One wouldn't think that with everything they had been through together, from Light and Darkness, from Cherubimon and Lucemon, the Royal Knights, from being pried back to the land of the living from death itself, from all the pain and loneliness they have both endured and overcome. After all that, the thought of those two twins fighting, is something unfathomable. And yet, that's exactly what happened. For the first time since meeting, two years after the events of the Digital World, they had their first fight.
Granted, they didn't start out that way, it had been a peaceful afternoon. The Saviors of the Digital World had made a tradition to all gather together to celebrate the very day they all went to that place, the place that changed them and where their lives became better. They had all decided to spend that day at the mall seeing as it was the only place where it had more variety and space for all six of them. And while the others chatted way as they walked along the various shops, Koji stuck close to Koichi. Which in the beginning he wouldn't have bothered him at all but lately hes felt that his brother has become abnormally clingy. So much so that Koichi himself has actually been wanting something he hadn't ever thought he'd want again since meeting his brother; space.
He felt bad, almost guilty that he had this feeling, seeing as when Koichi first found out he had a brother, he wanted to spend every day together, and then on getting to know him. But now it just happened so often whenever they were together, it happened enough that he felt... claustrophobic. He shouldn't feel this way, but he did. Not only was Koji being clingy but also overprotective, again more so now then he has before but treating Koichi as though he was a helpless baby bird. It was ironic really, Koichi went from wanting to be attached to the hip with Koji, he wanted nothing more then to spend ever second of everyday with his twin, his other half. But now uncharacteristically, he felt like he was suffocating.
They all made their way to the staircase, heading down to the first floor. When Koji, gently, grabbed the sleeve of his jacket and stopped him. "Make sure to hold the railing, Koichi." The Warrior of Light stated as he took his place in front of his brother, protectively. And there lay the crux of the problem, ever now two years after his brush with death, Koji was still treating him as though he was fragile, like he was a baby bird with a broken wing. Now Koichi understood why, he did. Almost losing Koichi definitely left Koji feeling scared, but he wasn't weak nor was he helpless. "You don't need to protect me, Koji. I'm fine."
"You're falling down a flight a stairs says otherwise, Nii-san. Your clumsy, after all."
Despite the formal name, which Koji only ever used either in a teasing manner or when he's emotional, something within Koichi, something he had felt in a long time least of all to Koji, bubbled to the surface; frustration. Granted his brother might have been teasing when he said that but that did nothing to cease this emotion. "Koji, enough." He said firmly as he yanked his arm away from Koji's grasp. Koji, stopped short and turned around, facing his brother.
"What are you talking about? Enough of what?"
"This—" Koichi said as he gestured towards Koji and himself. "Protecting me, you act like I'm a gonna spontaneously break at any second, Koji. I'm not made of glass, you know."
Instead of trying to understand, like Koji often did when it came to his brother, he instead went on the defensive. "Well excuse me for wanting to watch out for my brother. Who I might add flat-lined after falling down a staircase."
Koichi rolled his eyes, uncharacteristically. "That was two years ago—"
"And your still just as clumsy as ever!"
Koichi crossed his arms, "You can't cling to me, Koji. You've done it so much that I feel suffocated."
For the first time, Koji looked offended at his twin. "Suffocated? Who was the one who chased after me at the train station, risking his life!?"
"You know why I did that."
Koji nodded, looking at his brother straight in the eyes. "And you know that I have to protect you, as your brother—"
Koichi shook his head, "No, you don't, I'm not always gonna be around, Koji. You don't, or can't always protect me."
For some reason, that seemed to be the thing, the single phrase that set Koji off. "And what is that suppose to mean?" The Warrior of Light asked, his eyes narrowing as he glared at Koichi. "You gonna leave me too? Like mom did?"
The Warrior of Darkness froze at the statement, then his eyes also narrowed. "Excuse me?" He inquired, voice dangerously calm.
But Koji didn't back down, instead he kept going. "I should have known this was too good to be true. Everyone always leaves, sooner or later. I thought at least I could count on my brother but I guess that was a lie, I should never have trusted someone poor."
The statement left Koichi feeling as though he'd been slapped, the shock wore off then and Koichi returned his brother's hurtful words with a few of his own. "I never needed money, because at least I have a mother. At least before everything happened I had friends, at least I wasn't alone, brooding in my room about what I didn't have."
Simultaneously, the two of them advanced on each other. Before being held back by JP and Takuya. "Whoa there! That's enough you two!"
Breathing as though he had just run a 10 mile marathon, Koichi allowed himself to be pulled back. Behind him, he heard Tommy sniffle something out through tears. "Please, you both shouldn't fight."
"Yeah." Zoe agreed, her voice sounding sad, "After all you both have been through, you shouldn't fight. You're brothers—"
Taking a deep breathe, he looked at Koji, and Koji looked at him. The reflects in their eyes mirroring the same emotion: anger. "No, We're not."
Koji adjusted the bandana on his head and straightened up. "Tch, exactly." The Warrior of Light turned around and began walking down the stairs. "Been an only child my whole life."
And that was the last time they talked. For an entire week, they stayed apart. They didn't text or call one another either, it was as if they both had built up a wall between them, in order to block out the hurt. Koichi got what he wanted, now he didn't have to worry about Koji constantly being his shadow, being overprotective. But it was obvious, or at least to his friends that his mood had soured since their argument.
So much so, that his mother noticed. "Koichi?" His mother asked him as they both sat down for dinner. "You've hardly touched your food, is everything alright?"
Koichi blinked, looked up at his mother, then back down towards his plate and realized she was right, "I'm sorry, mom." He asked as he began shoveling some of it in his mouth, an attempt to make up for his lack of eating.
But his mother still continues to stare at him, look unsatisfied, "Koichi, honey. Are you and your brother still fighting?" The mere mention of his brother immediately dampens his mood within seconds. "Sweetheart, this is so unlike you."
Koichi looked down at his dinner plate, glaring at it. "I can't believe he said all that about me, about you—" He paused, deciding to choose his words carefully. "And kept acting like I was going to disappear any second. Like I was helpless."
We're better off apart. He doesn't need me and I don't need him either. Koichi thought, silently as he clinched the utensil in his hand to the point where it hurt. We're better off separate.
He felt a hand land on his shoulder, looking up he saw his mother smiling at him kindly, as she always did. "I remember the day your father and I brought you home. We had the nursery all set up on each side —two cribs, two dressers— the list goes on." His mom let out a small chuckle, as her hand tightened around his. "And I remember how tired we both were because you had caught a cold no more then a few short hours later and neither I nor your father could get neither of you to quiet down. Then one night, in complete desperation, I placed Koji in your crib, then I left to grab some more medicine for your cold and when I came back I found Koji laying beside you, his little hand rubbing your cheek, as though he was trying to make the pain you were feeling from your cold go away. It was the best's nights sleep we all had in a while, and when we checked on you the next day— there you both were still fast asleep, your arms were wrapped around each other. And you, Koichi, looked content with your brother there." Koichi watched as his mother smiled at the memory. "You see, honey? Even as a baby, Koji has always been protective of you."
"I'm not made of glass though." Koichi argued gently.
"Can you really blame him for thinking like that if he does?"
He blinked at his mother, "What?"
She smiled at him, yet again. "Honey, the doctors told me you flatlined, that for a few short seconds you were gone—" She paused and wiped at her eyes. "I remember being an absolute mess when I got to your room, crying out of relief that you were okay and fear that I almost lost you, you scared me half to death." Koichi bowed his head in shame but his mother just kept talking. "If I had been that bad, can you imagine how your brother must have felt? He probably thought he was loosing his other half after only knowing him for a short while?"
His mother gently patted his back, then proceeded to stand up, taking the dishes to the sink to wash them. "While I do understand that you need space, while I know that you've always strived independent and strong, try to understand things from Koji's point of view, at least."
Sitting in his room felt different then it had before, staring up at his ceiling, Koichi felt lost. Everyone wanted him and Koji to reconcile, his friends, his mother. After two years of them being inseparable, they all thought it strange that they weren't. Koichi knew they all wanted that of them, but he didn't know. He was still so upset at his brother for the words he said, but even he couldn't deny that a part of himself felt missing, a pang in his heart resided just as it had during his childhood.
What should he do, truly?
He blinked several times, watching as his overhead fan spun around, creating a low breeze. He remembered that drawing always helped him think before when he was lost, Koichi walked over to his closet, he reached up on his top shelf and grabbed his sketch book and pencils. Then as he was climbing down the small latter, a small sheet of paper slipped out from his book and landed on the ground.
Picking it up, Koichi noticed that it wasn't one of his drawings, in fact, it looked to be a letter of some sorts, as it was folded up neatly tucked away in his sketch book. Curiosity getting the better of him, he opened it.
Koichi. Today is our birthday. It's the first birthday we'll be celebrating together ever since we met.
The Warrior of Darkness was shocked, realizing that this was a letter from Koji, to Koichi. More so, it looked to be a letter written two years ago. Koichi, for a split second thought about putting it back, since he was still upset with Koji, but— something pushed him to continue reading. The letters describe Koji's thought on meeting Koichi in the Digital World and how their friends tried to comfort him when he had been at a loss for how to approach Koichi and their relationship as brothers.
Oh, yes. It's become a routine for us to talk over the phone every day. Lately, whenever something interesting happens, you're the first person I think about telling. It's a little strange to see me react like that, after the person I'd used to be. But it doesn't feel bad. I can always talk to you on the phone, but I've been thinking that it isn't enough these days. If only we lived closer. Then I'd be able to see you more.
Apparently, twins have some sort of telepathic link. Do you think we have something like that? I'd like it if we did. Maybe, do you think that's the reason you came back? The miracle that saved you? Lately, I've been thinking that I wish I knew you better. I've spent a lot of time wondering what I should give you for a birthday present. What could I give you that would make you happy? I kept thinking about it, and I ended up thinking about it so much that I got a headache.
A present… In the end, I couldn't come up with anything. I'm sure you'll be happy with just about anything I give you, but I don't want to give you something so half-hearted. So, it might not be much of a substitute, but I brought an apple pie. My mom made it. Her pies taste the best, so I think you'll like it, too.
Koichi found himself smiling, for he remembered the apple pie, remembered the cinnamon flavor and the flaky crust, it was the best pie he's had since his grandma passed away. He remembered how happy he was that entire day, with Koji's pie and his cake, it truly was the best birthday he ever had, mainly because he was spending it with Koji.
Say, Koichi. What do you want to be when you grow up? I think I'd like to talk to you today about our dreams. My dream is to travel around the world. Before I went to the Digital World, I wrote on my "What I Want to Do When I Grow Up" essay in school that I wanted to travel the world on my own. But now, I've given up on the "on my own" part.
Of course, I think it's possible for me to do it alone. But I think it'll be more fun if it were two people instead. Two people who will see things together, laugh together, and talk about nothing as they circle the world. Koichi. If I asked you to come with me, what sort of expression would you make? I wouldn't actually expect you to come, but with my own feelings out in the open, I feel like— ever since I saw you flatlined, that even though I know you can take care of yourself— I feel like I have to be there, because, Koichi. Losing you almost killed me, I felt like my heart was dying as your pulse was fading. I don't want to miss anymore of your life, of our lives together.
I was in a dark place for a long time, but you Koichi maybe the Warrior of Darkness but you —along with our friends— were my light within my own inner demons.
Koichi. I'll be meeting you soon. What should I say first when I see you? Happy Birthday? That doesn't sound very exciting… Oh, I know. Here is what I'll say;
Thank you, Koichi… for being born with me.
Koichi didn't realized the tears cascading down his cheeks until the liquid dropped on the letter in his hands. He felt like his heart was constricting within his chest. So that's why, Koichi thought, that's why Koji has been so protective of him. His mother had been right all along, it wasn't that Koji saw him as helpless but merely the sight of his brother dying traumatized Koji, to the point of overprotecting. Because never did he once ever ask Koji how he felt after that day, he never thought to sit down and discuss the trauma Koji must have felt in those few moments Koichi's heart stopped beating.
Because that's all that Koji was, deep inside he was that 12 year old kid that was terrified of losing his brother.
And how did Koichi respond to this? By saying his brother was suffocating, by saying that he wasn't always going to be around and that his brother would always be alone.
God, he was the absolute worst. How could he have been so selfish and blind?
I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.
He had to apologize, had to say how sorry he was, in person and not simply over the phone. Even those words they had uttered to one another may have hurt, but it was nothing compared to the guilt he felt right in this moment. Standing up, he made his way to the front door and slipped on his shoes, making extra sure to grab his train pass on his way out. He's taken the subway train to and back from his brother's home for the past two years now, but now it seemed like it was taking an entirety to get there. And even more so during walk to Koji's house minutes afterwards. But once he was there, he wasted no time and knocked on the door.
Koji's stepmother opened the door, "Oh Koichi?" Mrs. Minamoto announced, looking shocked to see him standing in the entrance of their home. "What brings you—?"
But Koichi was already running past her and up the stairs, he felt guilty for being so rude and forceful, but he'll apologize later right now all he could think about was getting to Koji.
He reached for the door handle of Koji's bedroom, not even bothering to knock at this point when abruptly, the door was swung open and Koji all but flew out. Stumbling slightly, The Warrior of Light nearly ran straight into Koichi if the eldest had stepped back in shock. It seemed as if Koji was in the process of going somewhere, in fact looked just as desperate as Koichi. He watched as Koji straightened himself, and it was then that he realized that Koji also had tears running down his face, mirroring his own.
The pair simply stood there, staring at one another. And for some strange reason two words popped into his head as he stared at Koji.
This was his brother, his twin, his other half. How could he ever have wanted to be apart from him? How could he ever thought that he had once been suffocating? How could he have said those horrible things to him? When one of Koji's fears is ending up all alone again. "K-Koji..." Tears welled in his eyes, the shame in his heart growing, his breathe hitched as though he couldn't breathe, and as he looked at Koji and noticed that what was happening to him was also happening to his brother too, as tears formed and spilled down Koji's cheeks as well.
Simultaneously, they both took a step forward and all but collapsed against one another as their arms wrapped around the other in a desperate embrace. The impact causing the younger to fall backward onto the ground inside Koji's bedroom.
And for the first time since their fight, Koichi felt whole again.
"I'm sorry." He sobbed out, his arms tightening around his brother with each passing second. "I'm so sorry."
God, was his heart suppose to hurt this much? Or was that Koji's? Or perhaps it was both? He felt Koji's arms curl around him also, pulling him closer. "I'm the one who's sorry, what I said to you— I shouldn't have been so clingy, I'm sorry."
Koichi gripped Koji's jacket between his fingers, shaking his head. "No... Koji, I understand. I know why you've been so protective of me, I should have realized sooner, should've tried to understand better, should've talked to you about it. I should have realized how much that day at the hospital left you scared. I shouldn't have just assumed you were alright because I was."
He was the absolute worst.
Koji stiffened in his arms, then slowly parted, looking at his twin's face. Fresh tears, continued to fall down the youngers cheeks. "I still shouldn't have done that, you were right, Koichi. Your not always gonna be around, and you shouldn't have to be. It'd be selfish of me to constantly want to be by your side if your not alright with it." Koji bowed his head in an attempt to hide his stricken face. "But I just... Koichi, you died. For a few moments you were gone and I— I felt like my heart would stop at any moment. It was like a part of me was gone. I know you have a right to be on your own but I—" Koichi felt Koji's finger tips grip the back of his clothes tightly, then his brother looked up and the sight made Koichi feel guilty all over again, as his heart ached. "I don't want you and I to be apart, I know it's selfish... I'm so sorry. But we were separated for so long and I just—"
The guilt he felt was overbearing, here Koji was, his brother in so much pain, that has been for two years now and Koichi has no idea. And that was the worst part, the fact that he had absolutely no clue that Koji was feeling this way.
He hadn't known but he should have. He wouldn't make that mistake again. Gently, he bent forward and place his forehead against Koji. "It's okay." He stated softly, he opened his eyes and let Koji see the understanding and reassurance in his eyes they shared. "I understand, Koji. I didn't before but I really do understand, I'm so sorry I was so blind before, I should have talked to you instead of assuming you were fine. But I do want the same thing, where ever it is you go, I'll do my best to follow. We still have so much to do, so much loss time to make up."
Koji's eyes widened as Koichi pulled back. "Really? Your not just doing this because you feel bad, right? Cause I don't want that either."
Through his tears, Koichi smiled, nodding his head. "This is of my own decision." He paused then, knowing that he needed to make sure that Koji was truly okay, and for that to happen, they needed to talk, really talk. Koji said a lot of what he was feeling just a few moments ago but Koichi could still tell that the fear in Koji's eyes, the fear of what might happen to Koichi, still lingered there, still haunted him. "But— Koji. You know I'm here if you want to talk— I think... I think we need to talk." He stopped for a few seconds, knowing that there was a chance that Koji might get defensive, but then decided that regardless, they needed to have this discussion. "I didn't listen before, but I am now."
Koji opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out, he watched as his brother bowed his head, trying to find the words. "When I was running to the hospital that day, we defeated Lucemon, I remember feeling so happy for those few moments, but then when the paramedics told me you were in critical condition at the hospital that feeling suddenly vanished and all I could think about right then was getting to you, seeing you for the first time in the real world. And then I saw you laying on that hospital bed and I—" Koji paused or more so ceased speaking at though something had caught in his throat, fresh tears formed his brothers eyes, the more he talked the more they seemed to blur his vision. "It... I could barely breathe, it felt like a part of myself had been amputated. Seeing you so lifeless and pale, staring straight through me, something in me broke, Nii-san." By this point the tears were now cascading freely down Koji's face, his entire body wrecked in tremors, from the force of his pain.
Once again, Koichi's heart ached, gently he rested his chin against Koji's shoulder, while tightly wrapping his arms around him, pulling his close. "I know." He whispered, tears prickled at his eyes as well. And for some reason a memory flashed within his mind, a memory of back in the Digital World where Lucemon had Koji by the ankles ready to end him, he remembered how terrified he was within those few seconds. To a certain extent, he knew his brothers fear of losing him, for if any were to happen to Koji; Koichi himself, would be able to function anymore. That thought alone, made him tighten his hold. " I know— but I'm right here, Koji." He gently angled the youngers head so Koji's ear was right over his beating heart, proof that he was still alive and not on that hospital bed, lifeless and pale. "I'm right here with you, safe and sound thanks to you."
With those words, Koichi felt Koji all but collapse against him, melting into a mess of cries. "I'm sorry!" Koji's voice cracked at the raw emotion he was feeling, most others would find Koji acting this way to be uncharacteristically emotional from how he usually is around people—which was quiet, but also quite cheerful. But Koichi knew his brother, Koji was far more emotional then he's lead everyone else to believe. "I'm sorry."
"I know. I'm sorry too." Koichi smiled, despite his tears. Inhaling a deep breathe and slowly letting it out. "I'm here, Koji. And I won't be leaving anytime soon, I promise."
And once all the tears had dried up and the apologies stopped, the twins were now propped up against the side of Koji's bed. No longer in a tight embrace but still had at least one arm wrapped around the other, not wanting to fully break contact just yet.
"So that letter just fell out of your sketch book?" Koji inquired, softly with a small tilt of his head.
Koichi nodded, as he smoothed out the wrinkles he had caused from gripping it too. "Do you remember writing it?"
"Yeah, of course. But I wrote it thinking you weren't ever gonna read it." Koji stated, then he held out the letter that was addressed to him from Koichi. "What about you?"
Koichi looked up towards the ceiling. "Yeah, same for me. I wrote it and put it away in my closet" It was odd to say the least, how were they able to receive each others opposite letter's? "But whatever reason I'm glad I got it." If he hadn't, Koichi knew that he would have stayed confused at what to do.
Koichi averted his gaze from the ceiling down towards his brother. "Hmm?"
Koji, who had his head resting against Koichi's shoulder curled into himself, just a little. "Did you mean that, what you said about staying if I ever wanted to travel? Because I don't want you think you have to force yourself to stay just because I'm... broken and scared."
Koichi tighten the arm that was around Koji's shoulders, and nodded. "Your not forcing me to do anything, Koji." He stated, because while he was staying for Koji's sake, he was also doing it for himself too. "And your not anymore broken then I am." What the both of them needed right now was to not be apart, whether they go off in different directions in the future is still uncertain but right now, in this moment, they needed each other, to heal and be happy.
Koichi smiled at the name. "Yes?"
"I'm sorry, again. And I—" Koichi felt Koji's arm that was wrapped his waist tighten ever so slightly. "I love you."
How could he ever thought he and Koji were better off apart?
Koichi could practically feel the blush growing on his brother's cheeks, he chuckled to himself. "I know, it's okay." The Warrior of Light may show his emotions more around his twin but that didn't stop him from getting embarrassed. Koichi returned his brother's embrace. "I love you too, Koji."
In the quietness of his brother's bedroom, with Koji by his side, Koichi vowed to himself that no matter what happens in the future, whether they stay together or have separate lives, Koichi will always make sure that he and Koji never lose that connection, the connections of Light and Darkness, the connections that makes them brothers.
And unbeknownst to them, two spirits stood in a world entirely made of data, a world where everything was peaceful. A world that was saved thanks to six human beings from another world. The spirits stood completely still, arms crossed gazing up at lady Ophanimon. They were the Spirits of Light and Darkness, Lobomon and Loweemon; brother just as Koichi and Koichi were. "Did it work?" Lobomon asked, impatient as always. Loweemon uncrossed his arms and let out a low hum that sound more like a low growl.
Ophanimon smiled at the pair, "It all depends on you. The two of you were connected to those boys, what do you think?"
Loweemon stepped forward, while placing a hand on his brother's shoulder. "I... I feel better. I don't feel angry, or ashamed anymore."
"And I don't feel scared anymore." Lobomon announced, a chuckle escaped him, "Hehe, Can't believe sending out those letters actually worked. I was wondering when they were going to apologize, they just needed a little push in the right direction."
The true Warrior of Darkness joined in with a laugh of his own, "Luckily, we'll always be there for them should the need ever arise again. Right, brother?"
"Of course, anything for them."