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The Baker's Quad
Tai pored over the question booklet as he read the essay questions.
Let's see...Number 1: 'Refer to Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear. Compare and contrast the roles and the character of the protagonist to that of King Lear, using as many references in-text and comparisons to antagonists within both texts as possible.
2: Discuss points in reference to possible causes of Hamlet and Lear's 'madness', focused around the following points:
Betrayal of perceived allies
The theme of justice
Loss of loved one(s)'
The question almost went straight over Tai's head. He had no idea how to begin.
King Lear!? We only studied that briefly compared to Hamlet... aw man.
He sat there for a good five minutes before he actually began to write. And yet, he found himself being constantly distracted by thoughts of the digital world.
I can't believe it's been six weeks since the attack already... I kept telling myself I had time to study. Man, am I behind. Especially in Japanese... Mr Fujiama's been a great help, as busy as he is... but I just can't get it down. Japanese just seems to beat around the bush about stuff that doesn't even matter...
He sighed in frustration as he resumed working. The digital world feels like such a long way from here... there are still many digimon and humans waiting. And Agumon and I can't keep matching them like this... Agumon's had to cover for me multiple times before.
He glanced around carefully to avoid arousing suspicion of him copying others. Matt and Sora looked distracted as well, but Sora seemed to have the least difficulty comprehending the question.
Still... the best thing to do is grin and bear it. The whole reason Agumon and I started helping around City was to help others find digimon as well.
Tai's eyes widened in alarm as Mr Fujiama gave him a disapproving look, and he lowered his head to continue the exam.
Just another two hours... and it'll be over. And seeing Agumon again will make it all better...
Izzy found himself bored. He had all but studied for the past month, and he felt burned out. He had no motivation to study any further, even within the database of the Digital City. And he felt no desire to get up, either; he wanted to continue research on the origin of Chronodata, and Agumon's newfound link to it, ever since he and all the other digidestined digimon had been captured by Alphamon and put in the YMIR lab.
I'm so close to a breakthrough! He kept telling himself as he brought up his findings so far. Something to answer everyone's questions...
He eyed the screen, bringing up an in-depth 3D model of his theoretical construction of the Chronodata. So far, it looked remarkably similar to DNA, but there was so much information missing that it was quite a mess.
Even with Ken's help, and Joe's knowledge, this is all I've got. And Alphamon can manipulate it... if only I could ask him. Then again, that defeats the purpose of us trying to stop him...
Izzy's thoughts were abruptly dropped, and he looked up as he heard knocking on his door, dreary eyed after trying to stay on his computer for so long.
'Izzy!' It was his mother, Yoshie. 'You have got to take a break from your computer! You're starting to get dark bags under your eyes, despite insisting that you have enough sleep...'
Izzy sighed and got up from his desk. Yoshie gave him a worried look as he opened the door, rubbing his eyes. Izzy's mother had bushy auburn hair which came down her back. Like Izzy, it was almost red, and she examined Izzy with gentle black eyes.
'Izzy... isn't there anything else you can do? Apart from nothing, of course, but...'
Izzy frowned in thought. 'I guess some fresh air could do me some good.'
Yoshie nodded with approval. 'Go and see your friend Tentomon. He seems to have been busy lately... do you know what he's up to?'
Izzy grinned. 'He's "renovating" his tree.'
Yoshie raised an eyebrow. 'Perhaps you could help him?'
Izzy laughed. 'I haven't the first clue how to operate in tree renovation... or renovation at all, for that matter. But I get the idea, Mom. I'll go see him. I suppose I could offer some insight on how it's built...'
Yoshie nodded with approval. Izzy then got an idea, with his eyes brightening.
'Hey, Mom! Why don't you come with me?'
Yoshie gaped at him slightly. 'Me? Come to the... digital world?' She tapped her chin, pondering a decision. 'I don't know...'
'Are you busy today?' Izzy asked hopefully.
Yoshie shook her head. 'Not today, no. But... I was planning on... well, nothing really.'
Izzy studied her. 'Then why not?'
Yoshie sighed. 'I suppose it's a good idea, but... I'm a bit nervous, Izzy. From what I've heard, that place is really dangerous...'
Izzy shrugged. 'Digital City is one of the safest places in the digital world... relatively speaking. I'm not saying it won't be risky, but you should go for at least one day. Tai's parents have been there a few times now, and they have no qualms about going anymore. Give it a chance, Mom.'
Yoshie smiled. 'Well, I have always wondered why you love that place so much. I guess I should find out.'
Izzy grinned enthusiastically. 'Great! Well then, let's begin...'
Izzy pulled back the chair in front of his laptop. 'You first, Mom.'
Yoshie looked slightly taken aback. 'We're going to use your computer?'
Izzy nodded. 'It's the easiest way.'
Yoshie reluctantly sat on Izzy's seat, and Izzy took out his digivice, looking at her expectantly. 'Ready?'
Yoshie nodded. 'OK. I'm ready, honey.'
Izzy raised his digivice toward the laptop screen. 'Digiport... open!'
Yoshie gasped as the screen flashed and seemed to expand to envelop them.
Yuji folded his arms and frowned as he studied the group approaching his bakery. This is too far... even for them. Or me.
The group consisted of a pelt-wearing horned reptile, who looked like the biggest of the group; a smaller, blue lizard with long ears with large fists and a lean body; an overgrown red lizard, who was slightly hunched as he treaded along on his strong legs; and a well-built, beefy orange lizard. Yuji shook his head in wonder.
'Not the ideal group of customers...' Yuji thought out loud.
The four were talking amongst themselves, seemingly just hanging out together for an afternoon. Perfectly normal, except for the obvious fact that they were digimon. Yuji was also amazed that the more these guys came, the less people were inclined to stare. This time, he barely caught anyone eyeing them cautiously. He did suspect some were hiding, however.
Agumon's eyes met Yuji's as they approached. He had grown considerably in past few months. He stood just as high as Guilmon, a head shorter than an adult human, and he travelled with his tail spiralled upwards slightly since it had grown several times longer. Thick blue stripes ran horizontally down his back and tail. His strong limbs ended in long sharp claws on his hands and feet, though he often moved the ones on his hand opposedly to hold objects. Agumon smiled and opened his mouth to greet him, but Yuji gave a warning gesture and waved them over, away from the other customers. The four of them gave him looks of confusion as he regarded them with seriously. After a minute of silence, Yuji sighed.
'You guys... you can't be serious.'
Agumon frowned at him, confusion in his emerald eyes. 'What's the problem?'
Yuji grimaced mockingly. 'Oh, why would there be a problem? I don't know... maybe because I let two of you sample my food! Now, how many more of your friends are you going to bring? It seems like you'll keep bringing more and more...'
'Does it matter?' Gabumon asked. 'Unless... you don't like digimon as customers.'
Gabumon looked like the largest and heaviest of the group, but that was mainly due to his thick pelt he always carried with him over the top of his body. Large canine teeth poked down from his jaws, and a large unicorn-shaped horn poked out from his forehead. The only difference in growth recently he found with himself was that he was larger. His bright red eyes shone with slight offense.
Yuji looked taken aback. 'No, no, it's not that...'
Veemon sighed. 'It's because you're other customers don't.'
The slightly shorter, blue dragon digimon looked almost the same, except the yellow triangular markings over his face had also begun to appear on the tops of his wrists, and one on his tail joint. His upper body was slightly more developed as well. His sharp maroon eyes studied Yuji briefly as he answered.
Yuji nodded. 'That's my concern.'
Agumon folded his arms. 'Well, then, old man. It's time you made a decision. Do you want digimon as customers, or not? You can't treat us so differently than the others, just because we're digimon.'
Yuji groaned, and pondered his decision. Finally, his shoulders slumped. 'I suppose I don't want to lose loyal customers... so fine. I'll let you in. But I'm taking an awful risk, here. Behave yourselves, and we won't have anything to worry about.'
Everyone grinned at him. 'I wonder if there's any more of those crab looking things.' Guilmon wondered out loud. 'What were they called, mister? Crushers? Crossons?'
Guilmon seemed to appear very much the same as he had when he had joined the Digidestined. Most of the red lizard's body was deep red, with a white belly and underside. The black hazard symbol was emblazoned on his chest, and the rest of his body was covered in black stripes and triangular markings assorted in various patterns. However, when walking slowly, imitation of Agumon's posture gradually made his more upright, curling his tail about in a similar manner to Agumon's. He still hunkered down when moving faster, which he had done so when he spotted the pastry, before stopping in front of the displays. His large yellow eyes scanned the displayed food briefly as he looked for the food in question.
Yuji smiled. 'Croissants.'
'That's it!' Guilmon exclaimed affirmatively.
Yuji began to lead them back over to the display stand. 'I've got some other new varieties to show you. But you have to make an effort to remember their names. While some of their names are hard to pronounce, the recipes from all over the world can be quite ingenious .'
Guilmon pressed his face against the glass, mouth drooling. 'So many types... look so delicious...'
'Hey!' Yuji swiped the top of Guilmon's head with a closed hand fan. 'Don't drool over the glass! It's hard enough to clean as it is.'
Veemon quickly pulled Guilmon away from the glass, shaking his head. 'We don't want to do anything to change his mind about us, Guilmon.'
Agumon grinned as he spotted a large steak pie with cheese coating the top. 'Hey old man! How much is that one?'
Seeing Yuji's disgruntled reaction, Gabumon palmed his scalp anxiously. 'Agumon, you might want to stop calling him that...'
'Well, old man?' Agumon called. 'How much?'
Yuji walked up to the counter with hunched shoulders, scowling. 'That one's 400 yen. Speaking of which...' His expression returned to normal. 'How are you guys going to pay? I don't see any money on you.'
Gabumon carefully rummaged through his pelt and pulled out gold rectangular pieces. 'Agumon packed these Bits... will these do?' He asked uncertainly. Yuji studied them, expressionless, and Gabumon grew nervous.
Veemon rolled his eyes. 'Just get the money I packed, Gabumon. I figured Yuji wouldn't want digital money... yet.'
Yuji studied Veemon thoughtfully. 'What makes you think I would have a use for digital currency?'
'Maybe you could use it?' Guilmon piped up. 'Some parts you can only find in the digital world. You could use our Bits to get those Digimon's food ingredients...'
Yuji laughed. 'You're not serious, are you? Me? Go to your world?'
'Sure, why not?' Agumon began. 'Most humans that I know have been there. There's no reason you shouldn't.'
Yuji scrounged his face. 'I wouldn't know the first thing about the digital world. And I'm too busy here, anyway. I've only got a couple of other hands to help me... and I can't afford to hire more.'
Guilmon's stomach growled. 'Well, forget it then. I want that one! It looks even better than the croiss-ants.' He tapped the glass in front of a long, thick slice of bread with diagonal slits across the top.
'That one's called a baguette.' Yuji affirmed. 'That's 280 yen. And... it's croissants, not croiss-ants.'
'Veemon, Gabumon?' Agumon asked. 'What do you guys want?'
Veemon gripped his chin. 'Something light... I'll just have one of those - a "Light Rye Vienna".'
Guilmon looked at him in amazement. 'How'd you know what it was called?'
Gabumon pointed at the display. 'They have signs below them, Guilmon.'
'Oh.' Guilmon scratched his head, grimacing. 'I guess I didn't notice.'
Gabumon nodded as he made his choice. 'I'll have two of those custard mini scrolls.'
Agumon grinned as he fixed his gaze on the steak pie. 'That one's mine!'
'OK, then...' Yuji pressed a few buttons on the cash register. 'That'll be 1120 yen, please.'
Agumon growled excitedly as he counted the money in the palm of his claw. 'You know, old man, I'm sure glad you don't serve those tiny Japanese dishes most other stalls do. No wonder you're so popular, huh?'
Yuji couldn't hide an appreciative smile at the compliment.
Veemon glowered slightly as Agumon handed the money over. 'How come you got the most expensive one?'
Agumon looked at him with surprise. 'So what if I did? You could have ordered more, if you want. We've still got 880 yen.'
Veemon shrugged as Agumon gave him his roll. 'Whatever. I got what I wanted. Still gotta watch my weight, you know.'
Yuji looked at another group of people approaching. 'I'll be busy for a while until lunch time's over. Talk to you later, OK?'
The four of them nodded as they went to sit at a four-seater table. Gabumon and Veemon looked nervous as they sat, because Agumon and Guilmon tore into their items, and food scraps started flying immediately.
Veemon quickly took a menu and used it as a shield while Gabumon pulled his pelt further up to cover up his face. 'Are you two gonna keep that up?' Veemon asked exasperatedly, glancing between them from either side of the menu.
Gabumon peeked out and saw that Guilmon was just finishing his entire roll while half of Agumon's pie was already in his mouth. He sighed resignedly.
'You know, Agumon... how are you supposed to enjoy your food when it's gone by the time we sit down to eat it?'
'Huh?' Agumon spoke with his mouth full. 'You shay shomfing, Gabumon?'
Gabumon rolled his eyes. 'I'll wait 'till you're finished.'
'I'm finished!' Guilmon said as he swallowed the roll whole. Veemon shrank back with slight disgust.
Yuji smiled as he studied the four friends. I think I've made the right decision. At least my bakery is fast becoming a tourist attraction around here...
Agumon and Guilmon seemed used to it, but Veemon and Gabumon kept glancing uneasily at the groups of kids looking at them from various hiding places. After a few minutes of them popping in and out, Agumon let out a loud sigh and looked around expectantly.
'Come on out, guys. You're making my friends lose their appetites.'
Reluctantly, the children eventually emerged and approached their table. Yuji gaped when they finally stopped, and the table was completely surrounded. This'll be a handful...
Agumon smiled at the children, but Guilmon, Veemon and Gabumon looked uneasy.
'What are you kids doing here?' Agumon asked.
There was silence for a second, before a boy piped up. 'Are you... a digimon? For real?'
Agumon nodded. 'Yeah, I am. So are my friends, here.'
'How come you guys are here?' A girl asked.
Agumon snorted. 'Because this place serves great pies.'
'And bread!' Guilmon piped up.
The four of them were taken aback when they were bombarded with an avalanche of questions.
'Where do you live?'
'What attacks do you know?'
'Ooh! Can you show us one?'
'Do you have partners?'
'... you're a pretty big Agumon. How come?'
Agumon's eye twitched slightly. 'What are you implying!?'
The answer went unheard as the kids began grabbing and pulling the four of them, all the time asking questions about everything to do with digimon. The four looked at each other with pained looks on their faces.
'We've gotta get outta here...' Gabumon groaned with distress.
Yuji cleared his throat loudly, and the children paused for a second, looking up at the towering figure, who was smacking a cane in one hand.
'And what do you kids think you're doing to my customers!?'
The children slowly began backing away from the table.
'We were... just curious...' One girl murmured.
Yuji scowled threateningly. 'I can tell your parents that you're hurting my business. Even worse; I can tell them you thought customers were digimon; that you're so addicted to video games and TV that you hallucinate. I suspect they won't ever let you play or watch digimon again - or any of those other silly monster cartoons.'
Many of the children gasped, and they all gradually dispersed and disappeared or went back to their parents nearby. The four sighed with relief, and looked at Yuji gratefully.
'Thanks, old-' Agumon hesitated, then grimaced. 'Yuji.'
Yuji grinned. 'Well, I can't have my customers being torn apart, can I?'
Gabumon looked around, crestfallen. 'I hope you didn't just lose all your customers because of us.'
Yuji shook his head. 'Nonsense. And besides; I know kids. If digimon come here, they'll be back.'
Yuji approached their table and scrutinised Agumon. 'You out to be more careful, Agumon. You have a responsibility to your friends if you bring them here.'
Agumon snorted. 'We can take care of ourselves, old man.'
Yuji grinded his teeth and lowered his head to meet Agumon's. 'Listen, kid, I'm not that old.'
Yuji expected Agumon to object to his patronizing remark, but Agumon just shrugged. 'Sorry. I suppose you're just old compared to every other human I know. Exactly how old are you, anyway?'
Yuji grinned proudly. 'I'm up there at 47. And I look pretty good for 47, right?'
The four looked between each other awkwardly. 'Well...' Guilmon began. 'None of us have really met a human as old as you...'
Yuji sighed with disappointment. 'And... what about you, then?'
Agumon looked confused. 'How old am I? That's a weird question.'
Veemon scratched his head. 'Age doesn't seem to be a concern for us digimon - at least until recently.'
Yuji studied them curiously. 'I'd still like to know how old you guys are.'
Agumon looked between himself and Gabumon. 'Gabumon and I... we're about... six? That right, Gabumon?'
Gabumon nodded slowly. 'I don't remember much before meeting Matt, so... I guess we were born shortly before that. Yeah, six sounds about right.'
Yuji gaped at them. 'Only six? Yeah, that is a weird answer...'
Veemon glanced downwards, slightly ashamed. 'I'm only one and a half.'
Guilmon looked surprised. 'I'm just one... I think. I didn't look at calendars much when I was created.'
Yuji looked even more confused, but eventually shrugged submissively. 'I can't believe it... even my kids are a few times older than the older two of you. Well, I guess I learn something new every day... and today's been a weird day. Great, now I feel old...'
Agumon looked at Yuji gratefully as he began walking back to the counter. 'Thanks again for the help today. We'll be sure to tell everyone we can about this place!'
Yuji froze for a second, then continued on, grumbling slightly.
Everyone looked around as they heard heavy footsteps. Agumon grinned as they saw Tai approaching, who looked exhausted.
'Hi Tai! We were just finishing lunch...'
Tai bent over, panting, before checking his watch. He frowned at the four of them.
'Lunch!? It's 3 o'clock! Where have you been, Agumon!?'
Agumon raised an eyeridge, worriedly, realising he had forgotten something. 'What are you talking about, Tai?'
Tai grabbed Agumon and shook him vehemently. 'The baby digimon! The kids waiting for them! We were supposed to go back to it after my exam this afternoon!'
Veemon and Gabumon snickered as Agumon gaped at Tai. Panicking slightly, he took off towards Yuji's counter, Tai close behind.
Guilmon scratched his head. 'Why would Agumon bring us out for lunch when he's supposed to be helping humans and digimon?'
Veemon snorted. 'Take a guess. Agumon forgot.'
Gabumon groaned with slight annoyance. 'And when he had insisted he was free today...'
Agumon approached Yuji's counter. Yuji looked up at them, surprised.
'And whose this, Agumon? Another customer? A human? That's odd.'
Tai shook his head. 'No, sorry... we need to use your computer for a second.'
Yuji looked down at the cash register, then back up. 'What for?'
Agumon looked up pleadingly. 'We need to get to the digital world. Fast.'
Yuji's jaw dropped. 'And how am I supposed to help you?'
Tai looked down at Agumon. 'This'll be weird - especially without my digivice...'
Agumon hesitated. 'We can travel through the computer to the digital world... all we need is for me to touch it. I discovered that not long after I got out of the hospital.'
Yuji sighed. 'This sounds like a long shot, but I'll trust you, Agumon. Just don't stuff up my computer, you hear?'
Tai and Agumon nodded as they came around, and Yuji stood out of their way. 'You owe me for this.' Yuji said firmly.
Agumon grinned gratefully as he and Tai shrunk and disappeared into the computer.