I did it! I am sick as a dog and I still managed to get this chapter out~ Thank goodness. Thank you KumoFuzei and happy 1st anniversary! With this CC is about... 25% done and posted. There's more written... about one and a half chapters. But they're far, far in the future so we'll have to settle for this. With this, it's time to speed up on Marionette and work on MB, which should take less time. Here's to CC not taking another three years! Also, please tell me what's wrong with this. I'm so out of it; I'm lucky there are periods at the end of the sentences. Enjoy!
Chapter 8: Gears Within Wheels
Sometimes being a nerd had its benefits.
For example, when extraterrestrial electronics are falling into your hand and you have a convenient Ethernet cable to work with it.
Elian sighed sleepily, looking at the patterns spreading across his screen. This was really easy to crack, even for him. His hacking was something he kept to himself, not out of fear of being laughed at because really, he had plenty of reasons for that to happen. Elly had entirely different reasons for keeping his secrets, some of which he blamed on televised subliminal messaging. That topic however, was for another time.
"Eh?" This was too easy, now that he looked at it, watching the numbers and the letters fly by in sets of equations that disappeared over the white open window. Elian sighed to himself, glancing at the red numbers of his unpacked clock. "This could be a while…"
Days passed. Literally. They flew in one ear and out the other in the case of Norio. He went about a normal routine, bar the addition of feeding a small, armless dragon-bro. It wasn't exactly good for his tiny paycheck but as long as adults took it as him being a growing young man, he could explain his sudden buying of twice the usual amount of rice and fish. It did dwindle his tiny paycheck but he could live with that for the moment. It wasn't as though he went many places anyway…
"Stupid English test… who the heck uses so many colons…"
He ground his fingers into his spiky hair, Norio resisting the urge to throw his homework out the apartment window. Babydmon was snoozing on the couch, occasionally releasing grunts too deep for the tiny dragon's vocal cords. If that didn't cement Digital Monsters as weird, what did? He smiled to himself at the sight of the snot bubble. Dracomon was weird… but he was a good guy. Too bad he was about as good at school as Norio himself was.
At least he made things noisier. Even the TV couldn't do that.
Norio's smile dipped a little as he looked out the window. Who'd think a noisy guy like me had such a quiet house? He sure as hell wouldn't; that was for sure. The young male looked back at his workbook and groaned. "God damn it…. This sucks…." He needed someone smart that wasn't busy right now. "Maybe I can ask Hana-chan to borrow her dude… the guy seems like he's got lots of brain cells." Norio sighed. "Nah she'd smack the hell outta me." He mimicked swatting a fly with a small snicker. 'Stupid commoner this is easy!' or some crap like that…"
"Bossman why don't you just ask her or sommat?"
Norio jumped, nearly tipping back his chair. "When'd you wake up?"
Babydmon chuckled, flapping tiny wings to float over. "Ages ago man, ages. But seriously, you guys are weird." He frowned visibly, looking amused by one thing or another. "I mean, Poromon and me ain't exactly shinin' bros but for real… ya'll look like yer 'bout to kill each other all o' the time. Are all humans like that?"
The teen waved his dragon off with a laugh, spikes whipping into his face. "Whaddaya talkin' 'bout man? We're cool as can be! Sure, Hana-chan and I are always gettin' each other and she's rather uptight an' stuff… but she's got my back. All o' 'em do." Fondness trickled into his eyes, making the sapphire sparkle almost burn the irises. Besides, he added silently. I'll keep m' promise… no matter what.
Babydmon shook his head, looking confused. "Then why can't ya ask her anythin'?"
The human shrugged. "Same reason she don' ask me about history. Hana-chan's got too much pride." He puffed out his chest. "Just ain't willin' to share the stage with yours truly."
The small dragon snorted. "Yah, she's got the pride bro."
Human ears turned red. "Aw shaddup!" He swatted at the pest, knocking the Digimon onto a pillow. "You help me then dipwad!" When his partner stuck out his tongue, Norio threw up his hands. "See? You can't do jack all either!"
"I can hear your phone's ringin' boss," retorted his unconventional roommate, who proceeded to float to the offending device. He hissed at it, almost ready to set it on fire. He hated phones, really didn't see the point in them to be honest. He didn't see the point to much of any real communication thing. Humans lived too far apart as far as Babydmon was concerned. It was real bizarre since there were so many packed in this big ass building. The little Digimon pricked his ears as Norio brushed past and looked at the device. A scowl marred his normally friendly features at the sight of that caller ID thing and held the receiver to his ear.
"'Ello?" The human intoned brightly, looking irritated by the call. Babydmon tilted his green head. Weird… never seen the bro look like that… must be a money-grubber or somethin'. Any Digimon knew all about money-grubbers. Restraunts had them, the castles sent them every which-a-place. They were obnoxious. Bossman would send them packing fast for sure though. He was confident in that.
Meanwhile, Norio was inwardly panicking. Who was going to answer? Who was he talking to? "'Ello?" he repeated, hoping it was a miscall.
"Nori-chan? Guess who?" The female voice chirped with depth, every bubble that was normally in his voice twice as big in that familiar tone.
Norio cringed. "Mom." Seeing Babydmon's expression, he caught himself and grinned. "How's it goin'? You're wowin' them right?" He forced the eagerness into each syllable, clutching the receiver in shaking hands. Why today? Was today some important day he hadn't marked on his calendar? Or was karma just being an ass?
He really didn't want to deal with this.
His mother's delighted hum glittered through the phone. "What do you expect Nori-chan? Your mother isn't a slouch right?" His mother was anything but a slouch. One of the most popular idols of the country, she could make a room of men swoon with little more than her smile and a mic. Nobody insulted Watanabe Megumi without a good ol' fashioned mob on their hands, not even him. Never even him. Momma aside… she had skill. She had talent that took her adventuring far, far away, so much that he saw more of her on magazines… and Norio was okay with that. Completely and utterly okay.
Her son laughed sheepishly. "Y-yeah of course not. Ehehe…" Change the topic, somehow before… "Where's dad at?" Ooh saying that hurt. His throat burned and he almost coughed the word out, forcing his voice to remain normal and expressively happy. Norio managed to take a deep breath, waiting for the answer and follow-up he always dreaded.
It wasn't that he hated his dad. The guy was just… he was just all uptight and stuff. He was real hard to get along with in normal conversation. It was like talking to a wall or something. Also, Shiro was real bad at taking a joke. Someone once spiked his coffee with alcohol at a business party. Reportedly, the guy had been sued so far there was hardly anything left. Norio had thought that would have been a blast but hey. No wonder he had no little siblings with a guy like that around.
His mother thankfully sympathized. "Oh you know Shiro," she sighed, allowing him to envision her resting her head on her elbow, black locks falling loosely in front of her face. "Busy with his mathematics and his ambition. Do you know how long it took him to turn off his computer yesterday? I had been done for six hours Nori-chan! Six! Never become that busy Nori-chan, you promise your Mama that."
Norio laughed, a genuine sound, and let the tension leave his shoulders. He loved her, his mom. She was as easy as pie. "I don't like Math at all Mom, so I think we don' gotta worry about that." She let out a delighted hoot through the earphone and he felt a ghost of a kiss on his forehead. He had made her happy… wait don't get distracted! He waited for her next words, listening to the silence of the phone with trepidation. Come on Ma, he pleaded with the air. Come on and get it over with. I know wha's comin' already… jeez.
"Neh, Nori-chan," his mother finally inquired innocently. "Is Aya-chan still out at work?" Her voice was its usual cheerful self, holding back a lingering black sentiment.
Norio let his heart thud to a stop and paused, giving the excuse to glance at the clock. "Sis? Yeah she's still there!" He gave a weak chuckle. "You know how late she works Mom. I'll let her know you called though." Each word beat at his swollen vocal cords and his Adam's apple shuddered in dismay. The inquiry was over; now get off the phone already. Please…
The woman fell quiet, her breathing distant from the phone. Was Dad around? Well, that would be just peachy wouldn't it? Then Megumi returned, allowing her son to envision the lazy grin likely on her face. "I've just been called away Nori-chan. Apparently, I get to have actual food today!"
"What, oatmeal?" he managed to crack out, snickering weakly at the old joke.
His mother only snickered. "Nah, it'll be wheat toast with butter and half a banana. You know these Western folk… I have to go Nori-chan! Keep in touch more this time!" He gave her the chirpiest farewell he could manage as the phone clicked. Then Norio slumped silently on the sofa, cradling the receiver in his hands. He was silent for a long while, the sounds of humming electronics drifting in and out of the air.
Babydmon cut the tension. "Bossman… you've got a sister?"
Norio didn't answer immediately, choosing to replace the phone in its cradle. Then he slumped back down again. He drew his knees up to his head, letting the silence wrap around him in a hug.
Sean's chipper tone filtered through her ears as Kiri put the phone down. She had sighed, forcing him to stop his happy humming. He rather liked humming though… The teen nodded at him, shaking her head in exasperation and genuine pity. "His mama called," she replied, watching a familiar bear climb down from the top of the refrigerator. Kiri sat back down on her small couch next to Luca, who was quietly sipping from a glass of orange juice. He glanced at her in puzzlement before going back to concentrating intensely at the TV. She wondered if he was listening or not. He probably was; curious cat he tended to be.
Sean let out a theatrical groan as he chopped the vegetables. "Poor Nori-kun," he sighed. "They can't be still dragging this on." Seeing his friend shrug, he merely shook his head. "No Phascomon," he scolded without looking. The bear scowled at him and climbed back to his spot, grumbling about humans and their rules. The brunette ignored him, shaking his head. "That was rhetorical by the way Kiri-chan."
"Of course it was," she demurred, smiling at him over the partition. Frowning again, she reflexively patted Luca's head, letting him lean sleepily on her shoulder. "Regardless… they really are a discomforting set aren't they? Time hasn't stopped at all… for any of us."
"Yet here we all are," Sean hummed, putting the plates together. "Every one of us acting like a bunch of kids… but we are kids aren't we?"
Kiri smiled gratefully at the sight of the meal she thankfully hadn't had to prepare. "They aren't… and eventually they'll have to remember that. The present and the past need to move forward someday… before it hurts someone too deeply."
"I'll remember you said those words when your brother is at the forefront of your mind," Phascomon drawled from the fridge, lying on his back. Kiri rolled her eyes and forced Luca to sit up. The boy gave her an obviously unhappy look before reluctantly pulling up his tray. Frimon slept on from his lap, magically not tempted by the smells around him. Dorimon was licking his lips and futilely attempting to jump toward the food, but to no avail.
Luca glanced toward his cousin and away again. She should have been bothered by them having Digimon. He knew that. But there was one with her. It bugged him, like the wrong puzzle piece in its place. Though Kiri had always bugged him, ever since he was little. Ever since that day…
A monster took my Onii-chan… please don't let him get your brother too, kay Lulu?
His fingers curled around the chopsticks with irritation. His face rippled then calmed. There wasn't any reason to be angry today. It wasn't the anniversary. It wasn't anything particularly bothersome. Kiri always set off alarm bells. It was why people left love letters in her shoe locker day after day, why Norio ran blindly towards her like a fly towards the light. They were attracted to her, at least to her outside. The carrot-head never understood that, attraction to the outside. Wasn't the beneath more interesting, more dangerous? Maybe the attraction to the outside was fear, fear of the beyond. That he grasped well.
What was inside his cousin was probably dangerous, probably a monster. Or it could be a sad child. Luca didn't know. But he wondered. He wondered very often. He thought about that almost as much as he wondered what was going on wrong in Sean's head.
Case in point: right now.
"So~," sing-songed the brunette, giving him a grin the Cheshire Cat. "I heard from the others… seems a girly took a fancy to you when I wasn't lookin'." He winked conspiratorially as Kiri perked from her thoughtful daze of eating. Luca made a silent sigh, folding his hands into his lap and raising his eyebrow. He really disliked being the focal point of conversation, particularly when the ninth-grader stuck his nose in. Gossip mongrel. "You're not going to lie and say no, are you?"
The preteen placed a palm to his forehead and mentally counted to ten before he opened his mouth. Yes, he spoke. You could hardly be silent around Sean. "Unless you consider "dominating" me at twelve years of age "a fancy", I doubt she has such an idea."
Sean clutched at his heart. "The poor girl, shot down so fast." He chuckled. "That's our little Lulu though,such an honest little lad."
"You're going to give me indigestion," deadpanned the other boy, even as Kiri laughed at them both. His cheeks turned pink with irritation. "Itoko, not you as well."
"Sorry Lulu," Kiri giggled. "You just look so proud of yourself, batting off the advances of a little lady like that."
The boy sighed, feeling like the only adult in the room. "Death threats are not exactly romantic."
The teens looked at each other and laughed. "Maybe not to you."
Luca facepalmed again. "Too much information." Then he laughed, joining the other two in their own amusement.
He supposed he could put his suspicions aside… for tonight.
Babydmon floated around the doorway with irritation. What the hell was with humans and taking forever in showers? It was like, late! Again! Seriously! Them and their bathroom issues were going to get the moron in trouble one of these days. He knew the guy had gotten a bad phone call yesterday but that chick he liked had made him laugh! No excuses! He puffed out an agitated burst of smoke. "BOSSMAN you're gonna get your keister kicked by that crazy chick if ya don't move it!"
"Keister," chuckled a voice, deep and ever-so-casual. "I haven't heard a kid use that in a long time." A white-pipe fox wiggled its way through the semi-ajar front door. Again a sign of Norio's dropping IQ. Even if it was a cute kid on the way, don't just leave your door open. Seriously… The Baby floated to face the older 'mon. Cause really, there was nothing this cool in Japan that was normal.
"I'm a rather special kid me'self," quipped the little dragon. "Whaddaya want? Bossman's got class. Or sommat. I dunno." Now that sounded lame. "Kudamon aren't real… party animals."
The Kudamon chuckled. "Sharp for a stoner aren't you?"
He earned a snicker of his own. "I ain't exactly an arrowhead but I get by. So… whatcha want?" Green eyes narrowed angrily. "You want the bossman, go through me. End of story bro. Ya dig?"
Kudamon merely rose up to his back paws and shrugged. "I'm here for you at the moment I am afraid."
Babydmon would have crossed his arms if he had them. "Then talk already. You dally too much bro."
"Fair enough." Golden eyes glittered. "Your little friend… the one with the rabbit… keep him safe."
The dragon raised a non-existent eyebrow. "Why?" Okay, a bit harsh, but weirdo prophecies and warnings ticked him the hell off at the best of times.
"Because destiny is an asshole and his Digimon has some greater place in the universe," replied the fox with a smirk. "That or the little brat may jump into things too big for his little breeches. Take your pick."
Babydmon stared for a moment before groaning. "Trust the little human dudes to make a mess o' stuff." He flapped his wings toward the bathroom door. "Whatever bro, thanks."
"You don't believe me do you," hummed Kudamon.
"Dunno," Babydmon snipped back. "Do you believe you?" He went into the bathroom to get Norio. The moron probably fell asleep in the shower again. Kudamon chuckled again. Ooh, he liked this. He liked this a lot.
The knight planted his lance on the ground and sat gingerly on a pew. Dear almighty Homeostasis, help him through these troubling times. Teach the strong to love the weak, may the rich ease the troubles of the poor…
And may someone give him an answer to his questions… that wasn't Wisemon. By the gods anyone but Wisemon. He wasn't a scientist, but a lunatic. No wonder his last apprentice had jumped from a tower… Something like a missing year was insanity… he was certain to have lived during that time, to have fought many battles… one in particular with…
A pang of agony touched his head and MedievalDukemon raised an armored hand to his temple. The memories lingered at the edge of his mind, like a word, a name or a set of them… but the thoughts simply would not form for what felt to him like the umpteenth time. It was rather troublesome. However, D'Arcmon was next to useless and well… no one else spoke of it. They seemed to think of it as rather taboo here in the Sheir sector. He supposed it made sense, with this beautifully religious church and the teachings inscribed in Cherubimon's office. No one would want to think against something so extravagant.
Besides, Wisemon danced about this more than a Kabukimon during festival times.
The Digimon sighed and continued to pray. Everyone needed a little prayer. Perhaps it would invigorate him to go and search through his predecessor's papers. Who said knights were fools anyways?
They were the best creation ever devised.
It was a shame they took so much effort to put together properly.
Hence why Jess was sitting here, irritably tapping her foot against the side of a plastic bench as Toshima Elementary filed out in bursts of toddling brats. Of course that boy went here, surrounded by fools and ingrates who couldn't possibly know their place in this world. No wonder his impudence went so rampantly through his every action. Well. She would certainly break those little habits out of him, come what may.
One of the boys was staring at her, dressed in her almost devoid of layers attire. This made her feel strangely naked, rather repulsive with the curious look on the other child's face. She opened her mouth, intent to send him away with the rudest remarks she could muster. However, he turned back and went towards someone else, causing Jess to scowl. So, he planned to ogle her like a common whore and then just walk away? How disgusting. The least that urchin could do was let her chew her out like he deserved.
Moments later, that same boy returned, followed by a girl. Ah she could envy that, no stylist made dark locks that naturally wavy and responsive. For a young girl, one Jess' own age of twelve years, she was certainly well-endowed in nonchalance. The one who followed them… was her target. The orange-haired boy followed them in silence, clutching the straps of his fraying backpack. On it rested the familiar device she herself carried on her belt. He didn't look over at her, listening silently to the words of his… friends.
Friends. Cheap word, cheap work. They were going to forget each other once ninth-grade ended. It was just a temporary patch over a permanent hole. Perhaps that was why people clung to each other in packs, useless, diseased packs. She would not dare sink to that level. Associates yes, a forced husband yes, but certainly nothing as casual and derogatory as a friendship. Time had taught her the foolishness of that opportunity, time and the inscrutable motives of her own age group.
Jessica rose to her feet, walking after him in a slow, placid manner. It was better to not be noticed, to get him alone. Though what she would do when she had him… Miss Sayan was admittedly rather cloudy on that part. She was certain a truth would arise in her mind however, so the young girl paid the niggling discomfort no attention. Loosely, she glanced around her surroundings, surprised to find him not heading toward a seedy part of the area. Rather he had stopped with his friends at a café, sitting outside in the sun while his friends chattered on and on inside. She debated confronting him now or waiting when the blue eyes abruptly pooled straight into hers. A small smirk rested on his face and he tilted his head invitingly.
Reflexively Jess turned up her nose, struggling to contain her mollification at being noticed. The other boy shook his head and gestured again, this time with his hand. This one angered her, causing the dark-haired preteen to stomp over, mismatched eyes fissuring with rage. "I am not a dog to be called urchin!" she hissed at him when she reached him. He raised an eyebrow at her and his smile widened, pointing to a seat as politely as possible. You're welcome to join us, the gaze said to her, amused and disturbing to her brain. This was not how it was supposed to go. She was supposed to have control, complete and utter dominance. But his eyes, just one disorienting look… and she was feeling ordinary.
And Jessica Sayan despised ordinary.
"What are you?" she snarled angrily, resisting the urge to reach out and wrap her fingers on his spindly neck. "You urchin, what on Earth is the matter with you?" He examined her for a moment as she shook with uncontrollable fury. These minor conveniences, orders being followed, the world dancing in her palm, they had never been so denied to her, not even by the ignorant. Yet he… he was playing with her wasn't he? He was toying with her before the game even began! How dare he? The boy finished his examination with a smile, shaking his head ruefully. "What?" Jess snapped.
The boy shook his head again and left his chair, taking her hand and kissing it lightly. Mischief danced in those eyes, the color of the painted sky. A shudder ran up her spine and she glowered at him as he straightened up once more."You and I…" he finally said in a quiet voice, intense and almost harshly adult in its uncontrolled youth. "We are going to have a lot of fun aren't we?"
Jessica glared, at an utter loss. "Explain yourself whelp," she snapped.
He chuckled lightly, eyes examining her outfit with only cursory politeness. "Just that. You need manners… and I need a distraction." He gave a childish little grin her direction. "Let's see who gives out first Miss Jessica, okay?" He held out a hand for her to shake. "My name is Luca Hanima, as your other country would place it. Let's dance."
Even as rage flickered in her stomach and the revulsion of a commoner's touch burned at her fingertips, Jessica smirked to herself, pride burning blue embers in her brown and amber eyes. The game was still afoot, even if it was by his terms. The preteen reached out and clasped the hand, shaking it with deep, intense vigor. "Very well, urchin," she sneered. "I accept this challenge of yours. However, I do not intend to lose."
Luca gave her an indulgent smirk, releasing his fingers from her iron grip with little fanfare. Then, the devices they carried burst into activity, Commandramon's face appearing on hers with an expression of irritation. "We have a problem my lady," he intoned from the speaker. A loud, violent explosion made the earth shudder and a snort left her lips. Clearly.
At her side, Luca shouldered his bag and smiled dangerously. "And that's the first task isn't it?" he hummed, taking off toward the sound of shouts and falling building. Jessica cursed and ran after him.
"Urchin, how dare you cheat?"