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hirenmonogatari; a tale of tragic love

Chapter Text

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.

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."

"Here."

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…

"Excuse me."

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.

"Papa!"

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.

"I’m home!"

"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.

"Kimura Kouichi-sensei!"

"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.

"Daiki-kun?"

Lazily, he raised his head and looked up at Hiyori.

"Good morning…"

"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?

Daiki sighed.

"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.

Chapter Text

At the end, Daiki still couldn’t say much more than what he had already said, so Kouichi let him go for the day, but told him that he would be available whenever the boy felt like talking about it. 

Kouichi also reminded him that he’d have to talk to his parents if such behavior was constant. 

 I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday, Kouichi thought as he walked out of the school and pulled out a cigarette from his pocket. He had called Izumi earlier to ask her to pick Mitsumi from nursery school in his place, so he would take advantage of the larger walk to Kouji’s house to smoke. 

He really hated the idea of smoking in front of his daughter. 

I should stop doing this… What am I even doing now?

In his head, he tried to justify it as being better than drinking or other more harmful methods, but he knew that it was still a bad habit. 

His cigarette was long gone by the time he arrived to the Minamoto house, and hopefully the smell was mostly gone as well.

Apparently it was, because the boy who opened the door didn’t seem to notice anything.

"Ojisan, welcome! Mitsu-chan, your dad is here!"

"Thanks, Gian. Is everyone home?" Kouichi asked as he stepped into the house.

"Neamon is sleeping. Mom is cooking and Dad will arrive soon. Also, Mom said something about asking you to stay for dinner."

Kouichi laughed and patted his nephew’s head.

"The same as always, then."

Giancarlo laughed and Mitsumi ran straight to her father, clinging to his leg.

"Papa! Gian-oniichan was teaching me how to write his name!"

"Really?"

"Yes! In Italian."

"Mitsu-chan is really good at it, ojisan. I also taught her how to write her name in roman letters."

Izumi walked in, still wearing an apron. Kouichi picked his daughter up from the floor before turning to look at his long-time friend.

"Kouichi, it’s nice to see you around!" She greeted while taking the apron off. 

"It’s nice to see you too, Izumi. Thank you for taking care of Mitsumi." 

"Oh, please Kouichi, it’s nothing. But now you’re trapped here for dinner; isn’t that right, Mitsu-chan?"

Mitsumi nodded happily. Kouichi rolled his eyes and turned to the door just one second before it opened.

"I’m ho…"

"Welcome home~!"

"…me. Kouichi, let me at least finish talking, if you don’t mind."

Kouichi just laughed.

"Sorry, sorry…! Anyway, how are you?"

The twins sat at the table while Mitsumi and Giancarlo went to help Izumi bring the food from the kitchen. 

"I’m fine, just busy with all these requests from clients to upgrade their systems. They’re all scared of the sudden rise in the number of Digimon living here, you know…" Kouji said, sighing. "And what about you? Do you have any troublesome students this year?"

"Well, not really, thankfully." Kouichi laughed a little. "Though there’s the boy I talked to today; actually, he reminds me a little of you at his age. Really grumpy."

Kouji groaned and Kouichi chuckled. 

"He’s not particularly troublesome, but today he was in a really bad mood. He seems to have some kind of problem at home, so I’ll have to be patient with him." 

"I see…"

"Kouji, Kouichi, please come help us bring this to the table!"

"Ah, we’re coming…!"

 

"How are you feeling now?"

"Not much better. I… kinda got frustrated on the way home… and kinda punched a wall... Not to mention that I’m still angry at my father."

"If you aren’t careful you’ll end up breaking your hand… Maybe you should talk about it with your mother, Daiki-kun."

Daiki sighed and covered his face with a hand.

"She always evades the topic… But I guess you’re right, I’ll talk to her. My father will leave on a business trip on Monday, so I’ll have all next week to try."

"I hope everything goes well."

"Yeah… Oh, are you busy on Sunday? If you’re not, let’s go to the amusement park."

“Sunday is…”

“Will you be busy with your parents?”

“Yes, sorry. But I can go out on Saturday.”

“Let’s go on Saturday, then.”

"Okay, let’s go!”

"Hiyori… I still feel bad for not going to your house first."

"That’s not your fault; my parents would freak out if they knew about us, and would forbid me from meeting you… And I really don’t want that to happen."

"Neither do I… Okay then, let’s meet at the entrance. You could bring Piyomon so she can play around with Terriermon."

"Sure, let’s do that! See you tomorrow at school.”

“See you.”

It was almost dinner time, so Daiki decided to wake his partner up and go help his mother in the kitchen.

As expected, she hadn’t reacted negatively when she was told that Kimura-sensei had talked to him, but she hadn’t asked much about it either. That was strange; she had always tried to help him when he had trouble at school, but she hadn’t even asked why he had to talk to his teacher.

While approaching the kitchen, Daiki could hear not only the sounds of his mother cutting vegetables, but also the voices of both his mother and Tailmon.

“Hikari, you have to calm down…”

“But what if he noticed, Tailmon? It’s not like they look very different and there’s also the da…”

“Mom?”

Hikari turned around a bit surprised, but managed to put up a smiling face for her son.

“Ah, Daiki! Do you need something?”

“I just wanted to see if I could help you…”

Nodding, Hikari pointed towards the cupboard.

“You can set the table, and then you can come back and help me with the curry.”

“Okay. Terriermon, don’t drop anything.”

Hikari wondered whether Daiki had heard what she was saying or not. He had, and he in turn wondered what she was talking about, and why she sounded so… distressed.

 

Kouichi spent the weekend trying to keep his daughter’s mind away from her mother. The last thing he wanted was to see her cry because she wouldn’t come back home; for Saturday, he decided to take her to the amusement park.

While she wasn’t allowed to get on most rides, she enjoyed simply being able to walk around and eat sweets, occasionally getting to play some stall games.

“Mitsumi, do you want to eat some taiyaki?”

The girl nodded as they walked to the stand.

“Yes! Can I have red bean?”

“Of course you can. Come on, let’s go.”

They didn’t have to wait long before Mitsumi got her beloved taiyaki, and after that they sat on a bench, quietly watching the other people walk around. She swung her feet lightly, holding the sweet with one hand and counting something with her other hand.

“Papa, papa! In December, I’ll become six years old!” She smiled proudly at her father while placing the taiyaki on her lap and holding up six fingers. Kouichi chuckled and smiled before patting her head lightly; Mitsumi took another bite from the taiyaki and giggled.

“That’s very good, Mitsumi! Has your teacher been showing you how to count?”

The little girl nodded and both father and daughter started counting all the way up to fifty. After Mitsumi was congratulated on her improvement by Kouichi, they finished their taiyaki and decided to give a last walk around the park before going back home.

However, they soon found themselves surrounded by a lot of people; they had come to the park early, but now that it was just past noon, many more people were arriving to the place, and it was getting hard to get through the avalanche of people without getting separated. Mitsumi and Kouichi were holding onto each other’s hands, but someone walked right between them and made them break apart from each other.

“Mitsumi!”

“Papa! Papa!”

Fortunately, Mitsumi soon found herself stumbling out of the horde of people, but she couldn’t see her father anywhere. She stood there for several minutes, before tears started leaking down her cheeks and she began sniffing.

“Papa…”

In a fit of panic, she started running back into the avalanche of people, but didn’t see the couple walking in front of her and crashed against the boy’s leg, sending her to the floor. Unable to control herself anymore, she started out right sobbing.

 

Hiyori arrived to the amusement park a few minutes past noon. She had trouble coming up with a credible reason to leave her house, and now was a bit late for her date with Daiki.

I wish it was easier to meet with Daiki-kun, and not have to lie to my parents about this. But if I don’t, I won’t be able to see him anymore. Just like I would be separated from Piyomon if my parents discovered that I’m keeping her hidden. I can’t let them separate me from them.

Her head was heavy with these thoughts, so she almost missed Daiki waving at her from the entrance.

Daiki could imagine, of course, what had happened. Hiyori’s face was serious and downcast until she noticed him waving. In that moment her face lit up, and Daiki felt his cheeks warm up when he realized that he had been the reason for the change.

Is she really that happy when we’re together? To go as far as to lie to her parents so we can meet…

Hiyori finally got close to him and she all but threw herself to his arms; she pressed her lips against his for a moment, and when she looked at Daiki he looked flustered and dazed, but with a silly smile on his face. She giggled and took his hand as they walked into the amusement park, their partners long gone to play freely around the place.

It was loaded with people inside, and at first it was quite difficult to walk without being pushed by someone. Eventually they managed to get out of there and started walking on the side, a bit short-breathed.

They only walked for a couple of minutes when Daiki felt a bump on his leg, and he looked to check what had happened.

A crying, blue haired little girl was sitting on the floor looking scared. Hiyori immediately reacted and knelt down in front of the girl; Daiki followed her lead a moment later, not really sure of what he should do.

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” Hiyori asked in a calm and soft voice to avoid scaring the girl even more.

The girl shook her head slowly. “I’m fine… But…” Her lower lip trembled and more tears streamed down her face; Hiyori took out her handkerchief and dried them, smiling at her.

Daiki looked at Hiyori for a moment, already having a clue of where this was going.

“Are you lost?” He asked carefully, though having spoken so abruptly caused the little girl to flinch. He panicked for a moment as he thought she might start sobbing again, but she looked up at him and nodded slowly.

“I don’t know where Papa is…”

“We’ll help you find him; my name is Hiyori, and this is Daiki-kun.” Hiyori continued speaking softly to comfort the girl. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Kimura Mitsumi.”

Both teenagers looked at her in silence for a moment, blinking. Upon being told the name, they realized that she, in fact, looked a lot like Kimura-sensei. The hair color was a bit different, probably due to her mother’s genes, but the resemblance was definitely there.

“And what’s your dad’s name?” Daiki asked just to make sure they were right.

“Uhm… Kouji-ojichan calls Papa ‘Kouichi’. Kimura Kouichi.”

Mitsumi then tilted her head to the side, as if she was thinking hard about something. Hiyori decided that since she had calmed down, it would be a good time to start looking for their teacher.

“Mitsumi-chan, why don’t we walk around here? Your dad is probably close, looking for you.”

The girl nodded and stood up, taking the hand Hiyori was offering her. The amount of people walking around that particular place had decreased, so it would be easier to spot the person they were looking for. They were unsuccessful the first few minutes, but soon they heard the voice of a man they knew well.

“Mitsumi! Mitsumi!”

It seemed like he had spotted them first, as he was running towards them with a mix of happiness and relief on his face. The first thing he did when he reached them was to kneel and hug his daughter tightly, a gesture that she returned.

“Papa, I was so scared!”

“I was scared too, Mitsumi… I’m so glad you’re alright.”

“Hiyori-oneechan and Daiki-oniichan found me and helped me, they were very nice!”

Kouichi looked up at his students, and smiled at them when he stood up with Mitsumi in his arms.

“Thank you very much, Oshiro-san, Kobayashi-kun. It was such a relief to see that you two had found my daughter. I’m really thankful.”

As Kouichi bowed slightly to them, the teenagers brought their hands up as a signal to stop.

“Ah please, Kimura-sensei, there’s no need for that!” Hiyori replied almost in a panic.

The teacher lifted his head and smiled at them.

“Thank you again, you two… Well, since it seems like you’re on a date, we’ll leave now.”

Kouichi could hardly keep himself from laughing at his students’ red faces, but Mitsumi didn’t restrain herself. After a quick good bye, father and daughter left the amusement park walking hand in hand.

Hiyori looked at them for a moment as they left, and then stared at Daiki in silence.

“What is it?”

Hiyori shook her head and smiled.

“No, it’s nothing. I guess it’s just the hair color, huh…”

 

Daiki walked with Hiyori until they were two blocks away from her house. They didn’t spend a lot of time in the amusement park, so it wasn’t particularly late. Coming to a stop at the corner of the block, Daiki held Hiyori’s hand firmly.

“Hiyori.”

“What is it?” She asked softly, looking at him even though he was looking at the ground.

He sighed, and leaned forward until he could rest his forehead on her shoulder. Hiyori ran her free hand through his hair.

“Sorry. I just need… how do I say it?”

“It’s stressing you out, right? And you just want to forget about it.”

Nodding, Daiki hugged his girlfriend. He couldn’t protect his mother, and he couldn’t protect her either. After a moment, he pulled himself away from her, and held her face with both hands.

“I love you.”

Hiyori smiled, and gently caressed Daiki’s bandaged hand.

“I love you too. Be careful, alright?”

 

The next morning, Daiki woke up early; both Digimon were still sleeping deeply. As soon as his father left, he’d start trying to talk to his mother about the situation. It wasn’t fair for her, and he had already made the mistake of not pushing the topic until now.

Why hadn’t he, though? About anything else, he wasn’t afraid of talking about it with his mother. He was, of course, closer to his mother than to his ‘father’. He barely interacted with him outside of meal time, and neither of them had ever made an effort to do so.

The only obligation he felt towards him was to call him ‘father’. He was well aware that he was not his biological father, but he didn’t know why his mother had married him; they had never looked like they were in love.

The only hint he had was his father’s behavior towards his mother.

Even if he smiled, it always looked cold and distant. It was uncomfortable to be around him when he talked, because what he said didn’t match his tone of voice.

Except when he thought Daiki ―and Tailmon, probably― wasn’t around.

Hikari was at the door, looking as her husband prepared the last things he needed for the trip.

“I’ll be back on Saturday afternoon, alright?”

“I’ll be waiting for you here.”

Even though she sounded cheerful as always, Daiki knew she was only playing along with him. He hid behind the wall that separated the hallway from the entrance, waiting until the man left.

“Hikari?”

“Yes, what is it?”

Daiki felt the air turn cold and heavy all of a sudden; his stomach turned into a tight knot, and he felt like throwing up.

“Remember what I’ve been telling you, okay?” He then heard a quiet yelp from his mother. “Remember why you married me. If this doesn’t work, you’ll only bring trouble to everyone. Do you want your son to end up like that lose―?”

“Stop talking to her like that!”

He didn’t have time to think about what had happened before that made him hesitant to speak up until now. Looking at them, he found that his ‘father’ was grabbing his mother’s arm, which was probably the reason she yelped.

“Stop talking to my mother like that, you bastard!”

Damn it all, Daiki thought, damn it all. This shit bastard isn’t my father.

“Daiki, calm down…” Hikari’s voice was soft, but shaky.

Kobayashi Takashi let go of Hikari’s arm, and took a few steps towards his stepson ―his son, by law. Standing to his full height, he stared at the boy and grabbed his shoulder.

“Bastard? How ironic, considering that the only bastard here is you. I don’t know and I don’t care about what actually happened to your loser father, but the one raising you is me, you ungrateful bastard.”

Daiki didn’t know who his biological father was. Not his name, or how much older than his mother he was, or what happened to him. But at the very least, he knew his mother had genuinely loved him. That’s what his uncle Taichi had said; what his mother’s friends had said; what his grandparents had said.

That’s what his mother had said.

So, whatever his reasons had been for disappearing, none of them held it against him. “It couldn’t be helped”, they said.

And he believed them.

That’s why, before he could think better of it, Daiki made a motion to hit the poor excuse of a human being that was standing in front of him; but he wasn’t fast enough.

Takashi pushed Daiki.

As he fell, everything slowed down for a moment. He could see his mother’s terrified face as she took a step forward and the cold expression on Takashi’s face; he was also vaguely aware of both Digimon partners arriving to the scene, probably having woken up because of the yells.

And then, a memory that lasted only a split second― the sensation that this wasn’t the first time.

Did he… Did he do this before? Was that the reason I was afraid?

He couldn’t think more about it; his face hit a corner of the living room’s coffee table, and the pain spread through his head.

“Daiki!”

Hikari rushed to her son’s side, and Daiki could only hear the door as it closed and his mother’s shaky voice.

“Tailmon, bring the first aid kit, please.”

Daiki opened his eyes and realized that his mother was crying; Terriermon was looking at him with worried eyes.

“Daiki-chan, you’re bleeding…”

“Don’t worry, it’s not that bad.” He sat up so he could look at his mother better, even though he could feel the tears in his eyes. “I’m sorry, mom… I’m sorry I didn’t do something sooner, even though I knew all along.”

Hikari looked at him for a moment, before shaking her head.

“No, Daiki… You didn’t have to do anything. It’s my fault that this happened to you. I… Even though I knew this wasn’t the best, I thought I could raise you properly. I’m sorry, Daiki.”

His mother hugged him tightly, and Daiki returned the hug, not bothering to hold back his tears.

“Hikari, the first aid.”

Tailmon’s voice broke their hug, and Hikari started cleaning the wound. It wasn’t too deep― he certainly didn’t need stitches―, but the way his mother was treating the wound suggested that she had done it before… Maybe during her adventures in the Digital World?

“You know… Your father used to get into fights sometimes, and I would clean his wounds too. You reacted just like he would have.”

Hikari had a warm and melancholic smile, even though she was still crying.

“…Really? You… have never really talked about him.”

She asked the Digimon to bring some ice; apparently the site was starting to swell.

“I know, and I’m sorry about that.” She was looking down, ashamed of the fact. “It was really painful; he wasn’t the only one to disappear. Many of our friends disappeared as well.”

“What do you mean, ‘disappear’? What happened to all of them?”

Hikari sighed.

“It’s… complicated. We don’t really know what happened. Gennai-san and Koushirou-san still don’t understand what caused the separation of the worlds.”

“Then, does that mean that it has something to do with the Digital World?”

Hikari nodded.

“They were all Chosen Children too.”

Wow. Okay. So he was the child of two Chosen Children.

Well, that wasn’t something too special; Ken-san and Miyako-san were married, and so were Sora-san and Yamato-san; Jyou-san and Mimi-san too. It just meant that there were eight of them instead of seven.

“Wait, if it’s like that, why hasn’t Takeru-san written about it? I thought his books were about everything that happened related to the Digital World.”

“He did start writing about it, but he wanted to wait until we found out what had caused our worlds to merge in the first place.”

“Hikari-san, the ice.”

Terriermon handed the ice pack to Hikari, and she held it against the bruise. The cold was uncomfortable, but he’d rather not have a bump the next day.

The next day. Shit. Kimura-sensei would notice the bruise and would want to talk to him and most likely, with his parents too.

Shit. Okay, let’s think of something else.

“If my father was a Chosen too, then… did he have a Crest? Or a Digimental?”

His mother shook her head.

“They were all different groups of Chosen Children. Your father’s group had elemental Spirits instead; he was the Warrior of Darkness. They didn’t have partners like we do.”

She seemed proud of it, but Daiki could only stare at her.

“…Seriously? Light and Darkness?”

Hikari started giggling, despite the look Daiki was giving her.

“I’m literally the child of Light and Darkness? Is that why you two fell in love? I mean, ‘opposites attract’ and all that?”

“We are actually… Well, we were actually not that different. It was mostly how we handled things.”

After some silence, their faces grew serious.

“…How do you think he handled what happened?”

Hikari sighed, and she took the ice pack away from his face. She looked like she was hurting.

“I don’t know, but I’ve always been worried about him.”

More silence.

“…Mom. What are you… What are we going to do now?”

After a moment of thought, Hikari looked at Daiki with determination in her eyes.

“I’m going to call Iori-kun. Hopefully we can solve this before Takashi-san comes back.”

 

“I finally talked with my mother.”

“How did it go?”

“With my mother? It went great. So great, she’s actually going to divorce that bastard as soon as possible.”

“Wait, what? Just like that?”

“Well… It wasn’t exactly ‘just like that’.”

“…Daiki-kun, what― Oh, no. Sorry, I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow. Please take care.”

“I will. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

 

Monday morning. Daiki sighed as he inspected his reflection on the mirror; the bruise was noticeable. His mother had told him to stay home at least for today, but Daiki didn’t want to lose any classes while he could. Moving back to their grandparents’ house was going to keep them busy later that week, and it was only the second week of the school year.

He then looked at his hand. The bandage was gone already, but it was obvious he had hit something. It was as if he was willingly giving reasons for Kimura-sensei to get worried.

Oops.

Terriermon sat on his head the whole way to school, covering half of his face with his long ears. Well, at least strangers wouldn’t be staring.

Unfortunately, Terriermon still wasn’t allowed to go into the classroom, so people were definitely staring when they noticed the bruise. Daiki had been calm the whole morning, but now he was starting to get irritated.

He made his way to his desk and sat down; Hiyori approached him and sat on a nearby chair.

“Daiki-kun, are you alright?” Even though she was whispering, he could hear the worry and urgency in her voice.

“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry. It’s not that bad. This made my mother take the decision, so…”

“Wait, did… did he do this?”

“Alright, everyone! To your seats.”

The voice of Kimura-sensei urged Hiyori to her seat, but not before she gave Daiki another worried look. He just nodded, reassuring her that he was fine.

Kimura-sensei started taking attendance, and when he mentioned Daiki and looked at him, everyone realized that he had noticed the bruise on his face; however, he did his best to avoid a scene. It would have to wait. After the announcement of the beginning of the clubs’ recruitment that week, Kimura-sensei left the classroom.

Thankfully, they didn’t have class with Shirakawa-sensei that day.

 

“He’s going to want to talk to your parents.”

“I know… Ugh. Maybe I should have listened to my mother and stayed home today.”

That was during lunch time, but they confirmed it at the end of the day. Both Daiki and Hiyori were on cleaning duty, and Kimura-sensei waited outside the classroom until they were done.

“Kobayashi-kun?”

Daiki sighed.

“Sensei… Could you use my first name, please? I… I’m not sure I’ll still be Kobayashi Daiki next week.”

Well, if he had to talk about it, better get it over with.

“Alright. Does that have anything to do with the bruise on your face?”

Daiki hesitated for a moment before nodding.

“Okay, then. I’ll call your mother to tell her when I can see her, alright? Just as a precaution.”

“Sensei, is it okay if I give you her cell phone number? My house…”

Kimura-sensei nodded, and as he took out his cellphone from his pocket, another device fell out.

“Oh, dammit. I shouldn’t keep this on the same pocket.”

Daiki stared at the device as Kimura-sensei picked it up from the floor. It was a different model, but it was definitely a digivice. No doubt about it. It actually reminded him of Ken-san’s D-3; it had the same gray and black colors, though with a golden ring. The origins of said D-3 were detailed in one of Takeru-san’s books.

A Chosen Child. The Warrior of Darkness.

“Here, Daiki-kun.”

Kimura-sensei handed him the phone. Daiki quickly typed the number of his mother’s cell phone, but he hesitated for a moment. Should he add the contact as ‘Kobayashi Hikari’, or ‘Yagami Hikari’?

In the end, he just saved it as ‘Daiki-kun’s mother’.

 

“Thank you for this, Iori-kun.”

Iori shook his head, as they stood in the reception of the law firm office where he worked.

“No need to mention it, Hikari-san. Though I’m sorry it came to this. Is Daiki-kun alright?”

Hikari nodded.

“It wasn’t that bad, but it did leave a bruise on his face. I told him to stay home at least for today, but he said he didn’t want to lose class so soon.”

“I see. Well― Ah, there’s Abe-san.”

Abe Chiyoko was a friend of Iori since college, and she had decided to become a divorce lawyer since she knew first-hand how messy divorces could be when one of the parties wasn’t willing to sign.

Which was exactly why Yagami-san needed help.

According to the details Hida-kun had given her, the company where Kobayashi Takashi was hired placed great importance on their workers’ personal lives, including who they were married to, because of their image. Thanks to the Chosen Children’s actions to save both the Digital and Human Worlds more than once, one of them would obviously be a great candidate for a marriage of convenience ―despite having a child out of wedlock―, and a divorce would bring down the company’s image.

So not only would Kobayashi-san be unwilling to sign a divorce form, but in a family court the fact that a divorce affects his image could be used to argue against it.

However, the emotional abuse he had put Yagami-san through during the almost ten years of their marriage, and the fact that he had caused Daiki-kun’s bruise would work on their favor. Abe-san was thankful that in some ways, Japanese law had changed in recent years.

Plus, technically, they had two witnesses.

Abe-san knew it was risky to use Yagami-san and Daiki-kun’s Digimon partners as witnesses. First of all, it was something no one had actually done yet, and people might also wonder why they, as partners of the victims, hadn’t prevented the abuse.

It was easy, though; if the Digimon had intervened, and Kobayashi-san complained, society would be even warier of them than it already was.

Yagami-san being one of the Chosen Children didn’t hurt their case at all. All things considered, they had good chances of winning the favor of the family court; or the judge, if it went that far.

“By the way, Yagami-san, do you think the identity of Daiki-kun’s father might be useful to the case? If you think it is, I’d like to know his name.”

Hikari sighed.

“It’s complicated, Abe-san. Didn’t Iori-kun mention something about that?”

“Just a little bit. Honestly, I couldn’t understand some of it. How did several groups of Chosen Children appear one day only to disappear some years later?”

“That’s not all. They might have reappeared.”

“…Oh. So, Daiki-kun’s father might actually be around?”

“Yes, but he doesn’t know about him. They disappeared before I even found out I was pregnant.”

“I see. Well, let’s keep the name to ourselves unless it’s absolutely necessary, alright?”

“Alright. His name is Kimura Kouichi.”

Chiyoko stared for a moment.

“Kimura Kouichi? Does he happen to have blue eyes and hair?”

“Yes, he does. Why?”

Chiyoko wrote something on a sheet of paper, and then showed it to Hikari.

“Is his name written like this?”

Kimura was a very common surname. Kouichi itself was a pretty common given name.

What wasn’t very common was that the ‘kou’ in Kouichi was written with that particular kanji. Normally, that kanji would be read as ‘ki’―like in Daiki’s name―, or as ‘teru’. But Hikari had only met two people whose names had that kanji read as ‘kou’.

“Yes.”

“Yagami-san, he was my younger brother’s teacher in high school some years ago. It seems like they reappeared without any of you noticing.”

 

Hikari arrived home in the afternoon, ready to start packing things and start moving back to her parents’ house. But before that, she decided to check her cell phone; she had noticed it vibrating inside her purse a couple of times during her meeting with Abe-san, but had forgotten about it after the topic changed to Kouichi.

 It was a lost call and a voicemail, probably left by the unknown caller.

“Good afternoon, Kobayashi-san. I’m Daiki-kun’s homeroom teacher this year; my name is Kimura Kouichi. I’m calling because I’ve noticed Daiki-kun behaving strangely, and today he came to school with a bruise on his face. My intention is not to get involved in private matters, but I simply would like to talk to you to see how I can support Daiki-kun. If possible I’d like to meet you on Wednesday, at 4:00 p.m. in the room for class 1-B. Have a good day.”

Hikari had to sit down; it was his voice. It really was him, it really was Kouichi. His voice sounded just a little bit different; a bit more mature, and despite the professional tone, she could feel him tired and weary.

Had all of them come back? When? Why? How had he dealt with what had happened? He knew that something was wrong back then. Had he moved on? What about Izumi and Akari? What about Juri, Takuya, Junpei, Kouji, everyone…?

On Wednesday, she’d know. She’d meet him for the first time in almost sixteen years.

Chapter Text

Kimura-sensei stepped into the room for Class 1-B. Their school didn’t have many clubs, so many homeroom teachers were free from the responsibilities of an advisor, including Kouichi, leaving him relatively free during after-school hours.

However, right now… Even though it was only the second week of the school year, he already had to hold a meeting with a parent. Sighing, he faced the desk, back turned to the door, and started arranging some documents he had to take home.

A couple of minutes passed before he heard a soft gasp coming from the door. Maybe a student who thought the classroom would be empty? He turned around with a smile, but it fell off his face when he saw the person standing on the door.

“Hikari…?”

Even though it was only a whisper, he felt like it echoed in the room.

It definitely was her. Her hair was longer, her face more mature, but it was definitely her. It was Hikari.

Kouichi blinked, and she wasn’t at the door anymore.

“Wait, no… not again.”

You can’t disappear again.

“Hikari… Hikari…!”

He ran out of the classroom, half of the papers in disarray on the desk and the other half falling to the floor. He wasn’t as athletic as he was so many years ago; he was out of breath as he caught up to her and managed to touch her hand, making her stop.

Kouichi was facing her back, and watched as she brought her hands to her face and her shoulders shook silently.

He couldn’t hold back his own tears either.

“It’s… It’s really you, right? After all these years…”

She sobbed.

“I’m sorry…! I already knew, and I thought I was ready, but it’s too much right now. Just… Just give me some more time, please…”

Kouichi’s emotions were all over the place; his heart was overwhelmed, he didn’t know what was going on, he didn’t know what to think. And yet, his mind felt numb, and the words escaped his mouth before he realized.

“Take all the time you need.”

After a moment, Hikari let out a deep, shaky sigh, and nodded.

“Thank you, Kouichi-kun.”

She started moving towards the door, and then Kouichi’s rationality reacted.

“Wait. I… I did call you for a reason. Is everything alright?”

Hikari was still facing the door, but she nodded again.

“Don’t worry; everything will be fine from now on. I won’t let Daiki to get hurt again.”

 

 

Twenty minutes later, Kouichi was walking to Kouji’s house. Even though it was right in the middle of the week, today they were having their monthly reunion with Takuya’s, Junpei’s and Tomoki’s families.

And yet, his mind kept flashing back to what had happened at school. A part of him still wasn’t convinced of what had happened, and would rather believe that he was just seeing things.

The door to Kouji’s house opened right before he rang the bell.

“…You look like shit. What happened?”

Kouichi could only send him a half-assed glare.

“Where’s Mitsumi?”

“She’s playing upstairs with the other kids. Come in, tell us what happened.”

Kouichi dragged his feet from the entrance until he arrived to the living room where everyone was waiting, and let himself fall down on the couch.

Takuya was about to open his mouth when Kouichi spoke.

“I saw Hikari today.”

It took a while before the other five warriors processed what he had said. Izumi was the first to react.

“Wait, what?! Does that mean Hikari-chan is back?! Did she see you too?!”

Kouichi nodded weakly and sighed, sitting upright.

“I didn’t really talk a lot with her, but― Oh… Oh shit.”

Everyone stared at Kouichi as his face turned from misery to shock and then began taking papers out of his briefcase and placing them all over the coffee table, not minding the cups of tea that were already there. Junpei started taking the empty ones off of it.

“Kouichi, mind explaining what are you doing now?”

He didn’t give Junpei an answer. He kept searching until he found the paper he was looking for, and scanned it until he found the information he needed.

“March 14th… Then, before that…”

He seemed to be trying to count with his fingers, but he was now shaking and his eyes couldn’t seem to focus on a single place for more than a second.

“O-Oi, Izumi, Reika-san, Nanami-san, Kaori-san… What’s the date nine months before March 14th?”

The women in the room started thinking, but Reika, having just had a child on March as well, was the first to answer.

“That would be mid-June.”

That didn’t seem to calm Kouichi down.

“…And… how many years has it been already?”

This time, the question was aimed towards his fellow warriors.

“It’ll be sixteen years this… June… On June 16th.”

Kouji looked at Kouichi, who had buried his face inside his hands, leaving the paper he had been looking at on the table. Kouji took it.

“Kobayashi Daiki… Date of birth, March 14th, 2011… Wait, Kouichi, wasn’t this the kid you were having trouble with? Weren’t you meeting his mother today to talk about him? Does that mean tha―”

“Yes! It means exactly that! It means that Hikari is his mother and I―”

Kouichi sighed deeply and buried his face in his hands.

“I can’t believe I wasn’t there… Almost sixteen years, and I wasn’t there for her.”

After a moment of silence, Takuya spoke.

“That may be so, but… Don’t forget that you might be responsible for the worlds being together again, even if it took such a long time.”

“…We don’t know that, though. I was just having an overpowered breakdown.”

“And so what? It wouldn’t be the first time you caused a big change by doing something reckless because you’re having a breakdown. Ask Lucemon if you wa― Ahh!”

Nanami lightly elbowed her husband in the gut.

“Still so insensitive, Junpei.”

“He is right, though. Kouichi-san might have suffered a lot, but that just encourages him to try and change things.”

“That’s true, if it wasn’t for Kouichi, we might not have defeated Lucemon and GrandDracmon.”

“And don’t forget sealing Dagomon and Demon away, again. Good thing Kouichi was there to help Ken keep the gate open.”

“I wonder if we could defeat them now. We got more powerful after GrandDracmon, after all.”

Kaori sighed, a mix of fondness and resignation.

“Why don’t you guys try battling adult life instead? Don’t worry about evil Digimon that are already sealed away unless they actually present a threat.”

 

 

“How was the meeting with Kimura-sensei?”

Hikari got home a couple hours after the ‘meeting’. She had needed to take some fresh air after what had happened, even if it lasted no more than five minutes.

“It… was alright. Something came up so we didn’t get to talk a lot, but he looks like a good person who cares about you.”

The living room was filled with boxes containing their belongings, waiting for the next day when Daisuke and Taichi would help them move back to the Yagami house. Daiki was still placing some stuff inside one of them.

“Hmm… Maybe it had something to do with his daughter? Since Kimura-sensei just got divorced, he might be very busy looking after her.”

Wait. What.

“Oh. So he’s divorced?”

“Yeah. He has a little daughter, Mitsumi-chan. I met her last weekend when I went to the amusement park with Hiyori. She looks a lot like him.”

Hikari would be lying if she said she wasn’t surprised. It’s not like she hadn’t expected him to eventually move on, but… knowing that apparently he had tried, but it didn’t work out, was something hard to process.

“By the way, what time is Daisuke-san coming? He must be pretty tired after that month-long business trip to England.”

“He said he would come by during the afternoon.”

“What about ojisan?”

“He’ll arrive until eight p.m. He has to arrange some stuff during the morning, and there’s also a meeting with Koushirou-san and some government officials.”

Daiki turned to look at his mother.

“Shouldn’t all of you be present?”

Hikari laughed.

“It’s not like they’re excluding us, Daiki. This one is just to let the government know what’s going on. We will all be present to discuss what we should do next.”

“…Why does the government even need to know?”

“Because if we want Digimon and humans to live together in peace, we need help. There’s only so much a small group of people by country can do; that’s why we need help from the government, and not only the Japanese one.”

Daiki shook his head. He knew his uncle Taichi was some kind of diplomat that traveled the world, but now he was starting to get curious.

“Wait, wait. Does he travel around the world meeting other Chosen Children and other governments to eventually build a peaceful relationship between the two worlds?”

Hikari nodded.

“He has been doing this for years even though half of that time the gate was closed and the other half there was too much interference from I-don’t-know-where to actually go there?”

Hikari nodded once more. It was only recently that they were able to go to the Digital World again, but it had been a few years since they had been able to communicate with Gennai and the Digimon. It had also been around that time when getting a Digimon partner started becoming a common occurrence.

 

 

“Taichi-san, about the interference… I think I’ve found the place it came from.”

Taichi looked up from his cell phone and stared at Koushirou for a moment. He was sitting at his desk, doing some last-minute reviews before their meeting with the government officials.

“Seriously? Can you tell me now or will you wait until the meeting is over?”

Koushirou thought for a moment, looking for a way to say it in only a few words.

“It came from one of the other verses. Being more specific, it came from the Warriors’ verse.”

“Wait. How did it get from there to here? Weren’t we at opposite ends of the multiverse? And what caused it in the first place?”

Koushirou sighed. He couldn’t use only a few words for this; he wanted to explain, but they did have an official meeting in a couple of hours.

“We’re still not sure. My theory is that it traveled in a dimensional rift that affected every verse until it got here, which probably took years. But I still don’t know what caused it. It might have been caused by a fierce battle, probably a very powerful attack. I haven’t had the time to check the data we have on the Warriors, so I’m not sure if it was one of them, or an enemy…”

...But since the readings of the signals Gennai sent to me were so unstable, it might be from one of the bridge worlds that connect our respective Digital Worlds. It could have come from the Dark World, which is the only one that can reach both ends of the multiverse. Now that I think about it, why is the multiverse linear and connected at some points, and not separate bubbles without any connection between them? If we’re connected, should it be called a multiverse? Why did it merge all those years ago in the first place? What caused it to separate? Is the interference from the Warriors’ verse affecting the others in other ways? Is it affecting our verse in other ways? I wonder if―

“Koushirou!”

“Ah, sorry, what is it?”

Taichi smirked at his friend.

“You stopped talking in the middle of it all. Come on, we’ll be late. You can explain later when we’re all together.”

“But… that’s a month from now…”

After all, they all had busy lives. Currently, seven of them were in the city since Taichi and Daisuke had just arrived from their business trips, and Koushirou himself had arrived that morning in order to attend the meeting. However, the rest of them were abroad or in other parts of Japan due to their jobs.

At least he might be able to put his thoughts in order by then.

 

 

“Kouji.”

He looked up from the documents he was putting into his briefcase, and looked at Izumi sitting on the edge of their bed, staring at the floor.

“What is it?”

She didn’t look up.

“After what Kouichi told us… I think I’ll try looking for them. We know Hikari-chan and the others are here now, but we don’t know about the other Chosen Children.”

Kouji left his things aside and sat with Izumi on their bed. He wasn’t an overly friendly person, but he’d be lying if he said that the other Chosen Children vanishing didn’t affect him; so for Izumi, who had become close friends with a lot of them, it had been horrible. He understood why she wanted to look for them.

“Where will you start? Will you meet with Hikari first?”

Izumi shook her head, smiled, and winked at her husband.

“No, before that, I need to gather at least a couple more people.”

Oh.

“How are you going to find those two?”

Izumi laughed.

“I’ll go looking for food, obviously.”

 

 

Well, obviously.

The four of them had partially bonded over food, and Izumi knew for certain that those two were pursuing food-related careers.

So, first of all, Izumi went to visit her editor, Takahashi Shiori-san. While she focused on psychology books, she might be able to help… And she could also help with another little thing Izumi wanted to confirm.

“Orimoto-sensei, what’s this urgent matter you wanted to talk about? Are you sure it couldn’t be handled over the phone?”

Izumi chuckled and waved her hands.

“I’m really sorry, Takahashi-san! You probably won’t think it’s important at all but I swear it is!”

Takahashi-san was a patient person, but there was so much work to do… She sighed.

“Well, we’re already here anyway.”

Izumi smiled and then pulled out a notebook from her purse.

“Takahashi-san, have you heard of a food writer named Hinomoto Akari?”

Shiori shook her head.

“Sorry, Hinomoto doesn’t sound familiar.”

Izumi bit her lip, and decided to take another route.

“Then, what about Kudou Akari?”

Shiori gasped.

“Ah, yes! Kudou Akari, she takes the photographs for her books herself. My wife keeps talking about them all the time.”

“Then, could I get her number from your wife?”

Shiori took out her cell phone, but didn’t contact her wife right away.

“What is this about, though? If you had to ask about her, then you’re not exactly a fan, are you?”

Izumi stayed in silence for a moment.

“Well… We’re actually friends, but some stuff happened and we were unable to contact each other for a long time. That’s why I’m looking for her now.”

Shiori nodded, and started typing on her phone. However, she looked at Izumi again.

“Her books are really popular, how come you haven’t heard of her already?”

“That’s… something I’m wondering too.”

A couple minutes passed and Izumi finally had Akari’s number and address on her notebook.

“One more question, Takahashi-san.”

“Another friend of yours that happens to be a writer too, Orimoto-sensei?”

Izumi laughed nervously.

“Actually, yes. But I don’t need his number this time, I just… want to confirm he’s around, I guess.”

Shiori raised one eyebrow.

“Have you heard of Takaishi Takeru?”

Shiori looked at Izumi with wide eyes.

“Orimoto-sensei, he’s been the Best Seller in Japan and several other countries for a few years now, even though he just released the third part. I mean, if a Chosen Child writes a book of their adventures in the Digital World, it’s bound to become a Best Seller! Especially since his writing is so emotional… To think he was only eight years old at the time…”

So Takeru-kun was around as well… But if he was so well-known, then how come the six of them hadn’t heard of him, or anyone else, at all?

 

 

Izumi sighed. She was already standing on front of the door, so she just had to ring the doorbell.

Akari beat her to it.

She opened the door, saying something about bringing some cookies for Kousuke… and then she stared.

And stared.

And stared…

And sta―

IZUMI??!?!?”

The next ten minutes were awkward and confusing. After yelling her name, Akari had dragged Izumi into her home, made her sit on the sofa with a six year old child who was apparently named Kousuke, and then announced that she would buy some snacks. After that, Izumi heard someone yell “Kyuu!”, and she only managed to catch a flash of pink that disappeared into a room.

“Ah, Cutemon got scared. But you’re not scary, obasan. You look like a nice person.”

Kousuke looked up at Izumi with bright, golden eyes and a wide smile. He looked like a miniature version of Taiki.

“Ah, Kousuke-kun… What about your father? Where is he?”

Kousuke’s eyes became even brighter.

“Dad is a hero! He’s a firefighter and he helps people when their houses are on fire!”

Well, that definitely fits him. He still hadn’t decided around that time, though he seemed to be leaning towards paramedic…

“Really! That’s great! You know, I have a friend who is also a firefighter!”

The door opened, and Akari laughed.

“Please tell me it’s Takuya. It’s Takuya, right?”

“Well, he is fireproof after all.”

After giving Kousuke his cookies and sending him to the kitchen to eat, Akari and Izumi stayed in the living room and talked for a couple of hours about their lives, their jobs and their kids. And finally―

“How exactly did you find out? And how did you find me?”

Izumi sighed, placing her cup of tea on the table.

“Well, basically… Kouichi met Hikari-chan again.”

Akari stared again, for a long moment.

“How―”

“It was only for a moment, but that was enough. Yesterday I talked with my editor, Takahashi-san, and it turns out that her wife is your editor. I also asked about Takeru-kun, and apparently he became Best Seller writing about his adventures in the Digital World, but I still don’t understand why I’ve never heard about him, or about you.”

Akari released a breath, trying to process what was happening. At first she had been in too much of a shock to properly realize that Izumi had found her and she was talking to her, but Izumi really had found her and she really was talking to her and―

“…Izumi!”

With tears in her eyes, Akari hugged Izumi tightly. It had been almost sixteen years; they were all actual, real adults now, with careers and married and with children, and during those sixteen years, they couldn’t share their growth with each other.

 

 

“Now… the next step is to find Juri-chan.”

Akari had cried during a whole half an hour, and Izumi had joined her soon enough. After they had calmed down, they decided to continue what had already started.

“What about Hikari-chan, though?”

Izumi shook her head.

“The three of us need to be together when we see her. Kouichi didn’t tell us much, but it looks like she might need a lot of support, without the pressure of him being there. He seems to think so as well.”

“Wait, pressure? I get things might be awkward between them after all this time, but why would Hikari-chan feel pressured?”

Izumi sighed. She hadn’t really talked about the others yet, especially not about this.

“Well, you’re going to find out anyway… But don’t bring it up unless she does so first, alright?”

Akari nodded firmly.

“Hikari-chan has a son who happens to be old enough for Kouichi to be his dad.”

“Wait, really? How do you know?”

“He’s one of his students. Kouichi arranged a meeting with his mother and it turns out that it was Hikari-chan.”

“I see… But isn’t it too early in the school year to be arranging meetings with the parents? What happened?”

Izumi sighed again.

“We don’t know. This is why we need to do this. Kouichi didn’t talk about it, but he seemed really worried about them. Now, let’s find Juri-chan so we can help Hikari-chan!”

They searched the area near Shinjuku, since that’s where Juri and the other Tamers had lived in all those years ago. They found a couple of restaurants near the zone where she had lived, and quickly searched for the name of the owners.

Matsuda Juri. Bingo.

“So she did marry her goggle head.”

“Just like you did.”

“By the way, who married your goggle head?”

“Oh, she’s a pediatrician named Kaori. She’s a complete sweetheart and a nice contrast for Takuya’s hot head.”

 

 

It was now Saturday. They had arranged to go to Juri’s restaurant in the afternoon, when both of their husbands would be home to spend some quality time with their children.

“She’s the owner though; she might not even be in the restaurant.”

“We just have to ask for her, that’s all.”

 A waitress approached the table they were sitting at, and as they ordered some food, a girl around their own children’s age approached them with a basket of freshly baked bread.

“Nice to meet you, my name is Tooru. Dad told me to bring this to you.”

The girl placed the basket on the table, and then pointed at the window that let the customers see the kitchen.

Takato was waving at them.

Some minutes later, the same waitress brought their food and a message from Takato.

“I just called Juri and she’ll come soon. It’s nice to see you two again.”

They didn’t think soon would be so soon. Or maybe it just seemed that way because of the long time they had already been waiting.

They didn’t notice at first, being so focused on enjoying the food ―it tasted like Juri’s cooking, and Takato’s bread was so delicious―, but then someone yelled and they got startled and looked up to see Juri standing two meters away from them, covering her mouth and her eyes watering.

The food was forgotten as they stood up to hug her, and after a moment Juri took their hands and dragged them towards the management office ―her office― before the three of them could interrupt the other customers’ meals even further.

Once inside, Juri stood there, looking at them for a moment, trying to process what was going on.

“…How?”

That was probably the question everyone would ask once they found out.

“We still don’t know, but it doesn’t really matter right now, does it?”

Juri shook her head and hugged her friends again.

 

 

“I’m glad they could meet each other again, at least.”

Sitting around Juri’s desk, they shared what little information they had with her. Akari sighed.

“Yes, that’s great! But we gotta help them out now. We all know how they used to deal with their problems at first; and by that I mean that they didn’t, because they didn’t want to burden each other with them. I hope they don’t go back to that.”

Izumi sighed.

“Like I said, Kouichi didn’t tell us much about the situation, so I have no idea if Hikari-chan dealt with what happened any better than Kouichi did. I bet she did, though.”

She had a concerned expression while she spoke.

Akari and Juri looked at each other and then at Izumi. They knew she didn’t really want to divulge such personal details ―hell, she didn’t really talk much about the rest of her group unless directly asked―, but at least a hint would be nice to get an idea of the situation.

“…Was it that bad?”

Izumi sighed again.

“Things got worse than just the separation. He did try to move on at one point, but he was a complete mess. It was only relatively recently that he started to get better, but now…”

A moment of silence followed.

“Do you believe… it might have been better if they hadn’t seen each other?”

Juri’s voice was quiet, almost afraid of asking the question. Izumi immediately shook her head.

“Of course not! This is one of the best things that have happened since that day! I’m just worried about them because while I know what Kouichi’s situation has been through all these years, I don’t know how it has been for her… and Daiki-kun.”

Akari and Juri nodded.

“Right now, Kouichi is still healing from all those years, and we’ve supported him through them. I’m sure Hikari-chan was supported by her family and friends, but if we want things to be like they were before, we have to reunite everyone.”

Juri and Akari nodded again and smiled.

“Let’s start with Hikari-chan.”

 

 

Kouichi woke up the day following the meeting, feeling completely exhausted. It took his mind a few seconds to remember the events of the day before and silently cursed that it was only Thursday.

Now that he had done the math ―or rather, that Reika had been so kind as to do it for him―, it would be hard to interact with Daiki without thinking that he was most likely his son.

More like, he was definitely his son.

Not only had they actually been together right before the separation took place, but now that he knew Hikari was Daiki’s mother, Kouichi couldn’t help realizing that the boy did look a lot like him.

That was part of the reason Daiki had reminded him of Kouji. It was not only a similar aloof personality, but they actually shared some physical resemblance. Except the eyes; those were Hikari’s.

Upon realizing it, Kouichi hated how he didn’t recognize those eyes.

Hikari had been one of the most important people in his life; they had learned from each other, and little by little, they started relying on each other instead of trying to carry their burdens on their own.

However, after what happened, Kouichi had to re-learn all of it.

He had made bad decisions. He had made horrible decisions. But his friends and his brother were still there, willing to help him carry his burden, even though the separation hadn’t been any easier for them.

So he had to learn to rely on them in order to move forward. That’s what Hikari would have wanted, after all.

“Papa! Papa!”

Kouichi jumped out of the bed and ran towards the living room.

He had to do it for his daughter as well.

“Mitsumi, what happened?”

The girl stared at the T.V. for a moment, and then shook her head.

“A light came out of it, but it’s gone now.”

Could it be…?

Well, it wouldn’t be strange. Kiyoshi, Junpei’s son, had been the first to receive Kokuwamon as a partner. After him, it had been Gian, who got Neamon, and then Tadashi, Takuya’s older son, who received Bokomon. Only a couple of weeks earlier Takuya’s younger daughter, Akane, had gotten Bakumon as her partner. It was only a matter of time for Mitsumi to get hers, since she was the same age as Akane.

“Again!”

Indeed, a white light came out of the television and after a few seconds, two objects appeared through the screen. The light was gone, and the egg and the cyan colored Digivice ―modeled after the D-Scanner, minus the scanning abilities― gently fell on the floor.

Mitsumi stared at the egg before screaming in delight.

“Papa! Papa! I have a partner!”

She ran towards the egg and picked it up gently before placing it on a cushion; then she picked up the Digivice, and stared at it for a moment with a big grin on her face.

“I wonder what kind of partner I got…”

Kouichi wondered the same. He had noticed a pattern with the other kids; their partners were Digimon that their parents had bonded with the first time they had gone to the Digital World. However, Kouichi hadn’t bonded with any Digimon other than Bokomon and Neamon, because he had spent half of the time isolating himself as Duskmon, and the other half isolating himself because of his status as a ghost.

And it’s not like he had the chance to do it the second time he went to the Digital World, seeing as he had caused a major disaster…

“It’s hatching!”

The egg shone and it turned into a small, round creature. Once it stopped shining, Kouichi realized that it was a YukimiBotamon. The baby Digimon jumped towards Mitsumi’s stretched arms, and snuggled against her face.

Kouichi smiled and sighed. Good thing nursery schools were more lenient towards Digimon partners.

Chapter Text

Taichi and Agumon arrived to Hikari’s house on Thursday afternoon to help take them and the last of their belongings to their parents’ house. As Daiki and the Digimon carried some suitcases to the car, Taichi decided to speak to his sister.

“Koushirou told me something before our meeting. It’s relevant to what’s happening right now.”

“The cause of the multiverse merging again?”

Taichi took in a sharp breath before relaxing and nodding. Hikari had only told him last night, so he hadn’t been able to ask Koushirou for more details.

“Yeah, probably. It’s more about the interference of these last years. At least that’s what Koushirou said.”

Hikari nodded.

“Apparently the interference came from the Warriors’ verse, or maybe from the Dark World. We still don’t know the source though; Koushirou said he’ll look at the data he got from the Warriors back then to see if one of them could have caused it.”

Hikari didn’t answer; she was deep in thought.

“Hikari?”

She looked up, still saying nothing and her lips tight with worry.

“…Do you know if Kouichi could have something to do with it?”

 

…Kouichi?

 

“Izumi?”

“What is it?”

“...What are you planning for this reunion?”

Izumi looked up from her desk, and took a deep breath as she leaned back into her chair.

“Something small, of course. I want a bigger one when we have contacted everyone, but for now a small one will do. It’s not like everyone is in Tokyo, so we can’t contact them as easily.”

Akari nodded.

“Nene is in the middle of a tour,” she said as she took out a magazine from her purse and placed it on the desk. “And Kiriha-kun is who knows where, with all those InterPol cases.”

“And the Hunters?”

“I only know they are all away from Tokyo.”

“So it’s only you two and Zenjirou?”

“From my group, yes. And all the Tamers are in the city.”

“So, there’s three of you, five Tamers, twelve with Hikari-chan’s group, and six of us Warriors; plus families and everyone’s Digimon partners.”

Akari leaned back into her chair. She took a moment to think about the last year they were all together; some of them were in college, some others were still deciding what to do, and a few others had already started working. She had been halfway through college when the separation took place, and now she was a successful food writer, married to her childhood friend, and with a young son she was proud of.

She sighed. They were all so old already!

“How has Kouichi been since that day?”

Izumi tapped her pen against her desk a couple of times. “Well… I haven’t heard much from him since that day, but Kouji says he’s fine.”

Akari chuckled. “Does he still insist that he and Kouichi don’t have the twin telepathy thing going on?”

Izumi nodded and laughed. “It’s still funny how he says that when they keep opening the door exactly before the other rings the bell. Takuya has mostly stopped annoying him about it, so that’s how we know he has become at least a bit more mature.”

They laughed for a moment before they were interrupted by the doorbell.

“That must be Juri-chan. Let’s go put our plan in action!”

 

Hikari sat in the living room, sighing deeply. She looked at yet another call from Takashi activating her phone, before being marked as lost. She felt grateful that he was so worried about his public image and wanted to be subtle, or he might have gone looking for them. She shook her head, and then opened her messaging app.

Hikari had messaged Kouichi on Thursday morning to let him know about Daiki’s absence for the rest of the week, and that he would be back on Monday. It had taken a few hours for him to reply —probably until a break.

Understood.

And, personally… Please let me know if I can help with anything.

This time it had taken her some time to reply.

Thank you.

Hikari knew that the right thing to do was to keep her distance for some time; but it still hurt. Now that he was back, she wanted nothing more than to be with him and talk about all those years they were apart.

Not only that; if he was back, that meant the others had to be back as well, right?

The doorbell rang. She was alone; Daiki had gone out with Hiyori, and her parents went out on some errands. When she got close to the door, she could hear a set of giggling voices that shushed each other.

She opened the door—

“Hikari-chan!”

They were back too.

Hikari gasped and covered her mouth. The three of them were here, and she wasn’t surprised that they had found her so soon.

“How did you even… You three are impossible!”

Crying, she threw herself at her friends with arms wide open and laughed with them.

 

“Kouichi didn’t say much, but we decided to come support you anyway.”

Hikari gave them a smile, but she didn’t know where to start.

“I’m really going to need it, thank you. What… What did he tell you?” She asked, turning towards Izumi, who was most likely the one who started the reunion.

Izumi sighed. “Well… He told us he had seen you, then… Let’s say he had a fascinating epiphany…”

Hikari couldn’t help but chuckle.

“So he realized it…”

“He’s still not good at math; he had to ask everyone what the date nine months before March 14 was.”

Juri shook her head. “Bad at math or not, it must have been shocking to realize that.”

They fell into silence.

“I only found out I was pregnant about two weeks after the separation took place. It was difficult; I wanted Kouichi-kun to be there, but it was impossible. However, everyone else was with me, so it became bearable with time.”

Izumi smiled.

“So it wasn’t that bad for you… I’m relieved.”

Hikari, Akari, and Juri looked up at her, and her smile was replaced with a worried frown.

“I… should probably wait until Kouichi decides to share it himself, but… I think Hikari-chan needs to know at least a little.”

She sighed.

“It was a mess. And not only because of the separation; it was as if the multiverse had painted a bullseye on him. Around September, his mother died, and he went to live with his father. Having Kouji close helped him a little, but… Well, his college years weren’t better.”

Izumi stopped for a moment to decide how to continue.

“He said something to me a few years ago; ‘Things only started making sense once Mitsumi was born’. Mitsumi is his daughter, and she’s five years old. However, he recently got divorced so he has to witness how she goes through it.”

Hikari sighed.

“Daiki did mention Mitsumi-chan once, and that he was divorced, but now that I know about Kimura-san, I feel like I had plenty of reason to worry during all these years.”

And there’s more, Hikari-chan, but I won’t go into that.

Akari looked at the others; the silence was too heavy now, and Kouichi wasn’t there anyway, so they should focus on the people they could start helping right now.

“So, Hikari-chan. How are you doing? That’s the reason we’re here, after all.”

“Well… The reason Kouichi wanted to talk to me last Wednesday was because Daiki went to school with a bruise on his face. My hus…” She shook her head. “Takashi-san pushed him after Daiki confronted him, and he hit his head on a table.”

The three of them stared in shock, but the door opened before they could ask anything.

“Mom, I’m home!

They turned to look at Daiki; he did look a lot like Kouichi. And indeed, he still had a bruise on the side of his head.

“Welcome home, Daiki! Come greet my friends, this is Akari-san, Izumi-san, and Juri-san. They’re friends from a long time ago.”

While he was greeting them, Terriermon walked further into the room, curious about the strangers. Juri spotted him, and immediately shifted her focus to the Digimon.

“Are you Daiki-kun’s partner?”

Terriermon nodded as he climbed onto his partner’s shoulder. “That’s right~ I’m Daiki-chan’s partner!”

Juri giggled. “You’re so cute! You know, one of my old friends also has a Terriermon as partner.”

Daiki blinked; adults didn’t usually have partners. “Wait, you’re a Chosen Child?” He turned to look at Izumi and Akari. “And you too?”

Then he turned to look at Hikari. “Then, are they also friends with Kimura- I mean- Are they- Agh!”

Daiki pressed his hands against his face. Hikari grabbed his shoulders gently.

“Daiki, you… you know?”

He sighed, and let his hands fall.

“I saw Kimura-sensei with a black and gray Digivice on Monday, after you told me Dad was the Warrior of Darkness. On Wednesday, you said your meeting with him was cut short, yet you took a while to come home, so I thought something had happened. I also overheard you talking with ojisan on Thursday, when you were talking about the interference. Just today, Hiyori told me that she noticed the resemblance last week, when we met him and Mitsumi-chan at the amusement park...”

Hikari sighed and hugged him. “Sorry, I was planning on telling you soon…”

Daiki shook his head. “It’s alright. A lot of stuff has been going on anyway… But when did you all come back?” He asked, turning around to look at his mother’s friends.

The three looked at each other with the same question in their faces. “We don’t know either; I only found out on Wednesday from Kouichi. But I’ve discovered that some strange things have been happening.”

“Strange… how?”

“Well, Akari and I both work with the same publishing company, yet we had never heard of each other until I went looking for her. I asked my editor if she had heard about Takeru-kun as well, and she told me that he’s a Best Seller author too, but I never heard about him!”

Hikari blinked, and then stepped forward as she remembered something.

“Wait! Something similar happened to me on Monday. I went to see Abe-san, the lawyer who is helping me with the divorce. She asked for Daiki’s father’s name, and then she said Kouichi-kun had been her younger brother’s high school teacher some years ago.”

They decided to sit down and write down all of that. Maybe Koushirou would find it useful; and they knew Izumi certainly would, as she talked to Hikari and Daiki about her plans.

The big reunion was scheduled for the first day of Golden Week, in a small venue that belonged to one of Izumi’s friends. That still left Daiki with two weeks of awkward interaction with Kimura-sensei before being ‘officially’ introduced as father and son, plus his mother’s divorce process where he would most likely be called to offer his version of events.

Those two weeks couldn’t go by fast enough.

 

“Kou~ i~ chi~”

It was Sunday afternoon, and like every week, Kouichi and Mitsumi were visiting the Minamoto house —now with YukimiBotamon. Izumi had just returned from her “secret mission”, as Kouji put it.

“What is it, Izumi?”

“I’m organizing a party during Golden Week! You have to bring Mitsu-chan here before it starts so I can help her dress up!”

“Hey! I can do a good job by now!”

Izumi dismissed the comment with a wave of her hand.

“For everyday stuff, sure, but this is a party, Kouichi. You’ll want your daughter to feel like a princess!”

Kouichi rolled his eyes. “I make her feel like a princess every day, thank you very much. Isn’t it right, Mitsumi?” He called to his daughter, who was just returning from the kitchen with a cookie along with Giancarlo and their partners.

“Of course! And Papa is my prince!”

Kouichi smirked at Izumi. “And what’s the party for? I don’t think it’s a good moment for that…”

Izumi giggled. “Don’t worry about the details, Kouichi. I’ll tell you more about it later, but you definitely will not regret it.”

 

Monday morning again. Last week, Daiki had arrived to school with a big bruise on his head. The bruise was fading, but now he was going to arrive, and Kimura-sensei would take attendance, and he would have to answer, and it would be awkward.

“Don’t worry, he’ll be feeling just as awkward as you.”

That’s what Izumi-san had said, but Daiki didn’t know if that made him feel better or worse.

A new train line made his trip from Odaiba to Shibuya faster than it would have been back in his mother’s youth, but having to wake up earlier to get to school on time was a good way to make Terriermon stay at home —even though he really missed his company.

After finally arriving to his classroom, he felt the knot in his stomach come back. Hiyori told him everything would be fine, and even though he knew that there was no logical reason to be nervous, his stomach seemed to think otherwise.

The feeling got stronger the moment Kimura-sensei opened the door. He wasn’t acting out of the ordinary, but as he went through his Monday routine, Daiki couldn’t help but think that Kimura-sensei was doing his best to not look in his direction.

“Kobayashi Daiki-kun.”

He didn’t look up when he mentioned his name.

“…Here.”

 

Hiyori could feel the tension in the air, and she was pretty sure that their classmates could feel it too.

She had noticed the resemblance between Daiki, Kimura-sensei and Mitsumi-chan that day in the amusement park, but she had thought it was only due to their matching hair color. Once Daiki told her about everything he had noticed on his own, she realized that there really was a resemblance; looking at Kimura-sensei now, she knew that his facial features were like Daiki’s.

Her heart ached, and she wished she didn’t have to hide her relationship with Daiki from her parents. It had been him who had helped her when she received Piyomon as her partner and helped hide her until they could find a place where Piyomon could stay without the threat of her parents finding out.

He had always listened to her as she complained about her parents and cried through her despair of not being able to leave yet; he held her as she regained her strength to go back home at the end of the day.

As Kimura-sensei continued taking attendance, Daiki looked at her and smiled.

Hiyori couldn’t help but smile back. She was there for him, too.

 

Lunchtime arrived.

Daiki decided to ask Kimura-sensei about the work he had missed during Thursday and Friday, but he hesitated before knocking on the teachers’ room door. He had managed to keep himself busy enough to avoid thinking about it during class, but now the thought was trying to form in his mind.

“He’s my f…”

“He’s my fa…”

“Kimura-sensei is my fa…”

“Kimura-sensei, can we talk for a moment?”

Kouichi hesitated for a moment; he didn’t know if Daiki knew, and for a moment he thought that it was the reason he wanted to talk. However, he soon remembered that this was Daiki, so it probably was something else.

He thought it would be over once he had handed over the assignments Daiki had missed, but the boy didn’t move.

They all disappeared; it couldn’t be helped.

“Sensei.”

Daiki averted his eyes and spoke quietly.

“I know… I know it wasn’t your fault, so you don’t have to worry about that. I understand it couldn’t be helped.”

Daiki bowed, muttered a thank you, and left.

Kouichi was speechless. Daiki knew, and he knew why he hadn’t been there, and he didn’t hold it against him.

He felt the sting of tears in his eyes, but took a deep breath and returned to his work.

 

Two weeks went by.

 

For the most part, it had stopped being awkward after Daiki told him he knew. It was something that they had been able to push to the back of their minds, at least until Golden Week started.

Kouichi hadn’t been able to get Izumi —or Kouji— to tell him more about this party of hers, but he was very suspicious, considering what they had recently discovered. It was something that Izumi would totally do, and he knew she had the determination to accomplish it, but he wondered if there really was enough time to do it.

The day of the event, he took Mitsumi and YukimiBotamon to the Minamoto house to dress her up with Izumi’s help and leave for the venue from there. Izumi was humming happily to herself the whole time, and at moments she seemed to think about something and grin proudly.

Probably a big accomplishment then.

As he helped arrange some last details along with his friends, his old battle instincts warned him of someone about to attack from behind.

“KOUICHI!”

Turning around quickly, he took a step back when he saw her.

“…Akari?!”

A smile formed on his face and he laughed. Approaching behind her were Taiki and a boy who seemed to be around the same age as Mitsumi.

“Izumi really did it...”

As they greeted and joked with each other, the Warriors’ kids and their partners approached the group of adults. Kouichi looked at his daughter and smiled at her; she was going to have fun meeting many other kids.

Kouichi then busied himself with any little detail he could find; if this really was happening, then Hikari would arrive at any moment. And as much as he wanted to see her again, his nerves would make him go crazy before that could happen.

He was checking on the kids when she arrived last, barely five minutes after the appointed time. After all, everyone was eager to see each other again.

 

“Thank you everyone for coming!”

As the hostess of the event, Izumi stepped at the center and addressed her friends.

“As we all know, it has been almost sixteen years since the day our worlds separated for still unknown reasons, although it is my understanding that Koushirou-san has been researching the matter.” She looked at him, waiting for his nod of confirmation. “And while we still don’t have all the answers, I’m sure that with all of us together we’ll eventually get them. For time being, even though not everyone can be here because of different reasons, let’s introduce our families to each other and catch up with the friends we couldn’t see during all these years.”

Most of the people invited had attended; the Tamers and the Warriors were complete, but as expected, only three Hunters were able to be there, and Takeru hadn’t been able to come back in time as he was still busy in a book tour around Europe.

And they still hadn’t been able to find any of the DATS agents.

 

As the groups mingled and introductions were given for spouses, children, and partners, Kouichi walked up to Hikari and Daiki.

“Can we talk outside for a moment?”

He looked over at where Mitsumi was playing with Kanbara Akane and Izumi Chie. Understanding his reason, Hikari nodded, but Daiki didn’t know whether he should follow or stay behind.

“Daiki-kun, you should come too.”

Awkwardly still, he nodded and followed. Tailmon and Terriermon stayed behind, opting to look over the younger kids and their baby Digimon partners.

“Why isn’t Mitsumi-chan coming too?”

Kouichi gave him an apologetic smile.

“Well, I don’t… I still don’t know how to tell her. She still misses her mother, and I don’t want to make it harder for her.”

They sat on a pair of benches placed in front of each other in the garden outside the venue and remained in silence for some moments.

Daiki carefully looked at his father’s eyes, trying to be discreet. He could clearly see deep sadness, regret, and relief. Minamoto Izumi-san hadn’t told him much about what happened during those years they’d been missing, but he now believed that it had been something tragic.

Kouichi looked up at Hikari and sighed.

“I don’t know where to start… But maybe you do?” He said, looking at Daiki with a small smile.

Hikari smiled as well as she placed a hand on their son’s shoulder.

“I found out I was pregnant two weeks after you disappeared. At first I was terrified; everything happened too fast, and we were all distraught. Fortunately, my brother and my friends were incredibly supporting.”

Kouichi chuckled. “I’m guessing the ‘Hikari Protection Squad’ was really active during that time.”

Daiki looked at his mother in confusion. “It’s the first time I hear that, but… Is that uncle Taichi, Takeru-san and Daisuke-san?”

“Bingo!”

Kouichi and Hikari laughed, but Daiki didn’t.

“Is that why they were so serious when you decided to marry Kobayashi-san?”

He didn’t want to sound like he was accusing his mother, but he was worried. Even though he had been five years old at the time, he had noticed the change in their mood when the wedding had taken place.

His parents became serious.

“I married… I married him when Daiki was five years old. My brother had been sort of a father figure for him, but I knew that if it continued like that he might neglect to focus on a family of his own. He was already dating Kazue-san, and I was worried.

I thought getting married would be better to raise him. Soon after that, I met Kobayashi-san, and it wasn’t long before he proposed. I knew he was doing it for the sake of his public image, and I noticed his behavior before, but he acted nice to Daiki, and I thought… I really thought…”

Hikari closed her eyes tightly and took deep breaths to keep her emotions under control. Before Daiki could react, Kouichi had already reached for her hands and held them softly between his.

“Hikari, listen to me. I know you did your best to take care of Daiki, of our son, on your own. I know you chose whatever you thought was best. I know, because my mother…” His voice wavered, and he paused for a moment. “My mother would have done the same if needed. What that man did was his own fault, not yours. I’m proud of you, Hikari.”

His voice was tender and filled with love, and Daiki’s breath shook. As far as he knew, his mother hadn’t been treated with such care by Kobayashi-san, and she looked completely content with this man.

Kouichi then looked at him with a smile, and his left hand reached for his shoulder.

“As for you, Daiki” He started, “I’m proud of you for standing up for your mother. I’m also worried about the way you reacted, but mostly proud.”

“Mom said you would have reacted the same way.”

Kouichi laughed awkwardly as he rubbed the right side of his head and Hikari shook her head and sighed happily in apparent resignation.

“And what about you, Kouichi-kun? What happened during those years?”

Before Kouichi could answer the question, he turned to look at the door connecting the garden with the venue. Kouji was there.

Hikari giggled.

“Did you finally embrace the twin telepathy, Kouji-san?”

He sighed, and walked closer to them.

“Nice to see you again, Hikari.”

“Same here, Kouji-san.”

Kouji looked towards Daiki and stared for a moment before he talked.

“Mitsumi has been asking where you are since she saw you were here; I guess it’s better for you to go before she gets here and wonders what’s going on.”

Daiki smiled and stood up.

“Alright, thank you, uh…”

“I’m your uncle, aren’t I? Just call me that.”

Daiki nodded and told himself he’d do that next time.

“I’ll be going now, then.”

“Daiki, wait.”

Kouichi stood up.

“Could I, uh…”

Somehow, Daiki knew what he meant, so he pushed through the awkward feeling and hugged his dad. It took Kouichi a moment to process, but eventually returned the hug.

“We can talk later, right?

“Of course. I have fifteen years to catch up to.”

Daiki nodded and stepped back. With a last smile, he turned around and walked inside.

Kouichi lightly kicked his brother on the leg to catch his attention.

“Just in time. I wasn’t sure I wanted him to hear everything so soon.”

Kouji rolled his eyes and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“I know. Don’t be too hard on yourself; I’ll leave you guys alone now.”

He left, and Kouichi sat down again.

“What happened that you didn’t want him to hear?”

Her voice was heavy with worry, and Kouichi sighed.

“Did Izumi say something?”

“She only mentioned your mother.”

His face lost any sign of happiness, and he bowed his head until it was almost touching his knees. Hikari placed a hand on his shoulder and encouraged him to raise it again.

“I tried several times, but we weren’t able to go to the Digital World for several weeks after the separation, not even through the Dark Area. We were all upset, but I wasn’t coping well with the situation and I was aware of it, so I didn’t tell my friends. Only Kouji knew.

Three months later, there was an accident at the factory where my mother worked. A section of the ceiling collapsed, and many of the workers got buried… My mother spent several days in the ICU, but…”

He brushed off unshed tears and sighed.

“My emotions got the better of me. We’re still not sure who it was, but someone took advantage of that to turn me back into Duskmon.”

His voice was a shaky whisper as he looked away from her.

“Whatever was interfering with our entrance to the Digital World was gone, and I got in through the Dark Area. By the time everyone else got there, I had already let GrandDracmon escape from prison in the Dark Area. After that, whoever had used me released me, but my Spirits got taken away temporarily by the Three Angels.”

“Why did they do that?”

“In part because we didn’t know who was pulling the strings, but also because they didn’t trust me to not turn again, considering my emotional state.”

He smiled sadly, and this time he allowed himself to let some tears fall down his cheeks. Hikari reached out and brushed them away, and Kouichi took the chance to hold it in place for a moment.

“I got my Spirits back eventually, and the rest of us finally got to Double Spirit Evolve. As Reichmon, I was able to land some heavy damage on GrandDracmon, and we defeated him. However, Bokomon told me the attack I used could have some big effects.”

“You should tell Koushirou-san about that.”

Kouichi nodded and released her hand.

“After that, Kouji convinced me to accept my father’s offer to move in with him. I felt ashamed because I had decided to not meet him, but we managed to work through it.”

After a pause, his expression became troubled.

“Did something else happen?”

Kouichi sighed deeply and nodded.

“I tried moving on after that. It hurt, but I thought that you wouldn’t like me to stay stuck in the past.”

“You’re right.”

Hikari smiled at him, and he returned it with a smile of his own that quickly disappeared.

“My father sent me to college, and there I met a woman named Chihaku. These days I’m not sure why I stayed with her, but back then it looked like a good idea, even though it was unhealthy. We fought a lot, and she never got along with Kouji and the others. A couple years after we finished college, we got married on a whim; it became worse.

She always liked drinking, but it became more frequent. She cheated on me and she would be gone several days at a time, claiming it was for job reasons. Around that time, I started smoking to deal with the stress.”

His expression turned sour.

“I think we only stayed together as long as we did because we were too busy to go out of our way to get a divorce. Eventually, we got pregnant with Mitsumi, and I had to beg her to take care during the pregnancy. Once she was born… it was like my eyes were opened.”

‘Things only started making sense once Mitsumi was born.’

“I told Chihaku I named her after Kouji, but… I actually named her after you.”

Kouichi took Hikari’s hand, and with his finger, he traced the kanji for Mitsumi’s name on her open palm.

Mitsu, light; mi, beauty.

Not letting go of her hand, Kouichi continued.

“I got divorced from Chihaku last year. She started drinking at home, and always tried to fight with me in front of her; when she wasn’t ignoring Mitsumi, she was yelling at her. We signed the document, and the next day she was gone.

My friends have been a great help, along with my father and Rieko-san. They taught me how to do a lot of things when Mitsumi was born, and since Izumi is a child psychologist, she’s helping her deal with the divorce. Until recently, Mitsumi still cried when we got home after school because her mother wasn’t coming home. I think she believes it’s her fault she left, because of how Chihaku behaved around her.”

They stayed in silence for a moment that felt like an eternity.

“I always knew you’d be a good father, Kouichi-kun.”

Hikari smiled at him and held his hands.

“Despite going through so many hard things, and even though your marriage was rough, you did your best for Mitsumi-chan. So I’m very proud of you, Kouichi-kun. I’m happy that you tried your best.”

 

Kouichi chuckled, and his smile turned awkward.

“I have to ask, now that we’re here. How… How is your divorce going?”

Hikari sighed.

“As expected, he didn’t want to give it up. However, the family court ruled in our favor because of the emotional and physical damage inflicted to us. Once Golden Week is over, I just have to sign some papers, and it’ll be over. But now I must find a job! I was able to go to college after Daiki started school, but Kobayashi-san insisted that I stayed at home instead of working at the nursery school.”

“I think one of the teachers at Mitsumi’s school will move to another city soon, so you could try there. That way you won’t have to worry about Daiki either, since the school is nearby.”

Hikari smiled.

“That would be wonderful. And you could probably spend some time with Daiki, too.”

Kouichi nodded, and looked down at their hands, still intertwined.

“What about us, though? I don’t think it’s wise to be hasty.”

“Neither do I. After all, both of us got divorced recently. I think it would also be better if we didn’t tell her Daiki is her brother yet.”

“If it’s too soon, Mitsumi might think Chihaku left so I could be with you; I wouldn’t want her to hate you, or to think that I’ll leave her too.”

“So, we wait.”

“We wait.”

Having reached an agreement, they stood up. Hikari started making her way back inside, but Kouichi stayed behind.

“Kouichi-kun?”

He reached into his pocket and took out a cigarette.

“It’s the last one.”

Chapter Text

Koushirou and Tentomon sat at one end of the arrangement of tables with his laptop open. Taichi, Takuya, Takato and Taiki were sitting closest to him with their partners, as spokespeople for their groups.

The youngest children were distracted, playing with their partners, but the three oldest —Yagami Daiki, Ichijouji Ren, and Motomiya Taira— stayed with the adults, curious about the relationship between their world and the Digital World. They had only been there once, and because there had been no situation that required them to act, they hadn’t explored it yet.

“Let’s begin.”

After a brief rundown of the separation of worlds taking place, and the problems to communicate and travel to the Digital World, they started to discuss the new information.

“So, when were you able to communicate with the Digital World again? We were only able to do so until five years ago.” Koushirou was already typing away on his laptop, with countless diagrams showing on the screen behind him.

“It was around eleven years ago for us, we discovered it by accident when we visited Kiriha and Nene after their twins were born.”

“It was fourteen years ago for us, we found out when Jen and Ruki started working for the cybernetics branch of the police.”

“It only took a few months for us. We were able to travel there by September of the same year.”

Koushirou nodded and brought their attention to a diagram shown on the screen.

“These are our verses. From left to right, we have the Warriors’ verse, then the Tamers’, the Generals’, the Agents’ and then ours.”

Under each verse, Koushirou had added a number corresponding to how many years ago each of them were able to reconnect to the Digital World.

“I’m guessing that the Agents’ verse was able to reconnect to the Digital World around eight years ago, based on the pattern I’ve seen. I was able to track the interference that appeared at that time, and its origin seems to be either the Dark World, or the Warriors’ verse.”

All eyes turned to the six Warriors.

“Yeah, well… Something did come up soon after the separation.” Takuya said, shrugging and scratching the back of his head.

“What happened is that there was a Digimon called GrandDracmon that was imprisoned in the Dark Area and got released.” Tomoki explained. “The rest of us got to Double Spirit Evolve, but Kouichi-san had to use a powerful attack to defeat it.”

 “Bokomon told us after GrandDracmon was defeated.” Junpei added, looking over at the place where the Digimon was enjoying playing with their partner, Takuya’s son Tadashi. “They said that Reichmon’s Schwarz Lehrsatz attack is able to mess with the laws of physics, so that might be what caused the interference.”

Koushirou was quickly typing down the new information on his computer, excited to have finally found the answers he had been looking for.

“Did this battle happen in the Dark Area?”

“Yes. Though more accurately, it happened in the liminal space between the Dark Area and our Digital World.”

 

Daiki smiled. His dad’s team seemed friendly, and it was clear that they had spent a lot of time together, just like his mom’s.

“Your dad is the one with the short hair, right? You look a lot like him, Daiki-san.”

“Yeah, that’s him. Looking back, it was kind of obvious.”

“Hmm… Maybe if Hikari-san had told you a bit about him, you would have realized it.”

“Maybe… but at least I know now, Ren. It’s not like it took a long time to figure out either way.”

“Hey, do you think that maybe we’ll get to help out? Everything they’re discussing sounds really exciting…”

Daiki and Ren looked at Taira, who seemed to be jealous of their parents’ adventures and laughed.

“Who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.”

 

Koushirou cleared his throat.

“We have a probable source of the interference now, but I still need more data to find out if Reichmon’s Schwarz Lehrsatz was the catalyst for the verses to merge again. Ideally, I’d like to run some scans while Kouichi-san uses it, but…”

Kouichi shook his head.

“I’d rather not use it again unless it’s absolutely necessary. If it really caused the verses to reunite, it has the power to separate them again.”

The following silence went on too long for comfort, but everyone hesitated to break it under the weight of Kouichi’s statement.

“What about just scanning Reichmon?”

Koushirou nodded.

“Yes… That should be enough, Tomoki-san. It would just be a matter of when we could do it; the sooner, the better.”

Kouichi bit his lip as he looked to the side; Kouji placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry about Mitsumi, we can watch her while you do that. She can spend the day with Gian.”

“Thanks, but I really wanted to spend the whole week with her… Can’t we do it after Golden Week?”

Koushirou sighed.

“We could, but after the week is over I will go back to Kyoto to work on a report with Professor Takenouchi, especially with the new information we have now.”

“Then, what if we bring the children over to the Digital World?”

Everyone looked at Taichi, who was smiling brightly.

“I don’t know about the others, but since it was only recently that we were able to go to the Digital World, we have only visited with our kids once.”

Most of the present immediately let the rest know they wouldn’t be able to go, as they already had plans for the rest of the week. At the end, it was most of the Warriors and some of the Twelve who would be there.

“Then it’s decided, we’ll meet the day after tomorrow! And of course, we’ll keep the rest informed of anything we discover.”

 

The evening soon arrived, and everyone started to leave. Numbers and addresses were exchanged to avoid losing contact again. At last the Warriors were left with a few of the Twelve that would go to the appointment in the Digital World.

Kouichi carried Mitsumi, who had fallen asleep a few minutes before while holding her partner in her arms. She became good friends with the kids she had met, and Kouichi was happy that she wasn’t as lonely as she had been before. As he walked to the entrance of the building, someone stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

“Hey, Kouichi.”

“Taichi-san…”

“You… talked to Hikari already, didn’t you?”

“Yes, and with Daiki too.”

“I see. Well, I’ll leave now. Isamu fell asleep too.”

“Taichi-san, wait.”

Kouichi bowed as far as he could, slowly, without dropping Mitsumi.

“I know it would be silly to think you’d do otherwise, but thank you for being with Hikari and Daiki all these years.”

Taichi looked at him for a moment and sighed.

“There’s no need for that, Kouichi. I would be with them without a doubt; they’re my sister and nephew, and I know you would have stayed if the worlds hadn’t separated, despite the challenges you’d face.”

Kouichi stood upright and nodded.

“To be honest, I had already planned to ask her to marry me once we had finished high school.”

Taichi smiled.

“Well, I don’t think you’ll find anyone who will object to that.”

 

“Today we’ll visit your grandparents. Let’s get ready, Mitsumi.”

“Yay!”

Even if Kouichi had lived with his father after his mother died, there was no pressure on him to call Riko his ‘mother’. After all, she said, she hadn’t raised him the way she raised Kouji. However, after Mitsumi was born, Riko was glad to take on the role of grandmother for her.

Kouichi was grateful for that. Maybe, when Mitsumi was older and the pain from his divorce had passed, he would tell her about his own mother.

As they were on the way to Yokohama, Kouichi wondered why life was so painful.

“Papa, I wanted to ask something.”

“What is it, Mitsumi?”

She hummed and petted YukimiBotamon as she decided how to word her question.

“Hmm… Papa is Kimura, and ojisan is Mina, Minamoto, right? But, but in my class, we have Sacchan and Yocchan, and the two are sisters, and the two are Abe.”

It looked like he would have to explain earlier than he thought.

“Then, why are Papa and ojisan different, if you two are brothers?”

“Well, that is…”

Kouichi sighed.

“It’s a long story, so I’ll tell you when we get to your grandparents’ house, okay?”

 

Kimura Mitsumi, at her current age of five, had experienced some things that most of her classmates hadn’t.

At school, they were told that parents were supposed to look after their children; to take care of them when they’re sick, to help them prepare for school, to cook them healthy food when they’re hungry.

However, even though Mitsumi had both a mom and a dad, she could only remember her dad taking care of her when she was sick, helping her prepare for school, and cooking her healthy food when she was hungry.

Akkun said that sometimes his dad did it, and sometimes his brother. Sacchan and Yocchan said that only their Ki-mom did that, but that was because their Chi-mom had to work.

But Mitsumi’s mom… She wasn’t always working. Sometimes she was at home, but she was drinking that stinky soda and yelling and fighting with her dad. Still, when Mitsumi remembered the last time she saw her mom, walking out of the house with a big suitcase, she couldn’t help but become sad.

She was sad when her mom was home, and she was sad when she wasn’t there.

However, Mitsumi loved her dad very much. Yes, very much; because he was always smiling at her, and when she did something wrong, her dad helped her make it right. She could do fun things with dad, and Mitsumi felt warm when she was with him.

And when her dad said he would tell her when they got to her grandparents’ house, Mitsumi knew he was telling the truth.

 

“Mitsumi, go play with Gian for a bit. I’ll call you when it’s time to talk, alright?”

Mitsumi nodded, and after greeting her grandparents, uncle and aunt in the dining room, she went upstairs to play with her cousin.

“You look worried, niisan.”

Kouichi sat down on one of the chairs and sighed. He realized he had been doing that a lot during the past month.

“I’m going to have to explain to Mitsumi what happened to my mother. She realized that you and I have different surnames, and she’s wondering why. I wasn’t planning on doing it so soon after the divorce.”

“But the divorce part isn’t what bothers you, is it?”

“That’s right, Izumi. What I don’t know how to explain is why my mother isn’t here anymore.”

They stayed in silence for a moment, but Izumi broke it before it went on for too long.

“Kouichi, you should consider that she might not be as clueless about death as you think.”

He raised an eyebrow at Izumi.

“Please, Kouichi, don’t look at me like that. Children are smarter and more resourceful than you think. Just look at yourself, able to track down your estranged father at the age of 10.”

Kouichi and his father looked at each other, amused.

“You know, maybe you should become a private detective. It’s never too late to start over.”

Kouichi laughed, but he felt like it was something to consider.

“I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Thank you, Izumi.”

 

Kouichi climbed up the stairs and went to the room that had been Kouji’s in the past. Once they became grandparents, Katsuyuki and Riko had turned it into a play room for their grandchildren.

He found Neemon playing with YukimiBotamon while Gian taught Mitsumi how to write different words in kana.

Taiyaki, YukimiBotamon, Neemon…

Hiyori-oneechan. Daiki-oniichan.

“Mitsumi, let’s go talk in the living room, alright?”

Mitsumi looked at her cousin, who nodded at her, and walked out of the room and downstairs.

“Did she tell you anything?”

Gian nodded again. “She told me she wanted to know why you and Dad have different surnames, but she didn’t want me to tell her.”

“Alright, thanks. Will you stay here?”

“Someone has to watch those two.” He said, looking at the Digimon.

Once they settled in the living room, Mitsumi looked up at her father.

“Are you gonna tell me now?”

Kouichi nodded and sat her on his lap.

“The reason your uncle and I have different names is because, when we were babies, our mom and dad decided to stop being together.”

“…Like Papa and Mama?”

“Yes, like me and mama. They fought a lot, and sometimes it’s better that each one goes their own way.”

“But they’re together now. Did they make up?”

Kouichi shook his head.

“Your grandma, Riko-san, is not my mom. When my mom and dad got divorced, my dad took Kouji and later married Riko-san, and my mom took me. So, your uncle is Minamoto like your grandpa, and I’m Kimura, like my mom.”

“Hm… What is Papa’s mom’s name?”

“Megumi.”

“Then, what happened to Megumi-obaachan?”

“She died in an accident, when I was eighteen years old.”

“Oh… like Akkun’s grandma. Akkun said she died when his dad was very young. So now Riko-obaachan is like your mom too?”

“Yes, yes… Something like that. And when you were born, she said she wanted to be your grandma too, and I was very happy about that.”

“Then, can you show me Megumi-obaachan? I want to meet her!”

Kouichi smiled.

“Sure. I’ll show you some pictures.”

 

Kouichi climbed up the stairs and went to the room that had been his while he lived there. Once he had moved into his own home, Katsuyuki and Riko had turned it into an office.

Mitsumi went to get YukimiBotamon from the play room while Kouichi looked through the books. He pulled out a big one and sat on the chair with Megumi and her partner on his lap. He opened it to reveal a photo album.

“Look, this is my mom.”

“Ooh! Megumi-obaachan looks like you! She’s so pretty!”

“She was really pretty. This album has photos from when I was a kid.”

“Wow! A long time ago!”

“Hey, I’m not that old!”

They spent some minutes there, looking through Megumi’s pictures. With Kouji, with the Warriors, and with his late grandparents, Nadeshiko and Hirokei. Half an hour later, Kouji came in to tell them it was time to eat.

It was evening when they decided to go back home.

Kouichi stood on the entrance while Mitsumi said goodbye to her grandparents, and Izumi approached him.

“I know you get anxious about something going wrong, and you have valid reasons to think that… But remember we’re all here for you. If something does go wrong, we’ll help you out.”

“Thanks, Izumi.”

“Also, look, there’s something you did well.”

Kouichi followed Izumi’s eyes towards his daughter.

As they were on the way back to Shibuya, Kouichi wondered why life was so wonderful.

 

“So, I could finally talk to the celebrity.”

“Shut up. You know what tours are like, Rock Star-san.”

You shut up. I have important news for you. You might want to start taking notes.”

“What are you talking about?”

“They’re back.”

“By that, you mean…”

“I mean the other Chosen Children came back. Day before yesterday we held a reunion organized by Izumi-chan, though we haven’t had contact with any of the DATS Agents. We’re trying to find out how the worlds merged again.”

“Oh! So that’s why that basketball player who is playing in Europe sounded familiar; it’s Tagiru-san!”

“…How did you not recognize Tagiru? He’s one of the most easily recognizable people you’ve ever met!”

“To begin with, I didn’t see him. I just heard something like ‘That Akashi guy was crazy!’ after a basketball game finished at the hotel’s restaurant.”

“I see. Well, it’s not much different from the others. Izumi-chan and Akari-chan work with the same publisher, and Takato has designed characters for the videogames Tomoki works on…”

“Oh! Like the six degrees of separation theory!”

“And also, Hikari-chan’s… Wait, you haven’t heard yet.”

“What about Hikari-chan?”

“She’s divorcing that guy.”

Yamato heard Takeru sigh deeply.

“What happened?”

“It seems he pushed Daiki and caused him to hit his head. But that’s not the only thing that happened.”

“…Has she met Kouichi-kun already?”

“Yes. In fact, they were the first to find each other. It turns out he is Daiki’s teacher.”

Are. You. Serious.

“The book is practically writing itself, isn’t it?”

“Be quiet. It’s not like I’m going to include everything; have you heard of a thing called privacy?”

“Of course I have; you, the writer, were the one who wrote about my relationship with Sora.”

“Both of you said it was okay; on the other hand, I didn’t include anything about Ken-kun and Miyako-san or about Jyou-san and Mimi-san because they didn’t want me to.”

“Yeah, whatever. Do you know when you’re coming back? Everyone wants to congratulate Best Seller-san.”

Takeru laughed.

“You’re funny, oniichan. I’ll be back next week, but I’ll stop by Kyoto first to talk to Koushirou-san about this.”

“Great. He has gotten some information from the others already, and we’re going to the Digital World later today in order to scan Reichmon.”

“Reichmon?”

“Oh, sorry. That’s Kouichi’s Double Spirit Evolution. Apparently, he might have something to do with the worlds merging again.”

There was a strangely long silence on Takeru’s side.

“…I see. Well, I have to go now; I’ll catch up when I come back to Japan. See you next week, oniichan.”

Takeru hanged up the hotel room’s phone and his assistant handed him a cell phone.

“Who did you say the call is from?”

“It’s from Dr. Touma Norstein.”

Takeru hurriedly put the phone to his ear.

“Touma-san— I mean, Doc—

“Japanese is fine, Takeru-kun.”

“Sorry. How did you…?”

“You are on a book tour through Europe, are you not? If you are going to Japan soon, I would like to meet you all over there. We have a lot to discuss.”

 

“Hans, call Alice please. Tell her I will need her to fly Sonia and me to Kyoto next week.”

“Right away, sir.”

Gaomon approached Touma’s desk; the subtle movement of his tail gave away his emotions.

“Master, should I tell Agumon and the rest?”

“Please do that, Gaomon. Tell Masaru that I expect him to be in Yokohama by next week. And if he can check the bridge points, even better.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thank you.”

As Gaomon left the room, Touma started calling another number.

“Yes?”

“Sonia, start packing for next week. We’re going to visit Japan for research purposes… and to visit some old friends.”

“Research! Alright! Will we visit Kichirou-kun?”

“Yes, we will.”

“Good! Will you come home for dinner, Dad?”

“I’ll be there.”

Leaving the phone aside, Touma looked at the picture of his daughter he kept on his desk.

After curing his sister’s illness, Touma found himself without a clear objective for his life. Eventually, he realized that not every orphaned kid had the same kind of luck as he had, being the genius son of an Austrian nobleman. There were many kids who would have to fend for themselves on the streets, or survive an abusive household, with no income, no education, no healthcare.

That’s how he decided to use his resources to start the Dr. Touma Heinrich Norstein Association, to open orphanages and give children opportunities to get a better life. He made sure that the caregivers were kind, that they got excellent education, and the best healthcare. He had a team to investigate the people who wanted to adopt a child, to ensure that his children would go to healthy and loving homes, regardless of who it was.

Sonia, however, was a different case. She was found abandoned as a six-year-old at the hospital he was visiting back then, supervising medical students. She was sick, and he decided to treat her. While doing that, he discovered she was a child with a curious mind, and formally adopted her when her parents got their custody of her removed after being found guilty of neglect and abuse.

That had been ten years ago. For Sonia, the change was easy; being called by the name she had chosen, wearing the clothes she wanted to wear, asking all the questions she wanted to ask, and calling Touma ‘dad’.

“Now, let’s see if I can find anything on my own… Though my scanners aren’t as good as DATS’s. I’ll have to see if I can buy them from the Ministry while I’m in Japan; Koushirou-kun might find them useful.”

 

“Really?! I haven’t noticed anything, though it’s not like I’ve checked the bridge points recently.”

“Then do it and report any unusual activity to us.”

“Yeah, yeah, I will. Tell Touma to ‘expect my report by tomorrow’.”

Gaomon growled at the tone Masaru used to mock his partner, but said nothing and ended the call. Sometimes it was like he hadn’t grown a day since he was fourteen.

 

“There’s something I’d like to do before we leave. Please lend me your D-Scanners; the children’s too.”

Koushirou plugged Takuya’s Digivice into his computer, and after a quick scan, a program was downloaded in it.

“Hey, what’s that?”

“An upgraded version of your D-Scanners radio function. It only works within a certain range, right? I want to create a version that will work with every Digivice, and within a larger range, but for now it’s only compatible with yours.”

“Cool! Too bad Kouji, Izumi and Gian aren’t here to get it, but we can rely on the twin telepathy, right Kouichi?”

“Oh, so Takuya hasn’t grown up after all…”

While the other seven D-Scanners were being upgraded, Daisuke walked in with his family.

“Digital Gate Keeper Daisuke has arrived to take you all to the Digital World!”

“Koushirou-san, while you’re at it, isn’t there any way that you can make our D-Scanners able to open the Digital Gate too? It’s kind of annoying to go to Shibuya Station every time we want to go.”

“Not yet, Junpei-san. But I’ll see if I can get Miyako-san to help me with that; my Digivice can’t do it either, after all.”

“Digital Gate, Open!”

 

The Warriors and their families opened their eyes to find themselves on a field at the edge of a forest. The rest of the attendants were already there, with the kids playing around with their partners and the adults talking between themselves.

“Ai-chan! Chi-chan!”

“Daiki-oniichan!”

The children ran to join their new friends in their game while the adults greeted each other.

“Well, we’re already here. Should we start?”

Kouichi nodded at Koushirou, and they walked a bit further away from the trees.

“Hey, kids, you haven’t seen any of us evolve, right?” Takuya’s voice caught the attention of the children and their partners. “You should pay attention.”

“Scanners ready.”

“Double Spirit… Evolution!”

 

“Okay. Bridge Point 1, here we are. Agumon, you ready?”

“Always, aniki!”

Masaru looked back at the group of Digimon following him. During the years he had spent in the Digital World, he had gotten quite a number of followers who looked up to him like Agumon did, and he considered them all to be his family.

“Guys, wait for us here, alright? It won’t take long.”

Bridge Point 1 was a literal bridge. It appeared to be broken at the middle, making it impossible to cross. However, if one attempted to jump over the missing part, they would be transported to a different Digital World.

At least, that’s what used to happen many years before.

“Let’s do it, Agumon!”

Running over the bridge, and jumping at the edge, they landed on the other side with a roll.

“Well, would you look at that, we actually got to the other side.”

“Remember last time we landed in the riv—”

They felt a wave of dark energy pass throughout the field they were in, and though it didn’t feel threatening, it did put them on edge. Masaru’s DigiSoul manifested around his fist.

“Let’s be ready just in case.”

There was nowhere to hide, so they walked straight up the hill in front of them, following the direction they felt the energy come from.

They could see the edge of a forest… and the source of the energy.

“Wait, Agumon, isn’t that…?!”

“It’s one of the Warriors, aniki!”

“But what’s going on? Oh, he’s devolving already…”

 

Kouichi disappeared into black light and ribbons of data, which grew in size until it scattered and, in his place, Reichmon appeared.

“…Is that Papa?”

“Yep, that’s him.”

Mitsumi walked closer and Reichmon kneeled; if Löwemon was already taller than the other Human Spirits, Reichmon was even more.

“Papa! You’re so cool!”

Reichmon smiled at her, and stood up.

“Go back with the others, I’ll join you soon.”

Mitsumi nodded and went back.

“The software has picked up Reichmon’s basic data. Hybrid; attacks, Schwarz Lehrsatz and Rot Kreuz; called the Guardian Emperor of Darkness.”

Reichmon —Kouichi— vaguely remembered Bokomon mentioning the title when he evolved so many years back.

“Do you use the staff for Schwarz Lehrsatz?”

Reichmon nodded and held it upright for Koushirou to scan. After a couple of minutes, the results were illustrated in a diagram, which compared them to the data collected from the interference.

“Hmm… I see. Thank you, Kouichi-san. Let’s go back with the others so I can explain the results.”

 

The adults and their partners gathered around Koushirou, while most of the children were running around the field. Daiki and Taira stayed with the adults, curious about the situation.

“It does look like Kouichi-san was mostly responsible for the worlds merging again. The software description says Schwarz Lehrsatz ‘disables all the laws of physics in the surrounding region’, but the place where he used the attack was a major factor as well. Its power was incremented by the darkness coming from the Dark Area, and because the Dark World is the only one that can reach all of our worlds, it allowed the residual force of the attack to travel through each world, slowly merging each one and reestablishing the connection between it and its Digital World, eventually reaching ours five years ago… At least that’s my theory.”

The group stayed in silence for some moments, digesting the load of information that Koushirou had just dropped on them.

“Okay, so it’s Kouichi-san’s fault.” Daisuke finally said. “But that still doesn’t explain why we couldn’t… how do I say it… detect each other?”

“Daisuke-san is right. After all, Takato-san and I have worked on the same projects several times, and yet we never met, despite our worlds having merged before the others.” Tomoki added, still looking conflicted with the issue.

“We’ll just have to keep looking for answers.”

Taichi’s comment seemed to bring the current conversation to a closure, but Junpei looked to be deep in thought still.

“Koushirou-san, I’m better with hardware than software, but… since humans become data when we travel to the Digital World, wouldn’t it be possible for someone to rewrite it?”

Everyone looked at Junpei with wide eyes; Takuya was the first to recover.

“It could be possible… Back when we first went to the Digital World, Kouichi’s data wasn’t complete because there was no body and it was faulty as a result, so it means our data can be modified.”

“You’re saying someone could have rewritten our data to mess with our perception and avoid having us meet again?”

“I think it’s more like they didn’t want us to team up again, Yamato.”

Taichi had crossed his arms and looked serious.

“Who was the last enemy we fought against, all together?”

Sounds of surprised yelling from their kids reached the group, and they turned around to see what had caused it.

“It was Demon, wasn’t it?”

“…Masaru-san?!”

Chapter Text

“We crossed SA Bridge Point 1.”

“The literal bridge?”

“Yeah, that one. How did you Warriors get here? Isn’t the closest FR Bridge Point way too far away?”

“We came through a portal with them. It’s difficult to get all the way down Shibuya Station when we’re all together.”

Everyone sat together under the shadow of the trees. The children were quickly introduced to Daimon Masaru, a DATS Agent, though none of them knew what DATS was.

“Well, anyway. Touma told me you were all back; apparently he noticed Takeru on his book tour and had me check the Bridge Points.”

“Well, of course it’d be Touma-san. Who else would be in Europe?”

“I was in Europe just a few weeks ago too, Yamato-san!”

“You’re from our same world, Daisuke. You don’t count.”

After the following laughter died down, Masaru cleared his throat.

“Touma says he’s coming to Japan next week so we can compare notes. I’ll go to Yokohama to meet with my parents first, then Touma is getting Yoshino and me to Kyoto.”

Koushirou started making arrangements to clear his schedule as much as possible. His wish had been to build his career around Digital World research, but during the time the worlds had separated there had been a drought of information, and he was forced to shift his focus to giving classes and developing software; he didn’t complain about it, but it was nowhere as interesting as getting to know more of the Digimon and the Digital World.

He was sure Professor Takenouchi and Shuu-san would be excited.

“Where is Yoshino-san living, anyway? Considering our current situation, she might as well be our neighbor.”

“Haha, she might be, Takuya. Last time I checked, she had transferred to Shibuya from Yokohama.”

“Shibuya? All of us Warriors live there, and Hikari also lived there recently, right?”

The three other Warriors and Hikari nodded.

“Her son should be a first year in high school already; his name is Fujieda Kichirou.”

Both Daiki and Kouichi gasped at the same time, before looking at each other.

“Wait, you really know him?”

“Well, yes. He’s my student. But like it has happened so far, I wasn’t able to make the connection.”

 

“Master, we have a call from Masaru. It seems he found something.”

Touma stood up from his desk and followed Gaomon towards the conference room. He wondered what reason Masaru could have to request the call to be projected on the large screen, and let him know as much once he had reached the room.

“Well, I wanted you to take a good look at what I found.”

The camera moved to the left of Masaru's face, showing him a large group formed by digimon, children, and adults that he recognized after a moment.

He couldn't help but laugh.

“Good job, Masaru.”

 

“Well, this has been fun, but I gotta go. My followers are waiting for me on the other side of BP 1.”

With Masaru gone, and more than their current goal having been completed, some of them started leaving, promising their children that they would meet their recently made friends once again in the summer.

Daiki decided to approach Kouichi while Mitsumi was distracted saying goodbye to her friends. He took great care to not call him dad when she could hear; he didn’t want to confuse her, and his parents had decided to not take that step yet.

“Hey, dad.”

Kouichi smiled at him.

“Hey, Daiki.”

His father’s smile was contagious; Daiki couldn’t help but smile widely too, and his chest felt warm.

“I didn’t ask you during the party because there was a lot more to talk about, but you’re not advising any clubs yet, right?”

Kouichi shook his head.

“Are you planning on starting one?”

“Yeah, well, I was talking with some classmates and we came up with something. But, there’s also something else I wanted to ask you to do for me.”

 

We’re going to Japan next week! I can’t wait to see you!

“Oh? Mom, did you know Touma-san is coming next week?”

Yoshino turned around to look at her son, and shook her head.

“He hasn’t called or sent a message yet.”

As if on cue, Lalamon flew out of the bedroom holding a phone.

“Yoshino! It’s Touma. It seems to be something important.”

Kichirou tuned out the conversation; he could more or less figure out how it would go. Instead, he turned his attention back to his chat with Sonia.

                            That’s great! On business or for fun?

Hm. A bit of both, I think. Dad said it was for research and to see “old friends”.

“What?! For real?!”

His mother’s reaction caught his attention.

“It’s been so long… Next week, then? Alright. I wonder what to do about Kichirou though. I don’t like the idea of him missing school, but I wouldn’t want to make him miss the chance to see Sonia. Oh, really?! No, I had no idea, I was away the first two weeks busting an illegal fight ring, so Rio was the one who took care of that. I’ll let him know then. Oh, then, could you help me contact Sora-chan? Thank you! See you next week!”

It certainly didn’t go like he had imagined.

                    It looks like I’ll be missing school to go with you. I wonder what’s so important.

“Kichirou, Touma will pick us up next Tuesday morning to go to Kyoto.”

“What about school?”

His mother smiled brightly.

“It’s okay, I’ll go talk to your teacher on Monday. But it seems like he already knows about it.”

“Kimura-sensei does? Wait, first of all, what’s this about?”

“Well, where do I start…”

Kichirou exchanged a side look with his partner, Hagurumon. They both knew it would take long.

 

Kichirou sat in his bedroom, trying to process the information his mother had given him while she was busy catching up with the Sora-san she had mentioned. Physics weren’t his specialty let’s not even talk about Digital World physics so a lot of it didn’t make sense.

“I think your mom made it even more difficult to understand. I know I didn’t get half of it.”

“Maybe Touma-san will explain it better. But I wonder what we’re going to Kyoto for.”

“And what she said about your teacher; can you see him being a Chosen Child?”

Kichirou thought for a while; there was the incident the first day of school with that Kobayashi guy and his partner, Terriermon. Kimura-sensei didn’t look as surprised as he had seen a lot of adults do, so maybe he really was a Chosen Child.

“Let's see what happens on Monday.”

 

Monday arrived once again, this time carrying the end of the Golden Week break with it.

Daiki’s bruise had mostly faded, but he was worried for a different kind of reason now. His father had asked him if he was sure he wanted to go ahead with it before it was official, but he thought that the sooner he made the change, the better.

Especially if his parents decided to get married within the next three years.

He arrived with a couple of minutes to spare before homeroom, and immediately went to greet Hiyori. Her family had been out of the city during the break, and they hadn't seen each other since the previous Sunday.

“How did everything go? Did you get to talk with him?”

“Yes, we somehow found time to talk in between all the Digital World conversation.”

Hiyori smiled; it looked like the awkward phase between them had ended.

“Everyone, go to your seats.”

Kouichi interrupted the conversation between them, and as Daiki made his way to his seat, he caught his father looking at him. He had raised an eyebrow, probably wondering if Daiki still wanted to go through with it. He just nodded.

Alright.

“Aizawa Hyouten-kun.”

“Here.”

“Akabane Matsuri-san.”

“Here.”

“Abe Akitoshi-kun.”

“Here.”

“Oshiro Hiyori-san.”

“Here.”

“Kageyama Miyabi-san.”

“Absent.”

“Kano Ayato-kun.”

“Here.”

“Kanzaki Shinya-kun.”

“Here.”

Here it goes. Or not.

“Sawamura Asuka-san.”

“...Here?”

Daiki could feel the stares and could hear the whispers. Hiyori looked at him too. Why had Kimura-sensei skipped his name?

Kouichi continued taking attendance, and a few names later Fujieda Kichirou was called. Kouichi couldn’t help but smile a little when saying the name, with the knowledge that they were a bit closer to tracking down all their numbers.

They were approaching the end of the list.

“Morome Haruka-san.”

“Here.”

“Morome Ryou-kun.”

“Here.”

It’s my turn now.

“Yagami Daiki-kun.”

“Here.”

“Wakahisa Ayumu-kun.”

“...Here.”

“It seems only Kageyama-san is absent. Sawamura-san, you live close to her, right? Please take her homework on the way home.”

“Ah, yes, sensei.”

Some announcements followed; the last day to sign up for a club or apply to start one was on Friday, and it was decided that Sports Day would be held at the start of June.

“And last, Shirakawa-sensei got sick during the break, so she’ll be absent this week. Seto-san, please pass these worksheets along to your classmates. I’ll see you after lunch.”

And with that, he left.

As Chiyoko passed the worksheets along to her classmates, Takumi and Ayato turned around to talk to him.

“Hey, what’s up with the name change?”

“Are… Are your parents…?”

Daiki sighed.

“Yeah, they’re getting divorced. It’s still not official, but I asked da I, I asked Kimura-sensei to change my name on the list already. Better sooner than later I guess.”

“I see, so you’ve started using your mom’s surname… Yagami-kun.”

“More like I went back to using it.”

Chiyoko arrived with their worksheets, and the conversation ended there.

 

Finally, lunchtime.

Kichirou brought out his lunch and sighed. He didn't understand much of the situation with the Digimon; he knew his mother had worked on Digimon related cases when she was younger, alongside Touma-san and Masaru-san. He knew of the Digital World and had been there twice. He understood Digimon partners.

But there were so many things he didn't understand as well. He didn't understand the situations that led to something like DATS or the Chosen Children to be created. He didn't understand digivices. He didn't understand how different worlds could merge and then separate, just like that.

He sighed again.

“Hey, Fujieda.”

Yagami and Oshiro were standing in front of him. Kichirou wasn’t a very social person, mostly sticking to Hagurumon and Sonia as his social circle. He also thought of Yagami as not very social either, so he was surprised to be approached by him.

“Wanna have lunch together?”

I have no reason to refuse, but if I accept I’ll just end up being a third wheel.

“Nishimoto and Nomura are coming too.”

“Ah. Alright.”

After meeting with Nishimoto Takumi and Nomura Tsukasa at the class door, the group walked to the back of the building; an open but relatively private place not many students visited during lunchtime, surrounded by a few trees.

“Fujieda, the four of us have been talking before about starting a new club, and we wanted to know if you'd like to join us.”

“A club? I don't know… I don't think we have anything in common we could start a club for.”

Daiki smiled.

“You're the child of a Chosen Child, aren’t you? Your mother is DATS Agent Fujieda Yoshino-san.”

His mother didn’t use the term ‘Chosen Child’ for herself, though. How did Yagami get that information anyway? It seemed that Nishimoto and Nomura were even more confused than he was.

Kichirou nodded, but frowned at Daiki who just smiled.

“Then there is something we five have in common.”

Something fell from the tree behind them and landed on Daiki's head.

“Hello~”

It was the Terriermon from the first day of class.

“We want to create a Digimon Partner Club!”

Hiyori, Tsukasa, and Takumi yelled, excited. Everyone already knew about Terriermon, but he didn't know these three also had Digimon partners.

“I see…”

“My partner is Piyomon”, Hiyori started. “Daiki-kun helped me out since I didn't know how to handle it at first.”

“Takumi-san’s partner is Commandramon, and mine is Wormmon.”

“We still don't know very much about Digimon partners… That's actually a common problem for those of us whose parents aren't Chosen Children.”

“Even outside the Chosen Children, there were some people from the same generation who received partners too, but not enough to become commonplace. So, the club's purpose would be to spread knowledge of the relationship between humans and Digimon.”

“I see…” Kichirou smiled. “Count me and Hagurumon in. Oh, I’ll be out of the city for a few days though. I won’t come until Friday.”

“Don’t worry, Fujieda-kun; we’ll take care of it. But now that we have five members, let's get the rest of the details in order.” Hiyori took out a notepad, where she wrote down the names of their members.

“Oh, Yagami-san, who's going to be our advisor?”

“It's going to be my I mean, Kimura-sensei. I already asked him.”

Takumi raised an eyebrow.

“Really? When did you ask him, Yagami? We only came up with this on Friday before Golden Week.”

Daiki made a strange face.

“Does it matter? He's the best option by far. We gotta get him before someone else decides to start a club and gets him for theirs.”

“Best option by far…”

Kichirou! It turns out your homeroom teacher is an old friend of mine! He's also…

“Ah, it's because he's a Chosen Child too, isn't it?”

Takumi and Tsukasa gasped.

“Is that true?”

Kichirou nodded. “My mother told me last week. And if you know all this, then you’re probably the son of a Chosen Child too, aren’t you, Yagami?”

It was now Daiki who was frowning, but it softened after he sighed.

“Yeah. My mother is Yagami Hikari; she’s one of the Twelve.”

And my father is Kimura Kouichi, one of the Legendary Warriors, and our homeroom teacher.

“Ah, I did hear the name while my mother explained the Merge to me last week.”

“...What are you talking about, Fujieda-san?”

Daiki sighed.

“It’s complicated, but I’ll explain as best as I can once we actually have a club. Hiyori, please write down the purpose…”

 

Kichirou was grateful that he didn’t have cleaning duty that day; with all the club talk, he completely forgot to tell Kimura-sensei that his mother wanted to talk to him after class, so he hurried to make sure he could get to him before he left the school.

He was lucky; he had to thank his mom for giving him such a lucky name.

“Ah, Fujieda-kun. Can I help you?”

Kichirou couldn’t help but notice that once again, Kimura-sensei was smiling at him.

“Yes. Actually, my mom will arrive in a few minutes, because she wants to talk to you. We have a, uh an emergency, and will leave the city for a few days. Yeah.”

Kimura-sensei laughed.

“Oh, yes. You’ll be in Kyoto, right? Masaru-san told me about it. It’ll be nice to see Yoshino-san after such a long time.”

So they really know each other. Sensei really is a Chosen Child.

“Kichirou, I’m here… Ah! It’s really you!”

“Yoshino-san, it’s been a while.”

“It really has! Thank you for looking after Kichirou.”

“It’s no problem at all. He was just telling me about your trip to Kyoto. You’ll be back by Friday, won’t you?”

“That’s right. Touma will stay longer in Kyoto, and it seems he’ll spend some time here in Tokyo as well, but I personally don’t really have much business to do in Kyoto; Masaru and Touma are the ones who have more information.”

“I’m sure Koushirou-san will appreciate your help. We’re still trying to make sense of what happened all those years ago…”

Their faces turned serious, and Yoshino lowered the volume of her voice.

“By the way, I ended up hearing from Sora-chan, about you, Hikari-chan… and Daiki-kun.” Yoshino glanced at Kichirou out of the corner of her eye as she said it.

Kouichi’s smile returned, though not as bright as before. He, too, glanced at Kichirou for a moment.

“It’s fine. We’re taking things slow, and I’m getting along with him just fine.”

Kichirou was trying to understand what they were saying; was Daiki, Yagami Daiki, Kimura-sensei’s son? And if he was, then it meant Yagami was the child of two Chosen Children, and hadn’t mentioned it back then.

The more he thought about it, the more complicated the situation turned, and by the time he focused back on reality, his mother was saying goodbye to Kimura-sensei and he was walking into the teacher’s room.

“Ah, Kimura-sensei. Here’s the club registration form you asked for. Finally becoming an advisor after so many years, huh?”

Kouichi smiled.

“Yes, I guess so.”

 

The school had a soccer club, a volleyball club, a literature club, a choir club, a math club, and a cooking club; pretty normal stuff. Daiki hadn't really explained which kind of club he had in mind until Saturday, during their call, and he was incredibly happy when he heard about it.

In a way, he would continue the project Hikari had started—long before the worlds had merged for the first time—but had to give up for several reasons.

He knocked on the classroom’s door, where the group on cleaning duty was just about to finish cleaning the desks.

“Daiki-kun, I have the registration form. I’ll be waiting for you in the teacher’s room to fill it.”

“Alright— Alright, sensei.”

Kouichi smiled and left; Hiyori giggled behind him.

“I’ll go with you, Daiki-kun. Since I’m the secretary.”

 

With the classroom clean and their classmates gone, Daiki and Hiyori went to the teacher's room.

“You got used to calling him 'dad’ really fast, Daiki-kun.”

Daiki blushed, but returned Hiyori’s smile.

“Well… I was only told good things about him, and no one blamed him for not being with us. Now that I’m learning what happened, I can understand.”

He sighed.

“Also, I never liked that other bastard to begin with. On the other hand, Dad is really nice and kind with my mom, and with me.”

His smile returned brighter than before, and he took Hiyori’s hand.

“I hope I can properly introduce him to you soon, as my father.”

 

A few teachers were still in the teacher’s room, the rest gone to their clubs, and Kimura-sensei led them to a larger desk on one side of the room.

“The president will be Daiki, and the vice-president… oh, Fujieda-kun?”

Hiyori nodded.

“We voted for them since they’re the ones with the most experience.”

“Hiyori is the most organized, so she’ll be the secretary, and Nishimoto is better at math, so he’ll be the treasurer. Nomura says she can design posters and anything else we need.”

“Nomura-chan made the poster for the math club, since her girlfriend is there. It looks really nice!”

Kimura-sensei copied the rest of the club information on the registration form, and smiled at the two students.

“Alright, it’s done. I’ll give this to the principal, and I’ll let you know what he says.”



“...No.”

Kouichi didn’t think the principal would be so straightforward.

“But, Ueno-sensei—”

“The answer is no , Kimura-kun. It’s one thing to have that one digimon hanging around the school once in a while, but to have a club with all its members bringing their partners into the school every day is something completely different. There are still many people afraid of digimon, and I won't risk getting the school in trouble over a club.”

“That’s the point, sensei. These students want to educate other people so they are not afraid of digimon anymore! There is no reason to fear them!”

The principal sat back on his chair and looked up at Kouichi.

“May I remind you, Kimura-kun, that the last big scale digimon attack was really not that long ago? It's been only sixteen years. The students we currently have are too young to remember; heck, some of them hadn’t even been born yet!”

Kouichi was aware of that; Daiki was born half a year after that fight, never mind the fact that he had been in a whole other verse.

“Back then, we had those Legendary something-or-other to defeat the digimon, but we don't know where they are now. I cannot allow you to put these students in a dangerous situation you can’t protect them from.”

“See, this is why we need the club. You are wrong, Ueno-sensei.”

The principal looked at Kimura, puzzled.

“Digimon can and will protect their human partners. And also…”

Kimura took something out of his pocket and placed it on the desk; a black and gray device.

“I am one of the Ten Legendary Warriors that defeated GrandDracmon almost sixteen years ago. I can and will protect my students from any dangerous situation.”

The principal stared at the digivice, eyes wide in astonishment, and then at Kouichi. His mouth opened and closed a few times. Finally, he sighed and closed his eyes.

“...Let me think about it.”

Kouichi retrieved his digivice and left the office in silence. The years had definitely allowed him to mature and become much more patient, but Kouichi knew that he still had a bit of an anger problem; if he had insisted any more, he would have gotten in trouble, and his students wouldn’t be allowed to have their club.

He did reveal he was a Warrior, though; it wasn’t like they had made a vow to never reveal their identities as Chosen, but they had decided that it would be safer for them to not have the government involved, especially after meeting the DATS agents. The Twelve had taken the opposite decision, but it seemed to be working for them so far.

It was time to leave; he could only hope now that the principal would approve their club.

After getting his stuff from the teachers’ room, Kouichi walked towards the school exit, only to find Daiki standing near the shoe lockers.

“Daiki? I thought you had left with Oshiro-san already.”

Daiki sighed and shook his head.

“Not today. Her parents were going to pick her up personally, so I couldn’t…”

Kouichi raised an eyebrow.

“Do her parents know you two are dating?”

Instead of answering the question, Daiki blushed and looked away. Kouichi sighed.

“I’m not going to give my opinion about your love life unless you ask me to, but I don’t want you two to get in trouble.”

“Don’t worry, we’re always careful… Anyway, I wanted to ask… Is it okay if I go home with you today? Mom is busy signing the divorce papers, and I’d like to spend time with you and Mitsumi-chan…”

Kouichi blinked in surprise a couple of times, and smiled.

“Of course, Daiki. Let’s go get Mitsumi.”

 

“You are now officially a single woman again. Congratulations, Yagami-san.”

Hikari held the documents tightly, and smiled.

“Thank you, Abe-san. You were a great help.”

“Just doing my job. Oh, look at the time! It’s my turn to get Sachiko and Yoshiko home… Hey, Yagami-san, would you like a ride to get your son? His school is on the way.”

“If it’s not a bother, sure. Thank you, Abe-san.”

It was a quick trip in Abe’s van, and when they stopped in front of the high school, they could see Daiki and Kouichi walking out of the building together.

“Daiki! Kouichi-kun!”

Hikari climbed out of the van, and Kouichi and Daiki walked up to her.

“Mom? I thought you were busy signing the divorce papers.”

“We finished a bit early, and Abe-san offered to give me a ride to pick you up, since her daughters’ nursery school is nearby.”

“Then they might be Mitsumi’s classmates… Oh, and Hikari… I’m glad it turned out okay.”

Kouichi smiled at her. Daiki could see something more in his eyes, like the feeling he got when he had to go separate ways from Hiyori while walking home.

Longing.

He didn't have time to check, but the same thing might have been in his mother's eyes too, because she threw herself at his father's arms in a hug, being selfish for a moment that no one would blame her for.

 

“Okay, it’s time to…”

Kouichi came out of the kitchen to find Daiki and Mitsumi sitting together, with Terriermon and Yukimibotamon on their laps, taking selfies.

“Hey, don’t leave me out!”

Leaving the food on the table, Kouichi joined his children in taking pictures. If only Hikari was here too , he thought, but he knew he had to be patient for Mitsumi’s sake; she had just started healing from her mother’s departure, and Kouichi wouldn’t want to make Mitsumi feel like he was imposing a new mother on her.

Hikari had stayed behind at the nursery school to talk to the principal, in hopes of getting the spot that would be left open soon. At the very least, she had him, Abe-san, and her wife as school trusted references, even if she didn’t have experience after she finished studying.

“Oh, by the way, da—I mean, sensei, what did the principal say about the club?”

“Club? What is your club about, Daiki-oniichan?”

Daiki smiled at Mitsumi, and patted Terriermon’s head, who was clinging to his arm.

“It’s a Digimon Partner Club. I want to teach other people that Digimon are nice, and there’s no reason to fear them.”

“Oh…! That’s so cool, Daiki-oniichan! I don’t want people to be afraid of Yukimibotamon.”

Kouichi sighed.

“We have to wait. At first he said no, but I convinced him to at least think about it. He’s afraid that the school will get in trouble for ‘putting students in danger’. I had to pull out my digivice to convince him that it would be fine.”

Daiki looked down for a moment, thinking.

“Hey, uhm… about your digivice…”

Kouichi cleared his throat.

“Mitsumi, since you finished eating, you can go play to your room. I’ll call you in a bit so we can do something together, alright?”

Mitsumi nodded, and ran to her room with Yukimibotamon in her arms.

“Sorry. She doesn’t know the whole story about the Legendary Warriors yet, and I have a feeling that you’re going to ask about it, don’t you?”

Daiki nodded. While they had met a couple of times outside of school and were able to call each other since they had discovered their relationship, there really hadn’t been time to talk about more serious topics, just the two of them.

“Mom barely talked about you until the day that guy pushed me, and she mentioned that you were the Warrior of Darkness. During my life, there have been no Digimon threats, and battles weren’t really brought up by the twelve of them. But in Takeru-san’s books… uhm…”

“I see. What have his books covered so far?”

“Up until they defeated BelialVamdemon.”

“Well, there’s a reason he has shown darkness as a bad thing up to this point. You see, darkness is the easiest element to manipulate. It’s powerful and versatile, but also easy to corrupt.”

His father’s voice was firm with experience, and an image flashed through his mind.

“Corrupt… like the Digimon Kaiser?

“Yes. Like the Digimon Kaiser.”

Daiki stayed in silence for a while. Takeru-san had made sure to not only include all the evil that the Digimon Kaiser had done, but also how much Ken-san had suffered. If it worked like that in his father’s case…

“Can you tell me a little about it?”

Kouichi smiled—not out of excitement, but a mix of nostalgia and wisdom.

“I won’t make it long; but for several reasons, I grew to hate Kouji before I ever talked to him, since we grew up separated, with very different lives. When he was called to the Digital World, I had a fatal accident, and my soul ended up there. My hatred, my loneliness, and my pain resonated with the Spirits of Darkness, which were already corrupted. I became Duskmon, and actually tried to kill not only Kouji, but Takuya and the others too. I hurt Kouji really bad, and gave Takuya such a fright that he gave up for a while.”

Kouichi took out his digivice, and placed it on the table, staring at it.

“Kouji saved me and brought me back, and the purified Spirits later resonated with my wish to change, and accepting and letting go of the hatred I had for him. It was liberating; as Duskmon I was stronger than the others, but it hurt. When I became Löwemon, I got even stronger, but it was a strength that could save, and heal, and purify. Eventually though, I found out I was as good as dead in the real world, so I took a hit in the final battle to give the others a chance to fight Lucemon. Kouji came back, and saved me again.”

Kouichi smiled again, this time brightly, and looked up at Daiki.

“That’s the short version. Evil always takes a hold of darkness because it’s more powerful and easier to corrupt, but it is only one side of the coin. Where there’s darkness, there’s also light, and they will either work hand in hand, or clash against each other. For your mother’s team, it was a battle of light against darkness; for my team, it became a battle of light and darkness against light and darkness.”

 

Hikari rang the bell on Kouichi’s door. Her talk with the principal had gone well, especially after she had mentioned that the amount of kids bringing their Digimon partners had increased, and Hikari revealed that she had her own. With two families already vouching for her as well, the principal asked her to bring her documents as soon as possible, so they could have everything ready before the other teacher left.

The door opened.

“Daiki and Mitsumi are watching a movie. How did it go?” Kouichi smiled as he closed the door behind him.

“It went great, actually. I just need to bring my papers; apparently, they really need my experience with Digimon.”

Kouichi laughed.

“Well, the children tend to bring their partners along. I’m glad you can continue that project, in a way. Like Daiki is doing.”

Hikari smiled; Kouichi held her face in both hands, and got closer to her.

“I… I still really, really love you, Hikari.”

“I love you too… But let’s not rush, okay? I suddenly feel like a teenager again…”

She laughed and blushed, but Kouichi closed his eyes.

“I know what you’re going to say to this, but… I’m sorry, Hikari. You shouldn’t have gone through the pregnancy and raising Daiki on your own; I should have been there.”

“Kouichi-kun, stop…”

“I had already decided to ask if you wanted to marry me.”

Hikari stayed in silence, thinking about what Kouichi had just said. After a moment, she smiled, and held his hands in hers.

“You know I would have accepted.”



Tuesday morning. Kouichi arrived to the school earlier than usual; he hoped to be able to talk to Ueno-sensei before class, to check if he had taken a decision. He ran into him outside of the teachers’ room.

“Kimura-kun, a minute, please.”

He was led to the principal’s office, and to his surprise, the other teachers were there.

“Ueno-sensei…?”

“This is what I decided; we’ll hold a meeting with the school staff today, after classes are done for the day. This is how we’ll decide whether your club becomes a reality or not.”

 

Kichirou, Yoshino, Rio, Hagurumon, and Lalamon stepped out of Touma’s private plane; they were quickly driven to the conference room where Touma, Sonia, Masaru, Koushirou, and their respective partners were already waiting.

“Kichirou!”

Sonia waved her hands to get Kichirou’s attention, despite the fact that there were only a few people present. He sat beside her, and could see that she had her computer ready to take notes and keep up with whatever explanations were given.

He could trust Sonia to explain it to him later, then.

“Welcome, Yoshino-san, Rio-san, Kichirou-san. Unfortunately Professor Takenouchi and Shuu-san weren’t able to come, but I’ll be looking over the new information with them later.”

“That’s fine. By the way, Koushirou-kun, I am looking to buy the equipment we had at DATS from the government; I am sure it will be useful for our research.”

“It surely will, Touma-san. Please tell me if you are successful. But let’s focus on the information we have now.” Koushirou opened the diagrams that he had created back during the Golden Week reunion. “According to the other teams, there was a period of a few years before they were able to communicate with their Digital World again. It started from the Warriors’ verse, just a few months after our worlds separated, and it slowly took effect in the next verse over the years. I estimated that you could restore communication with the Digital World about eight years ago, but I want to confirm with you if that is true.”

Touma looked at Masaru.

“Hm. Yeah, I think that’s right. It’s very hard to keep track of Real World time in the Digital World, so when I came back I was surprised it had only been around eight years; thought for sure it had been more than that.”

Koushirou nodded; with this piece of information confirmed, Koushirou went on to explain to the DATS agents his theories and the information he had gathered from the other teams and from scanning Reichmon.

Kichirou couldn’t keep up at all.

“Hey, it’s like this.”

Sonia had put her computer away, and drew a much simpler diagram on a piece of paper; five circles drawn beside each other, marked from A to E. Above them, five smaller circles, marked from DWa to DWe. And slightly overlapping those, a rectangle that spread from one side to the other, hastily filled up with pencil.

“The Warriors had a fight here,” she said, pointing to the place where DWa and the rectangle overlapped. “and they used an attack that messes up reality. Because they did it in this place, the Dark World, that is connected to every Digital World, the effects reached all the way here.” She dragged the pencil from DWa to DWe, drawing a line.

“...That’s way easier to understand. Thank you.”

Sonia smiled.

“Of course, there’s much more to it, but there’s still a lot to research. I’ll explain it to you when we get to that.”

 

“Junpei-san suggested that someone might have rewritten our data to prevent us from teaming up again, likely the same being who caused the worlds to separate.” Koushirou said after they had discussed all the information they currently had. “The Warriors have more experience with the human-data transformation, so we’ll need their help to study that.”

“The next step then is figuring out who did it.” Touma added.

“I believe it was Demon.” Masaru said, hitting the desk with his fist. “Demon was the last enemy we fought all together.”

“It’s certainly possible. Like I mentioned earlier, the Warriors had to fight against GrandDracmon, who came from the Dark Area, soon after the worlds separated, so that might have something to do with it.”

“We sealed Demon back in the Dark World for good, right? Along with Dagomon.” Yoshino added, closing her eyes to focus on remembering. “And the Dark Area is just the part of the Dark World that reaches the Warriors’ verse, isn’t it? Which means that it’s connected to the Dark Beach where Dagomon lives in and where Demon was sealed the first time. They could have easily teamed up.”

“Maybe they teamed up and separated the worlds to get our teams one by one?”

“But then, why would they need to modify our data to prevent us from recognizing each other? As if they were expecting us to eventually be able to meet again.”

“And we sure did!”

Koushirou closed his eyes to focus on thinking. If only Gennai was here , he thought, despite knowing that it was impossible.

“I think we should first find out why the merge occured in the first place. The original one, I mean.”