a/n: I know I have plenty of other stories I need to be working on now, but this story is less of a story than a shameless dumping ground for all those half-written AU ideas that would never become full-fledged fics on their own but still drive me crazy. I'm hoping that, given a proper outlet for all these loose distracting ideas in my head, I'll have more of my attention free in the future to focus on ongoing stories. Just consider the one-shots contained herein (which will be uploaded in no particular order, if at all) to be small glimpses into some full-on AU worlds that would never have seen the light of day otherwise.
As far as this first one-shot goes—it's Tamers-universe, with the basic premise being that humans are the ones who realize in the Digital World, instead of the other way around. While in their own world in this AU, digimon exist as organic creatures with blood and organs while humans are rendered as data-based beings. The reverse is true for the human world. The plot of this one-shot has little to do directly with the worldbuilding background, but many of the details might confuse you if you didn't know about them in advance.
Beelzebumon still didn't know exactly what he thought he was doing with them. It had been six months now, half a year into this bizarre partnership that he'd unwittingly started with a pair of twin humans from another world. He still had no idea of how to properly take care of them, let alone keep them out of danger from other digimon who might be jealous or suspicious.
Human beings were infuriating creatures, Beelzebumon had found. They somehow managed to be both highly dangerous and pathetically vulnerable in equal parts.
"We're hungry," Ai whined up at him, reaching as high into the air as her skinny arms could stretch.
"Hungry," Makoto echoed, mimicking her pitiful gesture with his own body.
Beelzebumon hesitated. He really ought to prepare the food he'd gotten first, so as to make sure the humans didn't get sick from it like they sometimes did. It was a real chore to figure out in advance, which things they could eat without a problem and which ones would make them sick.
Feeding Ai and Makoto had been the first and most difficult problem he'd faced when thel arrived. A full week had passed from their realization, before he was able to find anything their finicky alien stomachs could propery digest. However resiliently the humans had clung to survival since then, Beelzebumon knew that it wasn't a good idea to take too many unnecessary risks with their health. Child humans were apparently especially prone to falling victim to the pitfalls of the Digital World, a place that was singularly ill-suited to their survival in every possible way.
However, the humans' damned eyes stared into him, like shards of something jagged cutting him up inside. He knew their pleading, identical expressions of terrible hunger and betrayal wouldn't leave his mind—not until they were both satiated and happy again.
"Fine," he finally snarled, throwing his latest catch at the human's feet without looking at them. He didn't much care to watch what was coming next.
The two children immediately fell upon their meal, tearing at the food and sometimes at each other when they got in each other's way. They tore enormous chunks off from the main body of the food with their stumpy fingers, greedily stuffing handful after dripping handful of it into their mouths before they could even chew and swallow the bites that came before.
The first time Beelzebumon saw Ai and Makoto eat anything they could stomach—after nine days of failed attempts at eating and regurgitating that had left them even weaker than mere starvation would have done—their behavior had appalled him to the point where he wondered if their minds had been tampered with by some digimon. He didn't understand how such whiny, helpless creatures could attack anything as savagely as they did that piece of food.
That had been before he met Renamon and the other "tamed" Digimon, those who also had found themselves saddled with human partners at some point. More and more were appearing in the Digital World with each passing day. It was ordinary to Beelzebumon now, have having humans around, but back then the idea of them as partners would've been crazy even if he had believed they really did exist. Everyone knew the timeless stories of so-called humans growing up, tales of the "real world" and the bizarre life that existed on it and spawned the first digimon in the universe. Impmon had always scoffed at these silly nursery tales in his childhood, knowing they were only designed to keep Baby and Child Digimon quiet and listening to their elders in the dark after night swept over the earth. Or so he'd thought.
The sounds of a familiar fight starting up between the two humans drew Beelzebumon's attention back to the present. He groaned, the sound falling upon deaf ears. Once the two of them had begun fighting one another in earnest, it was nearly impossible to get them to stop without drastic means.
Ai and Makoto were forever competing over everything, each refusing to share anything with the other aside from their mutual sense of greed. This competition usually extended to food: inevitably, whenever meals drew near to a close, the two of them would begin screaming and hitting each other over the final bloody scraps of meat and skin. Beelzebumon found their antics reminiscent of Gazimon in starving herds, mindless and nearly feral—desperate enough to turn on their own brothers and sisters if it meant getting something to eat.
Ai and Makoto weren't quite to the point of eating one another yet, thankfully. Time and regular meals had quickly eased the wan thinness that had afflicted their human bodies, after those first weeks of endless experimenting and the vomiting that followed. Still, even going on months later, Ai and Makoto continued to eat the food Beelzebumon brought for them as though they were afraid it might disappear and leave them starving again.
Beelzebumon knew he wasn't one to talk when it came to things like sharing and making nice with others. But it was still damn annoying, to hear his partners screaming their heads off at each other, sometimes as often as three times a day—and all for the privilege of raw scraps of food and skin.
"Will you both SHUT UP!" he snarled, tearing the remains of the food away from their dripping hands. "YES, now! I've told you two a million times already—if you piss me off fighting over every little thing at dinnertime, neither one of you gets to finish! Am I understood?"
Two pairs of wide brown eyes stared up at him, frozen in fear and awe. Makoto's lip trembled at his digimon, tear-filled eyes threatening to spill over down his cheeks.
Beelzebumon bit down a curse at this, feeling something suspiciously like shame rise up hotly in his gut. Not for the first time, he marveled silently and bitterly at how Digimon like Renamon could live alongside human beings every day, months on end, and still somehow not believe they were living creatures. Beelzebumon would never be able to understand the workings of her calculating mind, nor that of her human partner Ruki.
However much it inconvenienced him to believe as much, Beelzebumon had no doubt at all in his mind that Ai and Makoto were alive—the two of them weren't just computer programs from a mirror world; fragments of data that had learned by some fluke how to synthesize an imitation of living proteins and realize on the other side. Ai and Makoto had emotions. They laughed too loudly when they were happy, cried like babies when they were sad and scared. They fought and played and competed fiercely for Beelzebumon's attentions, and they complained nonstop at having to walk too long or work too hard. They bled like anyone else when they got hurt. They slept and they breathed and they ate. Their small, seemingly useless fleshy bodies held the keys to evolution. They made Beelzebumon a better digimon than he would have been on his own. They were alive.
He stood frozen, made helpless by the sight of Makoto's tears a moment longer. Finally with a jerking motion he snapped himself out of his trance, narrowing all three scarlet eyes at his human partners.
"Fine, fine, take the damn food back!" he snarled, tearing the bloodied remains of the Tsuchidarumon's corpse in twain so that each human could keep one half for themselves."
"You each get one more piece, you got it?" he said with a forced kind of loud annoyance. "You stupid kids are gonna make yourselves sick! You already make me sick! Don't come crying to me in a few hours, when you start throwing up all over the damn place because you didn't want to wait for the food to cook like civilized people!"
The children beamed at him. The effect was disconcerting, with their mouths and hands still sticky and shining with blood and bits of fur. He'd done his best to skin the Tsuchidarumon completely before they ate it, but the humans had figured out that begging usually made Beelzebumon work faster. One of these days he would learn to put his foot down.
"Thank you, Impmon!" Ai and Makoto chorused obediently in unison, taking their halves with bright smiles. Not missing a beat, they bit into their raw chunks of meat at a slower, less frenetic place than before.
Beelzebumon shook his head. It was gross enough that the children could only feast on living organic matter without them stuffing their faces and making a gross mess out of it. The humans' clothes were stained with so much blood at this point that Beelzebumon couldn't remember what they had looked like to begin with.
Terriermon and Leomon might call him sick for feeding his humans like this, heir own partners surviving on grasses and plant matter. But Beelzebumon knew that his humans were weak enough, without resorting to bloodless garbage for food. They would eat like he did, dammit, and it would make them stronger in the end. That was the most important thing.
Even if they still got sick more often than they didn't after eating, the humans' taste buds and their stomachs would begin to adjust with time. They were still extremely young in human years. They had plenty of time to adapt.
Once they'd finished their meal, the humans licked the blood off their sticky fingers and then ran at Beelzebumon for a surprise hug. They giggled loudly at the revolted noise he made, trying to scare them off.
"We love you, Impmon!" Ai chanted, staring up at him with bright eyes and bloody cheeks.
Makoto's blood-smeared face was much the same. "We love you!" he echoed, beaming.
Beelzebumon sighed and acquiesced to being held by their sticky, clinging hands. Damn humans and their damn needs all the time. He wasn't cut out for mushy crap like this. He mused silently how he should have obeyed his first, revolted instinct, that day when he and Ai and Makoto had met.
These kids can't do anything but fight each other and cry like selfish little babies! his mind had screamed at him then, I don't need them ruining my life! I've got to run for it before these humans get it in their heads that I belong to them!
Still, though—Beelzebumon couldn't even imagine, now, what a lonely and miserable existence his life would be if he had mistakenly chosen to listen to that first impulse. They drove him insane sometimes, made him want to throw them off the nearest cliff, but it was with Ai and Makoto that Beelzebumon (he, a Digital World native! Not them!) had truly understood for the first time, what it meant to have a home where he belonged.