A/N: WOW! This has been sitting around on my hard drive for nearly six months! I'm soooo sorry you guys! I apologize immensely! Hopefully I shall find my muse again soon and continue the story. I've got some great ideas for upcoming chapters and I've settled on a new plot twist. =) All of which should prove to be most exciting. Okay, in my eyes anyway, we'll see what you think when I finally do post them. Once again I thank you all for your patience…well those of you who've stuck around thus far, and also thanks to those peeps who kept prodding me for more. ^_~
Rating: Eh, not bad…I'd say this is really a mild chapter, but don't expect it to stay that way. *grins evilly*
Disclaimer: Kodachrome does not now, nor has she ever owned Digimon, and let's be realistic here, if I were getting money for these fics you know I'd spend a heck of a lot more time writing them. LOL! Now…on with the fic!
Grey clouds encompassed the sky driving out the light of the afternoon sun as two figures trekked down the street, one assisted by the other.
A pair of chocolate colored eyes gazed up at the threatening clouds as a warm wind tickled her face with soft tresses of her own mousy brown hair. T.K. watched in silence, secretly admiring the girl as she scrunched up her nose and swatted at the stray locks with a gloved hand. Every move she made captivated him and it was almost as if he could spend the entire day just gazing upon her radiance.
Hikari was like no other person he had met before. He couldn't quite place the emotions that welled up inside him when she was in his presence, but he knew it went further than any ordinary friendship he shared with the other digidestined children.
A great sense of responsibility had accompanied these feelings, and most of the time T.K. felt as though he had been chosen to be her guardian in life, much like Angewomon was to her now, only on more intimate levels. He could never put words to the way he felt when the child of Light laughed, brightening the entire world with her soft smile or how it crushed his heart when she would cry. T.K. never wished to see her cry, despite the fact that he treasured all of her emotions. They held a special significance to him, because like her spirit, they were raw and unbridled; purer than the most precious gemstone. He had never met someone who acted almost entirely on his or her emotions, with the exception of his brother that is.
While Tai relied on gut instinct, Izzy on theories and technology, Joe common sense, Sora logic and reason, and Mimi guided by popular belief mixed with her own definition of the term, his brother and Hikari were the only ones who seemed to allow their decisions to be made by how they felt. Even though Matt did not always display his feelings outwardly, T.K. could tell that he did spend much time contemplating them. Of course all of the digidestined children permitted their hearts to have the final say in any situation, which T.K. felt was why they were chosen to save the digital world together in the first place, but he would never reveal this idea to the other kids as he suspected they already knew it themselves.
He did not want Hikari to be tainted by the horrors of the outside world, by people like Murphy who lived to corrupt and destroy. He wished he could protect her always, but deep down he knew it would be a futile battle. She had already been exposed to so much, what with all their adventures in the digital world, and without these experiences T.K. felt she would not be the person she was today if it hadn't been for them. Likewise the same held true for him and some of his experiences he wished he could wipe clean from his mind, because the effect they had upon him was a far cry from all the positive traits Kari had acquired from hers.
At that moment his ailment decided it would not let him ponder any more on that subject, as it seemed to strike back at him tenfold. Waves of nausea washed over him, as the pain he thought had subsided gripped him once again, causing his head to spin.
T.K.'s next steps were wobbly, like those of a very young child trying to walk for the first time and his vision became blurred as he struggled for control over his own body. Without having to look at him, Kari could tell something was wrong as she felt his muscles tense along his back where her hand had been resting, supporting her friend as they walked.
"T.K.?" Kari murmured, containing the hysterics that slowly began to rise in her throat. The young blonde clutched his stomach, feebly attempting to force the pain and unwanted queasiness away.
"Maybe we ought to slow down." Kari suggested, considering the possibility that their brisk pace could have been the cause of T.K.'s recent symptoms. She had wanted to beat the impending storm, but now she was unsure of which would be worse; walking T.K. home in the rain, or hurrying him along causing minor repercussions to his health in the process.
"No…" the boy squeaked, "No..I'll be fine."
Kari's eyes flashed with concern informing T.K. that she was not entirely convinced. Within moments the blonde let out a long relieved sigh and straightened himself back up as best he could from his former hunched position.
"I'm okay now." He confirmed, giving her a weak smile.
Kari bit her lower lip and her brow furrowed with regret. Perhaps she should have called her mother and asked for a ride. T.K. did not appear to be up to the task of completing their journey back to his apartment.
"Please." T.K. whispered, his eyes pleading for her to believe him.
The child of Light closed her eyes sympathetically and nodded.
"Okay, but take it easy, we're almost there. No need to rush." She explained, placing her arm around his back and under his left shoulder in order to support him, while her other hand gently clutched his other arm.
Once again, her touch caused T.K. to tense, but within moments his body relaxed as he let her guide him to his apartment complex.
The large gray automobile that had been pursuing the two teenagers lay not far behind as it crept up the street like a snake slithering after its prey. The man behind the wheel smiled maliciously and a single gold tooth glinted from the reflecting sunlight that had somehow managed to peek out from behind the dark clouds.
It wouldn't be long now, he thought, eyes focusing in on T.K. and Kari. A small apparatus near his hip rumbled to life, and he quickly retrieved it from his belt loop. Glancing at the cell phone suspiciously, he hit the talk button.
"Yeah?" he answered in a gravelly tone.
"How are things going on your end?" a familiar voice asked.
"Everything's running smooth, just like we planned." The man confirmed.
"Excellent. I'll be waiting for you." His boss said and a click was heard on the other end.
The stalker hit the off button on his phone and placed it back on his belt loop. A sly grin curled its way across his mouth as the car came to a stop just before a large multi-story building. He watched silently and with eager eyes as two figures made their way through the main entrance of the complex before he slowly exited the car grabbing a clip from his glove box on his way out.
A flash of lightning lit up the sky, and the man glared up at the heavens as if they were mocking him. He would not let a little rain interfere with the plan, he thought, stealing towards the apartments with the utmost stealth.
Matt quickly darted down the hall, weaving in and out of the throngs of people and stage crew bustling about behind the scenes of the concert. He nearly slipped once on the slick polished floors of the auditorium, but gracefully managed to recover his lost balance as he continued his race to the door marked 'Stage Entrance'.
Out of breath and glistening in sweat he burst through the door only to be confronted with three angry faces.
"Where have you been!?" the drummer demanded, about to give the tardy lead singer a piece of his mind when a booming voice announced the band to a crowd of screaming fans.
Matt's face fell in shame and sorrow filled eyes looked on as he watched his band mates fumbling towards the stage, forgetting their previous concerns with the truant bass player as the growing excitement of the crowd beckoned them. The lead guitarist stopped at the foot of the steps that lead to the platform overlooking thousands of excited teens.
"You coming Ishida?!" he hollered over the crowd who had begun to chant the band's name over and over in unison.
The blonde boy swallowed hard and nodded, stifling the eerie feeling that had begun to emerge from the depths of his stomach.
"Come on then! We're on!" the other boy said waving him to come forth.
Matt took a few shaky steps forward. This was the most nervous he had ever been before a show and he could not discern why. Once again he shrugged it off, emitting a deep sigh as if to cleanse his mind of unwanted thoughts as he ran up the steps after his band mate.
The drummer and keyboardist were already assembled and the moment Matt appeared the screaming masses went wild, unleashing an almost horrific noise as hands clapped, and voices rose considerably higher than they had been before.
Feeling rather embarrassed that he had missed their final sound check; Matt scurried across the stage and proceeded to plug his guitar into its respective amplifier. With a tug of his shirt collar and another deep breath, he made his way to the microphone.
Beads of perspiration trickled down his forehead, as the overhead lights glared down menacingly at him. Normally the excitement generated by his fans and the rush of energy of being onstage in front of thousands propelled him into a singing mode, but tonight was different.
Yamato seemed to be in a state of panic as he adjusted the microphone and he feared that if he were to open his mouth no sound would escape.
The other members of the band prepared themselves for their first set and were awaiting the blonde's cue, which seemed idle to come.
The lead guitar player finally glanced over at the blonde bassist who appeared paler than usual and shrugged his shoulders as if to say "Well?"
Matt nodded in compliance and cleared his throat. Mustering up as much false enthusiasm as he was capable of he let loose with a well prompted "Is everyone ready to rock!?"
The blonde could feel the energy surging throughout the small auditorium as the crowd responded with a mighty roar of approval.
This brought the young bassist back into his element, and he turned to face his band members with a cocky grin.
"I dunno you guys?" he said, addressing his band, "Do they sound excited to you?"
A smile of satisfaction etched its way across the drummer's face as he recognized the Yamato he had known before the entire Murphy incident. The other band members noted this as well as their faces lit up at the lead singer's comment.
Matt turned back to the audience and unhooked the microphone from its stand. He casually walked over to the edge of the stage where he unexpectedly found all the older digidestined kids huddled at the forefront of people, trying their best not to get mauled by the many fan girls attempting to shove their way through the masses in order to catch a better glimpse of the rock star.
Joe was there, and standing on either side of him were Izzy and Sora. Even Mimi, who had just arrived at the airport only hours before was pumped and ready to cheer him on. Next to her stood his best friend, a certain person he had never been more grateful to see in his life.
"You da man Matt!" Tai cheered waving his fist in a circular motion. He could tell the blonde teenager needed all the encouragement he could get the moment he saw him set foot on the stage. Sora had also noticed his somewhat haggard appearance, and his hesitation to perform until he received threatening stares from his band mates. In fact, all the digidestined had voiced some kind of concern for him before he finally managed to get his act together. Now he seemed just fine, but Taichi knew better even if the other kids could not see through this façade.
Matt smiled in genuine disbelief. This had been the first time his friends had ever congregated at the front of the stage to see his show. Normally they sat back in the shadows and cheered him from a distance. It was a great comfort to the teenager to know his friends were not far off. It almost made up for the fact that his ailing brother had not been present for his performance.
With newfound confidence, Matt raised a fist in the air and shouted into the mic.
"I can't hear you!!!" he cried, thrusting the mic forward to capture the collaboration of voices that encompassed him as they shouted their rejoinder.
"Alright." Matt nodded with a smirk of contentment, seemingly pleased with the deafening response. "Sounds more like it." he said turning away from the throngs of fans as he strolled back over to the microphone stand and replaced the amplifying device.
"Let's GO!" he shouted, and with that the band broke into song. Each member played furiously on their instrument, concentrating all their energy into making the best possible sound they could.
The music rose in volume, sailing high into the rafters of the concert hall as an ocean of bodies moved back and forth vicariously to the beat.
Soon Matt's voice accompanied the tune, bringing unity to the entire piece, as if his influence were the key linking the melodious chain of sounds together
And as the song wound down to a close, another replaced it mere seconds later, bringing a sense of never-ending harmony to the crowd as they continued to be entranced by the music.
Whatever had been troubling Yamato before the show had been wiped clean from his mind throughout the duration of the performance. Somehow he had forgotten just about everything concerning that entire day. But the sense of euphoria was all too fleeting for the young musician as the band prepared to close.
He was supposed to cue them into the final song of the night, but something, or rather someone in the crowd had caught his attention. Whilst he waited for the band to finish up, Yamato scanned the audience. He relished in the smiling faces of his fans and grinned when his eyes fell upon his group of friends thoroughly enjoying the music. His eyes then darted to the corner of the auditorium where the guardrail ended. Once the concert had concluded, the band was to exit down the opposite side from whence they came, the only peculiarity however, was a large dark figure marring the way.
At first Yamato was convinced it had to be some sort of bodyguard to ensure their safe return to the backstage area, but upon further inspection he found that he recognized the sinister looking figure from somewhere before.
Immediately images from the past flooded through his system, causing him to clutch the microphone stand in apprehension. Matt blinked involuntarily as beads of sweat trickled down his forehead and into his eyes, burning them with relentless malice until he swiped at them with the back of his hand.
Perhaps it had been an illusion…a hallucination, his mind tried to reason as he looked again towards the man in the shadows squinting slightly as sweat threatened to obstruct his sight once again. This time it was unmistakable, his crystal blue orbs confirming his worst fears.
Yamato's breaths began to come in ragged gasps as he slowly backed away from the microphone. The other band members were too enthralled with their performance to even notice the lead singer edging his way off stage. A few fans brought their attention to his awkward movements to evade the spotlight, but paid it no heed, and assumed it was part of the show.
Out in the center of the stage, under the burning bright lights Matt felt very vulnerable. Despite the thousands of fans surrounding him, he felt very alone and waves of panic washed over his body, elaborating upon the need and desire to escape.
"Hey what's wrong with Matt you guys?" Sora asked, glancing over in the boy's direction with great concern written across her face.
Immediately the rest of the digidestined focused their attention on stage.
"Matt?" Taichi said under his breath, his brow furrowing in both confusion and worry. The brunette's gaze was locked on the pale blonde who seemed to be disoriented as he backed away from the mic as if it were a venomous snake about to strike.
"Something must have alarmed him." Izzy proffered, suspiciously gazing around. "It's highly unlikely that Matt would leave during a performance for no apparent reason at all." The red-head continued, bringing his sights to the area in which Matt had been staring with wide-eyed disbelief.
"Do you think it was that large man?" Joe asked, covering his ears from the onslaught of screams erupting from the crowd as he pointed to the dark figure still lurking in the corner.
"What man?" Mimi asked, tugging at a lock of pink hair nervously. She had not wanted to get herself worked up on a false alarm, but was concerned for the well being of her friend and chanced a look to where Joe was indicating.
"I highly suggest we investigate." The resident genius of the group advised.
"I say we call the police!" Mimi interjected.
"Let's not be too hasty. Remember how unstable Matt is right now. He's still going through a tremendous amount of…" Izzy's sentence was cut off as an angry Tai came to his friend's defense.
"He's not flipping out on us!" the boy stated, throwing Izzy a weak glare to get his point across without intimidating his friend.
"I didn't say he was…" the red head tried to explain, but was once again interrupted.
"Something's really wrong. He wouldn't just do this!" Tai argued, folding his arms indignantly. He believed Matt. It took quite a long time to establish the strong bond that had evolved into their friendship, and maybe that's why he could tell when the blonde was serious, and when his imagination had gotten the better of him.
He had been there for him after the ordeal with Murphy. It was a little known fact that on the nights when Matt could not keep it together in order to comfort his brother, he had called Tai for moral support. There were numerous times when he had gone behind his parents' backs and left the house well after curfew to be of company to Matt when his father worked late. Tai was the only friend he could turn to because Tai was the only one who could possibly understand the reason for all his worries. It had not been his constant belief that Murphy was still alive somewhere, it had been the fact that his own brother had been subject to such violence, and only another 'older' brother could comprehend that horror. The idea that one day that same person might come back to cause more pain and suffering. Only Tai would be able to relate and that was why Matt had chosen him in the first place. Of course Kari knew of these late night journeys and her lips remained sealed. She hadn't even uttered a word to T.K. about them for fear of causing her friend more distress than was necessary.
None of his friends knew of the sacrifices and late nights he had put himself through to ensure his friend's sanity, and he was not about to dismiss this warning sign as some kind of anxiety attack or hallucination.
While the rest of the team discussed their game plan Tai's eyes remained fixated on his best friend. For the first time since their adventures in the digital world, Tai resorted to his old tactics, which led to the decision of getting to the bottom of Matt's strange behavior no matter what excuses his friends tried to impress upon him.
Without waiting for their decision, the brown-haired boy shoved his way through the crowd, determined to make it to the backstage area. If he could beat Matt there, then maybe he would be able to find out what had startled the youth, to frighten him so much that he would abandon his band during a gig.
"So it's agreed then." Sora confirmed, turning from the huddle of digidestined to inform Tai of their plan. Frantic eyes searched the sea of people as Sora realized their headstrong leader had vanished.
There he goes again, she thought, as Tai's reckless "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude reminded her of a time not so long ago when she used to become angry with him for rushing in so hastily, but now she placed a bit more faith in Tai's actions. Still she was curious as to which way the impatient boy had headed. Had he gone to deal with their mysterious stranger waiting in the shadows, or had he gone to find Matt?
Her eyes scanned the rows up and down, wondering what to prepare for, when she noticed a large mess of brown hair heading towards the backstage entrance of the auditorium.
"Okay Tai." She nodded understandingly. I just hope you know what you're doing, she silently prayed as she turned back to her comrades.
"Come on you guys, let's go check this out." The auburn-haired girl said, appointing herself as their makeshift leader in Tai's absence.
"Right!" Mimi said with some hesitance. Although she had matured considerably since their exploits that fateful summer, she was still not one to throw herself into the line of fire unless there was something worth protecting, and at the moment the person worth protecting was vacating the premises. Besides that small detail, she had heard stories of Matt and T.K.'s captors, none of which she wished to hear again, nor did she ever want to encounter these evil men.
"It's okay Mimi, if you don't want to go you can stay here." Sora said, sensing Mimi's discomfort with the entire plan.
"She's right Mimi," Joe added, "We won't force you."
"N-No. It's okay." She nodded summoning her courage. "Let's go find that jerk!" she said, narrowing her eyes in disgust, as the four merged into the crowd.
End Note: Would this be considered a cliff hanger?? *shrugs* R+R please! Comments, suggestions, and criticisms whatever ya wanna say, say it! I find far too many instances in which great fics don't get the feedback they deserve so I encourage it at all costs. ^_^