Author's Notes

The summary is two separate quotes. One is repeated quite often in the Quran, although it's translated from Arabic. The second is the second half of a quote by Oscar Wilde: "Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you." It does sound a little like a tragedy, doesn't it? Somewhat…

I can't remember why I named it the title I did. You'll just have to take it like it is. The story came from a CT though.

This might come off as a bit incomplete, but remember the setting in terms of the events. This is the night (relatively) they went to and returned from the Digital World and Kouichi took his little spill down the stairs. Both minds are a little like a checker board, some bits white and clear, others black.

Anyway, enjoy, and tell me what you think.


Sweet and Tender Touch

Every soul shalt know the taste of death. However in your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.

Kouichi K & Kouji M


'Ni-san?'

Kouichi opened his eyes tiredly, resisting the urge to rub at them like he usually did. That would aggravate the tight stretch of skin across his forehead, specifically the amassment of cells above his right eye, which would in turn aggravate the injury it covered. The current problem was that the skin hadn't split and bled on its own, which suggested that there may be a risk of internal pressure building within the cranium. They needed an MRI, or a CT at the very least, but as the Doctor had explained once they had relocated him to what would be his room for at least the next twelve hours, but they wouldn't be able to get a good assessment until the swelling went down.

And seeing as visiting hours were up by the time everyone's worries had been temporarily placated, everybody had been forced to leave, save the hospital staff, till the following morning at the very least. But seeing as school was still in session, his friends hopefully would not need to drop by the hospital again. And after they had all left, he had closed his eyes in the hopes of getting some sleep before a nurse came in to wake him with a list of questions in a couple of hours…but nurses don't call their patients "Ni-san" unless they're the younger brother treating the elder, and last he checked, the only brother he had was not a nurse…

'Kouji?'

The other looked rather fuzzy and out of focus, but a few blinks let him validate the voice against his brother's face.

He blinked again. Had he somehow slept through the night?

But then his brother put a finger to his lips, and the other understood.

'You snuck in?' he dropped his voice, so that someone would have to be standing inside the doorframe in order to hear, in which case they would have seen the reason in any case.

Kouji nodded, making as if to sit down gingerly on one of the uncomfortable chairs before changing his mind and simply came closer. 'I'm safe. 'tou-san's still talking to…'kaa-san.' He had hesitated momentarily, before stumbling over the explanation. 'I mean your…our mother, not 'kaa-san…I mean-'

Kouichi couldn't help but smile at that. 'That sounds very confusing you know,' he interrupted, before he stared up at the ceiling. 'It's going to be weird. I was so desperate to meet you and have 'kaa-san see you safe and sound, so busy having a love-hate relationship with 'tou-san, that I never really thought about what was…is, going to happen.' The white came more into focus as his brother's face blurred. 'For a while it didn't even matter…'

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kouji look away, and that made him stop and check his words. 'Gomen. I shouldn't have said that.'

His brother still didn't turn back to him, looking at the machines placed there purely for precautionary measures.

'You sounded so sure,' he said finally, sounding like he was struggling with something. The elder twin couldn't quite see, so he wasn't sure. 'Worse, you sounded like you were just…giving in. Like you knew that attack would…and you…' He broke off, breathing deeply for a moment. 'How could you possibly know?' His voice shook at the end. 'Why didn't you say anything? How could you just give up?' He whipped around at the last statement, voice rising.

It was that that prompted the patient to plant both wrists into the bed and try to rise, to see his expression with his own wider-than-normal eyes.

And it was that, coupled with the fact that he had turned to his brother requesting, no, demanding an explanation, that made him exclaim in surprise and seize the other's shoulders before he rose.

'You're not supposed to be moving,' he scolded, before lowering both his gaze and his grip. 'We can talk about this later.'

'After you admit it's bothering you so much…' The words came out almost like a sigh, a tone with a hint of reluctance in it. 'You know…when I first came to the Digital World, I was stuck in this sea of darkness, chasing shadows…I thought that was the end. That I was dead, in the afterlife, or if my luck was really that bad…' He smiled wryly up at the ceiling. 'I thought I had wound up in hell.'

The other shuffled his feet. 'Maybe this isn't such a good time.' He didn't want to admit it, but the "hell" comment had unnerved him a little. Especially with the tone his brother had used.

'I didn't knock my brain out by falling down the stairs,' Kouichi replied, now sounding somewhat patronising. 'Everyone is going to die at some point. You should know that.'

There was a pause, and he was about to press on when Kouji asked: 'Why hell?'

Kouichi blinked, looking at his brother as best he could. 'Why hell?' he repeated, sounding for a moment like he had lost the thread of conversation. 'Why I thought I had wound up in hell you mean?'

At the nod, he had to resist shrugging his shoulders, which to him, was the perfect answer. 'Somehow I don't think my family would be running away from me and leaving me alone in heaven.' His tone was light, but there was a hint of pain still buried within.

'And you…believe in heaven and hell? And the afterlife for that matter?' Kouji thought for a moment of something else, when they had been on their way to take down Lucemon. 'Or some divine being controlling everything?'

'Umm…yeah, not exactly and yes, but what in the world gave you that idea?'

'The Digital World actually,' Kouji replied, still thinking about something or other. 'Remember when you said you didn't think we'd still be there if there wasn't something we could do about saving it?'

'Yeah…I remember that.' This time there was nothing save unmasked relief.

'Hey, don't get sappy on me.'

'You started this Kouji.'

'Uhh…yeah, anyway…' He waited almost expectantly, but when he didn't receive a further response, he spoke again. 'You didn't answer the rest of the questions.'

Kouichi closed his eyes. 'I'm pretty tired Kouji,' he said eventually, and he sounded rather the part. The other was well aware though he was trying to avoid the question.

'Don't give me that Kouichi.'

Registered use of his name. He opened his eyes again, and he bit his lip as his vision started to fog up a little. 'You're the one who said we could talk about this later.'

'That was ten minutes ago,' Kouji pointed out. 'I know as well as anyone that everyone will die at one point, but I just met a mother I thought was dead for ten years, and saw my brother wake up after his heart had stopped beating. And you were wrong Ni-san. After all that, you were wrong.'

Now they were both a little teary, or that was what he assumed the shaky tone meant.

'Yeah, I was wrong, but-' He pulled his blanket up, shivering slightly and averting his eyes to stare up to the ceiling with the whites of his eyes. 'Kouji…I…' He faltered, before starting up again. 'I hate her.' He said it rather badly, and the tone suggested he didn't entirely mean it.

'Excuse me?' Whatever Kouji had been expecting, that wasn't it.

'RhodoKnightmon,' Kouichi clarified, closing his eyes again. 'Before that, I was happy living what seemed like a second chance at…well, everything really. Things were looking up after hitting rock bottom, but for some reason, I wasn't getting hurt. Not while you guys were. You remember the moon.'

'I remember waking up in what looked like a lab device,' the younger twin said dryly. 'But I was out cold before that.'

'So was everybody else. I was up a good few hours before that though. Patamon managed to wake me. And before that, when we first faced the Royal Knights. And then when RhodoKnightmon fired her attack and blew up the snow catapult, everybody else's data was showing except mine. It made no sense at all; I was just as close as Tomoki or Izumi or Junpei, and yet I was perfectly fine.' He took a deep breath, before opening her eyes again. 'You don't know how much that scared me Kouji.' His breath hitched slightly. 'A lot of things went through my head, each one of those as unlikely as the last…or so I thought. What she said…well…I thought I was dead all over again. Just some ghost wandering about with a spirit giving me a physical form, or worse, I'd just managed to dream up everything…' His eyes glistened. 'We're having a great conversation in a hospital bed, aren't we.'

'It wouldn't matter if it was all a dream,' Kouji said quietly. 'Believe me, there were times I thought about that myself. But getting the living daylights beaten out of me does tend to skewer the possibility.'

'It would,' the other admitted, opening his eyes slightly. 'But right there, when Lucemon's attack was about to hit you all, it was…well, it was me or you all to be honest. And as far as I knew, I was already dead. And even if I wasn't, I'd fallen down a flight of stairs and practically cracked my skull open.'

'And you didn't think about how we'd feel?' It sounded a tad accusatory.

'I had about three seconds to come up with a plan before that attack hit,' Kouichi pointed out. 'It takes longer than that to think about consequences.'

'You had plenty of time before that.'

'I was scared Kouji. Scared of what it meant for me…for us.'

There was another breath of silence between the brothers.

'And were you telling the truth? When you said you didn't regret anything?'

Another pause, and the elder twin closed his eyes again. 'Yeah, but as I said, I didn't have all that long to think about it. Now I can say I have a lot of regrets. I can't even imagine how it's going to be, speaking to 'tou-san for the first time in ten years, especially after everything that happened…' His voice trailed off in a tired sigh. 'I don't think I could ever be ready to die.'

'Good.' And Kouji moved away from the machines to the human. 'And just to let you know, no-one's happy about that suicide stunt you pulled. You would have been leaving a lot of people if you did die, and I'd whack you on the head right now if it wasn't for that concussion of yours.'

A hand came up to finger the ice-pack nudging down the swelling. 'Yeah,' Kouichi said, relieved. 'Good idea. I'm not dead yet after all. If I'd signed everything off, I'd have had nothing to do until I actually did die. Imagine that. I'd have all the spare time in the world, draw all the pictures I want, read all the books I could get my hands on…'

'Now you're just talking crazy.'

'Kouji, now you're sounding just like 'kaa-san. Everyone's going to die someday-'

'-it's a fact of life. But if you spend your entire life preparing for it, you're wasting the time you could have instead.'

'Mmm…I'd nod now, but I'd jar my head.' For some reason, that send him off giggling. 'That wasn't what I meant and you know it.'

'What I don't know is why you're laughing,' Kouji threw back with a perfectly straight face.

'Now this is the place I'm supposed to be shrugging.' He groaned, before it turned into a sigh halfway. 'I'm still scared. Things could still go wrong. And it's always going to be like that, because if it wasn't, it'd be the Digital World all over again.'

'If it is, tell us this time.' The younger twin gave the elder a mock glare, before leaning over and hugging him gently so the next words went into the pillow. 'Even if that happens, you'll never lose us. Ever.'

Kouichi's own arms came up to hug his brother's torso as he hovered over the bed. He couldn't climb onto it, though the idea was tempting for the both of them.

'The same goes for you,' he whispered. 'I'm not planning on going anywhere.'

'Ahem,' a female voice interrupted them, and Kouji quickly shot up, planting his hands again to make sure the other didn't do the same on reflex. 'I believe visiting time is over.'

'Ah, yeah, I was just-' Kouji looked at his brother, who wiped his eyes quickly and smiled.

'How about I count my blessings and you count your's, kay?' And as an afterthought, the patient added: 'you could always skip school tomorrow.'

'I thought elder brothers are supposed to be role-models.'

But there was a twitch at the corner of his mouth as he left.