Five months ago, they came back.
The Digimon— even if it had taken them years, they had finally come back. Of course, everyone— specifically, the Tamers— were elated to hear this.
Takato Matsuda was not one of those Tamers.
It had to be a cruel twist of fate, really. Not that he wasn't happy that the others had gotten their Digimon back, but rather, he could only imagine the reasons why only Guilmon hadn't come back.
They had promised to play again, hadn't they? They promised.
So why was it that all the Digimon, save for Guilmon were able to return?
So many "What ifs" ran through the boy's mind— but it wouldn't be right to call him a boy anymore, would it?
He was turning fourteen in a week.
In five days, it would prove that he'd been without Guilmon for three years.
One thousand and ninety days and counting— or had he lost count a long time ago? Takato had never been one for math, much less keeping track of things. Of all the things he'd learned through Middle School, he found it all very… mundane.
Life had went back to normal; exactly as it would have been without the Digimon, all those years ago, exactly how it should've been, had he not met Guilmon.
Really, if someone were to look throughout Shinjuku for proof they had existed, there would be none.
The only existing proof that they— the Digimon— had been there, was the D-Arcs that the children refused to throw away or give up. They knew one day the Digimon would come back, and they had…
Five months ago, he stood there in lights, watching the others and their joyful reunion. While he felt a little resentful, he couldn't help but smile. Jenrya, Ruki, Juri, Kazu and Kenta, Shiuchon, even Ai and Makoto too…
Their Digimon had come back, at least.
Everyone except for him.
Nonetheless, even if he was heartbroken, and stayed that way for the longest while…
Takato Matsuda was growing up.
In three days, he would be fourteen.
Three month ago, Juri got him another sketchbook, despite his protests.
"Think of it as an early birthday present," or at least, that's what she said. Though, knowing her, she'd probably throw him a party too.
He's especially thankful for the fact that he has friends, ones who were willing to forgive him for his childish behavior.
He knows that he can't keep acting this way— pushing others away, even Juri of all people.
Still. The pain's there, and he doesn't know what he can do to stop it.
So he draws.
In two days, he would be fourteen.
Yesterday, he ran out of room in his sketch book.
His parents asked what he wanted for his birthday ahead of time.
Guilmon was the first thing to come to mind, but of course, he couldn't say that—
His best friend wasn't an object that could be given to him.
He thinks of asking for another sketch book, or a soccer ball. Maybe a computer.
He asks for a calendar instead.
"To count the days," He excuses.
There's only one day left until he turns fourteen.
He wonders what's so good about birthdays, considering that they only show that time will always march onwards.
What's so great about turning fourteen, anyway?
It's not sixteen, and it's not eighteen either…
He's still nowhere close to being an adult.
All he's doing is getting farther away from his memories— what was once the greatest adventure of his life.
It doesn't help that the Digimon finally told of what happened in the Digital World. Jenrya was explaining everything to him over the phone, but he hung up right after the part where he got to the point—
"The Digital World was destroyed, Takato." His best friend said, with a strained tone. "Anything that didn't crossover didn't make it."
That can't be.
It's his birthday, and he managed to sneak out of his own house at the crack of dawn to get some time to himself. He knows he won't be getting time to himself later—
He rarely gets time to himself anyway.
It's been a few hours by then, and he imagines that no one's worried just yet. He doesn't plan on it, although he's always had a reputation for being late to gatherings.
Still, he walks around town.
Of all the places he's been to and seen, nothing's changed. Four years have passed, and nothing can bring back those difficult, but brilliant days.
He misses them.
From out of his pocket, he pulls out the D-Arc he received because of his wish. There's a blank screen; there's no indication that it worked before, will work now, or ever again.
From a normal person's stand point, it's just a broken toy. Something that should have been discarded a long time ago.
He can't throw it away.
He slides his back against where the walls of the hideout were once broken, and cries himself to sleep. He knows boys aren't supposed to cry, yet…
He's never felt more alone in his life.
The next time he opens his eyes, it's almost dark.
What has he been doing? Everyone must be worried about him now. As he stands up and walks out of the hideout, he absentmindedly wonders if everyone's looking for him.
As he stands up, he leaves behind his D-Arc.
Maybe it is time to say goodbye.
Maybe, he'll never come back.
He walks down the concrete steps, with the sunset in his eyes and he continues without falter—
When a beep causes him to stop in his tracks.
He walks back, stops, and stares.
Snatching up the digivice from where it lays, he follows the now-alive compass into the depths of the city, holding his breath, hoping, hoping that this isn't some cruel trick or some dream that he's having.
He counts the seconds that tick by as he runs to the first place where they met, heart racing and eyes alive—
He stops and exhales.
His heart almost stops from sheer, unadulterated joy.
Three years ago a part of him was forcibly ripped away from him.
One thousand ninety-five days later, it's as if time has finally, finally resumed.
A moment later, and he's on his knees, holding onto his best friend for dear life. For the fear that he might disappear again.
He feels so stupid for almost giving up, for almost giving into his despair—
"I'm sorry for taking so long to get home, Takato."
Guilmon's voice shakes him out of his stupor, and all of a sudden, Takato finds himself laughing and crying.
"It's doesn't matter." Not anymore.
"You're not mad?"
"I— No! Why in the world would I be mad?" He pulls him into another hug. "You're back." The red-eyed adolescent breathes. "You're back, and that's all I could ever ask for!"
And that's the truth.
It's an hour later when they walk into their own party late.
Everyone's reactions are priceless, to the point where Takato wishes that he had asked for a camera instead.
But, this is fine too.
It's the best birthday he's ever had.