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Everything posted by Sumi

  1. Unconventional

    "Mm." Ken's response was wordless. Non-committal. He was fine with running. Right then, it was all he wanted to do. "I'm... I'm gonna go for a walk," he said finally, to Daisuke's back. He was already starting to back away, slowly. "I'll... meet you back at the waterfall. Tell Wormmon I'll be back. Ok?" But he didn't wait for a response. He knew he wouldn't get one anyway. He turned on his heel, took a breath, and began walking the opposite direction down stream. . . . Ken lost track of how long he’d been walking along the river. His hands ran back and forth over his arms, tapping his elbow, playing with the sleeve of his shirt. Fussing, fidgeting, all the while trying to sort himself out. Putting distance between them had confirmed his suspicions; he’d been so attuned to Daisuke that he was no longer able to separate which feelings belonged to whom. It was a strange phenomena, and one they’d never openly discussed, but seemed to have something to do with physical proximity. It had started sometime after their first Jogress, but rarely did it seem like more than enhanced intuition, or an uncanny ability to read each other’s body language. When they Jogressed-- when they were in sync it was empowering, and he felt like he could take on the world. But, when they conflicted, or emotions ran high… well, ’overwhelming’ and ‘disorienting’ were good words for it. The longer Ken walked, the more it helped to quell the flood of feelings, grant him some space inside his own head. Even so, he felt exhausted, his headache persisting with a vicious stabbing that seemed in time with his steps. Calm down, he told himself, for what must have been the tenth time already. It did him no more good than it had the first time, or the second, or the third.... He ran a hand through his hair, then down his face with a heavy sigh. His pulse had finally slowed, his breathing returned to something resembling normal. But when his fingers brushed the corner of his mouth, he paused. The memories were still fresh, his cold fingertips a stark contrast to the warm breath and soft skin he remembered from less than an hour ago. (It had been that recently… hadn’t it? He’d begun to lose track of time). He remembered the intrusive sensation of Daisuke’s tongue in his mouth, and he could feel the blood rushing to his face. Knuckles pressed firmly against his lips, Ken stared at the ground just in front of him. He felt as though he’d crested the hill of a roller coaster, a steady climb that left him plummeting hard and fast, his breath and stomach left behind as the world rushed up to meet him. There was no denying the truth anymore; he had kissed Daisuke, and he had liked it. He was well into his teens and he’d never so much as flirted with anyone before; he’d been out of his element, but he hadn’t been uncertain, had he? But Daisuke. Brash, unabashed Daisuke, it had just been an impulse to him, hadn’t it? A moment of desperate spontaneity, that he... regretted. The thought turned Ken’s stomach. For not the first time, he had followed Daisuke’s lead, and this time it had brought him to a place that he couldn’t take back, even when he wanted to. Just the thought made him feel as though someone had tied stones around his ankles and thrown him into a lake. It shouldn’t have hurt this much. That it did, pointed him towards one conclusion: Those strong, un-nameable feelings he’d been carrying around for almost as long as he could remember? He was, quite likely, in love with his best friend. But what was he supposed to do with those feelings now? Naming them had done him absolutely no favors. Was he supposed to pretend it never happened? Shove them back in a bottle? It seemed about as easy a task as putting toothpaste back into the tube! Not to mention the heavy implications that came along with realizing the depth of his feelings for someone of the same gender. What if this ruins our friendship? His chest tightened at the mere thought. A cold breeze whispered across his neck, and he shivered, folding his arms tighter. It was just enough to bring him out of his head, and back to his surroundings. Somehow, he had strayed away from the river, and now stood in the midst of trees and brush. A low fog had begun to roll in, and it had grown so much darker that he questioned how long he’d really been out walking. It couldn’t have been sundown already, could it? “I should get back…” he mumbled to himself. Facing Daisuke just then wasn’t exactly at the top of his list, but then neither was being lost, alone, in the woods after dark. He stopped and turned around slowly, listening for the river. All he had to do was follow the sound, and he’d find his way back easily enough. As he moved through the worn dirt paths, he couldn’t help but notice the wisps of fog had begun filling the space between the trees, obscuring his line of sight. No matter which way he turned, there was no familiar rushing sound, no babbling of water over stones, and no sign of the woods thinning out. Instead, he heard the breeze through the leaves overhead, and faintly, in the distance the sound of… Ken froze mid step, and his blood ran cold. “No…” There was no mistaking the distant sound of waves against the shore. No longer looking for the river, Ken arbitrarily picked a direction, and quickened his pace. Panic slowly began to set in as he scanned his surroundings. It wasn’t just darker, but duller, as if the color had been sucked out of the foliage. Among the bushes, shadows seemed to move, living and breathing in this otherwise dead place. When at last he found the river again, purely by chance, it did nothing to ease his fears; the water was gray and silent, it’s depths invisible, and the sand and pebbles bore the color of charcoal from a burnt-out fire. Ken turned to walk upstream, his pace brisk as he rubbed his arms for warmth. He wasn’t lost anymore; he knew exactly where he was, and that was much worse. It had always been there, at the back of his mind, but he was able to ignore it. He only heard it sometimes in complete silence, only saw it occasionally in dreams. This was neither. “I shouldn’t be here,” he muttered under his breath. “I shouldn’t have been brought back here. Why…?” It felt as though cobwebs were settling in his mind, and he shook his head to clear them. “Calm down,” he told himself again, more firmly this time, as if it might suddenly work. “There has to be a way back. ….What was it? What was it that Hikari-san said… As long as I want to go back, and there is someone who wants me back, I’ll be able to leave?” Oh, but there’s no one who wants you back. How can they, if they don’t even know you’re gone? Ken skidded suddenly to a halt. The voice could have come from inside his own head, the way it seemed to swirl around him. He looked around apprehensively, his feet sliding into a defensive stance. But I know where you are. And I know who you are. Ichijouji Ken. I’ve waited for this day for a long time. Teeth grit together, Ken whirled sharply to look behind him. “Who’s there?!” But there was nothing. Nothing except the same shapeless shadows slinking through the mist. Ken raised his arms, his eyes darting from side to side. Another chill ran down his spine, and he turned to flee. And there, right in his path and barely three feet in front of him was a towering figure, a blot of violent blood against a sea of ash. White horns twisted toward the sky, and massive, leathery wings unfolded to block his way. Alarmed, Ken stumbled back. It may have been years since the Chosen Children had laid eyes on this creature, but Ken had seen it many times in his nightmares. “You’re--” “Yes.” Grandly, the dark visage spread its arms, hands white like death, and sharp claws on display. Yellow eyes glinted from the shadowy slit of its hood. “The one you banished here so long ago. ” Ken didn’t need to say the name, but it fell from his dry lips all the same. “Daemon.” The Dark Digimon laughed in reply, a deep sound that rumbled through Ken’s bones. “And here you are, all alone. It must be my lucky day.” Instinctively, Ken reached into his pocket for his D-3; he found nothing but lint. He’d left it in his bag, and his bag was at the waterfall. So was Wormmon. Even if he’d had it, there was no guarantee that his digimon partner could even come to him in this place. He felt his already meager well of confidence quickly diminishing. With no offense or defense available to him, Ken did the next best thing; he bolted for the trees, hoping to lose him in the woods.
  2. Unconventional

    Breathing was difficult. Ken's lungs had turned to cement, and he choked on the burning sensation rising in his throat. This wasn't just about a kiss anymore. It wasn't about skipped exams, or the fights they'd had (more in just one day than he could recall them ever having before). It wasn't about the way they'd practically wrapped themselves around each other in Ken's bedroom, or how he'd lingered too long after bandaging Daisuke's hand. It wasn't about how Daisuke had dragged him back to the Digital World when he wasn't sure he was ready, or how he'd suggested he might leave the Real world for this one for good. It was about all of that, because in the end, it all came back to the same thing, didn't it? At the core, every single one of those things tugged on the same, tightly-wound strings. But there were no more thoughts left inside of Ken, only a noxious cocktail of emotion he struggled to digest. Disgust was in there somewhere, though who or what it was directed at, he couldn't be sure. And then there was distress, and a surging of righteous indignation. Ken was shaking, and he tightened the grip on his own arms as if he could steady himself. For one moment -- because it was Daisuke, it was always Daisuke -- Kind-but-Guarded Ken, had lowered his defenses and allowed himself to feel whatever it was that he'd been harboring toward his best friend, and it had only gotten him this. Pain. Like Daisuke had plunged his hand directly into his chest and squeezed his heart until it popped like a balloon. He had dared to turn their world upside down, and now he was just going to... to... And Ken let him. Worse, he'd actually bought into one of Daisuke's least sensible moments. He'd never felt so foolish, so stupid, so-- The dull throbbing in his head made itself known again, and Ken shut his eyes against the pain. That headache had never actually gone away, had it? Every word out of Daisuke's mouth grated his nerves, felt like needles stabbing his temples. He pulled a breath into stiff lungs, opened his eyes, ready to lash out and -- He stopped. His mouth half open, the words died on his tongue at the sight of those tears. The air left his body, and it was a long, silent moment before his burning chest reminded him to draw breath again. He wasn't the only one in pain, was he? A cold knot formed where Ken's stomach should have been. His arms slackened, and the tension in his shoulders eased. "Daisuke..." Ken rarely called him that out loud -- almost never -- but it fell from his lips with the weight of an anvil. How was it possible for a name -- barely two syllables -- to carry so much feeling? Some part of him wanted to reach out to Daisuke, touch him, pull him close and bury his nose in his hair, and-- But for a split second he imagined Daisuke pushing him away again, and it was like a knife across his belly. But hadn't he done that himself, so many times before? Always pulled away, always kept him at arms length. ...Had he been doing this to Daisuke for years? Instead of going to him, Ken's grip around himself tightened again, as if he could physically hold all those feelings in. "It isn't like you to be so indecisive." He'd meant it to sound gently teasing, but instead it came out strained and broken.
  3. Unconventional

    Ken had never tasted a drop of alcohol in his life so he couldn't be sure, but intoxicated was the only way to describe how he felt -- complete with dizziness, disorientation and slowly crumbling inhibitions. His heart sped up, his breathing hitched, he struggled to keep up. He'd made up his mind -- he thought -- he'd started this, it was-- It was more than he bargained for. He was clumsy, fingers on the back of Daisuke's neck, startled by the sudden intensity of it all. Too fast. Too fast. He didn't know what he was doing, the only thought in his mind to surrender, to trust, but instead he tensed, he fumbled. Overwhelmed, he forgot to breathe. For all his book smarts and finesse on a soccer field, here he had no point of reference, no experience. Unnamed feelings, warm and soothing, and ravenous surged through his veins, and-- When finally they parted, Ken gasped for breath. Was he... relieved? When Daisuke pushed back, when he spoke, Ken's stomach turned over. No, definitely not relieved. He could feel the warmth drain out of his body as he stared down at Daisuke. The words struck him as surely as though Daisuke had rammed a fist into his solar plexus. He shuddered, as shame and embarrassment washed over him. He wanted to be sick. "...Is that what you think?" He croaked, folding his arms around himself.
  4. Unconventional

    If Ken hadn't known better, he'd have sworn he was coming down with something; he was all-together too warm, light-headed, his heart beating heavily, like a base drum in his chest. They'd been this close before, but it had never been like this; laden with something so heavy, so implicitly intimate. Maybe it had always been that way, and they'd only been too young to understand it. With age came understanding. Comprehension. Fear. Of the unknown. Of losing everything with just the wrong words. Of crossing some undefined line. Of being sucked back into the dark void that had swallowed up whole pieces of his childhood, times and places he couldn't remember. Daisuke had told him to live, and he'd wanted to. For his family. For Wormmon. For his brother. For everyone he had done wrong. For that vague and distant memory of a person standing next to him in the desert, his name gone, his face a blur. For a chance to somehow make right everything he had touched and ruined. For Daisuke. I want you to be happy. His stomach dropped and his mouth opened, but his throat closed. His life was far from joyless. He had his family, his partner, his friends. He was good at school, an accomplished athlete. There were smiles, and warm arms, and laughter, all wrapped up in countless memories he was never sure he deserved. There was Daisuke. Bright, like the sun. Shining, like the moon and stars in dark nights where he thought he'd stumble and never see light again. The thought that he might ever lose Daisuke -- to life, to the digital world -- was the most terrifying thing he could imagine. With shaking hands, Ken silently brushed his fingers over Daisuke's cheek. He felt so warm, and Ken looked at him as if had never touched anything so real in all his life. His lips moved, his throat worked, but no words came out. He leaned his head down, closing the gap between them until he could feel his own breath bouncing off of Daisuke's cheek, a pale thumb running over tanned jaw. Ken's brow crinkled, and before he knew what he was doing his eyes had slipped closed. His lips found the corner of Daisuke's mouth, hesitant and soft, their noses brushing awkwardly until he shifted into place. Like pieces of a puzzle, they fit, and for a moment, he forgot convention, forgot tradition, forgot every question. There was a third truth that Ken knew; Daisuke was always the exception.
  5. Unconventional

    For a long while, Ken was utterly still. Stiff, and silent except for the sound of his hitched breathing. He could have pulled away if he wanted to, he had the strength, but he lacked the will. He half-listened to Daisuke's words -- rushed apologizes, disorganized explanations, but it all sounded like water in his ears. He felt like he was drowning. Down was up, and right was left, and Ken wasn't even thinking about their argument anymore, as much as he was reeling over how he'd lost his composure, and somehow ended up... here. He'd felt everything spiraling out, then all at once pulled back into reality, and for what? Daisuke's arms round him were both a snare, and an anchor. He wanted to run, as much as he wanted to hold on and never let go. His chest felt hollow, and empty, or too full to breathe. No one, besides his mother, had ever kissed him before. And that was, of course, entirely different. It could have meant nothing, or it could have meant everything, but both ideas had him utterly paralyzed. Ken wasn't narrow-minded, but he'd had a very conventional upbringing. Boys kissed girls. Girls kissed boys. He knew there were obviously exceptions, he wasn't sheltered, but the thought of himself, kissing another boy, had never crossed his mind. That just wasn't something boys - or men - traditionally did, especially not with their best friend. But Daisuke had. And Ken, despite himself, for even just a moment, had reciprocated as if it were the most natural response. Why? Because it was Daisuke? In the wreckage of his mind, trying to put the pieces together, there were two things that Ken knew, that had always been true: The first, was that from the moment they had met, Daisuke had invoked in him a range of feelings that no one else, before or since, ever had. The second.... I told you to live, Ichijouji. And I just want to know if you did. The second, was that Daisuke had always been, and would always be, a better, brighter person than Ken could ever hope to be... and he was drawn to that warmth and light like a flower in shade yearns for the sun. "Motomiya...." his mouth dry, he swallowed, trying to push his heart down from where it seemed stuck in his throat. The expression in the depths of Daisuke's eyes was so much that Ken felt overpowered by the mere sight of them. He shrank, and averted his gaze. "I -- I don't know what you mean," Ken replied nervously. Finally, pressing his palms against Daisuke's shoulders, he made a weak attempt to loosen himself from the arms that encircled him. "I'm standing right here, aren't I?" He knew the minute the words had left his mouth, he probably wasn't going to get away with that kind of answer.
  6. Unconventional

    Ken barely registered the feeling of Daisuke's hands on his face, though it seemed to dull the pounding in his head. The light pressure against his lips was nothing compared to the assault it brought on his mind. Ken tensed, inhaled sharply through his nose, the fire and rage that consumed him pushed back under the force of electricity, and only now did he notice the intensity was not all his own. The aching chasm in his chest seemed to fill with the speed of floodwaters from a broken dam rushing into a dry lake. It was almost painfully overwhelming. It doused the blaze, the tension lifting from his body like steam rising from a smothered campfire. His eyes slid shut, his hands tentatively finding their way to settle on Daisuke's waist as he leaned in, breathing in Daisuke, grasping like a child for that familiar, comforting feeling slowly seeping into his skin. And then he drew back, slowly, a soft sigh pulled from his lips. He opened heavy-lidded eyes to blurred vision, tears clinging to his lashes, half-dried tracks marking his cheeks. His brow twitched, and his fingers curled tighter. The flood waters receded, and in their wake was the stark realization of what had just happened. Like a startled rabbit, he pushed himself back, His eyes fully open now, a hand rising to cover his mouth. His cheeks burned, and his pulse raced. He swallowed, and took a step back. "I..." his voice cracked. "I need to go." Wormmon was still up the river. His bag was still at their make-shift campsite. He forgot all of it. He just wanted to run.
  7. Unconventional

    "I don't know!" Ken spat. The words were like bile, bitter and acrid. Though his arm had been reclaimed, he could feel the ghost of Daisuke's fingers digging into his skin, and he was almost certain it would leave a bruise. Ken advanced on Daisuke, gradually invading his personal space. " 'Yes, I'd stay here. I'd leave everything behind for my partner.' Is that what you want me to say? Because I can't say that." the edge in his voice scraped, and wavered. "I wish I could, but It's not that simple, and It never has been." There was a fire blazing in Ken's eyes that looked so completely out of place. They were sharper around the edges, like broken glass. Although he stood rigid and unwavering, inside he felt as if he couldn't stop shaking. The fire that had taken hold blazed out of control, and though something in the back of his mind screamed for him to pull back, he could do no such thing. Faster than he could blink he had grasped a fist full of Daisuke's shirt collar, pulling him sharply until they were nearly nose-to-nose. For just a moment, eyes darkened, focused, and full of rage, it could have been the Kaiser standing before Daisuke. "I know you still think I'm some kind of genius so this may come as a shock to you: I don't have any of the answers. But I am saying this, because I have thought exactly how you are thinking now -- That this place is somehow better, that all of the mundane things like, school, and work, and..." he grit his teeth. "That somehow, they're less." Are you happy? The words rattled through his head again. And then, a sharp pain cleaved through his skull. With a grimace, he released Daisuke abruptly, and barely resisted the urge to rub his temples. "They're not less..." he wheezed. His eyes stung. "Maybe it's different for you. Maybe you do belong here. But I ..." I never can.
  8. Unconventional

    Ken flinched. It was just the tiniest tick in his cheek, a twitch of his arm, and a tightening of his jaw. He waited. He Listened. But something about those words pushed him to a cliff, and it took much more than he expected to keep himself from tipping over the edge. He hadn't thought Daisuke was really serious, but then he'd kept talking. He knew well enough to know when Daisuke was even a little bit serious. "Are you sure they're the ones in need?" Ken's voice was low as he kept his eyes fixed straight ahead -- as if looking at Daisuke might set him off. "Don't you ever think that, at some point, we're meant to stop meddling here?" It was a thought he'd had more often than he cared to admit. As much as he enjoyed his times in the Digital World, as much as he still felt like he needed to do right by it's inhabitants... maybe doing right by them, meant letting them take care of their world, on their own. The thought that someday they might be completely cut off from this place wasn't a foreign one -- the older chosen had been barred from re-entering the Digital World for years, before. Even now, they still couldn't open the gates on their own; that was something only those in possession of a D-3 could do. Even with all that had happened with BelialVamdemon, and Oikawa, there was no guarantee that someday, they wouldn't be shut out, too. "What if someday, the gates just... closed. For good, this time. What then? Would you just stay here forever, never see your family or your friends ever again? Just, leave behind everything that doesn't seem worth it. That sounds like a great idea." His words swung upward with sarcasm as he got to his feet. "But, sure, you're right. I couldn't possibly 'Get It.' " Overwhelming, unnamed, but somehow familiar emotions spiked in his chest, gripped the back of his mind. Calm down, he told himself, but it did nothing to ease his agitation. He clenched a fist, inhaled through his nose. He needed a minute to cool his head. "...I'm going to go look for some herbs to make tea," he said flatly, turning to walk down the river.
  9. Unconventional

    There were so many things Ken could have said, but the words stuck in his throat, never quite reaching his tongue. As Daisuke spoke, he looked down at him with a strange sadness behind his eyes, an invisible weight pulling his shoulders down in a slump. After a moment's pause, Ken tucked on leg under the other and settled on the ground beside him. A hand came to rest on Daisuke's shoulder, as if by touching him, Ken could ground them both. "We're all still here, you know," he began softly. "I know we've all been busy, but that's just part of growing up. We have more responsibilities we have to juggle." Though, he had to admit, it didn't hurt any less. Hadn't he just been thinking, how much he missed everyone? And hadn't he been just as guilty of being unavailable? Hesitantly, he withdrew his hand. Like a child, he pulled his knees up to his chest, folded his arms, and rested his chin there. Maybe it was different for Daisuke. Hadn't he always been the Hero of the Digital World? Could he really blame him? If Ken had somewhere that had welcomed him with open arms, trusted him with Greatness, wouldn't he have wanted to slip off into that place forever? To drown out the less pleasant sides of life? It was irresponsible, but he'd tried it himself, once. "But... you know, living in the Digital World? Not exactly as great as it sounds." His words were laden with an undeniable bitterness as he stared out across the riverbank.
  10. Unconventional

    Although they walked side by side, Ken merely followed Daisuke's lead, while his mind and eyes wandered. After all the years he'd spent traversing the Real and Digital worlds, Ken still wondered how he could have ever, at any time, thought that this place was just a Game. Although it always took a moment to adjust when he arrived, this place was every bit as tactile and solid as the desk in his bedroom, or the potted plants his mother kept on the balcony. The air was as crisp as any he had ever breathed, the sand still got in your shoes, and the water still quenched thirst. This was a very real place, and he'd left very real scars. These days, most Digimon remembered the Kaiser, but very few could easily identify the sadistic young boy who menaced them in the soft, reflective young man that Ken had grown to be. Time had granted him a sort of armor -- he didn't Sound the same, or Look the same, not entirely. He had let go, for the most part -- spent years atoning, attempting to pile acts of good and Kindness onto the scale so that it would finally tip and alleviate his guilt. In his opinion, he would always be at least one act shy of achieving that goal. It pushed him forward. It motivated him. So, when he thought that it had been almost a year since he'd last set foot on digital soil... Shit was simpler back then, he heard Daisuke say. Even when things were good, they had never been simple for Ken. He wondered, had he failed? Had he neglected this place? Of course, things were peaceful now. It had been years since the dark towers had been torn down, homes rebuilt. Years since Arukenimon and Mummymon, and Belialvamdemon. The problems now, were normal ones. This wasn't their world, not really, though they had certainly made it their playground. If Daisuke hadn't dragged him back on this very day, when would he have gone back? The sound and smells of the waterfall reached him before the familiar site came into view. The digital world was full of places like this, teeming with growth, and life, and he wondered why he'd spent so much time out in the hot, barren deserts. Memories. He was sure he had enough of them to fill a warehouse of servers. Good ones. Bad ones. The two of them and their partners, passing the days in sunlight and water and grass and dirt. Cuts and bruises, broken bones - his own, and those delivered by his hands. Their backs pressed together as they slept, or didn't sleep, talking for hours with thousands of tiny points of light in a darkened sky on a clear night. All of these things had meant more to him than he reasoned they were supposed to. Would there be a time, when they were meant to stop meddling, stop coming here altogether? His thoughts were heavy, but seeing the energy slowly returning to Daisuke lifted him just a bit. "You really love it here, don't you?" the words slipped out in a tone of wonder, laced with envy.
  11. Unconventional

    If Ken was completely honest about how he felt (which, was rare) he wasn't sure that he wanted to go to the Digital World anymore, either. He'd already been hesitant about it to start with, and if Daisuke had so much as implied that he'd changed his mind, Ken wouldn't have argued. The day had started off so clear and bright, but his own personal storm clouds had rolled in, darkening his thoughts. His heart had dropped back down to a reasonable pace, but to say he felt 'normal' would have been a lie. It was as if everything he thought, or did, was delayed -- nothing made sense. He said things before he thought them, and did things he shouldn't have. He could tell that something was off about Daisuke, but what, or why, eluded him. Or maybe he was projecting. He couldn't be sure anymore. Scooping Minomon off the ground, Ken turned to Daisuke with a stilted smile -- an upturn of the lips that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Ready whenever you are. I'll go grab the bag from the kitchen, you set up the portal?" Ken did not wait for a response as he slipped out of the bathroom, down the hallway, back to the kitchen. He just... needed a moment to compose himself, surely. Chibimon and Minomon were so excited, he couldn't disappoint them. Depositing Minomon softly on the counter-top, Ken set about finishing what Daisuke had started. He made sure that the knives had been wrapped, so they wouldn't slice through the contents or casing of his messenger bag. Then, he set to cleaning up the stray drops of blood that Daisuke had left behind in his haste. It would have been bad if his parents came home and saw that, in a conspicuously empty apartment. Knowing how his mother could, she'd probably assume the worst. Not that he hadn't given her reasons in the past... "Ken-chan, is something wrong?" Minomon cut through his thoughts, and Ken lifted his head. "You seem unhappy. Don't you want to go?" "Ah.. .No, no I do. It's not that," he replied quickly, a soft attempt to reassure his partner. Slim fingers reached out and gently stroked Minomon's head. In that moment, Ken couldn't help but notice, how much things had changed. Minomon had never been a large Digimon by any stretch of the imagination, but he seemed so much smaller now. Ken's fingers easily reached over his head and back in one subtle swoop. No... in reality, it was his hand that had gotten larger. He really wasn't a child anymore. "I'm just... I'm a little nervous I guess. It's been a long time since I've felt like this." Was he talking about the Digital World... or Daisuke? Or something else? "It has been a long time! But everything will be fine! We'll have a good time, won't we?" Ken smile softly, and pulled Minomon into the crook of his elbow. Then, he used his free arm to hoist the strap of his bag over his shoulder. "Yeah. I'm sure we will." He didn't sound sure though.
  12. Unconventional

    Daisuke was gone so quickly that Ken felt the void as if the earth had suddenly opened up to swallow him whole. Normally, it was he who drew away first, Ken who put distance between them. He was always in control, never allowing them to linger, never allowing himself to sink into another person. To be suddenly on the receiving end of denial left him so bereft that all he could do was stare silently after as Daisuke departed the room, Ken's arms still hanging loose in the air as if he expected him to return. Where once there had been tangible warmth was now cold and empty, and much to his surprise, Ken felt a sudden, profound ache for what had been torn away. Alarmed, he laid a hand over his chest, as if he could will his suddenly thrumming heart to be still. Why do I...? he wondered silently, dazed, confused. He didn't know how long he stood there, breathing in and out, trying to calm himself. Nothing about him was calm. His pulse raced, his palms sweat, and his stomach did somersaults. Where most boys grew into adolescence with a blossoming appreciation for girls and all they had to offer, Ken had done quite the opposite. He'd withdrawn, growing less and less eager to engage. All around him his classmates whispered about which girls were prettiest, smartest, which ones they'd like to take on a date, which ones they'd like to take home -- and it's not that no one had noticed him. His Childhood fame had earned him droves of fans, many of them girls. Even if not for his intelligence and athletic accomplishments, Ken had always been on the pretty side as a boy, and had grown to be quite an elegant looking young man. Girls had always been drawn to him; he had become well practiced in the art of turning them down as gently as he could. Some might have called Ken reserved, or maybe even chaste, but in truth, he'd closed himself off. He had continued to excel in academics and extra curriculars, so if his parents noticed an absent interest in dating, they never brought it up, or seemed to mind. Ken was loath to admit it, but girls had just never held his interest. Certainly, he had female friends; Sora and Mimi had always been kind to him and he was fond of them in return. Miyako was a good friend, and he felt a strong affinity toward Hikari... but that was where it ended. He'd waved it away as being too preoccupied with school, with soccer, with the Digital World, and most people accepted that at face value. But that didn't explain the way he'd withdrawn from the affection of his friends, how he'd shied away from anything but the most innocent of gestures, and kept everyone at arms length -- Particularly, Daisuke. Daisuke invoked in him something he'd never been able to name. He did not feel it for any of his other friends, and for years, Ken had blamed it on Jogress; it was the only logical explanation. But propriety dictated that they couldn't continue to behave the way they had when they were kids; so he slowly drove a wedge in between them. Little things at first -- drawing away sooner, refraining from grasping onto his hand. Resisting the urge to nestle closer when Daisuke fell asleep against his shoulder, and gradually avoiding the situation all-together. He'd trained himself not to miss the closeness, the connection, the simple comfort of someone who seemed to understand his heart, and could calm him with a single touch. Abruptly, his neatly wrapped up box of childhood feelings had come unraveled, and suddenly Ken was 10-years-old again. What he felt was so familiar, and yet so alien all at once. It was the distant sound of scuffling and muttering that finally brought Ken back to the present. Leaving Minomon and Chibimon to themselves (they seemed quite preoccupied with each other anyway, chatting happily about who was going to catch more fish), Ken stepped out into the hall. A glance into the kitchen revealed Daisuke's abandoned efforts. Clearly he'd been packing, but now...? The sound of Daisuke's voice drew him to the doorway of the bathroom, where he rested a hand against the door jamb. The flashes of red and the mess on the counter had a very sobering affect. Ken's eyes widened. "--What'd you do to yourself?" he asked, taking a step closer. Without thinking, he removed the bandages from the sink, then turned the knob. Water flowed from the tap. Making a soft clicking sound with his tongue, Ken tenderly took hold of Daisuke's hand and moved to place it under the faucet. Cool water ran over their hands, washing away the red in thin rivers down the porcelain basin. For his part, Ken found the sensation soothing to his frayed nerves. "Geez... did you grab the knives blade-first?" he half scolded, half joked as he reached for a hand towel, drying Daisuke's fingers. Finally, with an ease Daisuke hadn't been able to achieve on his own, Ken applied the bandage. "Hopefully you won't need any stitches," he said, a twinge of sass slipping into his words. His fingers lingered perhaps a moment too long, before he moved to withdraw them.
  13. Unconventional

    The whole plan was ruined. Every last detail of this gift had been planned out in Ken's mind, from the the occasion, to the time he'd present it, even how he had planned to wrap it. Of course, Daisuke being ... himself, all of that had flown out the window. He could have re-purposed the gift for another occasion, but then Minomon... Well, Digimon weren't known for being good at detecting human social cues, though of course he'd meant well, and Ken couldn't truly begrudge him for being put on the spot like that. This wasn't at all what he'd had in mind, but in the end, Ken supposed it couldn't have gone over much better. The smile that broke over Daisuke's face sent Ken's heart doing strange little hiccups. Every word that came from Daisuke's mouth was worth every yen he'd spent, one-hundred fold; he had liked the gift, even more than Ken had expected, and the way he tripped over himself in finding the words to properly receive it was so... disarmingly charming. The disappointment and embarrassment Ken had felt in his lack-luster presentation, gave way to something warm and bubbling. Minomon saw Daisuke coming before Ken did, and he bounded down from Ken's shoulder, onto the desk just before Daisuke's arms flung into place. It was instinct, pure and simple, that brought Ken's arms up to circle around his friend, catching them both from staggering backward under the force of his unanticipated enthusiasm. A breathy sound, not quite a laugh and not quite a sigh escaped Ken, his slender arms holding Daisuke tightly. Something in the back of his mind raised an alarm, that something about this wasn't appropriate, but Ken could not find it in himself to listen. For one brief instant, he thought they might melt together, so tightly were they wound around each either. That warm, bubbling feeling from before turned to a roaring fire that brought the color from his cheeks to spread all the way out to his ears, and down to his collar. Ken turned his head ever so slightly, the scent of Daisuke's shampoo tickling his nose. The sensation of warm breath against his skin caused the hairs along his nape to stand up, a shivering sensation that crawled all the way up his scalp. "Ah... Nnh..." was the non-committal response that came from Ken, for it was somehow the only thing he could conjure up in that moment. His mind was blank of anything but Daisuke, captured in exactly that moment, with eyes bright and a smile that could have rivaled the sun. Maybe he had expected too much of Daisuke, but he didn't see it that way -- he had only ever seen it as having faith in his best friend, believing in him. Never would be think of that as foolish. Himself, however.... Ken swallowed thickly, his mouth oddly dry. "I'm happy you liked them," Ken managed finally, his voice cracking ever-so-slightly. "Even if this wasn't exactly what I'd intended it for... I still believe you deserve them." As if he had forgotten how, Ken made no efforts to disentangle them.
  14. Unconventional

    If Ken was surprised or uncomfortable with how long they remained linked together, he made no indication of it. It had been intended as a passing gesture, but he didn't mind that they lingered. For a moment, it was like they were children again, his usual aversion to overt displays of affection blown away on a soft breeze. Maybe it was the fact that they were so close to home and away from prying eyes, or maybe he could just tell how much Daisuke needed it right then. Or maybe, it was because Ken had not realized how much he had missed having contact with another person. Whatever the reason, the silence they fell into was comfortable, if not unusual. From his perch on Ken's outside shoulder, Minomon made happy little clicking noises, and began animatedly talking to Chibimon about fish, and how long it had been since they'd been to the river -- to the Digital World, in general. Ken's fingers tightened their hold on Daisuke's arm, as if reflexively. He wasn't about to talk about it, but the realization that he'd not been back to the digital world in almost a year was like a lead weight in his chest. He'd been so caught up in studying, test preparation, forms and applications, and scholarships, that everything else fell to the wayside. His only social engagements were study meetings. Hour after hour, day after day was nothing but textbooks and websites and papers. When was the last time he'd truly enjoyed a meal, instead of hastily downing something just to return to his desk? And now that they were going back? How did he feel about that? He wasn't sure the feeling welling in his chest was excitement, or fear. What if everything had changed? What if he had changed so much, that he no longer belonged there? Ken didn't release Daisuke until they were inside the apartment, and even then, he did so with some reluctance. The Ichijouji home was remarkably quiet, and Ken knew that both his parents were still out. He hadn't expected to be returning home so soon. While Daisuke took in the time capsule that was Ken's room, Ken set about unpacking his bag so that he could re-pack it with more practical things. He paused as he withdrew the taped paper package from the store he'd been in when Daisuke's email arrived. Ken swallowed uneasily. Daisuke's voice pulled him out of his distracted preparations. "I-- didn't do anything," Ken replied hesitantly, not sure what he was being thanked for. Though, it really wasn't important in the grand scheme of things, he supposed. Minomon crawled across Ken's back, to his other shoulders, looking down at the package that was still clutched in Ken's hand. "Ken-chan, are you going to give him his present?" "Eh?" Ken's attention snapped to Minomon. His cheeks colored slightly, his expression shifting to one of discomfort. "Ah... Well..." Minomon seemed to detect that he had said something wrong, and immediately looked guilty. Suddenly more stiff than before, Ken glanced back at Daisuke from the corner of his eyes, almost hoping that he'd not heard them. Of course, that would have been too much to ask for, he supposed. With a sigh, Ken resolved himself, and held the package out to Daisuke with both hands. "Um... S-sorry it's not wrapped. It was supposed to be to congratulate you on...." he trailed off, biting nervously on the inside of his cheek. He'd never felt so ridiculous. Underneath the flap of dull brown paper and transparent tape was a bundle wrapped in blue and white stripped tissue paper. The tissue itself gently encircled a plain box. Nestled inside was a lacquered bento box, black in color, decorated with red and gold embellishments. Along side them, tied with a ribbon, were a single pair of black chopsticks,delicately carved at the ends with small golden rings. "I just thought... you could use your own set."
  15. Unconventional

    They weren't like everyone else. Boy, did Ken know that more than anyone. Even within that Special group that was the Chosen Children, Ken wasn't like everyone else. The Chosen had always been meant to be this beacon of light, this force for good... and Ken had fallen so far off the path, long before he ever found it. All his young life he'd been driven to be the best, to succeed, to be as good as his brother had been, to be better. It had all pushed him to some very dark places. That darkness had fed off him, fed into him, made him do things without remorse, that he later came to regret with every fiber of his being. But regret did not change who he was at his core. That same hand, holding his now, making him feel as if he mattered -- that hand had pulled him out of the darkness, out of his shell, pulled him into the fold, shown him that he was more than his flaws and his sins. No one understood how much Daisuke meant to him -- and he thought, no one ever would. It wasn't something that was easy to understand. Daisuke was right, in a way; he had never been like everyone else. And somehow, Ken was still trying to be exactly that -- to fulfill expectations, thrust upon him by others, and by himself. And when Daisuke released his hand, the absence was palpable. His display of raw emotion touched something deep in the pit of Ken's stomach. I just wanted to see you. Their eyes met. Something in his chest clenched. "...I wanted to see you, too." The words were out before he even realized he had thought them. It sounded weird to his ears, felt weird in his mouth, but it was the truth. He remembered the red circled date on the calendar, his plan to commute over to Odaiba. He remembered daydreaming on his walk between shops about how he'd stand outside the gate, leaning against the brick pillar, waiting for Daisuke to emerge from the yard. What a surprise it would have been, how they could commiserate over the hell that was exams, and be glad that it was behind them. One step at a time, he closed the space between them. And then, he offered a rare, gentle, genuine smile as he slipped his hand through Daisuke's elbow. "Alright. You win," he conceded. "For now." And with that, he lead them toward the apartment.
  16. Unconventional

    Ken was still for a long moment, just letting all of Daisuke's aggravation wash over him. It was the intensity with which he seemed to be avoiding the topic that had Ken most concerned, and that little outburst? Just more proof to him that deep down somewhere, Daisuke really didn't have a clue what he was doing. It really had been an impulse. Not that it was terribly surprising; thinking things through had never been Daisuke's strong point. When Daisuke started moving again, Ken did not immediately follow. When he did, he fell into step behind him, staring at the back of his friend's head. In truth, it was easier for Ken to think about Daisuke's problems, than his own. The question from before rolled around in his head, like a loose marble. Are you happy? Was he? He ignored the comments on his own cooking skills, on Daisuke's intent to turn him into a guinea pig. It was all fluff (though not entirely inaccurate), and Ken wasn't ready to shuffle the conversation off so casually. Finally, he exhaled heavily, planted his feet, and his hand came to rest on Daisuke's shoulder, holding him back for just a moment. "Look, I didn't mean it like that," he began softly. "You don't have to do anything today, I just... wanted you to talk to me. I wanted to know what you were thinking." He paused. "I'm not trying to give you a hard time. I just want to help."
  17. Unconventional

    Ken stared at Daisuke with eyes that could have born holes through concrete. "That's not what I--" But he couldn't get a word in edgewise. He reached to gently rub the stinging spot on his forehead, all the while giving Daisuke a disapproving look. "Point of fact, you do need some kind of education for that," he mumbled. But he knew Daisuke wasn't listening. Half his lunch went uneaten. He was still hungry, but he just couldn't stomach any more of it. Daisuke was as wild as hurricane, or a tsunami, his energy practically pulling Ken into the undertow. He followed Daisuke, fuming silently the entire time. He crossed his arms, and Minomon settled himself in the makeshift cradle. The more Daisuke talked, the harder it was for Ken to keep quiet. He wanted to let go and enjoy himself, but his worry about Daisuke's future was clearly weighing more heavily on his mind. "Are you going to look for a job, then?" he asked, out of nowhere. He wasn't done with this conversation, however much Daisuke seemed adamant on avoiding it. "An apprenticeship might not be an unreasonable idea. Though the pay wouldn't be much, if anything."
  18. Unconventional

    Ken set his mouth in a tight line. It wasn't quite a frown, but it was certainly no-nonsense. He had already assumed Daisuke wasn't going to just tell his parents outright what he'd done, but he had to address it eventually when they found him out. He could run for a while, but not forever, and if this was the path he'd chosen, the best that Ken could offer was to help him build a game plan. It may not have been his burden, but he couldn't help but make it so. He had only been able to carry his own burdens after all, because Daisuke had insisted on sharing it. "Yes, but when they find out, what are you going to tell them? What's your reason? Your plan? If you're not going to school, what are you going to do instead? It might help soften the blow." That was a lie. Ken knew Daisuke's parents well enough to know that they wouldn't be happy no matter what the outcome or reasoning. They'd always been quick to criticize Daisuke. Ken still remembered the first time he'd met them, and how enthusiastically his father had propositioned Ken to 'Tutor his Stupid Son'. It still sat poorly with him, and the memory caused the corners of his mouth to turn downward ever so slightly. When Daisuke brought up the ocean, and the digital world, Ken paused with noodle halfway to his mouth. They slipped from his chopsticks, splashing back into the broth. "What?" He couldn't deny the small pang of longing he felt at the thought, but his responsible side reeled him in, just a bit. He raised a single, slim eyebrow. "Don't you think there are a few things you should think over before running off to the beach?"
  19. Unconventional

    Ken stewed silently in his thoughts; he wasn't sure he appreciated Daisuke's change in subject. On one hand, it let him off the hook - it was astounding how heavy a simple question like 'are you happy' could be, and that was a long and dark road that Ken was not immediately ready to traverse. But on the other, Daisuke was also avoiding a conversation that really, was far from over. A spark of irritation flared in Ken's chest. If Ken was the master of evasion, then Daisuke was his equal match in diversion. Most people thought of Daisuke as an attention seeker, but they couldn't have been farther from the truth, in Ken's eyes; Daisuke always had a way of shifting the focus off himself, and onto those around him. Or then again, maybe that was only with him. One constant in their lives was that the people around them always seemed to make odd observations about one of them, that never quite made sense to the other. It often felt as if the world knew one Daisuke Motmomiya, and Ken knew another. It took the sensation of being touched for Ken to finally pull his eyes up from the ground. It was such a small gesture, but it was the most real human contact he'd had in months, and it sent little electric shivers dancing over his skin. Daisuke's body beside him seemed to radiate a warmth that made the daylight seem so much colder in comparison. It all made the gaping absence that had unfolded between them over the last few months feel so much longer, darker, and deeper by contrast. One of the many knots inside of him unraveled, his arms relaxing, and he lifted a hand-- But he was too slow. Daisuke was gone half a second later, slipping just out of Ken's fingertips. His body turned instinctively after Daisuke, as if guided by some otherworldly magnet. Ken frowned, shifted the strap of the bag on his shoulder, and stared at Daisuke's retreating back for a moment longer than was probably normal. Were his shoulders always that broad...? "Ken-chan? Are you okay?" The sound of his Digimon Partner's voice in his ear broke him from his daze. He shook his head to clear the fog. "I'm just tired." "You could have slept in, you know." Ken just smiled a little, and patted Minomon affectionately. There was nothing for it now. Ken couldn't go back to bed any more than Daisuke could un-skip his exams. Even if Ken turned him back right then and there, pushed him on the train, hauled him by the collar back to school, it would not save his chances. He'd be missing at least half his marks, and he wouldn't be getting in anywhere with that sort of result. What was done, was done, and there would be plenty more words about it over lunch. Ken had already fallen into step behind Daisuke, slowly closing the gap until they were walking side by side. They had beaten the start of the lunch rush, and were able to have their pick of seats. Still feeling a bit unsettled in anticipation of re-opening their conversation, Ken kept his order simple; miso ramen, extra nori. It wasn't his usual, but it seemed the safest bet when his stomach couldn't seem to decide if it was so empty it could digest a horse, or if it wanted to turn to stone. Shortly after, Ken fished the rice-balls from the convenience store out of his bag and offered them to Minomon and Chibimon while they waited for their orders to be filled. The tea arrived before their lunch, and Ken poured two cups of green tea from the pot. Even though he figured Daisuke wouldn't be inclined to partake, it was the polite thing to do,and he did so out of habit. Pale fingers cradled the ceramic cup, lifting it to his lips. Ken softly blew the steam off the top, before taking a slow sip. When the cup touched the table again, he finally spoke. "...So, what are you going to tell your parents?"
  20. Unconventional

    Ken knew he hadn't answered the question. He was the master of evasiveness. He could dance circles around most people with his words alone, and it had served him quite well for most of his adolescence. Ken tightened his hold on himself, knuckles paling. On his shoulder, Minomon seemed to detect the shift in Ken's demeanor, and he nestled close into the crook of his neck. He rocked from his heels, to the balls of his feet. Something deep within him wanted to look at Daisuke, wanted to move over and sit on the bench beside him, but still he remained rooted to the same spot. "...I don't know," he breathed. "I know I'm tired. I know I'm glad that exams are over." But that wasn't the answer Daisuke was looking for, and he knew it.
  21. Unconventional

    Ken just stood there, facing Daisuke, arms slack at his sides. He wanted to be angry. He wanted to rail on Daisuke about wasted time, and bad choices, and recklessness. But as he listened to his best friend, his partner, talking about times past, it was like a balm to his raw soul. Months of being buried in books, more and more isolated from his friends across the bay had taken more of a toll on Ken than he wanted to admit. But they were all busier now than they had been when they were younger. They were on the cusp of becoming adults, fully functional members of society. People were dating, devoting more time to one special person instead of dividing it among their many friends. Bit by bit, without really noticing, everything around him had changed. Slowly, the tension in Ken's shoulders uncoiled. Now that Daisuke was being honest with him, he just couldn't find it in himself to stay angry. Instead, the anger gave way to a flood of other emotions it had simply been masking; disappointment, confusion, sorrow, loneliness... His face fell into an expression that almost mirrored Daisuke's. "I miss those days. I do," Ken replied softly. "But...we're not kids anymore." He averted his eyes, folding his arms and loosely grasping his elbows. "We have to grow up someday." But Ken certainly didn't sound happy about it.
  22. Unconventional

    "Well, I didn't, until I saw you sitting there," Ken hissed. And it was true. Never in his wildest imagination did he think Daisuke would ever skip his exams completely. Show up late, sure. Maybe skip a single class. But to ditch out entirely, and come all the way out to Tamachi? It was the lies that stung like needles. And now that he was here, if Daisuke was going to try to leave, the only place he was going was back to Odaiba to sit for the remainder of his tests, if Ken had anything to say about it. But, Ken had a feeling, that wasn't going to happen either. On the whole, Ken was a very soft-spoken young man. He was reserved, and gentle, and many other things that might have gotten him teased as a child, had he not made a name for himself being excellent in both academics and sports. Normally, he was more akin to a running river than flames. But then, very few people ever saw Ken get Angry. It was something he really tried to avoid, because when it came over him, it had the potential to consume him like a matchstick could start a bonfire. It reminded him too much of his past; that somewhere, buried under all that 'Kindness', was the potential for great cruelty. If he let it inch in, it might be all too easy for it to turn him into something he didn't recognize. Like some sort of parasite. He'd spent years trying to atone for his past, while also attempting to dis-own those feelings, only to find himself running away more often than not. No one seemed to understand that the Kaiser had not been born entirely out of nothing, and he thought, he might prefer it that way. Ken inhaled, attempting to calm himself, then exhaled slowly. "You think I don't know Running Away when I see it?" he asked, though it wasn't so much a question as a firm statement. Ken knew Running Away like it was an old friend; one that made him sick to his stomach. It was not something that was befitting of Daisuke. So when the truth finally started to come from Daisuke like drips from a leaky faucet, he wanted to be understanding. He wanted to be compassionate. But his words were more kindling for the fire. "How can you say that? You think just throwing away your future entirely is a better alternative? I know you're smarter than that."
  23. Unconventional

    Ken was still as stone from the moment Daisuke opened his mouth. Had he gotten the date wrong? Was today not Exam Day? No, even if he'd gotten it wrong (which was unlikely), this still meant that Daisuke was skipping class. Again. The first time Ken had caught him doing that, he'd laid into Daisuke with an intensity and heavy-handedness that could have rivaled any Mother in the greater Tokyo metro area, maybe all of Japan. They'd never talked about it again, though Ken had convinced himself he'd had some kind of impact. Certainly, Daisuke wouldn't have been skipping out on school on exam day, or even the week leading up to it. At least, not without a good reason. And then, Daisuke started talking. In the brief moment before that, Ken had believed whatever Daisuke had been doing, he must have had a reason. He always wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. His best friend was not without his flaws, but Ken had always pulled strength from the unwavering nature of their friendship. To all eyes, they were opposites in every way, but as the saying went, Opposites Attract. In their case, almost literally. But there he was. Lying. Ken felt something twist in his chest. Everything about Daisuke's posture, his tone, it was like watching a video with the wrong audio overlaid on it. Ken clenched his jaw, and then his fist at his side, every false word ringing a hollow bell in his ears. Trying to reconcile what he was seeing with what he was feeling kept his feet rooted to the ground as the anger slowly crept up his spine. He kept waiting for ...something he couldn't be sure of. But when Daisuke turned to leave, Ken's feet peeled up from the ground, and he pursued. Minomon clung to his shoulder for dear life. Ken was on Daisuke in a matter of seconds, hand hooked on his elbow, grasping firmly. "Don't lie to me, Motomiya," Ken commanded, keeping his voice low and even, so as not to cause a scene. Layered beneath the smoldering anger, was the slightest, almost indiscernible hint of hurt. "And don't you dare walk away from me like that."
  24. Unconventional

    The sound of his D-terminal chiming as he stood at the register caught Ken quite off guard. As the sweet young girl behind the counter run up his purchases, Ken's fished into his bag for the bit of technology. Who would be messaging him now? Most of the others had classes now, if not exams specifically. No, it could wait a moment, he was being rude to the cashier. Tucking the device into his pocket, he bowed his head to the cashier, a silent apology as he accepted the slim paper bag, folded and taped at the top. "Thank you, and have a nice day!" she called cheerfully after him, and Ken stepped out into the mid morning sun. Stepping out of the way of the sliding glass doors, Ken leaned against the cement wall, shifting the bag off his shoulder, and tucking away his purchase. He'd already been to three shops, including the convenience store to pick up a quick lunch -- a few rice balls, some bottled water, and a couple of protein bars. After re-arranging the contents of his bag, he reached into his pocket and withdrew the D-terminal again, flipping open the screen. Eyes drifting over the notification, his brows knit together, and his jaw tightened. That couldn't be right, could it? "Who is it, Ken-chan?" Minomon chirped in his ear, peering at the screen from his perch on Ken's shoulder. "Motomiya..." he mumbled Minomon tilted his head, antennae twitching. "You look confused." Ken did not glance up at his digimon partner. "It's just that, he should be in his exams right now." He opened the message, and read it over. Was the system lagging? Had he sent that message earlier, but Ken was only just now receiving it? He knew that sometimes emails and text messages lagged, but the D-terminals tended to be better than that. No, that had to be it. It had to be lag. A dropped signal, a delayed delivery, something. It was the only reasonable explanation. Closing the device, Ken tucked it back into his bag, then slung the strap back over his shoulder. It would be better if he didn't reply now, the last thing Daisuke needed was for his device to go off mid-test. In truth, Ken hadn't been expecting a reply at all. His mouth set in a hard line, Ken dropped off into silent thoughts as he made his way down the street towards his next destination. "Ken-chan, I'm hungry," Minomon squeaked in his ear. As if on cue, Ken felt his own stomach rumble. A quick glance at his wristwatch revealed that it was a bit early for lunch... but now seemed as good a time as any. "Alright, we'll stop in the park to eat. It's a good short-cut anyway." Ken replied with a soft smile, absently rubbing his digimon's head. His feet carried him almost on autopilot. He couldn't get his mind off the ill-timed message. Even if it was lag, it couldn't possible have been hours long lag. That seemed unreasonable for a piece of technology that Koushirou had crafted. Maybe there was something he wasn't aware of. Had others been having troubles with their D-Terminals? He was just mulling over the idea of sending a message to his senior chosen about that very subject. That is, until he rounded the corner, looking for somewhere to settle down for lunch... and noticed a very familiar figure taking up residence on a park bench. From a distance, he might not have noticed him, had he been alone... But it was the little blue and white chocolate-covered digimon that gave him away. "...Motomiya?"
  25. Unconventional

    While many people looked at Daisuke as a screwball, lazy, maybe even a delinquent, Ken had never had anything but the utmost faith in him. Faith that, despite everyone's criticism, their low expectations, Daisuke would prevail. He always had, in every manner that was important, and this would be no exception. Even so, Ken knew Daisuke a little too well, and expected that he would be exceptionally wary of the day that laid out before him. The date was circled in red on Ken's Calendar, a reminder that after today, he could contact his best friend without guilt that he may be pulling him away from important last-minute preparations. Even well -prepared as Ken had been for his own, even he had felt a bit on edge when he sat for his exams. This was, after all, the foundation of his future. Of all of their futures. Ken had spent the better part of the year devoting several hours every night to diligent studies of all of the subjects that were typically looked at as the most important; math, science, history, geography, the works. He sharpened his skills in Spanish, English, and even picked up German for good measure. His mind was a well-oiled machine. He'd even finished his test with time to spare. Now, all he could do was wait for the results. It had taken all of his will-power not to run off to Odaiba the minute he was finished, and make up for lost time. After all, Daisuke still had his own Exams to face, and Ken would be damned before he got in the way of those crucial last days of preparation. Maybe he was fooling himself to think that Daisuke was putting in that much effort, but then, if he hadn't been until now, the last minute rush was his only option. Always an early riser, even without classes to attend, Ken was washed and dressed before the first bell of the day would have sounded. Khaki pants, pressed black shirt, light jacket, hair tidy. Minomon dozed in the loft of his bed, and Ken smiled. He had a short list of errands, and he planned to get that done early. Maybe he could make it out to Odaiba to meet up with Daisuke right after exams. Wouldn't he be surprised...? Out of habit, Ken pocketed his D-3 and as he reached to put his D-terminal into his bag, he paused. He flipped it open, and sent a quick message to Daisuke. <Good Luck on your exams! Don't be nervous, I'm sure you'll do fine.> A tiny chime, and the message was sent. That done, Ken tucked the device away, and scooped Minomon from the bed. "Mmm... morning already?" the sleepy little larva murmured. Ken chuckled softly. "Yes. I'm going out to run some errands. You can stay home if you're still sleepy." But Minomon would never, and Ken knew that. He was suddenly vibrant and awake, a mood that easily rubbed off on Ken. Settling them for the journey out around town, Ken stopped through the kitchen to leave a note for his parents, then tucked his list into his pocket, before he slipped out the door.