Gennai called; the Chosen Children needed to go to the Digital World. When Kouichi heard that, he could feel his heart sinking to his feet. It was an important matter, but Gennai didn’t give any more details.
Kouichi dreaded the arrival of the morning.
In the morning, Hikari would leave. She would leave and the feeling in his chest told him that she was not coming back, that he would never see her again, that he would lose her forever.
He broke down that night in front of her.
It was frustrating; he spent the whole day trying to repress that feeling. He didn’t want her to worry about some paranoid thought that came from nowhere. Hikari should be worried about whatever Gennai wanted to talk to them about, not about him. Not right now.
She listened, and consoled him, and told him that she would come back to him in a couple of days. She promised.
And yet, two weeks later, she hadn’t come back. He’d have to take matters into his own hands.
Kouichi rolled on his bed violently a few times before finally waking up, his forehead covered in sweat. Despite having slept for quite some time, as was his habit, he felt like his energy had just been drained.
It can’t be because of that dream, right? That was years ago anyway…
He sighed heavily.
Why am I the only one unable to move on?
Looking beside him at the clock on his nightstand, Kouichi jumped out of the bed.
“Am I really late for the first day? I can’t believe this. Mitsumi!”
Calling out to his daughter, he rushed to prepare for the day; he had to go without his own breakfast, but he barely made it in time to his job.
I just want to go back to bed… Is everything just taking a toll on me?
Kouichi touched the pocket on his shirt, instinctively looking for a cigarette before remembering that he was about to start his class; not only that, he had actually forgotten the pack at home.
Nothing to be done about it then. It’s too early for that anyway.
He entered the classroom full of first-years; the new students at the high school he worked in. There were a few of them who resembled students he had been teaching in previous years and were most likely younger siblings.
Normally, he would have checked the attendance list the night before the first day of class, but he had fallen asleep early and with what happened in the morning, he hadn’t even looked at it. And now, he stood in front of his class, pushing his thoughts aside in order to concentrate on getting to know his students.
"Good morning, class; welcome to your first day of high school. I’ll introduce myself for anyone who wasn’t present at yesterday’s opening assembly. My name is Kimura Kouichi and I’ll be your homeroom teacher this year, though I’ll also be teaching Social Studies. I’ll take attendance now, please be alert and reply when I call your name."
He was still near the top of the list when he found a name that caught his curiosity for a moment, as the boy shared a kanji in his name with him and almost read it as ‘kou’ instead of the common ‘ki’.
"Kobayashi Dai… Daiki-kun."
Kouichi looked up and found the boy looking out of the window with a slight frown on his face, and wondered if the frown had been caused by his obvious slip-up in his name. Getting his thoughts back to the matter at hand, he continued taking attendance.
As soon as he had replied to his name, Daiki turned his attention to the window, or so he pretended. He could clearly see Hiyori from his position, and unlike him, she was still paying attention to the teacher that had made a silly slip-up in his name.
He unconsciously smiled at her, but then a certain figure got in his face.
"Are you staring at Hiyorin again~?"
"W-What the hell?!"
A Terriermon that no one had noticed entering the classroom was leisurely planted on Daiki’s head, and the teenager promptly took him down from there.
"How many times did I tell you to stay at home? You can’t follow me to school, Terriermon!”
"Eh~ But I was bored! Your parents are both working so I’m all alone at home!"
Everyone in the class was now looking at Daiki and Terriermon, while Hiyori laughed a little and the teacher stared at the two of them. Daiki felt his face heat up at being the center of attention because of his partner, but there was really no helping it.
Shit, this is so embarrassing; I’m going to die right now…
The boy and the Digimon looked up and saw the teacher standing in front of them, with a serene smile on his face.
"Ah, s-sorry, I’m always telling him to stay home but he hardly ever listens to me and…"
"It’s okay, don’t worry Kobayashi-kun. However, Terriermon…" He continued while looking at the Digimon. "We’re in the middle of homeroom, and Kobayashi-kun’s next class will start soon, so I’ll have to ask you to wait for him in another place."
Terriermon’s ears flopped down as he resigned himself to that fact, and after quickly saying good bye to both Daiki and Hiyori, he merrily climbed out of the window and to the tree that stood nearby.
"Now, let’s continue with the announcements for this week before your Math teacher arrives."
Daiki looked at his teacher’s back as he walked back to the front of the classroom.
Hm… He’s kinda weird.
After homeroom ended, Kouichi walked towards the teacher’s room and sat in his place with a smile on his face. This wasn’t the first time one of his students had a Digimon partner, but it was the first time that said Digimon partner had entered his classroom. Schools were still not used to the fact that the number of people with Digimon partners was growing, and so the great majority of them had made it clear that they didn’t want the Digimon near their human partners during class, but hadn’t really forbidden them from entering the school grounds; he would bet that Terriermon was still in the tree waiting for lunchtime.
The day went by without any other incidents during his classes, and before he knew it the day had ended and he was free to go and pick his daughter up from nursery school.
The school where he worked in was rather far from the nursery school, which was closer to his house, but he had finally arrived to his destination and his daughter was running towards him.
He knelt and caught her in his arms, hugging her tightly.
"Did you have fun today, Mitsumi?"
"Yes~! Did you have fun today, Papa?"
Kouichi stood up and took his daughter’s hand as they started the walk back home.
"I did! Something really funny happened. I was taking attendance and then a Terriermon entered the classroom looking for his partner."
"Ah, really~?! I wish I could get a partner soon, Papa!"
Mitsumi looked up at her father with sparkling eyes, and he couldn’t help but laugh at her excitement.
"I’m sure you’ll get one before you realize it, Mitsumi…"
They arrived to their house after some minutes, and Mitsumi stopped right in front of the door, looking down. Kouichi stopped for a moment as well, before sighing and then picking the girl up in his arms. This had been happening every time they came home ever since his ex-wife left the house, and it hurt to see his daughter so sad.
"Mama is not coming home today, right?"
"…No, she’s not."
He could hear the sobbing that Mitsumi was trying to conceal, and he sat down on the couch with the girl still in his arms. Soon she didn’t bother trying to hide her tears from him and the sobs increased in volume; Kouichi held the crying girl tightly against him.
"Papa… I want Mama here… I want her to come home… Why isn’t she coming home?"
Kouichi felt guilty of having to put his daughter through such pain. He had been too young to remember when his parents divorced, but Mitsumi was already five. And the only thing she understood from the whole situation was that her mother, no matter how absent and cold she had always been, had left.
But he also had to remember how much Mitsumi would be harmed if he had remained married to Chihaku. They often fought, and most of the time she tried to turn it physical. When she got drunk, she would start talking about her affairs. And even during good days, she would be cold to Mitsumi.
He couldn’t risk the chance of her eventually harming Mitsumi physically. There was enough emotional harm done already, and he had to end that.
Was my parents’ divorce like this?
"Terriermon, please don’t do that again… It was embarrassing enough that you just went into the classroom like that, and then you had to point out what I was doing to the whole class!"
The Digimon just laughed, and Hiyori couldn’t help but join him.
"Eh~? Don’t worry Daiki-chan, I won’t do it again… The teacher was very clear. But you should have seen your face when I caught you off guard!"
"You were as red as a tomato, Daiki-kun!"
"Hiyori… Don’t encourage him…"
She laughed some more, and then kissed his cheek.
"Sorry… I’ll have to leave you here. My parents will arrive soon."
Daiki sighed and he kissed her cheek this time.
"I’ll call you tonight, okay?"
"Okay, I’ll be waiting."
After sharing a short kiss, Daiki and Hiyori went different ways. Terriermon started snickering and poking Daiki’s cheeks.
"Daiki-chan is blushing again~"
"Shut up, Terriermon. Tailmon is sure to call you out on going to the school."
"Eh? Wasn’t she coming back tomorrow?"
Now it was Daiki’s turn to laugh at his partner.
"Wrong. She’s coming back today."
Terriermon sighed. If that was really true, then he would be welcomed with a lecture about following the school’s rules.
Upon arriving home, Daiki and Terriermon could hear his mother’s voice, probably telling Tailmon about everything that had happened during the two weeks that she had spent in the Digital World.
"Daiki, welcome back!"
"Terriermon’s with me too, you know… He followed me to school today, and even interrupted the class."
His mother and her partner walked out of the kitchen, and as they expected, Tailmon started scolding the other Digimon.
"You know very well the rules, Terriermon. You could get Daiki in trouble. Why don’t you stay home and watch over the house while Hikari and Takashi-san are working?"
Terriermon jumped off his partner’s shoulder and climbed on the couch.
"Because it’s no fun if I stay home alone… Also, I didn’t get him in trouble, his teacher was very nice."
Hikari giggled as Tailmon climbed on the couch and sat beside Terriermon. Her son’s partner could be a handful for him, but they were still very close.
"So, what’s your homeroom teacher’s name?"
"Uhm… Kimura-sensei… Kimura…"
Daiki seemed to struggle to remember his full name, so Terriermon interrupted.
"Ah, that’s right. He had trouble reading my name while taking attendance, and he seemed really understanding of me having a troublesome partner like Terriermon; I wonder if he has a kid with a partner…"
"O-okay then… Well, why don’t you go to your room and start doing your homework? I was so excited to talk with Tailmon that I couldn’t finish preparing the food so it’ll take me a while. I’ll call you when it’s ready, okay?"
Daiki looked at his mother for a moment before nodding and walking to his room, followed by Terriermon. Once she was sure he couldn’t hear them, Tailmon looked at Hikari, who seemed to be trembling a little.
"Hikari, calm down. Gennai hasn’t been able to tell me if it really happened or not; the signals have been unstable ever since the separation took place. This might be just a coincidence."
"I know… But what if it’s true, Tailmon? What if everything went back to normal after all these years?"
"We might find out soon."
It was happening again.
Tailmon wasn’t home; she had gone for a night walk that doubled as some kind of patrol along with Terriermon. He had just ended his call with Hiyori and was about to take a shower when he heard the one-sided conversation in the kitchen.
“What did I tell you, Hikari? Stop thinking about that kind of things; it’s better and easier for everyone if you just forget about it. Even if you try, what will you be able to do? It’s been too long already, don’t you think?”
It pissed him off; his mother didn’t deserve that. She had raised him by herself for five years before she got married to the man he called ‘father’; it wasn’t fair that she had to listen to those words.
He hurried to the bathroom before they noticed him. He couldn’t remember what had happened the first time he tried to do something about it, but it had been enough for him to avoid doing it again despite how uncomfortable it made him and how sad his mother seemed because of it.
He was already in bed when Tailmon and Terriermon came back from their ‘patrol’. Tailmon would probably notice his mother’s behavior and ask her about it. She would be more efficient at getting his mother to admit anything; when he had tried, she had refused to explain the situation to him, probably so that he wouldn’t have to worry about her.
That’s just what his mother was like.
Thankfully, neither his mother nor his father were home by the time Daiki woke up and got ready for school the next day. He didn’t even protest when Terriermon followed him all the way to school, but fortunately he had actually listened to Tailmon that Monday and stayed out of the school building.
His violent entrance to the classroom attracted the attention of the students that had arrived earlier than him, but ignored their confused looks and sat down, deciding to hide his face in his arms until homeroom started.
Not even two minutes had passed when he felt a hand touch his arm lightly.
Lazily, he raised his head and looked up at Hiyori.
"Daiki-kun, is everything okay?"
He sighed and shook his head, which prompted Hiyori to sit down and listen to him if he wanted to talk about it.
"It happened again last night.”
"I see…" She sighed, and just then the teacher arrived. After touching his arm lightly again, she stood up and went to her desk.
Kouichi easily noticed that Daiki was not in a good mood; his way of answering, his pronounced frown, the way his classmates looked and talked to him. He decided to keep an eye on him for the rest of the day, and maybe ask Oshiro Hiyori about it, since they seemed to be pretty close.
Lunchtime arrived soon and Terriermon used that chance to say hello to Daiki and his classmates, and Kouichi in turn decided to use that chance to ask Hiyori.
"Oshiro-san, can you come with me for a minute?"
The girl followed him out of the classroom, and then his smile disappeared and he showed a serious face.
"Oshiro-san, you’re close to Kobayashi-kun, right? I was wondering if something happened…"
Hiyori smiled a little, though it was a sad smile.
"He’s grumpier than he was yesterday, isn’t he?" She said before sighing. "Yes, something happened, but I’m not sure if I should be the one telling you, sensei. You should probably ask him yourself."
"Yes, you’re right; I just wanted to make sure before asking him. Thank you, Oshiro-san, you can go back to the classroom."
Daiki was still alone when she walked into the classroom. It would be better to tell him that Kimura-sensei had noticed his behavior —really, who hadn’t? —and was going to talk to him later. This way Daiki would prepare himself for it and not react brashly.
"What did sensei want, Hiyori?"
"Actually, he wants to talk to you. About your behavior today, I mean. He asked me first because he wanted to be sure about it before actually bringing up the subject to you."
He sighed deeply and looked out of the window.
"It’s not like he can help, anyway. If I tell him, he won’t want to get himself involved further.”
Hiyori smiled a little and moved her hand so that their fingers were barely touching.
"I think you should talk to him anyway. He might not get involved, but I’m sure he can give you some kind of advice."
Daiki gave her a confused look.
"There are rumors around the school, you know? That he recently got divorced; I don’t think he’s the best candidate to give advice for this kind of situation."
She giggled at his answer and then the bell rang signaling the end of lunchtime. Hiyori smiled at Daiki before standing up and returning to her desk.
After school ended, Daiki tried his best to escape the building along with Hiyori as quickly as he could, but somehow Kimura-sensei ambushed them just as they reached the lockers.
"Kobayashi-kun, I’m glad I could find you before you left." He said in a tone that suggested that he had planned to ambush him right there beforehand and not just bumped into him.
"Ah, can I help you with something, sensei?" Daiki asked as he tried not to frown.
"Actually, I want to talk to you for a moment. I’m sure Oshiro-san told you why already." He said as he gave the girl a knowing look. She just blushed slightly and nodded, a bit embarrassed that their teacher knew she would do it. Could he have told her about it on purpose?
"Alright… Oi, Terriermon!" He called to his partner who was obviously listening to their conversation. Terriermon entered the building and climbed on top of Daiki’s shoulder.
"What is it, Daiki-chan~?"
"You heard Kimura-sensei, didn’t you? Since I have to stay, make sure Hiyori gets home safely, okay?"
"Okay~" The Digimon replied as he hopped onto Hiyori’s shoulder. "I’ll take care of Hiyorin in Daiki-chan’s stead!"
"Thank you." He looked at Hiyori and smiled at her. "Don’t let him tease you too much."
"I won’t. I’ll call you tonight."
Daiki slightly squeezed her hand instead of the kiss they would normally share as they were not only in school grounds, but there was also a teacher in front of them. After bowing to Kouichi, Hiyori and Terriermon waved at Daiki as they left the building.
Kouichi couldn’t help but smile. He could remember very well the times when he was just slightly older than both of his students, but decided to leave the memories for another time.
"Now, follow me Kobayashi-kun. I’m sure the group in cleaning duty today are about to finish and we’ll have the classroom to ourselves."
"I thought we would talk in the teachers’ room."
"Do you want all the teachers knowing what we’re talking about? Shirakawa-sensei is still there, you know."
"Ah… The classroom it is then."
Daiki dreaded the thought of having his Math teacher know about what had caused his behavior that day. The woman was fond of being a little nosy in the lives of her students, which some people said was because she wanted to be a homeroom teacher, which meant being the principal counselor to her students. Unfortunately for her, all the groups were covered for by colleagues who had been working on the school for a longer time.
The group on cleaning duty was just leaving when Daiki and Kouichi arrived to the classroom. In the group there was one of Daiki’s friends from middle school, Kano Ayato, who only gave him a look that said ‘You’re in trouble~’. Daiki frowned, but his friend just smiled teasingly before following the others.
Daiki sat on one of the front desks, and much to his surprise, Kimura-sensei sat down on the desk beside him. The boy gave his teacher a look that clearly showed that he expected him to sit on his own desk like any other teacher would.
"Is there a problem with me sitting here, Kobayashi-kun?" He asked as if what he was doing was a completely normal thing.
"I guess there isn’t."
"Well then, let’s get straight to the point." He said, still with his kind smile. "Today you were really… brash, compared to yesterday." The face he made revealed the fact that he was going to say grumpy. "You were even more silent too. Did something happen to cause that?"
Daiki looked at his teacher for a moment before looking away. He really didn’t want to talk about it, but Kimura-sensei looked like the type that would constantly ask him about it if he didn’t do it now.
"Just things between my parents. Nothing important."
"If it wasn’t important, it wouldn’t affect you so much."
Daiki stayed in silence, not really knowing how to reply to that and still being hesitant to talk about his problem. Kouichi looked at him for a moment before sighing.
"When I was younger than you, I was affected by things that happened between my parents too. It didn’t end up well." He mentally scolded himself for what he was doing, but if he wanted to help the boy, he would have to make him trust him. "I think you might have heard the rumors, Kobayashi-kun; I recently got divorced. I have a little daughter, who whether I like it or not, is being affected by it. I know how this works. It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it with me, but you need to talk to someone. Let people help you.”
Kouichi’s face was serious by the time he stopped talking, but it wasn’t a ‘stern teacher’ kind of serious. He had opened up a little so that Daiki would trust him, and even though he was still hesitant to just talk about it, he thought that he could trust his teacher to at least give him advice.
Daiki took his time walking home. He knew his mother was already there, and his father would probably arrive in more or less three hours. Maybe Terriermon was home already as well and had told his mother why he was taking so long to get home.
He sighed and stopped when he just had a block left.
Would it be okay if I told Kimura-sensei about this? It would be only to ask for his advice… I don’t really want anyone getting involved in this. How involved can he get before it becomes inappropriate, anyway?
All of this just… pisses me off!
He hit the wall beside him in his frustration.
Why did he even talk to her like that? It’s been months since the last time it happened…
Has something happened lately that would make him do it again…?
He tried thinking about the last days. The only moment that came to mind was the day before, his first day of class. His mother had acted slightly weird that day, but he didn’t think that would be reason enough for his father to…
No, nothing is reason enough for him to treat her like that. It’s not right, no matter what… It’s not…
Rubbing his fist slightly, he decided to go home already. His mother might get worried if he took any longer to arrive, and she had had enough things to worry about in the past.