[EDITOR'S NOTE: Spoilers for Xros Wars' second season! You have been warned! -Taiki Matsuki]

Second Chance


I take a deep breath, looking at the apartment door in front of me.

I-I can't believe I'm about to do this…I'm about to see him. I…I don't know how I feel about this, exactly. I mean, there are things I can't change, as much as I want to, as much as I wish I could but…

…If I did, then, well, it's…Complicated if I tell him. Gods, if only I could but, if I did, then "things" would be changed. It can't be avoided, as much as I…I wish…

…I wish so much that it could be…Gods, why can't I…?

Stop! Stop now, I-I can't do this if I start crying. I'd just look insane.

I feel my coat pocket, patting it lightly on the inside. I need all the support I can get for this and, well, I have my 'good luck charm' with me, let's say.

I take a deep breath. This is it.

I knock on the door. A little boy in a pink shirt and jean shorts answers. "Hello? Um…Who are you?"

"I'm Taisuke," I reply. "My family just moved to the apartment downstairs. I, uh, heard there's a 'legendary genius' here. I'm sorry to barge in, but I really wanted to meet him. Is…he here?"

The boy frowns a little, he turns, "OSAMU-NIISAN! Someone wants to see you!"

"I'm coming, Ken," I hear his voice. Osamu steps into the hallway from his room after a few moments, he's wearing a dark green hooded sweatshirt. He's also adjusting his glasses, giving me a confused look. "Um, hi. Do I know you?"

"This is Taisuke! He just moved in, he wants to meet you…" Ken replies, looking off to the side to hide another annoyed frown. "Wanna talk to him?"

Osamu nods with a smile. "Of course. Come in, our parents are out right now, actually."

"Thank you, Ichijouji-san—"

"Osamu works, Taisuke-san," Osamu says with a smile. I step inside and take off my shoes. "Tea or anything?"

"No, thank you, Osamu," I reply, smiling. I-I can't believe I'm standing in front of him. Osamu Ichijouji…

If only I could tell him how…How I feel about him. How much I respect him. The legendary Osamu Ichijouji, the genius of Tamachi.

Osamu leads me to his room, Ken passes by with a frown. It's obvious Osamu isn't his favorite person in the world right now.

In his room, Osamu motions to his desk while he sits on his bed. "So, you just moved here? From where?"

"Odaiba," I reply. "We really like Tamachi, though. It's a great part of Tokyo."

"Yeah, we've lived here…Forever, pretty much." Osamu laughs. "Go to the park sometime soon, it's got this great pond with all these flowers. My little brother and I like to blow soap bubbles there, sometimes, or off the balcony over there," Osamu motions to a sliding glass door by his desk.

"Soap bubbles?" I ask.

Osamu shrugs. "We play a game where whoever's lasts longest wins…Ken always wins, I told him it's because he's more gentle than I am at blowing bubbles."

I nod, laughing. "Sounds like fun."

Osamu looks to the balcony, sighing a little, "We haven't played in…a few weeks, actually. Ken's, um, mad at me and I don't really blame him." What does he mean? He 'doesn't really blame' Ken?

"Mad? Wh-Why? If you…don't mind me asking."

"I had this, um, thing in my drawers…Here, I'll show you." Osamu gets up from his bed and opens the top desk drawer next to me, saying, "We, ah…Found it, one day and I told Ken not to play with it until I knew what this thing is!" He holds up a white object with a digital display. "But…He got into my drawer and…I-I was having a stressful day at school and more or less took it out on him. I've been trying to figure out how to apologize but, well, he hasn't even gone near me and, half the time, leaves the room if I come in." He sighs.

I nod, slowly. "I-I'm sorry to hear that, Osamu-san…I-I'm sure he'll forgive you."

"I hope so," Osamu shakes his head, tossing the device back in the drawer. "I-I really took things too far. Especially to such a nice kid. Seriously, my little brother is, well, one of the kindest kids I've ever seen."

"Ye-Yeah, from what I saw…" I trail off, I glance away to 'scratch my cheek.' "Sorry you two are fighting right now."

"It's all right, I'm sure he'll get over it soon." Osamu shrugs, but I can tell he's really upset over the fight. "So, um, why did you want to meet me, exact—Wait…Taisuke, are you tearing up?"

Damn… "A little, I have a brother, too, so…I could relate, I guess."

"Older or younger?"

"Older," I reply. "He's the one who, um, told me about you and how we moved into the same building as the Genius of Tamachi."

Osamu laughs, "I hate that title, actually. E-Everyone overreacts to my marks, I'm not a genius, I just study a lot."

"Isn't that what makes a genius?" I say with a smile.

"Touche," Osamu laughs. "But, I'm a little tired of the attention. No offense, I don't mind visitors, it's more when I hear my Mother on the phone going on and on and ON about me. I think it drives Ken a little crazy, too."

"Ye-Yeah, it bugged me sometimes whenever my brother got the most attention between us," I say. "We, um, sort of did the soap bubble game, too, as kids."

"If that's the case…" Osamu trails off with a smile, he goes to the door of his room, opening it. "Ken!" Huh?

"What is it, Osamu…niisan." Ken has a grumpy tone to his voice as he approaches the door, but Osamu doesn't call him on it.

"I was thinking of asking Taisuke-san if he wanted to play soap bubbles…Wanna join? See if you might have met your match?"

"No—"

"Please, Ken?" I speak up. "I want to get to know you, too." I say, smiling. "Your brother says you're a good kid."

"…Really?" Ken gives Osamu a skeptical glance, but shrugs it off. "Okay, if you want me to, Taisuke-san."

"I'll get the straws and soap ready," Osamu says, he looks to me with a thankful nod.

Osamu leaves the room, I sit with Ken.

"Sorry I didn't properly introduce myself," I say, extending my hand with a smile. "Ken, right?" He shakes my hand briefly.

Ken nods. "Yeah, Taisuke-san."

"Osamu's really nice—"

"Uh-huh."

"…I know, my older brother got a lot of attention, too," I say. "It drove me insane but…He was still a great brother in the…end." I cough, glancing away and wiping my eyes again.

"Are you okay, Taisuke-san?"

"Ju-Just allergies, that time of year, you know?" I reply. "Nothing serious. Osamu told me you're really good at that bubble game, by the way."

"I always beat him!"Ken seems to light up at that, I hold back a laugh.

Osamu comes back in with a cup of soapy water and three cut straws. "Ready?"

I nod. "Let's go, Ken…Let's show Osamu how to blow some bubbles!" Ken laughs.

"Here to meet the legendary genius and bubble blower of Tamachi, I take it?" Osamu smirks, but he knows I'm trying to help his situation with Ken right now.

We go out to the balcony and, well, blow soap bubbles. Osamu was right, of course, Ken's winning. Osamu's bubbles pop before they even leave the straw half the time, mine are a little better but…

"You weren't kidding," I say, watching as Ken's soap bubble floats away. Mine already popped while Osamu's didn't make it past the straw, again. "Ken, you're really good at this!"

"Thanks, Taisuke-san!" Ken looks a lot cheerier than before.

"Having fun, Ken?" Osamu asks, his tone being a little cautious.

"…Yeah, I am," Ken nods, he's…still mad, but it's obvious he doesn't want to show how much fun he's having with his brother right now. "Can Taisuke-san stay for dinner?"

"I wish I could," I say, looking at my cell phone to check the time. "I can't stay too much longer."

"Whoah," Osamu looks over at my cell. "Where…what model is that? I mean, that display alone…"

"O-Oh, um, my Dad's sort of a techno-geek, you know? He wants us all to have the latest and greatest technology," I say, quickly.

"Mind if I take a look at it?" Osamu asks.

"Um, sure," I nod. I pass him my cell phone, he flips it open, showing off the keyboard.

"Internet and GPS? For real? You can use this as a GPS?" Osamu laughs. "Wow, I-I need to look into this, but…I don't know if I could afford it with a year's allowance."

"It's…a little hard to find," I say.

"And…Ha ha ha, what's that plush you have in the picture?" Osamu asks. …Oh, crap…I-I forgot…

"Oh, it's…a gift from my brother," I say. "It's been a good luck charm for a while." Please don't let Ken ask—

"Can I see it?" –Damn it!

…If I say 'no,' then it'll…rub salt in some wounds, but if I say yes…

…Screw it. "Sure, just, um, let me check something on it real quick." I say, clearing my throat a little loudly.

"Something wrong?" Osamu asks.

"Ah, so-sorry, just allergies. My throat's kinda scratchy…" I say.

"Oh, hold on, I'll get you a soda or something. Want an allergy pill, too?"

"Thank you, Osamu, sorry for the trouble." I nod my head.

"No trouble, consider it thanks for letting me see that cool cell phone." Osamu laughs, walking off.

Make this fast, Ken. I pass him the phone.

"…Th-Tha-That's…" Ken whispers, looking at the picture on the display.

"A plush worm my brother gave me," I say, hoping Ken somehow buys this. If not…I'll have to come clean.

"They don't make Wormmon toys…" Ken looks up at me. "Who are you? Do you know Ryou-san?"

"A-A little…He's, um, my older brother's friend. That's…how I know Wormmon," I say. "Don't tell Osamu, okay? He won't understand."

Ken nods. "…Is Wormmon doing okay? I-I haven't seen him since…Osamu took away my digivice…" He says with a growl. He passes back my cell phone.

"Ken, please, forgive Osamu," I say, "He didn't mean…what he did."

"…He's a jerk," Ken mutters.

"He's not…I promise you¸ you'll be a lot happier if you forgive him. So will he."

"…I'll think about it." Ken looks really angry, now, but looks to me and says, "What about Wormmon? How is he?" Ke-Ken, please, focus on…No.

I-I won't push this too much. I don't want to hear…a certain phrase I know he's said to himself many times. "Wormmon's doing well. He misses you, but…He's happy, I know that much. I'll ask Ryou to tell him you miss him so much, too."

"Thanks, Taisuke-san." Ken gives me a quick hug. I knew hearing about Wormmon would make him happy. "Tell Wormmon I wanna see him again someday!" …You will, Ken, but…

…It won't be pleasant.

Osamu comes back out with a soda and an over-the-counter allergy pill. I take the pill and drink some soda. "Thanks, Osamu. I-I feel a lot better already." My cell phone starts to beep…Damn, now I really do have to leave. "So-Sorry, that's my alarm. I need to head home."

Osamu nods. "I'll see you to the door," he says, walking me through the apartment and opening the door for me. "Thanks for coming by, always glad to meet a new—" I hug him. I-I couldn't control myself. "Ta-Taisuke…? Wha-What are you…?"

"So-Sorry, it's…" I let go of him, blushing. "I-I just…heard so much about you and…Like I said, I'm a fan of the Genius of Tamachi…"

"I-I see…" Osamu gives me a confused look. "We-Well, I'll…I'll see you around, Taisuke-san."

"Thanks…And thanks for the fun time." I say…Osamu's giving me a rather, um, 'suspicious' look. I'm guessing it's as to why I wanted to meet the 'Genius of Tamachi' so badly.

I-It's not that, Osamu!

I head out of the apartment with another wave as Osamu, a little awkwardly, closes the door.

I start down the hall, but I hear Osamu's door open again. I turn back, he's still givng me a strange look. "O-Osamu?"

"There's something, um, I guess familiar about you, Taisuke, have we…ever met?" Osamu asks. "Just curious. There's just…something about you, I guess."

I shake my head with a forced smile. "No, not unless we passed each other in the city or something, I guess."

"I thought so…Thanks, ah, for stopping by." He bows his head and goes back into his apartment. Probably still confused about that hug…

…I had to do it, niichan.

I walk down the hall to the elevator, I step inside alone. "Ken-chan?" I hear a little voice from my coat pocket, I open it up and take Minomon out. "Are you happy to have seen him again?" He looks up at me in my hands, he looks sort of sad.

"Ye-Yeah," I nod. "I-I am… I just wish…" …I could have warned Osamu about…what's going to happen soon. But…

The doors open at the apartment lobby, the old man is waiting on a bench. He stands as I approach. "You did keep your promise, right?" He asks, sternly but…solemnly as well.

I nod. "As hard as it was…"

"Sorry, Ken, but changing that would cause a lot of problems for your dimension. I'm very sorry, but…"

"…The Digimon Kaiser has to exist, I know," I sigh. "Thank you for this."

"We defeated Quartzmon's forces with your help, I owed you a little favor," he says. That guy…just showed up about a week after BelialVamdemon's defeat and told us that he needed Daisuke and I for "the most important battle in time and space." The fact he had a younger version of Taichi and Yamato and this kid named Takato (who had a Digimon none of us had never even heard of: Guilmon, which he claimed he created somehow...Which had me worried, given how my "created partner" turned out) who called himself a "Digimon Tamer" instead of "Chosen Child" along with him made us, well, not call a mental hospital.

Taiki Kudou's world needed us and, given how things went, badly.. I-I asked him if, well, he could do me a "small favor" as we were being sent back to our own worlds.

"Ready to go home?" He asks. I nod. Not that I have much choice, he told me that the more time I spend in the past, the bigger influence it has on the future. Every little thing I change will have an impact on the future...

...I've been careful to avoid butterflies, let's say. I'm amazed I didn't have to beg on my hands and knees since, well, this meeting with Osamu...Even the old man doesn't know what would happen to a, well, sort of "Reverse Grandfather Paradox" in our timeline. Aside from "not good."

As painful as it was to hear: "I'm sorry, Ichijouji, but The Digimon Kaiser and BelialVamdemon have to exist...Even if it means Osamu's life."

"Thanks for helping Ken-chan," Minomon says. "It was…something he really wanted."

"I understand," the old man says. He leads us outside and to an alleyway behind my old apartment building. His Clockmon is waiting there for him. "Did we do any damage?"

The Clockmon shakes its "head," or whole body, more or less. The old man lets out a relieved sigh.

"So...Everything's good?" I ask, quietly. If I did break my promise, he'd be able to "fix" things by changing the outcome of my request: From a cautious 'Yes' to 'Never.'

The old man just nods. "If Clockmon says so."

…Time to go home.

I'm sorry, Osamu, I wish I could have told you about what happened but I was constantly warned of what the ramifications it could have on our world. It's not fair, though. Not to you, not to the 'other Ken,' but…Time is a tricky thing…

The Old Man nods to Clockmon, it faces Minomon and I. "Thank you again," I say, just before a bright flash of light bursts from Clockmon…

…I'm still in the alley, but it's now the year 2003. Just like when I left, just a little after the new year and BelialVamdemon's defeat.

Minomon is also back into his evolved form as Wormmon, I still carry him back up to my apartment.

I open the door, "I'm home!" I say, though it's been weeks since I left—Well, relatively speaking. It's the same day I left but…Oh, forget it! This whole multiple-Earths and Digital Worlds and Digimon Tamers and 'Spirit Evolution' and someone who can punch BELIALVAMDEMON and live to tell about it is just too much of a mindscrew!

"Welcome home, otooto-san!" …What?

I look down the hallway in disbelief.

Osamu is…He's standing there. Older and…And…

"…Ken? Something wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost," Osamu gives me a confused look. Perfect choice of words, Osamu, because I am seeing a ghost!

But…I see a cane at his side. "Tha-that cane…?" I whisper. Osamu's holding a black cane in his hand. He…looks to have a little trouble walking as he approaches, actually.

"Oh, yeah, just got it today while out in Odaiba," Osamu says. "Thank the Gods that car only nicked me…As much as a car can 'nick' someone, you know?" …H-He…He survived the accident. "Hey, Wormmon." He waves to my partner.

"Osa-Osamu-san…" Wormmon bows his head.

"…You two okay? Seriously," Osamu says, giving both of us an odd stare. "Something up in the Digital World? Please don't tell me it's another Kaiser-guilt trip…That wasn't you, Ken! Evil seed things or whatever, remember?" He knows about The Digimon Kaiser? I-I don't believe this…!

"N-No, just…Um…Someone found out I was your little brother and, well, asked about your…accident. It's such a bad memory, I'm sort of out of it from that…" …I-I don't remember Osamu surviving, to me he's been dead for years!

Osamu shrugs. "Stop feeling guilty over that, you forgave me for that digivice incident, remember? And for what I did….Hey, I didn't blame you for that wish, I'd have probably done the same if I were you. Sorry again, Ken."

I forgave him?

"O-Oh, yeah…Been so long, how did that…go again?"

"A few days after that weird guy left, you hugged me and said you weren't mad at me anymore," Osamu says, smiling. "I felt a lot better, I mean, it'd been haunting me so much that…Well, when that car came at me, I think if I was still dwelling on how mad you were at me, I wouldn't have seen it coming like I did. Good thing that guy stopped by that day…Gods, what was his name again? Some 'new neighbor,' visited once and disappeared! I spent a week asking everyone if they saw him and…Given how he left, I thought I had a stalker or something." I do my best not to laugh at that. "I don't even remember what he looked like, just had a cool cell phone." He shrugs. Figures Osamu would remember a piece of technology years ahead of its time over what 'Taisuke' looked like. It's really hard not to laugh at that.

"Taisuke…?" I trail off.

"That was it, Taisuke!" Osamu nods with a smile. He limps into the kitchen. "Mom and Dad are out again, I ordered pizza. Your favorite topping on half!" He turns into the kitchen, adding, "and a medium for Wormmon…Those Digi-things can eat!" He shouts from the kitchen.

"Thanks, Niichan." I smile, wiping my eyes as Osamu's back is turned.

"Ken-chan...H-He's alive…" Wormmon whispers.

"I-I guess we…changed things just enough." I smile, following Osamu into the kitchen.

I'm sure I'll have to tiptoe around this 'new history' to learn about everything that's happened since 'Taisuke's' visit but it's more than worth it to have Osamu back…

…Thank the Gods. And that old man and his Clockmon.

~Owari~


Ori's Notes:

Eh…Originally, this didn't end on a happy note, Osamu stayed dead.

But, well, I thought, while Ken promised not to warn Osamu about his accident, he would at least try to get his past-self to forgive Osamu to try to ease his guilt over "that wish." Which, of course, would lead to a sort of butterfly effect that could let Osamu live and still let the events of Adventure take place with him limping around.

And before you ask: No, this is not in "My Brother" continuity, I just gave Osamu a cane to show the accident still happened. I may be a little nice to my favorite road waffle now and then, but not that nice!

Anyway, the idea came to me while pondering the events of Xros Wars' final battle and the fact the old man could, in theory, let Ken visit Osamu in the past if he felt generous enough (or the Digimon Kaiser made a mini-comeback and said, "I'll help…On one condition…" *Cue evil laugh*). Not sure if this was all that good but I wanted to play with the idea of Ken meeting Osamu again and, because I felt unusually nice for some reason, somehow managing to save him. Hope you still liked it a little!


Taiki's Notes:

You saved Osamu, Ori? You actually gave Ken and Osamu a happy ending? I was honestly expecting Ken to come home, pick up an old picture of Osamu and break down, not being greeted by his "deceased" brother sporting a new cane!

Suddenly, I'm very worried about you, Ori. Please, tell me your next fic with Takato will be filled with emotional abuse! PLEASE! THAT'S the Ori I know and edit for!

Though you still referred to Osamu as your "favorite road waffle," so maybe I should be less concerned than I am right now.

Ha ha ha, sorry, I could not resist that as Ori is always willing to freely admit to tormenting his favorite characters. And this fic features his top two favorite Adventure 02 characters. So I was very happy to see Osamu greet his little brother at the end of the fic. Thank you, Ori, you've disproved that MRI you had that said you had no heart! Either that or your "conscience" (AKA Takato the Tortoise) convinced you to be nice to Ken for once. I happily accept either explanation.

-Taiki Matsuki