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Loki

X Sporalysis Redux

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Wormmon
 
He emerges right after me, materializing in light from the soles of his boots to the last wisp of his dark onyx hair. He’s clad in black, now-- polished boots, heavy trousers, and a thick leather belt holding it all to his svelt waist. A grey shirt and the white fur sprouting from his leather jacket are the only light features to his ensemble, and the rest is capped off with slim black gloves, and dark belts affixed to his forearms. At one point I thought his wardrobe changes were intimidating, but then he started to wear a pair of square goggles around his neck. I remember them-- just like the pair Daisuke had broken when he first entered the digital world.
 
It’s silent until we reach some kind of town. Ken and I have always had that quiet regard between us; though there are some times I feel like the silence really does say nothing.
 
The town-- if I can call it that-- was a pod of half-submerged brick igloos. Most had trap doors on top and a variety of windows poking up out of the terracotta mud. Two Ogremon stood knee-deep in murky water with shovels, trying to clear the mud away from one of the domes that was twice as sunken as the rest of them. It seemed the more they pushed against the fill, the deeper they sunk in themselves. Woven through the village were muck trails of foot prints and tire tracks where machines had made their way through. Water was pooled shallowly in each tire tread and heelmark.
 
A ways off, hardly visible through the low mist, was a two-story bathhouse and thick, hefty boulders pooling in the hot springs that bubbled up. The elegant rock garden had water spilling over and around, and even where we stood, the water was warm against my feet.
 
“Wormmon, would you digivolve?â€
 
I’d always do anything for Ken. I let our bond fill me with strength, my eyes closing as I looked up at Ken, and opening again looking down. It felt like letting go of a warm handshake.
 
“Please, help these Ogremon get their house out of the mud.†I put my wings to work like never before, pulling up on the door frame as the Ogremon pushed from below.
 
“Ah wish we could just move these†one of the Ogremon sighed between heavy breaths. “Shore be easier than movin’ that big’un.†He jerked his head to the bathhouse, and then wagged it all around them.
 
“Can’t believe how much they dammed this place up. Lousy hu-mons.â€
 
Quietly, I noticed Ken had vanished. We’d finally gained some traction against the suction of the deep mud, and the house was starting to heave upwards. The other ogremon rolled some rocks the size of bowling balls into the ditch they were creating, and they helped the house to rest on them so that it was on higher ground.
 
“You’ve done a great job, guys. I prepared us some snacks!†Ken chirped up, red in the face and holding out some bagged treats in his gloved hands. There was a faint pungent smell under the sweet cinnamon coming off the treats, like masking dirty socks beneath a candle. I decided Ken had probably gotten a lot of water down his boots.
 
“You’re not so bad, eh?†The Ogremon tromped over, his wide feet lifting him across the waste like snowshoes on fresh powder. Together they all sat on a bench that had been tied up to tree branches rather than posted up from the ground. It swung (when two Ogremon weren’t sitting on it) and most importantly, it hadn’t sunk into the mire. The tree that supported it was starting to grey, its roots oversaturated in the swampy mudland. Ken passed out the snacks, and I returned to a more manageable size.
 
“I remember, you know, it wasn’t that long ago.†The Ogremon continued, and waved his club out towards the wastes. “The hot spring made a river, you know, but just barely. The land’s all pretty flat out here, but a long time ago the water decided it was going to flow that way and leave us meadows and farmland, right? Oooh I remember when the Palmon used to come to plant and harvest…†His eyes started to glaze over with a smile, until his friend elbowed him sharply.
 
“--Argh, right, but there it was, and here we were. And when the hu-mons found the hot spring and put all them rocks there, I guess the bubble-over just decided it could go anywhere. We’ve been sinkin’ inches by the year. And the Palmon don’t come back.â€

Ken sat, nodding almost sagely. It seemed we did this a lot, these days-- listened to stories, tried to give what help we could. Ken had lost the surprise, had soured even to offering a sad glance at the struggling Digimon these days. I knew he was burdening himself with their pain, knew he’d take it in to the point of breaking. But I also knew that we would go back to the real world, and Daisuke would come home, and some little part of that fatigue and frustration would unravel and dissipate. No one else could keep Ken sane.

A crackling popped in the distance, at first like breaking wood; I looked up. But it grew louder, like fireworks, like lava boiling over and the resultant splatter. A warm wind passed, and as the hot, acrid scent of gunpowder and nitrate lingered in the air, I looked back across the mist. There was no bath house, and the rock gardens laid in gravel piles.

“Let’s head back, Wormmon.â€

It is complicated to describe how I felt at that moment. Eager, to take him up on the offer. Uneasy, suspicious-- and my suspicions continued to make me uneasy. I felt trust bend, and creak within me. I wanted nothing more than to believe Ken had nothing to do with what had happened. I felt, if I could not believe that, I would have to doubt everything. Doubt that Ken was truly doing what was best for the Digimon affected by the Million Points of Light. Doubt that Daisuke was keeping him grounded. Doubt that Ken was slipping out of his right mind and I didn’t know him well enough to notice while he was nearly healthy.
More than anything I did not want to doubt that I could follow Ken anywhere, that I could withstand even death to save my partner from his own.

We returned. Blissfully clean, Ken skulked off to take a shower anyway, as if the digital mud was still caked up to his knees. I listened to the water pour down until the door swung open, and Daisuke and Veemon paraded in from another successful day with the street noodle cart.

“Aaayyy little man, where’s Ken? That slacker nappin’? Hah, I bet he’s had his nose in a book all day. Nerd.†The fire-spiked redhead dashed down to his and Ken’s mutual bedroom, skating on his socks half the way there. The dark D-3 was still resting by the computer screen, but little was amiss besides. All that Daisuke noticed was Ken wasn’t in there, so he stopped, and tracked him by the shower beating rain across the floor.

“He-hey, can I come in?†Daisuke took a mumble for a yes, and helped himself.
 
 
Daisuke
 
“Like, can I really come in?†I started shucking my shirt, socks, letting it all pile up on the floor. I pushed aside the shower curtain and found Ichijouji posed against the back wall. One arm folded, holding the other, and the remaining hand touching his jaw nearly at his mouth. His eyes were half-lidded, mouth ajar.

“I don’t know, can you?†He cocked his head. I felt faint from how fast my blood made it into my dick.

“I can.†I nodded; I swear my head whipped around like my neck had turned to jello. Pants hit the floor. I shut the curtain around us to keep from flooding the bathroom even further, and pushed my hands against the shower wall to either side of Ken’s head. “What the hell’s gotten into you, Ichijouji?â€

He shrugged. “Just a rush, I guess.†His slender arms entangled me, his leg slipped around the both of mine as he drew our bodies flush. Our nethers started to mingle, and I felt him stiffen at the touch of mine.

“I wish me getting home always turned you on this much.†I laughed, a little awkwardly. It was sort of a sore point in the past-- Ken had shied away from anything even remotely public (no kissing near windows) and sometimes, that translated to just feeling too self-conscious to even get nasty in the privacy of their own bedroom. It had been much better-- like wowza way better-- lately, a mix of Ken clinging to me in any spare moment, to him initiating, to just being downright more vocal about what he wants. I suppose it’s the comfortable bliss stage that every long-term relationship hopes for; god knows Ken was already perfect in every other way.

“Oh come on Motomiya. Maybe you should always ambush me in the shower?†Ken perked a little smirk, and I thirsted to kiss it off his smug face. He picked his chin up away from me-- fucking tall prick-- and I went to town on his neck instead, to the sound of his deep chuckle.

“I never thought you’d pick up a kink.†I laughed, slithering my tongue up Ken’s neck until he finally looked down and took it into his mouth. We mingled together, tasted each other for a while.

“You inspire me.†Ken had real bedroom eyes now, and the anxious heavy beat of his heart was jarring against my rapid one. I longed to bring them into sync, to take Ken’s body and merge it with mine in the only way humans knew how. No matter how many times I’d taken Ken, it would never get old. His was the complementary flesh to mine, and no one would ever feel as hot and right in my arms. My hands were groping at his thighs now, my chest rubbing against his as our members brushed beneath. His hands slicked down my back, thick soap bubbles a wake of his slippery hands. They found my ass and tightened around it.

“Ah! Ken, are you trying to…?â€

“I want to do this to you, this time.†Ken was smiling, his soaped fingers slipping between my cheeks, digits probing in gentle circles around the orifice. Each round pushed more and more insistently, and I could feel a warm pleasure stirring my lower abdomen. Suddenly, just the tip of one of Ken’s slender fingers nudged up inside, and urged a soft moan out of me.

“I mean… if that’s what you want…†I was blushing, even the cool shower wouldn’t quench my face. An old and familiar glint crossed Ken’s eyes as he tightened his serpent grip around me, and pressed his finger deeper inside. Like Ken on the battlefield-- the competitive Ken, Ken on the soccer pitch with a need to win something. Here I was, prostrate in his arms, just the same reverence for Ichijouji as when I’d sat like a fanboy to watch his championship games. His finger urged deeper into me still, and swirled inside.

“Oh! Wow…†I pushed my face into his chest, tried not to tighten up. I let my hands grip tight to Ken’s hips, and felt him lighten his touch any time my grip became too much.

“You’re mine, Motomiya…†His words caressed my hair, and as one soapy finger became two, and then three, I was wrenched from his front and pressed into the neighboring shower wall. Ken conformed to my back, and held me by the abdomen as he guided his cock into my slippery, well-stretched hole. It still felt decidedly more filling than the three fingers had.

“Damn! Ken…†My breath fogged against the tile wall. I counted my blessings that Ken was the the more slender of dicks between us, same as our figures. I swelled with precum at the thought of what this felt like when it was me fucking Ken-- and then dripped as Ken pressed all the way to his hilt, and withdrew.

“Amazing…†Ken whispered, pulling away from my back just briefly. His thumb pulled at my ass, and I assumed he was admiring what it looked like to be the one on top for a change.

“Fuck me, dammit!†I couldn’t stand my own impatience. I was trembling through my knees. My balls were sore with the need for release.

“Oh?†Ken quickly rammed himself back in, and I hugged the wall with a whimper. “Dude!?†My voice cracked as Ken pulled out again. Across his brow was a momentary downturn, his lips tightening for just a moment. Was he… angry? I opened my mouth to apologize for rushing him, only to have two fingers stuffed inside, pressing down on my tongue.

“I will, then.†With his other hand wrapped around my cock, a rhythm built up between us. The quick thrust as he pressed us into the wall, the slow withdraw as I moved my hips back same as him, and let myself fuck his hand. As if he knew the feeling of his own body, his hand wrapped at just the perfect pressure to get me moaning his name.

“Ichijouji… nnh…†My red hair matted the wall, my tongue swirled around Ken’s fingers with the practiced skill of taking his cock. Ken nipped at the back of my neck and along the shoulder, leaving little red bruises for the next day.

“Mmm, Daisuke…†Ken became awash in the delicately soft moans I loved him for. The ‘uhns’ that strained at the back of his throat became the herald of his orgasm. I bucked my hips to meet his and felt him fill me with hot seed, and then again felt it drip down out of my body in a bubbly string and the clean scent of ivory soap. Ken’s hands were at my sides again, their touch tender, almost hesitant as they urged me to turn. Water sleuced down my body as Ken took to his knees, kneeling down before my still-stiff cock. His fingers worked the soap from the surface, and worked another pearly droplet of precum to my tip that he could kiss away with those devious lips of his. What started from a soft massage of lips at the head worked into a tongue-slick swallowing of all I had to offer; Ken daring to gag ever so slightly as I filled to the back of his throat. Through the shower rain he beat his eyelashes to look up at me, my cock swelling between his stretched lips and strained jaw.

Needless to say, I released immediately. Ken sucked to the last drop as he let me out, and turned the shower knobs to off as he rose to his feet.

“Let me know when you’re ready to go again.†Ken wrapped himself in a soft cotton bathrobe, and smiled ever so slightly my way. And he left it like that, slipping out of the bathroom and out around the corner to elsewhere in the flat.

Maybe it was just the refractory period introspection getting to me, or maybe it was the ache between my legs from Ken’s brief outburst when I’d urged him, but… I couldn’t let that out of my mind. Ken was much more aggressive in bed… though it didn’t seem sudden, just dramatic. Like a creeping vine had taken root and started to flower inside of Ken, and only now that it was blooming did I notice it there.

Or maybe not like a vine at all… but a spore?
 
 
Ken
 
"Wormmon, could I have this space to myself?" I slid down across the bed surface, peeked at the tragic sparkle that came across Wormmon's eyes when I asked him to leave. Ah, that little drama queen.
 
"Just for now. Veemon is home, won't you play with him?" I raised my eyebrows, and Wormmon reluctantly let the point get across. "Alright, Ken..." the bug digimon scuttled away, and I nudged the door most of the way closed with an outstretched foot as he left. Peace.
 
I felt warm, and good. These simple things I let satisfy me for a while. Despite all I'd done today, despite the things I'd just done to Daisuke... I felt lively. My post-coital fog lifted and I felt ready to do my day over again. Of course, I couldn't inflict that sort of schedule onto Wormmon, but it was encouraging that I'd get this sort of continuing high from the help I'd given those Ogremon earlier today. Honestly, I'd half expected it to haunt me.
 
And to be fair, the fact that I do feel this good, is.
 
I let my mind sink back to Daisuke, and that was all the distraction I needed. I felt fixated on him recently-- perhaps because his new work kept us apart even longer hours. I need him so urgently... urgently enough to fuck him myself this time. And it felt perfect.

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It almost hurts to sit. Almost.

 

We didn't have the most comfortable furniture. Most of the stuff here was what Ken could afford going into his college. Price was a greater commodity than comfort... Not like the bastard was ever home much to enjoy it anyway. And well, we weren't exactly super well off now, either. We both have some royalty money coming through, but it's been a couple of months since I've poured my savings into purchasing my mentor's business. Now, fourteen hour days aren't uncommon. I guess it doesn't really hit you how much owning a business sucks up your entire life. Hint: all of it.

 

It was hard to adjust to at first. V-mon and I were exhausted all the time--always coming home smelling like burnt fish, chicken broth, and sweat. Home was only for sleeping. I'd creep into bed after a quick shower at night, trying hard not to wake up Ken, but failing horribly. With a soft groan, he'd shift to face me, but wouldn't say a word. So rarely would I even be able to see his eyes open in the shadows. He shut off from me, as I suppose I did to him.

 

Only a year of being together and things were already growing stale. Fucking great.

 

But tonight. Wow. Wow. I didn't know what had gotten into Ken, but it felt better than when we first started to fuck around. Not that I didn't love the shy, submissive pilar of beauty he usually was... I just... I won't complain.

 

The stiff sofa reminded me of the discomfort in my ass, and I shifted forward to grab the cup of tea I had prepared myself post-bathroom-escapades. It was nice to be home at a reasonable time tonight, especially to be rewarded so handsomely with an eager sex partner. 

 

Maybe I would complain. Not that it didn't feel great. I wasn't being ungrateful, and I certainly didn't want Ken to feel that way. Was it worth bringing up? I was so not in the mood for a fight or for throwing myself into an emotional shithole... But in my heart I could feel something.

 

Placing my teacup on the table, I abandoned it and our Digimon partners in the living room. Rapping a knuckle on the bedroom door, I waited for an answer before creaking the door open. "Hey," I said softly, searching the room before my eyes rested on Ken. He was lounging on the bed with a book in his hand. "Content" was not a strong enough word to express his demeanor. "Hey, Ken." I slid between the door and closed it behind me. "What ya doing in bed already?" Granted, it was 9pm, but even for him that was early. I padded over to the bed and collapsed on it, my body conforming uncomfortably to his legs. Then again, I couldn't blame him. I was tired as hell too.

 

"Are you... Naked?" I pulled the sheet down from him to expose his slender frame. I could smell the scent of his soap waft up along with the blanket, and I bit my lip a little to control a wave of arousal that surged down my spine. Crawling on top of the man, I removed the book from his hands and placed it next to him. Trailing a finger up his chest, I smiled down at him, coyly I could only assume. "Besides surprising me, what the hell have you been up to today?" I leaned down and kissed his cheek, feeling his body arch into mine with its need to be consumed by my warmth. Certainly I was playing a dangerous game. Holding a conversation while straddling will never end with completed sentences. But I felt like I had to set things back to "normal"--whatever the hell that meant. 

 

--

 

When the door was closed, that means Ken and Daisuke didn't want us in their room. It felt lonely sometimes when they did that... Like they didn't want Wormmon or me around. But they always told us that's not the case. They just had human things to do.

 

I liked hanging out with Wormmon, though. We didn't get to so much anymore. I loved working with Daisuke and his food cart. We made so many people happy every day. Daisuke's a really, really good cook. Ojiisan did a great job teaching him how to. He helped him learn how to run a business too. I know sometimes Daisuke gets overwhelmed. Sometimes he cries when nobody is looking; he says its just the steam from the hot plate. He worked too hard sometimes, I think. Which is why I worked so hard with him too.

 

But tonight we left early. Daisuke said we needed to make at least 30000 yen to make it worth staying open for the day. We didn't even hit half of that. Sometimes we have slow days. Daisuke gets really sad when we do. Usually we stick around anyway. Tonight he didn't want to. Tonight he wanted to go home. I wasn't going to say no.

 

"When do you think we'll get to battle together again, Wormmon?" I peaked over the coffee table and into the cup Daisuke left there. It was mostly full, so I took it and started drinking it. "It's been too long. What have you and Ken been up to anyway? Maybe you guys can help us with the cart sometime!" Any more time with Wormmon would be great. I didn't understand why humans have to spend so much time working. Shouldn't they just be with each other as much as they can?

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"Mmm... you smell good." I made an excuse to ignore Daisuke's few comments as the child of courage sidled on top of me. Not that it was a lie-- he smelled like my soap and tea leaves, his breath had that delicate, clean edge. I just cared less about speaking when Daisuke's well-tanned chest loomed over me, a meager offering of sweatpants kept our flesh apart, and Daisuke was, for all intents and purposes, challenging me. I let my eyes linger on the book my partner had stolen.

 

"You're the one who waltzed in on my shower. Wasn't I the surprised one?" I returned the ball to his court, and slithered my own hands up along that rigid chest. Daisuke had gotten more sculpted ever since taking on the business full time-- a lot of manual labor, for long hours, really did work magic. It was one of only two reasons I was glad to have him out of the house so often. The second, I wasn't about to let on so easily. Honestly, I hadn't made my mind up to tell him at all...

 

Daisuke was busy-- he didn't have the time to help, even if he wanted to. We'd never spoken about the serious damage that humans seemed to be wrecking across the Digital World every day. It hadn't even occurred to me immediately; We'd personally fought for the people of the world to all have digimon partners, and could that have introduced a very... casual threat to digimon safety? I knew the major threats we'd defeated had been obvious calls to action. The mere appearance of the digivices had been a call for help from the digital world. There were some acts of good that could only be perpetrated by humans partnered with digimon, and from my experience, it was usually damage that humans who didn't care for digimon were inflicting. I had sunk into this slow, but stuck in it. And now that I was this deep, could Daisuke plunge in after me?

 

He had been there to reach me as the Kaiser... but there was still no need to dirty his hands when I could take care of everything.

 

"And in regards to what I was 'up' to..." I grasped down at Daisuke's package under those soft cotton pants. Already half hard... his focus wasn't going to last long. "How are  you feeling from that? Good for another go?"

 

 

--

 

There were three different magazines out on the floor in front of me. I'd been trying to read anything, but nothing held my attention-- only Ken. No pretty humans in fashionable clothes, nor police logs in the newspaper or an article on sea pigs. They were cute, but thinking about Ken was killing me.

 

"Ohh, I hope we battle again soon, V-mon." I sighed heavily, and started folding my discarded periodicals back into a neat pile. "I think there's something going on in the Digital World, V-mon. Ken has been very serious about something and... oh... can you keep a secret?" My eyes peeled wide, my pinchers pinched tightly shut. My antennae shook with my nerves, and I scuttled as close to V-mon as I could, and came right close to his ear.

 

"V-mon... Ken and I have been going to the Digital World when you two are away!" I huffed, and sat down. "W-we've been helping out d-digimon who have been hurt in some way..." Crazed and babbling, I stopped. My front legs covered up my eyes, as if hiding me from some rage that was going to come from V-mon, or explode out of the bedroom. Why hadn't we ever included V-mon and Daisuke? Was Ken really trying to avoid them? Didn't he love Daisuke and V-mon!? No matter what, I wasn't going to figure out what was really up with Ken's funny behavior if V-mon didn't know what Ken was up to. Yet, it was hard to articulate that Ken was doing anything... bad, per se.

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I sucked air through my teeth, and let it escape with a shaky need. He was playing with me, though that wasn't to say I was not stringing him along. "Depends." I ran my thumbs along his jaw, their pressure increasing across his skin as they reached his ears. I held his head tightly between my hands and took his lips hungrily--his mouth tasting like sweet mint and earthy warmth. His hand kept working at me, my hips rolling into his hand as a weak whimper escaped between our mouthes. "Did you... Do well on a test or something?" I smiled into lips and ran one hand down his body to land on his member. Turned out he had been ready for me already. "Well, done, Ichijouji. Let me congratulate you."

 

Ken wasn't one to really be prideful. Well, not anymore anyway. A lot of that disappeared with the Kaiser thirteen years ago. But he had his moments. He'd come home with a particular smile on his face--one where you could tell he was trying to hide it from everybody, with the corners of his lips slightly curled in on themselves. When asked how he was, the smile would break out, often with a soft breath of air as if releasing a seal on a jar. Jovial as a Botamon, he'd tell me he had passed his qualifying exams or that he had successfully trained the new player on his soccer team to follow a formation. I lived for those moments. Not to brag, but I knew Ken. It just always helped to see the emotions across his face instead of in the air.

 

I pumped his cock in my hand a few times, lubricating the shaft with the few gems of precum that came out between stiff moans. I kissed his lips as his head rolled back ever so slightly, his mouth dropping ajar, a sliver of white teeth peering through pale lips. "Well done."

 

--

 

"Aw, Wormmon," I said, placing my hand on his claws. "Dai and I sometimes go into the Digital World without you guys too. Mmm... Or at least we used to." I nodded and sat back on my tail as Wormmon unfolded from himself. "It's all right! Why are you so upset? The Digital World is fun!" I let my tail go limp and drop me to floor. "It's home, after all."

 

I loved the real world, no doubt about it. People are great, and I love living with Daisuke and Ken and Wormmon. They're my best friends, and I missed them when they weren't around... But I miss the Digital World sometimes. Over the past few years, it's changed a little. It seemed to be less and less like home as each minute passed.

 

I finished the tea and put it back on the table. Daisuke got mad when I left things on the floor--mostly because Ken gets mad at Daisuke. I don't understand, but I do what I can to help Daisuke. "Can I come with you the next time you go? Please? I won't be as strong without him, but I want to go back. It's been months since we've gone...

 

"Daisuke needs a break... I'm worried about him, Wormmon. Maybe we can take a picnic. Like the old days?"

 

--

 

Ken's leg was up around the front of my neck, his body sideways on the bed and squirming against my member that was deep within him. His left arm was clawing at mine, while his right one tried hard to please himself, but was proving impossible, pinned below his own weight.

 

I tried to imagine how it felt--my hand gripping tightly at his pelvic bone--how it felt to have Ken in me... How I must feel for him. Did I want to fuck him crazy because I wanted him to do the same to me? Did I want him to know his place? Was I just happy for my best friend and lover to actually accept that we were the latter?

 

My cheek pressed hard against his calf, as I used his body as the leverage for each thrust. Eyes shut tight, I clenched my teeth against the waves of pleasure that came with each movement. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, and the blood throbbing in my cock. I wanted Ken more than anything. I wanted him to feel me, to want me, to need me... I always wanted that.

 

Ken inspired a type of confidence in me that I never had before. To be honest, I could be a pretty good liar. I knew when to front my emotions, to instill confidence in the people around me, but it'd never been easy for me feel the same for myself. And I know it sounds backwards, because I do believe I can achieve anything. Any dream I set out to achieve can be done. Blah blah blah. But it's hard when nobody else thinks you can do those things. Except for Ken. Ken has given me so much power; the power to do good with my life. He's always been there for me.

 

I would do anything to be there for him too.

 

Ken's leg came pressing down swiftly, my body not prepared to resist. I fell to the side, my dick coming out of him slick and quivering. I tried to protest, but he already flipped me on my back and slung my legs over the inside of his elbows, my entrance ready for him to take. I shivered, looking up at him in the dim light of the bedroom. "Ken," I whimpered, not sure if it was from being ripped away from him, or if I wanted him to fuck me until my throat was raw from screaming. "Ken, please."

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Ahh... to feel Daisuke inside of me. My body had grown accustomed to his, so tightly bonded that I could feel, at times, empty without him there. Child of courage, he filled me with fire and gave me a heat I could never generate on my own. Wrapped together in everything from flesh to spirit with our jogress, it reminded me that I was dependent on him in all of these ways, willfully or otherwise. Daisuke would always be my source of power.

 

Maybe that was what kept filling my head. One little rebellion, one little assertion of my own power over Daisuke. Without him, I never would have found my own strength, and wouldn't he be so pleased to see my display of it? My hole ached to feel him leave, but my member, hot and slick from the lube I'd been (desperately trying) massaging it with, was a more pressing demand in my mind. My fingers tightened in the crook of Daisuke's knees, felt the elasticity of his muscles as I pushed them deep into the bed. It had only been a couple hours since I'd last tasted this hole, and now I could see the mixture of want and shock bleeding out of Daisuke's eyes. I let my cock twitch against that small, unused opening, let its warmth mingle with Daisuke's until we were like one homogenous body. And then I skewered him deeply with it.

 

"Ahh, Motomiya..." I moaned out, leaning forward and kissing up along Daisuke's ankles. They were firm, and lightly fletched with hair; by all accounts we seemed out of position. Below me was a man, cut and angled and rugged, with sun along his working skin. Here was I, slim and hairless and waiflike, androgynous by any definition... slamming my rock-hard member endlessly into this masculine partner of mine. And there he moaned, out of control of his own emotions, calling my name, begging for more of me, and me eagerly giving it to him. He was mine.

 

"I like you like this, you know?" I couldn't resist purring it as I rubbed my hands down those firm thighs, and grasped with both hands and my thumbs at Daisuke's hole to open him up wider. I liked watching myself vanish within him, liked watching him take every inch of me. I only realized how intently I'd been staring-- brows angled in, smirking wide-- as I felt it falter away in favor of orgasm. Daisuke would never spare me this volcanic response-- full body, curling up over his vulnerable form, shaking and moaning as I emptied myself into the child of miracles for a second time today.

 

I rolled off. I supposed in my post-coital reverie, I couldn't care less if he wanted to finish in me too. I felt tender again, needy for him.

 

"Daisuke..." I felt myself trickle into a hum. "What would I have done if I'd never met you...?" It was a dark thought I'd worried about recently. I'd be so weak without Daisuke, and perhaps even have remained lost. Was there a path I could have walked down, to reach this age without him? Could I have been normal, happy, and alone with Wormmon? Did our jogress result from our bond, or the other way around? And... was there a world in which I was still strong, even without Daisuke?

 

"If I'd never been the Kaiser, would you ever have met me?"

 

--

 

"A picnic!" I sprung up, circled the tea table in an ecstatic sprint. "Yes, yes that should do it! If Ken-chan and Daisuke-kun go back to the Digital World and it's just like normal, maybe Ken will think to bring you with us more often! Then whatever Ken-chan seems to be doing... maybe he'd do it with Daisuke-kun too. I think that would just give me some peace of mind." I nodded. If I was starting to get the feeling that Ken wasn't acting perfectly normal... Daisuke would get that feeling too. And Daisuke had always been there to help Ken out even when he was acting strangest of all.

 

Daisuke would definitely fix him, and until then, I would remain by Ken's side.

 

"Let's get things together! If you can convince Daisuke to take a day off, we can all travel together. It does feel like they're getting along in there, right?" The bedroom door remained shut, but inside I could feel my bond to V-mon even at this stage. The memories of existing as one digimon resonated most strongly when Ken and Daisuke were left alone together, and in moments like these, I felt more like V-mon and I still shared a mind, just segregated bodies.

 

"Do you know what humans eat for picnics?!"

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Holy shit.

 

Holy fucking shit.

 

It was hard to focus on anything. Honestly, nothing fucking mattered. All I felt was him. All I wanted was him.

 

My nails dug into his forearms, whimpering cries making my voice hoarse, all too aware of our neighbors and the need to be quiet. My body rocked into his, mindlessly eager to catch on up on the years of inexperience, angry at myself for not letting Ken take me sooner. I guess it wasn't because I didn't want him to, he just never had the interest in it. Why now? Fuck. It didn't matter. It just didn't!

 

"K-Ken," I looked down the length of my own body to him, the same look he had given me so often in the past. The muscles in his abdomen, not defined on a normal basis, but flexing and molding through vanilla skin with each movement... So beautiful. I looked up at him, his eyes piercing down at me, his brows sharp and a pleased smirk on his face. I would love to challenge him to see who was loving this more: me or him? "Harder! Ah!" I grabbed my own cock and started working it in time with his thrusts. I cried out, deep, as it came to a rumbling growl. I felt Ken twitch in me as he thrust faster, his seed expelling into me as he crumpled on top of me, his hips moving slower and mindlessly. His breathing was hitched and labored. His breath was hot on my neck, turning cool as the sweat on my skin evaporated.

 

I was too mad with lust. Everything else was turned off. I wanted to finish; I needed to finish. I took the helm again, my dick hard and hurting from the need to finish. I rolled the chosen of kindness onto his back, hitched his one leg over my shoulder and readied myself to enter him again. "If you..." Like dominos, Ken's words came fumbling into my cognitive brain. I looked down at him, the words I was trying to conjure also fumbling like too many marbles between my fingers. "If you weren't the Kaiser..." I sat back down on my knees, my butt resting on my heels. "Ken..."

 

It took many years for Ken to reflect on his dark times with a sense of maturity. It was a tender subject for so many years in our childhood. I suppose if he hadn't been the Kaiser, somebody else would have been picked. I could have been fighting another kid that was crazy with power and a homicidal need to injure "computer programs". Would I have fallen for that child instead? Where would Ken have been then? Would he have been the same genius everybody saw in the papers? Would we ever had known of each other?

 

These were all questions I didn't care for. Rhetorical questions didn't solve anything. We were who we were, and the things that happened happened. "But we did meet, didn't we?" I leaned down and kissed him softly on the lips. "We're together, Ken." I let myself drop lightly onto his body, my arms wrapping around him as I touched my nose to the crook of his neck. "I love you. There's no way around that fact."

 

I touched my lips to the soft spot in his neck, moving my bottom lip across the smooth skin, as if whispering tender words into it. I knew, that if it wasn't apparent before, it was now. Ken was hiding something. "Talk to me. Please."

 

--

 

I was excited when Wormmon liked my plan. I like it when he liked my plans.

 

My feet tapped on the ground excitedly as I responded, "Ah! Yeah, Dai and Ken always get along together don't they? They would love, love, love this don't you think? What do people eat? Oh..." I stumbled to the kitchen and flung open a cabinet. I heard Wormmon scuttle behind me as I pulled out a can of fruit, "Pea-chez? They like peaches... Yeah!" I tossed it to Wormmon and began sorting through the cabinet again. The can hit the floor and rolled into the living room. "Wormmon, you gotta catch them!" I scolded. He's not very good at catching. I always forget. "How about crackers! And and..."

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I confess I was only moderately concerned for the orgasm that I had denied him. I offered open arms and let us tangle up together, our ever-rhythmic hearts beating same as always. What was I without him? The thought plagued me enough these days that I could swear if I died, he'd follow me. Arm in ghostly arm, lives linked beyond the point of disentanglement. It was enough to keep me alive.

 

"I'm not sure what to say." It was true. If Daisuke and I could understand our bodies as one, we would never understand each other's minds. Perhaps Daisuke spent long hours wondering what the circuits of a genius brain could process, perhaps he dwelled and worried on how I must understand it all and he, nothing. It isn't like that-- not in the slightest. If I could only peer just behind Daisuke's eyes, even that shallow, I'd learn a multitude.

 

And right now, what did I know besides his love for me? Was it always going to be there? What if I... changed as a person? What if I changed without him?

 

My throat felt thick. Conflict welled; much like the feeling when I'd decided bombing out that god-forsaken bathhouse was the nobler of the evils. I wanted Daisuke to be with me, always, to come along and grow. I was afraid that he would not follow. I was afraid of becoming too dependent because of that.

 

"I've just been thinking a lot, about the Digital World recently." I volunteered that much, I tightened my arms around the gentle man within them. "I'm just... not sure it's as peaceful as we worked for it to be."

 

Would Daisuke... agree? It was an innocent enough remark-- but I noticed after a few seconds, I'd stopped breathing. To me, my sigh felt tangible.

 

"I... need a cup of tea." Classic dodge. It had become so characteristic of me that I blushed when I invoked it. I pulled away, each arm unwrapping like an octopus tentacle peeling away. I snatched the bathrobe from where it was, neatly folded at the side of the bed, and made myself pseudo-decent for our partners out in the living space.

 

--

 

"V-mon! Oh bother..." I'd so far been clocked by canned peaches, some dried fish, and a few boxes of snack crackers. "Nnn... we're making a mess. Here, I know how to catch everything..." I backed up, and pushed a basket into the center of the floor. Then, I let my silk shot glom onto the walls, and weave a web right down to the basket. I coated the other wall as well, spewing silk until a perfect little funnel had been made up from the counters into the basket. Now I didn't have to catch anything at all!

 

"Much better. Now we won't be making any mess on the floor--"

 

The bedroom door opened.

 

"Ken!"

 

We scrambled. "K-Ken! This, uh, this is..."

 

"...Why is the kitchen covered in... worm silk?"

 

If only worms could sweat, I think I would be drenched right now. "Oh, this is nothing..."

 

"Daisuke!" V-mon called out from up on the countertop, and there he was, emerging behind Ken. We were saved. "Daisuke, we're making a picnic for all of us! Won't you come with us to the Digital World...?"

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Being tangled in Ken was like being home. I mean, I was home... But we could be stranded on an island in the Digital World and as long as he was there, I would be comfortable. I watched his chest rise and fall, pausing on an inflated breath, until it escaped across my hair and tickled my face. "The Digital World has been safe, Ken." I felt up his side and buried my face deeper into his neck. He was so soft. "It's been peaceful. For years. Why do you..."

 

He was avoiding the discussion.

 

Ken escaped me with a quiet dismissal. I felt nakeder than I was without his skin touching mine. I shivered as I watched him get out of bed and put his robe back on. Following his lead, I searched for my sweatpants and put them on rather lethargically.

 

V-mon and I hadn't been to the Digital World in at least half a year. I know he had been wanting to visit for a really long time, but with the business... Bah, I still don't know what Ken was talking about. I kept up with the Digital World news, either through online articles or through weekly discussions with Taichi-san. Everything was status quo. Why was Ken letting the past haunt him again?

 

Luckily, my frustration transferred to a different target as I exited the bedroom. "What the... What the hell?" The kitchen had turned into a insect nest. "V-mon!?"

 

V-mon bounced off of the countertop and nearly ran straight into the webs on his way to me. "Please, Daisuke!" He barreled into my legs, making me slam against the wall. "We haven't been in so long and Wormmon wants us to come, and I'm sure Ken does too!" I looked at Ken as V-mon continued. "We were just trying to help. We packed all the things you like!"

 

Regaining my balance, I made my way over to the basket in the center of the kitchen. "A... Picnic?" I don't think my face was convincingly impressed, because V-mon let out a deflated whine. "Well..." Ken didn't have class on Friday mornings, and I don't need to technically open the cart until about 11am. Usually I dedicate mornings to bookkeeping, but... "Maaayyybe we can go tomorrow if Ken is ok with it."

 

"Really? Really, really? Wormmon, do you hear that? PICNIC TIME!!!" He twirled and galloped on all fours to tackle Wormmon, causing the two of them to somersault into the cabinets.

 

I coughed and put my hands on my hips. Time to play angry father, or whatever the hell I was to this little brat. "But we aren't doing anything until you clean this mess up. We want to use the stove."

 

As V-mon and Wormmon started their clean-up, I grabbed Ken's hand and interlaced our fingers. Bringing our hands to my lips, I kissed each of his knuckles. I very much liked the idea of a relaxing morning with everyone. Taking my mind off of the past couple of days of bad sales might be what helps me get back into the game. "What do you say, Ichijouji?"

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I plucked at some of the soft, sticky fibers that formed a net down to the picnic basket. Some hummed like guitar strings, others weakly drooped or broke apart. Kind of gross... Wormmon was usually much better about not spraying the house. I'm afraid I hardly appreciated the sentiment of their little picnic fiasco-- canned peaches? Without even throwing in a can opener? I guess human food still hadn't really clicked with the digimon-- but it was less from the food selection and more from where this idea birthed itself. Perhaps, V-mon had just decided it was the right night to beg for another trip back, it had been long enough. But to make it a family affair? I didn't believe for a second that Wormmon had no hand in this plan, and he knew quite well that I'd been keeping Daisuke so far from the heat he wasn't even on the back burner about everything that was happening.

 

And now they wanted a lovey-dovey picnic? I was suspicious.

 

But, I let my glower smolder. Daisuke and V-mon were starting to get excited, and surely we could do a picnic without too much trouble. Somewhere way out of the way of all the new human outcroppings. Just like old times.

 

"Of course, a picnic sounds wonderful."

 

~

 

"Don't forget, we only have a couple hours. No adventuring." I firmly reminded the digi-pair, both positively bouncing to go home together for the first time in ages. If not for the nonsense humans were up to in the digital domain, I might have thought to let them live behind the screen. It kept their power up to be home, and it wasn't too far between worlds (hell, that was part of my problem) but the thought of Wormmon getting caught and abused by some human made my stomach turn. It had been bad enough for us both since the story of the Kaiser went public a few years back... and my Wormmon was fairly unique to the others of his species. It wouldn't surprise me if anyone thought they could lay a hand on 'the Kaiser's abused partner' and think they were chasing a greater good.

 

"Digi-port, open!"

 

Ah, the warmth again. The transition into data felt like plunging into a pool of water just the same temperature as your skin. At the same time a nearly unnoticeable transition, yet your senses were acutely changed. It was so familiar to me after all these years that it was no shock to pass through the gate, but I was shocked when I set my feet on the other side.

 

My clothes... I knew I'd changed styles in the last couple months, but I'd forgotten Daisuke hadn't seen it yet. Would he like the change? Notice the nod to his old attire...? Actually, I think I was blushing.

 

Wormmon popped through the gate with the picnic supplies on his back. V-mon had a blanket slung over his shoulder. Daisuke looked like the radiant leader he'd always been...

 

"Let's find a place, then. I think... deeper into the forest is probably good." I started off, hoping Daisuke was feeling agreeable. Not too far away from our local gate was the shoreline, and a cluster of islands that Daisuke and I had celebrated the anniversary of our first kiss on. But, it was also now a popular human tourism spot, with big human businesses and boardwalks overshadowing the now half-boarded up digibusinesses from the area. A Vegimon's cantina was the only thing that was still even barely open along the stretch.

 

But, even Wormmon didn't seem to care for my plan. "What about the islands, Ken? V-mon and I could fly us over to them, if we digivolved."

 

I sighed as I turned to them. They were so cheery... and V-mon especially was probably aching to digivolve. It seemed crueler to deny them than spare them the ensuing discussion about the transformed beachfront.

 

"We... could." I walked closer a short ways, enough to reach out and lace my fingers into Daisuke's. "Maybe one of the more remote islands this time."

 

Quietly, I let myself wonder, briefly, if Daisuke and I had ever gotten the chance to do it in the Digital World. I didn't think so. It wasn't the sort of thought that usually cropped up while I was here.

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Traversing worlds had the same sensation of a roller coaster. There was always that anticipation as the glow from the screen worked on translating your flesh and blood body into a series of code. Then there was the gutless feeling of the first drop, as your body lurched into the transition, but even if you wanted to scream from the thrill you couldn't. Then it's the loops and the dips--the tumbling into the Digital World like Alice into Wonderland.

 

I landed roughly to my knees, V-mon landing more gracefully a few yards behind. As usual, the Digital World addressed my desires, and I was wearing my "adventuring" clothes. With a healthy snap, I positioned Taichi-san's goggles to my forehead and did a brief survey around to see where the others had landed. To my side was Ken, his outfit drastically changed since the last time I saw... It looked familiar. It had a very heavy resemblance to the outfit I had when we first met.

 

Flattered, for sure, but I felt something turn in my stomach as well. I decided to ignore it for the time being.

 

"The islands sound good," I said, siding with the digimon on this one. "I'm curious to see the new businesses, but we just don't got time for that this trip." I pointed to the eastern most island. "That one might be our best bet. We can eat on the beach and watch the Betamon and Gommamon play in the surf. Go ahead and digivolve into XV-mon."

 

Oh, how it felt good to say those words. In the Digital World, our bond was stronger--V-mon and myself giving each other the physical and mental strength to face any enemy. My muscles felt warm and flexed involuntarily as XV-mon appeared from a flashbang of pure light. I launched myself onto his back, too big now to ride on just one of his shoulder's, but instead having to ride his on his shoulders properly. Tying the blanket around my neck, I rallied the now Stingmon and Ken to follow. "Tally-ho and onwards we go!" 

 

I had forgotten how good it felt to have the wind running through my hair and filling my lungs with its purity. The air was salty and warm; the sun bright and hot against my face. Maybe the problem with me lately was that I wasn't allowing this to happen. What is it that they say about work-life balance? V-mon certainly knew better than me. Honestly, color me a certain kind of idiot for not seeing it sooner. The little dude was always watching out for me.

 

It didn't take long for us to get to the island we had picked out. Unfortunately, my knot tying skills suck ass, and I ended up losing the blanket to the wind during our travel. Luckily, Stingmon didn't lose grip of the basket, and more importantly, Ken. Ken and I had gone through the basket more carefully this morning and packed some more "picnic-friendly" food items. The digimon had all the best intentions, but honestly they'll just eat anything at any time if given the chance. I pulled out some dried fish and fruits and passed them out to everybody, sneaking in a few bites as I went around the circle.

 

"Stop eating all the food, Dai!" The now V-mon complained. He grabbed at the basket, but I swatted his hand away.

 

"Yo, am not. I'm but a growing boy, and I need a bit extra sustenance." I looked up at Ken and winked.

 

"Liar!" V-mon nudged me to the side to steal a few more pieces of dried fish before running off to munch on his findings in the shallows of the ocean. Wormmon followed shortly behind him.

 

I looked at Ken, a smile plastered to my face that I didn't care to remove any time soon. "Thank you, Ichijouji." I grasped the furry collar of his jacket and pulled him in for a kiss. "I really needed this." I offered him a piece of dried peach, a gift he accepted on the tip of his tongue. I pressed my lips to his as he swallowed the treat.

 

"Daisuke!" V-mon was up to his abdomen in water. "There's fish! Help me catch them!" With a splash, he was underwater, his jagged tail peaking above water like a shark fin. Wormmon watched on with curiosity in the damp sand of the beach.

 

Swallowing my own peach treat, I quickly disrobed down to nothing but my boxers, and offered Ken a sweet slap on the ass. "Time to go bring home dinner."

 

To me, the sand felt the same under my feet. The water felt cool and tasted just as salty as ever. The Digital World seemed in right order. But something seemed distorted about the man that waited for me back on the beach...

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I clung to Stingmon's waist as we sailed through the sky, one of his arms firmly around me, supplementing my grip. My feet could rest on his, and even as an adult this sort of unique saddling worked well for us. With Stingmon's more centralized wings and his namesake spiked shoulders, he didn't really support the more traditional riding. In a lot of ways, I felt more relaxed this way. I was almost completely a subject of Stingmon's will; and all these years later it still made me more comfortable than the other way around.

 

And I got a better view of the beachside this way. Like the unobstructed view from the dangling ladder of a helicopter, I could see not just the Betamon and Gommamon playing at the waterfront. I could also see the receded forest, felled to build the boardwalk that now sat at the former forest line. I could see neon signs and human tourists, their Terriermons sporting cute skirts and bows and their Gabumons being splashed by reckless children. Who would even bring their Gabumon to a beach?

 

As we settled into the sand of our own private island, the stress I'd picked up on the ride over became more apparent. Alone with Daisuke and our partners, the building frustration and anger seemed like the tinnitus of walking out of a loud club. Always suffering from it, but never quite aware of it until... now.

 

"Come on." I shook my head, smiled at Daisuke. "You haven't grown in years, Motomiya." Grinning wider, I pat him on the head and narrowly dodged a swing at my shoulder. Despite my best efforts, I started to laugh. Sweet, peachy kisses followed, and then scampered away to the crystal-clear digital waters. Ah... such a tease. The lingering fruit along my tongue was enough to have me chasing after that imp of a boyfriend, shucking my jacket, goggles, boots, and then the rest into a pile by our basket. My tight black boxer briefs were not altogether too different from what I wore to swim anyway.

 

"I don't think I've ever had Digital World fish." I sauntered towards the water, touching toes with the shoreline. Daisuke was in deep at this point, and while I was never the swimmer that I was a soccer player, it certainly wasn't a stretch to call me good.

 

"Can you catch one before I catch you?" I called out after Daisuke, and strode fast and deep into the water. As it started to slosh up to my thighs I dove, cutting the water so smoothly that it received me and left no wake behind. After that, it was merely a matter of imitating Jaws until I came upon the ankles of my beloved.

 

He spotted me. I darted up to catch a breath as my fingers just narrowly missed closing in on Daisuke. The grin he sported for having outmaneuvered me was both gorgeous, and infuriating. Is that how he wants to play?

 

I submerged again, the perfect shape and strength to be a human torpedo. Daisuke might have been strong, but the ocean didn't favor the broad-shouldered. Or those laughing too hard to keep the water out of their airways. I snaked up around him from behind and dragged him to the point in the shallows where he could just about stand and breathe, and latched onto his chest there.

 

"No fish, hm?" I pressed my smirking lips into his neck. V-mon happened to pop up out of the water with one in each fist, but, that was partially irrelevant. "That makes you my catch." My fingers pressed in along his torso, one steady stroke down from pectoral to the cleavage of his thigh above his boxers. He was so hot to the touch, even in the cool ocean waves. My other hand pressed up against Daisuke's heart, enjoying the rhythm as we fell into sync.

 

"What do you say, Motomiya? This little vacation is supposed to destress you, after all..." And maybe he'd see the Digital World more clearly, as I did, if he was well relaxed on our way out.

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I was a decent swimmer. Better now with the upper body strength gained through manual labor. Freestyle was my choice, but I was a bit less graceful than my counterpart.

 

Figures.

 

I narrowly escaped him the first time, though I was more than pleased with myself. "Whomp whomp. Try again, Ken-chan." I skipped along the shallow water until it was up to my armpits, an uncontrollable amount of laughter coming from me as I was being hunted. The water was so clear, I could see him coming at me from below. I tried to scamper away, but tripped over my own feet, allowing for an opening for him to strike.

 

Thin arms pierced below mine, his arms snaking around me and pulling me against his chest as he dragged me deeper into the tide. I was still laughing as he nuzzled his nose against my neck, though it quickly turned into a whimper against his touch. "Did you?" I tried to escape him, but his hand held my chest back against him. I could feel his arousal against my back, as he felt mine with his free hand. I chuckled slightly, rubbing my cheek against his. Smooth and warm... I felt like sugar in a hot cup of tea, melting against him into nothing. I arched my ass into him and said, rather smuggly, "What do you have in mind, Ichijouji?"

 

Ken and I had been "together" for just over a year, at least in the sense of living together under the rouse of being roommates. Nobody has bat an eye at our shared living. For thirteen years, we'd been best friends--separated only by the bay during our schooling years. It's been a few more years back since we had our first kiss, and about two years since he lost his virginity to me. But Ken has never been one to display our relation. I've done the best I could to respect his discomfort with what... We were. I still remember the one snowy day he linked our arms on our walk home. Butterflies swelled in my chest, and it took all I could to not kiss his chilled lips between the lofty swirls of snowflakes.

 

I could see the specks of people and digimon on the horizon. The next closets island was less than a kilometer away. Even that seemed too close for Ken to be so openly touchy with me. What is a stray Airdramon flew overhead and saw us? We have faces. People would talk.

 

His hand creeped below the waistband of my boxers and took my need delicately into the palm of his hand. Gently, he began stroking me, my knees buckling, and my feet floating a few centimeters from the ocean floor. My head rolled back against his shoulder, as I ground my ass against his crotch, fishing a soft moan from both of us. "You're so smart." I let myself float against Ken, the water covering up to my chin as I let him continue to please me. I was moaning more frequently now, taking in water at times when my head bobbed too far underwater. With amused chuckles, I felt myself coming close, my arms coming up and wrapping around Ken's head behind me, his chin digging into the soft spot of my neck. "K-Ken." I began to arch, I felt my body shudder as I felt the orgasm coming on. Even if sea water was a shitty lubricant, lubricant was only small part of an amazing hand-job.

 

And then it stopped.

 

I cried out as Ken moved both his hands to press my hips against his. My head bobbed under water again, and I forced my arms to tread water as Ken started to show his true intentions. If I was less horny, I may have objected... But this could get interesting, and I've certainly had sex in weirder places. "How evil of you, Ichijouji." I smirked slyly. I trailed my fingers up his forearms, taking the opportunity of his distraction to force his arms from around me. With all my power, I swam further away from our partners, hoping that with enough distance, Ken could comfortably relieve my tension.

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Ah, the chase was back on. Daisuke was a slippery little fish-- and tricky enough too. I hadn't anticipated him doing much besides whining and begging when I stopped touching him, but this, this was better. I felt as if all the veins in my body had rerouted to my groin, or perhaps my heart had just relocated down there. If I'd ever suspected mixing cat and mouse with sex would eject my overtaxed, overcalculating mind and leave me in some competitive euphoria, I would have never been so passive.

 

To become suddenly aware of a change it oneself is jarring. It gave Daisuke a momentary lead, it left me taking an extra breath of air where I should have been deep below, seeking Daisuke's lure. I pressed other thoughts away, stared at the tent Daisuke was pitching and how his boxers clung to everything underwater. I pushed my muscles and they gifted me the speed to shoot out after my courageous partner. Courage was right... there was no use trying to escape me. Then again, I'd be foolish to think he didn't want to be caught. He was taking to taking it a little better than I anticipated.

 

I reached out, sliding forward through the water until my long fingers closed around Daisuke's leg just before a kick. He nearly bucked me off again, but my grip was sure; I had him by the ankle, and then climbed up his thigh, taking both sides of his hips and pressing them forward against my own. Our modest swimwear was not enough to disguise our shared arousal.

 

"Tsk, caught you again. What sort of challenge is that, Motomiya?" I thrust my hips against his again, and rolled them steadily together, like the eb and flow of the waves around us. "In that case, you should wrap your legs around my waist." My voice was firm, as if I was giving an order I'd given a hundred times before-- clean the bedroom, Daisuke. Do the dishes, Daisuke. Fuck me like you mean it, Daisuke.

 

As he obeyed, I slipped the waistband of his boxers down his legs and left them pinned between us. Mine came down just enough to let out my hardened cock, which was already poised and pressing against Daisuke's greedy hole. Third time and already a slut for it? Why had I been bottom for so long...? I looked down into Daisuke's eyes, watching them burn up at me wide with all his desires. Somehow, I felt closer to him, as if I understood how he could have always been so hungry and animalistic about sex. I pressed his head back with a kiss, and pressed his hips down onto me. Slowly I pressed him open, ever so slowly, teasing each centimeter past the entrance. One hand I kept on the round of his ass, and the other slipped between us, gently massaging the tip of Daisuke's abused (by me) erection.

 

"How is that, Motomiya? Do you want more?" Almost certainly, I knew how he worked. Daisuke would come in seconds if left by himself to bring it on. But he wasn't getting more out of me... not until I felt like it.

 

Maybe it would persuade me to watch him beg?

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I loved this. Loved it.

 

Ken had caught me, much as I expected. He swam up to me like a hungry barracuda, his arms wrapping around me and sloshing me close to him. I tried half-heartedly to escape again, but at that point I was laughing too much to be convincing. "That was only half my power. You couldn't handle my true form." I let my body float up into him with the ebb of the small tide, my arms wrapping around his neck, and my legs wrapping around his waist. I kissed a trail up his jaw, figuring it would keep my mind off the jitters that have chosen to shake my entire body.

 

This was exciting. The foundation of our relationship had always been rooted in a deep need for outshining the other. Not that we didn't value each other accomplishments, but pushing each other had always been valuable trigger for growth. For the most part it had always been physical achievements--one year I got more goals for the season in soccer than him. Holy shit, was he sour about that. But it helped me get accepted to a good college, besides having sickeningly average entrance exam scores... Of course, I never ended up going to college. Shit was so...

 

"Ahhh!" My mouth gasped against Ken's, and I brought my hands up to grasp tightly at clumps of tangled indigo hair. I knew my eyes must have been as wide as saucers. I whimpered into his ear. Pain in my ass as always... Though actually literal for once. "K... Ken. Please..." I tried to buck into him, to stretch myself out, but he barred me from taking what I wanted. "Ichijouji!" I pressed my forehead to his. In doing so, my body shifted enough to be free from him, but dammit, that wasn't at all what I wanted either! Desperately, I kissed him, again and again, quiet pleas to be fucked escaping between breaths.

 

Finally, after what felt like a millennia, he slid into me again--deeper now, pressing my body down with one powerful arm. I moaned loudly--maybe too loudly--prompting Ken to seize my mouth with his. I worked my hips against his, my buoyant body making it easier to move in a position that would have normally been difficult to achieve. The occasional wave made it hard to keep together, so Ken changed his position to widen his stance in order to anchor us, and in turn dedicated one arm to act as a stabilizer. His other arm was controlling by movements, forcing me to stop when I was too eager. His control over me was turning me on so much; and his stoicism in my need for him didn't help my libido either.

 

Our bodies slicked against each other, my cock rubbing against his smooth skin with each movement of my hips. I got lost in him, and I hoped that he was getting lost in me. Life had distracted us from each other. I hadn't felt this connected to Ken in months. Sure, sex wasn't everything, but it certainly helped. Maybe something new was all we needed to spark things back to life. Maybe I just needed to stop and smell the roses. I'm allowed a break without having to break. I'm allowed these precious moments with the most important people and creatures in my life.

 

And dammit, I'm allowed to come.

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Riding the waves and trying to fuck at the same time, it seemed I ended up getting frustrated about how hard it was to come too. I was deeply aroused inside Daisuke, aching and pulsing and needing it more with every passing second. For all my control, even I couldn't withstand something so primal, so far from my nobler mind, forever. I licked the saltwater from Daisuke's neck and pushed in deep, the ticklish welling agony sparking along my dick with each thrust. Damn this fiery partner of mine seducing me into such deep water...

 

I was close. So close. A few strokes more, ah... I heaved in a breath and sealed my mouth over Daisuke's. I let floatation become a secondary concern, and our bodies washed below the waves as I took him with both my hands. The water resisted me and again I overpowered it, pounding once, twice, and at last, to bubbling, gasping climax deep within my goggle-headed love. I grabbed him under the arm as I kicked for the surface-- well aware I'd just nearly drowned him for an orgasm.

 

"Can you breath, Motomiya?" It almost seemed like an afterthought, the way I took him by the waist and started to stroke at his cock. Did you come, Motomiya? I cared about that too. I was in a domineering mood, not to be conflated with cruel. I could never be cruel to my child of miracles. I swept soft kisses across his forehead, moved my controlling hand from his waist to the fluff of hair at the back of his head.

 

Cruel was not in my nature.

 

As a telltale twitching in my fist signified Daisuke's final, potent climax (oh, I had denied him one last night after all-- and it looked to have built up), I offered him a piggyback ride to shore. Precious, half-drowned and recovering from his little death, he wasn't putting up much of a fight at getting a tow. To be fair, it wasn't the first time I'd hauled Daisuke back home. Even back in high school, Daisuke would push himself too hard if he was practicing against me on the soccer field. The amount of work he put in to be competitive left him positively crippled on the field... but how could I not respect that? I'd heave him up against my shoulders and he'd nap until I dropped him off at his mom's.

 

Drying off against the sand, Wormmon and V-mon had taken to their own little water game. Wormmon couldn't swim, so he was riding around on V-mon's head and shoulders while his blue digi-partner pretended to be a boat. I tossed a bottle of water towards Daisuke, knowing he'd understand I wanted him to drink it.

 

"I miss when it was just us in the Digital World."

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Suddenly, I was underwater. With tightly wrapped arms around Ken's neck, my chest was pressed so close to his that I swear our hearts may have conjoined. A stream of bubbles swirled from my nose and mouth as we submerged, my alarmed protest echoing through the water. He kissed me. He kissed as he pumped into me. Kissed me as he came in me. Kissed me as we resurfaced, even when I coughed water into his face. He kissed my forehead as he finished me, my breathing labored from trying to catch it again. Labored because I felt so good. 

 

I don't even think in my dreams I could have imagined something like that.

 

I couldn't keep my eyes open. My body went limp against his. Ken offered to carry me back to shore, which was an offer I did little to fight against. I nuzzled against his ear. My fingers twitched against the soft skin of his chest. I cooed soft hums against his shoulder, the vibration of my own voice tickling my still waterlogged throat.

 

Fuck, I loved this man. So damn much.

 

We laid on the beach for a few minutes. Maybe it was an hour. I couldn't tell time anymore. I didn't care about time anymore. The sun sizzled the ocean water away from my body--the grimy feeling of salt left to coat my skin. Hot sand covered my back and stuck between my fingers. I looked like a beached whale, but I could guarantee I felt better than one.

 

Ken was the first one to make a move. He went to the basket of supplies and tossed a water bottle at me. I failed to catch it, and honestly I blamed him for it. I rolled to my side and grabbed the bottle, downing half of its contents in just a few swigs. With a hearty cough, I shook my head to Ken's comment. "Me too, I guess." I fell flat on my back against, shielding my eyes from the sun with my forearm. "It sure is a lot more busy." My mouth twitched into a frown. "A little harder to find peace and quiet. Sometimes I miss the days of having to deal with an angry Monzaemon. At least it meant when the battle was over, I didn't have to worry about whether or not there was a bystander near by."

 

V-mon and Wormmon had returned to the beach in order to fill up on some snacks. V-mon deposited a couple of more fish into the basket he had caught while playing boat-mon. We were going to have a good dinner tonight, that's for sure.

 

"But it hasn't been so bad. Digimon are amazing, and by extension, so is this place. I'm glad we get to share this place with the world. That's what we fought for. That's what Oikawa-sama wanted." Ken was silent as I talked. He was sipping at his own water, the opening of it not leaving his lips as I talked. "When Jun got Lalamon... It was like reliving my first meeting with V-mon. She was so happy, Ken. Getting Lalamon really made her less of a bitch." I chuckled. "Digimon change us." I looked at Ken. His hair was disheveled, drying into tangled nests of hair. Against the aqua sky, his eyes blazed from his pale skin. My chest tightened. "Digimon help us make relationships." I breathed out my nose, turning my attention to my toes that were digging themselves into the sand. "So yeah, I miss it just being us and the other originals. But if a little more commotion means people and digimon alike can even have the chance of experiencing what we have... It's worth putting up with."

 

I looked back at our partners. V-mon had curled up around Wormmon, and they had taken to napping. "After all, there will always be places like this where we can pretend." I managed to muster enough energy and crawled over to Ken. On my knees, I placed my hands on his and looked at him. "Just you and me." I kissed him, licking the salt from his lips and breathing in the ocean on his skin. "We can pretend."

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Daisuke was precious. Beautiful and optimistic, like a vivid flower growing in the path of a lava flow. There was only to watch it glimmer in its last moments before reality took hold, or to save it's innocent beauty a little while longer at the cost of its life. I would not pluck Daisuke; every moment I spent withholding the truth about what I saw destroying the Digital World was killing us slowly, a flower drying in a vase. Only Daisuke thought we were more intimately coupled, for all this. I... had thought it would help. I just couldn't stand knowing what was beyond those inner islands, what was wrecking the continent and everywhere the humans could touch, and having Daisuke content to blissfully pretend things were normal. After all, some had questioned why I liked Daisuke so much, despite his stupidity-- I never saw Daisuke as stupid. But covering one's eyes and ears like this was.

 

"I can't pretend, Daisuke." I rested a hand along the nape of his neck, let myself nuzzle into him and return a few kisses. I didn't want him to draw away, I just... struggled to find a gentle way of peeling open his eyes.

 

"Digimon don't change everyone. Or at least, not for the better." My eyes fell onto Wormmon, and all that unfolded before me was the bloody path I'd walked everyone down because of him. It wasn't Wormmon's fault-- it was barely mine-- but without his existence, how would I have come to the digital world? Come to have been infected with the spore in the first place?

 

"Look at all Owikawa did just to get one. And he didn't survive... would he even be happy with the world he permitted?" Despite my best efforts, a frustrated sigh slipped through. Digimon weren't the problem. Humans were the problem, and I would know, I was the original one.

 

"When I was young... Osamu wanted pets, so badly. And of course, we couldn't keep a dog or cat, but he was Osamu, so, my parents got him fish. A big, brilliant angelfish."

 

Speaking ill of the dead never brought me much comfort. It felt too relevant to not say.

 

"He kept it high up on his desk where I couldn't reach the tank to feed the fish. I could watch it though, with the tank lights making his scales shine. A fish is a far cry from a digimon but... he was still beautiful, still alive. And Osamu would forget to feed him. You could tell how lethargic the fish would get by the end of the day, I could feel it stare out of the tank and ask for me. And my parents would tell me, 'leave Osamu's fish alone, it's his present.' But it was starving and it died in a matter of months."

 

I paused only briefly, to swallow, to slow down.

 

"When that digivice came... why wasn't it for Osamu? He was older, he was smarter, but his digivice never came. Why do we have crests, Dai? Why were there ever chosen if we could always just open the floodgates? Was it... was it just stupid human envy that made Owikawa demand everyone get a partner? Some people just aren't good to their digimon, Daisuke, I swear I see it everywhere.

 

Just let me show you."

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"Oikawa-sama was just as used as you." There was no plainer way I could say it. It felt a little unfair for him to persecute a tortured man; the same man that ended up sacrificing his life to restore the Digital World. Didn't Ken walk a similar path? "BeilalVemdemon is the one you should be pissed at. We could be dead right now, Ken." I looked back at our partners. "They could be dead. This place could be dead. Oikawa-sama didn't force anything. He saw what we had with our Digimon, and he preserved it." With my index finger, I dug a shallow hole into the wet sand. It filled with a passing tide, my construction starting anew in an adjacent plot. "BlackWarGreymon saw that, too." 

 

I sighed. I could feel myself starting to get flustered trying to find words. It just seemed like Ken was being so... Hypocritical. And his tone about the dead was unsettling as well. "Anybody can fall down the wrong path. Fuck, maybe I may going down the wrong one now. But here's the thing... The Digital World... Digimon... They've given us a rich way of life. Not just you and me and Taichi-san, Miyako, Iori, even Takeru... Everyone. Do I really have to remind you the advances in technology over the past decade? I stand to remember a certain excited nerd coming to me when he got his hands on his first hologram tablet." I laughed as I remembered the child-like look on his face, the not-so-metaphorical glint in his eyes from the images dancing centimeters off of the screen. "What the fuck is that word...? Symbi... Uh... Symbiotic? Yeah. That's what our existence is. We need them just as much as they need us."

 

I leaned back into the wake of the water, the waves lapping at my fingers, sinking my hands into the sand with each yawning stretch. I tried to smile, but it felt more like a grimace. "We... All make mistakes. We all grow up. Osamu," the name made me pause. When was the last time we talked about Osamu? If there was a topic more taboo than the Kaiser, it was that of his brother. "Osamu just didn't know better. Baby digimon can be just a forgetful. We used to hang out in the Village of Beginnings all the time. You know how they used to fight each other so hard sometimes. Even the Elecmon could be just as bad."

 

I shook my head. What was I trying to say? What was I even doing?

 

"There's rules, yeah? Like, you can't just get away with kicking your partner or anything like that. That's part of the work Taichi-san is doing now. There's some bad eggs. Of course there are. We're all kinda shit, aren't we?" I still tried to smile, but it just wasn't working. "Things got a little hairy when there weren't rules. We didn't fight against just digimon when we were in high school. But it's better now. It's better. It's wonderful."

 

"You... You got the digivice because you're kind." I moved forward to my knees and reached out to place my hand on his shoulder. There was a strength in Ken's jaw. His neck was tight to the point of revealing the tendon that ran up its length. I ran my thumb along his reddening skin and down his arm, until trailing down to hold his elbow in my palm. "This place needed you because there will always be good and evil in both our worlds. This place still needs you. It needs us. Together with our Digimon."

 

My hands fell to his thighs. I tugged on the ends of his underwear. I guess I've always been a fidgeter. Especially when I was uneasy. Nervous. The heat from his skin wasn't just coming from the sun. His heartbeat was pacing as I kept talking. Was he mad at me? "B-but... Are you saying... What are you saying?"

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"That is what I'm saying." I felt my frustration heave up again, thick as nausea in the back of my throat. I tried telling myself how much I loved Daisuke's optimistic outlook about the world. Tried to tell myself how many times that very fire in him had lit my way in the past. I knew I was dangerous to myself without him; just right now, I felt ready to grab him by the back of the head and show him each and every violation of his precious rules that riddled humanity across the digital domain.

 

"It's not just a few bad eggs. Rules aren't helping. I... I know you're right, about Owikawa... about me... but didn't we still need to be stopped?" My hands cupped over Daisuke's, my fingers pressing down on his hands and keeping our bond tight.

 

"I'm kind. You're courageous, you're a great friend. Some people... don't let their crest show through." I shook my head, my hair reaching a new level of disheveled. I pushed my forehead into Daisuke's, letting the pressure between us equalize. Could he feel me pushing him? I wasn't sure where I was trying to push; into him, or push him away... or just push him to look. Push us together until we jogressed into one body, until we understood each other because we couldn't afford not to.

 

"I will show you. I will." Our time here was starting to run low. I had classes to attend. Daisuke had work to get back to. It was like trying to hold on to the sand slipping through an hourglass.

 

I stood, taking Daisuke by the hands and pulling him to his feet. We'd mostly dried off-- enough to get our pants back on, and I threw my jacket on on top of that. My fingers sorted my hair back to its usual place, and despite my urges to let our partners keep snuggling, I roused them to be our ride.

 

What would I do with the time we had left? Daisuke clearly wasn't nearly as burdened by the over-development of the world... fair enough. The world was just as burdened by progress as the real one, and plenty of people glossed over it, or at least, too it as inevitable. We did get a lot of cool things out of what we could only beg was nobody's exploitation.

 

So what would really show him? We glided over the forest almost aimlessly, Stingmon leading the way. As the bushy wind-beating treetops started to come up to meet my feet, it seemed Stingmon had something he'd had in mind for this. I smiled. My partner.

 

As the trees made way for us, it seemed we'd descended into a misleadingly deep wood. The treetops did not yield to sight of the ground, just a dark, sparsely-lit mosaic of branches. We wove down, threading through narrow polygons and sunk down further until mossy stones came into view down below. The low grasses were trampled by the rocks in a messy path, and quiet lanterns swung along alternating sides. We dismounted and Wormmon took the lead again, scuttling along until a dense thicket revealed a door that ivy vines had been knocked away from. In fact, the thicket seemed to be less foliage and more plants that had suckled onto the side of a wide, low concrete building.

 

"Hey, you kid. You can't be fighting with that." A buttery Russian accent shocked Daisuke and I into spinning around. A big man, with an Agumon on a thick leather leash, was chewing tobacco as he stared us down. I didn't see any immediate recognition of us-- frankly, this guy hardly seemed like he cared to be literate, let alone really read. He had that thick muscle-for-brains kind of attitude.

 

"A Wormmon? Might as well stomp it little guts out here." He barked a laugh, then nodded to V-mon and gave Daisuke a reasonable regarding look-- from muscles, to muscles. "I would like to see that, though. Da, follow." Brushing me away, he tried to take Daisuke by the shoulder and lead him beyond the mossy door. Against my tensed muscles I gave him an upward nod. Go. See things. I knew now that Wormmon and I had been here before-- and I knew well what was inside. An establishment that wasn't going to be so easy to unravel... and a popular underground sporting ring. Digimon fighting pits.

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I swallowed deep. Ken's forehead was damp with sweat, but his touch was hot regardless. He had stepped down a bit at least, seeing that he was maybe being a bit of a jerk... But he made a good point too about how we did have to stop him. We had to stop Oikawa. In turn, we stopped the root of the problem: BeilaVemdemon. "We had to stop you, but you had your stories. Your reasons. Misguided. Super strengthened... Maybe. But we listened." His fingers pressed into mine. I let them spread so they could interlace. "I listened. I knew you were good. Who's to say these people you're talking about aren't either?" I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to put him at ease, to defuse the tension strung up in his muscles. My lips quivered, "Most people deserve second chances." I didn't kiss him.

 

We got to our feet, Ken's grip on my hand was tight and urgent. He said he would show me. He looked at me with intense eyes and thin brows. My lips parted, wanting to ask how he intended to do that. What was he going to show me? What had I been missing that had been bothering Ken so much? We were building the puzzle together, but we weren't starting with the edges. I felt like I was cutting the pieces to make them fit. The Digital World seemed fine to me. The digimon seemed fine. The people seemed fine. 'I'll show you. I will.' It echoed in my mind. I pat my stomach, hoping for it to not overturn. Something wasn't right, and I wasn't sure with who or what.

 

Unfortunately, our time was nearly up.

 

"We should get home now, I guess." I walked over to where our digimon were resting, sand piled up around them like a nest, V-mon snoring softly with his head propped atop Wormmon's abdomen. Smiling, I bent down and gently shook one of his feet until he snorted awake. "Wake up, buddy. Time to get back to work."

 

"Awwww. Do we have to, Daisuke?" He rubbed the literal sand from his eyes with the back of his knuckles.

 

Truth be told, I was starting to feel the strong desire to play hooky. I hadn't taken a day off since I bought the business--not even during Golden Week. The prospect of poor sales didn't motivate me more either. "Yeah yeah. We do, we do." I started to brush the sand off myself as I reached for my clothes and slipped my shirt over my head. "You know that bills don't pay themselves."

 

"They don't?" He handed me my shorts, and I put them on.

 

"What do you think we've been doing this entire time!" I laughed, adjusting Taichi's goggle on my forehead.

 

"Wait... What're bills?"

 

V-mon, always the source of relief with things got weird. I loved the shit out of the little guy.

 

We took to the skies again, Stingmon and Ken taking the lead to bring us home back to our normal lives where normal things happen. No extraordinary terrain or adventures to be had... I missed being here. I missed what it did for us, as a couple. So many of our first moments took place here, it's surprising we hadn't just moved here yet. Sure, technically there was a law that forbade it... Mostly because how would the person pay taxes? Who would they pay it to? Everything always came down to money. But we had met more than a few hermits in the past that lived peacefully with their partners deep in uncharted territories. They wanted to escape to simplicity, where they wouldn't be bothered. We never told on them... We envied them. But, I wonder if Ken would do something about it now... Were they one of the problems?

 

"XV-mon," I said. Luckily, I was close to his ear, so I could speak to him at a moderate level--just enough to get over the noise of the wind against our faces but low enough so Ken and Stingmon wouldn't overhear.

 

"Yeah, Daisuke?"

 

"How are things with you and Wormmon?"

 

He was quiet for a few moments before he answered. "We're good, Daisuke. Why?"

 

"No... No reason." I ran my hand along the fine scales of his head. His skin was like a shark, smooth in one direction, rigid the other. "I just wanted to make sure."

 

"Wormmon... Wormmon told me not to tell you, but he said he and Ken had been coming to the Digital World on their own."

 

"Huh?"

 

"I told him that we used to come by ourselves all the time before the business. Right, Daisuke? I dunno what he's so worried about."

 

I rested my cheek on his head and sighed. "Yeah, there's nothing wrong with coming here without us. There's no reason for them to wait for us to be free to come here. I'm glad they are."

 

"Me too, Daisuke."

 

But why wouldn't Ken tell me?

 

I found myself deep in thought, noticing a bit too late that our altitude had changed. "Yo!" I shouted. "This isn't where the TV is! Where are we going!?" No answer. Through thick treetops, we soared, our partners expertly dodging branches as we came to a landing. Dismounting, I jogged up next to Ken. He looked passed me, down the walk way we had landed on, his lips thin and twitching with discomfort at what he was looking at. "Where are we, Ken? We need to get back. You don't want to..."

 

We weren't alone.

 

There was a tall man, blond haired and green eyed, his accent almost as thick as the width of his neck. Next to him was an Agumon, leashed and tethered to his partner... Though I wondered if they were. There was something about the Agumon that didn't seem right. Almost feral. Taichi told me about the Agumon Hikari and himself had met when they were young--before the Agumon he ended up pairing with. Behind the eyes was nothing but a beast. He moved his head like a bird, growling slightly with each move we made--even at the breaths we took. "What the hell are you..." I started, but his hand landed heavily on my shoulder, and he intended for me to follow him. "Yo! Get yer hands off me!" I brought both my arms up to get him off me, my feet reeling back as I tried to keep up with is long strides.

 

"Ah, can't be doing that." He said, spitting a stream of discolored spit to the side of the road. The Agumon beside him moved along with us. "That V-mon is gonna win a lotta people some cash."

 

My head swiveled behind me, "Ken!" He stood rooted in his spot with Wormmon at his side. He nodded at me as he folded his arms. Did he plan this? That fucking asshole. What the hell did he get me into!? "I said let me go." I hissed, trying again to free the Russian man from me. Unfortunately, he had a good foot of height on me, and at least a hundred pounds of muscle as well. "I'll fucking go, just let me do it myself. I'm a big boy." The mountain complied, and let me go.

 

V-mon grabbed my hand immediately. When he looked up at me, I saw my fear mirrored on him. "Where are we going, Dai? Why isn't Ken and Wormmon following?"

 

"Because they know they'd be dead men if they did." I said flatly. And I fucking meant every word of it. "We'll be ok."

 

"You'd better hope so." The man said as we reached the door. With two big hands, he swung the doors open, a burst of hot air rushing past us. I followed my escort through the doors, the interior dark and blinding me as I came from outside. I looked behind me to see that Ken still hadn't moved. What happened to being partners? What if I needed him? What did he know? My heart was racing, and for the first time in a long, long time, I was afraid. For thirteen years, I had always met danger with Ken by my side. He was the pilar I fortified against strong waves. Together, our heartbeats would combine to steady any storm... And now he has willingly put me into a fucked up situation. Hanging me out to dry. Throwing me into the line of fire.

 

Nevermind; I was livid.

 

The hallway was humid and lit with torches. At the other end of the door was brilliant white light from an exit to the outside. It was dank inside, the smell of weed upturning my nose and causing me to press the back of my arm to my face. Back in high school, when I was dating my American friend, we had tried it on a few curious nights--tried it while making art, watching TV, or having sex. In Japan, the risks of getting caught were too high. In America, it was mostly a slap on the wrist. In the Digital World... In the Digital World, I guess it didn't matter what you did. Deeper in the hallway were crates and jail cells, people kneeling over the shadowy containers and yelling words in different languages. Some were dressed well, some not so much, but all seemed to be the kind of people I would not be interested in hanging out with. Ever.

 

"'Ey, guy, ya gotta register dat V-mon."

 

I jumped, both at the sound of the door behind me closing and the man at the desk to the right of me. I was alone now. I took in a deep breath, smelling now the faint smells of cigarette smoke, alcohol, and metal. He was a scrawny man, rat like in features from the pointed nose to the big ears, and dressed in a nice enough suit to upscale the professionalism of the folded table he sat behind. "For what?"

 

"Ha! For what... What the fuck ya doin' here, kid?"

 

"Kid's gotta V-mon. I'm signing him up." My new "friend" said.

 

"For what?" I asked again.

 

Rat-man shifted in his seat and leaned forward, pushing the clipboard forward with several other scribbles on it. "Yer gonna fight, kid. Now write down yer info and gimme yer cash."

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I swallowed hard as Daisuke gave me that last glowering look as he passed the threshold. I couldn't have planned this better... but, that was because I hadn't planned it. I gave a quick glance down at Wormmon, and the worry was a tangible spark between our eyes. Shit.

 

I knew I couldn't follow him in, and no one gave any indication I was wrong. I'd only ever broken into one fighting pit before, and I'd learned a few things: Dinosaur-type digimon were a big favorite; Agumon, V-mon, Guillomon... as many as could be found would be in the pits. Though Andromon and other mech types were also good winners, they were rarer as partners, and as aged digimon in the wild. Most of all, many were too smart to enslave. Secondly, I'd learned that the pits did not appreciate bystanders, and thirdly, that I was a terrible actor. I couldn't even put on the airs of someone willing to throw Wormmon into the ring.

 

Despite, or maybe because of, the fact I'd invented digimon fighting pits.

 

Rather than get my ass handed to me (a second time) on an attempt to break in after Daisuke, I immediately dashed around the side of the building. Surely, Daisuke was going to be fine alone without me? He'd been the leader of his band of misfits-- eventually our band of misfits. He could take this one by himself? It wasn't a great risk. XV-mon was strong, so were Flamedramon and Raidramon and hell, if he could ever get Magnamon again...

 

But they were all pretty poor in comparison to Paildramon, and especially Imperialdramon. If he needed to get out, that was our most sure-fire way. And I wasn't about to throw Daisuke to the dogs to prove my point. This building though... there were absolutely no windows, let alone a side door. If a fire caught in there, they were fucked. There probably weren't fires, though, as there wasn't even so much as a chimney to sneak into up on top. I slowed down, started to sidle along the ivy-covered wall. Daisuke was in there... how far away could I feel him? His heartbeat, distant and irregular to mine... it resonated with me if he was out in the kitchen as I folded clothes in the bedroom. I could find him in the park after he'd gotten away from me playing fetch with V-mon and a big puppy. And maybe... I could feel him now.

 

He was in there. The pounding sound, low and shallow in my skin. I could feel him.

 

I looked at Wormmon.

 

"How far away... do you think you can jogress from?"

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I was fighting...? "What do you mean?" I was starting to sound like a broken record, which probably wasn't the best in the company of people that had tempers as short as candles with no wax.

 

"What's yer name, boy." Rat-man insisted. He didn't offer me a glance, just and impatient tap on the clipboard.

 

I wondered for a moment if I had just started this whole exchange in Japanese, if I would still be outside with Ken... We could have gotten out of here, I guess. Just walloped Russian-dude in the head with a well placed tail whip, and we'd be on our way home. But it looked like they had quite an establishment, and who knew if we'd be chased by a mob of Flymon if we had made the first shot. I didn't want to put Ken, Wormmon, or V-mon into danger... Of course, it looked like my inaction lead us directly to that situation anyway.

 

And of course, of course, Ken was going to show me. He would. He did. Did he have any idea just how much he was going to show me?

 

I picked up the pen and leaned over the dilapidated table. It bowed under the weight of my arm, my body hunched over as I scribbled my name out in romanji. Rat-man extended his hand, beckoning me to hand him something. "Money."

 

"But I don't..."

 

"Money."

 

"I don't event want to fight."

 

"Money. Or you answer to Nikolai there." Rat-man pointed to Russian-dude. I guess he had a name. I wasn't about to fight this. Human to human, I would lose six ways to Sunday. I wasn't even sure exactly what I was in store for at this point either, though I had a very distinct feeling it was not going to be good. I went to reach for my wallet, but Rat-man opened his disgusting mouth again. "Heh! Motomiya Daisuke? Aren't you that... Aren't you that uh... Man, I've heard dat name before. You dat kid dat's always on da television, eh?" I was quiet. "Shoulda figured one of yous woulda been playing the circuit. You pay double."

 

Was he serious? "What?"

 

"You pay double. Yous gots unfair advantage..." His lips curled up to expose crooked teeth, "And you'd sure hates to be tomorrow's tabloid, eh kid?"

 

Fuck. Blackmail too? This was just turning into quite the date. I was seriously going to fuck Ken up for this--like he'll be lucky if I didn't just pack my shit up when we got back home. I pulled out my wallet and all the yen I had in it. I threw it on the table, venom strung on my words. "That's all I have." Rat-man wasn't pleased. "What do you want me to do about it? There's not exactly an ATM around here." I could feel V-mon tugging on my shorts.

 

"Then you'll be fighting for your keep."

 

I breathed in deep, shaking my head in disbelief. There was no way around this. Did this type of shit happen to unsuspecting Digital World travelers? These fuckers see a good fighting digimon, and they hold the people at ransom, because they're too afraid or too outnumbered? Did they go out hunting for people to bring back to make money off of? I wondered if Taichi and the others knew about these kinds of things. If there weren't strict rules... If there weren't enforcers... I had questions, and a sudden desire to obtain answers. No matter what they threw at us, V-mon and I could last for at least a little bit. "Sure, whatever. Fine."

 

Nikolai took me by the arm and led me down the hallway. I could see glowing eyes peering through rotten cages, grumbling noises of chained up digimon as they restlessly shifted in their tiny confines, and some of the more feral ones attacking the bars as we passed. I realized now that the smell of metal was that of caked blood on the floor and smeared on the walls. The light at the end of the hall, the one I had mistaken for natural light, was actually just rows of fluorescent lights, and I squinted my eyes as we walked into the room. As my eyes readjusted, I saw it was an arsenal.

 

This wasn't typical dog fighting.

 

Metal claws, bear trap teeth, razor tails... Anything that could make a digimon more dangerous, as if they weren't already, was there. I felt my knees go weak, my hand landing heavily on V-mon's head. I couldn't put him through this. I couldn't. This savage cock-fighting was stomach turning. How could people do this to digimon? How?

 

"Pick one." Nikolai demanded.

 

"No. I want out. Fuck you guys." I knelt down and gathered V-mon in my arms. He was saying anything, but he was already shaking in my arms. He too had connected the dots.

 

"Pick one." He said again.

 

"Listen, you idiots can go ahead thinking that you can fuck up people and digimon's lives for a quick buck... But it ain't happening under my watch." I started to turn around, but then everything went black.

 

---

 

"Daisuke!" I cried. The big man had knocked Daisuke so hard to the floor that I struggled to hear his breathing. "Daisuke!" I shook his arm. I shook his back. He didn't say anything. A big hand was at the back of my neck and lifting me in the air. I kicked and tried to get out of it. I cried out for Daisuke and for Ken and for Wormmon.

 

Another human came to me and tied something to my tail. It was heavy and cold and made me feel imbalanced. I roared, snapping my jaws at anything that looked like it would be within biting range. They put something around my neck. They bound my limbs together. I cried out again. Daisuke was in danger. The digimon here were in danger. Ken and Wormmon could be in danger. I roared and flexed and twisted against myself as I tried to get out. Daisuke. Daisuke!

 

They brought me somewhere. It was dark. Then it was light. There was a lot of noise. There were a lot of people. I couldn’t understand what a lot of them were saying. It was smokey. There were a lot of unhappy digimon, digimon that didn’t know better, digimon that were scared. I could feel it all. Most of us didn’t want to be here. Some of us liked it. Some wanted to win. Some wanted to live. I wanted them to have both.

 

I watched them fight. A Gazimon ripped a Numemon’s eye off. A Hagurumon became so dented its gears stopped spinning. Digimon were declared winners. Digimon were declared losers. Digimon weren’t like this. They weren’t evil. Even the evil ones weren’t so cruel. Was this what people were like? Daisuke and the other’s weren’t like this. I never met people like this. Why did they make digimon fight like this?

 

They freed me. They kept the thing on my tail, making it droop to the ground lazily as I tried to swing it. They brought Daisuke out, limp and unconscious, into a pile on the floor. I wanted to run to him but they told me not to. They said I had to fight a Stegomon. If I won I would continue onto the next round. If I lost… They said I didn’t want to know what would happen.

 

Daisuke. Daisuke.

 

--

 

My eyes fluttered open, slowly, the pain wincing through my head. My cheek was pressed against cold stone, and my hearing came rushing back--the blair of cheering echoing through the room and sending a flash of pain through my brain. It took a minute for my eyes to refocus through the blur, but it took little time for me to realize I was looking at the backside of V-mon. "V-mon..." I muttered. My voice seemed foreign to me, far-off and in a different language. "V-mon... V-mon!" I croaked, trying to find the strength in my arms to raise me. 

 

"The challenger in tonight's series is a boy named Daisuke!" There was a hiss and boo through the crowd. I groaned into the damp tiling below me. The guy's voice was grating and loud and hearing my name on it disgusted me. "Now, now. He may be a new face, but we can always hope it will be the last!" There was cheering now. "You know the rules, boys. No evolutions. No pyrotechnics or fancy magic. Physical attacks only. All others will be disqualified with consequences."

 

I managed to get to my knees. My left eye wouldn't open, and when I touched it, a shooting pain created stars across my vision. Dammit. I started to worry about our condition to fight, let alone escape. But I knew we couldn't just leave this place either. We had to do something about it. These people were exploiting people and digimon alike. They found the loophole in the system and brought their unregulated crime to the Digital World. Now there were beaten and damaged digimon locked behind rusting bars. There wasn't life in a lot of their eyes: just fear and hate for being forced to do this. If they had less fear, the would have turned on their owners... Because that's what they were: owners. There were no partners here.

 

They wanted to put rules on us in a lawless abode? Fat fucking chance.

 

And there it was.

 

My chest heaved. I breathed in a smile. With a furrowed brow, I got to my feet, my stance wide and ready to embrace the storm about to permeate the stone walls around us. Like the patter of rain on a roof, I heard Ken's heartbeat string across my eardrums and fill me strength.

 

Fuck these guys.

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There... there.

 

Wormmon was cradled in my arms. I paced the wall, everywhere they moved Daisuke, I moved along with him. Every punch they rolled his body with, every breath they sucked out of him I felt as if it landed in my own limbs. I paced. His heart rushed. Wormmon was quiet. I paced. He was there. There.

 

"Thank you, Wormmon." I whispered do him, my lips nuzzled into the symbol emblazoned on his head. "I think he understands now."

 

A crashing sound came down in the bushes a short ways away. Turns out this shithole did have some outside patrol, however dumb and sloppy drunk they were. Still, at physically twice my size, it would be a little much to call him ineffective. With the sparest shreds of my attention, my legs tensed and relaxed again. Mmm... which of us was faster?

 

"Go, Wormmon. I'll be fine." I loosened my grip on him, and he nodded warily back to me. The burly man had broken into a sprint, and I was standing right here, heart in heart with Daisuke. Hell, like I wouldn't mind losing a few teeth for him. How romantic.

 

He was ready. Like sparklers erupting within my arms, Wormmon turned to a ball of light and radiated out from me. Much as I had anticipated, the digivolving process was no stickler for physical boundaries. I watched him dissipate into wisps through the darkened stone, my chest swelling as my spirit resonated with the emerging Paildramon.

 

"Oi, kid!"

 

I unleashed Paildramon inside, and my feet cut into the ground outside. All on you now, Motomiya.

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I watched on as everybody else in the musky, humid room shielded their eyes. My heart was racing, and my cheeks hurt from smiling. From the glowing shell in the center of the pit, two long arms and strong legs came breaking out. With an earthquaking thump, his large body landed to the ground, his thick tail smashing to the floor, and his ivory wings snapping open with a wet tarp sound. His head just barely skimmed the ceiling, which meant it would allow for better mobility for the time being. With a swipe of his tail, the razor they had attached to his tail went flying into the wall, lodging itself several inches into the granite.

 

Perfect time to start fucking shit up.

 

"No evolutions!" The announcer screamed. Already, the crowd was surging in our direction. We were going to be in for one hell of a fight.

 

I had to plan an exit. I didn't really think of that. Though plans were not really my thing--I kinda left that up to everybody else. Action first, plan on the way. Looks like I was doing it again. I backed up toward the nearest wall, XV-mon's roaring growl vibrating through every organ in my body. It made me giddy. I started laughing. Our bond was strong--stronger than I had felt it in years. We both wanted to liberate this place--wanted to free the digimon. Wanted their owners to pay. Through the walls I could feel that Ken was still with me, he hadn't left me, his presence raising the hairs on my arms and making me feel warm. I still had him... I still had Paildramon. 

 

I could guess, and say these idiots had no idea what they were in for. If any of them were lucky, they could reach Champion. It was unlikely any of them could reach Ultimate. None of them could probably even muster an ounce of love for their digimon to make it at all possible. All we had to do was make sure we didn't get overrun... Eaten by the zombies of crime.

 

A Shamamon twirled his club and smashed it next to XV-mon's feet. His body fell off balance, allowing just enough of an opening for XV-mon to grab the little goblin by the head and swing him into the mob of deadbeats. So. Fucking. Easy.

 

I looked around. A few feet away was a loose pipe. It looked rusted, but I wouldn't have been surprised if there was blood on it--whether it was human or digimon. It wasn't a crowbar, but it couldn't hurt to try in opening some of the crates I saw on the way in. It was going to be dangerous--these digimon weren't used to human kindness, and the possibility of serious injury lingered as an afterthought in the foggy parts of my brain. Because it didn't matter. We needed to get out of here with as many digimon as we could.

 

Making a dash for it, I leaned down to pick up the pipe and kept my momentum toward the only door I could find. I had to jump over a guy's tumbling body as reached the entryway. Waving the pipe, I shouted to XV-mon, "Come on! Upstairs!" But I could see things were going downhill already. A swarm of Gazimon were on his back, chewing at his tail and clawing at his wings. He shook his body violently, but was only able to fling off a couple of the vermin. What good was I without XV-mon? If he was going down, so was I. And I had a weapon now... I could at least try.

 

My legs carried me swiftly. I nearly missed a fireball to the face, before reaching my friend. I had always been more of a soccer player, but I played a couple of seasons of baseball in grade school--all I could do was hope it would pay off. Winding up my "bat", I unleashed a crack against the back of a Gazimon. He fell off like a fly, whining in pain. My intention wasn't to hurt anybody, but I knew we wouldn't be able to get free of here without it. But if we killed anybody...

 

I scrambled up XV-mon's back and dropped myself around his neck. Pointing my pipe toward the door, I commanded him forward, swatting away anything that got us tangled in our mission.

 

The pit was chaos now. Not only was everybody trying to fight us, but they had started to fight each other. The rules were gone. I saw a few flashes of light go off around me as digimon began to evolve into champion. Fire balls and electrical shocks scorched the sides of the room. "Let's go, buddy." I patted his head, and he nodded in agreement. We started to make a break for it, taking any opportunity of distraction to flee, until a Stegomon came barreling for us and knocked XV-mon to the ground. Tumbling off of his back, I landed several meters away, the wind having been knocked out of me as my back made contact with the floor. With a gasping cough, I rolled to my side, knowing that I had to get back up. Knowing that I couldn't rest or we'd be dead. I got to my feet, my lungs wheezing behind adrenaline, my hands empty of a weapon and a mass of digimon and people circling in on us...

 

"Ken..."

 

Like a sweet spring breeze, one that is hard to forget, and one that you always long for, I felt him. Up my legs and across my arms, I swear I could feel his fingers gently push through my hair. I brought my fist up to my chest and breathed deeply. Was this really going to work? I had no idea where Ken was at the moment, but we were at least seprated by a couple hundred meters and a few feet of stone. Were we really that connected? Could Paildramon even come to be through such circumstances?

 

"Believe, Daisuke!" XV-mon shouted, turning into a pained roar as Stegomon bit his gugglar. 

 

His pain was mine. It crippled me. My moment of doubt took away my high, took away my will to fight. My knees buckled and slumped to the ground. He needed me. But what could I do if this didn't work? We didn't run fast enough, and now we were going to get eaten alive. I looked around for something, anything. 

 

There. There.

 

I could feel him. His fingers moving across my skin, gently, just because he wanted to feel me. His warm breath on my ear as he whispered words that meant nothing but at the same time meant everything. We'd shared bodies, we'd shared minds, we'd shared lives. It had been so long since we jogressed, I dared to forget what it felt like. But it felt like perfection, because I wasn't me. I was him. We were together.

 

A piercing wail came from beside me, and XV-mon was on his back. My palms were sweaty as I went to reach for my D-3. I felt all of Ken's faith and trust funnel into a single point of light, and the device began to change color in my hand. First from where my fingers held tightly to it--blue turning to green, white into blue... It vibrated madly until XV-mon was no longer there, replaced instead by another ball of light, bigger than the last. From its remains would come Paildramon.

 

I couldn't believe it worked.

 

He was too tall now, his body hunching against the cieling but still able to skillfully remove the threats that came at him. "Paildramon!" I shouted. I wanted to run to him and hug him. I had missed him so much.

 

"Run, Daisuke!" Through the ruckus, I could still hear their separate voices. They held together to protect me. They would be ok as long as they knew I was. I had to run.

 

Spinning around, I let my body run my mind. On the way to the door, I found my discarded pipe and grabbed it as I entered the entrance way. I took the stairs three steps at a time, fleeing up two flights before finally reaching the entrance to the hall I was originally brought through. It looked like I must have been the main attraction (and who knew at this point how long I was actually out), as most of the "staff" was gone. Lucky me, I guess.

 

I had to make this quick. So quick. I entered the dark hall and went to the first crate I could find with a small Botamon in it. With a healthy swing, I cracked open the padlock and freed the little guy from his confines. I couldn't free the ones in the big cages, but I was able to lob off the restraints of a few more digimon before I heard Paildramon starting to make his way up the stairs... By blasting away the stairs entirely. I grabbed as many baby digimon into my arms as I could. Many of them bit and blew bubbles at me, too beaten and abused to know I wasn't there to hurt them but to free them. I ran until my legs were rubber, but continued to run. I rammed my shoulder into the door I had been forced into, nearly losing my balance and falling forward until I was caught by two delicate hands.

 

Reeling back, I tried to run away, as I brought the digimon in my arms closer to my chest as if it would do more to protect them.

 

It was Ken.

 

I had never been so relieved and furious to see a human being in my entire life.

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Good to know that the lumbering brute they had on guard duty was only gifted in the upper half of his body. I dashed, gaining such an immediate lead on the gigantor that I was free to pivot around and look back briefly. He was thundering, his steps too heavy and solid to carry him anywhere very fast. His legs were shivering under the weight of his upper body, wildly undersized for his massive frame. And very quickly, he was becoming a tomato shade of red.

 

"Oh, threatening." I called back to him, a grin tugging into my cheek like it had been pulled by a fishing line. He roared after me like a wild beast, and I cut around tree to see how far he'd chase me. He was still there, still rumbling along as I sapped his momentum with agile evades. He would've made a pathetic soccer player.

 

By now I could hear the raucous mess Paildramon was whipping up inside. Ripping the pits out from the inside like an alien bursting out of their intestines. I could swell with pride, but not too far off was the chaotic panic coming from my partner. It was no daisy wooded chase in there, and there was a lot more than one ugly meathead chasing down Daisuke. My follow had just tripped himself on a tree root, so I sprung myself back towards the door. It clapped on its hinges, the whole building rattling like an earthquake coming through. I waited. I heard the muscle-man start to get up again. Paildramon was getting closer. The brute was getting closer. Daisuke was getting closer. The brute's breathing was audible now. Daisuke burst through the door with a shatter of splinters and a confetti of baby digimon.

 

I caught him in my arms, lowered us both down to the ground. Paildramon rended the doorway into a fine mist of dirt, stone, and plant, exploding the full size of his frame through. Before I even had to utter a word, our fusion of partners had swept away the lumbering brute like he was just a ragdoll. Which is what he became, sprawled out against the forest floor, concussed by the tree he'd bounced off.

 

"Let's get out of here, Paildramon!" I looked up at him at last. Magnificently tall, shining in his black armor... how long had it been since I'd looked into those eyes shared by our dearest friends? The warmth I felt as Paildramon scooped us into his arms was so welcoming, it was almost scalding.

 

I helped distribute Daisuke's refugees between our arms. We were up and away so fast that soon the branches broke around us, piercing a hole in the dark canopy. Only out in the natural daylight again could I relax, and consequently, take a look at Daisuke's face.

 

If not for those digimon in his arms, I promise you I would be sporting a black eye.

 

"...But you see what I'm saying now, don't you?" I cocked my head forward, then winced. Maybe not the best thing to say first, Daisuke just having escaped the jaws of death. "I... I'm really glad you aren't hurt." At least... not too much. If I thought I was going to get punched out by Daisuke, it wouldn't even look half as bad as the thick blue and maroon schmear that had sunk in under Daisuke's left eye. It shot down along his nose like a lightningbolt, and swept up into his brow. A crusty, blood-caked scab ran along the line of Daisuke's cheekbone.

 

"You... shouldn't look in a mirror today, Motomiya."

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