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Meet Me at Atatakai Onsen

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With their digital partners as firmly in their arms as they'd ever be, Ken and Daisuke took off from their confinement. Tatum was... a casualty of their plan, he supposed, since the rest of the team was busy using her as digital bait for the angry sock monkey. They'd reunite with her eventually...


Ken wasn't honestly focused on her. His left hand wrapped up in Daisuke's right as they bounded from the building, and Ken dragged both their tired souls back to the most grounding place that Ken could fathom: the Digital World portal. He dropped his handhold only long enough to pull the dark digivice from his belt and get the hell back to sanity, his now thoroughly dirt-smattered, dusty and tattered casual clothes being made over into his comfortable fur-collared leather jacket that marked his entry into the digital world. Now more than ever, he felt like the Daisuke-inspired fuzz at his neck was his jogress partner close beside him.


"Back at the onsen, there was something they had me working on. They wanted to encode a signal that would put organic life to sleep in the digital world... but I think I know exactly how to reverse that." Ken squeezed Daisuke's hand again. The look in his eyes settled the matter as a quiet one: Daisuke could see in that guiltily furrowed brow that Ken had always been with knowledge he didn't ask for. The once-great and terrible Digimon Kaiser had thirsted for power and left his vessel with tools he was afraid to use and even more disgusted to possess. Times like these, it made sense. There would always be someone out there to manipulate those who had knowledge and no will to use it. Etemon was just the first to figure out how to twist that knife he'd thrust in Ken's side.


The building was deserted. A fine fog wafted through the building and the surrounding grounds, humid vapors from the pools out back. The Monzaimon was gone from the front desk, the Gizamon that had been hopping towels down the halls were nowhere to be seen. Several doors stood open, revealing unkempt rooms. Ken had to admit, the utter emptiness was creepy, even if this was the digital world. He'd walked through whole towns that were deserted pieces of crap data littered by some real-world server here... and yet this onsen he'd once known to have life. As it was now, he was surprised he hadn't thought they were in for hell when they got here the first time.


He squeezed Daisuke's hand again.


In the back, among the many bathing pools, was a large rock and neighboring bamboo shack leaning against it. It seemed like a service shed, where someone might keep bush shears or rakes for groundskeeping. The door had been closed the whole time Ken and Daisuke had been bathing away in blissful ignorance... but now stood ajar, and lightly smoking. The elevator to underneath.


Inside, the control panel looked like it had been hit with a baseball bat, or, maybe some angry monkey fists. It wasn't the only thing in the shed though, there was an emergency access ladder sitting nearby to one side. The rusted ladder led down into a narrow tube illuminated with the occasional red lights revealing the rungs as they dropped into blackness. Reluctantly, Ken let go of Daisuke's hand again.


In the hot underbelly of the onsen, Ken found the room he'd been captive in relatively untouched. His project had been for the most part undeployed, except for the small radius around the onsen. Old control spire technology... tragically, Ken knew exactly how to upgrade his work here.


He sat down at the terminal, panels of digital code like runemarks glowing across the screens. No more spire... no more broad control. One, controlled dark spiral built from the deconstructed code, to quiet and sedate one particular breed of Digimon. It could resonate with Ken's digivice as long as he was close... a remnant technology that now would be a failsafe. Ken wasn't going to design a single thing that could be taken out of his control. Not now, that he finally had control over himself.


He looked over his shoulder at Daisuke, who'd been there admiring his work with cautious awe. So reverent as Ken muttered little tidbits about what he was doing back to Daisuke, checking his code like a programmer explaining to a rubber duck to find bugs. If anyone else in the world had watched Ken recreate an old control technology, he'd be in cuffs on the ground, bleeding from a broken nose (most likely). Daisuke trusted him, wordlessly.


"I... really admire you, Daisuke." Ken let the spiral construction continue at the station by the side of the terminal. He swiveled in his chair to face his partner, wrapping his arms around his waist and pressing his cheek against Daisuke's abdomen. "More than anyone."


Whirring away, the last bits of spiral assembled in a case beside them. The code took on mass and fell to the floor of its synthesis chamber, tinking quietly, but shattering silence in the cavernous room. The mission from here was clear... one of them had to get that onto Etemon, long enough to confiscate his device and get him back to the digital world. The real danger of that monkey to humans was still unknown, but there, in that case, laid their last resort. Ken's brilliance to make it, and now, Daisuke's courage to seen it done.

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The plan was in motion, and luckily they were able to find privacy to do it. Truthfully, it made Daisuke a little uncomfortable. He enjoyed watching Ken work--there was something so fluid and intense about it. The focus the boy had on what he created was damn near unbreakable, and had the strange phenomenon of allowing the boy to ramble without much thought. All of that was fine--if it had involved something related to biological science or criminology. But on the screen was a replica of one of the old rings, more specifically spirals, that Ken had developed back when he had been the Kaiser. Daisuke ran a hand through his hair, stopping to scratch the crown of his head in great concern. Pixel by pixel the spiral printed inside of the container as Ken tinkered with frequencies and functions and methods on the computer screens.


Of course, it was the safest thing to do. For the first time in the past couple of days, Daisuke felt like they actually had a handle on the situation. Knowing what the other chosen were doing was really allowing them to place a two prong attack on Etemon. Tatum and the others would draw Etemon to a central location, and then they'd swoop in to place the device. None of the chosen were villains. Destroying Etemon was no better than having him destroy more digimon. Suppressing the monkey long enough to retrieve and maybe even analyze his power was the best they could hope for. It was still going to be dangerous--a digimon could do physical harm to a person more so than to another digimon... But at least humans couldn't be erased.




That didn't mean this plan wasn't going to be harder to explain, or that it wasn't going to rouse further distrust with the other chosen. Although it just seemed like a lost cause at this point, and even though Daisuke was extremely pissed off at pretty much the entire crew, he still had some distant hope that he could get them to believe in Ken again. At this rate though, he could pretty much see Takeru being written off of that list for the rest of eternity.


As always though, Daisuke poured his trust into his best friend. The only need for concern being that Ken, in an unlikely event, would get sucked back into the darkness. Not that Daisuke wasn't confident that he could be his partner's light back to good, but he was more afraid for any damage that could be done to the man mentally. Ken had worked hard to get to where he was now...


Daisuke sighed. Perhaps he was just fussing too much.


Daisuke moved to stand behind Ken, watching intently as lines of code were typed, erased, and typed again. Their digimon were still exhausted and sleeping in the corner of the room on a nest made out of their jackets. Soon, they'd be ready to battle again. Not now. And not against Etemon. But the pair would be damned if they were letting them out of their sights for the time being. If time allowed, they'd make a pitstop at Ken's place to deposit the brats before executing their plan.


Ken had taken notice of Daisuke's presence, and it was hard to suppress a smile when Ken turned in his chair and wrapped Daisuke in an embrace. Having Ken close was such a great pleasure. Tenderly, Daisuke caressed the side of Ken's face, the other hand placed gently on his partner's shoulder. "I don't see why." He responded. The kind words flushed his face--even in the humidity of the dungeonesque room, the color on his cheeks was definitely coming from the overwhelming love he had for Ken.


Daisuke combed his fingers through dark hair, folding locks behind the boy's exposed ear. "You're the one that has all the qualities of being admired. What, with all the smarts and looks and such... I've certainly noticed." Taking advantage of their solitude, Daisuke slid down between Ken's arms, boldly placing a leg on either side of the man to sitting playfully face to face on the chair meant for one. He wrapped his arms around the boy's slender frame, leaning back slightly with an almost shy smile. "I guess it's stupid to say, but... Thank you." He looked into Ken's eyes, still as dark and mysterious and beautiful... Even if they were riddled with heavy--largely negative--emotion at the moment. "Thank you for... Uh... Huh." He looked up at the ceiling for a moment and then back down, his eyebrows slightly upturned. "Thank you for accepting me? Wow, that sounds stupid. You get what I mean, though?" He brought their lips together, tasting salty sweat on Ken. Licking his lips, he continued, "I... Feel like myself again. But happier?" Daisuke drew his thumbs against Ken's cheekbones before drawing into a deeper kiss. Their chests pressed against each other, their hearts threatening to beat out from one ribcage to the other.


It was hard to keep his hands off Ken. Even with all the real dangers around them, having access to the thing he desired for so long made everything else border on irrelevancy. Taking Ken's face between his hands, Daisuke dipped his tongue into Ken's willing mouth, their lips and tongues playing an intimate and curious dance. They were still trying to figure out how the other kissed, often pausing between half-lidded eyes and toothy grins before continuing their exchanges. Each kiss was an instruction manual to be learned and remembered and practiced and perfected. Daisuke could feel Ken below him--though he wasn't alone. His own need poked into Ken's abdomen, and...

The clink from the finished spiral snapped Daisuke back into reality, causing their kiss to end in a very audible smack. Sucking in a chest full of air, Daisuke released it all in a dramatically drawn out sigh. He knew what it meant. Not only did it mean they would have to put their admirations for each other on hold, but that they would have to get going. As the saying goes--time is of the essence. Daisuke nuzzled his partner, placing a delicate kiss on the crook of Ken's neck. "We have a lot to do, Ichijouji. It's really not safe for us to stay in one place for too long." Oh, but how he wanted to stay here and drink Ken until he was nothing but a whimpering husk of his former self.


Turning the chair so they both could look at the computer console, Daisuke pointed at the monitor, his cheek still plastered against Ken's skin. "I meant to return to the meeting to figure out where they were going and what they were doing... And to get Tatum the fuck out of there," he frowned. His disappointment caused him to shift off of Ken's lap and he moved slowly over to the contraption that had constructed the spiral. Lifting the glass case, he picked up the metal object, surprised by its dark weight. "The ports. Has anybody been able to figure out how to turn them off? Or interrupt their signal or something? Can you funnel all of the ports from Tokyo into one so we know where they'll come out and meet them there?" It didn't hurt to ask before they went on a wild goose chase. 


Daisuke looked down at the spiral in his hands. His stomach twisted in anticipation and fear and excitement. He only hoped that this would be the end of it.






Only Mimi and Taichi knew how to speak a decent amount of English. Tatum had been sitting in her chair, alienated from the group of Japanese children for several minutes, maybe even a half hour, before Taichi finally wrapped up the meeting and found his way next to Tatum. "Hey." He said, seating himself in the chair next to her. "Tatum, right? Yagami Taichi." He held out his hand, waiting for Tatum to take his official greeting of goodwill before he continued. Tatum studied the man, his hair was short, but youthful in style. His eyes were friendly but intense, dark and commanding and rimmed with thick eyelashes. Two thin lines connected the corners of his lips to his nose, creases left from years spent full of laughter and smiling. Cautiously, she offered her hand, Taichi taking it firmly with a shake and head bow. "Daisuke has told me a lot about you."

"Has he?" She was surprised. Why didn't Ken have a similar story to say?

"Yeah. I know you're a good friend to him, and he sure was head over heels for you when you two were together." He laughed to himself. "It really is great to meet you finally."


"Thank you," Tatum felt her face growing hot. She could see why Davis held him to such high esteem. "But... I wish it could have been under better circumstances."


Taichi leaned back in his seat, one hand stretched out on the table, his fingers rubbing and fiddling against each other. "Agreed. And I'm sorry, but we need your help."


Tatum nodded with a frown. "Yeah, I gathered."


"We still aren't entirely sure how the course of events have happened over the past couple of days. We also don't want to volunteer you for something you don't want to do. That's not fair. You were dragged into this against your will. If you decline to assist we'll escort you back home and we'll handle the rest."


"I wasn't... Dragged into this." Taichi let out a hum at Tatum's confession. "I was worried about Davis. I saw him and Ken on the morning news and it was so..."


"Unlike him?"


"Yeah." Tatum pulled the elastic from her hair and undid her braid, only to immediately start braiding it again. "He didn't answer me, so... I searched for him. In the Digital World. Then Etemon..."

Taichi's lips puckered and he nodded, understanding now what had happened. "It was you."


There was a silence between them. Tatum could here her pulse racing through her eardrums. But she was never one to lie or throw people under the bus... Unlike Davis, who seemed to have conveniently left her behind to be thrown into mouth of a rabid monkey. "I'm sorry. I didn't know it would be this bad. I thought it was going to be just him. He had Veemon and Wormmon and was threatening to do worse than kill them." She swallowed. "I understood... A little... What you were talking about. It's so hard to be in that situation--to put your partner's or your friend's partners in harm's way. I had no choice. Just like they had no choice but to do what they did."


Taichi's lips skewed as he scratched the back of his head. "They should have trusted us. So much of this could have been avoided."


"There's a lot of could have's. At this point, the best we can do is to make things right... But..." Tatum tied up the end of her braid again and flung it behind her. "I don't expect any of us will get off without some sort of repercussions, but I just hope you can understand why we all did what we did."

Koushiro's typing from across the large meeting room was the only sound to be heard for a long while. Taichi tapped his finger on the table a few times before finally saying, "Will you help us?"


"Of course. But, uh..." It really had been a long time. "Where did Davis go?"


And unfortunately, Taichi didn't have a good answer to that one.

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