Chapter 1: Dance of fire
You doing okay kiddo?
Dizzy, panting, Takuya focuses on the feeling of the ground under his palms, his heart beating in his ears. In. Out. In. Out. Follow the rhythm in his head. In. Out. In. Out. Keep grounded.
Good. Very good.
Dimly, he registers the sound of feet running toward him, voices calling for him.
“Takuya!” Tomoki launches himself at him, tackling Takuya into a hug. “Takuya, you saved me, you were awesome!”
'I… you’re welcome?” he’s glad to hear s- really he is! But honestly, Takuya isn’t really sure what exactly did he do in the first place. It all felt so natural while he was bathing in fire, how to move and what to say- but now that he’s back to normal…
Takuya blinks. “I did what?”
“You turned into a digimon!” The girl (Izumi?) answers him. “You put on the armor in the flames and became this big fire warrior.”
Takuya’s breathing hitches. It isn’t possible- it SHOULDN’T be possible. He’s almost eleven now; he knows fully well that he won’t find giant peaches down the river.
He glances down at the device in his hand.
Takuya knows, in his bones, that this isn’t a dream.
This had happened. This had really happened. He's used magic.
Well duh, you inherited the spirit of fire, what did you expect.
“Hey, no need to get snappy.” Takuya frowns, offended. It’s not like he has a tutorial here, give him at least five minutes to fool around with his not-phone before calling him an idiot! “How do you even know all that stuff-”
He pauses mid sentence.
This. Is not Izumi’s voice.
They’re all looking at him strangely now- Izumi, Tomoki, and the older rude boy in a jumpsuit. Confused.
“Dude, are you alright ?” Asks jumpsuit boy (Ju, Jun… Junkai? Junpei?) “She really wasn’t that harsh, no need to get defensive.”
“No, it’s not…” Takuya looks around, trying to locate the speaker. A swarm of fuzzy grey digimons have joined them by now, but neither seem to have a voice even relatively similar (or a way of speaking, for that matter.) “I could swear-”
Wrong side, kid.
Takuya jolts at the sudden intervention.
“Takuya, you’re scaring me…” Tomoki grabs his waist and pulls down, as if he could ground the other boy by doing so.
“There’s…” Takuya starts, dread forming in his throat “there’s a voice inside… inside my…”
Inside your head! Bingo! Takuya inhales sharply and grabs Tomoki’s arm in reflex, because no, nope, niet, nada, this can’t be happening, he refuses
Voices, plural. He hears someone say more calmly, like his coach when Takuya twisted his ankle and the adult had tried to reassure him that he would be okay. We’re not the same person.
Because that just makes it better. Obviously.
“Oh god.” Takuya runs his fingers through his hair, trying to conceal the way his hands had started trembling. Turning into a badass beefy warrior? Awesome. Turning into an anime textbook nutcase? Not so much. “Are there any doctors around ? I’m hearing voices.”
Junpei’s eyes go wide as saucers, then his race turn to a mask of concern. “That’s awful, we need to find one right now-”
We’re not a problem, you absolute fucking moron!
The sheer offense in the voice makes Takuya wince, drowning the rest of jumpsuit boy’s sentence. This is worse than being scolded by his parents; the anger vibrates inside his skull, making him unable to just ignore it.
Language! The deeper voice snaps back. Kid’s like nine, give him a break!
“I’m ten!” hallucination or not, Takuya’s not being looked down by his own mind!
“Wait, seriously?” Asks Izumi, at the same time Junpei replies with a borderline panicked “How is that relevant?!”
It’s true though! The angrier voice argues. Dude turns into Agunimon and doesn’t blink an eye, but somehow hearing voice is impossible?! What kind of weirdness sensor is that?!
Ruki you punched yourself in the face the first time I talked to you, you have NO place to talk!
“They’re fighting,” Takuya says, dumbfounded, “they’re actually fighting.”
Holding tight on his waist, Tomoki starts sobbing. “It’d okay, Takuya, we’ll find a way to fix you!”
God, can you tell them we’re not a problem already? The voice has no face, but Takuya is fairly certain they’re rolling their eyes. They’re going to get an aneurysm at this rate.
“I don’t know what that word means!”
Izumi raises an eyebrow. “What, fixing?”
“No!” This three-way conversation is getting old really fast. “What the voice said! An...ana...anaryms…”
It means heart attack, guess with the context, geez.
Okay, look, obviously we got off the wrong foot. Deep-voice attempts to pacify. Takuya imagines a small gremlin raising both hands to calm sarcastic-voice down. If nothing else the image makes him snort. What about starting over? Hi, I’m Taichi, this is Ruki, nice to meet you ?
“They have names. Do hallucinations have names?” The other kids glance at each other, obviously as much at loss as he is.
“Maybe you’re not sick? Just possessed?” Hazards Tomoki. Because that’s a better alternative.
I mean… in a way, you are? I guess? Oh, joy. Takuya is just thrilled.
We’re not demons or anything, don’t worry.
Then who are they? What are they? Why are they in his HEAD, come ON, calm down, we’re here to help you.
The way his thoughts just got hijacked really isn’t reassuring, but Ruki does manage to slow down his breathing. Somehow.
Pictures flash before his eyes. A devil with bat wings. Sand under his feet. Fire, so much fire, enough to consume an entire town.
Memories that do not belong to him.
When Taichi speaks again, Takuya doesn’t trust him any more than before, but he knows in his soul he’s telling the truth.
We’re the previous bearers of the spirit of fire.
She doesn't expect to find Kouji with the KaratsukiNumemon. None of them do, if their surprised faces are anything to go by.
Though in retrospect we should have expected it Sora sighs at the back of her mind, chosen ALWAYS end up together somehow.
...whatever that means.
Yeah no I still haven’t figured out why that happens so I can’t really give you any explanation. Miyako has no body that she can see, but Izumi is pretty sure she just shrugged. But we can assure you that’s a thing!
The others chat up the talking snails, gathering intel on the situation. Apparently, Kouji’s been with them for a while. She stares at him intently, the next best thing to pointing fingers when your conversation buddy sees through your eyes.
Dude doesn't seem to care about having to stick together though.
Oh yeah I’m pretty sure that's a light thing. Hikari used to do that too, always going off on her own and withholding information and refusing to trust us . Bitterness seeps through her voice. It was SUPER annoying.
Sora makes that one noise she does when she agrees but she doesn’t think she should say it. I don’t know any of the third gen kids, but I heard that their light was better on that front. Still had a tendency to keep everything to herself though. Well, note to self, light people are edgy ones, Izumi guesses . I don’t think the fourth gen folks had any light ones? Either way, don’t worry too much about Kouji. Not that Izumi was. He should stabilize once he finds his darkness.
Takuya brings a fist to his chest. “We can help you guys! After all, we’re-” his mouth closes abruptly, and he makes a face. Ouch. Ruki must have bitten his tongue. “We’re… really good fighters!”
Heck yeah they are. But back to the point, isn't darkness a bad thing?
It's just a matter of balancing things out. Sora says. Fire can burn too. And hurricanes destroy. Balance is necessary for everything.
Yep. Especially for darkness and light. Miyako nods. Though I DO hope there’s going to be some earth in your group at some point. Mine was a good friend, once we got past… circumstances.
Izumi hopes so too, if only because she is intrigued now. This world intrigues her. This story of which she’d become the protagonist, intrigues her.
It doesn’t take long for them to learn that there will be no earth in their group.
Grottomon’s smirk is cruel, uncaring of his hostages and uncaring of the harm he’s causing. He’s strong, too; his hammer a monster of its own in his hands.
A dwarf of soil and sharp jabs (a boy in a cape with cold eyes)
To Izumi’s surprise, there is no anger in Miyako, honest Miyako, pure Miyako’s voice. Only a profound sadness.
Circumstances, circumstances. She answers her curiosity. Now stay sharp, he’s strong.
He is. He’s strong and agile and the five of them (fifteen of them) can barely hold him off. Their new bodies are too foreign and the wind is too large of a thing for Izumi to grasp completely yet.
Still, they manage, at first.
To be fair, there are very few things they could have done to stop the guy from EATING AN ENTIRE MOUNTAIN.
Grottomon chuckles then. He laughs and raises his weapon and in a flash of light he’s no longer Grottomon, but something bigger, something rougher, and every single alarm set off in Izumi’s head.
Get out get out get out get out
cracking whip and dark rings
RUN RUN RUN GET OUT FLY LEAVE
She’s fast enough.
Not all her friends are.
All she can do is hope they’ll find their way to each other again somehow.
Izumi got all the cool kids in her head lmao
They’d warned him. They’ve all been warned, by the little voices in their head.
Beast forms are really powerful, Yamato had explained softly, in a way unlike any Tomoki has ever heard.
(Not quite like a father; Yamato doesn’t shy away from scary truths, refuses to make him smaller and less mature than he is. But not quite like a brother, either; Yamato is so much more gentle, so much more understanding than Yukata. He explains, but doesn’t get angry when he needs clarifications.)
(Tomoki wonders what kind of relationship is one supposed to have with the people who live in his mind.)
Beast forms are really powerful. But they’re really dangerous, too. Sharp-edge stone giant, screams, anger anger closed fists quaking earth. (Ikuto has always been better with quick flashes of memories and vague concepts than with words. It’s okay. Tomoki gets the message.) Tentacles thrashing, worry concern panic CORNERED. The armors contain our rawest and most powerful emotions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and drown in them when you wear this particular skin.
They’d been warned. They’d SEEN it firsthand, seen Kouji on all four with his newfound hide glistening, seen Kouji with the sun between his jaws and madness in his eyes. Seen Kouji shudder and shake and HOWL, with so much despair pain guilt it hurt Tomoki’s ears.
They’d all been warned. They’d all seen. It’d been ugly.
Flames bleeds through the cracks of Vritramon’s armor like fresh wounds. This, too, is ugly.
Fire, left. Duck.
Tomoki follows the order without questions, narrowly avoiding a severe burn. The heat he feels is enough to make his skin crawl, but he doesn’t have the time to ponder over it.
Ikuto is good at this. Better than most, Tomoki guesses, as he sees Blitzmon get thrown into a tree.
This is really, really ugly.
We need to stall until he tires himself out. Yamato says urgently. Limit the damages on the surroundings . Jump, right!
Sounds, bad. Sounds like a terrible idea. Takuya’s suffering. They have to do something!
There’s nothing you can do. Focus on surviving, he’s gonna target you!
That’s not what a hero would do.
This isn’t what you want to hear, Tomoki, but heroes can’t do anything if they’re dead. (Soft voice, unlike a father, unlike a brother.) Sometimes, the best thing you can do is wait it out.
Vritramon opens his maw and SCREAMS, forcing Tomoki’s hands to his ears. This is ugly, ugly, arguments behind closed doors ugly, being forced inside a train ugly.
He needs to help Takuya.
There is nothing you can do. Yamato insists.
He needs to help Takuya!
Ikuto’s sudden intervention gives him pause, which almost costs him dearly. The tail swipes his hat right off his head, flinging it into the wind. What?
Frustration rises at the back of his throat- his, he thinks at first, but quickly enough realizes his mistake. Ikuto’s struggling to find words, to make sentences, Ikuto’s trying to tell him something but can’t .
Tomoki turns his attention to the other ice ancestor, but he’s only met with silence.
...no, not quite. Silence and shame .
A large body lands in front of Tomoki, sharp teeth shining under the light, and Garmmon leaps at Vritramon claws first, a much welcome distraction.
Tomoki has a few seconds, he thinks.
Tomoki blinks, and there is-
Anger hurt betrayal-
Fist to the face, blood on the dirt-
Laughing tree and trickster river-
The sudden call back to reality gives him a whiplash, but thanks to the warning only a figurative one.
Tomoki has seen enough.
It was him.
He’d attacked his fire. That’s what’s messing with Takuya right now. That’s the event imprinted in the beast spirit.
I was young and stupid and we didn’t exactly had guidance back then, you know! Defense sharp and cold and deeply hostile.
(So THAT’S the nature of ice.)
Look, yeah, that’s probably Taichi’s feelings corrupting your fire. There is so much guilt in this voice, Tomoki doesn’t have it in him to blame the guy for events that probably occurred decades ago. But there’s nothing you can do to fix it. You can’t fix my mistakes, I’m sorry.
...it’s true. Tomoki can’t.
But there is something Tomoki can do.
“Takuya!” He calls. Vritramon’s head snaps toward him with a snarl. “Takuya! It’s me, Tomoki.”
Run roll duck LEAVE LEAVE
The grip is tight around Tomoki.
He refuses to cry.
“I called for Takuya, not you.”
Vritramon narrows his eyes and hisses.
“And I’m Tomoki, not your ice.” He smiles. It probably looks a little forced. It’s better than nothing. “This has been over for a while now. This isn’t your battle, Takuya. Come back.”
His plea is met with silence.
Silence and heat.
Wiggle out, bite, slip away
Call for Chakmon, we can tank it out, Tomoki PLEASE
(Stay brave, keep smiling.)
There is a long, deep exhales, that blows smoke right at Tomoki’s face, and-
In a flash of white, Vritramon is gone, and Takuya falls to his knees.
If you paid attention, Sora mentioned "fourth gen kids" last chapter, she meant the DATS folks!
Also, in case it wasn't clear enough: Takuya's reliving that one time Yamato attacked Taichi during an identity crisis. Obviously things went a little differently in this au, but the core conflict still happened.
Also!! Big shout-out to user kopycat_101, your reviews make my days <3
There is a scream. It’s nothing glorious, or even rageful; the voice is too high and too young and too tainted with raw despair. Then there is movement, a flash of white and yellow, and a grunt.
In a movie, this would have been happening in slow-motion, with a lot of very dramatic music in the background. In reality, Junpei doesn’t even fully see what happens, focused as he is on finding an escape and overall not panicking.
HECK yeah! Daisuke roars in triumphs- perhaps the only victorious “sound” in the cave. You go, Tomoki!
MOTOMIYA WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO LEEROY JENKINS
Tomoki staggers back on his feet, rubbing his knuckles with a wince. Did he- the guy just- Junpei’s gaze jump to Gigasmon rubbing his nose with a startled look on his face.
Oh god, Tomoki just punched Gigasmon. He just. Just punched a literal moving rock.
He didn’t even turn into Chakmon.
This is it. This is how they die. Murdered in a cave because every single one of Junpei’s teammate has the survival instinct of a lemming.
You big drama queen. Daisuke pokes. At least he’s doing something, unlike some.
ExCUSE you, Junpei isn’t being overly dramatic. His drama is all extremely appropriate given the circumstances.
Much as I agree, Motomiya does have a point. Koushirou concedes. Using your beast spirit would increase our chances of survival exponentially .
Look, it’s not like Junpei DOESN’T want to call for Bolgmon! He could use it! He’s GOING to use it! It’s just-
( Hikari Garmmon ramming his body in the trees, lost in a grief that was not his-
Taichi Vritramon bleeding fire and fury, unable to see past and present apart-)
-well, he’s kind of scared.
Gigasmon laughs. Actually laughs, cruel and mocking.
The punch didn't even leave a mark.
I understand, Shibayama, but if you do not raise now you will never have the occasion to be scared again!
"You thought that would hurt me?" Gigasmon snickers.
Alright, alright, this is terrifying, okay okay his sanity and humanity for his survival then. Junpei brings up his digivice with a lump in his throat, ready to get invaded by anger or thunder or whatever hellish nightmare Takuya and Kouji hadn’t been able to put into words-
"Please.” Gigasmon taunts “I am
the best street fighter of Japan!
Actually, the whole world pauses. No one, not among the humans, not among the corrupted legendary warriors, not even among the spectators in his head, dares to break the silence.
Gigasmon's eyes widen, his breath halts, and he throws his hands over his mouth as if he'd said some very dirty word. Around him, the other warriors turn to stare at him in confusion and bafflement.
"...What's Japan?" Ranamon asks finally.
"I'm- you- it's not-" Gigasmon shakes his head, left, right, left, "Stop it,” his shaking grows more and more frantic, “Stop it, I'm not- OSAMU !!"
It HITS Junpei, this despair, this name- no, no, it’s not quite him, he denies, but the profound sadness affects him nonetheless, if only by proxy.
Gigasmon slams both palms around his head, his breath turning faster and more shallow at each intake. His whole body shivers, hunches forward, as if he was about to throw up. "Stop it!” he screams ”Stop it, stop it, I’m not-" his head snaps back up, widening eyes that do not see. " OSAMU !"
And something shakes in Junpei as well. The child brings his palms to his throat in reflex, trying to contain- claws, frantic claws in his throat, trying to crawl up, trying to spill from his mouth, scratching scratching it itches itches itches
KEN KEN IT’S ME ANSWER ME KEN KEN COME BACK TO ME
Not yours not yours not yours CALM DOWN NOT YOURS
And Gigasmon doesn’t pause, and his head snaps again, downward, slamming against the ground. The earth crackles and splits with unrestrained anger, and Junpei has to jump on the side as to avoid falling. "
TOMHA, YOU BASTARD, WHERE ARE YOU-
GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"
It's a plea, it's begging, it's despair and pain and so unlike Gigasmon. He coughs, chokes, once, twice, and his voices rises again like an earthquake.
" GET OUT OF OUR SKIN!"
Gigasmon’s head snaps one last time, and his eyes zero on Ranamon like lazers. “YOU.”
As violently as it had ascended, the itch stops, replaced by dread.
We need to get to get out get far get shelter hide quick quick quick!
“YOU!” It’s like anything but the warrior of water had stopped existing to Gigasmon. “TRAITOR!”
His voice alone makes the entire cave shake.
It’s bound to collapse. Koushirou clicks his tongue. He’s going to make it all collapse.
A swipe of his large hand is enough to send Ranamon flying. Panic starts settling among the corrupted warriors, as it dawns on them that their colleague can’t be reasoned with-
Fingers grabs Junpei’s shoulder and yanks him back roughly.
“Turn into Blitzmon!” Fairymon- when did she shift?- orders him. “We need to tank the collapse!”
A horrible sound echoes. Pebbles and dust start raining on them.
The boy’s gaze flicker to the entrance. The giant’s talons leave deep gouges in the walls where he failed to hit the swifter warrior.
Sounds like our best bet. Which doesn’t say much, but Junpei will take it.
Getting out of the rubbles is easy, with these bodies.
He didn’t expect any of their enemies to stick around, really. By the look of it, they all ran away when the opportunity showed up.
All but one, sobbing giant.
Junpei and his friends all share a look, not really knowing what to do. Slowly Junpei gets closer, ready to jump away if he needs to.
Gigasmon doesn’t even notice him.
Hesitantly, Junpei sets his digivice right below his jaw.
“ ...Osamu. ”
The itch crawls back.
“...Soul lost to the darkness,” Junpei whispers, “I purify you.”
The sight of Gigasmon fragmenting into code feels oddly bitter.
Not pictured: Ikuto convincing Tomoki to punch the guy while Yamato screams at them not to in the background
Oh god Junpei is REALLY regretting having sent Izumi to gather firewood.
What are you waiting for? Just talk to him!
Junpei sends a look at Kouji’s quiet, brooding form. No. Nope. Niet. Nada. The guy just had a shouting match with Takuya and looks like a bomb about to go off. Junpei is NOT touching that with a ten foot pole.
Though Daisuke doesn’t back off. That’s exactly why he needs a third party to talk to about it! Come on, aren’t you two friends?
Wait, they are?
Junpei’s not really experienced in the whole, uh, friend thing. He thought it was supposed to go like in shounens? Ride or die people who would die for each other with lots of homoerotic subtext?
That… sounds a little extreme .
...Okay in retrospect, yeah. Still, it’s not like he’s actually friend with Kouji, is it? Sure, they spend a lot of time together, and sure, Junpei enjoys the guy’s company when he’s not being a grumpy dog, but…
Oh, god, he’s FRIENDS with Kouji.
Oh, god, he’s friends with KOUJI.
Friendship usually comes from the most unusual places . Koushirou says wisely, which might be the least useful thing Junpei has ever heard. Kouji. He’s friend with KOUJI. Of ALL PEOPLE.
Right, right. Dismisses Daisuke, who from what Junpei has seen so far has kind of a one-track mind. So when you’re done with your existential crisis, you’re gonna talk to him?
Must he really.
I would advise doing so. Daisuke is pretty much the expert in relationships, here.
Heck yeah I am! That’s what lightning’s all about, connections, friendship!! he boasts proudly.
...It’s really not. Koushirou shakes his nonexistent head. But you can still trust him when it comes to that kind of things.
Hhhhh Do Not Want.
Alright, alright. Here goes nothing.
Junpei gets up and moves to sit next to Kouji. The boy cast him a dirty look, but it kind of loose weight since dirty looks are his resting face.
“...Sooooo.” How does one even start a conversation? Magic tricks sound inappropriate right now. “What’s up?”
Kouji raises a hand to rub his temple, sighing. “Takuya. Is an idiot.”
...hard to disagree. He seems fine to me, to be honest.
Junpei has to hold back a chuckle. “When is he not?”
“I know, right?!” Kouji’s head whips to look at him- irritated and annoyed, but not at HIM. “He just- he thinks he can just charge in with brute force, and solve everything-” wow, Junpei has never noticed how fast Kouji’s hand moved when he was passionate. “and he’s dead convinced he has an actual plan! Charging in full strength- he thinks that’s a plan! a plan!”
Well isn’t it? No. Just- no.
“I crossed swords with Duskmon.” Kouji continues. “He’s strong. Very strong. And…” his voice trails off, for a second. Distraught? “...when our swords met, I heard them screaming.”
“Who?” Junpei asks, but he’s not sure he wants to know the answer.
Kouji doesn’t answer immediately. When he does, his voice is much, much lower. “...The previous holders of Darkness.”
His voice has lost its fire. There’s no more fake anger to mask his true feelings.
“I heard- I heard them screaming, Junpei.” His gaze goes down. “They’re not asleep like Grottomon’s spirits were. They were holding Duskmon back as much as they could. And he still…” Kouji wraps his arms around his knees. For a second, he’s no longer the warrior of light, grumpy dog Kouji, but a scared, scared little kid. “He’s so strong, Junpei. We don’t stand a chance.”
For a few seconds, Junpei stays silent, still taking in the information. But eventually, he raises a hand, and sets it on Kouji’s shoulder.
“Hey.” he calls. Kouji brings his head back up to meet his eyes. Junpei does his best to smile. “We’re gonna figure something out, okay? We always do.” His palm starts rubbing circles. Even if he doesn’t believe a word of what he’s saying… the very least he can do is comfort a friend. “You gotta have faith in us. It’s gonna be alright.”
As it turns out, it’s not. But no one really expected anything different.
THE LIIGHTNING OF FRIIIIENDSHIIIIP
He wakes up to darkness.
Darkness and silence.
“Ruki?” Takuya calls, weakly- his throat aches. His everything aches. “Taichi?”
He expects a flare of irritation, of worry, a flash of memory. ANYTHING.
There is nothing.
OUTSIDE of his head.
Oh, Takuya thinks, as the train speaks. Oh. He’s failed.
It’s time for him to come home.
The ride feels like an eternity to him. A painful, silent eternity. The fatigue fills his head like white noise, his own tired thoughts barely cutting through the cotton in his ears.
Nothing comes disrupting the calm lake of his hopelessness. Not a thought, not a reassurance.
It’s over. For real, this time, it’s over.
The journey home passes in a blur. His body is here, but Takuya himself isn’t. His eyes feel like screens to the movie of his life. Like he’s watching himself from the wrong side of the mirror; identical, but not real.
The silence in his skull dulls the repetitive roll of the engine.
Takuya shoves both palms in front of his face with a grunt, trying to hide his eyes from the judging rays. Noise suddenly assault his eardrums, rings and motors and so many so many voices so much people so loud loud LOUD
So much noise outside his head, barely static inside. Swirling twirling whispers he knows directed at him but not ASKING him.
“What is he wearing?”
“Is that cosplay?”
“Kids, these days…”
“What's up with these shoulder pads?”
Painfully, Takuya pries his hands away from his face. Breathe in. Breathe out. It's alright. It's alright. He's home.
He has claws.
He shouldn't have claws.
Panic rises up his throat as his gaze jumps, left to right, four-fingered hands to pants he doesn't remember owning to the furry tail he's sitting on, all over this body that is not his own but he's weating like a distorded Halloween suit anyway. Panic rises, it rises hot and big and loud and overwhelming and he open his fanged mouth to scream-
There is screaming. There's surprise and fear and alarm, outside his mind, inside his mind.
He does what he'd never done before.
It's home. There's no doubt about it, it's home. He knows the streets, the trains. The walls and the smell of bread by the bakery and the chirping birds in the trees.
He recognizes his aunt, in a car.
She doesn't recognise him back.
“Taichi! Ruki! Help me!”
It's home. It's Takuya's home.
Fur covers his skin. He's just not so sure he's Takuya anymore.
“Ruki! Taichi! Please!”
But there is no answer.
He sees Takuya. The old Takuya, he means. The human one bored at his brother's birthday.
It's a strange thought, that they are- were- will be the same person. That Takuya is an asocial selfish human brat who never had to handle consequences- that Takuya is a beastly monster with figurative blood on his hands.
Yeah. In retrospect, he might be the only one surprised by this development. He had it a long coming, he supposes.
“What should I do?” He asks to no one. “What should I do?”
He wonders if Ruki or Taichi had to face something similar, in the past. This feeling of indecision, of loss, of in-between- two worlds, two guilts, not quite human and not quite a beast.
Takuya never asked. He hadn't cared. He hadn't cared about a lot of things, he realizes.
The old Takuya leaves the house running. To the train station, most likely.
The beast follows.
He tells the old Takuya not to go.
The old Takuya doesn't listen.
At least he's not surprised on this one.
Takuya- the current Takuya- has half a mind to snap the brat's neck right here. Even himself would have trouble ruining everything with claws in his guts.
(Kouji in his arms, shaking, data seeping from his chest like blood, as Duskmon's screams get muddled with Taichi's and Ruki's.)
He doesn't, though. He… he's not sure he can do that.
So he follows. He follows his old self, run into Kouji, into Kouji's doppleganger, runs through the station, gets in the elevator, and-
And now, what?
It's his one chance to erase everything, to dodge all consequences. As he's always have.
No. Takuya won't run.
The old Takuya gets on the train. The beast knows, now. The kid will suffer. And burn. And hurt.
And learn. And live.
Maybe it's not the right choice. Maybe, most likely, Taichi would have advised differently, Ruki would have chosen differently.
It may not be the right choice. But it's his own. And he will own up to it.
When all humans leave, Takuya walks to the darkest corner of the train station. He has friends to get back. Out and in of his head.
This is one of my fave eps can you tell
Hands on your mouth. Quiets the breath, won’t spot us.
This is bad.
You’re… taking this awfully calmly .
Really? Huh. Funny that. Tomoki had thought anyone would be used to these kind of situations after a while.
Ah, and here comes that tingle again, when Yamato frowns his nonexistant eyebrows in disapproval. Tomoki’s not sure what upset him in what he said? Then again, Yamato gets upset really easily. He’s a very emotional unemotional person. A lot like Kouji, actually.
...Please don’t compare me to him.
Well, it’s true!
Quiet. Need to listen. Speak useful or don’t speak at all.
Right, right! Sorry, Ikuto.
He’s glad the guy is keeping an ear out. Having Petaldramon find them just because they’re not paying attention would be super awkward.
Need plan. Ikuto asserts with a tone that leaves no room for discussion. I listen. You plan.
Fair enough. The place isn’t exactly the greatest hiding place. There’s also the matter of letting the others know where he is, so they can come and get him…
Yamato shifts. Uncomfortable? I’m… There’s the possibility that they won’t come, Tomoki. We need to prepare with us alone in mind.
Huh? Now, he’s just being silly. Of course the others are going to come. They’ve always had, haven’t they?
We don’t know if they’re still- alive, Tomoki hears, but almost as an afterthought, as a footnote the writer had wanted to hide in white font at the bottom of the page. Tomoki, we’ve never been in a situation so bad before. We need to prepare for the worst.
Right. What he needs is a little faith, mostly.
Tomoki, you can’t keep relying on everyone!
That, uh. That hit closer to home than Tomoki would admit.
Sorry, Yamato quickly scrambles. I didn’t mean-
You slow. Found a plan.
Tomoki’s brows go up at the intervention. He’d… well, forgotten Ikuto was there.
It’s barely been two minutes. Ikuto’s the fast one.
So, what’s the plan?
Do like Masaru.
Masaru was the earth one, right? Tomoki’s not sure he can fistfight a literal dragon, but if Ikuto suggests it…
No! No! No no! We are NOT punching someone again.
Didn’t say that.
What did Masaru EVER do aside from punching?!
SHUT UP AND LISTEN!
The ice-cold anger torrents through Tomoki like an avalanche, and for a few seconds he forgets to even breathe. Yamato must have, too, because only silence rings between his ears.
Punching. Important. Masaru. Ikuto tries to explain through grit teeth (fangs? beak? Tomoki never asked what did the guy used to look like.)
Okay. So far, I follow.
Find something important. Yoshino and Mimi. Do it. Bring them back.
That’s… actually really clever. Yamato admits. This is quite the rare event. Hey, i’m not THAT prickly.
Tomoki will pretend he didn’t hear that.
Yoshino liked sleeping. And snarking. And girls. And singing. Mimi? Ikuto says, forcefully dragging them back on track.
We don’t have any girls with us right now… singing could work? Mimiliked that. Helped her become a princess at some point. Wait. What?
Yeah, Mimi was wild like that. Hated fighting. Raised a kingdom and an army by herself on two different occasions. Not someone you want to mess with.
Okay, so, let’s try singing.
Tomoki coughs in his hand, clears his throat, and-
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,”
BUT IS THIS R E A L L Y HOW WE WANT TO GO.
“Oh what fun it is to ride, in a one-horse open sleigh,”
Above Yamato’s offended sputtering, Tomoki can hear heavy footsteps coming his way. Petaldramon must have heard him.
“ Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,”
and suddenly another voice rises, deep and profound and powerful.
“Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.”
The footsteps stop.
Leap of faith, he guesses.
Carefully, Tomoki raises his head to peek above the table.
Petaldramon is. Right. There.
“ Hello. ” There is only one voice, but Tomoki is SURE he heard two people talking.
Hello his mind echoes.
“ I don’t want to fight. ” Petaldramon- pouts, almost. His- her- their eyes flutter. “ I’m tired. ”
Almost on its own volition, Tomoki’s hand takes hold of the D-tector at his belt.
It’s okay, Mimi. You don’t have to fight anymore.
You can sleep. It’s okay.
It just occured to me that arbormon was supposed to have been defeated BEFORE takuya's trip to the flesh world.
Oh, well, new au new rules.
Why why WHY does she ALWAYS have to deal with the water one??
Gal got a grudge against you.
Understatement of the year.
And she keeps GLOATING about beauty and prettyness and whatever. Gods, this is so ANNOYING.
And irrelevant. Duck to the left. Miyako huffs as Izumi dodges yet another water jet. The least she could do is keep her insults related to the current situations. Beauty doesn’t really do much in battle.
(If Izumi keeps repeating herself just how dumb it is, maybe it’ll start stinging a little less.)
Is it really so distracting to you?
Of course it is.
Izumi has no other choice but to be pretty. It’s the only way for her to be seen as a real girl.
As she throws slicing winds at Calamarimon, Izumi feels a tickle on her shoulder- a comforting hand, of sorts.
Hey. It doesn’t matter what your birth name is, okay? You ARE a real girl.
And you don’t owe the time of the day to anyone who argue otherwise. They’re dicks.
The sudden swear makes Izumi laughs- which, in turn, makes Calarimon hiss in anger at the apparent mockery.
“Thanks,” Izumi whispers, and immediately follows with a (in her opinion, really well-done) barrel roll. “That means a lot.
Anytime, bud. Water to the right!
Koushirou was like you too. And Takeru I think? Oh, her guard’s down on the left side! Aim at her waist!
Yeah, blondie wasn’t a girl, but that sure wasn’t a dude either. Plus neither of us is exactly “socially acceptable” either. My first date was with a girl, after all. And Sora had her two boyfriends and all. We know what’s it like to be drowning in others judgement.
The sudden outburst stuns Izumi in place- an issue, when one is midair. At least Calamarimon is as surprised as she is, since she misses her next shot so she she might as well have aimed with her eyes closed.
Sora, what the f-
The spirit! We just need to drag her underwater!
Izumi flips around and calls the winds to bring her up once more. Her fall was stupid, but at least not as much as this sentence.
This is the warrior of WATER.
Jyou’s afraid of drowning!
WATER, SORA. WATER.
Wait, no, she might have a point. Oh, come on Miyako, not you too!! So far she’s always stayed on TOP of the water. She’s never dived.
Okay, that’s a good point. BUT, other thing to keep in mind: if it fails, Izumi is absolutely going to die.
Counterpoint: do you have a better idea?
If Izumi dies here, she’s haunting all of them.
I’m taking that risk.
Izumi sends out the winds to counter the jets coming her way, and then
lets herself fall
At least SHE didn’t expect that either, if her face is anything to go by-
Oh darn cold cold water cold!
Don’t let her go!
Ouch- frick- she’s struggling! She has way too many limbs, that’s cheating!!
Hang on just a little longer!
Izumi would gladly do that, but she ALSO needs air, she can’t keeps the other underwater for much longer, too cold, too sticky, too cold, can’t breathe-
Calamarimon turns her head her way-
Boy in glasses, flailing, choking, trying to pull so many people up, trying failing-
- and her eyes are wide and terror is shining in them.
A tentacle hits her in the face. Another wraps around her waist, squeezes.
Bad. Bad. Bad.
Hold on Izumi hold on!
Don’t breathe in, hold on, don’t breathe in, hold on, don’t breathe-
Fucker’s- taking- her D-tector-
Bad bad baD
There is a harsh light, and-
Izumi BOLTS to the surface, swim swim swim
She breathes! She breathes! She breaaaathes-
Who cares, Izumi’s aliiiive
No, seriously, where is she?
That’s your D-tector floating here, right?
... it…. is….
… Ah. Yeah, that’s a very Jyou thing to do huh.
He’d purified himself.
That’s legendary warriors of you. Izumi coughs. The mouths tastes like salt. We’re stubborn lil shits.
Anyway all your faves are queer I don't make the rules.
Armor so lustrous the light shines on it, wings so dark reality itself might has well been cut apart. Shadowseraphimon stands, his grip firm around Takuya’s throat.
How DARE he, beneath Kouji’s horror, Hikari’s anger rises. How DARE he use that form!
His shoulders prickle, like sharp nails dragged across his skin. He’s going to kill him. Juri urges, more practical. He’s going to kill him, MOVE!
“Hey! Mercuremon!” Kouji SCREAMS. “Over here!”
Good new! It works. Shadowseraphimon turns his head his way, still holding Takuya.
Bad new! It works.
Shadowseraphimon closes his fist, remembering Kouji of the painful fact that he had no weapons and could not evolve at the moment.
Better than doing nothing.
Stay sharp. We’ll get through this. We always do.
Yeaaaaah he’s going to die wasn’t he.
There are footsteps in the hallway. Help is coming.
Granted, the newcomer could be as beaten up as he is, but…
that is his best bet right now.
“Fight me!” Kouji screams, rising his own fists. “Go for someone who isn’t half dead already, you coward!”
He is SO going to die.
There is a heavy sound as Takuya hits the floor. Shadowseraphimon cracks his knuckles; Kouji can’t see his face, but he’s pretty sure the fucker is smiling.
(But the footsteps are getting closer, more hurried-)
“If that is your wish,” Shadowseraphimon says. He takes a step forward. “I’ll let you guide the way to hell for your friend right there-”
The digimon staggers suddenly.
The pipe hits him in the face again, so violently he falls on his back.
“Thanks,” Kouji starts- but his voice trails off when he sees, exactly, who saved him.
There are two boys, here. A short one. A taller one.
They’re neither Tomoki nor Junpei.
Boys he had never seen a boy she had traveled with a boy she had held hands with
Iori nods at him, professional as always . “ Long time no see, Hikari. ”
Jenrya smiles, something genuine the kind that had always made her warm inside . “ Hi Juri! ”
Shadowseraphimon curses loudly. He tries to get back on his feet- only to get slammed again by Iori.
“ Grab Ruki and go. We’ll handle this! ”
“ Yeah, take care of your brother. Purify us when you get outside. ”
That’s when it hits Kouji, that, genuinely, none of these guys actually see him.
“ Go! ”
Kouji rushes to Takuya- Ruki- brother- and throws his arm over his shoulder.
He knows better than to argue with unbending iron.
the outline for this chapter said nothing but "off with his head"
Kouichi wakes up to darkness.
Darkness and whispers.
Listen… listen… listen… listen…
Oh, Kouichi is listening. To the memories in his ears, to the easter bunny in his mind. He’s listening. He’s listening.
He wants a monster he wants a monster he wants a monster
The rabbit laughs, and presents Kouchi a gift. No more pain, he says, no more heart. Embrace the darkness inside and forget.
He wants a monster he wants a monster he wants a monster
And Kouichi is lonely, and tired, so tired ( wrath lust gluttony greed envy sloth )
He steps forward, and seizes the beast.
We’ll give him a monster.
For a single, blessed second, Kouichi falls into Morpheus’s embrace. No more hurt. No more torment. Nothing.
For a single, sweet, sweet second.
Fallen feathers and fallen lion and-
A rage stronger than anything he’d ever known, overlapping and screaming and hungry-
Grit teeth and closed fists and-
Scales and jaws and wings-
H A Z A R D.
This is actually the very first chapter I ever wrote