Friends of the Stones:
Part One: Heart of Ice
By Debbie (Dai-chan) and Chicobo, too!
Hiya, My name is Frank Restivo. My friends always call me Frankie, or for fun, 'Slick.' This's the first time I write in my journal. This journal is the only possession that I have from my past life. I remember that my mother gave it to me on my ninth birthday. It was kind of silly because I was the one who prefers to be fooling around rather than to write my thoughts in this tiny journal. But I always kept it, knowing in my heart that someday I will write my thoughts. This was a good time and crazy, too! The reason I am writing is because my life just came upside-down without any warning. Let me tell you more.
It began when I found these odd objects on my bed. One looked like a tamogatchi, I could say, blue with bizarre buttons. The other was like a pendant or something. It had a white tab, I don't know, with an odd symbol on it. For some reason, I have a feeling that they are mine, although I couldn't figure the reason why. I putted them on, and then I guessed I was sucked into another place. It was a cool experience, I have to say. I was in another world, I think, and I met up with a VERY kinky fox-like creature that talked! It freaked me out, but he was nice, anyway. He said that his name is Elecmon (equally weird name, if you ask me), and he was waiting for me. He called himself a 'Digimon,' and I was in the 'Digiworld.' He also called the tamogatchi gadget a 'digivice.' And also, he called me one of the Digidestined! A lot of the prefix 'digi' around here…
Elecmon said that there were other nine kids and Digimon that wander near here, and we should meet up with them. I got mixed up about that, but I thought it would be nice to be in company with humans. If you are stuck with a talking red-blue fox with a peacock-like tail, you would understand. We walked for a while, I was asking more questions and Elecmon answering as much as he can. I met the first human I saw, a girl. She was shocked to see me, but greeted herself as Inoue Kimika, or Kim. She also had a Digimon with her, but this 'Iyumon' is more bizarre than Elecmon, looking like a purple-furred lizard with horns and a curled tail. Kim greeted more children to me after I followed her to the campfire. I received looks of surprise from the kids and more odd Digimon though I am beginning to get used to all of this weird stuff.
But what made this more crazy was that I saw my best friend Joe there! We just stared at each other in shock. He had the same experience I have, along with the other eight kids, but a long time ago. It was kind of odd because I only saw him back home a day ago. I listened to their stories, and I grew very curious about this 'Digidestined' and 'legends.' I found that my pendant was actually a crest, but the kids' crests have names. My crest doesn't. I was curious about my crest, but gave it up for now. Joe and I talked for a while before he went to sleep. I stayed up, wondering about this, and that's how I started to write my thoughts in the journal.
Frankie gazed up at his name and saw the girl he met in the forest coming to him. Kimika sat by him, her soft brown eyes gazing back. She was a year younger than him; he was the same age as Jyou, twelve years of age. She wore a tank-top that was deep red with a black stripe across her chest, dark blue jeans, yellow boots and gloves. She had a pair of red sunglasses on her head to keep her many, thin black braids away from her face. He could see her crest dangling from her neck, colored silver, almost the same color as his.
Frankie grinned as always. "That's my name. Don't wear it out."
Kimika shyly smiled, and her eyes glanced down to his journal. "What are you doing?"
Frankie shrugged, his own hazel eyes going to his handwriting, bold and wide words filling the pages. The handwriting was like his spirit. He had a lot of spunk, preferred to cheer people up with his famous humor. He was, in one word, zealous. Writing in his journal was the only one thing that was very opposite from his usual lively enthusiasm. "Oh, just writing. That's my first time."
Kimika took a brief glance at the words, and sat back on the rock Frankie had been sitting during the night. "Interesting. So, Frankie, What do you think of us?"
Frankie arched a thin brown eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, being a Digidestined. All of this."
Frankie took off his favorite hat - deep navy blue with a white 'N', and a 'Y' that is placed in the middle of the 'N' embroidered on it - and brushed his hand through his thick russet hair. He was the only American in the group. He was born in New York City before his parents moved to Japan for a few years. He adored baseball games, and although he lived in Japan, he would get the chance anytime to watch the Yankees playing.
Frankie raised his eyes upward to the stars above. "I don't know. This's all new to me. You already know what to do now."
Kimika shook her head and said, "No, we don't. We already defeated the Dark Masters and Apocalymon, but that's it. We have been stuck here for a month, I think, so we don't know what to do now. We are hoping to go home." Kimika eyed Frankie for a while, seeming musing. "I think our duty is not finished here because of you. We have no idea that there are ten Digidestined, not nine. There must be a reason why you are here, and hopefully, after that, we could go home."
Frankie could see the sadness in the brown eyes. "You miss home?"
Kimika nodded. "We all do. It seems forever since we've seen our families. We are all tired. All we want is a good night's sleep in our warm beds." Then she gazed over to her Digimon, who was sleeping near one of the blond boys, the one who called as Yamato. "But then, we don't want to leave here. We would hate to leave the Digimon. They are like a big part of us, family to us."
Frankie pondered her words, then gazed down to his Digimon. Elecmon was curled into a red ball, snuggled beside him, his teal eyes closed. Already, he felt a strong bond with the fox Digimon. He began to wonder if it would be worth it to leave him. He wondered how come Elecmon was bonded with him. He found it surprised that Elecmon had known the kids long before he met him, especially the littlest boy, Takeru, and his Digimon, Patamon.
Kimika spoke through his thoughts, "Come on, Frankie. You need to sleep. I will keep watch. We will be on our way all day. Who knows who will we meet or what will happen?"
Frankie smiled and nodded. "Okay, Kim. Don't let the bedbugs bite." Kimika eyed Frankie for a while, appearing puzzled, but smiled and went to sit by the fire, poking a stick in the dim flames.
Frankie wrote the last sentence in his journal before he went to sleep.
Whatever happens, I hope it will be exciting.
They were on their way, but to nowhere. They were stuck in Digiworld for some reason, but Frankie had the feeling that he was the reason the Digidestined still remained. Musing over Kimika's words from last night, he wondered if there was an actual reason for him to be here. He shrugged off the thought, just glad that he was okay, that's all.
He was walking beside his best friend, Jyou. He was the only friend he had made a few years ago. He knew that Jyou was clumsy, and that's how he met him. They met into each other and fell over heads and feet. Jyou was apologizing, avoiding eye contact as Frankie muttered under his breath. He looked over to Jyou, who had his thick glasses hanging on one ear, dangling gawkily, and that made him laugh. He had not been laughing for a long time, not since his parents disappeared and left him as an orphan. Jyou stared at him in blankness, then laughed, too. Then they became good friends that way.
But this time, Jyou was quiet, his dusky eyes staring out of nowhere. Frankie also saw something in his eyes. He didn't see the laughing, clumsy Jyou in the eyes, the Jyou he knew so well. This time, he saw calmness in the eyes. He even didn't stumble once on the rocky path. Jyou seemed solemn, as if he had been suffered some painful experiences. Frankie noticed that in the other kids, too. Even the youngest kids were quiet, their otherwise young faces full with unusual hardness, as if some heavy weight was bearing on their shoulders. Frankie was wondering why.
At last . . .
Frankie didn't hear the voice, his thoughts heavily on the kids. But he thought that he did, though, whispering in his ear, like a hissing voice. He rubbed on his ear annoyingly, thinking that a bug was buzzing in his ear.
At last, you are here, Keeper . . . Now it is the time . . .
Frankie stopped in his tracks, his head turning to a point in the trees near his far left. His sudden pause caused the fiery-haired boy in behind to nearly crash into him. Koushiro blinked and scowled up at him.
"Hey, what are you doing, stalling here?" He spoke, oddly in a dark mood.
Frankie ignored him, his hazel eyes thoroughly scanning around, wanting to find the voice he was hearing. He thought he caught a glimpse of something black, but all he saw were splashes of green and blue along the branches.
Jyou turned to him and spoke, "Frankie? What's going on?"
Frankie held up a finger to silence him, then tried again to find the black glimpse. He found nothing, and shrugged. He said to Jyou, "I just thought I heard a voice, but it must be me."
One of the blond boys, Yamato, was behind them, walking with Kimika and his brother. He took a surprised glance at Frankie when he mentioned a voice, and shook his head, his grey-blue eyes darkening. "This's not good,"
Frankie gazed over to him, grinning. "What? Hearing a voice is not good? You tell me. I must have been getting crazy." He shrugged, turning to Jyou. "That's funny. You always said that I am crazy all my life."
To his surprise, Jyou wasn't laughing or even chuckling. He just sighed softly. "It's not funny, Frankie. This is the Digiworld, where anything is possible. If you hear a voice, it usually means something bad would happen."
The rest were hearing the talk, and crowded together. Frankie noticed that they did so to be protected, to be safe. This Digiworld must be a dangerous place to wander around. Frankie spoke with wonder, "But I thought you said that you were wandering for days. No one had attacked you since, I guess."
"Who knows?" the leader, Taichi said, his tan eyes suspicious at the new boy. Frankie have to watch Taichi and Yamato because they were wary about him being one of the Digidestined. They didn't accept the facts that he had a Digimon guardian, a digivice, and a crest. Taichi was continuing, "Hearing a voice means that we must keep caution."
Frankie shrugged, but asked a question, "By the way, what is a Keeper?"
The kids took a gaze to each other, but no one answered the question. Instead, Jyou asked, "Where did you hear the word?"
"From the voice."
Taichi made a whistling sound and shook his head. "This is BAD. Beware, Frankie. I believe soon you will meet your equal."
Frankie arched an eyebrow and grinned brightly. "Let him meet me. I will fight him!"
Sora snorted bitterly from near, her arms crossed, glaring at him. Sora had been acting funny since Frankie arrived. She tended to avoid eye contact with Frankie, mumbling under her breath whenever he tried to talk to her. He sometimes saw a red blush among her cheeks, but he guessed that it was just a trick of light. "You just sound like Tai!"
Taichi flushed, looking offended as Frankie just laughed. Taichi turned to the chestnut-haired girl, saying, "I'm not that crazy like him!"
Sora glared back. "Tai, you always tend to fight whenever it suits your ego! Just the same thing with Frankie. Now, we are stuck with two dense, egotistic juveniles. THAT is bad."
Frankie grinned at her, enjoying the sparkling amber eyes. "Would you like to know who is the better man, Tai or me?"
Sora widened her eyes, just making the eyes brighter and prettier. "What?! I would never choose one of you! You both are so immature!" She turned on her heel and stomped into the forest, muttering under her breath. Taichi just glared at Frankie, then followed after the girl. Soon, the rest took suit and headed for the two kids.
Jyou eyed Frankie, and said, "Boy, we are off to a good start."
Frankie nodded cheerfully. "Yep, we are!" He continued on his way, noticing that his Digimon was smirking, shaking his head. He winked down to him and began to whistle a merry tune. But eventually, the tune faded into a haunting melody, and Frankie couldn't stop thinking about the hissing voice. It sounded too real, and after hearing the seriousness in the kids' voices, he began to wonder if this voice was really something bad happening.
The kids kept on walking for a while, and Frankie's feet began to bruise. He hadn't walked that long and harsh. And to think the others had to get used to all of this aimless walking. Though, the kids were looking fatigued, too. He heard one of the girls, Mimi, complaining about her feet. He saw Jyou slowing down to walk beside her and soothed her gently. Mimi finally smiled and came back to her usual cheerful talk with Jyou.
The group arrived at a wide river. Some of the Digimon went for a drink, Elecmon including. Frankie leaned against a tree, fanning himself with his hat, watching Taichi walking down the riverbank, his tan eyes searching for something. Yamato was, too, walking upstream, and he shook his head.
"There is no way to cross the river," Yamato spoke, his eyes on the water, which was moving really swiftly.
"There must be," spoke Kimika from near Frankie. She gazed down the river, saying with hope, "Maybe there is a way downstream."
Frankie heard Jyou's Digimon, the joker Gomamon, whispering to him, his voice sounding like encouraging himself to do something. Frankie heard Jyou's response, like a calm, but hard 'No.' Frankie was puzzled, but kept quiet. Instead, he stood up, putted on his hat, and strolled downstream, nearing to Taichi. He son saw an awkward path of wet rocks across.
"What a coincidence!" Frankie exclaimed. He turned to the kids, grinning, "Hey, there is a rock path down here! We can use it to cross." The kids arrived to him, and gaped at the rock path. To his annoyance, Frankie saw that the kids were hesitant to cross. Even the Digimon cocked their heads at the path in suspicion. Frankie sighed, "Come on, the path isn't that bad."
Taichi eyed Frankie, then shrugged. "You have learn to be careful in the Digiworld, Frankie." He stepped over to the first stone. He bounced a little, but the rock didn't give in. He stepped to the next stone, continuing his task. Yamato followed, with Takeru behind, and Kimika helped the boy cross.
"I don't want to cross this!" Mimi again complained. Frankie glanced at her with amusement as Jyou tried to coax her. He glanced over to Elecmon and shrugged, a smile on his lips. He stepped on the stone, and nimbly hopped to next. He stopped, watching down to the water. The currents were moving so fast, that the water crashed against the small stones, as if it was trying to shove the stones out from their positions. The water slid over the stones, making them slippery, but Frankie was naturally agile. It was in his nature to be active.
Unfortunately, he wasn't watching where he was going, and his feet slid off the water. He fell backward in the water, the cold splashes covering him. The river was deep, and he tried to float to the water. The water was not rough, just fast. Frankie was an excellent swimmer, but the currents were too fast for him to swim to the shore.
"Frankie!" he heard Sora calling. He kept his head above the water and saw Sora, Jyou, Mimi, and Koushiro running downstream, trying to keep up with the current as the rest searched for something to grab on him.
Frankie felt foolish not to listen to Taichi, but he tried to swim against the current toward the shore. He suddenly heard a splash, and turned his head to see that Jyou had dove in the water. He swam toward him, and Frankie called out, "Stay away, Joe! You will get stuck in the current!"
"No, Frankie! I will come!" Jyou yelled. Frankie saw the determination on his wise face. It was the first time he saw him that way. Suddenly, he saw something bizarre. Jyou began to glow! A kind of aura surrounded him, similar to the sheen of water around him. Jyou noticed the aura and floated in shock, his eyes widening at his hands, which were glowing the brightest.
Then Frankie heard Taichi's voice calling out to Jyou, "Use it!"
Jyou nodded in silence, and he began to swim toward Frankie. Frankie noticed that he swam pretty fast, and he arrived to him as quick. "Hang on!" Frankie grabbed on his arm, staring at the odd pale blue aura. He saw that a streak of pale blue formed among Jyou's black-blue hair, from the left side of his forehead alongside the length. With Frankie hanging on, Jyou spoke quietly, remarkably like the humming of water, "Balance of Sea."
Jyou's aura grew brighter, and the water seemed to thicken around the boys, holding them in place as the water wildly flowed past them. Frankie felt the water harden beneath his dangling feet, becoming like a floor. The hardened water pushed him up out of the water, Jyou with him, his face focused as his aura rippled like water around him. The boys raised until they looked like they were standing on water. A circle of hardened water was under their feet as the flowing water moved past them.
Frankie was too shocked to say anything, staring at the water. Jyou's aura grew even brighter, and Frankie saw the circle shifted into a path of hardened water across the river. Sora, Mimi, Koushiro, and their Digimon stood there, hesitant as they analyzed the path. Jyou turned to face the rest on the other side and walked across the river, calmly. Frankie walked behind him, still holding on his arm. Elecmon ran across the path, arriving at his side, and stayed with him, equally surprised. The rest decided to walk forward for the other side. Jyou and Frankie arrived at the other side, and Kimika fidgeted over Frankie to make sure he was okay. Jyou waited until all the kids and Digimon arrived, and his aura vanished into thin air. The water path disappeared into flowing water.
Jyou suddenly swayed on his feet and dropped to his knees, gasping for breath. Frankie, Mimi, and Taichi went to him, worried. Mimi soothed him on his back as Frankie helped him take a deep breath.
He heard Taichi acclaiming, "You did good, Joe!"
Jyou glanced up to him, weakly grinning. Then he sobered up, "But, Tai . . . I thought we lost our powers."
Frankie was startled at this. "What powers? What are you talking about, Joe?"
Yamato answered with a placid voice, "We know that we have to tell you eventually. There is a legend that we have our own powers."
Frankie gazed at him, puzzled. "What? Make sense, please."
"We don't even understand this legend," replied Koushiro, his brownish-black eyes darkened. "The legend says that we would get our innate powers and use them to defeat the ultimate evil. As you already noticed, Joe's power is Water."
Frankie glanced to Jyou, who was now staring at the water, something like longing in his dusky eyes as Mimi tried to speak with him. "Water? He can control water?" The rest nodded, quietly. Frankie shook his head, chuckling softly. "You must be kidding. This's like a fantasy or something."
Taichi shrugged, his eyes sharp. "Fine. Suit yourself. Don't believe us at all."
"Tai!" Sora snapped at him. "He is new to this, remember? You just can't expect him to believe everything." Then she turned to Frankie, "This is the honest truth. We don't know why do we have these powers, but seeing Jyou getting his power, It's likely that we will have our powers soon. It's possible that you would get yours, too."
Frankie took a careful gaze at the kids, each kid having his/her own expression of seriousness, as if they knew what were they talking about. After all, the kids were here long before him. He didn't know very much, even from their stories he heard. He then gazed at Elecmon, who was sitting beside him. The red-blue fox seemed unaware about this, curious perplexity in his teal eyes, his pointed ears perking.
Frankie rubbed the back of his neck, pondering about this, and said, "Ok, I will take your word for it, but I would like to know more about it."
Jyou began to speak, and Frankie was shocked at his voice. His voice was not like his, yet it was really his. It sounded like the humming of a open sea at night, soft and balanced. He turned to Jyou, who continued, "We can stay here for the night. I'm not well enough to walk anywhere. I'm too weak."
Taichi nodded silently and stood. Frankie ignored the boy's orders to settle for the night, still sitting beside Jyou alone; Mimi chose to aid Kimika and Takeru to gather wood. He watched Jyou's face as he stared at the flowing water. Frankie wondered about this power, and how came it changed him so much? Jyou wasn't the same before, appearing so composed and silent, with that outlandish pale blue lock among his black hair.
Then he saw a faint smile appeared on Jyou's lips, seeming relieved and serene. He could hear a few words from him, and that made him wonder more profoundly. Jyou said softly, "I forgot what's like to hear the song of the sea. I miss it so much."
The kids and their Digimon were sitting around a fire, some huddled together, some sitting separated, in their own thoughts. They ate some spicy and bitter fruits the Digimon had hunt for the kids, but that's all they had for now. The kids decided to store fruits and nuts for a long travel; who knows what would happen. Frankie, Mimi, Jyou, Kimika, and Takeru had furnished as much as they can in their backpacks and pouches. Frankie was sitting alongside Sora, listening to the rest talk about the stories that they didn't tell before, kept them as a secret, because they haunted their dreams occasionally.
Koushiro was reciting, "The legend had come true a few months ago in Digiworld time, of course. Myotismon, who we told you before, tried to destroy us once again." Koushiro fell silent, trying to remember since he couldn't really remember his own memories, which were painful once he finally remembered. "We got separated, and Tai got his power, the first of us. His power is Fire."
Frankie watched Taichi, who nearly reached to touch his chest, his face wincing, but stopped himself, and his eyes averted to stare somewhere else. Fire seemed to fit him well, for he had the enthusiasm to be the leader.
Koushiro continued, "We found out that we have names that Digimon know us by. We don't see the connection between the names and our powers, but I can presume you that the names do sound right to equalize to our personalities. Tai's known as the Master, which I believe that's because of his leadership skills. Also, after asking Kim about what happened, Master is right for Tai because he faced himself, being the Master of himself."
Frankie nodded, gesturing to Koushiro to continue. He rarely took interest in stories, but this sounded interesting, if not entertaining.
"Next was Joe," Koushiro said, looking over to the tall boy, who sat by Frankie, his dusky eyes darkened. Koushiro made a respected smile. "You know, you may think he is fragile, defenseless, but if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here, telling you the stories. I nearly drowned, and he saved my life. I'm grateful for that. He then found his power, which is water, by balancing himself inside. He's the Reconciler. Nice ring to it, huh, Frankie?"
Frankie just smiled, glancing to Jyou, who watched him. He felt a curious feeling from Jyou, as if he knew what he was thinking about.
Koushiro turned his head to Kimika, who was sitting with Yamato and Takeru. "Kim found her power, which is light or shadow, by reflecting the truth. She's known as the Seer." Kimika was nodding in agreement, lowering her eyes.
Koushiro glanced to Mimi. "I wasn't with her at that time because no one wanted to relive the memories. But I recalled that Mimi, known as the Guide, found her power, Earth, by . . ."
"Sincerity, what else?" Mimi said with a honest smile, her hazel eyes brighter than Frankie's hazel eyes.
Koushiro nodded, then sighed. Frankie could notice that the sigh was a little taut, as if he was now recalling his own experiences of finding his power. He looked like he wasn't going to tell any more. Instead, Yamato spoke, "Izzy found his Lightning power by warding the memories. He's the Warder, which is just perfect for him because he is the protector of knowledge for us. In fact, if it wasn't for him, Kim, TK, and I would be completely lost."
Koushiro smiled at Yamato, and took a deep breath. "You see why I am telling the stories? Because I have my own way to find knowledge, no matter how well they hide the information. Anyway, Matt, the Guardian, finally found his power, Spirit, by, well, giving himself up to Banshemon, his rival, to release us."
"My pleasure," Yamato said, although with solemnness.
"Sora found her power, which is Wind, by . . . Sora, how did you find your power?" Koushiro asked, turning to her.
Frankie gazed over to her, and he could see a faint blush among her cheeks. Sora seemed to recall her own memories, and replied Koushiro's question, "Well, I found my power by seeking my love for my friends. That's why I am called as the Seeker."
Koushiro continued, "Finally, we got back together, but of course, Myotismon attacked us again, angry that the legend was coming true. Then we found out that we cannot fight him individually. Instead, we have to give up our powers to TK." Frankie turned to see Takeru smiling back like a cheerful, innocent boy. But he could see the flicker of deep, ancient wisdom and hope he possessed in the azure eyes. Koushiro spoke, "We gave our powers to TK, and he found his power, which is Life. He finally weakened Myotismon, but that's it. No wonder he is the Savior of the Digiworld. But now, we lost our powers, thought that the powers were no longer needed."
Koushiro rested his arm on a knee, his onyx eyes averting to Hikari, who sat by her big brother, her face withdrawn, almost shy. "That happened before we found that there is another Digidestined, which is Kari. We finally found her, and brought her back here. She then found her power, at last, which is Death." Frankie arched an eyebrow at Koushiro, who shrugged. "I know it's odd, but I think that this power is right for her, although we don't know why. Her power may be ironic, but her name is just right, which is Saint."
Frankie took his time accepting this bizarre knowledge, his eyes landing on each kid, studying them. He also studied the Digimon, who had the same expressions as their children's. He glanced to Elecmon, who sat in his lap, his ears wiggling in thought. He then said, "Well, if what you said is true, then how came Joe found his power again? You said you lost your powers, yet he found it again."
Jyou replied, "I think that's because I wanted to save you before. Maybe the persistence urged my power to come back, I guess." He then fell silent, his eyes dusky unclear as he stared downward to his hands.
The kids glanced at him with worry, Frankie the most. He wondered if this 'Water Power' was really worth the change. He didn't know if he would accept this change that seemed to replace the average, gentle Jyou with the balanced, untroubled Jyou. He began to feel a strange instinct that made him uneasy.
He was jolted from his thoughts when Jyou asked a question, "If Frankie does have a power, what would it be?"
No one answered the question. Frankie felt a relieved feeling, kind of glad that he didn't have a power. He would not trust himself if he did have one. But then his relief shifted into restlessness. Hikari answered with the words he hoped not to hear, "Yes, he does have a power."
The kids gazed at her with curiosity, Frankie with surprise. "Kari," Taichi spoke, "What do you mean?"
Hikari seemed to have a glint of wisdom as she glanced over to Frankie. "Tai, do you remember Sanimon?" Frankie could see a light of pain in her brother's tan eyes, but then he nodded. Hikari continued, "Sanimon mentioned that there are ten powers of Nature, you know? Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Spirit, Lightning, Shadow, Ice, Life, and Death. All the powers are already founded except one." She turned to Frankie, saying softly, "Your power must be Ice."
Frankie shook his head. "That's ridiculous! Why must I have this power?"
"We don't know," Kimika answered. "We are just destined to have them."
Frankie scoffed with distaste. "I don't believe in this 'destiny,' ok? Who cares if I have this power? I won't use it! This's too freaky." He muttered this as he stood.
"Frankie . . ." Sora murmured, reaching to hold on his hand.
Frankie firmly let go of her hold. "No. I won't accept this. Forget it." He turned to stroll over to the edge and disappeared in the darkness. He could hear his Digimon rustling after him. He sighed, running his hand through his russet hair as he arrived to the river the kids had settled nearby. He watched the fast-moving water in the river, almost making a sweet whistling sound among the stones. That reminded him of his best friend, and he scowled. He sat down on the river bank and leaned forward to see the reflection of his. The reflection stared back with the pale hazel eyes and wild russet hair beneath a worn out dark navy blue hat with the white 'N' and 'Y' on the front.
He liked his hair because it was so different from the others' hair. When his hair was wet, it looked uncanny black, but if it was dry, it would look more of a bronze color. When sunlight was allowed to shine on his hair, bright red strands stood out against his bronze color. His hair was wild, almost never neat or straightened. He had tried many times, but gave it up. The hair seemed to have its own life. Right now, his hair was normal, but the sunlight reflected off the water touched his hair, showing few red strands.
Then he saw the reflection of a red and blue Elecmon staring back at him with concern.
"Frankie, what's the matter?" Elecmon gently asked.
Frankie gazed at the Digimon, his deep teal eyes wide and troubled. It was hardly believable that he only knew Elecmon for a day at least, and already, he had a strong relationship with him, like they knew each other for many years. He may be funny-looking, but still, he was like a brother he never had, like Jyou.
Frankie made a small smile and shrugged. "Just confused about this."
Elecmon twitched his long ears like a fox, a crooked smile appearing on his lips. "You know, I never thought that I would link with a Digidestined."
Frankie gazed at him with curiosity. "What do you mean, link with me?"
Elecmon stood up on his thick hind legs and stared right in his hazel eyes. "I mean, we are bonded. We share memories, emotions. We even share life forces."
Frankie arched his eyebrows in disbelief. "You mean, If I get hurt, you feel the same?"
The Digimon nodded slowly. "If you die, I die."
Frankie blinked in incredulity. "You are kidding." The red-blue fox shook his head, really serious. Frankie rubbed on his chin, his eyes on the water, pondering. "This will be very weird for me. Anything would happen. Anything. Even finding my power."
Suddenly, he tightened his jaw when he heard a very soft sound coming closer. He could recognize it. Jyou. Even with his power to kept him quiet, Frankie knew him well enough to hear him, no matter, how silent. From the corners of his eyes, Frankie saw Elecmon raising his head to watch the intruder as he sat at his side. Frankie kept his eyes on the water, and he assumed that Jyou was doing the same. Soon, he heard Jyou speaking, his voice as soft as water in the river, "Is something wrong?"
As if he was hesitating to gaze over to him, Frankie's hazel eyes met Jyou's dusky eyes. He saw gentle, patient light behind the dark eyes, and Frankie felt his self-control collapse. He began to tremble, but tried to keep a leash on it. He opened his mouth, wanting to say the truth about his thoughts, but something stopped him from saying it. He shut his mouth and returned his eyes to the water. He spoke, though, "Joe, it's just that . . . "
Jyou said back," I know what you were thinking back there. I don't know how can I explain this to you. I was thinking how can I say this, but I wonder if this will be me explaining or the Reconciler." Frankie glanced sidelong. Jyou leaned back on his arms, his dusky eyes upward toward the dark clouds. "It's ok, Frankie. I am still the same inside, although I look different."
Frankie quietly shook his head. He knew that he still had his friend, but it wasn't the only thing he was uneasy about. "It's not just this . . ." He ran his hand through his hair, the nervous habit he had. He tried to think how to say this to Jyou. "Yes, you look different, and I don't mind that, but it seems you have some sort of change in your personality. Not only that, but I am beginning to miss the old Joe. The power is good. I like it, but . . ." He turned his head to Jyou, unexpected fright in his eyes. "Your power is changing you. It's making me a little scared if I ever get my power."
Jyou closed his eyes, lowering his head. "Frankie, You shouldn't be frightened of your power. We have, but we shouldn't have. We are chosen to have these powers. Gennai said that we have these powers since we were born." Jyou opened his eyes, gazing down to his hands. "I think my power is neat. It seems so right for me, you know?" He then said, "Frankie, I remember a saying that might help you. 'You can't avoid change, but you can adjust to it.'"
Frankie slightly smiled. He began to understand. He was right. Jyou would never change back, but Frankie would get used to it. Jyou was still his friend, no matter why or how. He gazed down to Elecmon, who sat beside, his head resting on his leg. His teal eyes were sparkling, gazing back. Frankie nodded. "You are right, Joe. I'm sorry. Guess I got a bit overboard. Thanks, Joe."
Jyou smiled back. "It's ok. No need to apologize." He then gazed over to him, asking, "Frankie, can I ask you a question?"
Frankie arched an eyebrow at his friend. "Unless, it's about Sora, I'm not interested."
Jyou cast him a surprised glance, but Frankie grinned toothily, his hazel eyes sparkling mischievously, as always. Shaking his head, Jyou said, "Actually, it's about you. I think you like to hear about yourself more."
Frankie gave out a good-natured look of mock shock and a fake gasp. Elecmon snickered in his paws as Jyou smiled quietly. "Anyway," he continued, now solemn, "We had been friends for two years, right? Well, I was wondering how come I never seen your parents."
Frankie blanched, his face losing the usual expression of gentle mischief. His hazel eyes seemed to turn to pitch black. He averted his head away as rueful memories passed through his mind, refreshed.
"Frankie?" Elecmon spoke as Jyou rested his hand on his shoulder, both worried.
Frankie turned to smile. Only this time, his smile was sad and suffering. His voice was soft, not cheerful like before. "I know you will find out someday, and I think it's best for me to tell you now. The reason you haven't seen my parents is because I don't have any."
Jyou was silent, sudden sympathetic confusion in his face. Frankie continued, "I was born in New York City. I don't remember very much of it because my family lived there for 4 or 5 years before we moved to Japan for my dad's career. We got along fine there. I liked living in Japan." He fell silent, his eyes on the water.
Elecmon nuzzled his head under Frankie's limp heard. He began to fondle his Digimon's head gently, running his fingers through the soft red fur. It seemed to soothe him, and the Digimon appeared to enjoy it.
Frankie continued, "Then one night, when I was nine, we were driving from a restaurant where we celebrated my birthday. We laughed, having no care in the world. Then those creatures came." He couldn't hold back a shudder. "You might think I was crazy, but I know what I saw. They looked like poor excuses for ghosts with blazing red eyes and fangs. And they were laughing." Frankie closed his eyes. "I still hear it in my dreams."
"My dad yelled at me to hide. I hid in the back seat. I could hear my parents screaming, begging the ghosts not to take me, and the ghosts just laughed. Then, all of a sudden, the voices stopped. I came out to find my parents and the ghosts gone.
"The police came, didn't believe my story. What can I say? I was nine and still couldn't believe myself about what happened to me. They putted me in an orphanage."
"But you should have family members who can claim you," Jyou said.
Frankie made a wistful half-smile "Oh, I do have family members in N.Y.C., but they decided not to claim me. My dad was the black sheep of the family, and my mom was the only child." He shrugged. "I was an orphan for three years. I go to school and play sports like any normal child except I have no parents. That's why you never met my parents."
"I'm sorry," Jyou murmured.
Frankie gave out a brief laugh. "I'll be fine, Joe. I really like living in Japan. The kids at the orphanage are really nice. You know, I may be American, but I have a Japanese name given by the kids. I'm known as Hisoka."
"That name means 'secretive'."
"I like it."
Jyou smiled, then said, "You may be an orphan, but I see you as a brother."
Frankie glanced over to him with surprise. "Really?"
"Yeah!" Jyou said, grinning. He reached out a hand. "How about it, Frankie? You, me, brothers forever?"
Frankie stared at the large hand and long fingers, and grinned broadly. "Brothers! Onii-chans!!" He grasped on Jyou's hand. Frankie had more things on his mind that he wanted to ask him. "Joe," he turned to his friend, "I have a question about your power. What's like to get your power for the first time?"
Jyou was silent, his dusky eyes going incredibly soft, too soft, Frankie noticed. There was a faint half-smile on his lips as he recalled his memories. "Well, when I got my power, I felt . . . new. I felt different. I mean, I was still myself, but a different Joe. The one who is worthy of my crest."
Frankie arched his eyebrows in interest. "Would I be different if I get my power?"
Jyou's half-smile broadened. "Well, if you do change, I just know that you will be my friend, always. Slick."
Frankie chuckled. "Slick? I haven't heard this nickname for a long time." He glanced at him, saying his own nickname for Jyou, "Blue."
The boys beamed at each other, Frankie feeling satisfied about the situation. He didn't realize that the situation was just beginning to thicken.
Frankie startled, scanning around with caution. He just heard this strange voice hissing in his ears. It was like it was coming from his far left in the jungle.
"What's the matter?" he heard Elecmon speaking in concern.
Frankie opened his mouth, but then the voice again hissed in his ears, I have been waiting for you, Keeper.
"I heard that voice again!" Frankie finally said to Elecmon and Jyou. His friends' faces turned to astonishment, Jyou worried as Elecmon being cautious. Frankie stood up, cocking his head to hear any more of the voice, but the voice seemed to be gone. Yet, he could feel that someone was here, hidden, watching.
"Frankie, are you sure you heard a voice?" Jyou asked, his voice very soft, uncertain.
"Yeah, I'm sure." Frankie gazed down to him. "It was calling me the Keeper, just like before."
"Remember what Tai said?" Jyou said as he stood beside him. "Hearing a voice is bad."
Don't listen to the Reconciler. He may be balanced, but he is balanced in evil. Beware of him.
Frankie let a light scowl to appear on his face. No one would dare to say such things about his best friend. He may be devil-may-care and sprightly, but, like the others, he had a strong bond to his friends, although he knew them for a couple of days. He could defend his friends, making sure nothing would harm them. Hearing what the voice said, Frankie became a bit upset.
"No one ever says that about Joe, you hear me?" Frankie spoke loud enough to carry the words among the breeze.
"Frankie?" Jyou placed a hand on his shoulder.
The Last Digidestined . . . You came the last, Keeper. Why?
"None of this will concern you," Frankie said, his eyes on the darkness behind the trees that were not touched by the dimming sunlight.
"Frankie, you are talking to yourself," Elecmon said, putting a paw on his leg.
Frankie exhaled and turned to Jyou. Jyou was looking deeply concerned, his dusky eyes sparkling with something. Frankie patted on his shoulder, grinning merrily. "Don't worry. The voice will not bother us."
I am always here . . .
Frankie whirled at the hissing voice, now hearing it from his left, across the river "Eighty-six that…"
blinked at him and gazed over to where the russet-haired boy was staring at.
Elecmon did the same.
Listen to me. You may be the Keeper, but still, you are powerless to protect your friends. Beware of the Thief of the Souls.
Frankie saw something creeping in the trees. It looked like a piece of living darkness, its movements swaying the leaves, as if they were alive on their own. He heard two sharp inhales from his friends, and whispered to them, "You see it?"
Jyou was nodding, his eyes narrowed. Elecmon's ears were lowered to the back of his head, a sign of he tensing for coming danger.
Beware of the Thief of the Souls, Keeper, for he will take your friends' souls. And you cannot stop him.
Frankie quickly gazed and saw the darkness soaring toward them with alarming speed. Frankie shielded up his hands to defend against the darkness. Unsurprisingly to him, his shield wasn't thick enough, and he could feel the darkness brushing against him, feeling an incredible cold sensation bursting through his body.
And the darkness swallowed him whole.
The cold sensation had disappeared, leaving him weak and confused. He didn't remember falling asleep. His mind was black, blurred. But then, he felt warmth on his arms and face. The warmth seemed comfortable . . . until he remembered.
Frankie popped his eyes open and sat up into an upright position. He was still on the riverbank, among the reeds. Elecmon was snoozing nearby, and Jyou was his other side, quietly sleeping. It was like they fell asleep immediately, right from where they stood. Frankie felt something that wasn't right. Something wrong.
"Joe?" he reached to shake the lanky boy awake. "Joe, wake up!"
Jyou grunted, then sat up, rubbing his eyes. He gazed around, his gaze vague.
"Joe, remember anything from last night?" Frankie asked, his own memories blurred.
Jyou scratched his head. "I remember that you talked to a voice, then we saw darkness in the trees." He went to point at the trees at the other side.
Frankie's heart clenched with fear. Beware the Thief of the Souls. The words hissed in his mind, puncturing deeply. He got a frighteningly thought that something happened to the other kids.
He broke in a dash through the forest, the calls of Jyou and Elecmon ignored. He arrived at the campfire and was slightly relieved to see all the kids and Digimon fast asleep and unharmed. But the feeling of uncontrollable fear remained. He had to make sure they were all right.
He ran to Taichi's side and shook him. Taichi muttered, frowning as he woke. He stared at him, pointed at him, and growled, "You know if someone would wake me like that, he'd DIE."
Frankie would find it amusing another time, but this time, he was serious. "Come on! We need to move on!"
Ignoring Taichi's questions, Frankie hasted to wake the rest.
"Yo, Joe, what's he doing?" he heard Taichi asking Jyou as he arrived.
"He went panicked when I told him he heard a voice."
Frankie ignored them all, went to wake Sora. He gently shook her awake, then his throat contracted when she didn't rouse. Maybe she is a heavy sleeper, Frankie thought hopefully, then tried again. She even didn't blink. He noticed that Biyomon was sleeping, too, but that must be odd. He opened Sora's eyelids and blanched at her eyes, which were empty. They weren't moving rapidly as they should be in sleep. They were just staring with blankness.
"Kari!" Frankie looked at the cry of Taichi. He was shaking an unmoving Hikari, fright and dread building in his tan eyes. "Kari, please wake up!"
"Is Sora okay?" Frankie heard Mimi whispering from behind. Her voice was deeply concerned.
Frankie slowly shook his head, unable to say anything. Mimi made a choking sound and knelt by the girl, shaking her, coaxing her to wake. Frankie watched her hopelessly, feeling that this was all his fault. He was unable to stop this 'Thief of the Souls'. His fists clenched with increasing anger.
See, you are helpless, Keeper.
Frankie gazed up, hearing the airy voice. He could see the black glimpse moving between leaves, recognizing it as the darkness that forced him, his onii-chan, and his Digimon to lose consciousness. He stood and headed for where the darkness was.
"What have you done to them?" Frankie demanded darkly. The darkness shifted for a moment, but did nothing.
"Frankie, what're you doing?" Joe said, coming to his side. He looked up and inhaled in a sharp breath. "Frankie . . . "
"Be quiet, okay?" Frankie kept his gaze on the darkness, which was still shifting as if it was trying to decide on something. "Hey, I asked you a question! Answer it."
The darkness stopped in midair, and Frankie noticed that it was becoming solid, yet with its surface like the sheen of water. He felt that it was watching him with hidden evil eyes. He received a cold shiver running up his back.
The darkness then whooshed toward the boys. Jyou gasped and fell to the ground as Frankie dodged his body from it. The darkness glided past, and he could feel an icy-cold draft tickling on his face.
"Watch out!" he yelled, but it was too late.
The darkness moved too swift, and it attacked Kimika without warning. She looked up at Frankie's yell, then the darkness touched her face, as quick. Kimika stiffened at the touch, her rich brown eyes wide, then her body slackened, collapsing in Yamato's arms. Yamato was alarmed and yelled at her, pleading her to wake up. Iyumon, her Digimon, did the same, stiffened up, then collapsed to the ground, lifeless. Kimika's eyes were in the same blank gaze as Sora's.
The darkness headed for Mimi. She froze in shock as the darkness came for her, then her body slackened after she was touched, just like Kimika. She fell to the ground beside Sora, Taichi and Koushiro running to them. Palmon was already lifeless.
"Mimi!" Jyou cried, struggling in Frankie's hold. His eyes were upset as he gazed at the girl. "No . . ."
"Stop it!" Frankie shouted at the darkness, which was hovering in the center of the campfire. Frankie, Jyou, Elecmon, and Gomamon stood at one side as the rest stood at the other. The darkness was rippling into a shapeless void, its sheen gleaming like water.
"Stop it, you hear me?" Frankie warned.
The darkness shifted around, and Frankie stiffened at two crystal white orbs that might be eyes floating in the darkness, the white sheen watching the boys. Frankie and Jyou stepped back in caution as Elecmon and Gomamon growled, their fur standing up. The darkness ignored them, its white eyes on Frankie.
"Are you the Thief of the Souls?" Frankie whispered, his eyes narrowed.
The darkness answered his, although it had no mouth. "I'm better known as Atmamon." The voice was flat, monotone, with no harmony or emotion.
"What did you do to the girls?"
"I stole their souls."
Frankie was confused, but he had no time to figure out why. "Well, you should give them back. Now!"
The darkness was silent, then he could hear it chuckling. It was cold and dark, but he could hear that it was amused with him. "You are powerless to order me, Keeper. You are unable to stop me from stealing the girls' souls. It's your fault, Keeper."
"Don't listen to it, Frankie," Jyou whispered. "It must be one of its tricks."
"Why?" Frankie asked fiercely. "Why did you steal their souls for? What did it have to be with me?"
Atmamon again shifted closer, but Frankie froze in place, holding his breath. The white eyes lowered to gaze at his white crest dangling from his neck. "You know what this crest represents?"
The eyes raised to meet Frankie's hard gaze. "Your crest is special, you know? It's the Crest of Soul." Frankie was silent, staring back in silence. Atmamon continued, "You see, the Digidestined are lost without you because they couldn't go home. Only you can bring them home. Only you. And you are powerless to do such."
"Only I can take them home?" Frankie was befuddled. He could imagine that the kids were dumbfounded.
"Frankie, don't believe what he said," Jyou said from behind. His voice sounded slightly upset. "You are powerful like us."
"Be quiet, Reconciler," the Digimon warned, then turned around, its white eyes on the rest of the kids. The boys tensed into a defensive position, protecting the vulnerable girls, their eyes cautious. Something happened that Frankie didn't expect. The girls woke and stood behind the boys. The boys didn't notice them, but Frankie and Jyou did.
The girls attacked from behind with amazing suddenness at the same time. Mimi seized Koushiro with her arms, pinching his arms down, he struggling in alarm. Kimika grabbed Yamato's arms and grasped them behind his back, her hold like stone. Sora wrapped her arm around Taichi's neck, attempting to choke him as he tried to tear her off. Even little Takeru was held captive by Hikari, his eyes fearful.
The girls' Digimon did wake, and they faced the boys' Digimon, their faces savage and wild. They blocked the others, and the boys' Digimon were tore by whether to attack the girls' Digimon or not. The girls had the similar visage of fierceness on their faces, yet their eyes were blank, empty.
"What did you do to them?" Jyou demanded, strangely outraged.
"I have their souls under my control," answered Atmamon, facing them. "The girls do what I command."
"Let them go!" Frankie shouted.
The darkness was unmoving, then its white eyes bore deeply at Frankie. "First, give up your soul to me."
"What, no!" Jyou murmured as Frankie paled.
Atmamon continued, paying no attention to the tall boy. "Give me your soul, and I will free the girls."
"Why mine?" Frankie breathed weakly. The darkness seemed to sneer, the sheen swelling like waves. But it said nothing.
Frankie bit on his lower lip. There seemed no other way to save the girls. He gazed over to the boys. They were struggling with the girls, trying to free themselves. The girls were too strong, possessed by new strength from Atmamon. He knew he'd have to do something, but if he gave up his soul, the kids wouldn't go home.
But Frankie knew they can go home without him if they tried hard. He saw that hope in them. He had no home to come to. He was an orphan. How could he be useful, at least to them?
He gazed up to Atmamon and whispered, "Take it." He heard Jyou pleading not to listen, but he turned the yells away. "Take it," he spoke, his voice growing bolder. "Take it! What're you waiting for, Atmamon? TAKE IT!"
The darkness made its move. It soared for him, its white eyes flickering with hunger. Frankie stood dauntlessly, then he was violently shoved to one side. He fell to the ground and whirled around just in time to see Jyou stiffening at the dark touch, then collapsed to the ground. Gomamon lost his liveliness and laid down, limp.
"JYOU!" he cried, hasting to his side. Jyou's eyes were open, but they were blank, just like the girls' eyes. Frankie grabbed on his vest and madly shook him, tears trickling down his face. "Why did you do it? Why? It's stupid of you to risk your life for me . . . Why, Onii-chan?"
Frankie stopped, realizing what he just said. He called Jyou 'Onii-chan'. He remembered the talk last night. Jyou saw him as his brother. Frankie was an only child, and never seen anybody as a brother or a sister. Until he met Jyou. Jyou risked his life for him, his brother.
"Onii-chan . . . " Frankie whispered, then gazed down in surprise when he caught a glimpse of white from his crest. His crest was glowing! The white crest had a symbol of a shooting star with a crescent as its head, and the lines were glowing with a bright white light.
The light crept around his body, giving out a warm, pleasant sensation. The aura was all white, like blinding sunlight reflecting against fresh snow. Frankie smirked at the voice of Atmamon, hissing unpleasantly. He stood and faced the darkness.
Frankie shook his finger at Atmamon, scolding in a mocking style, his hazel eyes full of mischief. "Tsk, tsk. You were supposed to have my soul, not my onii-chan's. Bad, bad Digimon. Give it back. Give them all back."
His Crest of Soul emitted a beam of pearly white light right through the darkness. It shrieked in pain, recoiling from the beam. To his awe, Frankie could see five phantasms departing from Atmamon's body, each its own color. He believed that they must be the stolen souls. Four of them went for their bodies as a pale blue phantasm hovered to Jyou's body. It slid inside, and Jyou gasped as if from water, blinking his eyes in a daze. Gomamon woke as well, as confused as his child.
"You fool!" Atmamon hissed, its white eyes blazing.
"No, I'm the Keeper," Frankie said with a smug grin. "This time, you're the fool. You will not steal any souls, for I guard souls."
Frankie raised his hands toward the darkness. "Heart of Ice!" His aura glowed brighter, and long, thin icicles, hued various shades of blue and white, soared from his aura. One by one, they stabbed into Atmamon's body, it flinching and screeching in outraged pain. The icicles sparkled wickedly in the white light, then exploded, along with Atmamon. The ice fragments fell upon the kids as Atmamon made one last holler of pain, then it was gone.
The white aura dissolved, and Frankie fell to his knees and hands, panting for breath. His energy seemed gone, leaving him weak. Whoa…I did that? He thought in disbelief as he soon heard running footsteps, then arms embraced around him, seeming joyful.
"Hey, Sora," Frankie muttered in her arms. "Easy on the windpipe, would ya?"
Sora laughed, hugging him tighter. "You did it! You found your power!"
Her face beaming, Sora ruffled his russet hair, and Frankie saw a few strands of odd bright orange among his hair. "Hey! What happened?"
"That orange hair is the proof that you found your power.' Frankie and Sora looked up Taichi as he walked toward them. Frankie saw that Taichi had a fiery red strand in his dusky hair. The others had the same thing. Yamato had a snow-white lock in his blond hair; Kimika had a golden braid among his black braids; Mimi had a pale green tress in her honey-colored hair; and Koushiro had a vivid violet strand in his fiery red hair. Takeru and Hikari had none of those.
Frankie turned to see that Sora had a silver tress among her chestnut hair. "What just happened to you guys?" he said as he was helped to stand by Sora.
Jyou answered from his side, "Your aura must uncover our powers to the surface."
Frankie gazed around the kids. "So you have your powers now? But why?"
"Maybe it's supposed to happen for a particular reason," answered Koushiro. "We would find out why soon."
Takeru stepped forward and gazed up with clear azure eyes. "Is it true, Frankie? Only you can take us home?"
Frankie shrugged. "I think so. I would like to take you home, but, frankly, I don't know how."
"We aren't in any hurry," Yamato murmured. "I mean, what would our families think of us? With our powers?"
"Matt is right," Kimika said. "Maybe we should stay here because of our powers. There must be a reason why we have our powers right now, like Izzy said."
"Then we stay," Taichi said with a grin. The Digimon, who were silent the whole time, cheered, glad that the children don't have to leave them. (A/N: But that last episode! *sniffles* It was sooooo sad!) The kids seemed thrilled, hugging their Digimon.
Frankie turned to Jyou, who looked musing. "Frankie, how did you find your power?"
Frankie grinned. "You. I realized that I do have a family. You are my family, my brother."
Jyou grinned with him. "Brothers Forever."