Story Title: Takeru: Contemplate
Series Title: Digistuck: Takeru's New Universe
Fandom: Digimon, Homestuck
Warnings: Mentions of character death
Summary: Your name is TAKERU TAKAISHI, and you are currently splitting your attention between surviving the many trials of the Digital World and braving paradox space for your dead allies.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters/elements of Digimon or Homestuck; Bandai and Toei have the former, Andrew Hussie, the latter.
Your name is TAKERU TAKAISHI, and the path outlined by HOPE is within sight. Spurred by your meeting with other Sburb players and the knowledge of the dreambubbles, you now search paradox space for the vestiges of your friends. Not the living people around you, but your fellow Heroes—those who fell in the Reckoning.
Never have you had so much Hope before, not since you awakened to your past.
You will follow the path you see with every ounce of belief in your body.
In the weeks of travel since Taichi and MetalGreymon defeated Etemon and disappeared into a warp, you have never let go of your Hope. So much Hope breathes into you now that you cannot wait for night to fall and you can slip into slumber.
Where before you suffered, trapped in nightmare after nightmare, now you can break free. You pierce the walls of your dreambubble and brave the horrorterrors to traverse paradox space.
Clad in the holy light of Hope, you are a shining beacon in the darkness.
But that is only for your protection, warning others to stay away.
The path to your future stands clear before you, and you follow it with all your heart.
It would be easier if you could control your dreamself while awake. It sleeps when you aren't, and so it vulnerable in the far reaches of paradox space. Through judicious experimenting, you manage to nudge your dreambubble along with you and seek its protection when your body in the Digital World wakes up.
You are glad that your young body means that you aren't tasked with watch like the others. It lets you spend as much time as possible as your dreamself.
In your arms, Tokomon is worried, though he tries not to show it. But Tokomon doesn't know—can't know—and even if he is the partner of your life, bound by a shared duty and love, Tokomon doesn't understand.
You sleep a lot, and you fight waking up for as long as possible. Tokomon doesn't say anything, but you know he is worried that you are getting sick.
You remain single-minded in your path. As long as you have that Hope while continuing to survive in the Digital World, you are fine. If nothing else, Sburb taught you to reach for your goals with unmatched determination.
Right now, Tokomon is standing guard over you as you nap in an amusement park. The part of you that isn't planning your next push through paradox space is a little worried. Your group of Chosen Children is split up, unable to handle the aimlessness of travel without your leader. Everyone slowly left you and Tokomon until even Yamato and Gabumon went to search for the others, leaving you and Tokomon alone on the pier.
The tactical part of you complains about the exact opposite of what happened in your Sburb session, where, once gathered, your group never split. Though the amusement park is safe, has been safe for the past week, and contains plenty of food to scavenge, it doesn't make sense to leave a little boy and his Baby (II, Tokomon would insist) alone in a world that has proven to be, if not actively hostile, then passively dangerous.
The other part is annoyed that you now have to stay awake for longer, cutting into your search time.
Nevertheless, it is time for you to take your guard shift. With a small grunt, you stand and pad out of the booth you've been using as shelter at night. Along the way, you snag the makeshift staff you fashioned. It wouldn't do anything against any of the Adult Digimon you've come across, but in theory it would help against any Child Digimon who attacked, and the solid weight comforts you anyway.
"Tokomon," you say softly.
"Takeru!" Tokomon says. "You're up!"
"It's my turn, isn't it?"
Tokomon stands stalwart. "I'll protect you! I can protect you! You need your sleep!"
...Tokomon is too good to you. Though you want nothing more than to go back to sleep, you didn't shirk your duties before and you certainly aren't going to start now.
"It's fine, Tokomon. You can go rest."
Tokomon visibly hesitates before giving in. "All right, Takeru, but if you start feeling tired, wake me up!"
"Of course," you assure him. You watch as Tokomon climbs into the booth and then settle down into your seat, weapon relaxed but ready. The game gave you all sorts of nice powers that helped with watch, but here, you have to depend on your own senses. In spite of yourself, you let your mind wander a little.
Part of you wishes you were a Heart player. Heart players deal with the division of self so much better—the soul is a facet of their aspect. Hikari always had these flashes of knowledge that she attributed to someone else, and if she weren't so obviously a Witch, you would have sworn she were a Seer. Maybe if you were a Heart player, you could control your dreamself while awake.
But that doesn't matter—you shake those thoughts away and refocus. As Seer, your job is to focus on the future, not the past. What ifs are your class's livelihood. You thrive—or, rather, grow into your role to thrive—on forming contingency plans, guiding your group on the best path. You can't affect the past (that's the dominion of Time players, and timey wimey stuff still makes your head hurt, so you aren't sure how Yamato coped) so you had to look to the future. That lesson was drummed in you through the course of your journey. That was your own path of maturity in the game, to look beyond yourself and your past to gaze into the future and aid everyone.
Your grip on your staff tightens as you hear a fluttering in the wind. You strain your ears and barely manage to identify the sound of flapping wings. It's too soft for that of an Adult or higher (Piccolomon notwithstanding), so you figure it's either a Child or a Baby, either of which you're able to handle.
You watch with passive eyes as blue feathers come into sight. You try really hard not to judge based on appearances, but not much of this Digimon inspires trust. It is a small blue figure with wings as arms and clawed feet. What immediately draws you attention is the skull patterned on his head.
Again, not much that inspires trust.
You deliberately cloak yourself in an air of calmness. "Who goes there?"
"I'm PicoDevimon, a wandering Digimon!" he says. "Aah, are you one of the fabled Chosen Children who defeated Etemon?"
"Yes." Well, you didn't do much during the assault itself, as Tokomon was... well, Tokomon, but you helped some with the plans. And Taichi and MetalGreymon had been the ones who ended up taking out Etemon for good.
"You sort of look like that other blond human... Yamato, was it?"
"What did you do to him?" you snarl, and you leap to your feet, spurred by a bolt of fear shooting through your chest. No. No. If something happened to him, you should know...
"Me? I didn't do anything!" PicoDevimon says, affronted. "But I saw him and he has a message for you."
You relax your stance but by no means take yourself out of battle mode. "And what does he have to say?"
"That he doesn't need a whiny, weak crybaby like you anymore."
For a moment, you freeze. Then you start to laugh, long and hard.
"What's so funny?" PicoDevimon demands.
Your laughter doesn't cease. If there's something that you don't doubt, it's that Yamato loves you in both worlds. In fact, this Yamato is far nicer to your than the other Yamato was. This one is gruff but affectionate. It took the other Yamato being separated to different planets before he was anything more than distant and closed-hearted. The idea that this Yamato doesn't care for you, when you can see the sheer love and affection in his actions, is nothing but laughable.
Slowly, you manage to regain your control. Your stance then begins to bleed ANGER.
This isn't some random bystander. This is a threat. What he said could have been a very effective attack on a young, impressionable child who'd spent over a week alone with no one but his Digimon partner.
But you are a Sburb survivor—a SBURB WINNER—and you are far more than that.
You end threats to you and yours.
"Who do you work for?" you demand.
"W-What?" PicoDevimon recoils from your harsh tone.
"No one just randomly comes and says something like that," you say. "Who do you work for?"
You lose your patience and step forward. The staff in your hands twirls—too slow, part of you thinks—and scythes toward PicoDevimon's sizeable face. The small Digimon backpedals into the air wildly.
PicoDevimon is staring at you, but you meet his gaze evenly. "You're a violent little kid, aren't you?" PicoDevimon says. "Totally unlike our previous reports."
For a third time, you demand, "Who do you work for?"
PicoDevimon just stares at you. Something shifts in those open, mischievous eyes until they harden into a tangible gravity. "You're a threat now," he says.
Between one moment and the next, the air is filled with SYRINGES. You don't think as you backpedal, steps sure. There's COVER around back, and if you manage to get behind it, the SYRINGES won't get you. You manage to clear the STONE BARRIER just as the SYRINGES reach you, where they instead clang against rock.
You may be SEER, but that doesn't mean you cannot fight, and so you charge HOPE into your STAFF and break your cover in time to fling a BLAST OF WHITE ENERGY...
...only to fall short when you remember that you aren't in your DREAMS. You aren't SEER OF HOPE. You're just TAKERU TAKAISHI, CHOSEN CHILD. Unlike your DREAMS, you're just a BASIC HUMAN. And HOPE... hope, doesn't come to your command anymore.
You aren't that person. Not here.
Desperately, you try to cover this giant tactical misstep by retreating, but you are too exposed. The syringes come close, closer than you like. You think you manage to knock them all away as you regain your cover.
Okay, this is bad. Bad. You have no ranged techniques, and your little body has none of the advantages of your Sburb self—your conditioning has given you barely a fraction of the power of your God Tier self, let alone the boy who'd become a hardened warrior as a Sburb player. Plans shoot through your head and are discarded readily. You can hear PicoDevimon's steady advance as he realizes you aren't going to show yourself anymore. Your cover will not be sufficient soon, and so you prep yourself—
—and never has Patamon's attack been so beautiful to your ears. Your partner zooms out of the booth he was resting in, a ball of compressed air turning the oncoming projectiles into bits of data.
"Stay away from Takeru!" Patamon snarls as he rams into PicoDevimon with all the righteous fury of a worried guardian. Though his hands aren't quite claws, they still inflict damage as the two tussle in the air.
Adrenaline courses through you as you watch them tumble through the air. Considering the ground beneath you, you realize that there is some nicely shaped rubble now. You heft one of the rocks, looking for the perfect shot.
Your rock misses spectacularly. You have the technique down more or less, but you definitely don't have the muscle for a good hit.
It doesn't matter. The whoosh of displaced air distracts PicoDevimon long enough for Patamon to get in a tackle and a point-blank Air Shot.
PicoDevimon reels back, anger apparent on his face. "I thought you were a Baby!"
Patamon settles into his stance and prepares another Air Shot. His body expands with drawn-in air, but right before he can release it, PicoDevimon's face twists into a sneer.
"I need to report back on this," he says. "There's something very, very wrong with you kid."
Though flushed from exertion, your face is hard. You don't respond.
"We'll be keeping an eye on you," he says before sweeping away back where he came.
His dignified retreat is spoiled by Patamon's parting shot, and you internally snicker as he spins into a nosedive before recovering.
You intend to watch as PicoDevimon flies off into the distance, but you suddenly find yourself with a chestful of Patamon.
"Takeru, Takeru!" he cries. "Why didn't you wake me up? You're supposed to wake me up when something comes!"
"Sorry, Patamon," you say. "I didn't think he'd attack me."
"But he did, he did!" Patamon says. "He attacked you! That's why you should have woken me up, just in case!"
"I won't make the same mistake twice," you assure him. "But hey, you're Child-level now!"
"I'd rather have stayed as a Baby if it meant that you were safe," Patamon declares.
"Patamon," you say softly and then hug your partner to you.
You honestly don't know what you'd do without your partner. He is warm against your body.
Falling out of your battle high, you realize how tired you are.
Tired... and a bit nauseous, now that you're thinking about it.
You slowly sink to the ground, and Patamon's voice quickly rises in concern.
Exhaustion hits you harder than the Black King ever did. You feel hot, extremely hot, even as you break out into a cold sweat.
Patamon shouts your name in alarm.
This isn't normal. This definitely isn't normal. Your limbs feel like lead, but you manage to raise them to probe at the dull throb that has started up.
You feel the scratch, and your heart freezes.
PicoDevimon managed to scratch you.
He managed to scratch you with a syringe.
He managed to scratch you with a syringe that more than likely had some poisonous substance, and you don't have access to anyone with medical expertise, let alone a Sylph of Life's power.
Patamon's voice echoes in your ears, but you can't understand. Even now, your limbs refuse to move at your insistence, and you black out before you even hit the ground.
You don't sleep. Not really. Occasionally, you appear in your dreambubble. Ironically, you are the most awake in your dreams, and you continue your search through paradox space. You do absolutely everything you can to put off returning back to your body in the Digital World. If pushed, you would even say that you were scared.
You don't remember much of what happens there, but you have enough of an impression that you long for these moments of coherency.
When you "wake", the world is always a blur. You can't see past the FIRE beneath your skin that has you tossing and turning and curling up. Sometimes, you feel a cool hand insistently pouring water down your THROAT, but you can't think. It reminds you of TAICHI, and how TAICHI carefully washed his blood off of you after he protected you and then held you as the sheer enormity of SBURB threatened to crush you.
But TAICHI'S dead and gone and BURIED like everyone else and everyone you ever cared about.
You're scared. Where's Yamato? Where's your older brother? You start crying from sheer loneliness. Why did everyone leave you? Why did they just leave you with Patamon?
Why did everyone leave you ALONE? Dying, dying, dying, until everyone's DEAD and you are DEAD too, only on the inside.
You hate them. You hate them so much.
You hate them all for leaving you.
"Why did you leave?" you yell at their images. "Why did you leave me alone?"
Fire blossoms around you, and you thrash. Why, why, why? You don't want to be alone! You're sick of being alone! You want... you want...
For an instant, you break through the heat and pain when you feel a cool embrace envelop you.
"Onii-chan?" you whisper.
"I'm here, Takeru. I'm here."
You don't finish this one moment of lucidity.
You sit up in your dreambubble, shaking off the remnants of your waking time. If you push, you remember a cool hand against your head, and you wonder who it was. It made you feel safe in ways that you hadn't in a long time. Safe, like before Sburb and before the Digital World. For a moment, you sit there and simply breathe.
You roll out your neck and work out the kinks before rising from your bed. You decaptchalogue your Excalistaff out of instinct, but you hold it loosely, unwary.
For a moment, you wonder when being in your dreambubble became the absolute safest place to be. Here, you can defend yourself. You may be a Seer, but a God Tier Seer is nothing to sneeze at.
Hope rides with you, always.
The facsimile of your apartment sits around you. When you first awakened in your dreambubble, you took in the differences between this apartment and the one you currently live in.
...your current apartment is warm, lived-in. This one is cold, barren, as your mom had to work far too hard to make ends meet. You had to sneak on her work computer to play Sburb.
It made it obvious how your subtle desires may have shaped the world you created.
You quickly wash up, if nothing else than for the comfort. How water—even dream hot water—is a blessing. You don't—can't—linger though. The novelty has long since worn off, and now you focus with your mission in mind.
You step out of your apartment into the Land of Comets and Dreams. After your quest and confrontation with your Denizen, the ground turned from a murky black thundercloud to a soft white fluff, and the comets overhead shifted into bright lights as opposed to the flaming spheres of death from before.
Again, you don't linger. Even before your win, you knew every bit of your land. It required extensive planning to navigate, as the clouds hid traps and pitfalls and imps.
You step lightly and then you're off.
Being able to fly... When you discovered your dreamself and its flight capabilities, you became enthralled by flight. It feels right... and even if you didn't have much time to enjoy it before you entered your new world, you love the fact that your God Tier self is capable of flight. You rise and rise and rise until you hit an unseen edge and go past it into the darkness.
Paradox space is by its nature filled with darkness. Void. There are no meaningful maps, no landmarks. Navigation is only for the brave and the foolhardy.
All you have to do is open your sight, and Hope shines before you. Threads of shimmering light, brightness, and beauty.
You know that paradox space gets cleaned, so to speak. The cache gets cleared, the recycle bin, empty.
But you still exist. All of you still exists. And if you, the Seer of Hope, still exists, why can't the others?
Being a Seer means that you can navigate even the darkness. You don't know what you'll find at the end—if Sburb has finished off even the last remnants of even your alpha timeline.
If Hope is leading you to another harsh but necessary truth.
But Hope still burns in your heart. It burns so bright.
And for you, Hope is everything.
Journeying is a little boring though. You are... bored. You were never really alone while you traveled.
At first, you had Angelsprite with you, who was comforting in so many ways. And then you had managed to alchemize a decent set of futuristic laptops and laptop-glasses that let you keep in contact with everyone else.
You are alone with your thoughts. There is only so much planning you can do before your seven-year-old mind—even seven-years-old twice over—has to beg off. In the Digital World, you had Patamon to distract you, as well as the others.
But you don't stray from your path. You never stray, because that's the way of Hope. Full force into the future, whatever may lie on the other end.
And then it hits you like a ton of bricks.
You pause, mouth gaping wide open.
While you were distracted by your thoughts, the endless void was broken.
Broken by light, light that didn't come from you or your own dreambubble or your Hope.
Your eyes feast upon the new sight before you. It shines blue and yellow, warm and comforting. Hope leads you straight towards its center, towards the place where all of your instincts tell you that this will end, and you...
You don't know who you'll find. Whether it's Taichi or Sora, Yamato or Jou, Mimi or Koushiro, or even Hikari... You'll find someone.
You know it.
Hope... Hope shines as long as you believe in it. It's a painful burden, because too much light sears even the hardiest of souls, but the payoff at the end, if the end comes... It's so sweet.
With a lightness in you that you haven't felt in a long time, you dive into the dreambubble.
...you don't recognize this planet.
This land... is not some place you recognize.
Wide expanses of lakes, broken only by small tracts of lands, spread out before you. You've had to dodge several instances of winged creatures—angels, you think—as you descended, but still...
You don't recognize this planet. You've been to everyone else's planets, so you would know if you were at one of them. What has Hope lead you to this time?
Why hasn't it lead to one of your friends? You've been scrying for a path to your friends for so long, and this was the only one, and now you're here and.
Something in your chest dies.
The bright light of Hope begins to dim, and you can't bring yourself to rekindle it.
You slowly sink to your knees as exhaustion hits you all at once. You don't... You don't know what to do.
What have you been fighting for all this time?
You just want to see your friends again. Is this so much to ask?
You lie back against the cool grass in the space between the lakes. Your powers led you here, and...
What have you found?
The best Hope could give you was the knowledge that you're not alone in paradox space? You threw everything into this search, days—weeks—of not stopping, and this is what you find.
You thought you had an end. That there was someone here you knew. That you could see a familiar face after so long of being alone.
But you're just as alone as you've ever been.
Hope rides alone, huh?
You curl up, the ever-present glow of Hope around you fading.
And you slowly...
close your eyes...
Your eyes snap open at a voice you recognize.
But it is impossible. It has to be.
There's no possible way that—
"PATAMON!" you yell at the glint on the horizon that rapidly solidifies into the flying form of your partner.
"TAKERU! TAKERU!" he yells back and, with a speed you didn't know was in your little partner, slams into your chest with enough force to send you both tumbling into the ground. "Takeru, how are you here? How are you here?"
"I'm, I—" You don't know what to say. The words lodge in your throat, blocked by the sheer emotion rolling through you. "I mean, you, you're..." You take in your partner in your arms and analyze his clothing. "You're a Page of Hope?"
"You're a Hope Hero too!" Patamon says. "I can't believe it! Does this mean that you won your game of Sdrud too?"
"Our game was Sburb, but, yes," you say. "You... This is your...?"
"This is my Land! And you're here! You're here, and that means that you're all right in the real world, right, right?" Patamon says.
"I wake up in the real world," you say, and Patamon bursts into tears.
You hold your partner tight to you through his tears. You aren't surprised to find yourself crying as well. Crying from the end of a long search, and, maybe even in relief that you know someone at the end of this path.
Eventually, the two of you sit down and trade stories. Going through your respective sessions is a painful, arduous process, and it looks like Patamon's session had the worse of it. Your game was a foolish mistake made by eight children. The Digimon's session, consisting of everyone's partners, was instead the last desperate gamble against the forces of evil ravaging the Digital World, taken with the idea that maybe they could save something.
Maybe... Maybe Sburb could be a good thing too.
So much of your pain mirrors Patamon's though. Particularly how, in the end, there was only Hope left, and you both entered your new world with the same wish in your hearts.
"You wanted a world where everyone was with you again," you say. "Just like... Just like me."
"Yeah, I did. And then I started waking up here after Devimon..." Patamon trails off, needing to say nothing further. He then refocuses on you. "Takeru, how long have you been awake here?"
"...since around the same time," you admit.
"And you've been navigating paradox space?" Patamon says. "Do you know how dangerous that is?"
"Clad in Hope, there's too much light for anything to affect me," you defend yourself.
"And you've been sleeping so much! Is this the reason why you're always sleeping? So you can wander paradox space?"
"I mean—" you try to interrupt, but Patamon suddenly gets on all fours, ferocity in his little eyes.
You abruptly remember that, for all that your Patamon looks like an excitable Child Digimon, he's also a fellow survivor of Sburb—a fellow winner of Sburb. You take a step back.
"Why have you been wandering?" Patamon shouts. "I've been so worried! I've been so worried about you, and then I find that you're here, in the dreams—"
"And you've just been neglecting everything to run away—"
"You're hiding!" Patamon accuses. "You're hiding away from reality here! Why are you doing this, Takeru? Why?"
"Because I'm alone!" you shout back. "Everyone died around me, and died to get to the Reckoning, and then died so that I could win. Everyone died, and I was so alone! No one remembered anything, and then you died too, and I just... There's no one left! There's no one left! No one for either of me, and I..."
"I DON'T WANT TO BE ALONE ANYMORE!" you cry with every last bit of your emotion.
That's the crux of everything.
You just don't want to be alone anymore. You want them back. You want those people who suffered alongside you back. You want their comfort, their familiarity.
You don't expect the slap.
Silence reigns in the aftermath.
Slowly, you raise your hand to your now reddened cheek. Without words, you cradle the place where the full force of Patamon's wing smacked you. You stare at your partner.
"I'm sorry, Takeru, but you have to listen to me," Patamon says softly but confidently. "Everyone is here! Everyone's around you!" You open your mouth to reply, but Patamon shakes his head. "Everyone is here. They're the same, down at their very cores! They're the same people! Maybe they haven't been through the game, but they've always been the same people! Can't you see, Takeru, can't you see?"
You don't respond.
"Takeru, everyone's always been here. You are not alone."
You are not alone.
You are not alone.
Those words resonate in your chest in ways that you haven't considered, and the dam breaks.
You're not alone anymore.
It's like being hit with the end results of your quest all over again. Sburb's quests were designed to make you grow as a person, and being Seer meant looking into the future. It was a hard lesson you learned, and you find that you're still learning.
You spent so long looking for the remnants of your past, at trying to find the people who were rather than who the living people surrounding you now.
Taichi, reckless as ever, but without the same fear that everything would be taken from him at a moment's notice.
Sora, whose relationship with her mother wasn't as irreconcilable as the one from before.
Koushiro, active in his attempts to engage with people rather than hiding behind a wall of text.
Mimi, who, while retaining a princess attitude, wasn't completely insufferable, working with the rest of them when needed.
Jou, looking out for others on his own terms rather than hiding away his talents because he couldn't trust anyone.
Yamato, your onii-chan, didn't hide completely away from everyone anymore, and he was warmer to the people around him, people he willingly called "friends".
Maybe you yourself are the only one clinging so desperately to your past, blind to the present and the future.
You now remember that you are a Seer and what you grew into.
Everyone is around you. They're not the same, no, but they don't have to be.
This is what you fought for, wasn't it? A new future for all of you.
"I'm sorry," you say finally.
"I'm sorry for neglecting you and spending all my time here." You look out into the clear blue sky, only just now letting its beauty touch you. "I left you alone in the Digital World, and that's completely my fault. I'm sorry for not being a good partner."
"...apology accepted," Patamon says and tackles you into another hug. "We're in this together, Takeru."
"As Sburb winners and as a Chosen Child and Digimon Partner," you agree. "I'm—we're—not alone."
"Never forget that," Patamon says. "We're not alone. We'll be together from here on out."
You now see why Hope led you here. This is the future you needed to see, the one that had the best Hope to drive you forward.
You never felt so free.
"I think I'm waking up now," you say.
"See you on the other side," Patamon says back.
And, as your body wakes, the last thing you see is Patamon's smiling face.
You're going to treasure that memory forever.
Everything aches when you awaken, but you don't mind the pain, because you have your coherency. With some amount of difficulty, you open your eyes and realize that you are wrapped in someone's arms. You look up and see the sleeping face of your brother.
You smile and croak out, "Onii-chan."
Yamato abruptly wakes and, looking down, bursts into the biggest smile you ever remember on his face. Tears fall freely from as his eyes as he cries, "Takeru! Can you understand me?"
"I understand you, onii-chan."
"I'm sorry, Takeru. I'm so sorry about leaving you behind. I, I—"
"It's all right, onii-chan. You came. You came for me," you say. "I'm not... I'm not alone anymore."
You never were.
"Thank you for being there for me."
And Yamato draws you close into a bone-crushing hug that fills you with a warmth that has nothing to do with the Hope now reignited in your chest.
You are Takeru Takaishi, Sburb God, Chosen Child... and you've finally begun to walk forward into the future you won.