The Bee and its Stinger

Chapter 1
A Long-Held Grudge

Ken was still mad at him. It was obvious, from the rigid shoulders and the stiff gait and the way he was always at least a metre ahead without looking back. Anyone looking at them would assume they were simply two strangers on a busy road in Tamachi, having never met each other and simply heading for the same destination like many others around them.

And maybe others were. It was a good day for ices after all. Not perfect, but so late in Autumn it was a surprise to find very many warm days at all. And with winter approaching, the opportunities for brain-freezes actually being pleasurable were growing rarer. But it seemed his kid brother was past the age where the temptation of sweets would wash away all ill-feeling.

Osamu sighed and rubbed his temple. He had a slight headache coming on, probably from studying for long periods of time and not sleeping as much as he should be. He really had been looking forward to hanging around with his brother too – but he just had to ruin it by blowing something so little out of proportion.

Obviously, it wasn't so little to Ken though. It was rare for Ken to stay mad at someone, but no-one lacked their breaking point and Ken had obviously been pushed to his. Either that or that little strange device that popped so suddenly out of the computer was far more important than it appeared, but that was near impossible. After all, while Ken had been in his draw and had obviously been playing around with the device, it was inconceivable that he'd managed to figure out its function when Osamu, the genius of the family, had as so far failed to.

Either way though, he was sure it was just Ken's innocent curiosity that led him to take that device from his drawer, and he truly hadn't seen the harm. And what was the harm? Anything breakable was kept beyond his brother's reach anyway, and it wasn't like he had any claim on the thing. So why had he been so angry when he had seen it in his brother's hands? All he could conclude was that it was simply the stress looking for an outlet, a consequence of not spending enough time doing what most kids his age did more of: relaxing. But it had taken more than three days afterwards to coax Ken out of the house with him; he was being unusually stubborn.

This time though, he vowed he would keep his patience and fix this mess. If Ken was mad at him, then there really wasn't any way he could relax, because no-one else would let him. Even their parents saw him as the boy genius instead of a boy who sometimes just needed to chill out, but Ken would just give a doe look and they'd be out on the balcony blowing bubbles or spread across the living room carpet with a board game or running around the park playing soccer. No-one else would do that with him. No-one else could do that with him. And certainly no-one else ever listened to him ranting…though Ken had tried offering his stuffed caterpillar when he was four.

And the fact that he was starting to muddle up simple math calculations spoke very highly about the importance of his relationship with his brother. A silly little device was definitely not worth losing it.

Sadly, Ken didn't seem to see it that way, though that was no surprise. There were only so many times you could blow up on someone without intending to before they start giving back.

'Ken,' he called, seeing the boy about to cross the road. 'Remember to look both sides.'

He wasn't sure whether or not Ken had heard, though he did at least do as he was reminded, making sure there were no cars coming too fast or too close before crossing. Osamu followed, looking both ways himself and wishing Ken had at least waited to hold his hand like he normally did. Still, Ken was eight, almost nine, and probably old enough to cross the road without needing to hold someone's hand to do it.

He noticed Ken reach the curb and then stop, looking up with what appeared to be a faintly bemused expression, quickly replaced by joy. Blinking, Osamu looked up too, expecting to see a plane or a rainbow (even if there wasn't any rain) but finding nothing instead. Puzzled now, he looked back at his brother.

A sudden scream brought his attention back to the road he had stopped in the middle of – and his brother's reaction to himself.

It was a very odd feeling, being mad at his brother, but Ken couldn't help it. It was a vicious cycle; he felt bad for thinking – even for a moment – that life would be better without him, but at the same time he still clung to his brother's slap and the loss of his trust, which in turn made the spark of hatred entirely justified.

So he knew perfectly well it was childish, but he wasn't quite willing to forgive his brother. Going on about trust like that, and slapping him without even an apology – his lips twisted into a frown and a small bullet of pain shot through his neck at the thought. He shook it off though, remembering his brother did, much to his protest, bring him along for an ice before winter settled in, knowing how much he enjoyed them. Much more than ice-cream, although sadly the weather had to be more particular to enjoy one without the brain freeze becoming too much to bear.

He heard his brother calling at him to be careful, and he sighed. It really was impossible to stay mad forever. He couldn't have meant what he said after all, otherwise he wouldn't be taking him out like this, on their own and without parents…

He really wished his parents would pay more attention to him. And he wished Osamu had picked another time to get mad at him, although he couldn't possibly have known –

He froze, catching site of something in the sky and looking up.

Is that..? he thought, eyeing the oddly shaped clouds, before smiling like a child whose birthday had come early upon confirming the shape. Wormmon: the first friend apart from his brother that he had ever had. It cheered him up immensely; there was little chance he'd be able to return to the Digital World for awhile – unless he stole the Digivice and he couldn't do that, or Osamu gave it to him and there was little chance, for the other probably wouldn't understand – and it was a comfort to know it, and Wormmon, were still there, waiting for him.

They had promised each other they'd go on a journey the next time they met, to find Ryo. He was probably off on a journey of his own, as safe as could be, but both of them would feel better if they saw the older boy with their own two eyes. Ryo was his third friend after all, and had become almost like an older brother during the Digital World. Someone who looked out for him the same way, scolded him when he did something foolish and comforted him when he was down. Somebody for whom he would do things without thinking –

He winced again as a stronger bolt of pain shot through his neck. It was bothering him again; it had for weeks, though he couldn't pinpoint exactly when it had begun to hurt. Around the time he got sick, he thought, gazing thoughtfully at Wormmon's smiling face. So sick that time had melted into a blur and he could barely remember anything between fighting Milleniummon with Ryo and getting the news from Wormmon and Gennei about the older boy's disappearance, except something very fuzzy about an email that had turned out to be a setup of some kind.

It was after that trip that Osamu had caught him with the Digivice, when the news of the disappearance of one of his dearest friends was fresh in his mind. All in all, it hadn't gone well for either brother, and Ken sighed sadly, looking down again. He was sure Wormmon would be disappointed in him for being mad at his brother for so long. That wasn't kindness at all…but Wormmon had also said he was too kind, to the point where he could get hurt because of it…

He lifted a hand, almost absently, to rub his neck, then snapped around at a sudden scream before biting back one of his own. Osamu was standing in the centre of the road, frozen and staring at an incoming car coming too fast to stop.

Suddenly, he forgot about his own little dilemma. 'Onii-chan,' he cried, bolting across the street and throwing himself on his brother, his body moving too fast for his brain to inform it that he had more than likely just made things worse. 'Watch out!'

For a moment, Osamu froze. He couldn't help it; it was human instinct…or human fallacy perhaps. It was hardly logical, but perhaps it simply took that long for adrenaline to kick in. But when those precious seconds could make the difference between life and death, it wasn't particularly welcome.

Especially since, by the time his body registered that he needed to move, he was off balance with his little brother firmly attached to his waist. And there was absolutely no way they would both make it off the road safely in time – unless by some miracle the car managed to swerve and avoid hitting them.

He squeezed his eyes shut. He didn't believe in miracles, but he knew his brother did.

Then there were shocked murmurs around him, and hands steering them both away from the main road and he opened his eyes, heart thumping widely, to find the car lodged into a pole and themselves safe.

'Onii-chan! Onii-chan!'

As welcome as the voice was, Osamu winced at its pitch.

'What were you thinking, running across the road like that?' he scolded, and Ken's hands around him immediately loosened. 'I'm sorry,' he added automatically. 'I didn't mean it like that, but –' He put his firm hands on the other's shoulders. 'You could have been killed.'

Ken sniffed, and it was only then his brother realised he was crying. 'I wished you were dead,' he cried, burying himself into his brother's chest. 'And then you – then you –'

He didn't finish the sentence, and Osamu didn't ask him to. Instead, he just held his little brother close as everyone else swarmed around the car – and them.

It didn't occur to him to check on the driver, or the car. What mattered is that it hadn't hit them, because there was no doubt that if one of them got hurt, the other would have had a lot of self-blame to deal with.