A/N: First off, some of you may notice the summary's been updated. :D Thank you to Flame (Flaming Platinum) for helping me rewrite the summary!

Next, the dividers are a little silly here: the first over thousand words are one scene, then the scene shifts twice within five hundred words. Can't really help that, but it flows okay so things should be alright.

Last, next chapter will also have a heavy Digital World basis…and guess what happens in chapter 10. :) And enjoy this chapter of course.

The Bee and its Stinger
Chapter 8 – Seeds that Sprout

Osamu brushed his brother's hair away, the sweaty skin trying and failing and cling to it. If Ken were awake, he'd be laughing about how the hair had a mind of its own, how it managed to look neat even in the wildest of weather, moving as though it was tied into a ponytail despite it being too short – and absolutely nothing like Osamu's own, which never stayed flat no matter how much gel he put in it.

And even if the notion of hair having brains (they were dead cells after all – they didn't even have nuclei) was utterly ridiculous, it was absolutely saturated with Ken's imagination and innocence and, well, Osamu could deal with that. Probably the only illogical things he could believe had some involvement from Ken – and the Digital world had been one of those, until he'd seen proof with his own eyes.

Wormmon was staying with them again, but this time it was to help take care of Ken, who'd slowly grown sick. It had started with the coughs that preceeded a cold and a lack of sneezes that usually accompanied them. Or maybe it had started with all those times Ken was absentmindedly poking or prodding something in the back of his neck. Osamu had checked the area multiple times, but had found nothing out of the ordinary. Still, if nothing was wrong Ken wouldn't touch or rub it: there were much easier things to play with when distracted, like pencils or buttons or zippers or even fingers.

'Can I try?' Wormmon asked, looking curiously at Osamu's hands. Osamu blinked and looked down at his own fingers; he'd picked up a pencil from his desk and had been weaving it through his fingers.

'Sure.' Osamu handed over the pencil and watched four of Wormmon's eight stubby legs try to balance it. It made for a rather amusing sight and Osamu allowed a smile to stretch on to his face, but then Ken mumbled something unintelligible and his attention was snatched away again. So was Wormmons, as the pencil clattered on to the desk, but Ken settled down soonafter and both human and digimon watched his face for a moment before returning to their fidgeting. Wormmon picked up the old pencil; Osamu took a new one.

Ken wasn't going anywhere. It didn't even look like anything worse than the flu; he'd been far sicker before, when he'd come back from the Digital World the first time (or out of the blue, as far as their parents were still concerned). Still, Osamu felt uncomfortable, as though something would happen if he took his eyes off his brother. And maybe Wormmon felt the same way, because even though both of them were wasting time, they weren't moving from Ken's bedside.

At least Wormmon wasn't helplessly crying anymore, as he had been when Osamu had told him Ken was sick. Ken had wanted to tell Wormmon himself why he wouldn't be coming to play for a while, but Wormmon hadn't been in the Primary Village at the time and the sick child had fallen asleep waiting. Osamu hadn't; he knew it was important to Ken that Wormmon knew and he wasn't sick. And since Elecmon (who Osamu had only met one other time through the computer screen) had said Wormmon would be back before too long, Osamu saw all the more reason to wait.

If he'd known he'd have to deal with a crying worm while hiding said worm from his parents, he might have rethought things. Like convincing his parents to buy some ice-cream for Ken, or a new board game they could play together, or a fantasy book Osamu could read to his little brother…all of which they already had, but his parents were more than happy to spoil their sick child.

Of course, that also involved nice warm bowls of soup, interesting office stories from their father and their mother signing while knitting in his swivelling chair, so Wormmon's time with Ken was unfortunately limited to when both parents were at work. Osamu was the luckiest. He could afford to miss school, so long as he kept up to date with his work at home – and that was easy. He did it when Ken slept and, most of the time, finished well before the younger boy was up again. And it had only been a few days since Ken was ordered to rest in bed by their parents: an order reiterated by their family doctor.

What bothered Osamu was that Ken seemed to be getting worse, not better. That the painkillers seemed less effective over the days: that Ken had started whimpering in pain in his sleep and burning up with a fever that didn't seem to want to break. Though it wasn't a dangerous fever and certainly preferable to icy cold skin he'd had the last time, anything that stuck around was bad and Osamu couldn't help but worry.

But, maybe, what bothered him the most was that Ken wasn't laughing and running about over the last few days, and that the house seemed all the more silent and dark because of it.

He laughed quietly to himself. 'When did I get so dependent on my little brother?'

Wormmon looked at him blankly, still trying to work the pencil.

Osamu shook his head. 'It's just a virus.' He said it more for his own benefit, but used the term "virus" instead of flu for Wormmon, who only understood human illnesses in terms of viruses or the wide umbrella of sickness. 'Ken, you drive me crazy when you're sick, you know.'

'Are you going to go on a rampage?' Wormmon asked worriedly.

Osamu stared at his brother's Digimon a moment before he understood. 'Oh, no, I just meant crazy with worry.'

'I see.' Wormmon's antennae dropped a little. 'Will Ken-chan get better soon?'

'Of course. Viruses last for a couple of weeks, tops.' If it was the flu, because Osamu couldn't shake the feeling it had something to do with the way Ken would keep touching his neck, as if there was something buried there.

He didn't know why he didn't as Wormmon; even if Ken didn't know, Wormmon might. But something was stopping him. Some desire to not be proven right, to believe it was just a simple flu – and that they'd laugh over his needless worry the moment Ken was feeling better.

Oikawa switched his monitor off, letting the room get just a little darker. It didn't go completely blank: he had three computer screens, and one was still active. His work one had drifted into screensaver mode, and the one looking at the Ichijoujis had just now been shut off – since there was no point in watching a sleeping boy and his brother and digimon standing vigil. Only the one surveying the Digital World was still active, still showing the scene of smoke and destruction following a growling dragon and a boy with a sad face.

Akiyama Ryo. Oikawa's eyes narrowed as he watched the boy. He was a problematic one, but it seemed like his plan B was working alright. Caring…what a foolish concept that was. But it worked to his advantage this time. While caring had been what he had based his plan of killing off Ichijouji Osamu and finishing Ken's gateway to darkness on, caring had also been what had ruined it when Mummymon had fumbled his little task. This time though, caring was the driving force, not just a little window of opportunity offered to him.

Just a little while lie, and Akiyama Ryo will repair the damage that had been caused by the first failed plan.

Though he better hurry, because if little Ken's illness was anything to go by, they were running out of time.

Ryo winced as Cyberdramon unleashed another growl, swiping down and causing another digimon to burst in to data. He didn't like it, not one bit, but it had to be done.

And he didn't like how Cyberdramon enjoyed it either, how he lost himself in the bloodlust as if this was what he was meant to do. But talking to Cyberdramon while he was in this state was no good. Cyberdramon was too preoccupied with his own hunger to hear his Tamer's voice. Maybe if they were partners, it would be different.

Or maybe if he hadn't failed his one and only friend, things would be different.

Except he had failed, and there was nothing he could do now except try to help. Even if that meant doing…this. Ripping apart the Digital World in search for a few stupid eggs that didn't have the decency to show themselves and save the rest of the world from destructions. Primary Village was already gone, covered in ash and torn blocks and broken cradles. A few other villages he hadn't bothered checing the names of had followed suit.

Now they were just aimlessly wandering, Cyberdramon's killing instinct the only thing they had to go by. Ryo didn't even have his conviction, his heart, because it was too easy to wonder if he was doing the right thing at all…and, even if he was, whether the sacrifices were worth the life of his only friend.

Hell yes, he thought sourly. I swore I'd protect Ken, and there's nothing that's more important than him.

Once upon a time, he might have thought the other Chosen, or his parents, or his partner. But he didn't have a proper partner – not even Cyberdramon was that – and that was before the Chosen had unmasked themselves as part of the Harmonious Ones' elaborate plan. Before his parents had been revealed to be artefacts of ENIAC – so, in the end, only Ken was real and his true friend.

So, of course, he'd do anything for him.

Still, when he saw what it was costing, all he could do was walk on with his head down and hope it really was the right thing to do. That it really would save Ken.

Cyberdramon roared again: a different roar than before, this one filled with the desire for battle. Ryo looked up. A Kuwagumon snapped its pincers at them. Cyberdramon's claws glinted and he spread his wings.

They really had nothing to do on except for eggs.