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Fanfic » Anime » Digimon » By Unseen Forces font size: (+) : (-)
Author: Artisan of the Written Word
R - English - Romance/Action/Adventure - Reviews: 171 - Publish date: 02-14-01 - Updated: 07-18-01 storyid: 209419

BY UNSEEN FORCES

Hurting the Innocent



A/N: Geez, you guys... I'm sorry for taking so long. My mom limited me on my Internet time, but I really tried to get this done. I tried to make it an interesting chapter by making Tai cough up some more of his feelings, added a *lot* of excitement, and a very, very startling ending. MUHAHAHAHA *hack hack hack* (Angel is probably really, really tired of this joke, but I gotta make somebody laugh, right? ^_~)

I'd like to formally apologize for the mistakes I found in the last chapter. *sigh* I didn't want to make you guys wait any longer, so I kind of rushed reading it and skipped a few mistakes. I only counted three, but for those I caught and for those I didn't, I apologize. Now with this stuff.

DEDICATION: This is to those who have found out that love is a cure to end all suffering... and to those who still wait to be cured.

-To Kimaru for being one of the best friends I can ever hope to have.

-To Angel for talking to me almost every night, for giving me advice, and for being there when I needed someone to talk to (and maybe vice versa?).

-To Logan for always being an email away. One of the most sensitive, sweet, and caring guys you can ever meet. (Sorry, Logan. I know I'm ruining your image. ^_~)

-To Aushie for convincing me to go on and finish these... and for being a diehard fan. Thanks for everything!

-To Sam, just because she's been my friend even when I thought no one was.

-And to Star_Fairy for being the inspiration that caused me to write. Her fics were the first ones I had ever read and I would suggest you go and read some of them. She is a wonderful poet (that means you need to put them on the site, girl!).

DISCLAIMER: Well, damn. *insert clever and humorous disclaimer here* Well, since you filled in that blank, I'll fill in the more obvious one. I don't own Digimon. Not one character. I forgot to say I don't own The Little Mermaid from the last chapter, but that isn't entirely true. I do own the video, just not the rights to it.

Well, let's get this show on the road. You guys have been great! I won't know if this is the last one until I finish it, so you'll find out when I do. Let's get started, shall we? Welcome to

BY UNSEEN FORCES



by unseen forces: Hurting the innocent

1

the war must end



"Wh-What?"

Tai turned to the source of the question, which was T.K.

"Her mother is dead," Tai repeated. Everyone tried to come to terms with what was just said.

"Poor Sora," Yolei said finally. Mimi closed her eyes and put her hands on her hips.

"Yeah... This came at the wrong time. Definitely the wrong time." Joe nodded and pushed his glasses up on the ridge of his nose. He looked at Mimi, then Izzy, as if to see if they had any idea to make the situation better. He looked at Tai next and studied him carefully. He seemed to be deep in thought, something that was totally unnatural for Tai, or so Joe thought.

"What do we do now?" Izzy asked. Everyone stared at him.

"Well, we're sunk now. If Izzy doesn't have a plan, then none of us do," Matt said finally. Tai growled suddenly.

"This has gone too far!" he exclaimed angrily. Everyone jumped, startled by his sudden outburst.

"What are you talking about, Tai?" Cody asked, as he was used to sudden movements from Kendo and had quickly gotten over the initial shock. Tai clenched his fists until the veins popped out on his neck.

"You know just as well as I do that this wasn't just some accident. The Demon did it," he whispered dangerously. Izzy tilted his head slightly.

"So... what do we do? We all need to go check on Sora," he stated after quickly examining the situation. Tai nodded and pinched the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes. Everyone waited for him to say something. Tai took a deep breath and began to speak.

"Mimi, call your parents and tell them you're staying with Sora. If they ask why, tell them something happened to her mother and she needs you. Yolei, take Cody home. He's late already. T.K. and Davis, take Kari home, too. Joe, after you see Sora, go on home and get some sleep. First thing in the morning, I need you to go to Odaiba Medical and identify Ms. Takenouchi's body." Joe shuddered, but realized Tai picked him because he was studying cadavers and such. Though the thought was grotesque, Joe knew it was just a test of his skills. "Izzy, after you check on Sora, I don't care where, in her floor for all I care, but I want you to get a hold of Gennai right away. This has gone way too far. Matt, I want you to... call the funeral home and make preparations after you get word from Joe tomorrow. Ken, you can stay here if you want to avoid the ride home, but if you want to go, go now. I don't want any of you out late." Tai stopped pinching the bridge of his nose and looked up. "Clear?" Everyone nodded except T.K.

"But, Tai! I want to see Sora!" he exclaimed angrily. Tai shot T.K. a glare that could melt glass.

"I said take Kari home. Is... that... clear?" he asked, his voice dangerously low. That gaze could have turned anybody's knees to jelly, but T.K. stood firm, even though he felt afraid.

"Yes. But that doesn't mean I like it." Tai grunted and motioned for Mimi to follow him. Izzy tagged along while Matt hesitated and then went. Joe looked back at the younger kids and sighed.

"Hey, Tai. I'll come and see Sora tomorrow. I'll make sure everyone gets home okay." Tai turned and looked at Joe with the beginnings of a stressed smile.

"Thanks, Joe. Good ol' Reliable." Joe smiled and turned to the younger kids, who were growling because they had an escort.

"Don't look at me like that! I'm just gonna take you home," Joe said, mildly amused. They all sighed and shrugged in unison, making the scene a little humorous. Joe ushered them out the door, glancing one last time over his shoulder.

Please... just let this end...

* * *

"Sora?" a familiar voice asked. Sora didn't look up. She was curled up into an upright ball, her hands linked around her knees and her face buried into them. Tai sighed and opened the door. "Oh, Sora..." he whispered. Mimi entered the room soon after him and ran to Sora's side, wasting no time in playing the part of a friend.

"Sora? Please look at me..." Mimi whispered gently. Sora brought her head up and let out a choked sob. Her face was wet with tears and her eyes were puffy and red. Her face looked like a twist of something beyond grief and beyond sadness. A whole new level of feeling had been reached. It was born of such emotional pain that Sora felt torn apart inside. She let out another choked sob and looked directly into Mimi's eyes. Mimi felt her own tears coming to her eyes. She reached out from her position on the floor beside Sora and brushed back a stray strand of Sora's hair. "It's gonna be okay." Sora shook her head, suddenly furious with Mimi. Sora's mother was dead! She had only found that out moments before, and she's already telling her that it's going to be okay?

How? Sora mouthed to the younger girl. Mimi seemed slightly shaken by the question.

"How?" she repeated. Sora made no moves to confirm or deny. She just glared at Mimi, the tears tumbling out of her eyes. They made her seem more sincere in her anger than her dry face would have. Mimi opened and closed her mouth without any sound coming out. Matt saw this and quickly came to the rescue.

"Because you've got us." Sora snapped her head up to look at Matt. Her face was showing so much pain that Tai had to look away. It hurts to see someone you love, whether it's as a best friend, family member, or a lover, in such distress. Izzy coughed and readjusted his collar nonchalantly.

"We've always been here for you, Sora. Logically speaking, we should remain the same way," he said, still tugging at his collar, now more nervously. Sora slowly bowed her head, her eyes closing at the same rate. Tai glanced at Sora, relieved to find that he couldn't see her face.

Share in her pain. That's the only way you'll ever win her trust and her heart. Share all of life's ups and downs.

Thinking this made Tai feel ashamed for the temporary relief that had washed over him earlier.

"I'll always be here for you, Sora." Sora's eyes opened at the sound of that voice and looked up into Tai's eyes. He managed a weak smile, resisting the urge to turn away from her.

If you're going to be here for her, you can't turn your back to her every time she needs you.

Tai gulped and felt the tears form in his eyes. Using pure will, Tai restrained the tears from falling.

"Just like you've always been there for me," he said in a choked whisper, one that only comes from those who are on the verge of crying. Sora's face flashed something akin to sympathy, but then turned back to pained and saddened. She looked back down, her gaze studying the air with concentration. Her face scrunched up from its previous blankness as Sora began to cry again, this time harder and faster, as if she really understood what was happening. Mimi cried a few tears herself.

"Com'mere," she whispered. Sora did little to resist as Mimi's arms encircled her emotionally and physically shaken body. Then she let the floodgates go, her eyes pouring out all the tears they could at one time. Sora was crying so hard, though, that she couldn't breathe. Matt quickly kneeled beside Sora and put a hand on her shoulder.

"Shh... Calm down... I know it's hard, but you've got to. It's not like we can take you anywhere if you pass out," he said softly, and then added, "Besides, Joe's already taken the young'uns home. We can't exactly get him here, can we?" Sora managed to start breathing in hitched breaths, managing a slight nod and a fleeting smile. Matt nodded and rubbed her shoulder. "That's a good girl." Sora began to cry more silently. Tai stood back and watched wondering what he should do. Mimi had her cheek against the top of Sora's head and was stroking her hair as her mother would have done. They've switched roles... now Mimi's the mother of the group.... Tai mused. Matt was rubbing her shoulder consolingly. Only Izzy and Tai stood back, and soon it was only Tai.

"I know that things will be hard, Sora... I've had to deal with the knowledge that my real parents are long gone and it separated me from everyone," Izzy said. He kneeled down in front of Sora and sighed. She had her head laid against Mimi's shoulder and Matt was still consoling her. Tai remembered what Sora had said about Matt being cute and felt a twinge of jealousy course through his veins, but he shunned himself for being so foolish. He and Sora weren't going out and he didn't control her... Well, if they ever did go out, Tai figured that he wouldn't own Sora, anyway. Sora would own him. Tai's mouth twitched slightly, almost settling into a strained smile. "All I want you to do is promise me that you'll never, ever detach yourself from the people that you love and who love you back. Which would most definitely be us. Don't shut us out... Let us be with you and things will be so much easier... Believe me... So whaddya say? Is it a promise?" Izzy asked, sticking out a pinky to Sora, who grinned despite her current disposition. She stretched out her own pinky and hooked it with Izzy's, shaking it once and then releasing it. Izzy made a half-smile. "Good." Sora sniffed and mouthed thank you. Izzy shook his head. "I'm just being your friend... No need to thank me. You were always there for me, right?" Sora thought back and nodded hesitantly, a delicate smile painted on her face. If someone said the wrong thing or her current thoughts went back to the events of that night, that smile would have shattered into a hailstorm of tears. And they all knew it.

Minutes passed, and Sora continued to cry, her tears lessening as the time passed. Tai stood silently, still in his white button up shirt and his dress pants, making him look very regal. He had the urge that he wanted to hold Sora, but Mimi and Matt were filling in that spot for him. Matt looked at his watched and gasped.

"Oh, Sora! I'm sorry, but I've gotta go. I can't stay out late on weekdays... Even if it's summer break. What a bummer, right?" Sora managed a faint smile, but felt a little let down that he was leaving. Matt bit his bottom lip and he rose from a sitting position to his knees. "Aw, come here and give me a hug. Best friends can do that, right?" Sora grinned through her tears and rose up out of Mimi's arms and into Matt's waiting ones. She wrapped her arms around Matt so forcefully that he almost fell back, but caught his balance and hugged Sora back. He stroked her hair gently, and Tai felt another pang of jealousy flow through him. This time more strongly. Matt gently kissed Sora's cheek and whispered, "Everything's going to be alright. We're always going to be here for you." Sora nodded and nuzzled into his shoulder, just wanting someone to hold her. Matt shook his head and whispered into her ear again. "Tai can satisfy your needs a better than I can... and there's a few of his that you can satisfy, too." Sora drew back from Matt and gave him a bewildered, quizzical stare. Matt just shrugged. "I know these things." He gave her a smile that had broken so many hearts and stood up from her.

"Bye, Matt," Mimi said.

"Yeah, see you tomorrow?" Tai asked, finally speaking. Matt shrugged.

"Depends on if I'm grounded for tonight... But it'll be well worth it. I got to see you two dance and that made my day... Heck, it made my whole year," he said while winking at Tai, who gave a bashful smile.

"Dance? Is that what you call it? I would have said it was more like floating or flying," Mimi said, nudging Sora with her elbow. Sora just blushed and smiled sadly. It had been a wonderful evening, and she had almost shared the most passionate kiss of her life with Tai, but that all had to be ruined with the worst news that Sora had ever gotten.

"Th-Th-That's what it felt like," Tai said suddenly. The room went completely silent as four pairs of eyes abruptly fell on Tai. He blushed a deep crimson and looked away from their gazes. Sora felt herself blushing as she gazed at him and studied his features. His very handsome features.

"Well, that was... interesting, don't you think, Izzy?" Matt asked, raising an eyebrow. Izzy nodded.

"Indeed," he answered simply, crossing his arms slowly. "What do you think, Mimi?" Mimi smiled wryly.

"I think we should leave them alone for a bit. I'll take you to the door," she said. Izzy raised a hand, but Mimi rolled her eyes and cut him off. "I know you can take yourselves, Izzy. Work with me here." Izzy nodded and shut his mouth, putting his hand down at the same time. Mimi smiled and walked out the door, both Matt and Izzy in tow, leaving Tai and Sora.

Alone.

Tai gulped, not really knowing what to say. Sora glanced around the room. Finally, she just let her gaze drop to her hands. Tai watched her and knew she was expecting him to say something, but what could he say?

"Uh, Sora?" she lifted her eyebrows without lifting her gaze. Tai cleared his throat nervously. "You know what I said about, um, that it felt like I was, uh, flying?" Sora switched just her eyes from her hands to his face, but her head didn't move. "I, uh... I meant that." Sora clasped her hands in front of her and tilted her head to look up at Tai. She smiled, slowly closed her eyes, and looked back down at her hands as she nodded. Tai felt his heart leap. "You felt like that, too?" Sora looked up at him and laughed silently, apparently thinking.

No, it was something much greater than that. It was so much better than flying.

But Sora knew that she wouldn't be able to tell Tai that. Finally, she nodded again. Tai felt his heart leap again. "Um, Sora?" She pat the carpet beside her and Tai walked over beside her and sat down. "I'm really sorry about tonight." Sora felt the tears well up in her eyes, but willed them to stay back. The death of her mother seemed to tilt the odds against her. She supposed later on it would really sink it what had happened because she was in shock now, and then she would cry all the more. But for right now, she wanted to keep those tears back.

Don't be, she mouthed to him. Tai smiled.

"Well, I did have a good time for a while. I've never danced like that," he said, his smile turning sheepish. Sora smiled.

Me, either, she answered with a shrug. Tai grinned.

"There's a first time for everything," he said. Sora laughed silently and nodded. Tai laughed with her, but stopped soon afterwards. Sora began to examine her hands again with false interest. Tai took a deep breath and gathered all of his courage. "I think I'm ready to love you again." Sora's head snapped up so hard that she almost got whiplash. Her eyes were wide with hope. "Time will tell, I guess." He shrugged and leaned back against the wall, staring out into space. Sora watched him and smiled dreamily. Part of her was fearful, though.

How can someone turn their love on and off like a light switch? How can he decide to love me? Later on in our relationship, will he just decide that he stopped loving me and then leave me? I wouldn't be able to take that. Maybe I should give him a chance. I love him... I have nothing to lose but my heart, but I think I lost that to Tai the first time I saw him. His goggles... His ridiculously big brown hair... His cute smile... His chocolate brown eyes that I got lost in every time I saw him-

Sora's thoughts were interrupted by a weary elongated sigh. She looked at Tai and smiled. She leaned back against the wall beside him. Tai snapped out of his own daze long enough to give her his famous lopsided smile. With a touch as light as a cool refreshing summer breeze, he embraced her figure against his muscular chest, savoring the closeness. Sora felt like she was in Heaven. Tai felt his soul seem lighter.

It almost seemed as if Time was on their side.

* * *

"Well, I gotta go," Matt said as he headed out the door. Izzy sighed.

"I need to go, too. Bye, Mimi. Sorry we couldn't have seen you under happier circumstances," he said with a shrug. Mimi waved it off.

"I'm just glad I got to see you two stooges and the rest of them." Matt and Izzy just blinked. Mimi laughed and ran a hand through her hair. "Oh, an American term. I'll tell you later. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yeah... Okay, tomorrow," Matt said, still a bit confused. Izzy shrugged again.

"Bye, Mims. Talk to you soon." They both headed out the door with Mimi waving goodbye. As they disappeared down the hall and around the corner to the elevator, Mimi sighed.

I hope nothing else happens tonight.

If only that would be the way that things turned out.



2

a demon in distress

Why? Why couldn't she just kill herself? Why did that idiot Courage have to make her punishment last longer? Why couldn't he have just let fate be?

I do not want to kill her. She has bewitched me... her beauty... her persona... everything! She has cast a spell over someone from another dimension! How is it possible? How!?

The blood... I do not want her blood on my hands. But I have to kill her!

Wait...

What if it was someone else's hands?

What if I could....?

Yes! Yes!

But whom should I.....?

Ah, yes... Hope... He is trustworthy... Nothing will be suspected.... Yes....

The blood will never be on my hands.

It will be on his.



3

an unsuspecting victim



"Goodnight, Kari," T.K. whispered. Joe stood behind him, his arms crossed, a slightly amused, slightly entranced look on his face... like he was watching a romantic comedy. So far, Davis and T.K. had almost gotten into a fight, T.K. had tried to keep from getting pushed down, but Kari had been pushed into a tree instead. Kari had ended up with a bloody nose and T.K. had practically groveled all the way home while Davis had put all of the blame on T.K.

Right now, Davis was at home as they had made sure to drop him off first, T.K. was trying to give Kari a kiss, who had her head tilted back to stop the bleeding.

"Goo-nigh, Ke-Kay," she tried to say. At this point, Joe had to hold his breath to keep from laughing. T.K. sighed.

"This is my fault. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have let Davis push you." Kari shook her head as best she could.

"Itz dokay, Ke-Kay." Joe held his sides the best he could. T.K. managed a smile that mimicked his brother's so much that it was almost eerie.

"Well, if you say so." Kari managed a smile. T.K. took off his hat and gripped it tightly. As much as he and Kari had kissed, he still had to gear himself up for it. He sighed and began to close in, but something stopped him. He suddenly felt cold, despite the rather warm summer air. Chill bumps appeared all over his skin. He had a fleeting shudder. He felt the sudden urge to see Sora again. It had become a dormant desire on his way home, but why was it stirring up now? Besides, Tai had been pretty clear on what he was supposed to do. Tai would kill him if he went back. But he had to see her, and he didn't know why.

Kari and Joe looked at T.K. strangely, who snapped out of his thoughts quickly with an embarrassed smile.

"Sorry." He quickly gave Kari a kiss on the cheek, who blushed and walked into her apartment. T.K. and Joe walked away.

"You okay?"

"Huh?" Joe rolled his eyes.

"You okay, kiddo? You kind of zoned out on us back there." T.K. nodded.

"Yeah... I got a chill..." If you're going to go to Sora's, you've got to ditch Joe. He won't let you go back and you know it. "Hey, can I walk the rest of the way home by myself? I... I kind of need time to think." Joe sighed deeply.

"I guess it wouldn't hurt. I can depend on you to get home safely, right? Kari'd have my head if I let anything happen to you," he said with a smile. T.K. smiled back. Stop stalling and get to Sora's.

"Thanks. Nothing will happen, I promise. Bye, Joe!" T.K. called as he started running. Joe glanced at T.K. and then looked down the street the other way.

"But T.K.! Your apartment's this way!" T.K. was too far away to hear Joe, who just sighed again. "I guess he's staying the night at Matt's."

Without another suspicion, Joe headed on his own way.

If he had only known... If he had only known...

4

thou shalt have the blood on thy hands



Tai sighed and took his arms out from around Sora when Mimi came back into the room, but very slowly.

"Hey, I'm gonna go take a shower, okay?" Tai said as he stood up. Sora nodded, a faint smile on her face. Mimi crossed her arms and sighed.

"Matt and Izzy are gone... Where do I sleep tonight?" she asked. Sora shrugged and pointed at her bed. Mimi shook her head. "I can't take your bed away from you." Sora sighed silently and shrugged again. Tai stretched and yawned.

"We'll figure that one out later. Did you call your mom and dad?" Mimi nodded. Tai nodded his head once. "Okay, then. I'll go ahead and get my shower. I'm beat." Tai grabbed some of his clothes that were in the corner of the room and laid them over his arm. He gave a small wave and a lopsided grin to Sora and walked briskly out of the room, not wanting to stay away from Sora more than he needed to. Mimi smiled after him and then looked at Sora, who had a dreamy look in her tear-glazed eyes.

"Um, Sora? Earth to Sora?" Sora slowly turned to look at Mimi, who could only smile at the lovesick teenager. "Well... Do you need me to stay in here with you? I mean, you just might need someone to talk to and I'm-" Sora cut Mimi off by shaking her head. "Do you want me to leave you alone for a little while?" Sora sighed silently and nodded. Mimi nodded and straightened out her skirt. "Then I'll go into the living room, okay?" Sora nodded. Mimi made a small wave with a short gesture of her hand and walked out of the room as briskly as Tai did.

Sora was alone.

There was a silence in the room that disturbed her.

Tai wasn't there, although he wasn't far away. Mimi wasn't far away either... The rest of them were at home, safe and sound. Then there was Sora.

Mama's gone... Just like Dad... Will he come after me now? No, he's gone. Moved to America the last thing I heard... I've still got Tai! And he might love me!

But Mama's gone... Oh, Mama! Why did that stupid thing have to get you, too? I know that you didn't die just because it was your time. That stupid Demon killed you! All because of me! But why? Why did it have to be you? Is God testing me? Why the hell did he have to take you? I love you, Mama! I love you! Why did he have to take you away from me? What do I do now? Who will take care of the flower shop? Who will take care of the apartment? I can't manage a business like you did! I'm not able to... I'll have to give up tennis and everything... Maybe Tai can help me... He can help me when he doesn't have a soccer game... Mimi can help when she's here... Izzy and Ken can handle the real business portion of it... Matt and T.K. will help... Kari, too. Joe would, but his allergies will act up. He can help Izzy and Ken, though. Davis, Cody, and Yolei can help, too. Maybe I won't have to quit tennis. Maybe I'll make it. Maybe I'll be okay. Maybe I won't have to end my life. Maybe things will get better.

But I still love you, Mama!

With that as the last thought on her mind, Sora began to weep and sob uncontrollably, trying to grasp how much her life had changed... and was changing....

Come back, Mama! I love you!

* * *

T.K. ran as fast as he could. His feet were barely hitting the ground as he seemed to fly through the streets of Odaiba that he had already walked not even an hour ago. To his relief, he had encountered no one.

Get there fast... You may be able to catch Tai off-guard.

How, he didn't know, but he had a feeling no one would be standing in his way once he got there. Little did he know that he now shared his body with another that knew exactly what Tai was doing.

T.K. stopped dead in his tracks.

Don't stop... you have to get there.

That voice was not one T.K. had heard before. It wasn't his conscience, which always sounded suspiciously like Kari or his mother. It wasn't himself either. It was something foreign and hollow.

I'm maturing. It's only natural that my conscience changes to something else... isn't it?

T.K. didn't know, but the urge to go see Sora was stronger now, and he decided it was best to act upon it. He began to sprint again, no where near fatigue. He felt like running, and when he did, he didn't stop for a while. He knew, however, that some tiredness would set in before long. Fortunately, it wasn't that far to Sora's apartment.

T.K. stopped abruptly.

He heard something.

Voices... Familiar voices, too...

"... What else is going to happen to her, Matt?" one of them asked the other. T.K. felt his heart jump into his throat.

Matt? Why did it have to be my brother? And is that Izzy?

T.K. sprinted for the shadows and stayed there, waiting for the figures to pass.

"I dunno. You're the one that figures out that stuff," Matt answered. Izzy shrugged.

"I don't know everything, Matt." It was Matt's turn to shrug.

"Have you got a hold of Gennai, yet?" Izzy shook his head.

"I'm waiting until I'm home. I'm going to pull an all-nighter on this one. I want to be up when Gennai emails." Matt nodded and stopped.

"I believe this is your apartment," he said, gazing up to the top of the building. Izzy followed his gaze, sighed, and then looked down at his watch.

"Ah... 9:52. Eight minutes until curfew." Izzy smiled and Matt rolled his eyes.

"My dad doesn't care as long as I come back within the next three days." Izzy and Matt laughed over this, even though, sadly enough, they both knew it was true.

From the shadows, T.K. sighed silently. He knew that this was true, too, but the hollow voice in his mind wouldn't let him dwell on it.

Why won't they hurry? We need to go!

T.K. narrowed his eyes to slits and nodded to emphasize the thought, but he waited patiently. He had failed to recognize the collective "we" that the hollow voice had used, or he might have turned back and gone home, avoiding the whole occurrence that would happen later on. As concentrated as T.K. was on the voices and how well he was hiding, however, there was no way he could have caught it.

"Well, I gotta go. See you tomorrow," Izzy said with a wave. T.K. let out his breath in relief. Matt sighed.

"I've got funeral arrangements to make," he said glumly. Izzy frowned and put a hand on Matt's shoulder.

"We all have to play our parts, Matt. Sora needs us right now," he said quietly. Matt heaved his shoulders and Izzy put his hand at his side.

"Yeah, I know... You've got a curfew, Iz. You had better go," Matt said, gesturing with his eyes under the light of a nearby street lamp. Izzy nodded.

"Yep. Talk to you tomorrow," and with that, Koushiro Izumi disappeared into the building.

Matt sighed again and prepared to go home alone, as always. He couldn't actually remember the last time T.K. had spent the night... It must have been around the last time T.K. had gone to the Digiworld. That was two years ago. He shoved his hands in his pocket and walked out from under the street lamp light and into the shadows.

T.K. held his breath, waiting for his brother to pass.

Please hurry, Matt... Please hurry.

Matt was now close enough for T.K. to reach out and touch him, but Matt never noticed. His head was hanging, his eyes the shade of a deep blue sky surveying the sidewalk. T.K. felt a certain sadness for his brother. He had grown up, but he still looked up to his brother... but only now was he realizing the true shadow to the older brother that he had always considered his idol.

Matt was a loner. He had always been. His and T.K.'s mother had always pondered if Matt was a homosexual, as she had heard most of them started out like Matt had... divorced parents... went off by himself... unattached... so on and so forth, but T.K. was certain that his brother wasn't gay and that his mother was just going on a bunch of preconceived notions that had no substance to them. Even if Matt was gay, T.K. would have still loved him.

Matt longed for someone to love him. After his father had taken him away, T.K. had remembered the sad look in his eyes every time he saw his mother. It was like Matt thought his mother hadn't wanted him around, but it was only the way things had worked out. T.K. was young and needed a mother more than a father at the time... Matt was older and could fend for himself... But then, Matt began to think about how his dad was never home... never finding time for his son. In Matt's mind, his father was only another person to reject him.

T.K. watched as his brother shuffled down the sidewalk, kicking at the air with halfhearted force. The younger brother was beginning to wonder if that night of watching Tai and Sora together was too much. Did it break the unbreakable Matt Ishida? Very possibly, it had. Then again, Matt may have built a force field around his heart that was strong enough to keep trifle matters out, but that was only something Matt would know the truth to. But Tai and Sora... They were just another sign that everyone was leaving him in their dust. Mimi had moved, breaking the group up. Joe was studying more and more for college, leaving hardly any time for his friends. T.K. and Kari had paired off, making a totally loving and caring couple, leaving Matt feeling alone. And now the possibility of Tai and Sora. He was happy for them, but could not help feeling sorry for himself.

Yamato Ishida just felt impossible to love.

T.K. reached out of the shadows to touch his brother. He could just see Matt's face when he turned around, startled by the sudden touch of an unknown person, but then realizing it was his brother and that he wouldn't have to go home alone. That he wasn't ever going to be alone because T.K. was always going to be there, and not only him, but everyone was always going to be there.

NO! You have to see Sora!

T.K. stopped in mid-reach and sighed. When Matt finally passed him, T.K. ran out of the shadows and ran almost silently down the street, the air rushing through his hair, as he had his hat in his back pocket to keep from losing it on his midnight run. T.K. paused, stopping abruptly, and turned to look at his brother. He reached out a hand and thought of calling out to him, but he knew that the hollow voice that he had chalked up to maturity wouldn't allow it. With a heavy heart, T.K. began to run again, never looking back.

As T.K. disappeared out of sight, Matt turned around and saw the empty streets behind him. A few cars went by, which was very unusual. There was usually way more than a few, but this night was unusually quiet.

With sigh that sounded more like a whimper, a sigh that said so much, Matt Ishida continued on his journey home.

Alone.

* * *

Mimi sat down on the sofa in the living room and turned on the TV. The screen lit up the entire room and she quickly put it on mute before it blew her off the sofa. She sighed as she flipped through the channels and found nothing on.

"Dang... This day just gets more and more depressing," she said in an annoyed yet sad voice. She listened as the sound of the water rushing filled the silent apartment, signaling that Tai was taking a shower.

'I kind of admire Tai for what he's done... I mean, not everyone will give up their summer and put their own lives at risk. That takes a lot of guts.' Mimi sighed and then smiled as she mentally added 'and love.'

This led her mind on to other thoughts. Were Tai and Sora in love? Well, she was definitely in love with him. But was he in love with her? That wasn't an impossible question. Mimi was absolutely sure that everyone, including Sora, saw the way that Tai had stared at her. Gazed at her was a more accurate. It was almost as if he... wanted her right then and there. But it wouldn't have been for lust. It would have been for... for...

Love.

Pure and simple. Taichi Kamiya did love Sora, but if he didn't tell her soon, there was going to be a great price to pay. Mimi could feel it. Sora had been through too much, although Mimi didn't know to what extent, and rejection could be the thing that threw her over the edge. Little did Mimi know that Tai had already lifted Sora's spirits that evening by telling her he was ready to love her again... One thing even Tai didn't know is that he already did... He had for a long time.

Mimi smiled. She never grinned, but she always either smirked or smiled, and both had been perfected to a point that seemed ethereal.

Mimi was knocked out of her thoughts, and almost out of her chair, but a sudden ring of the doorbell.

Mimi grunted and got up from the sofa, muttering something about being too old for this, even though she was at the tender age of sixteen.

"Hold on!" she said irritably as the doorbell sounded again. "I'm not that agile." She finally lumbered over to the door and opened it with a furious force. "What do you want?-T.K.!" she cried when she realized who she had been ranting to. T.K. put a finger to his lips. His face was red and he was breathing heavily. His blonde hair was in such disarray that it would make Tai's mop of hair or Matt's old style look conservative.

"Tai can't know I'm here. I want to see Sora," he whispered, gaining his breath back with the force of sheer will. Mimi nodded hesitantly and stepped aside so T.K. could come in.

"You must really want to see her. The T.K. I know wouldn't go against Tai's word if his life depended on it." T.K. laughed.

"If Tai did anything to me, he'd have to deal with Kari first thing," he said softly. Mimi shared his laughter briefly.

"She wanted to be alone when I left her. If you want to see her, you had better hurry. Tai's in the shower and he's hurrying. He doesn't like leaving her alone for long."

And with good reason T.K. thought.

"I'll only be a minute. If you can, could you stall Tai?" he asked sheepishly. He offered a cute smile and Mimi's heart melted.

"Oh, alright." Geez, Mims. You could have at least offered a fight!. Man, you're losing your touch.

"Thanks, Mimi! I owe you one!" T.K. exclaimed, his voice barely rising above a whisper. Mimi smirked.

"You're right about that. Hurry up! You don't have much time!" T.K. nodded and bounded off for Sora's room. Mimi shook her head and sat down in a nearby chair. "The things I do for friendship..."

Little did she know that she had just committed the same mistake Joe had.

If she had only known... If she had only known...

* * *

Sora's shoulders heaved as her crying tapered down, but certainly not for the last time. She let out a deep, breathy sob, but it was cut short as she was startled by a gentle knock at her door.

"Sora? Can I come in?" someone whispered. Sora narrowed her eyes and sat up from her bed, tucking her hair behind her ears and rubbing her eyes. She got up and opened the door. "Hey," T.K. said lowly, offering his best smile.

Kill her.

T.K.'s face flashed a look of horror and bewildered amusement. Why had he thought that? He wasn't ever going to hurt Sora! Never! She was like his mother or a sister. He could never kill her or anyone else for that matter!

Sora looked at him curiously, her eyes red and puffy, her hair in disarray. She was still in her dress, something that she almost always detested to wear. It was like she was a different person. T.K. thought she looked so helpless and defenseless at that moment. It was the worst he had ever seen her.

And not the worst, yet. Kill her.

No! That hollow voice wasn't maturity or anything like that! T.K. didn't know where that voice came from, but he did know that he shouldn't listen to it. It was the same voice that had driven him here. He would say he was sorry for Sora and then leave. Something told him he had to.

"Uh.. I just wanted to, uh... say that I hope things get better soon... I know they will," he said, casting a nervous smile. He hid his hands behind his back to keep from showing how bad they were shaking. Something was trying to make him lunge for her and he was fighting it back with all he was.

Sora linked her hands in front of her and nodded her appreciation, but she also saw how nervous he was. He was fidgeting with his hands constantly and his face kept changing back and forth from confusion to fear. She stepped back, not sure what else to do.

"I need to go... Tai told me to go straight home and he'll kill me if I'm here... so...." T.K. was at a loss for words. Suddenly, the hollow voice in his head became an actual being. T.K. could feel it taking control over every muscle and bone... every joint and appendage... every single cell.... It was like a black liquid spreading through his blood stream to all aspects of his body... A dangerous tumor that had taken control of his mind and body. T.K. watched in horror from the back of his mind as he raised his hands and smiled. "Come here and give me a hug."

Don't do it, Sora! It's not me! It really isn't!

But, sadly, Sora couldn't hear him. Her face crumpled up and she began to cry again as she fell into T.K.'s awaiting arms.

Oh God....

T.K. could still feel what he was doing, but he just couldn't control it. He felt his arms tighten around Sora's body in a reassuring embrace. Sora buried her head in his shoulder and cried in large, breathy sobs. T.K. could feel himself stroking Sora's hair and whispering that everything would be all right.

It's the Demon! It's got to be the Demon!

T.K. finally realized that he had been fighting against a very, very powerful being, and that his chances of winning had been very slim from the start.

T.K. felt his hands tighten around Sora, and she made a soft, grunting sound as the breath whooshed out of her. She readjusted in T.K.'s grip and tried to back away, but his arms held her steadfast against his body. Sora lifted her head from his shoulder and gazed into his blue eyes. T.K. heard, no... it was more like felt the Demon's thoughts go through his head.

She doesn't know... she thinks... Ah, she thinks a kiss is going to happen... something like that... Thy blood shall not be on my hands... and neither will the guilt.

T.K. felt his embrace go limp, but then watched through his own eyes as he gripped Sora's wrists with almost bone-crushing force. Sora's face flashed horror, but then went to an eerily calm one.

Get away from me, Sora! Run away! Please!

But yet again, T.K.'s silent cries went unanswered. He knew that if Sora didn't act soon, she would be overpowered. Sora was strong, yes, very strong for a girl, but she was no match for T.K., whose muscles had developed at a fast rate and could match Sora in strength or best her, which was what he was afraid of.

T.K. threw Sora onto the bed from where he was standing. Her dress restricted her movements a bit, but she tried to crawl onto the other side, but T.K. caught her ankle and held on tight.

"You're not getting away from me, Sora. I'll give you what Taichi should have given you a long time ago," a growling voice said from deep within T.K.'s throat. Sora looked back at T.K. and narrowed her eyes. T.K. felt the other presence's thoughts go through his mind.

She knows it's not him... she knows it isn't Hope...

The part of T.K.'s mind that was still T.K. let out a mental sigh of relief. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all... but he still had to try to stop this... this... Demon. In T.K.'s perspective, no one would get hurt if he was strong enough to fight the presence in his mind

T.K. lowered himself onto the bed on top of Sora, a satanic grin chiseled into his once peaceful features. Sora gritted her teeth and made a well-aimed kick for T.K.'s sensitive area, but he dodged it with ease.

The real T.K. inwardly shuddered at the thought of what would have happened if she had actually hit her mark, but knew she was only trying to protect herself. He felt a bit of despair when he realized that anything Sora would do would be countered by the Demon.

He knows her thoughts. She can't get away from him.

T.K. looked toward the light switch on the wall and it suddenly flipped into the off position, casting the room into complete darkness. Only the glow-in-the-dark stars on her ceiling cast any light, and it was dim. Sora looked into T.K.'s eyes as he turned back to her and knew for sure that it wasn't T.K. His eyes were a sickly green color... She believed that's what the Demon's eyes must look like. Tai was right. She didn't really want to know about the rest of the creature.

The boy, whose body was now as strong as his muscles and body structure would allow with the aide of the Demon's power, pinned Sora down easily and cast an eerie smile down to her. He bent down and kissed her on the lips. Sora fought, but she felt weak and helpless. T.K. forced himself to go deeper into her mouth, almost choking her with his abrupt movements. Sora couldn't remember being kissed so ferociously, but she wasn't sure she would have wanted to remember this. He came up and Sora began to sputter and cough, trying to get her breath back. T.K. just grinned at her and went for her neck. Sora's dress restricted her movements, and T.K.'s strength that was keeping her underneath him wasn't helping her situation, either.

Tai... Please help me....

T.K. felt the Demon's thoughts again and, if he had the ability, would have screamed in rage.

Call for him all you want... I stole your voice, little girl... I'll steal your innocence, too... Then what is pure will be never more... and the guilt shall be on Hope's hands... Do you hear that Hope? It will be you that destroys what is precious to her, not I.

That's when T.K. really began to fight back.

Sora watched in dim curiosity as T.K. suddenly arched his back, his eyes clenched shut in pain. His grip, however, did not lessen.

I won't.... let... you... win!

T.K. felt his heart begin to beat freely as the presence in his body weakened, but only temporarily. Hadn't Tai said that he was the only one that could keep the Demon back because he represented the exact opposite of what the Demon was made of? Well, didn't it make sense that if the Demon was made of Cowardice, that Hate, Darkness, Ignorance... the exact opposite of what they all represented? If that was the case, all T.K. could really do was hope, wasn't it?

She had no idea what was happening to him, but she knew that she had to take her cards as they were handed to her... She was being given a chance to get away, and she needed to use it before it was too late.

Sucking in a deep breath, Sora kneed T.K. as hard as she could in his most sensitive area.

Stars exploded in T.K.'s vision. Pain racked him as he let go of Sora's wrists, giving her the chance to escape.

T.K., in his mind, was in excruciating pain, but he knew that it was for the best... he just wished that it didn't have to hurt like this. But he took satisfaction in knowing that the Demon was feeling the same pain, too.

The Demon, confined in the humanoid body, was in more pain than it had ever felt... well, almost. Courage made it feel so much worse, but this was the closest thing to it. It was a new kind of pain... A pain that the Demon was foreign to.

Sora leapt up away from T.K. and sprinted for the door, hoping that T.K. was like every other guy she had ever kneed (which were still in the single digits, but were memorable-Tai being two of them) and wouldn't be able to recover very quickly. She suddenly wished that she was in the stupid dress, but she thought that she'd have to be like every other girl in a horror movie and try to book it in high heels and a tight dress... although, she still didn't see how they did it.

She made a grab for the door handle, but she was jerked back, making her fall to the floor. She rolled over and tried to go back toward the door, but T.K. was sitting on her back, preventing her from moving anywhere.

"Ah-ah-ah!" T.K. said in a high-pitched psychotic tone that was completely unlike the calm, composed, rarely angry T.K. that Sora had always known.

Sora raised a hand high above her head and prepared to bring it down on the floor. If she couldn't speak, she was going to make sure that she could be heard. But, as if God was punishing her for the second time that night, her mind was read like an open book and her hand caught in mid-air by T.K.'s ever-tightening grip. Sora sighed hopelessly, wondering what was going to happen to her. Without warning, T.K. took hold of Sora's sides, lifted his weight from her body slightly, and flipped her over like she was nothing. He sat on her again, this time on her stomach. T.K. brought his face slowly toward her own. His sickly green pupils shown against the blue irises in the darkness like eerie lighthouses. When they were an inch apart, T.K. smiled slowly. It was slightly reminiscent of the real T.K., but Sora could see that it wasn't really him. It was like the Demon had stolen a bit of T.K.'s personality and made it its own... except the Demon had stolen a bit more than just T.K.'s smile.

"Sora... I want to take something from you... rather, I want you to give it to me... You know what I want. Love me, Sora, and you'll never regret this..."

T.K. lowered himself the rest of the inch and kissed Sora gently, all the while Sora was trying to fight back, as was the T.K. inside. But one thing stood out in their minds as they continued to fight back against the Demon's power.

Does the Demon... love her?

* * *

Mimi fidgeted nervously, waiting for Tai to come out of the shower. She had been busy trying to cook something up to tell Tai. Telling him the truth had crossed her mind once or twice. She thought that Tai wouldn't be that upset about it... Then again, he had been mad when he had first found out that T.K. and Kari were going over to each other's houses just to have dinner. Sora had told her that in one of their monthly phone conversations and had continued it into an email soon afterwards... In both, she seemed to keep emphasizing the fact that Tai was ballistic...

So there may be a small possibility that he'd be mad.

Okay... A big possibility.

Right as Mimi began another pace across the floor, Tai came out of the bathroom. His hair was wet and hung down around his shoulders.

I can't believe his hair is that long! If he would tame it, he would have longer hair than a lot of girls. Dang...

He was wearing pajama bottoms and a dark blue shirt that had a yellow star in the middle. He laughed softly.

"Waiting up for me? It's kind of late, you know." Mimi giggled nervously.

"Um, of course I was! Why wouldn't I wait up for such a handsome guy?" she asked, inwardly kicking herself for the cheesiest comment that she had ever uttered... well, that week, anyway. Whether it was cheesy or not, Tai blushed.

"Are you hitting on me?" he asked playfully. It was Mimi's turn to blush as she pushed him.

"You're not my type, Tai. You're Sora's, remember?" Tai blushed even deeper. Mimi was glad that she had diverted his attention away from herself, but she had to get his mind off Sora in a hurry.

"Speaking of the girl, I gotta go talk to her... I had some time to think of an explanation to give her." Mimi's face suddenly turned serious. She forgot her thought three seconds ago and decided to feed on what Tai had just said.

"What did you tell her before?" Tai's eyes fell to his feet.

"That's... personal," he said finally, meeting Mimi's interrogating gaze on the last word. His soft brown eyes seemed to plead with her not to dig any deeper into it, but she ignored it. She was not about to let him screw up the best thing that had happened in the Digidestined since T.K. and Kari.

"Not personal enough. Tell me now," she said, her voice stern and maternal. Tai's mouth twitched. Mimi wasn't sure if it was going to turn into a smile or if he was refraining from yelling at her... Whichever it was, he did neither. He stood silent.

"It is personal enough. I'm talking about my future here." Tai had said this with picturesque placidity, but he seemed frustrated more than ever. He looked at Sora's door, which was next to him, sighed, grabbed Mimi's arm, and dragged her on further down the hall.

"Are you going to tell me?" Mimi asked. Tai sighed deeply.

"Well, I may have an answer for you, but it may not be the one you want." Mimi crossed her arms and made a stance that seemed to scream that it had better be good.

"Then talk." Tai suddenly pointed at Sora's door.

"Do you realize whatever decision I make will carry through the rest of my life?" Tai began to bend and straighten his arm with his finger still pointed at the door to emphasize the point. "Do you realize that if I say yes, I love her, that I'm probably going to be spending the rest of my life with her?" Tai saw the expression on Mimi's face. It was one he couldn't interpret. Was it sympathy, surprise, confusion, or impassiveness? He couldn't tell whether she cared or not, but it was Mimi he was talking to... Of course she cared... right?

"No... I can't say I did," she said finally, uncrossing her arms and pointing toward the door. "But did you know that you've spent most of your lives together already? Did you know that you already love her? Did you know that you're probably going to spend the rest of your life with her anyway? Whether it's as best friends or lovers, just because you can't live without each other? Did you know that the reason that you couldn't have relationships that lasted longer than a week probably because she was always on your mind?" Tai seemed a bit startled, but didn't show it that much.

"Actually, I did know most of that because I had to live with the fact that Sora was the one I had on my mind instead of my girlfriends. She's probably the reason I'm a seventeen-year-old virgin... I'm betting I'm the reason she's still a virgin, too, but that's besides the point-"

"Is it, Tai? Is it really besides the point? I really don't think it is. I think that's exactly the point." Tai stood silent, contemplating the truth in what Mimi had said. Tai crossed his arms and rocked on his feet, casting a casual glance toward Sora's door. He thought he heard some quick footsteps, but dismissed it. Sounds were coming from every direction in the house; the refrigerator's hum and the hiss of the air conditioner just to name two. Those and many others were things that could attribute to the noise. Finally, he looked back at Mimi and sighed.

"I'm not sure if I love her like that... Honestly, if I really knew, I would have known a long time ago... And Sora and I would have been together, in love, and doing things that only married people are supposed to do." He blushed slightly at this, but continued. "I love her, yes... but I'm not sure if it's in that way. She's my world, but it's possible that your best friends are your world, too." Mimi smiled wryly.

"Yes, but she's not just your world, she's your universe... We both know that... Heck, we all know that. We've watched since the Digiworld and some of us since before then. You depend on each other like soul mates. And that's what you are. T.K. was right when he told you that when we were all together chatting." Tai blushed a bit deeper.

"Maybe... Mimi, do you think it's possible for you to be soul mates with someone and still not be... together?" Mimi shrugged, crossing her arms again. She looked down at the carpeted hall floor, her hair falling in front of her face.

"I guess so, but only because they let the best thing that could happen to them slip away," she said, raising her eyes to meet Tai's vision on the last two words. Tai's mouth, which was hanging slightly open, shut quickly as he gave her a rueful smile.

"Maybe so," he said, crossed his arms and bowed his sopping wet head. "Maybe so," he repeated. Mimi sighed and poked Tai in the chest.

"Don't be stupid enough to let her get away from you... Like she'd ever leave you in the first place, but... don't lose her, okay? That's from all of us. Don't let her slip away. You'll hurt her... and I swear to God, if you do hurt her, I will hunt you down and beat you. All of us will. Understand?" Mimi asked, her voice lowering to something almost inaudible yet dangerous. Tai nodded.

"What if she really doesn't love me at all?" he asked suddenly. Mimi raised her eyebrows, a bit in shock.

"That's not really the question... The real question is-"

"-how much does she love me, right?" Mimi smiled brightly enough that Tai thought that he needed to keep his sunglasses handy if she shot him another one like that.

"You're catching on, Taichi! You know, you actually sounded intelligent for about five minutes there," she said, ruffling his already messed up hair. Tai smiled and gently pushed her away.

"What can I say? It comes and goes." Mimi laughed softly, but then remembered T.K. and sighed. She had to get Tai away from Sora so T.K. could get away... but how?

Oh well... Tai won't be that mad now. He's in a better mood, I think... I wonder what's taking him and Sora so long anyway.

"I'm going to go talk to Sora now... You can come if you want." Mimi took a step forward, motioning Tai to follow.

"Did you ever doubt that I wouldn't come?" Tai laughed heartily at this, and Mimi shared a bit in his laughter.

"Well, I was just saying... Do you think... Sora's going to be... okay?" Tai asked slowly. Mimi shrugged.

"If we all help her get through this and help keep her from moving, I think she'll be fine," she answered. Tai narrowed his eyes as they walked slowly down the hall.

"Moving?" Mimi rolled her eyes.

"Oh, come on! Haven't you thought of that?" Tai widened his eyes and shook his head "no". Mimi shook her head in exasperation.

So much for sounding intelligent, she thought.

"If she can't take care of herself, she'll get evicted from the apartment and will have to find a job on her own... or get taken into custody by her nearest relative..." Mimi gasped, finally realizing another piece of the puzzle herself. "Which would be-"

"-her father," Tai finished for her, his eyes narrowed to angry slits. "He will not touch her. If nothing else, I'll take care of her." He was so lost in thought that he didn't see Mimi smiling at his side like there was no tomorrow. "I always have before and I can now. No matter what." Mimi's smile, if possible, grew wider.

Both of them stopped as Tai reached for the doorknob to Sora's door and sighed. Sucking in a deep breath, Tai twisted the door handle gently and opened the door.

* * *

Just as Mimi was telling Tai that he actually sounded intelligent, Sora was busy trying to fend off T.K... or rather, the monster in T.K.'s body. T.K. was fighting, too, but he hadn't been able to do anything at the moment. Finally, T.K., with all the will in his body, gradually began to take back control.

He hoped.

Sora watched in mild amazement as T.K. arched his back again, his hand forming claws in the air... reaching for something that wasn't even there. His hands went to his head, as if he had a monstrous headache.

"No! You can't... you can't!" T.K. was saying in a strangled whisper.

Fight it, T.K. Please fight it.

Sora's expression changed from pleading to sudden fury. With all of her might, she began to kick and punch at the younger yet taller boy. She caught T.K. off-guard and realized that T.K. must have had a good hold on the Demon's attention or her moves would have been countered. Taking advantage of the new revelation, Sora unleashed her fury by biting, scratching, hitting, and kicking T.K. Finally, Sora, with all of her strength, knocked T.K. to the floor, who was still holding his head, but now was on his side in the floor, curled into the fetal position. Sora didn't care. She knew that she was still fighting the Demon, and that the Demon was no where near submission.

T.K. felt a bit of frustration with Sora. Didn't she realize that he had the situation under control for the moment? That she didn't have to beat him into oblivion?

She's scared. All she wants is for things to be normal again. She's just scared.

T.K. knew this was true. He would be scared, too, if he was in Sora's shoes. But what T.K. didn't know was that the majority of what Sora was feeling was nothing akin to fear.

She was angry. Very angry.

This Demon had taken away her summer vacation, forced her into making a decision about Tai that she wasn't ready to make (although it had been easier than she had thought), tried to hit her with a car, freeze her, drown her, got her sick, and, most of all, had killed her mother.

That was going way too far.

Her mother had nothing to do with it. Her mother was innocent. Why did it have to be her mother? Why?

She didn't know the answer right away, but she knew the answer was something that would end with her own death.

Suddenly, T.K., whose brow was sopping wet with sweat with fighting with his inner self, looked at the door. Sora did, too, and felt the most relaxing feeling of relief was over her as she heard his voice.

"Sora? Can I come in?" Tai asked. Sora could have melted right then, partly out of relief, partly out of a foreign feeling that made her want to swoon when he called her name. She blushed slightly. Why was she acting like a little school girl who had a crush?

"Can we come in?" Mimi corrected. Tai rolled his eyes, stepped inside the room, and gasped.

"T.K.?" Tai asked incredulously. Suddenly, T.K. rose to a sitting position and began to rock back and forth, all the while staring into space.

Sora began to wave her hands in the air towards Tai to dissuade anything that he might do.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Tai asked. He wasn't mad at all... well, just a little because T.K. hadn't gone home like he had been told to. But most of all, Taichi was worried about T.K. Why was he acting like that? So... detached?

"Tai! Watch what you say! He looks like he's been hurt or something. Sora?" Mimi said, looking toward the girl. Tai took a step toward Sora, but unfortunately, that was another step toward T.K., too.

The younger boy screamed and flailed his arms in all directions.

"Get away! Please! Get away!" T.K. shrieked, and Sora knew that it was the real T.K... and that he was in a lot of pain because he was still fighting the Demon. Unfortunately, as every second ticked by, T.K. was getting weaker... and weaker... and weaker.

"What's wrong with you, T.K.?" Tai asked, taking a step back and motioning Sora to come over to him. She walked over briskly and slammed him against the wall. "What the-"

"Uh... I think she's trying to keep you away from him," Mimi said quietly. Sora nodded furiously to emphasize Mimi's point.

T.K. abruptly arched his back again, rising to his knees, his hands turning into claws in the air.

"N-N-No! No! Get... out... NOW!" he screamed, and then, Tai saw it what the others couldn't.

The Demon's head, which seemed to be hidden, emerged like a ghostly image from T.K.'s back. Its tail swished sharply from side to side out of T.K.'s side. Finally, with one last scream from T.K., the Demon emerged from T.K.'s body, its gnarled hands placed firmly on its head, screeching in pain.

"T.K.! Get away from there!" Tai yelled. T.K. made a headlong lurch toward Tai and reached for the older boy, but, before he could actually get there, he fainted. Still screaming like one of the dinosaurs from the old movies, the Demon slowly disappeared, stumbling backward as it did so.

"What's wrong with him, Tai? I mean, he was acting really strange," Mimi asked as she knelt beside the young boy. Sora ran to T.K.'s side and knelt also, trying to see if she had done any permanent damage. Tai growled and took an apprehensive step forward.

"Well, when you're possessed, you tend to act just a little on the strange side."

* * *

"T.K... Wake up, T.K.," a girl whispered. T.K. thought it must have been Mimi. The young boy opened his eyes, but then closed them immediately as a monstrous headache set in. He shielded his eyes from the light and turned over, burying his face into the crook of his arm.

"Nope, you've got to get home. Your mom is expecting you. You can't stay here all night," a boy said, sounding like Tai. T.K. shook his head, refusing to budge.

"Come on, little bro. I can't promise I can carry you home," another voice said, and this one T.K. recognized right away.

"Matt?"

"That's me. Come on. I've got to take you home." T.K. turned around slowly, ignoring the swelling pain in his head, and looked at his sibling. T.K. felt a slight bit of amusement as he saw him. Matt was in his boxers and a grey shirt. His hair was in disarray, almost as T.K.'s had been earlier. As T.K. observed his surroundings, he came to the conclusion he was on Sora's bed. Matt was standing beside the bed. Sora stood next to Tai, her arms crossed and her face expressing immense worry and sadness. Tai had a tight-lipped lopsided smile on his face, but it seemed to be forced. Mimi was sitting on the foot of the bed, looking at T.K. intently.

Suddenly, a feeling of immense fear and emotional pain passed over the boy and he began to cry.

"Matt!" he cried as he threw himself into his brother's unprepared arms.

"Whoa... T.K.?" T.K. only cried harder as his brother embraced him slowly, his movements slowed by confusion. He sat on the bed, T.K. clinging to him and crying all the while. Matt looked at Tai in bewilderment, but Tai only shrugged, his smile melting into worry. Mimi and Sora exchanged glances. Sora knew what he was crying about in a way. He had been violated in one of the most extreme ways and had fought one of the most important battles that he ever would... and had almost lost.

"I was almost too weak! I-I-I almost killed her! Th-th-the thing almost made me r-r-r-" but T.K. was sobbing too much to finish. Sora's eyes widened as it finally dawned on her what he was about to say.

Could that have happened? If T.K. had been just a little weaker and Tai hadn't of come into my room... Sora put her hand over her mouth and closed her eyes. Tai, however, had only a small idea of what T.K. was going to say, as did Matt and Mimi, although they were more sure of what T.K. was going to say than Tai was.

"The Demon almost made you... what?" Tai asked, thinking that it may be easier for T.K. to fill in the blank than to make full sentences. Sora shot Tai a look that said "Don't press it any farther; it's painful enough already" but Tai didn't catch it. He had his eyes narrowed at T.K., waiting for an answer.

T.K. gradually forced himself to stop crying. Burying his head into his older brother's shoulder, T.K. hugged Matt even tighter. With a shaky breath, T.K. closed his eyes.

"It almost made me rape her." Mimi's hand went immediately to her face to cover her mouth, but nothing could hide her horrified expression. Matt's eyes closed shut and he began to rub his brother's back in an effort to keep T.K.'s tears at bay. Sora was holding her elbow in her left hand while her right hand had been across her mouth; her eyes had been closed. She was trying to erase the image of what could happened from her mind. When T.K. had spoken, Sora had opened her eyes slowly and had looked at Tai first. His eyes had gone wide, and then he had ran a hand through his hair. There was an incomplete uncomfortable silence in the room as T.K.'s sobbing and moaning continued. Tai turned around, took three paces, stopped, turned, and took three paces back, his hands in his hair.

"Well, we'll tell the rest in the morning. All I can say now is for T.K. and Matt to go home and actually stay home," he said, looking directly at T.K. "Mimi, go take your shower or go get ready for bed... whatever, but Sora... I hate to say this, but I think we're now officially joined at the hip. Where ever you are, I've got to be there." Sora closed her eyes again, sighed deeply, and put her hands on her hips, obviously protesting the judgment, but not completely disagreeing with it. Besides, why should she protest it? They had been together for everything already... except...

Sora's eyes widened at the full implications of what he had said. He shrugged.

"Showers, too." Sora began to blush and found that she couldn't look Tai in the eye at the moment. He blushed a bit, too, but fought to keep his composure. "T.K." The younger boy looked up, his face stained with tears. Tai glanced at the clock and sighed. "It's ten after midnight. You were out for a long time. You had better go home before your mother gets really worried. She was expecting you ten minutes ago." Tai watched Matt prepare to get up and then remembered what else he needed to say. "Thanks for coming, Matt." The older blonde nodded with a wry smile.

"Anytime. Let's go, little bro." He took T.K. by the hand and pulled him up.

"You can tell us what happened tomorrow, T.K. Just get some sleep, okay?" Tai said. T.K. sighed and shrugged.

"After that, I'm not so sure I can." Sora looked at him sympathetically as Matt led him out the doorway.

"Bye!" Tai and Mimi called as Sora just waved. Matt and T.K. replied as best they could and headed out Sora's door. After they were gone, Tai turned to Sora.

"You had better get some sleep, kiddo. You can take a shower later. Oh, Izzy might be coming over in the morning and you know he'll call everyone, so I bet you can't take a shower in the morning." Sora sighed in frustration. Tai laughed.

"You can take a shower instead of me, Sora," Mimi said. Sora shook her head.

"She doesn't want to take another one today, Mimi. She can take one tomorrow night." Sora seemed a bit surprised at Tai's sudden ability to read her mind, but she knew he couldn't do it nearly as well as the Demon could. Mimi shrugged.

"Suit yourself." She quickly gathered her clothes and headed off to the bathroom. Tai turned to Sora and sighed.

"I'm sorry, Sora. I should have been here." Sora waved her hands with a weak smile. Tai watched how the light hit her face and felt like a kiss was in order, but he didn't give her one. He would save that for another night. As if reading his mind, Sora shoulders slumped as she sat on the bed. Tai shook his head, hoping that the situation wouldn't get any worse.



5

beaten by the unexpected



They... they beat me.

Actually, only one of them beat me and it wasn't even Courage.

It was him.

Hope.

How could someone not foreseen as a foe beat me?

Ah, but wait.

That is why I was to attack Love... because I am composed mostly of Cowardice and Hate. Hate can destroy Love. The rest of them... the rest of them overpower their opposites... Like Ignorance is overpowered by Knowledge and so on. But why wasn't it one of the others to protect Love? Why wasn't it all of the others to protect her?

There are two reasons.

First of all, I am made mostly of two things. Hate and Cowardice. Cowardice, being a major part of me, makes me the most vulnerable to Courage, because Cowardice is overpowered by Courage.

Second, Courage becomes... stronger... more able... when he is around Love. That way, if danger does approach her, he becomes strong enough to harm me.

But... the Good Forces are weakening. I can feel it... and it shows because Courage had to get at least three feet away from me to harm me, when at first, it was fifteen.

I am winning, children.

You may have won the battle.

But the war is yet to be decided.



6

surprising answers and a shocking statement



Tai rubbed his eyes sleepily as the doorbell sounded throughout the whole apartment. Tai growled.

"Dang it, Izzy." Tai stood up and stretched, surveying the room. Sora and Mimi had decided to share the bed, leaving Tai in the floor. He gently shook both of the girls. "Come on, Sora. I can't leave you behind." Sora opened her eyes slowly, swung her legs out of bed, and stood up shakily. "Whoa, there!" Tai exclaimed as he caught Sora from falling back on the bed. She had moved a bit too fast for her body to keep up. Mimi, stirring a bit at the sound of Tai's exclamation, yawned and stretched. Tai glanced at Mimi and then guided Sora by the hand into the living room. The doorbell was ringing over and over and over again. Tai growled at Izzy's impatience this morning... or Davis, one of the two. It could have been any of them besides Cody and Ken, come to think of it. Besides those two, they all had the nerve to ring the doorbell like there was no tomorrow. "We're coming, Iz! Hold on!" Tai finally got to the door and jerked it open.

"Finally! I thought you'd never get here!" Izzy exclaimed as he dashed in. Then, moving groggily, the rest of the Digidestined shuffled through the door.

Scratch that. Only Izzy would do that... this morning, anyway, Tai thought. Izzy was the only one dressed besides Cody, as Izzy had stayed in his clothes all night and had only changed about six that morning. Cody was just being his usual self.

"What's the emergency, Izzy? It's-" Joe looked at his watch and continued, "-7:30 in the morning!"

"That's what time you get up for school," Izzy protested. Yolei rolled her eyes and smacked Izzy in the arm.

"Yeah... during school. This is summer," she scolded irritably. Izzy rubbed his arm, not sure whether to take offense or not.

"Will you tell us what the emergency is?" Kari asked, rubbing her eyes sleepily. Decked out in her cat-covered pajamas, she seemed to be asleep on her feet. Examining them, Sora realized they were all in their pajamas, except for Joe, who had taken the precaution of wearing a robe, too. Sora herself had changed into her pajamas the night before. It was probably the last time for a while that she would do so without Tai there to be her body guard. Ken was the only one that wasn't there.

Suddenly, a knock came at the door. Davis, being the nearest one to it, opened it.

"Sorry I'm late, everyone," Ken said, apologizing. Yolei laughed.

"You still made it, though." Ken was in blue jeans and a pressed short-sleeve button-up yellow shirt that was tucked in, making him look very regal.

"Well, now that you're here, Izzy, spit it out," Tai said. Izzy sighed. Mimi slowly came shuffling into the room, rubbing her eyes.

"Did I miss anything?"

"He was just about to begin," Joe said. Mimi smiled at him, and Joe began to blush. Matt, who was standing near him, elbowed him while lifting an eyebrow. Poor Joe just blushed even deeper. Izzy coughed, trying to take the attention away from Joe and to put it on himself.

"Anyway, I got a message from Gennai saying to email him whenever I got Tai and Sora together, but I thought since all of us are a part of this in one way or another, we all need to be informed of current events." Everyone nodded. They all took their seats. Tai, Sora, Mimi, and Joe sat on the couch while Matt sat across from them in a chair from the dinner table. The furniture was still spaced out, but they all moved the furniture closer together. T.K. and Kari sat in a recliner together, his arm around her shoulders. Tai saw this with a growl, but Sora smiled and elbowed him in the ribs playfully. Davis and Yolei fought over a chair from the dinner table but finally agreed to sharing it... but under protest, of course. Ken got another one of the chairs, but gave it up to Cody as he sat in the floor. Izzy got the last chair from the kitchen and sat down while logging onto his computer.

"Is he on there?" Cody asked. Izzy shook his head.

"No... He'll know when we email him, though." Izzy typed furiously, trying to waste no time. Once he sent it, he told the others to just wait.

Tai looked at Sora nervously. She seemed calm. He knew that they were both wishing for the same thing; for this madness to just end.

"Is he slow or what?" Davis said. Yolei elbowed him gently.

"It takes time for email to travel unless your on the same server. Gennai's in another world, though. Think about that." Davis sighed, shrugged, and crossed his arms. Izzy suddenly snapped his fingers and began to type.

"He's online! He got the message!" he yelled. Everyone winced.

"Hey, Iz. Keep it down. Some of us aren't awake yet," Mimi said, narrowing her eyes and putting a hand on her head. Izzy just made a wild gesture with his hand and continued to type.

"He said that he's glad I've got Tai and Sora."

"Tell him we're all here," Tai said. Izzy typed again and seemed a bit surprised.

"He said that he would rather it just be Tai and Sora, but he knows that none of us want to be left in the dark. I'm asking him... why... he wanted it to be just you two." There was a bit of silence as Izzy waited for the reply. "He said that it might be a bit embarassing to the both of you," Izzy said with a raised eyebrow and having the beginnings of a smirk. Tai and Sora exchanged alarmed glances.

"O-kay... Just tell him to hurry up and get this over with," Mimi said irritably. Joe, who was sitting beside her, elbowed her lightly and put a finger to his lips to tell her to be quiet.

"Ask him what can we do to stop this," Tai said sternly. Sora scooted closer to Tai, wondering what the solution could be. Izzy typed it in and sighed.

"He's giving a long explanation, you guys. Be prepared to sit a while." Everyone let out an amusing simultanious groan and began to talk to one another, trying to pass the time.

"It'll be okay, Sora... Surely it isn't anything life-threatening, right?" Tai said cheerfully. Sora just offered a very weak smile and cuddled closer to Tai, who was surprised at her affectionate mood this morning.

"Hey, you guys... Hello? HEY!" Izzy yelled. Everyone stopped talking at once and looked at Izzy, who was now smiling. "Okay. He's given the first part of the explanation.

"He says, 'I'm sorry it has come to this, children. You are all in grave danger, now. Especially Sora. I learned of what happened last night to T.K. and Sora's mother, and I am afraid that this has been taken much further than anticpated.' What happened last night to T.K.?" Izzy asked. T.K. fidgeted uncomfortably in his chair and Sora shuddered violently. Tai put his arm around her shoulders, gave a reassuring squeeze, and then put his hand back at his side as Sora got even closer to him. Mimi, Tai, and Matt looked at each other and sighed.

"That's for after this. Let Gennai finish," Matt said quickly. Izzy sighed.

"He's typing again. I need to find away to speed up the connection in between the Digiworld and the real one. It's weakened since the last time we went there." Everyone either sighed, groaned, or yawned. "He's back.

"He says, 'The Good Forces have encountered unforseen problems. The Assembly of Sin has been trying to retrieve the Demon from the real world because of complications in its thoughts... something about conflicting interest." Sora and T.K. exchanged knowing glances. "'The portals that the Assembly has been opening that lead to Negative Space have been failing miserably. For lack of a better word, the Negative Matter is leaking into different dimensions, disrupting the activity there. In one dimension, time was reversed years.' Okay. He's typing again." Everyone looked at each other, now eagerly awaiting the rest of the story. "Okay. He's back.

"'Although the portals proved futile for retrieving the Demon, the Assembly of Sin did benefit. Because of the Good Forces moves to correct the damage that had been done to all the dimensions, they had to take their attention away from the Assembly of Sin. This meant that the Assembly was free to demolish bits and pieces of the Digital World, thus, gradually destroying the fragile balance between Good and Evil.' Hold on, you guys." Everyone groaned in frustration and waited for another few minutes. Finally, Izzy signaled everyone to listen again.

"'As a result of the gradual demolition of the Good Forces, the scales began to tilt in Evil's favor. That is, the Assembly. Taichi may have noticed that, when he began to protect Sora, that the Demon was some where around 15 feet away. Sixteen feet, to be precise. Now, the Demon is only affected by your courage at exactly 5 feet. The reason I know this is because there is a precise equation that deals with the erosion of the powers of Good and the increase in the powers of Evil, or vice versa.' Okay... Wait just a minute." Tai and Sora looked at each other, both wondering when they would fit into the story.

"'Anyway, the point is this. Tai cannot protect Sora much longer if they remain as they are. Soon, Tai won't be able to be as close to Sora physically as needed to protect her from the Demon. Courage will always be an effective weapon against the Demon, but it will be like an inner shield... That means that only Tai will protected with his courage. Sora will be at maximum vulnerability in a matter of days. There is only one known way to stop Sora from being destroyed.'" Izzy stopped and looked up at Tai and Sora, who were, along with everyone else in the room, leaning forward for the rest. "What can I say? He's typing." Izzy shrugged and sighed, waiting for Gennai's next message to pop up on his screen. "Okay, you guys. Here it is. The moment we've been waiting for." Tai and Sora exchanged nervous glances. Tai slowly slipped his hand into hers for reassurance. She squeezed his hand tightly and listened to Izzy intently.

"He says, 'The only way to keep Sora alive is to transfer part of the inner shield of Courage to Love. The way this must be done is told in an ancient prophecy.' He's sending it to me. Hold on." Everyone growled with impatience. Finally, Izzy began to read again.

"'One day, when Courage will not be able to protect Love with his presence anymore, the Sacred Bond will be made between them, allowing Courage to become a part of Love, ending in the complete harmony of their hearts as they become one. From that day forward, their hearts will beat together, never separating. Courage will never die at the hands of Evil because Love will exist inside of him and Love will never die at the hands of Evil because Courage will exist inside of her. The Sacred Bond will have been made, and never again shall they part, for they both will exist inside of the other. Their souls will be forever intertwined.'"

Sora's eyes grew wide and her mouth went slightly ajar. Izzy, the reader of the prophecy, seemed a little unsettled himself. Joe and Mimi looked at each other, their eyes wide with surprise. Matt smirked and looked at Sora and Tai. T.K. and Kari, although they seemed innocent, were blushing at the very idea of what was being promoted by the prophecy. Davis even understood it and was fidgeting uncomfortably. Ken and Yolei glanced at each other, both of them having surprised looks on their faces. The only ones who didn't understand were Cody, who was too young, and Tai, who was too dumb.

"So... what does that mean?" he asked. Sora slapped her forehead with her hand and shook her head. "What? What did I say?" Tai asked. Everyone looked at Cody, who had the most amusing perplexed look on his face.

"Um, Cody? Could you leave the room for a minute?" T.K. asked. Cody shrugged.

"It's one of those 'Wait-until-you're-older' things, huh?" All of the kids in the room nodded except for Tai, who was still clueless to what was happening. Cody got up from the floor and walked out of the room into the kitchen. Izzy sighed.

"Tai... I don't know how to put this, but-"

"You're going to have to, uh... *ahem*... um..." Joe tried to say, but was tugging so nervously at his collar that he couldn't get it out.

"You two are going to have to... I dunno... what's a good term for it?" Matt said, still acknowledging his younger brother's presence. Mimi, Kari, Yolei, and Sora all exchanged frustrated yet amused looks at the boys' attempts to explain to Tai, who looked more confused than ever.

"Um, you and Sora have got to..." Izzy tried, but got even more nervous that Joe. Ken shook his head, not willing to make a fool out of himself. Davis shrugged.

"You and Sora have gotta... um..." he tried, but just like all the other attempts from the other guys, failed miserably. Maybe it was the girls' presence that was setting them all off like that. None of them knew, but they just knew that for some reason, the words that would have come out so easily under different circumstances wouldn't come out now. Kari rolled her eyes at their lame attempts.

"You two have to have sex."

The room went completely silent as all eyes turned to Kari, who had her arms crossed across her chest casually. Tai's mouth fell open, not completely because of the true meaning of the prophecy hitting home, but mostly because of what had just come out of his little sister's mouth. Izzy tugged on his collar. Now that the ice had been cracked, he could break it all the way through with ease.

"But not just sex. It has to be the kind that binds souls." Izzy's cheeks had a tinge of red to him, but he was quite proud of himself for keeping so calm. Luckily for Kari, Tai changed his train of thought to the situation at hand, sparing Kari a heart-to-heart talk about things that should be said and what shouldn't be said... especially by little thirteen-year-old girls.

"Like soul mates?" he asked. Izzy nodded.

"And I believe that the prophecy could only come true if they were both virgins, right, Izzy?" Tai and Sora glanced at each other, both going a little bit redder.

"Exactly. If they had more than one partner in the past, it would make it difficult for such a bond to be acheived." Seconds ticked away into silence as no one moved. Cody came back into the room and sat down after Yolei got up to get him, but otherwise no one moved.

"Well, Sora..." Tai started, but Sora began shaking her head emphatically. Tai watched her, his eyes narrowed in worry. She got up, ran to her room, and shut the door. "Oh great... Sora! Wait! Sora!" Tai got up and ran after her, the rest of the Digidestined close on his heels. He got to her door in no time and knocked. "Sora, what is wrong with you? Is it about what Izzy said?" Well, as obvious as the answer was, Tai still wanted to get the answer from her. A piece of paper slid out from under the door.

Yes.

Tai felt the other Digidestined breathing down his neck to read the piece of paper and passed it behind him, rolling his eyes at their behavior.

"Why can't you be with me then?" The Digidestined went silent. A while afterward, a piece of paper slid out from under the door. Tai picked it up and read the hastily written words.

Because it's a big decision that could end in pregnancy and a lot of things that I don't want to deal with right now. I love you with all my heart, Tai, but what if you want to leave me later on because you found someone else better? You only said that you were ready to start loving me again. I can't handle you leaving me. I already lost my father and my mother. Losing the one I love more than anything would be too much.

Tai growled lowly, happy that she did love him and upset at what she thought of him. He passed the note behind him to the awaiting greedy hands.

"Is that what you're really worried about, Sora? That I'll share something so deep with you and then just leave you in my dust?" There was about a minute's passing before the next note came.

Yes.

"If that's what you really think..." Tai sighed, closed his eyes, and thought. He remembered when he had been eavesdropping as Sora had been getting ready for the night before. When Mimi had asked Sora if Tai would have asked her to marry him, what her answer would be. Tai had a pretty good idea. He opened his eyes, summoned his courage, and spoke.

"Then marry me."



A/N: So was that a good ending or what?

Methinks so. Hehehe.

Well, there's at least one more chapter and possibly another. If you want me to write faster, give me a little motivation here, people! Just review. I really like this series, and I know at least a couple of you do, too. I'll try to get the next one out as soon as possible... but help me out a little. *wink wink*

Until next time, whenever that may be, this is

Artisan of the Written Word

signing off.