The boy genius Ichijouji Ken is everything Daisuke wants to be. Daisuke's not smart, he's athletic but he's not as spectacularly awesome, and he certainly doesn't have even half of Izumi-senpai or Miyako's talent with computers. Daisuke can only dream of being as good as the famous child prodigy. Maybe if he's as cool as Ken is, Hikari-chan might start paying more attention to him instead of hanging around with Takeru all the time.
When he finally gets to meet Ichijouji Ken in person, he's tired and sweaty and he thinks he must look quite unpresentable for a first meeting with one's idol, having run all over the field in the first half of their soccer game. The first half of the soccer game that Ken didn't show up for. But Ken does turn up in the end, and Daisuke thinks that all those pictures of Ken in the newspapers do not do him justice. Ken is calm and confident and holds himself in a polished, self-assured manner that somehow, quite strangely, reminds Daisuke of Yamato. And he is handsome; neat, shoulder-length hair framing a pale, delicate face that looks nothing like an athlete's.
Ken looks directly at him as he descends the steps down to the field, and Daisuke can hardly believe that Ken's noticed him. But Daisuke is the captain after all, one of the star players of his team (although nowhere as good as Ken is) and of course the captain of the opposing team would acknowledge him as an opponent.
"I'm Motomiya Daisuke," Daisuke introduces himself, as they move into their positions for the second half. Ken's position is right opposite his, and Daisuke flashes him a friendly smile.
Then Ken gives him that look again, and Daisuke feels a tiny shiver run through his body. Ken's eyes are icy blue and piercing, and Daisuke suddenly feels like Ken's devouring him just with his eyes. And not in a good way at all. Then it disappears, and Ken's expression is calm and almost relaxed once again.
The game is intense, and even with his team trailing behind by two, three, four points - damn, Ken is fast, Daisuke can't help being awed by Ken. His presence itself on the field is so strong, Daisuke knows that all his teammates are nervous. He wonders if his own nervousness shows, but he steels himself up, putting on a burst of speed to run alongside Ken. His mind is a whirl, watching Ken's movements out of the corner of his eyes, swiftly calculating.
His sliding tackle against Ken's attempt to score the final goal is a success, and Daisuke's amazed even at himself. He shakes himself out of his daze, and runs up to the Tamachi team to apologise - after all, it's as good as any excuse to talk to the boy genius.
"Hey, Ichijouji-kun," Daisuke grins sheepishly at him. "How's your leg? I know it must hurt..."
Ken raises an eyebrow at him, apparently taking a while to understand what Daisuke was referring to. "Oh... That. Don't worry about it, it's nothing," he says with a tiny smile.
"Ah, that's great," Daisuke says, relieved. "But boy, you sure do live up to your reputation, I'm nowhere at your level at all."
Daisuke is a little stunned that he's actually talking to Ichijouji Ken, but Ken is so humble and sounds so ordinary and polite that Daisuke is charmed. Ken even remembers his name, then offers his hand out for a handshake. Daisuke stammers a little, but that little social faux pas perfectly acceptable, Daisuke thinks to himself later, because Ken is beyond cool.
The Digimon Kaiser is a childish brat, an arrogant asshole and an insufferable bastard all rolled into one. Daisuke is so angry that he barely thinks before he acts. He jumps at the Kaiser, fists clenched and ready to punch the jerk to within an inch of his life. Daisuke is lucky that neither one of them hits their head on anything hard as they slide down the sandy slope in a billow of dust - he doesn't actually want to kill the Digimon Kaiser, he just wants him to go away and leave the Digital World alone. And also to punch him really hard.
The little green Digimon that follows the Digimon Kaiser everywhere shouts something that sounds like a name, but Daisuke's more concerned about causing the Kaiser as much bodily pain as possible that he ignores it. They yell insults at each other all the way down. Daisuke almost manages to get a punch in, but then they hit the bottom and the momentum flings Daisuke into the air. It hurts when he lands on solid ground, but the anger thundering through his blood numbs the pain.
And then he finds out that the Digimon Kaiser is Ichijouji Ken, the one boy he admires... No, had admired. And the pain that rips through his soul isn't the kind that can be numbed by adrenaline alone.
Daisuke doesn't care that he's going to be in so much trouble if his parents ever find out that he skipped school to go to Tamachi. Not like he'll be able to explain this anyway, what can he say? That Ichijouji Ken, prodigy and media darling, has a secret identity and is trying to conquer the Digital World and Daisuke's come all the way here to confront him? Even the other Chosen Children don't know about this; he hopes they'll just assume that he's too sick to go to school today or something. He hadn't even told Chibimon, but what can Ken do to him out here in the real world?
Maybe beat him up until he's knocked out and then dump him somewhere for the other Children to find, Daisuke's mind supplies. Ken's a black belt at judo, after all.
His waiting outside of Ken's school finally pays off after two hours. Daisuke gathers all his courage within him and steps forward, ignoring the throng of grey-clad students streaming out the gates. He focuses on the slim, tall figure walking calmly all alone.
Daisuke doesn't know what to expect. He doesn't have a plan, which he knows is stupid, but Daisuke's not one for planning too far ahead. But he certainly does not expect the Digimon Kaiser to stop right his his tracks and look at him.
Ken's voice is cold, his eyes hard. He gives Daisuke that piercing look again, and Daisuke feels something curl deep inside him. He tamps down on it, not wanting to think too much about it. The students around them gave them a wide berth, as though sensing the tension in the air. Nobody stops to stare at Daisuke, an obvious stranger among all the students in uniform. Maybe they're uncomfortable around Ken, which is an interesting revelation.
"Can we go somewhere to talk?" Daisuke says. He's rehearsed this part in his head a hundred times in the past hour. He just hasn't figured out what he's going to do once they're safely out of hearing range from the other students.
Ken shrugs, and the calm, ordinary schoolboy mask comes back on so fast that Daisuke's taken aback.
"Sure," Ken says, and actually smiles.
It's a normal, small smile, not exactly warm and friendly but it's not a cruel smile either. It's creepy.
They walk for a distance in complete silence. Daisuke spends most of it fighting back a desire to jump on Ken and hit him, but then he shakes himself back to reality and attempts to think of what to say. Damnit, he's never been good with words.
"Daisuke-kun," Ken suddenly says, like it's perfectly normal for him to be addressing Daisuke by his first name, and Daisuke nearly jumps. "You came all the way here... Is there anything wrong?"
Daisuke's eyes narrow. "... Fuck you."
He's never been good with words after all.
Ken actually laughs humourlessly, and there's a hint of the Kaiser in his cold laugh that makes Daisuke even angrier.
"Mind your language, Daisuke-kun," Ken says, like an adult chastising a disobedient child. "You wouldn't want anyone to overhear us here."
"Fuck you," Daisuke says again, because he's so annoyed by how Ken's clearly manipulating the entire situation even if Daisuke's the one who confronted him in the first place. "Look, you... Why are you doing this?"
It's not exactly what Daisuke wanted to say, but it'll do.
"Why? Why am I doing this, you ask?" Ken stretches languidly, his body language making it obvious that he doesn't care one bit for their conversation. "Well... Why not?"
Daisuke growls. "I'm going to hit you."
Ken cocks his head to one side, observing him almost curiously. "Go ahead."
Daisuke hits him.
If Daisuke thought Ken was fast on the soccer field, he's unbelievably even quicker when it comes to physical fighting. Before he's even aware of what's happening, he finds himself flat on his back, blinking stupidly up at Ken. He registers the pain one second later, a sharp ache running all along his back and shoulders.
"Ow," he says furiously. "That wasn't fair."
"You hit me, I reacted. What wasn't fair about it?"
Daisuke sits up. "Shut the hell up. You... Huh."
Daisuke stares at the pale hand outstretched before him, offering to help him up. He must have taken too long to think of how to respond, because he hears Ken sigh dramatically.
"Come on, Daisuke-kun. Get up, I don't have all day."
Daisuke roughly grabs hold of Ken's proffered hand and hauls himself up. He's messing with your head, Daisuke tells himself firmly, and fights back another urge to hit Ken again. Ken's looking at him with that small smile again, and Daisuke scowls.
"Do you have anything else to say to me?" Ken says smoothly. "Because I have more important matters to attend to right now, like the construction of more Dark Towers."
Daisuke's fist clenches. "I'm going to defeat you, Ichijouji Ken."
"Sure," Ken says, giving Daisuke a little jaunty parting wave. "I'll see you around, Daisuke-kun."
Daisuke stares at the strange, pink glowing design on the black object. It's a Crest, Daisuke realises. Overhead, he hears Takeru saying that there shouldn't be any more Crests left to claim.
And then Daisuke hears a voice. It's not exactly a voice, if Daisuke wanted to be specific about it; it's more of a feeling, a warm and gentle feeling that surrounds him with energy and just a little sadness and longing. Suddenly he thinks of Ken, but not Ken as the Digimon Kaiser, but an ordinary, normal Ken, with kind eyes and a genuine, open smile.
"You want to go back to him," Daisuke murmurs, quietly enough that V-mon doesn't hear him.
Daisuke picks up the object, and with a glow of energy, it transforms into a shining, golden Digimental.
Daisuke wonders if he isn't starting to develop a habit of skipping school to go all the way to Tamachi to wait outside Ken's school for him, but here he is again, trying to be as discreet as possible. Chibimon doesn't know of course; he's safe in Daisuke's bedroom, still sleeping off their exhausting fight against Chimeramon.
Ken is walking alone again, but this time he no longer has that confident, self-assured gait he used to have. Daisuke notices that the other students are still staying away from him. He wonders about that, but pushes the thought away. Ken is startled by Daisuke's appearance, and Daisuke runs up to him just in case Ken gets the wrong idea and runs away.
"Hey," Daisuke says again. "Let's walk together?"
Ken looks away, but at least he's not bolting off in the opposite direction. People are starting to stare at them. Daisuke boldly darts forward and grabs Ken's hand; Ken actually yelps at the sudden physical contact. He attempts to pull away, but Daisuke's grip is strong and unrelenting.
"Let's go get ice cream, my treat," Daisuke says, his eyes flashing michievously.
"Motomiya-kun, please..." Ken's looking everywhere but at Daisuke, still trying to free himself from Daisuke's grip.
"Ice cream, then," Daisuke decides. "What flavour do you want? I'm getting chocolate. Come on, I don't know where the good stores are in Tamachi and you need to give me directions."
Daisuke drags Ken all the way down the road. It's a long time before he realises that they must look quite odd, because Daisuke's still holding Ken firmly by the wrist. At least Ken's stopped struggling, or it would look like he's trying to kidnap him or something.
"... Can you please let go of my hand?" Ken's voice is so soft that it throws Daisuke off guard. Daisuke's never heard him speak this quietly before.
"No," Daisuke says brightly. Hikari-chan will probably call him tactless, but Daisuke prefers to think of it as being direct. He doesn't see any point in mincing his words.
"Promise that you won't run away if I do," Daisuke warns him lightly.
Ken continues to study his feet, not looking up at Daisuke at all. "... Okay."
Daisuke releases him. For a brief moment Ken looks as though he's going to break his promise and run off after all, but he stays put.
"What do you want from me?" Ken finally looks Daisuke in the eye, and Daisuke's shocked, because Ken looks so afraid and vulnerable and tired.
"Ice cream," Daisuke pronounces gleefully. "I want to buy you ice cream."
If Ken thinks Daisuke is certifiably insane, he doesn't point it out. Daisuke ends up finding a random convenience store and getting them each an ice cream cone. Ken remains quiet the entire time as Daisuke babbles on about the time Jun went nuts at him just because Daisuke ate the entire tub of her favourite ice cream and honestly, that girl is so annoying and stupid and older siblings can be so sucky sometimes-
Ken suddenly goes very still.
Tactless, Daisuke hears Hikari-chan's voice say again in his head. The Hikari-chan in his head shakes her head disapprovingly at him, and Daisuke mentally kicks himself.
"I'm sorry," Daisuke whispers. They know about Osamu; Koushiro had done a little investigating on the then-Digimon Kaiser, pulling up news archives from a couple of years back. "Always good to know your enemy," he'd said.
Ken shakes his head. "It's okay," he says.
Daisuke knows that Ken is just putting on a front, but this time he wisely leaves it at that. He doesn't want to put his foot into his mouth any more times than strictly necessary today.
They finish off their ice creams in relative silence, and Daisuke stubbornly walks Ken home, much to the latter's protests.
"Let's be friends, hey?" Daisuke says. He winks, not waiting for a reply then because he's honestly not expecting one anyway, he turns to leave. Daisuke thinks that all in all, it's been a pretty good evening.
When the other Chosen Children hesitate to include Ken in rebuilding the Digital World, it doesn't make any sense to Daisuke at all. After all, Ken's a Chosen Child like the rest of them. Daisuke doesn't see anything wrong in trusting him, even. It's not blind trust, he argues when Miyako and Iori refuse to see his point. Takeru keeps his comments to himself, and Hikari just looks at the rest of them with a sad little expression on her face.
Hikari pulls Daisuke aside later. Miyako and Iori have gone on ahead, and Takeru's hanging a little way back, probably waiting for Hikari.
"You're a good person, Daisuke," Hikari tells him quietly. She doesn't elaborate, but something tells Daisuke that he's made the right choice.
This Jogress Evolution thing... Whatever it is, it's scarily intimate. Daisuke hears Ken's heart beating along his own, feels the twist and turmoil of Ken's thoughts and fears, and Daisuke wants nothing more than to reach out that little distance between them and just hold Ken, because it's stupid that Ken feels so horrible and Daisuke wants to kick him out of it. But the battle rages on overhead, and Daisuke's pulled back to reality when he feels an explosion of energy within him. It's the same kind of feeling he gets when V-mon evolves, only a hundred times more powerful.
Paildramon is the coolest thing ever, Daisuke decides. He shouts out words of encouragement, not even sure if Paildramon can hear him over the deafening roar of the battle, but he continues yelling anyway because he's so happy and proud and damn if he doesn't have the Digital World's most amazing Digimon partner.
"That's our partner, Ken!" Daisuke yells at him over all the noise. He's sure that he has the stupidest grin plastered all over his face, but he doesn't care. "Look at him, that's our partners right there!"
Ken doesn't respond. He looks more than a little stunned by it all.
"The Crest!" Paildramon pauses long enough to remind them.
"Oh... right," they both say simultaneously, exchanging glances. In that moment, it feels like they've come to a complete understanding of each other.
They take off together, running side by side, their paces matching each other's perfectly even as they vault over the pile of debris blocking the entrance into the Base.
Daisuke tosses and turns in his bed for an hour, unable to sleep, before finally giving up and stalking over to his desk. He picks up his D-Terminal and types out a quick mail to Ken.
"I'm sorry I hit you."
He doesn't expect a reply until the next morning, but minutes after he hits the send button, the little computer beeps.
Daisuke grins and falls back into bed with his D-Terminal. Chicomon shifts a little in his sleep, dreamily muttering something that sounds like Desperado Blaster, and Daisuke's lips twitches in a fond smile. He turns over so the light from the D-Terminal's screen won't wake Chicomon up.
"I'm going to hit you again if you keep that up."
Ken takes longer to reply this time.
"I'm sorry for everything."
Daisuke rolls his eyes.
"Stop apologising. You're an idiot, you know that?"
This time Ken doesn't reply at all.
Ken never addresses Daisuke by his first name. He's still painfully polite with the other Chosen Children, tacking on a '-san' when talking to them. But at least he uses their first names, unlike with Daisuke. It's always Motomiya-kun, Motomiya-kun.
So Daisuke follows his lead and calls him by his family name, too.
But sometimes, on rare occasions, Ken slips and just calls him Daisuke.
He and Ken make a good team, Daisuke thinks proudly to himself. He wonders if they'll be as good a team as Taichi and Yamato clearly are, but no, Daisuke decides that he and Ken will be even better than them. They've got each other's backs, they have V-mon and Wormmon and Paildramon, nothing's going to be able to pull them down, ever.
He hopes that Ken thinks the same way. That they work well together.
Ken isn't with them all the time, as he lives farther away, but Daisuke's so accustomed to Ken's constant presence next to him in the Digital World that he actually goes and yells for XV-mon to Jogress even when Ken and Stingmon are clearly absent. Daisuke feels a brief moment of stupidity, but it makes him realise that more than anything else, Ken is his partner, kinda like how Stingmon is XV-mon's Jogress partner.
"Give it here, you're doing it wrong."
"Oh come off it, I'll show you how to-"
They end up in a tangle of limbs all over the Motomiya's living room floor. Daisuke growls as he tries to steal the game controller away from Ken, but Ken holds it just out of his reach. Takeru ignores them, and effortlessly kills off Ken's character while Ken is busy attempting to fend off Daisuke's attempts to knee him in the sides.
"Game over," the screen announces.
"I hate you both," Daisuke tells Ken and Takeru. Ken throws the controller at him.
Takeru sniggers, incorrigible as always. "Up for a round two? I think there's still time before we have to meet up with the others."
"He's a good friend," Daisuke tells Taichi honestly. He doesn't know why it feels so strange actually saying it aloud, but it's the truth. "I have to go to him."
Hikari understands. She always understands. Taichi gives him a funny look, then relents. "Be careful, Daisuke."
Of course he would put Ken above meeting up with the rest of the Chosen Children, Daisuke thinks, as he mentally urges Lighdramon on faster. There's no time to waste sitting around and planning; the others can just fill Daisuke in later. Because Ken's his partner, and you don't abandon partners.
When they defeat BelialVamdemon, the first thing Daisuke does is to run right at V-mon and envelop him in a tight hug. The second thing he does is to run to Ken and hug him, too.
"Daisuke," V-mon complains, voice muffled by Daisuke's shirt, "You're squishing me."
"Oops sorry, V-mon," Daisuke says, moving a little to allow V-mon to wriggle free. He grins stupidly at Ken, and Ken smiles back at him.
Nearly ten seconds later, Daisuke realises that he still has his hands wrapped around the back of Ken's neck. Daisuke doesn't know exactly when this all started, but somehow physical contact between them feels so normal. It's suddenly awkward, and Motomiya Daisuke is not used to feeling socially awkward at all. Ken seems to realise it the exact moment Daisuke does, because suddenly he's blushing. Daisuke jerks his arms back like he's been burned, stepping back and forcing his arms to hang by his sides as naturally as possible.
If the other Chosen Children (and V-mon and Wormmon) notice their little moment, they don't say anything, and Daisuke is extremely grateful that he's the only tactless one around here.
"Daisuke, Daisuke~" Miyako singsongs as she almost literally pounces on him the moment he enters the computer room. The last bell rang minutes ago, and it's purely out of habit that they still gather at the computer room to chat before going home together. With BelialVamdemon defeated (for good, hopefully) there's hasn't been anything to worry about.
"What is it now?" Daisuke asks, annoyed. "If this is about the sausage rolls yesterday, no I did not eat your share of the rolls." Out of the corner of his eyes he can see Takeru looking highly amused and Hikari next to him, torn between amusement and expaseration. Iori is pointedly occupying himself with arranging his books around in his schoolbag, but Daisuke can tell that Iori's listening too.
"Are you and Ken together?" Miyako asks, suddenly all brisk and businesslike.
Daisuke drops his books. He wonders if he's blushing, because he can suddenly feel a strange warms erupt across his cheeks. "MIYAKO!"
"So is that a yes? Or a no?" Miyako pries. The girl doesn't know when to give up.
"No, of course not," Daisuke snaps, bending down to gather up his books. "Go away, Miyako."
"Hah, I told you!" Miyako crowed. "Pay up, Takeru!"
Daisuke straightens up just in time to see a slightly disgruntled Takeru handing over a handful of yen to Miyako. Daisuke doesn't know what to make of this, so he settles for yelling the first words that come to his mind.
"Are you guys betting on the state of my non-relationship with... with-"
"I told you," Miyako quite calmly explains to the group at large, over Daisuke's indignant shriek. "I'm an expert on this, you see. If they weren't actually together already they wouldn't be looking at each other like this -" here Miyako puts on a very sappy, forlorn, kicked-puppy look on her face "- every time they met."
"Oh damn," Takeru says thoughtfully. "I'd just thought that those looks meant they were the romantic type."
"Takeru," Hikari admonishes him, although there's a wide grin on her face. "Stop teasing him, you two."
"I've had enough of you lot," Daisuke says, scrubbing at his face as though it will help get the red off his cheeks. He's still not entirely sure what to think about this, and he certainly does not look at Ken that way, thank you very much. He dumps the rest of his books into his bag, and slings his bag over his shoulder. "I'm going home."
"You'd better tell him or we'll do it for you!" Miyako calls, as Daisuke slams the door shut on their laughter.
"This," Daisuke pants as they ran through the forest undergrowth, their Digimon close behind them, "is all your fault!"
"I don't see how this is my fault when you were the one who wanted to explore that tunnel in the first place!" Ken somehow manages to scowl at him even as he's pushing a low-hanging branch out of his way.
"But you were the one who-"
"This way!" V-mon interrupts, suddenly darting off to the side. "I see sunlight, if we can just get clear of the trees-"
They burst out into a little clearing moments later, blinking in the sudden sunlight. Behind them, the herd of Numemon chasing them gave one last shrill cry and shrank away back into the shadows. Daisuke laughs shakily, his legs giving way and he flops down onto the grass. Ken sinks down next to him, and for a long time they just sit there, breathless and laughing from their little adventure.
"Lesson learned," Daisuke says, when he finally manages to stop laughing, "Never explore dark places in the Digital World."
"But you'll still do it again the next time," Ken points out.
"True," Daisuke agreed. "And you'll still come along with me anyway."
They fall into an amiable silence, just sitting there and watching V-mon and Wormmon tumble over each other in an energetic, noisy game of wrestle. Daisuke's never given it much thought, but suddenly he realises that V-mon and Wormmon really are great pals; V-mon doesn't act like this around any of the other Digimon.
And then Daisuke is suddenly very acutely aware of how close Ken is sitting next to him. Their shoulders are pressed together warmly, hands splayed on the ground just inches apart. The physical contact doesn't feel strange at all, and Daisuke wonders when they've become so comfortable with each other.
They see each other a lot, too. They're always going over to each other's houses for dinner and to play video games or study or just to hang out, which always inevitably ends up in the visiting boy sleeping over. Sometimes the other Children join them too, but most of the time it's just the two of them.
Daisuke then decides that thinking is really too much of a bother, and turns to Ken. Ken's still watching their Digimon partners play, a soft smile playing on his lips. Daisuke grins and lets out a war cry, and seconds later, he has Ken lying on his back, Daisuke's hands on either side of his shoulders to trap him down. Ken blinks up at him, confused but still smiling.
"Idiot," Daisuke says, but he's not entirely sure if he's addressing Ken or talking to himself. Then he leans down and kisses him.