The Crunch of Eggshells
There was a crunch of eggshells and Kristy stopped walking, although it was only after she removed her foot that she recognised the sound. Above her head, a robin croaked woefully: an odd sound for one that usually greeted her with singing praise.
Or what she assumed were singing praises. It was hard to tell, seeing as she couldn't distinguish their chirps now matter how hard she listened. Keenan seemed pretty confident they praised her though, although he wouldn't know any better than her. An expert in the Digital World he may be, but Digimon at least spoke the language of humans.
And now, she couldn't help but thinking, even as she stared at the hole in the nest, through which she could easily make out the parent and a single remaining egg, that her brother probably knew more of the Digital World by now.
But then again, anyone could know more about the Digital World than she did. Thomas sometimes sent her emails. Yoshino and her father and Keenan's parents even often told her tales – though none of them had more stories than Keenan, who was more than happy to tell her all about that other world. Still, it was disappointing she had never been able to go herself, even if her own role in the affairs had been somewhat significant. Or so everyone told her anyway whenever she would pull a pout and wish she could have gone with Biyomon too – but she loved her own world so much she couldn't imagine leaving it. Not even for Biyomon, whom she remembered every time she saw a bird.
The robin croaked again and Kristy checked the egg before wincing. Some of the yolk had spilt onto the cement and were no longer as indistinguishable as the almost-white eggshells, especially as she was looking now. Carefully, she picked up the other egg, looking undamaged, and offered it to the robin.
It flew down and butted her hand, making her almost drop it. She winced again, this time in physical pain, as the beak scratched her pinky figure in its insistence, and this time she took the hint and put the egg back down. The robin, this time, nudged it into the grass, and as it rolled slowly over, Kristy spotted the crack running through its surface.
'Some birds are very good at knowing when their eggs are damaged,' Keenan's voice suddenly said, causing the brunette to jump and glare at the boy who'd snuck up on her.
'Could you walk a little more loudly?' she exclaimed at his apology. 'You say sorry, but then you sneak up on me all over again.'
'It's a habit.' Keenan scuffed one toe a little uncomfortably; it had been several years since his return to the human world, but that didn't make the closed-toe school uniform shoes (or the tie for that matter) any more comfortable.
'Hmmph. Well, try at least.' But Kristy was smiling, so the other boy knew she wasn't mad. Though the smile dimmed as she looked at the eggs. 'It's sad though. Couldn't she try and save the egg?'
It didn't look that badly damaged; she was sure some of the eggs in the carton came like that, and they were perfectly edible.
Keenan shrugged, his tanned skin looking even darker under the shade of the overarching tree. 'Don't know,' he confessed. 'Digimon are more like humans in that sense.'
They watched the robin hop over to a stray branch and fly it up to the next. A few pokes of the beak, and it was beginning to mend the hole in its nest.
'We should go,' Keenan said after a brief pause. 'We're going to be late for school.'
Yoshino was running her usual patrol in her police car when they passed her, so it was a second nature to wave without slowing her step. Still, while she was almost as close to the red-haired woman as she had been to Thomas before he had left the country (and after she had gotten over her silly little crush on him), Kristy still didn't know her all that well.
It was that unspoken barrier; it existed even between her and Keenan to a degree. Because she had never been to the Digital World. Because she had spent so little time with her partner. Miki and Megumi could understand a little further; both had confessed they had felt rather useless while Marcus, Thomas and Yoshino had gone into the Digital World the first time. But still, they knew the others; they had been a part of DATS long before Marcus, and unlike her, her brother rarely had trouble fitting in with people.
And they were all older than her too, adults while she was just starting junior high school. If it hadn't been for her father's lasting interest in the Digital World barrier, Commander Sampson would probably not have kept her family so thoroughly updated on its status. After all, he hadn't informed of the Digital Dive's success in transporting humans to the Digital World (she remembered hearing the story later from Yoshino about how Thomas had disobeyed orders and Marcus, with mixed feelings, had gone in after him) which could have held the key to finding her father. In that time, before she had met Biyomon, they had told her little at all.
Kristy knew her absence from the rest of her brother's adventures were due to his protectiveness. He might have still been at the stage where he dove, unthinking, into many a fight that came his way, but he had tried to keep her out of danger as much as possible. Even if that meant forcing someone she had bonded so closely to back to the Digital World. Because he knew – she knew he did, from the way he had looked at her afterwards – how much it would hurt.
It hadn't changed anything though. Biyomon, remembering her name and nothing else, had rampaged across their city till the Data Squad had defeated him. Nothing had worked; not Marcus reminding Biyomon that he was her brother…not herself appearing and begging Biyomon to remember her. Instead, he'd just screamed her name and attacked. And then he was an egg again, and gone. Back to the Digital World and apart from her once again.
Sometimes, she was still angry at Marcus for making that decision when it should have been her right, but then when she thought about the final battle against King Drasil, and how all she had managed to do was sit upon Garudamon's shoulder as he tried to stand between the two worlds, she knew she couldn't possibly have been much help to them. She saw them fighting to save the digimon that had crashed to their world – Eldradamon, if she remembered correctly. She wasn't that strong, and even their strength had proven to be insufficient in the end.
But it still seemed fair; she might have learnt, after all. Her brother had been a reckless fool when he first got his Digivice, but he had come through. She didn't know about Thomas or Yoshino; neither of them had really talked about their induction into the Data Squad, but she knew Marcus' version alright. Feeding Agumon enough junk food to fill up a rubbish bin in a single afternoon and then being unable to go to the arcade for the next month because he had spent his entire allowance.
Keenan was looking at her; she could tell, but he was yet to say something.
'Just spit it out,' Kristy said finally, exasperated.
'Uh…well…' Keenan had gotten more used to interacting with humans than he was five years ago, but he still tended to stutter on occasion. Particularly with her. Maybe it was because she'd seen him at pretty vulnerable points. Maybe it was because she had stripped him naked and thrown him into the bathtub without shame.
She blushed bright red at the memory and Keenan stopped what he was saying and stared at the brunette. 'What is it?' he asked curiously.
'I was just – ' She paused, before blurting out: 'I was just thinking of how I stripped you and threw you in the bath.'
Blue eyes stared blankly at her for a moment – before the words caught up to Keenan's brain and the boy flushed as well, enough so that it was obvious even with his tanned skin.
'My my,' a familiar voice broke in, sounding vaguely amused. 'What do we have here?'
They both sprung back, Kristy almost tripping over the sidewalk. Keenan had rather more practice at being surprised after all.
'Mr Yoshima,' Keenan exclaimed, putting a hand to his chest as he straightened he backpack. 'What brings you here?'
The old man reeled in his fishing rod. 'Just a visit for all times sake,' he said cheerily, as though trying to shake the perpetually sombre mood around them. The same thing that had prevented him from laughing at the site of the two awkward teenagers. The same thing that had Biyomon's memory pressing so firmly on Kristy's mind.
'Is it something to do with the Digital World?' Keenan asked. 'With Falcomon?'
Kristy looked at her friend; it appeared she wasn't the only one thinking about her partner that morning.
Yoshima shrugged. 'The world works in strange ways,' he said cryptically. 'I thought the sun looked a little brighter today.'
The two teenagers looked blank. The sky was a streaked in grey and white, wisps of cloud littered across a canvas of blue and the yellow sphere that hung to the east was blurred at the edges as though one was looking at something opaque. Bright was not the word one would normally used to describe it, although dull was equally incorrect.
Yoshima laughed at the bewildered looks. 'Never you youngsters mind,' he said. 'The world looks rather warped to the old mind.' He gave his fishing line a tug. 'Fish are far simpler to manage. The wider world…too confusing.'
'We'll leave you to your fish then,' Keenan said, blinking.
Kristy bit back her own chuckles as she agreed and bid her own temporary farewell. No doubt they would see Yoshima in a few days, as suddenly and unexpectedly as they always did and always when they were rushing somewhere.
'We'd better run.'
And Kristy grabbed her companion and friend by the wrist and pulled him along.
'We're not going to make it on time.'
Kristy slowed to a regular walk, letting go of Keenan's hand and missing the light blush on his cheeks.
'Why not?' she asked. 'We didn't stay to talk to Mr Yoshima for that long.'
'We did actually.' Keenan showed his watch, newly repaired by his father after broken by his little sister. The longer of the two hands was a little too close to half past the hour for either of their liking. 'The gates will be closing now.'
The brunette groaned, putting a hand to her head. 'Marcus would be so proud.'
Keenan chuckled. 'I think he would be happier if you were late because of some sort of trouble.'
'That's true.' The laughter was contagious, and the thought of causing a stir tickled her cheeks pink as she doubled over, having to stop. 'Geeze…it would help if we hadn't…run this way…'
Their little jog was starting to catch up to her, though the other looked as cool as he always did. Sprinting to school after all was no match for what he had done in the Digital World.
'We couldn't cut across the water though,' Keenan pointed out, waiting for Kristy to catch her breath.
She giggled, remembering when Marcus had once attempted to do just that. Not only had he arrived in the middle of third period, he had arrived completely drenched. It had been rather embarrassing at the time, but it was amusing to reminiscent about now.
And pleasant too. There was something relaxing about dredging back into old and innocent memories, memories that spoke of their childhood in all its silliness and the passions that changed and yet became that much more valuable as they aged. For her, it was the embarrassment her brother would constantly cause morphing into a spectre that only he could be, and streaks of bright red on a canvas only he could have made.
'We really should hurry to school though.'
'We should,' Kristy agreed, but made no move to do so.
'You…want to skip?' Keenan sounded unsure, both for his parents' reactions and hers'. The Daimons might be rather lax when it came to certain things – though with Marcus' inability to follow rules one had to be flexible. Sarah at least was always stricter with Kristy, though Keenan knew that even now Spencer sometimes found himself struggling with how to be a father to a teenage girl.
Kristy wasn't half the trouble-magnet Marcus had been though. She wasn't causing or joining fights at every corner – though the ones she did involve herself in were just as epic as her older brother's at that age. She wasn't as inadept at mathematics and computers – rather she enjoyed dabbing in them, much to her father's pleasure. And Spencer was more than happy to assist her; it was one of the things that made their reconnecting easier, since she was too old now (and even when he had returned) to toss around like a football afflicted with giggles. It was awkward at times, as she had been too young to remember him before he disappeared, and the father she had dreamed of had come from the photos scattered about the house and her mother's tales. She couldn't talk to him as she could her mother, or Keenan as she once had Marcus for that matter.
She sighed, and Keenan looked at her. 'Is something bothering you?' he asked. 'You're acting…'
'Flaky?' Kristy suggested, before shaking her head and wincing when the tips of her pigtails slapped her. 'Ouch, I really need to stop doing that.'
Keenan looked at his sneakers awkwardly. 'Well, I wouldn't say that exactly…'
'I was just teasing.' And Keenan looked up to see a smile on the brunette's face. 'I'm fine, really. My mind's just wandering all over the place together.'
'Uhh…' He'd caught her a little off guard, though in retrospect Kristy had no idea why. Keenan had a talent of picking up certain signals from her. Perhaps it came from all the time they spent together, and no doubt they would be just as close to Relena if she didn't live in Austria with her father. 'Yeah, about Marcus. And Biyomon. And Dad.'
'Hmm.' Keenan didn't say anything else, and Kristy was relieved. She knew, just knew, that Marcus wouldn't have been able to resist the temptation.
'I don't think you're a big brother…' she mused, largely to herself.
'Excuse me?' Keenan blinked, having missed the sentence. Thankfully too, as a light blush coated Kristy's cheeks as she denied saying anything of worth.
By that time they had stopped entirely, having crossed the long bridge and arrived at the intersection. The school was only a few blocks further, past the elementary school they had previously attended. Still, the gates would already be closed.
'Time just flies, doesn't it?' Kristy snuck a peak at Keenan's watch; the gold hand was pointing between them. They might make it to first period of the traffic lights were kind, but they wouldn't be making it to the assembly. Not that there would be anything of interest; there rarely was in the middle of term. The standard procedure, enough to make both of them fall asleep…sometimes on each other's shoulders. Naturally, that triggered some comments from the rest of their classmates that she did her best to shrug at and Keenan did his best not to blush at.
'It does,' Keenan agreed, sneaking a peak at his own watch as he followed the other's line of sight. 'I hope my mother doesn't ground me.'
'She won't,' the other said confidently.
'I don't know. She hasn't been too happy we keep on winding up late.'
'It's only when we meet Mr Yoshima on the way,' Kristy pointed out. 'Funny how we always forget to mention it. Or keep a watch on our – ' She broke off as the lights went green. 'Fina – huh?'
They switched back to red. Then green. Then an array of colours in between amidst the horns, brakes and squealing tires of cars.
'Wha – ?'
The pair gaped at the chaos that was quickly unfolding. Thankfully the people on the sidewalks hadn't been able to start crossing the road before the confusion, and the drivers had barely a chance to accelerate before screeching to a stop. Still, it was a busy intersection and traffic was quickly held up. They could hear shouts and curses further along the road…to those who were around the corner and blocked off by the architecture, unable to witness the strange sight.
A child's exclamation and her pointed finger brought both Kristy and Keenan to look at the sky. Before faint wisps of white, now it was a kalediscope of black, purple and green, faint white lines running between almost as if making a grid.
It was beautiful, but frightening. Something Kristy was sure she remembered, but could not for the life of her place where. Something haunting, a thought that terrified her until this day, accompanied by thoughts of tears and despair – as well as light and hope and strength and all the things that went towards making her the near-woman she was that day. She noticed out of the corner of her eye Keenan's expression changing to one of recognition, shock and hatred, but she paid it no heed. Something else caught the majority of her vision. Something yellow, and yet too dull to be the sun peeking out at the strange phenomenon that ripped his skies. Something oval-shaped – no, three dimensional, with yellow stripes –
She gave a small cry and lunged forward, hearing other screams echoing in her ear but unable to place their owners. Keenan probably, and she could swear she heard Marcus and Biyomon and her mother too, both all of those were impossible. Her mother was at home, and Marcus and Biyomon were both in the Digital World, far away…
She held out her hands, and clutched the egg that drifted down to her. Her feet found the solid asphalt again, and yells of caution buzzed in her ears by strangers still upon the roads and waiting for some semblance of order. But louder than all of them was the sound that had first brought Biyomon and then her brother to mind: of eggshells cracking under the light weight of her foot. Except this egg was too large and oddly coloured to be a robin's or anything but a digimon's, and the crack was running along its top, a chip of shell absent from the whole.
She sucked in a breath, then forced it out, clutching the egg tenderly and yet firmly as though it would either break or vanish from her grasp. And neither was inconceivable; the latter had happened too many times and the former was too real a possibility now.
If she looked up to the sky again thereafter, she would find the strange meld of colour had vanished, leaving behind its boring blue.
'Keenan?' Her voice wavered. 'Do Digimon abandon damaged eggs as well?'
There was no answer. Either Keenan hadn't heard, didn't know…or didn't want to answer.