Ep.4. From a drain to a gutter

"Dai? Is something wrong?" Jun asked when the Motomiya siblings sat at the breakfast table. They might get along almost never, but that didn't mean they didn't care for each other very much.

"'M fine," the maroon-haired boy murmured, doubting his sister would buy it. He had dark rings under his eyes and felt like he would throw up any minute. It made no sense, considering he had been fine last night and the day before that.

Well, technically he wasn't completely fine, but it still was no biggie. A headache here, a trembling hand there. Maybe he was coming down with something?

At school, Daisuke snoozed through the morning lessons, gaining detention and extra work as punishment like always. His friends (including Yolei who was in science with the other four, as their classes combined for Science, Health Ed. and PE) shared concerned looks. At break they gathered in the computer room to talk about it.

"Guys, I'm really worried about Daisuke. He's behaving more and more strangely these days," Kari said.

"Maybe he's just having an off-week? Everyone does sometimes," TK remarked, trying to remain positive.

"I somehow doubt it. It's got to be more than that," Ken stated with his brows furrowed. He knew Daisuke just as well, if not better, than Tai. They had been best friends pretty much since the moment Daisuke asked him to join the team many months ago, even if Ken hadn't thought himself worthy of anything at the time.

"Maybe it has to do with those other DigiDestineds? The ones he went to see in Shinjuku?" Yolei suggested. No-one noticed that the door had been left open a crack, not even Wormmon who was on the floor in front of it.

"I bet it's to do with Chuchidarumon," Patamon said, flying up and landing on top of TK's head. DemiVeemon and Upamon were asleep on the floor, passed out after playing the whole morning from the moment they were let into the room. Poromon jumped onto a chair and flew slightly clumsily from there to Yolei, who caught hold of him. Gatomon was curled up at her favourite spot on the windowsill, her eyes closed and pretending that she wasn't listening on every word.

"You're probably right. I have this bad feeling that when Daisuke last saw him, something really horrible was going on and it's still hurting him," Kari said.

"We should go find those friends of his from Shinjuku and ask them," TK suggested, coming up with nothing better.

"NO way will I let you do that!" someone yelled angrily, and everyone turned to see Daisuke slam open the door with his eyes practically burning in anger. Shell-shocked, they only stared.

Daisuke clenched his right fist, let go of the door, stood up straight, and glared at everyone. "How dare you follow me, spy on me, like I'm some kind of criminal suspect?"

"Daisuke, we didn't mean–" Kari began, but got cut off.

"No, of course you didn't. You never mean to harm me, yet you do it anyway. From the day I became a DigiDestined, it's been nothing but unintentional suffering for me. So maybe I should just quit," Daisuke said, marching past everyone to pick up DemiVeemon (who, thankfully, was still snoring). Shooting an unusually angry look at the navy-haired boy, he hissed: "I expected at least you to be different from them, Ken."

With that, the goggle-head marched out slamming the door shut with a bang.

Nobody spoke for a moment. Eventually, TK broke the silence, mumbling in a dejected tone: "We should get to class..." The others just nodded.

For the rest of the day, Daisuke pointedly ignored them. Iori looked back and forth between his friends at lunch, confused and unhappy with the tense atmosphere. He suspected Daisuke had found out about being spied on and that's why he wasn't sitting at their usual table. But the 9-year-old was wise for his age, and so he kept quiet waiting for his friends to explain in their own time.

The Child of Miracles, meanwhile, was having a "fun" trip on the guilt train. I overreacted. It's no big deal that they followed me. Heck, if it had been someone else, I might've done the same thing out of curiosity. It was wrong to yell at them like that. And Ken... My best friend looked like I'd kicked him in the gut with that stupid stupid comment. How the hell can I make it up to them? These were the thoughts plaguing the junior leader's mind for the rest of the day.

He wasn't a bitter person. It just wasn't in his nature. But he couldn't help having insane bursts of anger sometimes. But it made no sense why he would have one today, when he hadn't lost his head even when MaloMyotismon destroyed Arukenimon and Mummymon, his own servants, for selfish purposes. This was making his headache into a full-blown migraine!

"He really said all that?" Tai asked, disbelieving. He and the other older DigiDestineds, including Joe who had had an early day, were in the computer lab with the juniors as usual.

"I don't blame him..." Matt murmured, glancing at the door. Despite pretty much arguing with the kid from the moment they met, he had grown to accept him and even like him in a sort of brotherly way. He was his kohai as much as Tai's, after all.

Tai crossed his arms and looked at the younger DigiDestineds, even Iori, with a stern expression. "Okay, what gives? What did he mean by suffering over the past year?" he demanded.

"We're not sure," Kari told her brother honestly. "I can't remember anything we could have done to upset him."

"Think harder," Izzy prompted. "Sometimes the friendliest gestures can come across as unfriendly."

There was a silence. Eventually, it was broken by Gatomon. "I think... it's because no-one truly respects him."

Everybody else gasped, shocked for the second time that day. "What do you mean, Gatomon?" Sora asked. They all, even the Digimon, looked confused but guilty.

"Think about it. Tai chose Daisuke as the leader for Hawkmon, Armadillomon, Yolei and Iori, who were soon enough joined by me, Kari, TK and Patamon, and then later by Ken and Wormmon. But I have noticed that whenever he makes a plan for us, we rarely go with it and instead do whatever TK thinks we should do. The only ones who completely count on Daisuke's judgment are Ken, DemiVeemon and Wormmon."

The DigiDestineds, In-Trainings and two Rookies looked down at what the feline had told them. It was true. No-one ever had asked Daisuke what they should do the way the 'original' team had done with Tai sometimes during their trip almost five years ago. The junior team especially felt guilty. No wonder Daisuke had been so mad at them!

"I guess there's just one thing for it. We have to apologize, all of us," Tai said at last. "Us older DigiDestineds should have noticed something was wrong, or you kids could have told us. It's our fault too." The Bearer of Courage felt like he had lost a million soccer games and then some. Daisuke was practically a little brother to him, for Pete's sake! He should have seen that something was bothering him!

"Well, no point putting it off," Matt said, and Tsunomon jumped into his arms from where he had been on a desk with the other Digimon. Everyone picked up their partners and headed out.

"I have to apologize to them," Daisuke muttered to DemiVeemon. He was sitting under a tree at the school yard, having spent a little under half an hour going over and over what he had said. DemiVeemon had listened and understood at once.

"Go ahead. They can't shtay mad at ya," the In-Training encouraged.

So Daisuke slung his backpack over his shoulder, picked up his Digimon partner, and started walking towards school. But his breathing was laboured like it had been almost right after his outburst.

"Dai? You shure you're OK?" DemiVeemon asked, concerned. He knew his partner was now definitely ill, but it was no use arguing with Daisuke. He had asked half a dozen times if the goggle-head was feeling all right, but the stubborn boy refused to admit that he wasn't well.

"'M fine," Dai murmured, even though his vision was starting to swim and he felt nauseous. He was tired from lack of sleep, as he had had the nightmare again and again whenever he fell asleep in class that day.

The others came out of school at that moment. Tai summoned up a grin and waved, calling out: "Hey, Dai!"

The goggle-head turned his head a bit, but he only saw blurs. Sweat beads were forming on his forehead and he felt like his head was going to explode from all the pounding.

"DAISUKE!" everyone screamed, rushing to the boy at once when he just collapsed on the spot.

To be continued...

Tee-hee. I dunno why, but it's sometimes fun to torture my favourite characters a little.

The things Daisuke referred to were just what was explained, as Tai never clarified WHY he chose him to be the next leader. For all we know it was just coz of his Digimental. Plus, in the ep. where Veemon digivolved, the others didn't help Daisuke and Veemon when they needed it. What kind of friends do that?

Am I being random, just making Dai ill like that? If so, I'll edit the previous chappies to show the sings from the beginning. His illness has no big reason, actually. It's mostly stress. And some more stress.

By the way, my computer's fixed, but updates still will be REALLY irregular. And I'm clueless on where this story's going. All I know is I'm gonna put in a bit of drama and an old enemy showing up sooner or later. And of course, lets not forget the infamous Legendary Tamer. I'm gonna mess him up just as badly as Daisuke/Takato, if not worse. *smirks evilly*

Sorry for the late update, and the shortness of this episode/chapter. My computer's fixed though, so I'll update whenever I can. Hopefully once every two months.