Note: Helloooo! New story here! It's my first time with third person narratives, so please review! Help me improve!
Claimer: I loveeeeee Digimon.
Dis-claimer: ... But I don't own it.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
-All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
A seafaring town by the sea. Boats of every size, every colour, and the occasional massive ocean liner anchored by the small, but sturdy pier. Clouds of clean, peppery wood smoke hung in the air, mingling with the refreshing salty breeze.
Hoards of people crowded the streets, chatty and bustling about their Sunday shopping. It set the atmosphere in the town to one of friendly contentment.
The highlight of the bustling town was a grand old theatre building in its very centre. It was easily the size of ten regular stone cottages, and more than twice their height. The exterior was of crumbling brick and stone, and it was obvious that it had withstood the weathering of time.
Its only external acquiescence to grandeur was in its grand double doors, built of rich mahogany, and decorated in silver engravings. Its large door handles were a brilliant, startling cobalt. An odd choice, garish even. But the architect knew what he was doing when he designed it like such. Where sunlight touched it, it radiated mysterious sapphire hues, giving the place an otherworldly feel.
The interior though, was a whole different story.
Once the heavy doors were pushed open, semi-stale air met my lungs. The scent of paint and glue and cardboard, the musty-cool air, all comforting and familiar in their own right.
Dim light greet my eyes. I knew that once my eyes adjusted, I would see rows and rows of rich velvet seats running down the hall, artfully arranged, until the middle of the room, where the floor cut off abruptly and was rounded up with a gold-gilded railing.
A balcony above shadowed the current room. Even without looking, I knew the same seats lined the upper deck.
A flight of steps ran in opposite directions on either side of the grand doors. Taking a left, I saw the familiar, step-worn, no-nonsense staircase pushing down steadily.
At the bottom of the steps, I angle my body towards the front of the room. This was it, the most scenic place in the theatre. Here, more of the velvet seats were placed about the room. But here, the seats were placed in classy half-circles facing the single most important feature of this underground room.
The purpose of all three levels in the theatre, was this.
An elaborate stage curved around the entirety of the front of the room. Creamy blondwood, polished until it reflected light from the only two spotlights that now lit the whole theatre. I smiled. My whole body became light and my chest filled with feathery exuberance. Excitement pounded through my chest. I danced nimbly across the worn carpets and glided easily through the velvet couches. Laughing, I twirled my way to the stage. My rainbow-hued skirts flitted and swirled about my body.
I force myself to stop right in front of the sacred stage. My body was hot, but my cheeks were cold. Adrenaline pounded through my veins. An excited grin is etched on my face. It was a special place. A place where, one day, I would shine. I leaned over gingerly from waist up, careful not to touch the gleaming floor.
I could even see my face reflected in the shiny light wood floor.
Since the theatre was currently closed to the public, heavy velvet curtains closed off half the stage to unscrupulous eyes. I had never seen what lay beyond. I made to climb onto the stage.
"Hikari!" The girl's eyes snapped open. Her vision was blurred slightly, and she swiped the back of hand across her eyes to clear it.
"Hikari! Are you asleep?" came the high-pitched voice again, this time tinged slightly with annoyance.
"I'm here!" she yelled back. "and I'm not asleep!"
I merely closed my eyes to dream for a while, she thought. She grinned. She stood up from the chipped wood floor, brushing dust off her thighs and behind.
A male voice chimed in. "Hikari, you better get down here now. You have chores to do like the rest of us! Sora already forced me to sweep the stage for you. I'm not about to dust your half of the place for you too!" She gave a slight laugh and shook her head. Taichi.
Someday, I would perform on that stage, she thought, stretching her stiff arms above her head. But that someday was not today. Seventeen-year-old Yagami Hikari smiled. Nope, not today. Today, she had chores to do.
The boy hopped lightly off the wooden plank that served as a temporary platform between the ship and the steady land. He held a heavy burlap bag in his left hand, and as he walked, he shifted it uncomfortably to his right. His hair was covered by a stained grey cap, and he walked with a light-hearted spring in his step.
He walked under a large overhead arch. The words embossed on the signboard on the arch made him smile.
"Welcome to Azalea Town," announced the simple weather-beaten wording. The words were worn and eroded from exposure to the salty air, but it brought excitement into the seventeen-year-old's cheeks and sent his heart racing.
He walked through the throngs of people and made his way to the bulletin board just beyond the arch. His blue eyes scanned the rudimentary map of the town until they found their mark. There, he thought, tapping his finger lightly on the tiny spot near the corner of the map.
Picking up his beaten burlap bag and slinging it over his shoulder, he turned and followed the crowd into Azalea Town.
As he followed the dusty streets further into town, the large crowd that had dissolved him in their midst diluted. Once he had wedged himself free of the marketing and shopping district of the town, he found that he was able to comfortably walk without concern that he'd be in the way of others behind him.
Before long, he began to notice that the streets were not as constricted as he'd originally thought. In fact, they were rather comfortably spaced, and his footsteps on the smooth cobblestone barely made a sound. The crowd dispersed further as he passed the heart of town and moved into its outskirts. The cottages here had begun to take on a dilapidated feel with their crumbly rock walls. The path was no longer paved in cobblestone, but was of a dusty stone.
He'd tried to memorize the map from before as well as he could, but now his memories was beginning to play tricks on him. A droplet of sweat ran down his forehead, and he wiped it away casually with his shirt sleeve. The road split into two in front of him, and stopped and finally had no choice but to admit that he was lost.
"Hmmm... Was it a left or a right at Byron Street?" he wondered aloud.
He heard a soft cough from behind him. A serious, quietly contemplative response came. "That would depend on where you're going."
He turned and saw a red-headed boy about his age, maybe a couple of years his senior.
The blond youth's face immediately lit up in a habitual, almost instinctive smile. "Hello," he said pleasantly. "Would you happen to know the way to Frost Theatre?"
The newcomer did not return the smile, but regarded him with curiosity. He watched the dark eyes skirt over his clothes before he came to his conclusion. "You're not from around here are you?"
Before the blonde could respond, he continued, "What important business do you have there?"
He cocked his head to the side and fixed his inky black eyes on him. There was a twinkle of barely-disguised interest in the depths of the inky darkness. Finally, the blue-eyed boy noticed the intense gaze and looked up. He ran his hand through his blond hair and said off-handedly, "Ah-h sorry. I'm looking for my brother. He works with the Frost Theatre troupe."
The stranger's face relaxed, like he'd finally solved some puzzle in his head. The long-awaited smile lit his face, and he spoke. "Ah you must be Takeru, then. I'm Izumi Koushiro. I work with Yamato in the theatre. He mentioned you'd be coming."
Relief hit Takeru in a cool wave. He beamed at Koushiro and opened his arms with a flourish. "I'll be counting on you to lead the way then, Koushiro."
Koushiro nodded. He hoisted the many shopping bags he was holding over to his right and gave Takeru a small smile. "Let's go then."
Along the way, Takeru noted that the shopping bags did seem a little too heavy for the lanky Koushiro. Although Takeru was younger, he'd always been rather active in sports and the like and so had maintained a set of lean muscles that always seemed deceptively weak to strangers.
When he offered to help with the bags, however, Koushiro very politely, but firmly, refused. He could see that the younger boy was already laden with some luggage of his own. After some persistent insistence on Takeru's part, he finally relented, and passed a couple of bags of lighter groceries to him.
Along the way, Koushiro greeted some people on the streets warmly, and briefly introduced Takeru simply as "Yamato's brother". The folks nodded in recognition and smiled when Takeru tipped his cap lightly in greeting.
They stopped in front of another stone building that was slightly larger than the others, though there was nothing ostentatious about it. A small wooden sign sat proudly above the doors, its white wordings announcing the words Frost Theatre recently touched up and the wood polished. It was clear that its inhabitants took great pride in their small theatre.
Koushiro pushed open the doors. To Takeru, the inside looked more like a cafe than a theatre, with rounded tables and three chairs around each table. Sunlight drifted in from the small windows. It was like someone had converted a house into one large, single room. The main difference, however, was the stage that rounded off the front of the room.
The stage was built rather low, but its purpose was clear. The woebegone velvet curtains had seen better days. But everything was spick-and-span, and when his eyes adjusted to the dim, Takeru noticed a few people about the room.
Most of them were cleaning, and Takeru had the feeling that he'd just walked in on their morning clean-up. There was something elegant about the way they moved, like they were all in-sync with each other. Of course, Takeru thought, why wouldn't they be? According to letters from Yamato, they did this every morning. Relentless cleaning, no matter of the size of the crowd they drew in, or even if they even had a performance that night.
An irritated voice rang out. "Koushiro, how many times have I told you not to use the front door? The front is for the audience only!"
Koushiro smiled apologetically at Takeru and replied the distinctly female voice, "Yes Mimi, but seeing as how we have a guest, I thought he might like to see the theatre the way it's meant to be seen."
Koushiro's quiet voice seemed to boom out his announcement, for all the impact it had on the people in the room. The friendly chatter that had been prevalent in the room slowed. The owner of the voice (Mimi, it seems) stood up from the shadows where she'd been seated, cross-legged, on the floor just next to the stage. She casually deposited a book on one of the tables and walked over to where Takeru still stood by the doors.
"My, my, a guest?" she said, clapping her hands together in excitement. She leaned her face uncomfortably close to Takeru's, as though through this she could somehow find out his identity. The sudden movement knocked his cap onto the floor. Takeru backed away slightly, the smile on his face gaining an awkward edge. He ached to move away, but couldn't break eye contact with the intent brown eyes in front of him.
A girl stepped in and placed a hand on Mimi's shoulder. She smiled, her cheeks dimpling, "Mimi," she said gently, jostling her shoulder slightly, "Mimi, you're making him uncomfortable."
The girl named Mimi blinked, suddenly realising her proximity with Takeru and backed away laughing. She brushed her light brown hair back with her hand in a habitual gesture and smiled apologetically. "Hahah sorry! I tend to get carried away! It's been so long since we've had guests!"
The girl beside Takeru was smaller in stature than Mimi, and her short hair was a rich, mahogany brown. She looked to be about his age. She bent and picked up his battered cap, brushing off imaginary dust before handing it to him. She smiled warmly at him, the dimples in her cheeks lighting up again, and said, "Hello, I'm Yagami Hikari." She surveyed him for a moment, her wide brown eyes running over his features. Takeru grew a little warm under the collar under her inspection. She notched her head to the side, and spoke. "You must be Takeru?" The question was rhetorical. She knew who he was.
Takeru was taken aback. But how did she –
Upon seeing the confusion registered on his face, the girl laughed and said, "You're all Yamato has been able to talk about all week, ever since he got your letter!"
An older boy piped up, "Yeah, plus, genetics didn't do a very good job of differentiating you two." He reached out and ruffled Takeru's blond hair to prove his point. He had dark brown hair in the same shade as Hikari's, but where hers lay in a neat chin-length bob, his was thick and almost bushy. His friendly smile was like a copy of hers.
Takeru smiled. He accepted the cap from Hikari and adjusted it over his blond hair. "Same for you. You two are siblings as well?" He said, gesturing to the dark-haired boy and girl. Hikari giggled while the boy thumped him hard on the back.
"Right you are!" he said merrily. "I'm Yagami Taichi."
The thump on his back would have sent him sprawling if he'd been built any less solid. As it was, Takeru coughed once to clear his throat of the pocket of air that Taichi had sent lunging to his throat.
Another boy his age threw an arm enthusiastically around his neck. Takeru gasped slightly at the over-friendly exuberance. He turned to his assailant, and his blue eyes met brown ones. "I'm Daisuke! Good to finally meet you!"
Takeru took a moment to catch his breath, then flashed his summery smile once again at Daisuke. "It's nice to meet you too."
Takeru stood in a circle of beaming smiles, each one friendly and welcoming. Everyone seemed so warm in this theatre, which was rather ironically named "Frost". Of course, the theatre was named after a revered poet, and had nothing to do with its inhabitants' nature. One thing was for sure, Takeru thought with a smile, his older brother was in good hands.
"Aye everyone, give the kid some air. You're suffocating him."
The deep, cool voice reverberated in Takeru's head, bringing clouds of nostalgia with it. The owner of the voice pushed Taichi roughly out of the way, but Taichi only chuckled and obliged. It seemed to be a sort of playful practice between them.
Sky blue eyes sought Takeru's face, and twinkled when they found their mark. The cool, calm voice didn't quite manage to disguise the exuberance in Ishida Yamato's light blue eyes, now more animated than the norm, and flecked with suppressed excitement.
When they were little, everyone in the neighbourhood who knew the boys knew that they were inseparable. Long story short, Yamato was an overprotective brother and Takeru had been shy and dependent. Yamato had had a way even with the older kids, making them back off easily without a fight. Takeru smiled wryly. He was glad that he'd managed to grow out of his awkward phase. Without his brother around, Takeru had grown more independent, and gained some much-needed people skills.
Still. It felt nice to know that he still had someone to rely on.
Takeru almost laughed when he saw Yamato do a double take at his sudden growth spurt (that had occurred over the two years that his brother had been away). It seems Yamato still harboured the protective older brother role, and now as he reprised it, it still clung to him like a second skin.
Takeru noted that his brother had eased off on the hair wax and instead of the stiff spikes that he used to force his blond hair into, had let his hair fall in an artfully tousled look. Takeru seldom cared for his appearance the way his brother did, opting instead to throw his old white cap over his messy hair and then going on his merry way.
Nostalgia flanked the familiarity that came with the reunion. It was nice to know that some things never changed.
The voice was warm, but held some degree of authority. The girl whom it belonged to stood a short distance away, her lips turned up in a half smile, her stance akimbo. She gave Takeru a smile before she looked pointedly at Mimi. Beside him, Hikari whispered, "Sora." Mimi clapped her hands together and exclaimed, "Ah everybody! I totally forgot! We still have to get the place ready for tonight's performance! And rehearsals! Let's move it move it!"
People laughed good-naturedly at Mimi, at the obviously age-old practice between Sora and the scatterbrained Mimi. The crowd around Takeru dispersed. People milled back to their respective tasks, and murmurs of assorted chit-chat rose once more. Takeru wasn't sure where to go, or who to follow. He took a tentative step forward, and felt a warm hand clamp over his shoulder. Yamato said quietly, "It's good to have you here."
In those few words, Takeru heard the intensity of his brother's welcome. He turned to face Yamato. Their eyes were almost level now. Takeru smiled.
"It's good to be here."