He still seems to be breathing. But I'm not how sure he can hold on. I already called for an ambulance."

"Does anyone know who this boy belongs to?" Some bitter old women questioned, clearly not wanting to take any responsibility for what had happened.

The caring hairdresser shook her head in disagreement shoving her chocolate coloured bangs back under her puffy pink beret. This boy slightly reminded her of her son, but surely was not him. She prayed the young boy made it through.

Several minutes later the paramedics arrived and did what they had to do, first checking for vital signs, a gum check, an eye check, if his airways were working or not. Once everything was cleared up, the paramedics assured he would be fine, but still needed to be taken to the hospital in case of anything they missed. In the process of being carried in the stretcher to the back of the ambulance, a paramedic not attending to the boy had pulled out an identification card from his wallet and spoke under his breath.

"Shibayama Junpei. Male. 14. 8th Year, Shibuya Middle School."

The lady who had helped the boy in need overheard the details and could only have hoped the parents of this boy were alerted, her eyes not falling off the boy now in the ambulance.

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To be continued…

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A/N: First I hope anyone reading this new chapter, enjoyed it. The Tamers characters are more challenging for me to write than the Frontier crew since I'm more familiar with them. We get the insight of more characters, I hope they don't seem too OOC, especially Yamaki and Riley – I tried my best imagining their personalities, reactions and reunions to one another.

All these streets, shops and whatever are made up, especially the chocolate company, I'm sure the clues were given away unless you are not familiar with the last names of the Frontier crew. Shibayama should be a big giveaway for who the runaway culprit was along with the Identification at the end.

Any questions, suggestions, feedback or wanting to drop by and say hi – don't be afraid to leave a review then. Until to the next chapter I say goodbye.