Paper Embrace

For a good portion of Ichijouji Ken's adolescence, he felt lost. Not in the same way that a teen struggles to figure out who they are, separating his or her identity from that of the parents who had so far guided the young person; no, Ichijouji Ken was lost in a more physical sense. He constantly found himself cornered by words contained in a textbook, drowning in exam and homework papers, lost amongst numbers and equations.

After the fateful events of 2002, Ken came to a sort of epiphany: he did not have to compete with Osamu. After all, Osamu would always be the genius of the family, and Ken knew that trying to surpass, or even measure up to his brother would not end happily. So, instead of heading down a path of late nights, panic attacks, and disappointment, Ken chose to view his older brother as a source of posthumous inspiration rather than a standard to constantly measure himself against.

Still, Ken had always taken pride in his schoolwork- he did not intend for that to end simply because the Dark Spore no longer dictated his actions and motivations. This is why most outsiders found it somewhat entrancing to watch the boy trawl through a heavy textbook for the solution to some problem in what seemed like a frenzied state, while pausing at various intervals to check the time. Ken tried to never let on that his mind simply worked fast and that working at a slower pace would mean getting distracted- he knew that most people (he always thought of Daisuke, naturally) wouldn't understand. And hey, they (Daisuke, again) always got a kick out of watching the teen frantically scrawl down the outline for an essay or graph the solution to a system of equations. It was simply easier for Ken to be constantly working; lessening his momentum was something that he could not allow himself.

But for all of his hard work, Ken had been rewarded with good grades, the approval of his teachers, and projects that were finished well in advance. It made sense, of course: you can't work for most of your waking hours without seeing some kind of effect. During the years following 2002, Ken felt rather happy with himself- though he was not genius Osamu, he had accepted this, and had come to accept the traits that were his, and his alone. His parents also prided themselves on having such a smart boy. He was no longer the genius who could have easily gone to university at age 11, but he was such a smart boy- it confused them, his desire to immerse himself in his schoolwork, but he was happy that way. That was enough to make them happy. Wormmon shared a similar train of thought, but then again, Wormmon had always supported Ken, always believing in the boy's ability to find his own happiness.

One summer, however, Ken found himself without any schoolwork to do. He completed his summer assignments in a fervor: the sensation of understanding the questions and knowing exactly how to answer them was addicting. When he was done, he almost considered erasing everything and starting over, but he couldn't bring himself to erase his hard work (if for no other reason, it would make the wonderful white paper smudged and gray, and he wouldn't be able to stand that).

When he informed his mother of his plight (and achievement, really), she first suggested a number of errands for him. While he did not feel excited about the prospect of going to such boring places as the market, the drugstore, or the newsstand, he agreed to do so out of loyalty and love for his mother.

With a list of items to return with in hand, Ken departed for the train station. However, because he had not checked the time before he left, he did not realize that it was lunch time, and therefore trains would be coming and going less frequently. Ken sighed, and decided that it would be easier to make the trip on foot. But it was a hot day, and Ken inwardly cursed the sun and the trains and his dark hair as he walked, sweating even in his light pants and shirt. Not even Wormmon had wanted to leave the apartment; he had instead chosen to help Ken's mother with small chores around the house. Just as his partner Digimon never doubted the joy Ken found in studying, Ken never questioned Wormmon's affinity for housework.

It wasn't too long before Ken felt he needed to take a short break in air conditioning, or even some shade. Up ahead, he spotted the neighborhood library. Setting his sights on it, he walked slightly faster, now with purpose. He remembered this building from his youth- his mother would bring Osamu and himself at least once a week during the school year, and more frequently during summer. Most days, Osamu would hurry off to the nonfiction section, seeking book on complex topics while Ken would amble to the children's section, breaking his mother's grip on his small hand for the first time since they left the apartment. Ken would always pick a few books: some for him to read to himself (though not a genius like his brother, Ken had always been a bright child), and some for his mother to read to him. After Ken had picked his books, he would run off to find his mother, who would them happily read to him as soon as she had picked out her books. Some days, Osamu thought that their reading sessions went on for too long and would grow impatient, insisting that it was time to leave, but occasionally, Osamu would sit with his mother and younger brother, listening to the stories with an air of mild disinterest (even though Ken knew that Osamu was just as interested as he). On rare occasions, Osamu would even volunteer to read to Ken; though Ken loved hearing his brother read, he also knew that it meant no questions, or Osamu would get irritated and leave, sometimes in mid-story. Ken treasured these memories. Since the deactivation of the Dark Spore, his earlier memories had slowly begun to return to him; while Ken was glad for any memories of his family, something about these seemed so real and so touching.

When Ken reached the familiar building, automated doors slid open and a rush of cool air greeted him. However, one quick look around the building instantly told him that a lot had changed in the years since he had last visited. He hardly recognized the large room: he suspected that at some point, it had been completely gutted and changed. This made Ken somewhat nervous; he found great comfort in familiarity, but he realized that it would be silly for him not to think that everything would be exactly the same as when he was a child.

Ken walked up and down the aisles, looking for anything he could identify- because he hadn't been one to read for pleasure, he recognized few titles. He couldn't find anything of interest at first, seeing nothing in between worn, large-print mystery novels and brightly-colored paperbacks with titles containing some sort of pun relating to marriage. Ken tried to think of any authors that Takeru might have mentioned, but he drew a blank. Once again, Ichijouji Ken was lost.

Just as Ken was considering calling up the blond for help, he stumbled into an appealing section of nonfiction books. These books were all large, colorful hardbacks, bearing titles consisting of few words: New York, the Maldives, Sapporo, tropical wildlife, classic cars, castles…the possibilities seemed almost endless.

Almost immediately, Ken stopped feeling so lost within the library. Ken made a selection at random, found a vacant chair in a quiet area, and immediately lost himself in a collection of color photography from Hawaii.

Later that evening, Ken brought the items his mother requested back home, and apologized for being so late. He explained that he found himself in the library, and had simply lost track of time. His mother didn't mind. As he headed off to his room with Wormmon, who seemed to have had an equally fulfilling day that he was excited to share with his partner before dinner, she smiled, knowing that Ken didn't need to know that this was her intention all along.


So. Hi. I believe this is the first Digimon fiction I have written. It was written based in part on personal experience, as I visited a local library after a year or so of absence. It's kind of weird feeling, not knowing where anything is located after everything had been in the same place for such a long time. I also believe that this is the first fanfiction I have published in around two years. But, my love for Digimon has resurfaced in the past few months, so I figured I might as well give it a shot. Please forgive me for any spelling errors or ambiguities, I'll try and fix any when it's not 1:30 in the morning.