Chapter 14

Kali Notes:  Thanks for the comments and reviews, folks!  Oh, and in case you get lost in translation, “BelialVamdemon” is “MaloMyotismon.”  I’m trying to use mostly original names from now on.


Chapter 14

            “He’s out cold.”  Takeru announced after a quick check when his older brother went dead limp between himself and Hikari.

            “I don’t blame him.”  Hikari sighed, pushing herself up to a sitting position once more.  Her hand continued to rest on Matt’s shoulder, as if she was wary of not touching him so soon after his battle with the Dark.  “I’m pretty wiped out, too.”

            Sora nodded and wiped at her eyes.  “Help me get him to his room, Takeru.  We’ll let him rest for a while, then I’ll have a little chat with him.”

            The younger teens winced at the hard tone in Sora’s voice.  No doubt Matt was in for it when he woke up.

            Takeru and Sora hauled Matt to his room, leaving him on the bed under a blanket to sleep off the after-effects.

            Returning to the living room, Takeru raided his brother’s fridge and brought the girls each a soda.  Hikari accepted hers gratefully.  “Thanks, Takeru.  This’ll go a long way to fixing me up.”

            He grinned and plopped down next to her, popping his own can open.  “Sugar is always good for that.”

            “And caffeine.”  Added Sora.

            “Well, Sora,” Hikari began, watching the young woman closely as she spoke.  “I have a fairly good idea what’s happened to Matt, but I don’t understand what led to this.  I think you probably do.  Care to share?”

            “Actually…I don’t know specifics either.”  Sora sighed and shrugged apologetically.

            “If you’re trying to protect that mule-headed brother of mine, you can stop.”  Takeru ran a hand through his hair.  “We all know about him and Taichi.”

            Sora blinked.  “Be specific, Takeru.  What exactly do you ‘know’ about them?”

            He exchanged a look with Hikari.  “They’re together.”  The youngest Chosen chorused.  “They’re in love.”

            “Ah.  Well, you’re half right, as far as I know.  I‘m not positive on Taichi’s feelings for Matt, but I know Matt loves Taichi.”  Sora asserted.  She explained what she knew to them, knowing that Matt would probably freak out on her when he found out she’d spilled it to his brother and Hikari, but she didn’t care.  They deserved an explanation, especially now after this incident.

            Hikari was frowning deeply at the end of Sora’s explanation.  “But…I haven’t heard Taichi mention that kind of interest in anyone, and he doesn’t act as he does around Matt with anyone else.  I would know something like that!”  She insisted.  “Taichi tells me everything!  Even when I don’t want to hear it!”

            “I honestly thought they’d been together all this time.”  Takeru smiled ruefully.  “For months now!  But if they aren’t, and Matt really hasn’t said anything to Taichi, then I guess it makes sense why he’s been so down and gloomy lately.”

            “Yes, but I don’t understand how that led to him becoming so depressed that he allowed his guard to drop and the Dark to begin to turn him toward his negative aspect.”  Hikari’s frown deepened even more in concern, and she glanced in the direction of the hall.  “I know what my own is like, but I never want a repeat of his Enmity.”

            “Before you two got here, I managed to pry out of him the info that something happened the night before Taichi left – or maybe that morning.”  Pink stained Takeru’s cheeks.  “Um…something he said was ‘ too personal’ to tell me.”

            Hikari looked a bit confused for a moment, then turned very pink herself.  “Oh!”  She managed.

            “Yeah.  Didn’t exactly push for details at that point.”

            Sora wasn’t exactly blush free, either, but managed to remain calm, cool, and collected.  “You may no, but I will.  I’ll get the whole story out of him, right after I smack him stupid for scaring the crap out of us!”

            “I suppose we should let everyone know that it’s all okay now.  I could feel everyone and their worry earlier when we were trying to help Matt.”  Hikari said.  “Takeru, would you get my bag?  I left it at the door with my D-Terminal.”

            “Sure, sweetness.”  Happy to obey, Takeru got up and went to get it.


            Oh god, what a headache!

            I forced open my eyes and looked blearily around the room.  How did I end up in my room, and why the hell was my skull threatening to implode?  I shoved the blanket covering me off and weakly pushed myself upright to sit on the edge of my bed.  I wracked my poor, aching brain for memories, and felt pretty damned nauseous when it all hit me.

            Oh.  Right.  Once again, I fail at life in general.

            Was I truly this pathetic?  I stared down at my hands and saw how badly I was shaking – from fear, or exhaustion, or a delayed reaction of shock (or some ridiculous combination), I don’t know.  But I was ashamed of myself, humiliated that I’d let myself succumb.

            A knock at the door made me freeze then frantically start searching for a place to hide.  But, it was much too late for that.  The door opened and Sora came in, carrying a tray laden with a bowl of soup, tea, and some plain rice balls.  She set it down on my desk and returned to the door, all without saying a word – half to my relief, and half to my trepidation.  When she gets mad, truly mad, she gets quiet.

            I thought she’d just come in to deliver the food and now she would leave again, but of course I’m not that lucky.  Sora shut the door with a distinct, foreboding ‘click’ then turned sharply and let me have it with the full force of her glare, hands planting themselves ominously on her hips.

            “You stupid, insensitive, moronic son of a bitch!  What were you thinking?!  No wait, you weren’t thinking, which is how you ended up like this.  I’m not even going to waste my energy telling you how much of an idiot you are or asking you if you realize just how badly you scared us today.”

            And I thought I had a scary glare.  Sora wins that one, no contest.

            I winced and drew my knees up to my chest, hugging my legs defensively.  “I can apologize all day, if you want, but it’ll never be enough.”  I said quietly, hanging my head in defeat.  “And if it’ll help you to tell me exactly how much of a bastard I am then go ahead.  I won’t stop you, and I won’t deny any of it.”

            I hadn’t intended it, but my words took all the wind right out of her sails.  She let out a deep, frustrated noise on a huff and joined me on the edge of my bed, draping an arm around my shoulders.

            “No.”  Sora shook her head after a moment.  “I think you’ll beat yourself up enough over this.  How are you doing otherwise, Matt?”  She asked worriedly, rubbing my shoulder and upper back with the heel of her hand.  “Any lingering shadows I should know about?”

            Tired of everything, I leaned against her.  “No.  Not the sort you’re thinking of, anyway.”  I reached up and caught her hand, holding it to my shoulder.  “I am sorry, Sora.  For all those things I was saying to you.  None of it was true.”

            “I know, Yamato.  Hikari and Takeru know, too.  We forgave you the instant you said what you did, you know.”  Sora squeezed my shoulder.  I closed my eyes against the pain and shame.  “Hey.  Look at me…”

            I turned my head reluctantly to meet her gaze, and found only love and forgiveness there.  “It’s alright, Matt.  We know something triggered all of this, and we want to help you.  Because we’re still your friends and we love you.”

            Somehow, despite the fact that I would probably never forgive myself, I managed to give her a small, fragile smile.  “I know.  I may have had a momentary lapse of memory, but…” I had to stop and swallow back my emotions.  “I love you all, too.”

            Sora smiled brilliantly and gave me a light kiss on the cheek, then pressed one that lingered a bit longer to my temple.  “I brought you something to eat.  I figured you’d be hungry, and maybe a hot bath would go a long way to making you feel better.”

            “Probably.”  I kind of had to agree on that score.  Messing with the Dark always left me feeling dirty.  Tainted.  “What time is it, anyway?”  I looked over to my alarm clock, sitting on the top shelf of the hutch over my desk – where I also spotted my laptop, D-Terminal, and Digivice.  An idea began to form.

            “You didn’t sleep all that long, really.”  Sora informed me.  “It’s still early evening, and Takeru and Hikari are still here.”  She patted my knee fondly.  “Most of the others have stopped by to check on you for themselves, though.”

            I paled.  Of course they would.  I remembered they’d been with me for a brief moment, and of course they’d wonder what was going on with me.  My expression must have tipped Sora off because she rushed to reassure me.

            “We didn’t tell them much, Matt.  I promise.”  She knelt on the floor in front of me and clasped my hands in her own.  “All we said was you’d been depressed about something, and it was enough to cause a minor skirmish with the Dark but you were fine now.  Just tired.  Joe even looked you over and confirmed it.”

            I blew out a breath of relief so strong it made me dizzy.  “Whoa.”  I put my head between my knees and fought off the spinning world and nausea.

            “Easy, Matt.”  Sora brushed the hair out of my face.  “You need to eat.  As soon as you get your bearings back.”

            The dizzy spell passed and I meekly obeyed Sora’s mothering advice to eat.  She watched me in silence, like a hawk, making sure I ate every bit of what she’d brought I suppose.  I wasn’t sure I could handle that last rice ball, though.

            “I’m done.”  I stated, groaning at the full state of my stomach.

            “Okay.”  Sora seemed happy with what I did consume and didn’t push me to finish off that rice ball.  However, I wasn’t off the hook quite yet.  There was a glint in her eyes that told me I was about to be made to bare my soul.

            “Alright.”  I heaved a resigned sigh.  “What is it?”

            “What happened, Matt?”  She asked, her voice soft with concern.  She didn’t have to clarify, either, because I knew what she wanted to know.

            So…I told her.  All of it.  Minus the down-and-dirty details, of course.  I tried to prevaricate at first, but she wore me down.  I said “intimate” to describe the encounter, and she raised an eyebrow and countered, “Sex?”  I said, “Not exactly,” and she guessed “No intercourse, then, but orgasm.”

            At this I could only nod and sit there red-faced.  She was a bit pink around the edges, too, but it didn’t seem to phase her as much as one would expect.

            “Kissing?”  She also asked.  I felt the blood drain right out of my head at that one.

            “No.  Thank god.”  I shivered, suddenly chilled and hugged myself.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to kiss Taichi (boy, did I!) it’s just that if I had kissed him then, I’d have that memory, too.  You see, a hand job is just a hand job, and sex is just sex if there’s no kissing involved.  Kissing turns sex into ‘making love.’  In other words, it adds something personal to the act.

            For me, anyway.  It might be different to other people, but to me kissing meant much more.  It was hard enough as it was to deal with what had happened, but if there’d been kissing?  I was fairly certain I wouldn’t have just been depressed – I’d have been suicidal, believing it was all unintentional and meant nothing as I already did.

            Sora gave me an odd look, and I just shrugged.  If she didn’t get it then I wasn’t going to explain it to her.

            “Okay.  So why did this send you into a tailspin of such deep emotional trauma that you forgot who you are?”

            I flinched, even though I deserved that.  And I had to try to explain it, even if I wasn’t sure I could.

            “I was asleep enough that I didn’t realize I wasn’t only dreaming, and when I did realize it, it was too late to stop anything.  Um, after…  I figured the best way to avoid any negative reactions was to pretend I was still asleep and if he did bring it up then we could pass it off as an unexpected, but no less normal, guy thing and move on.”  I gave a bitter laugh and refused to look at Sora.  “You don’t have to tell me that was a stupid idea, because I know it.  He totally called me on it, too.  Later, at breakfast, just before he had to leave.”

            “And?”  She was frowning, a slightly confused expression on her face, when I risked a quick glance at her.

            “He said he didn’t mean it.”  I snapped, gripping the edges of my desk chair so hard my knuckles went white.  “I’d have been fine if he’d left me with the illusion that it could have meant something, but he didn’t.”

            Stricken, Sora reached for my hands.  “Oh, Matt…”

            “Don’t.”  I jerked away.  “I don’t want your pity.”  I didn’t want her comfort or to be pitied.  “I’ll get over it, Sora.  Earlier…this last week was because he just said it then left, and there was no chance for us to talk.  I was in shock.”  I stood up and went over to the balcony doors of my room, opening the glass doors to let fresh air in.  Everything was weighting on me so heavily that the very air was stifling me, crushing me.  “Even if we talked now, it wouldn’t matter because the result is the same.  I just need some time now that I’ve been knocked out of my shocked state.”

            I heard her behind me, picking up the tray.  “I don’t want or mean to pity you, Matt.  I just want to help.  It hurts me – all of us – to see you hurting and not letting us close enough to help you somehow.”  Her footsteps fell softly on the floorboards toward the door.  She paused, then said, “You and Taichi are our foundation, Yamato.  Without either of you we fall to pieces.  But you forget that without us, you fall apart and flounder like Whamon out of water.  No matter what, Matt, we’re here for you to lean on, to listen, to assist, or to kick your thick-headed ass if you need us to.”

            With that parting shot, she left me alone.

            I leaned heavily against the balcony doorframe, every part of me aching.  I could barely stand myself right now.  I needed to get out of here, escape, for a while until I got a grip on myself.

            First thing first, though.  My sketchy idea was formulating into something more solid as I packed up my backpack with a couple extra changes of clothes, some snacks I had stashed in my desk drawer, and my harmonica.  Then I grabbed a clean set of clothes and went across the hall to take a shower.

            Once I was clean and refreshed (somewhat) I slipped down the hall to Taichi’s room to check and see if he’d taken his D-Terminal with him.  Digivice, yes, but his D-Terminal sat on his desk next to his laptop.  Good.  I picked it up and stuck it under his pillow.  He’d find it when I was ready for him to find it.  It was conceivable that he would follow me to the Digital World and track me down with his Digivice, but at least it would be much more difficult to do without his D-Terminal.  I didn’t think he would – since he wouldn’t know where I’d gone anyway.  The only person I was going to tell was Takeru, and he wouldn’t say anything if I asked him not to.  Hiding Taichi’s D-Terminal was a back-up plan meant to stall him.

            I went back to my room and added my own D-Terminal to my bag.  I opened my laptop and got it up and running, ready for my quick exit.

            But before I left, I had one last thing I needed to do…

            I went out to the living room and found my little brother and Hikari there, curled together on the sofa watching a movie on TV.  I shoved my hands deep into my jean pockets and hung my head as I padded into the room.

            Hikari glanced up at my movement and exclaimed, “Matt!  Oh, you look so much better now.  How do you feel?”

            I shrugged and kept my eyes on the floor.  “I’m okay now, Hikari.  Thanks to you two.  I…just wanted to say thank you and to say how sorry I am for all those nasty things I was saying to you.  Both of you.”

            She came up to me and hugged me hard, arms banding around my ribs tightly.  “Don’t be silly, Matt.  Just promise me you’ll be careful from now on, and you’re forgiven.”

            “I swear.”  I rasped thickly.  “You know I love you, right?  Like my very own little sister.”

            Her smile was as bright as the Light she embodied.  “Good, because I love you, too.  I like having two big brothers.”  She teased.  I smiled faintly, and looked to Takeru, holding out an arm in invitation.  He smiled too, and joined us.  I had on of them under each arm, snuggled into my sides happily.

            After a moment, we split up and I inquired about Sora’s whereabouts.

            “Oh, she ran down to the store for some groceries.”  Takeru informed me.  “Snacks.”

            “Ah.”  Good to know.  No doubt she felt the need to get away from me for awhile.

            Hikari sat back down on the sofa.  “I hope you don’t mind, Matt, but we raided your fridge.”

            “Nope.  Help yourselves.”  I waved that off.  At least someone would enjoy all that food.  “I want some coffee.  Anybody else want some?”  I offered, looking directly at my brother when I asked.

            Hikari refused, as did Takeru (they’re not java junkies like I am), and I made a surreptitious gesture for him to join me in the kitchen for a moment.

            “I’ll get us sodas, Hikari.”  Takeru suggested, nodding at me and following me to the kitchen.  “What’s up, big brother?”  He asked lowly once there.  I went about making my coffee, getting out a thermos for it as I spoke.

            “I’m going to go spend a couple days in the Digital World.”  I said, measuring coffee grounds and dumping them in the filter.  “I need some time alone to get my head on straight.”

            Takeru looked surprised, and leaned against the counter, watching me.  “Are you sure that’s a good idea?  I mean, after what happened today?”

            Filling the coffee maker with water, I turned the machine on before I turned and looked the Child of Hope in the eye.  “I’m fine, Keru.  I wouldn’t go if I thought there was any risk.  And Gabumon will be with me.”  Well, he would be once I found him, anyway.

            Takeru sighed.  “Well, it’s not like I can stop you.  Just be careful and keep in touch, alright?”

            I nodded.  “I’m telling you, Takeru, but I don’t want any of the others to know.  If they did, they would follow me and try to ‘help.’  I know their intentions would be in the right place, but there’s nothing they can do.”  I gave him an earnest stare.  “And especially not Taichi.  I don’t care what he says to you, don’t tell him.  I need time away from him to be able to face him again, and if you tell him where I am he will come after me.”  I took hold of Takeru’s upper arms and stared into his eyes.  “Promise me, Takeru.”

            He swallowed and nodded, though he really didn’t look like he liked the idea of lying by omission to Taichi.  “Okay, but I agree under protest.”  He confirmed.  I released him and turned back to my coffee.

            “Thank you, Takeru.  If he gives you grief over it, tell him he can take it up with me when I come back.”  What was one more bone to pick, after all.  I poured my coffee into my thermos.

            “When are you going?”  Takeru asked, quietly.

            “Right now.”  I answered.  “I’ll go through my laptop in my room.  You can tell Hikari and Sora I went to work on some songs.”  I screwed the cap on the thermos and dumped the filter and grounds into the garbage, then rinsed out the pot.  Takeru grabbed soda from the fridge and followed me out of the kitchen.

            He paused in the living room, watching me head down the hall.  “Matt…” he began, hesitating.  I shook my head and waved, then went into my room, closing the door behind me.

            “Sorry, Keru.”  I said to the empty room, going over to grab my Digivice and backpack.  He would worry, but he’d get over it eventually.

            Opening the file (and entering my password to do so) that was the Digital Gate program developed by Izzy, Miyako, and Ken, I stared at my laptop screen while I waited, then held out my Digivice.  Times like this I was grateful we had the computer geniuses we did.

            After the final battle with BelialVamdemon, the Gate sealed by BlackWarGreymon opened again.  Izzy, Miyako, and Ken worked together with Gennai to figure out how it was that the D3s could open Gates anywhere, while our original Digivices could not, and then proceed to program that ability into them once they’d figured it out.  Izzy also made sure that our personal computers and laptops had a Gate program on them, like the one the younger kids had been using at the school early on.  It sped up the process of opening a Gate – otherwise we’d have to wait for one at random or try to find one through the internet.  And unless you were one of those three geniuses, then we didn’t have the computer skill or patience to open a Gate that way.

            What felt like mere seconds later, I was spit out of an old-fashioned TV screen somewhere on File Island.  Glancing back, I saw the Gate shut down and sighed in relief.  I got up and looked around, dusting myself off.

            It didn’t surprise me one bit that I felt very much like I was home.  A serenity and sense of tranquility washed over me and for the first time in ages, I smiled.

            The only thing I was missing was a certain wolf-like little Digimon partner of mine.

            Time to go find him.

            To start, I emailed Gennai, asking if he’d seen or spoken to Gabumon lately.  Then I started walking, putting distance between myself and my entrance point – in case any of my friends, smart as they are, figured out where I went and roped one of our geniuses into finding me that way.

            As I walked, I tried to make not of the progress of the rebuilding and repairing of this strange, beautiful world.  It had come such a long way since BelialVamdemon used his evil to spread destruction over both worlds.  Yet even here, on File Island where it all began, there were still signs of the damage, and evidence of the chaos.

            The forests (or jungle – sometimes it was hard to distinguish) were coming back, though they weren’t as dense as they once were.  Rivers, streams, lakes, and the seas were all nearly as pristine as before.  I knew things were progressing somewhat slower on Server Continent (as Izzy’s reports last stated) but that place was much larger and much harder hit, so it wasn’t a surprise that things hadn’t quite returned to normal yet.

            I paused when my D-Terminal beeped at me.  Gennai replied in the negative, saying he hadn’t been in contact with Gabumon recently, but that someone who may have was near and would find me soon.

            Sure enough, I had just put my D-Terminal away when I heard the familiar buzzing of insect-like wings.  Cautiously (as there are many types of insect Digimon) I looked up.

            Smiling a little, I waved when I saw Tentomon, Izzy’s partner.

            “Yamato-han!”  The bug-like little creature greeted me with great surprise but no less welcome.  “No one was expecting you!  Welcome back!”

            “Hey.”  I leaned against a huge tree trunk.  “How’s it going, Tentomon?  Keeping busy?”

            “Oh very.  Between Koushiro-han and helping to fix things I’m always doing something.”  He waved a sharp-looking pincher claw at me, reminding me vaguely of my mother wagging a finger at me as a kid in admonishment.  “That’s why I’m here, in fact.  Koushiro0han told me to investigate when a Gate opened near here so unexpectedly.”

            “Eh, sorry.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  I’ll try not to do it again.”  I sort of apologized, mostly for taking him away from whatever he was doing.

            “Why are you here, Yamato-han?”  The little Digimon asked curiously, hovering at eye level in front of me.  “Not that I’m saying you aren’t welcome, of course!  I mean…”

            “It’s okay, Tentomon.  I get it.”  I chuckled a bit.  He really does sound like Izzy.  Sobering, I sighed and shrugged.  “I needed to get away for a while, needed some space and time to think.  This is the best place I know of when one wants to get away from it all.”

            “Ah.  I see.  Has this something to do with your troubles earlier today?”

            I frowned, shifting uncomfortably.  “What?  Does everyone know I’m a complete moron already?”  I grumbled.  But it was a good excuse to use to pacify the others, through Tentomon – who would, no doubt, report back to Izzy about me.  “Actually, yes.  It does.”

            “We were all very concerned for a while there.”  Tentomon informed me.  “Gabumon grew very ill.  He said something was wrong with you, but he couldn’t do anything to help as long as you were in your world and he was here.”

            I winced, guilt clenching my chest painfully.  Worried, I moved away from the tree.  “Is he alright now?  I should find him.”

            “Oh yes.  He’s just fine.  He said he felt Light, and Hope, and Love near you, and trusted that the others would help you.  Obviously they did.”  Tentomon buzzed along beside me as I began walking again.

            “Where is he now?”  I asked.  “Can you take me to him, Tentomon?”

            “Of course, Yamato-han.  Follow me.”

            “Thanks.”  I whispered, hurrying after him.

            We found Gabumon near the base of the mountain – the same one we’d climbed (twice) in order to take on Devimon, our first major bad guy.  He was with another old friend, Leomon.

            “Matt!”  My partner cried in relief and excitement.  I dropped to my knees in time to catch him when he ran full throttle at me, and I hugged him tightly.

            “Gabumon!  Oh god, I am so sorry…”  I immediately started apologizing.  He was, after all, one of the people in my life (of the Digimon variety of people) that was most affected by whatever might happen to me.

            His paws patted me wherever they could reach and I felt so much better it was ridiculous.  True to his word, given so long ago, he forgave me readily and we were still the best of friends.

            “It’s okay, Matt.  I’m just happy to see you and that you’re alright.”  He pulled back and looked closely at me.  “You are alright, aren’t you?”  He asked suspiciously.  I smiled, tears burning my eyes but not falling.

            “Yeah.  I’m okay.  Tentomon said you were sick?  Are you okay?” I looked him over – not that I knew what to look for that would tell me if something wasn’t totally kosher with him.

            “I am now.  You will tell me what happened, right?”

            “Yes.  Later.”  I promised, looking up at the imposing figure of Leomon.  “Hi, Leomon.  It’s good to see you again.  I hope everything’s been well for you.”

            “Hello, young one.”  The lion-man Digimon returned the greeting with a bow.  “It is a pleasure to see one of the Chosen again.  Things are quite well with me, thank you for asking.”

            “Have I interrupted anything?”  I asked, looking back and forth between them.  “I did drop in unannounced, after all.”

            “Leomon has organized a group of Digimon willing to rebuild the ruined temple on top of the mountain.”  Gabumon informed me.  “It used to be a splendid place before Devimon invaded.  It’s one of the last places to be rebuilt here on the island, and when I heard about it, I wanted to come here to help.”

            I nodded solemnly.  “That’s great!”  I had a small flash of an idea, and had to share it.  I knew Takeru was still harbouring fears and anxiety about that fateful battle with Devimon where he’d lost Patamon right after the very first time the little guy had evolved.  Maybe this would be something to help him put those fears behind him.

            “If I could make a suggestion…” I began.  Leomon nodded curiously at me.  “Is there any way that some sort of monument could be added in honour of Angemon and his sacrifice?  For Takeru and Patamon?  That battle…it still haunts them.”

            It was strange to see the gentle expression on the proud, fierce, and normally serious face of the lion-man, but he nodded in approval of the idea.  “Certainly, young one.  An admirable suggestion.”  He gave Gabumon and I a short bow.  “I must take my leave now.  Please excuse me, and welcome back, Yamato-san.”

            We waved as the warrior Digimon left us.  Tentomon, whom I’d nearly forgotten, hovered next to me, the breeze from his buzzing wings lightly ruffling his my hair.

            “That was a really good idea, Yamato-han.”  He commended me. “Well, I should get back to Koushiro-han before he sends search parties after me.”

            I laughed lightly.  “Okay, Tentomon.  Thanks for helping me find Gabumon, too.”

            “No problem!”  The little insect Digimon flew off.

            I sighed and pulled out my D-Terminal, sitting on the ground for a moment while I whipped off a short message to Izzy.

            “What are you doing, Matt?”  Gabumon asked curiously.  He peered down at the small computer in my hands.

            “Telling Izzy it was me who opened the Gate to get here and asking him not to tell any of the others that I’m here, other than Takeru – should it come up – and especially not Taichi.”  I answered, texting away at a relatively slow pace compared to, say, my brother.  I just don’t do it enough to have developed speed and accuracy.

            Gabumon, of course, picked up on the important part of my answer.  “Why not Taichi?”  I heard him sigh.  “What are you fighting about this time, Matt?  It must be something huge, and it must be what was wrong this afternoon.”

            I sent the message and stood, keeping my D-Terminal out for now because I was sure Izzy would get back to me.  “Come on, pal.”  I said, feeling my sadness return.  “Let’s walk, and I’ll tell you all about it.”

            So we did, and I did.  When I reached the part about that fantastic, heart-breaking morning, I left out the intimate details.  Not because I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with my partner, but because – quite simply – he wouldn’t understand.  Digimon do not reproduce as any other creature does.  Actually, I don’t know where Digitama really come from (I don’t think Izzy does either).  My point is that Digimon have no context with which to understand the sexual component of human relationships – for procreation or fun.  They have an innate purity of innocence, rather like the children we once were long before we came here.  So I had no way of explaining to him something that he’d never heard of, let alone experienced.

            By this time, also, we’d reached the edges of the forest and found an all-too-familiar, poignant-in-memory beach on the shores of a large lake.  Here, we’d spent our first night in this strange new world.  Here, Gabumon evolved to Garurumon for the first time.  Here…I felt the first true feelings of friendship for the varied group of kids I was stuck with, and for the goggle-headed, soccer-obsessed, stubborn, reckless boy who became my best friend.  And my one true love.

            “I still don’t understand, Matt.  What happened between you that was so bad that it triggered the Darkness?”  Gabumon inquired, watching and listening with big, worried eyes.  Compassion and warmth flowed from him into me from that mystical bond we held as Chosen Child and Digimon Partner.

            I looked up and down the beach, and decided here was as good a place as any.  Sitting on the sand, I took off my backpack and let it drop beside me, then drew my knees up to my chest.  It was already growing dark as night approached, but I didn’t care, and I had nothing to fear.

            “I don’t know if I can explain it, old friend.”  I said honestly.  Sadly.  “I’m not a kid anymore.  My problems aren’t as simple as they used to be.  My life is so much more complicated, and gets more complex every day.”

            Warm fur, soft and almost silken, brushed my arm as Gabumon sat at my side and cuddled up against me.  It made me smile, however briefly.

            “I know, Matt.  We all do.  We knew none of you would stay children forever.  We knew your thoughts and feelings would grow and change as you did in body and mind.  We knew, and we prepared for it.”  He stared up at me with such wisdom that I began to reassess my assumption of their ‘innocence.’

            “Prepared…how?”  I had to ask.

            “Well, we grow up, too, you know.  We Digimon can fall in love and choose a mate for our lifespan.  And then Gennai always answered any questions we had.  He felt we needed to know things so that we could still be as good of partners to you as we’ve been until now, so he taught us many, many things.”

            Okay.  That was simply terrifying.  “Uh…do I even dare ask for an example?”

            Gabumon chuckled.  “Matt, you love Taichi.  I don’t need to be partnered to the Bearer of Love to know that, even if you hadn’t said so just now.  You’ve always loved him, not only as a friend but as an equal, counter-balance to your spirit.  It’s why you clash so fiercely when you disagree, and it’s why you are so very powerful when you agree and fight together.”

            I thought about that for a moment, then nodded.  I had to concede to his point, because it was certainly true.  Still…

            “I love him, yes.  With all that I am.  But, Gabumon…he doesn’t feel the same for me.  Not to the extent I do for him.”  I looked away, staring out at the sparkling shimmers of the stars and moonlight reflected by the lake.  “We talked once, several months ago, and he told me there was someone he liked a lot, but he wasn’t ready to tell them yet.  Later he admitted he was in love with the person, and he was waiting to see if that person would be receptive to him.  But it wasn’t me.”

            “How do you know?”  Gabumon asked, disbelief plain in his voice and expression.  “He didn’t give you a name, did he?”

            “No.  He wasn’t ready to tell me that, I guess.”  I rested my chin on my knee.  “I know because he knew I didn’t have a problem with his interest being for another guy.  If it had been me he wanted, then he’d know I was receptive.”

            Gabumon still looked a bit puzzled by it all, but he left it alone for the moment.  “Okay, so what happened that made you fall apart?”

            I couldn’t help but blush heavily – earning a muffled snicker from my partner – and mumble, “It doesn’t matter anymore, Gabumon.  It’ll never happen again – any of it – so there’s no point in reliving it.”

            Even if I would, in the safety of my mind, for the rest of my life…

            He sighed unhappily, still confused but willing to let it slide.  I shifted uncomfortably, hating this need to keep that little glimpse of ecstasy all to myself so selfishly.  I relented only a little, relating what occurred at breakfast – which was actually the more important part, anyway.

            “What happened between Taichi and I will remain between us, Gabumon.  And if he’d let me live with the illusion that it had all been a dream, then we could have moved on, and none of that…embarrassing failure as a Bearer would have happened.”  A frown marred my expression.  “But you know Taichi!  He just can’t leave well enough alone.  He pushed, and I tried to make him believe everything was fine…but he started apologizing.  And then…then he…” my voice faltered and I swallowed the lump building in my throat convulsively, “…Taichi said it was unintentional.  That he’d never meant for it to happen.  That…was probably more heartbreaking than what had actually occurred.”

            Gabumon patted my arm with a gentle, consoling paw.  “It was something you really wanted, but because he didn’t mean it, you were really hurt.”  He surmised.  I nodded, not really able to speak any longer.  “I see.  I’m sorry, Matt.”

            “It’s okay, Gabumon.  There wouldn’t have been anything you could have done to help, anyway.”

            “Was there no one you could have talked to?  Takeru?  Sora?  Even Joe or Izzy or Mimi?”  He wondered.  I noticed he didn’t suggest Hikari.

            “No.  I thought…to use the week Taichi was away at camp to get a grip on myself and put it behind me.  I was too embarrassed and it was too personal to discuss with any one of the others.”  Regretful, realizing I probably should have swallowed my ego and just talked to Sora before it got so bad, I let myself fall back to the sand onto my back and stared up at the now dark night sky.  “It was a mistake.  But..things are better now.  I just need a little more time, is all.”

            Gabumon lay back with me, smiling a little sadly with worry for me.  “Well, I’m glad you came regardless, Matt.  I’ve really missed you.”

            “Me, too, pal.  Me, too.”


Relevant Episodes:  Season 01, episodes 03, 08, and 13.


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