Something to hold onto
"Hey, Kari," said Joe, "could I talk to you for a moment?"
"Sure, Joe, what's up?"
"Well, Izzy and I had an idea that someone should document Digimon. Collect and compile data on them, classify them, that sort of thing. We thought we'd work on it together, and since you go to the digital world a lot these days, and I know you love taking photographs, we were wondering if you could take photos of different species when you get the chance?"
"Sure!" said Kari, "I do that anyway! I'm happy to take photos for you, it sounds like a great idea."
"Thanks a lot, Kari," said Joe, "we'll pay for them of course. Just let me know how much the film and developing costs."
"The control spire should be that way," said Yolei, pointing. Hawkmon obligingly flew above the trees to get a better view.
"Indeed," he said, "let's proceed."
"Alright!" said Davis enthusiastically, "so we should keep following this forest path and it'll take us right there? What are we waiting for, let's go everyone!"
He was almost expecting them to argue with him but they nodded and trailed after him. Davis felt pretty good. Finally they were respecting him as the leader. Actually, there was not really any other way to go that would not add hours to their trip, but that didn't occur to him.
After a while, the forest cleared and they could see the sky, darkening, sending shadows all around the control spire. The area seemed to be abandoned, and a path led up to the tower.
"Well, it looks safe enough," said Davis, "what are we all standing here for? Let's go closer and destroy it!"
"Do you think it's a good idea to go rushing up there the most obvious way?" said TK.
"That path looks like the perfect place for a trap," said Cody.
"Yeah, but I bet the Digimon Emporer would think we were too smart to go the most obvious way BECAUSE we'd think that!" said Davis.
Yolei sweatdropped. "Well, I don't know if he'd credit YOU with that much intelligence."
"Hey, I'm a smart guy," protested Davis, "and I do know that there's nothing we can't handle!"
"That'sh right, Davish!" said Veemon happily, "lead the way!"
Davis puffed up his chest and straightened his goggles. "Well, I'm going up to the control spire and if you guys wanna be wimps I'll do it by myself."
"We shouldn't split up," said Cody. He was a little annoyed, because he knew that if Davis went, they would all have to go too, and it gave them no choice.
TK looked at Kari. He knew she was the only one Davis would listen to, but she didn't even seem to be listening, adjusting something on her camera.
"I'll bet the Digimon Emperor doesn't even know we're here!" said Davis.
"I'll bet you're wrong," said TK.
"Hey, TJ, I wasn't talking to you."
"For the millionth time, my name is -"
"That's nice. Are we going or what?"
"If you're wrong..."
"I'm not afraid to die!"
Kari looked up. "It's too bad we haven't seen any Digimon yet. I wanted to take some photos for Joe."
"If we saw any Digimon they would probably be slaves of the Digimon Emperor," said Cody.
"Well, maybe we'll see some if we keep WALKING," said Davis, and impatiently started forward, leaving the last cover of the trees and going into the open. The others sighed and followed.
Just as Yolei was beginning to say "Davis, I really don't think this is a good -", the air was suddenly full of shooting red rockets, a swarm of Kuwagamon, each wearing a black ring.
"Kuwagamon!" shouted TK, "digi-armour, energise!"
"Digi-armour, energise!" shouted the other kids, in unison.
"Patamon armour digivolve to... Pegasusmon!"
"Veemon armour digivolve to... Flamedramon, the fire of courage!"
"Armadillomon armour digivolve to... Digmon, the drills of power!"
"Gatomon armour digivolve to... Nefertimon, the angel of light!"
"Hawkmon armour digivolve to... Halsemon, the wings of love!"
The armour Digimon were outnumbered but stronger, and a fierce battle was soon raging. It might have been fairly evenly matched, but for Leomon suddenly appearing on the battlescene, the telltale black ring making TK, the only one who knew him, nervous.
Davis was unconcerned and yelled "Flamedramon, toast that cat!"
"That's Leomon!" said TK to Cody, who was standing nearest. "He's one of the strongest Ultimate Digimon, this can't be good news."
"We should escape," said Cody. Over the din of the battle, nobody heard him but Digmon, who screamed "RETREEEEEEAT!" and deafened everyone.
Everyone started to move off but Kari hesitated, remembering Joe's request. This was a perfect opportunity to capture a Kuwagamon. She quickly took off the lens and raised the camera to her eye, snapping a couple of shots.
"KARI, BEHIND YOU!"
She reacted slowly, actually instinctively putting the lens cap back on before she turned. Nefertimon shrieked and was airborne in a moment, but they knew she could not reach Kari in time. Leomon was running at her, and she froze.
Every time a digidestined froze like that, it meant someone was going to push them out of the way or a Digimon was going to digivolve. Digidestined are well protected. Ordinarily, Gatomon would have been in the right place, or TK who felt protective towards Kari ever since their battle against Piedmon. But both of them had started to move away in the retreat.
Leomon lifted his fist and bellowed "FIST OF THE BEAST KING!" Kari turned her face, closing her eyes. There was an impact, but decidedly more subdued than expected. She was pushed to the ground with something on her chest, weighing her down. She opened her eyes and gasped.
Davis lay there, his usual arrogant expression replaced with one mingled with pain and shock. He smiled a little and whispered "I always stayed close to you, Kari."
"DAVIS!" screamed Flamedramon. A second later, Leomon was trapped in a huge burst of flames, and Davis scooped up in Flamedramon's arms. Nefertimon caught up Kari and everyone made their getaway.
The armour Digimon had soon spirited their partners away to a safer place, and deposited them gently on the grass before dedigivolving. Davis did not sit up but touched his chest lightly with one hand and grimaced. His jacket and shirt had been torn to ribbons, and there was a terrible cavity in his chest, charred around the edges by Leomon's fist attack.
"Davish," whimpered Veemon, "Davish, get up!"
"Sorry, pal," said Davis, quietly, his face screwed up in pain, "I was wrong."
"Did DAVIS just admit he was WRONG about something?" said Yolei incredulously, and melodramatically clapped one hand to her forehead. "I think I'm going to faint!" She paused and then bent down next to him, expression sobering. "But you'll be okay, right?"
"Don't worry about it, Davis," said TK calmly, "we got away okay and that's what matters. I'm sure your injury will heal up as soon as we return to the real world."
"TK, please tell my sister I don't hate her," whispered Davis.
He got my name right, thought TK.
"What is that supposed to mean?!" demanded Yolei, becoming worried, "you should tell her yourself!"
"Yah, you're talkin' like you're going to d... WAAAAH! DAVISH, DON'T DIE!" shouted Veemon.
Davis didn't seem to hear him. He was looking at Kari.
"C'mon, Davis," she said, "we'll help you get up and we'll get you back to our world."
She leaned down and touched his arm. He grabbed her hand and his eyes locked with hers.
"Kari," he whispered, "do you love me?"
She was scared suddenly, terrified by the look in his eyes and his tight grip. His hand was very cold. She realised he was dying.
"Yes," she said, and with tears she knew it was true. Maybe it wasn't the love that Davis wanted from her, but she suddenly felt that she couldn't stand it if this macho, bluffing, impulsive, arrogant, brave, bumbling friend of hers died.
"Yes," she repeated, "so please get up again, Davis."
"I'm sorry, Kari," he whispered, "I'd do... anything for you... but... I can't do that."
"Davis," said Yolei, voice cracking, "let's go home."
"We need you," said Cody quietly.
"Davish! Davish! DAVISH!" screamed Veemon, and suddenly dedigivolved into DemiVeemon, but still screaming Davis' name while hugging his partner's arm.
"Sorry," whispered Davis again. He had boasted that he was not afraid to die but now all he wanted was something to hold onto.
The digiegg of Courage splintered and cracked, breaking into a thousand pieces.
Kari sobbed helplessly, turning to TK who seemed as calm and solid and reassuring as always, but his face was very pale and he knew if he spoke he would cry too. He put his arms around her and she pressed her face into his chest, grabbing at him in desperation, wishing the friend she had always counted on could save her from this.
The last thing Davis Motomiya saw was Kari and TK locked in their tight embrace.
He closed his eyes to shut it out and his body disintegrated, the hole in his chest growing outwardly until his whole body faded into nothingness. DemiVeemon was left clutching air, still screaming Davis' name.
The final glimpse the others had of their friend was of his face, still twisted into its silent expression of pain. He left no body, nothing they could bury. He just left.
"Wow, Kari," said Joe, looking through the photos, "these photos came out perfectly! How much did they cost?"
Kari did not look at him.