Howl to the Earth

Night in the digital world, and the only offered lights were the towering streams of data and their source, the earth. The "real world." Hmph. Impmon remembered when the digital night—and day as well—was lit by flashes and flares, punctuations of distant yet omnipresent battle. Now it was serene. Impmon stood on a pillar of stone rising out of the wasteland. His silent figure somehow combined elements of both the somber and the comic; he had the body of a child in costume and a warrior's saddened eyes.

"Alone at night, in a mega's world? You tempt fate."

Impmon knew the voice, had almost expected to hear it, but still couldn't prevent his whole body spasming in surprise. Just as quickly he growled, faced the digimon on the pillar beside his and shook a fist at her face.

"Yeah, well I could say the same thing to you, Renamon! At least I don't go around sneaking up on people, what if I'd attacked you?"

Renamon looked at him with traces of amusement in her eyes. This was her only response. Impmon scowled and turned away. Hmph. Her presence behind him did not leave. Hmph.

"Well?" he barked at last, "What do you want?"

"Nothing," said Renamon, "but to know that you're alright."

Hmph. Impmon crossed his arms and looked away from her.

"Alright? Of course I'm alright!"

He lifted his face higher, towards the light in the sky.

"I'm fine! Peachy, even! I—"

The light of the human world touched his eyes.

"I…"

The earth shone. So far away.

"Ai… Mako…"

He covered his face with his hands. Then,

"Well are you alright?" he shouted. "Can you honestly say you're fine with all this junk?" His knees hit the stone.

"It's not fair!"

Silence. The digital night was serene. Renamon was no longer one pillar over. She was beside him. He could tell without looking. She did not touch him or speak a word of comfort. She simply stood by his side until he could pull himself to his feet. Then she spoke.

"We've all lost our tamers. But we will find them again, you must have faith."

"Hmph. Easy for you to say."

"What do you mean?"

"Ai and Mako… they're just kids! Babies, even." Impmon's hands fell to his sides. His wide, despairing eyes took in nothing but the world overhead.

"I don't understand," said Renamon. "They are in no danger, they have family to protect them until you return."

"That isn't it!" He sprung past her from one spire to another. He stood there with his back to her, his chin tucked into his chest.

"Babies grow up! And when they do they stop caring about the things they used to, or forget them all together." Impmon's voice had lost its cocky, belligerent tone. He sounded tired. Resigned. Alone. "Humans can't dedigivolve like us. Once they change it's forever."

Renamon did not move. She watched in silence as Impmon forced himself to stand tall. Then with a deliberate show of carelessness he kicked a loose stone to the desert floor below. When he spoke again, the smile in his vice sounded pinned on with staples.

"Ah well, at least then they'll be able to get themselves a more reliable digimon. Good for them, right?"

"Wrong," Renamon said in a voice as sharp as her diamond storm. "Ai and Makoto are your humans, your partners. However young they may be, they are still tamers, and out of thousands of digimon they chose you." Renamon leapt, too quickly for even digital eyes to follow, and joined him once more. She glanced down at him, then skywards. Impmon followed her gaze. To the Earth. Of course. "They will not forget you. Nor should they."

Impmon's faced stretched in a pained, casual smile.

"Really? Cause I think they coulda chose better."

"Impmon!" Geez, she could cut steel with that voice. "There is a fine line between remorse and self-pity. Don't cross it, Impmon."

"Yeah? Why not?"

"It is unworthy of you."

"Huh?" Impmon stared at her. He blinked. Twice.

"Sometimes I believe you were born to be a walking contradiction." The top of the pillar was small, but Renamon found room to kneel, so as to look Impmon in the eye. "Before, you rejected every offer of the friendship you obviously craved. Now you fear your tamers will forget you, while claiming they shouldn't want you at all. You act as though you would match your devilish form, alienating anyone who might care for you when anyone who does care can see that you…" Renamon stopped. For the fist time uncertainty entered her eyes. She hesitated. Then,

"You were destined to be a protector. You have a lion's heart."

Impmon stiffened. Pain slashed his expression and denial clouded his eyes.

"You… you…" He cried out in frustration and dove off the rocks. "You had to bring him up? Well you're wrong, I'm not like that at all!"

Instinctively Renamon began to jump after him. Then she stopped. She watched him run through the desert, deeper into the night. Alone except for his shadow. She was wise enough to know that she had said too much, and spoken truths not ready to be heard. She could do no good for him now. It was likely that there were only two people in the worlds who could.