Taichi normally would have asked his sister to help him get into the Digital World to visit Agumon, but she had some kind of school project. "Takeru's already finished his," she had said. "You should ask him, or Mikayo or Iori."
"And Daisuke?" Taichi had asked.
"Oh, he's still working on his," his sister said. "Our teacher put us in the same group, and we're both waiting for Watanabe-san to finish his part."
So, he had to wait until Takeru was able to meet him in the computer lab, in order to open the gate to the Digital World. It was better than the years of seeing the gate closed to everyone, and expecting to never see Agumon or the others again, but it was a bit unfair that Takeru and Hikari and the others had access, but he, and the other original Chosen didn't.
But, there was nothing to be done about it.
"You're sure that you don't need to be doing something besides showing me around?" he asked Takeru once they arrived.
Takeru shook his head. "Daisuke says his mother threatened to ground him if he didn't keep his grades up, so he really needs to do well on this project -- if he can't get to the computer lab after school, he can't go to the Digital world with us. With the Kaiser on the offensive, it's hard to fight without everyone there. So, Miyako and Iori are checking some things for tomorrow. Really, one person could do it, but better safe than sorry."
Taichi nodded. It sounded fair enough. Different how he was used to planning things. Back in the old days, the group only really split up in the Real World, or when separated, or when someone -- be honest, Taichi, usually Yamato -- was having a snit or being preyed on by the forces of evil. The idea that two people on the team couldn't save the day because of homework was a new one. "Daisuke's been getting better at leadership then?"
Takeru chuckled. "Well, you saw him -- we all do the planning. Daisuke is just good at getting all of us to charge in there, like he's some kind of anime hero, talking about fighting spirit and friendship. Whoever is in charge of handing out Digimentals picked good ones for him."
"You aren't jealous, are you? I mean, of the five of you, you've been around Digimon the longest. Even more than Hikari." He tried to remember how Takeru had acted in a fight. The couple of times he had seen him recently in a fight, he had been brave. Before that, it was colored by Yamato trying to shield his kid brother from as much as possible, and the entire group being impressed about how serious little Takeru was taking all of this saving the world, and how brave he was being for a kid. Not that Takeru hadn't proven himself back then, as much as Mimi or Jyou or any of them. But back then, it took a while for everyone to realize he wasn't just Yamato's kid brother.
Taichi knew how Yamato would take it. Yamato would have gone off with Gabumon, or possibly with Takeru and Patamon in tow, until common sense or the heightening danger brought him back. At first -- later, they're just be an argument. In a way, Taichi found it reassuring as leader, knowing that if he made a mistake, Yamato would tell him, straight up. It was a cornerstone of their friendship. Of course, back then, it drove him a bit crazy.
Then again, Takeru wasn't his brother -- he might not have seen him and Angemon, or Pegasusmon, now, in many battles, but he did know him.
He nearly tripped over a rock, and had to stop walking for a moment to steady himself. Takeru had said something, and Taichi found he had to repeat it. "Careful," Takeru said. "Don't want to get senile like my brother in his old age."
Taichi rolled his eyes. "Giving poor Yamato a hard time?" he asked.
"A bit. It's kind of rough on him to be stuck out of the fight, while Garururmon and the others guard things here, and we come in every day." Takeru said. "I try not to mention the getting older thing after Koushiro and his American friend mentioned a theory that the reason Hikari and I were brought back was because we were the youngest. From some fantasy novel or something."
Taichi nodded. "I could say the same thing about myself."
It was Patamon that spoke then. "Well, I think Takeru would say the same thing, if it happened to him."
Takeru nodded. "I would. What the original Chosen Children are doing means a lot to me. To all of us."
"You're still one of us, too, Takeru," Taichi said. "Don't let the new generation thing go to your head."
Patamon had flown up to Takeru's shoulder and had lifted up the brim of his hat. "Nope. Still attached here."
Hey," Takeru tried to swat at his Digimon partner, but was hampered both by Patamon's ducking and his own laughing. "Who's side are you on, anyway?"
Taichi had to laugh as well. "So what was your answer? About Daisuke?"
"Right," Takeru straightened, Patamon still balanced on his shoulder. "I don't want to be leader, Taichi. Even if I have the experience. Daisuke does. And, even if he is a pain sometimes, he's good at it. I guess it's the same way as with my brother and you."
Taichi raised his eyebrows and nearly tripped again. "Really?"
"He didn't want to be leader, either. He just wanted to take care of me. And himself, of course, but me first," Takeru said, looking off towards the horizon. "I just want to take care of the team. If that means being the leader, fine, but I think I can do just as much by helping Daisuke. And telling him when he's being a stubborn idiot."
Taichi nodded, thinking again of Yamato. "That's a sound part of any leadership policy -- having someone to call you an idiot. It keeps you honest."
They spotted a familiar form as they crossed the next hill, who quickly closed the distance. Greymon devolved as he approached, seamlessly going form a run on legs the size of small trees into a form that only almost knocked Taichi over in a tight hug. You came!"
"Of course I came," Taichi said. "How are you feeling? Recovered?"
"Well, mostly," Agumon said. "Still not sure how I feel about the whole thing, but I guess it couldn't be helped, huh? Since everyone cleared this area, I haven't seen hide nor hair of any Digimon with dark rings, or the new things. No one's gotten past me!" He beamed, in a dinosaur equivalent to a grin.
"Good to hear, buddy." Taichi affectionately rubbed the skin behind his eye ridges. It still felt good to see Agumon again, even if he needed Takeru's help to do it.
"Seen any sign of trouble?" Takeru asked.
"Not a thing," Agumon grinned. "Guess they know not to mess with me again, huh?"
Taichi sometimes wondered what Digimon thought about all the different means Evil Digimon -- and now, humans -- could control them. Tailmon had once told him that few Digimon held minion status against each other. It was just a nasty fact of life. Certainly, the group had never been bothered by her former work as Vamdemon's lackey. He hoped that Agumon just wasn't holding it against himself.
"Darn right, they won't," Taichi said. "Glad to know you're helping keep this area clear."
Takeru nodded. "Still room for the old guard. Both human and Digimon."