Lost Magic

By Sadie DragonFire

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. Which I'm sure makes everyone very happy.

Warnings: Rambling, mostly. Not much action, more an introspective piece.

Pairings: mentions of Takeru/Hikari, and Daisuke/Ken

Notes: I've always found it kind of sad that when a some magical adventure ends and everything returns to normal. Which is why I can (almost) understand why 02 ended like it did---with everyone having Digimon and the Digital World remaining open. After all, didn't it just suck at the end of 01 when you thought the kids were separated from their Digimon forever? Didn't you find yourself wishing they could stay there, just so that the magic wouldn't end? (Or maybe you didn't and I'm just a freak)

So anyway, this is inspired by that idea, but going the other way. Has some of my own ideas about the Digital World, which may or may not agree with what was in the show.

All feedback welcome! (yep, even flames)


"Your mother called."

Takeru paused in the entrance way to his and Iori's apartment, having just barely arrived home. He was surprised; Iori was usually more polite than that. "Oh? What about?"

"She was cleaning and found some old things of yours," Iori explained, watching Takeru toe off his shoes with narrowed eyes. He stood leaning against the wall in front of Takeru, his arms folded. "She wants to know if you still want them."

"I'll go over tomorrow after classes, then," Takeru said. He gave Iori a confused look. The younger man certainly look annoyed with something and Takeru doubted it was his mother. He got a sudden feeling of dread. "Anything else?"

"Yes," said Iori, sharply, "Hikari called. She says she wants to see you. She has something," his expression and tone became ironic, "important to talk to you about."

Well, that was wonderful. He should have known, what else could get Iori so riled up?

"Oh," Takeru said softly and walked past Iori into the main room. It was the biggest room in the small apartment, a combination sitting room, dining room, and kitchen. He let his book bag fall off his shoulder next to the couch, sighing with relief. He carried less books around in college than he had in high school, but that damn bag was still pretty heavy.

"Getting kind of overdue, wasn't she?" Iori continued, following up hard on Takeru's heels. "Been what, five months this time? Really good record for Hikari. Gee, I almost thought that she wasn't going beg for you to take her back." He was practically sneering at this point. Nothing like resentment to make the normally courteous twenty-one year-old turn nasty.

"Please, Iori-kun, not now," Takeru moaned, dropping onto the couch and covering his face. "I've told you before, I'm not taking her back. This last time was just that; the last time."

They'd been playing the break-up-and-get-back-together game for years now, almost since they started dating back in high school. He could no longer remember how it had started or even all the reasons behind the break-ups, only that Hikari had been the one doing the leaving and coming back. It was a vicious cycle, one so familiar he'd been unable to break it.

Until now; this was the end.

Iori sat down in the armchair across from him, his angry expression not wavering. Takeru had no right to expect any sympathy from him; Iori had already believed in him twice before, only to have that trust shattered when Takeru starting dating Hikari once again.

"I wonder what her speech will be this time," Iori mused sarcastically, "Has she finally discovered the truth and realized that you're the only one for her? Or was she hurt by her other boyfriend and *badly* needs your comfort? Maybe she's..."

"I'm going out," Takeru interrupted harshly, standing up. It was bad enough that he had to face his ex-girlfriend again, he didn't want to get ragged on by his best friend in the meantime.

"No, you just got home." Iori stopped him with a raised hand. "I'll go. It'll give you a chance to call *her*." Without looking back, Iori walked stiffly out of the living room and into the hall. Moments later, the door opened and slammed closed.

Takeru fell back on the couch and hung his head. "Damnit." He hated fighting with Iori, it was like kicking a puppy.

A particularly snappy, sharp toothed puppy, but a puppy nonetheless.

He frowned, thinking about Iori's animosity to Hikari. It was sad really. They used to be good friends.

Of course we all were, weren't we? he thought, The whole gang, all twelve of us...always together. That is, whenever we could get away from school and parents. Not anymore, I guess.

Come to think of it, he hardly saw any of them anymore. He still kept contact with his brother, obviously, and Daisuke and Ken (who were practically married) had spent every holiday with them since Daisuke's parents had thrown him out for being gay. Miyako visited occasionally, but that was because she and Iori will still close, not from any effort on Takeru's part. Taichi he hadn't seen since the last break up with Hikari, and Jyou, Koushiro, Sora, and Mimi may as well have dropped off the face of the earth for all he knew.

Well, what else do you expect? They all have their own lives, just like I do. This isn't like primary school or junior high, were we had all the time in the world to spend together. This is the real world. Still, it was still kind of disturbing to think about; these were his childhood friends, his last connection with those lost years of youth.

Takeru shook off his regret and went to make some phone calls.

_______________

The subway station was crowded as ever when Takeru stepped off the train. He moved through the press of bodies with the skill of a long time expert. Before long he was outside and cruising down the slightly less congested streets. The sun was high, reflecting hotly off the cement and buildings, glinting in the windows of passing cars.

Takeru hummed to himself as he walked, not really paying attention to what was going on around him. Last night he'd set up a 'get together' with Hikari tomorrow -- which had been depressing considering he'd meant to refuse to meet her at all. This morning, however, he had woken up confidant in his ability to say no, even in person. The glow of that certainty had stayed with him the whole day. Whether or not it lasted through the meeting itself remained to be seen.

Something big and heavy rammed into Takeru as he rounded a corner, knocking him back a few feet. "Hey!"

He was echoed with a pained cry, the 'something' falling down hard onto his backside.

"Why don't you watch where you're going?!" the black haired boy yelled, waving an indignant fist. He didn't look much older than twelve, with short, out-of-control hair and really big brown eyes.

Takeru smiled despite himself. Now, who does this remind me of? "Sorry about that. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," the kid growled, more at himself than Takeru. He got to his feet carefully with one arm. Takeru noticed he had some sort of red stuffed animal clutched to his chest. Strange, the kid looked kind of old for toys like that. He gave Takeru a wary frown.

"Jinsuko-kun!" called a red headed girl from across the street, "Come on!"

Without looking back, the kid darted off after his companion, soon getting lost in another crowd. Takeru chuckled and continued his interrupted journey to his mother's apartment. Had he been like that as preteen? He couldn't remember.

The rest of the trip continued without incident. His mother was thoroughly pleased to see him and he was equally happy to see her. They spent some time talking about this and that. She told him about her recent trip to London (she had started traveling not long after he'd moved out) and he talked about his classes at the university and his job at the student store, and of course basketball.

There were certain things that they didn't talk about, like the fact that she was no longer on speaking terms with Yamato or her recent health issues, or the incident that nearly got him thrown out of school. Hikari's name didn't come up at all.

It was two hours later when he remembered his original reason for visiting. "Mama-san, Iori said you had something for me?"

"Oh, right." Natsuko set down her teacup and clapped her hands. "I found these old boxes when I was cleaning out the closet in your room. They had all these drawings and notes from when you were a kid."

"Really?" Takeru asked, interested now.

"Yes," she smiled, dimples showing, "I hope you don't mind, but I looked at some of them. You were writing some sort of fantasy story, with monsters and children saving the world. Remarkable clever! I was amazed that I hadn't seen it before." The last was said with some reproach.

Takeru frowned. "I never wrote any story like that..." But her words seemed to spark something, giving him an uncomfortable feeling.

"Well, it's certainly in your handwriting," she insisted, "I don't see how it could be anyone else. Come, let's look. I left them in your bedroom."

She stood up, with some difficulty he noticed, and proceeded him to his old bedroom. With all of his stuff gone, the room had, to him at least, a cold, impersonal feeling. Natsuko hadn't done much more with it than use it has a guestroom. Two battered, cardboard boxes sat side-by-side in front of the bed. 'Hope' was written across each of them in loose, sprawling hand.

"They certainly don't look familiar," Takeru said slowly, falling to his knees in front of them. Natsuko sat on the bed and watch him curiously.

A strange tingling feeling started in his fingertips when he touched the boxes. Takeru decided he was imagining things and pulled off the lid the one on the right. Color covered paper greeted him. He lifted up the first one on top and held it up to the light.

Drawn inexpertly in orange crayon was a plumb, stubby legged creature with bat-wing ears and a big smile.

Patamon.

It was like a bucket of ice water had been poured over him. A myriad of images and memories flashed through his mind; of Patamon, of the Digital World, of their times together.

My very best friend, my digimon, he thought wildly, staring at the picture, almost a part of me! When was the last time I thought about Patamon?

Years ago. No, it was worse than that -- he'd forgotten about him completely. And not just Patamon either, all his adventures in the Digital World had faded from his mind. Even now he could barely recall all that had happened.

But how? How could I have forgotten any of it?

"Takeru-chan?" his mother asked worriedly, "What's the matter?"

He blinked up at her, realized that he had been silent for several minutes. "Mama-san," he said, and coughed to clear his tight throat, "Mama, its Patamon." He held up the drawing for her to see.

"Oh, so that's what he's called," she said, leaning forward to get a better look, "I saw it earlier, but it wasn't labeled like the others. He's very cute!"

Numbness rushed through him. "Mama-san, surely you remember Patamon! And Gabumon too, and the other Digimon!" He was vaguely aware that he was sounding desperate in the face of her obvious confusion.

She shook her head, frowning at him. "Takeru-chan, I told you I don't remember that story. If you told me about it before it's slipped my mind by now."

"It's not a story! It really happened!" he cried, startling her, "Don't you remember how Vamdemon tried to take over the real world and all the Bakemon..." He trailed off, realizing that he wasn't getting anywhere with her. She looked at him as if he'd gone crazy.

Right now, he was starting to feel crazy. He remembered -- but was he remembering real events or some vivid dream his child-self had decided to write and draw about? The images were too vague and uncertain for him to be sure.

"Sweetheart, are you feeling okay?" She reached out and gently brushed back his bangs. "I know you've be stressed with school and all..."

"I'm fine," he said quickly, covering the box again. "I'm sorry, I was just surprised. I'd forgotten all about...this story," he finished with some effort.

She relaxed, her face softening back into a smile. "Well, like I said, its quite good. In fact, you've got enough material in there for a couple books!" She stood up slowly, waving him off when he made an effort to help her. "You'll have to change some things, though. All the characters are named after your brother and those children you used to play with."

He forced a laugh, feeling horribly uncomfortable. "Yes, that would be rather, um, inappropriate."

Natsuko smiled affectionately and patting his arm in a motherly fashion. "Don't let it bother you, honey. Considering how young you were, it's no surprise that you put your friends into these adventures."

"Yeah, heh. I should get going," he said, glancing quickly at the wall clock. Luckily for his conscience, it *was* getting around time for him to leave.

"Oh," she said, obviously disappointed, "Well, I won't keep you. Will you be able to get those home without too much trouble?"

"I think so." He lifted one to weight it and winced. "Actually, could I possibly barrow your handcart?"

"Sure!" Natsuko chirped, brightening, "If nothing else, it will give me an excuse to get you to visit again!"

"Mama-san, you only have to ask..." he began sincerely. She only laughed and kissed his cheek.


A light was on in the hallway by the time he got home. Since he hadn't left it on when he went to school, then Iori was home. He toed off his shoes and dragged the handcart with its precious cargo into the main room. It was empty. Which meant Iori was in bed or still avoiding him. Either way, he wouldn't want to talk to Takeru.

The blond felt a rush of disappointment. He badly wanted to talk to someone about this revelation and obviously it had to one of the old gang.

No, more than just 'the gang', he thought, We were something more, something special -- the Chosen Children. But do they even remember? Probably not. If they did, they wouldn't have let us all...drift apart like this. With any luck, they'll remember when I show them the pictures.

And if they still didn't have a clue what he was talking about...

Then I might as well just check myself into the nut house and save them the time...


Takeru got a soda and sat down at the table, getting ready to empty the box with the Patamon picture. He had seriously considered calling one of the other Chosen Children to talk about this, but had decided he should get all his own memories straight first. After all, somewhere in these boxes may lay the clue of what was real and what wasn't.

Besides, the only ones he could call were Daisuke, Ken, Miyako, Hikari, or his brother. Hikari was obviously out of the question, Daisuke and Ken couldn't afford a phone, Miyako's number was hidden somewhere in Iori's stuff (which he wouldn't go through without permission), and Yamato would be pissed at being disturbed so late on a work night.

He was on his own.

The first foray into his past yielded more childishly drawn Digimon pictures. These were, like his mother had told him, carefully labeled. Most were of the Chosen Children Digimon in various evolutionary forms, others were of the random Digimon they had encountered. Those drawings had either 'good' or 'bad' written on them.

One was a crudely done picture of Devimon. It had the kanji for 'evil' written in thick, permanent marker.

"No, Angemon!"

Takeru shuddered and set that one aside, face down.

Underneath the pictures were a stack of notebooks, some more battered and scrawled on than others. He opened up the first one that came to hand. The handwriting was in badly smeared pencil, but still legible. The date in the corner indicated that it had been written only months after their defeat of Apocalypmon, the real end of their first journey in the Digital World.

The first sentence read 'I don't want to forget any of this, so I'm going to write it down.'

Good thing you did, kid, Takeru thought at his younger self, or we'd both be in trouble. He braced the notebook on the edge of the table and began skimming through it.

The grammar was terrible, the spelling only slightly better. The story telling was occasionally inconsistent---he sometimes spent pages trying to describe a single aspect of the Digital World, only to sum up some pivotal event or battle in a paragraph. But despite that, it was better than he would expect of nine-year-old. Even if it was himself.

As he read, something else happened; his memories became more clear. The scent and feel and sound of the Digital World returned to him as he sat there, making his throat tight with longing. Remembered pain and sadness, discovery and joy, fear and anger echoed out from the smudged pages. When he came across the single sentence that described the defeat of Devimon--'Angemon died destroying Devimon.'--Takeru felt the stirring of an old and long buried hatred.

The tale of the original eight Chosen lasted for three notebooks. By the time he was done, Takeru was shaking all over with emotion, almost overwhelmed with the most profound sense of loneliness he'd ever felt.

God, but he missed Patamon. It was like a part of him had been torn away.

Maybe it was better that I forgot, he thought painfully, staring at the third notebook, lying face down on the table. Maybe this was why I forgot... because I knew I'd never see him again...

But, that's just what he'd thought all the other times he'd been separated from Patamon, and that had never been true before. The Digital Wold hadn't even been sealed from them this time. They'd just sort of... what? He remembered the final battle against Bilial Vamdemon, remembered going back to the real world with the other Chosen and then...

Live returned too normal.

Whoa, wait, it couldn't have been that simple. I remember that we were still able to get to the Digital World after that, certainly Nuriko and her group continued to visit. Something else must have happened that stopped us from going.

With renewed determination, Takeru dove back into the box. More notebooks detailed further adventures in the Digital World. The ones set during their battle against the Digital Kaiser were different from the previous lot in the sense that he wrote them while the events were happening. Consequently, they were longer and more detailed, not to mention better written.

He flipped rapidly through the Kaiser 'saga' with very little reading. He'd have to face Ken at Christmas in a few months, it would better if he didn't completely re-live all the things Ken did while caught in the thrall of the Black Seed. The last notebook in the box ended after their third encounter with Archnemon and Mummymon.

The top of the next box revealed a series of computer printouts. It was apparent from the first glance that they weren't his work. Detailed maps of the Digital World, schematics for the Kaiser's floating fortress, the rudimentary design of the Dark Towers.

Takeru held the pile of papers in both hands and tried to remember---

---helping Ken organize his awe-inspiring collection of notes. The dark-haired teen had turned note taking into a religion and needed the assistance getting it under control. It was Takeru who found the hidden compartment on the underside of his desk, with the unmarked CDs stuffed inside. And it was Takeru who'd offered to dispose of them when they'd seen what they contained---

He winced away from the memory. What he held in his hands had been the mildest of the information stored on those CDs. The stack was set aside along with the other stuff and he turned his attention instead to the notebooks.

He ignored the first handful of them, aiming for the one at the bottom, presumably the most recent. It turned out to be a blue notebook, somewhat less battered than the rest, with fewer doodles on the cover. Below lay, not the bottom of the box, but two shoe boxes tucked tightly next to each other. Leaving them alone for now, he pulled out the book and quickly leafed through to the last few pages.

The fifth to last page told of the 'death' of Owikawa, when he became pure energy in order to protect the Digital World forever. After that was a scant description of the celebration that followed -- a really wild party, as he recalled--including some brief details on the 'new' Chosen; Nuriko and the other former Black Seed children and a bewildering list of names of the International Chosen.

The very last line was 'Our work is done, we can finally rest. Thank goodness for that.'

Takeru stared at the page in front of him in silence, only distantly aware that his neck and shoulders were taut and aching and that his eyes burned. Looking through the remaining blank pages yielded nothing. What ever happened to make them forget the Digital World and their Partner Digimon had evidently not been important enough to warrant being written down.

So we just forgot? No explanation, no reason behind it? It doesn't seem possible.

But it was more than possible, it had actually happened. Takeru sighed and put the book with the others, rubbing the back of his neck. Now he wanted to talk with Iori more than ever. For that matter, he wanted to talk to all the Chosen Children. He missed them.

He checked the time and wasn't too surprised to see that it was well after midnight. Just one last thing and then I'll go to bed.

Holding the shoe boxes created that same tingly feeling he'd gotten earlier. The lids had been taped down and he spent some time tearing it off before finally getting them open.

Inside the first shoebox lay his D-3.

Takeru caught his breath, gently cradling it in his fingers. It was colder than he remembered, though it weighted and felt the same. Solid, undeniably proof that everything he remembered, everything he'd read, was true.

Well, at least that question was answered.

The other shoebox held his D-Terminal. Trying to activate them produced no results. Both devices, his only physical link to the Digital World, lay dead in his hands. Saddened, frustrated, and tired beyond words, Takeru left the confusion of his past behind and stumbled to his bedroom.

He fell into bed, fully clothed and clutching Digivice and D-Terminal in either hand, and was asleep as soon as he body landed.


Wispy white clouds drifted across a pernaturally blue sky, their feathery edges pixilated into a faint rainbow of different colors. The grass beneath his hands didn't feel quite real, the texture different from what he usually associated with grass, but it was nice and comfortable to lean back on all the same. Weight pressed against his shoulder, so familiar and welcome that he didn't even notice it at first.

"So, all of you is here this time, huh?" A high-pitched voice wondered, as wide blue eyes turned to blink at him. Takeru curled up one arm and began lightly scratching Patamon between the ears.

"I kept on getting lost," he explained, breathing in the scent of distant flowers.

"That's because you put so much stuff in the way!" the chubby digimon exclaimed, crawling up to stand on his chest. Takeru went cross-eyed trying to keep eye contact with him. He noticed, with some corner of his mind, that he was wearing the yellow and blue long sleeved shirt he'd gotten rid off years before.

"I've missed you so much," he whispered, eyes pricking with tears.

"Me too. I cried when you didn't come back, Takeru! You said you'd always come back!" Patamon sniffed.

"It was too hard without the others to help me break through," the young man protested. Everything began to get more fuzzy and indistinct.

"You're leaving again," Patamon said mournfully and Takeru wrapped his arms around the digimon in a tight hug.

"This time I will get back. I marked the way, so I won't ever lose it again..."


Takeru started awake at the sound of his alarm. Early morning light seeped in through the uncovered window. His hands hurt and he realized that his was still holding tightly to his Digivices.

"What the hell was that," he demanded thickly, feeling grimy and sweaty from having slept in his clothes. He pushed himself up to his knees, blinking blearily about the room.

It had felt too real to just be a dream. He could still feel the grass beneath him, Patamon's fur sliding under his fingers, the wind blowing across them. Had he somehow visited the Digital World in his sleep? And, remembering what Patamon told him, had he done it before?

Really freaking weird, he decided, dropping the D-Terminal so he could shut off his alarm. He scrubbed the sleep out of his eyes and looked down at his D-3, still mildly amazed that he had it again. He froze and stared at it for several minutes before what he was seeing finally clicked.

The formerly dead Digivice was active and glowing, the little screen telling him that his digimon was alive and well.


Iori was at the table when Takeru finally staggered out of his room, looking at the papers and notebooks that had been left scattered last night.

Takeru stopped a few feet from the table, tensely waiting for some reaction from his friend. I swear to god, if he tells me what an interesting story I've written, I'll go fucking psycho...

A few moments passed before Iori seemed to notice he was there. He lifted his gaze from the notebook he was reading. "Good morning Takeru-san, did you have a nice visit with Patamon last night?"

"Grrrggggg?" Takeru demanded. Then, since he felt Iori hadn't understood him the first time, he repeated himself with more feeling.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Iori said, standing up. He located a mug, filled it with coffee, and brought it to the blond.

Takeru took it gratefully and downed almost half of it in one swallow. The blessed rush of caffeine worked quickly to clear away the morning fuzziness. He took a few breaths to calm himself and stared accusingly at Iori.

"How did you know about my -- " He hesitated calling it a dream.

"Armadimon told me you were there," Iori said, slightly apologetic now.

He should be, considering that bombshell he just dropped. Takeru fell into the nearest chair. "But...you...you were in the Digital World last night? H-how..."

"Not physically," Iori said, "Really, I was just sharing a dream with Amardimon. I can't get to the Digital World physically, not by myself." His voice became regretful.

"Because it was sealed -- " Takeru started to say, hands tight around his mug. The implications of the Digital World being open were a little more than he wanted to deal with right now.

"No." Iori shook his head fiercely. "Only the entrance that Black WarGreymon sealed, the rest of it is, in theory, still accessible. Ken-san and Mimi-san get there just fine --"

Ken and Mimi? What was this, some kind of conspiracy? Takeru liked it better when he thought everyone else had forgotten like he did.

"-- but I can't. I just couldn't master the trick of it." Iori sighed sadly and picked up one of the map printouts, examining it with obvious longing.

"It was too hard without the others to help me break through,"

"Iori-kun, you used open portals just fine on your own," Takeru said, trying to shake the grip the...dream? vision?...still had on him.

"I did," Iori agreed, settling down on a chair, "When there was evil in the Digital World and I was needed there..." Iori stopped and look thoughtfully at Takeru, "Think back to the time after the defeat of Bileil Vamdemon. Remember what happened with our Digimon?"

"They couldn't live in our world any more, didn't have enough energy," Takeru said. The old memories, once vague, now bubbled to the surface as if they'd happened yesterday. "So they went back to their world. We tried to visit, but it was hard. Only the D-3s could open portals and even they stopped working after a few months. Koushiro-san said it was because the evil was gone and we weren't needed in the Digiworld anymore."

Iori nodded. "The defense system going off-line."

"But that doesn't explain why Ken-kun and Mimi-san can still get there." Takeru braced his elbows on the table and sighed deeply. "What's so special about them anyways?"

"Ken-san has always been something of wild card among the Chosen Children. Rather like you and Hikari-san." Iori gave his friend a level look when Takeru protested that statement. "Your powers are different from ours and that's a fact. Ken-san never forgot about the Digital World, he couldn't. When reaching it became progressively more difficult, he simply found other ways to do it."

That made sense; Takeru could remember how devastated Ken had been when he found out that Wormmon could no longer live with him in the real world. "And Mimi-san?"

Iori lifted his hands helplessly. "Who knows."

"Okay, I'll buy that," Takeru said, snorting in amusement, "But that still doesn't explain why we -- or at least I -- forgot about the most important events in our entire lives."

Iori paused for a moment, seeming to get his thoughts in order.

"When we were fighting to protect it, the Digital World was all we thought about," he said, "How are we going to win the next battle, what are we going to do next, what kind of villains will we have to face? But then it was safe and the digimon were gone and we didn't have to concern ourselves with it at all. We could be normal kids again and worry about normal things.

"And that's when the trouble started," he continued, leaning closer to Takeru, "That's when even the D-3s wouldn't open portals. It seemed like the Digital World was lost to us forever. At first, we still talked about it, still hung out together and celebrated our victories. But we no longer really cared. Other things had become more important."

"I kept on getting lost,"

"That's because you put so much stuff in the way!"

"Our group started losing its cohesion. Separate interests took us in different directions. We spent less and less time together, even in small groups." Iori spread out his hand in some offering, said, "And without friends who shared similar experiences to reminisce with, the memories faded. Eventually, it was though all our adventures may as well have not happened at all."

They sat in silence for a long while, the sun rising and filling the room with golden light. Takeru played with his now empty mug, thoughts and memories turning over in his head. Iori picked up the notebook he'd been reading and returned to it; Takeru noticed it was one of the earliest.

"How did you remember?" Takeru asked softly.

"I didn't," Iori said, not looking up, "I forgot, too. It was Ken and Daisuke who reminded me. Completely by accident, I should add, when I was visiting them three years ago. Apparently 'when's our next trip to the Digital World?' is the question of the day in that house. I dug up my D-3 a few days later and started sharing dreams with Armadimon right after."

"So why didn't you tell me?" Takeru tried to keep the hurt and accusation out of his voice, but didn't succeed very well.

"I figured it wasn't my place," Iori said, "You were perfectly happy not remembering. After all, you suffered so much losing Patamon. Who was I to bring back that old pain? I decided that you would either remember on your own or you wouldn't."

Whatever Takeru might have said to that was stopped when their Schedule Clock began chiming "11 o'clock, meeting with Hikari in one hour, 11 o'clock, meeting with Hikari in one hour" in its flat, synthesized voice.

"Shit!" Takeru growled, jumping out of his chair. Iori's face twisted and he purposefully lifted the notebook to hide behind it. Sparing him only a glance, Takeru set his memories aside for the being time and went to get ready.


Cigarette smoke wreathed around Hikari's head, settling heavily in her orange hair. The dye job changed monthly. The smoking was almost a year old and one of the main reasons behind their most recent break-up. He couldn't stand the cigarettes and she couldn't stand his disapproval.

They sat at round table at a fairly crowded corner café, studiously avoiding each others eyes. They'd been there for almost an hour. Hikari had talked for a long time, mostly about herself, how lonely she was, how sorry she was about leaving him. Her pain was genuine and hard to listen to.

Hikari took a drink of her soda, licking the drops off her lips, sunlight glinting off the metal stud in her tongue. The tongue ring and the tattoo on her lower back were five years old, part of an exercise in rebellion when she turned eighteen. He'd been there when she got them, covering his eyes because he was unable to look, but still amazed and delighted by her daring.

God he missed her.

"You won't be able to indulge that habit for much longer," he said without thinking as she took another drag off her cigarette, "If that bill to make them illegal goes through."

Hikari raised an eyebrow and blew out her mouthful of smoke. Thankfully not at him. "Then I'll quit. You'd like that," she said.

"Yes, I would," he responded quickly. He wasn't going to hide his dislike of the habit, not like he had when she first started. Nor was she going to make him feel guilty for disliking it.

Hikari smiled sadly. "I've really missed you Takeru. Missed talking to you. I'd like... I'd like to be friends again."

"We tried that before," Takeru said.

"And I broke your heart I again, I know. And I'm sorry, I can't tell you how much, but I can't change the past." She looked at him seriously, gently touching his hand. "Only the future."

Takeru moved his hand away uncomfortably. Same song, different tune. It would be so easy to say yes. To welcome her light and joy back into his life. He never could stand to see Hikari in pain -- and that was always my downfall, wasn't it? She'd hurt me and then I'd hurt her, which only hurt me more. We were killing each other.

"I'm lonely Takeru," she said softly, tapping ash off the end of her cigarette, "I hardly see my family anymore. My parents are always busy and Taichi's vanished into the ether with his new wife--"

Taichi got married? Wow, thanks for the invite former leader and my brother's best friend. What happened to us?

"--My only friends are from work and they're only casual friends. I haven't had a really close friend in a long time."

Takeru looked away from her, out onto the other tables at the café. It was a popular place. A bunch of school age kids were there, enjoying the day off from school.

A short burst of wild black hair caught Takeru's attention. He focused and recognized the boy that ran into him yesterday -- Jinsuko or something. As Takeru watched, he carefully placed a tattered backpack on one of the tables.

The backpack started bouncing.

Jinsuko freaked out and jumped the pack, holding it in place as he checked frantically to see if anyone had noticed. He didn't see Takeru watching him, which was good. The poor kid looked like he was about to have a heart-attack and he handled the bag as if it carried the most precious thing in the world.

Three days ago, Takeru would have simply thought he had one of those games that moved around to help you 'experience' the action better, and dismissed the whole incident out of his mind. Today, it touched some cord in him, sending him back to his first encounter with the boy.

...he had some sort of red, stuffed animal clutched to his chest.

Yeah, red and spherical, with fluffy ears and blue stripes, and huge brown eyes that blinked on their own --

Takeru sucked in a breath, feeling his heart beat faster. A wild, wonderful feeling surged through him. Of course the Digital World would need Chosen Children again. The evil had been defeated, but not destroyed. Both worlds would always need protectors.

Feeling strangely light, Takeru turned back to Hikari, who'd stubbed out her cigarette and was starting a new one. "Hikari-san, do you remember Tailmon?"

Hikari froze, lighter halfway to the cigarette hanging from her mouth. Her flickered eyes and grew wider and he could almost see the memories rising to the surface. She took out the cigarette, unlit.

"Yes, I do. Of course I remember Tailmon."

And she smiled with happiness. In that moment she was not the young woman who parental neglect had sent on a vain life-long search to get the attention she'd been denied, but Hikari. The girl who tightly held his hand as the plummeted through Digital skies while Piedmon watch on; who shivered in arms when faced with the horror of the Dark Ocean; who sat proudly astride Nefertimon, strong yet so vulnerable.

His childhood friend, not seen for such a long time.

Then, it was gone and she was as she had been since junior high. Lost. "But what does it matter, that time is over. Tailmon is gone, the Digital World is sealed." The cigarette was returned to her mouth and she lit it, taking a deep pull before releasing the smoke in a grimy gray cloud. "Besides, it was all kid games anyways. We're adults now and this is the real world."

Takeru looked at her seriously for a long while, studying the lay of her makeup, the chocolate brown roots showing as the orange grew out, the way she tapped her lower lip with a painted nail and frowned at him in confusion.

"No," he said finally, firmly, "This is just the only world we chose to acknowledge." He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small black address book Iori had tossed at him on his way out the door. He slid it across the table to Hikari. "In here are the addresses and phone numbers for Miyako, Mimi, Ken and Daisuke, and my brother. I'm sure any one of them would be thrilled to hear from you."

While she looked on in incomprehension, he stood up and put money for their drinks on the table. He leaned over and gave her quick, perfectly chaste kiss on the cheek.

"If you're alone on Christmas, don't hesitate to come spend it with us. Between the four of us we have a pretty wild party going on. And I'm sure I'll be able to convince Iori-kun to put aside his grudge by then." He straightened up and smiled at her, albeit sadly. "Good-bye Hikari-san." And he turned to leave.

A hand on his wrist stopped him.

"Hey you," she said, smiling with equal sadness, "Take care of yourself, okay?" The hurt was still there, but so was understanding.

"You too," he said and she released him.

He didn't leave right away, but made a detour to where Jinsuko sat, now accompanied by the red-haired girl from the other day. She appeared to be older than him, dressed in the white peasant shirt and skirts that used to be so popular a decade ago. She too had a bulging backpack set on the table.

The girl noticed his approach first and elbowed Jinsuko.

"Hello, remember me?" Takeru asked politely as he stopped in front of their table. The boy nodded cautiously. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but I was wondering if I could ask a favor of you."

"Uhm, what kind of favor?" Jinsuko said, even more wary now. Takeru wondered what he was thinking. 'Oh great, I ran into a pervert! Police!' Takeru smiled as disarmingly as he could.

"If you happen to meet a Patamon in the Digital World, could you tell him Takeru sends his love?" Takeru asked just barely above the general noise of the street and café.

Jinsuko's eyes went wide as platters and the girl squeaked. "Aaah! You -- you're -- " He stuttered, pointing an incredulous finger.

His backpack suddenly flopped open, revealing a round red-and-blue stripped face, goggling in the exact same manner as its partner.

"Chosen Child!" cried the infant digimon. Jinsuko yelped and yanked the bag back into place.

"They've told us about you. The Digimon, I mean," the girl spoke up, "The original Chosen Children..." she trailed off, awed.

"Wow, you're old," Jinsuko said. The girl slapped him across the back of the head. "Ow! Hey!"

Takeru laughed and, impulsively, ruffled the boy's hair. "You take care of that little one," he said, looking back and forth between them, "And each other. Good luck." Are you ever going to need it...

"Thank you Takeru-san!" they chorused together. Takeru waved and took his leave of them.

As he walked away, he could hear Jinsuko saying, "I can't wait to tell the others! They're going to be so jealous!"

________________

Old, doodle covered notebooks sat in neat piles on either side of the computer. Takeru regarded them thoughtfully, then placed the newer ones back into the boxes for later.

His D-3 sat in front of one of the piles. He'd tried to open a portal earlier, with no success, but he felt hopeful enough to try again. Right now he had something else he needed to do.

"I marked the way, so I won't ever lose it again..."

Just writing it down for himself hadn't been enough. It had been too easy for him set them all aside the first time. There was nothing stopping him from doing it again.

Except making for making the memories so public he couldn't avoid them if he wanted too.

"Mother did tell me it would make a great book," he said aloud.

If nothing else, it could turn out to be helpful for the newest generation of Chosen Children. And maybe, just maybe, it might spark the memories of the former Chosen, his friends.

You can't find what you've lost if you've forgotten about it.

Filled with purpose, Takeru sat down at the computer, opened a document file, and began to type.

End.