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No Girls Allowed (Digific, Ch. 21)

Title: No Girls Allowed
Author: Schnickledooger
Rating: T/PG-13
Genre: Romance/Humor/Action/Adventure/Friendship
Summary: Jun keeps popping up in the most unexpected places. Tai is not pleased, especially when it gives his friends the wrong impression. AU Season 02 time-line and events. Plotage Explosion past Ch. 17. Starts off light and fluffy, gets serious as end nears.
Word Count: So far... 120,000+

Ch.1 Revenge
Ch.2 Backfired
Ch.3 The Way To A Man's Heart Is...
Ch.4 Love Is A Jealous Thing
Ch.5 Night Out
Ch.6 Eternal Darkness Of The Cluttered Mind
Ch.7 All The World's A Stage
Ch.8 Elementary, My Dear Jun
Ch.9 The Melancholy Of Taichi Kamiya
Ch. 10 All's Fair In Love And War
Ch.11 So Much For My Happy Ending
Interlude
Ch. 12 Accidentally In Love
Ch. 13 Just To Let You Know I Care
Ch. 14 With You
Ch. 15 Take My Hand
Ch. 16 Poisoned Bond
Ch. 17 Tidal Wave
Ch. 18 Centrifugal Motion
Ch. 19 More Than Useless
Ch. 20 Be My Escape


Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon. Toei Animation does.

A/N: Definition of Japanese terms below chapter. I had to put in time frames in italics every time I switch scenes because of the time-jumps-_-;; A little confusing, but necessary. PLOT setup for the future! Also, new POV besides Tai's this time! Cool, no?^^

Ch. 21 The Ties That Bind

Damn Fujiyoshida City, Tai though clenching his jaw. Being almost a good forty-five minutes away from Tokyo! And that was traveling by faster transportation than a moped carrying two passengers! He wished he knew what was going on.

"Hold on, lemme check. They might be broadcasting it on the radio," Jun said as if she could read his mind and startling him by leaning heavily against his back as she stretched her arm over his shoulder to reach a knob on the controls. Then her face was hair-breaths away from his own and the scent of almonds swamped his senses.

Tires squealed and burned rubber as the moped zigzagged willy-nilly all over the road as Tai momentarily lost control over the handlebars. A truck passing in the opposite direction honked his horn angrily at them for driving in his lane, and Tai barely had time to swerve out of his way.

"Careful! You nearly made us road-kill back there!" Jun shouted in his ear.

"W-w-whose f-fault is that?" Tai gasped, shaking and sweating but not from the near-fatal encounter. "You don't just… just…"

"Eh? What are you on about now?" Jun asked dryly.

"You don't just go pressing up against a guy all of sudden like that!" Tai all but yelled, then wishing he could reclaim those words the very instant they flew out of his mouth.

Especially when a very familiar symphony of evil giggles began filling the air. "Oho, what's this?" Jun inquired slyly, snaking her arms tightly around his upper chest. "Does Mr. Foolish Hero Complex have a shy side? Heeheehee!"

"S-shut up!" Tai shouted, feeling heat flood his cheeks. "Don't do things like that when I'm driving!"

"Hmmm? Well, when am I allowed do them then?" Jun questioned interestedly, letting her clasped hands slide down lower around his middle.

"NOT NOW!"

"Soooo cuuuute!" Jun simpered not able to resist kissing Tai on the cheek.

RRRRR-RRRKKKK!

"Ah, watch where you're going, Evil Cannibal!"

"I swear if you make me crash this moped and we die I'm going to haunt you for the rest of your days!"

"We'll both be dead already then, Ghost Vegeta!"

oOo

Odaiba, Tokyo, Fall 1999.

Davis Motomiya hated soccer.

He hadn't always hated it. Rather, it had been one of those activities he knew about, but hadn't particularly cared for or disliked either way. It had been sort of like the game of shogi he sometime played with his grandma. It wasn't the first thing on his list that he would do for fun, but it was an entertaining pastime to stave off boredom when there was nothing else to do.

His family used to live in Chiba. Now they lived in Odaiba. Worst. City. Ever. You'd think his folks would get the picture of how bad the place was after they had all been kidnapped by a vampire and his ghost-minions after they had barely finished unpacking, but noooooo! The Motomiyas were renown for being notoriously stubborn.

It was bad enough moving in the middle of a school semester and being a transfer student on top of that. "Don't worry, you'll make new friends," his parents had told him when he had complained about missing his old ones. That was easier said than done. Most of the kids in his class had grown up knowing each other and had already formed their own little clichés. There wasn't any room for an unwelcome outsider like him to squeeze into.

"God, you're such a baby!" his sister had exclaimed disgusted at him when she had all but tripped over him sprawled out forlornly on the floor in the living room replaying one of his many video games he had won countless of times already. "Quit sulking and go outside! Isn't that how you guys form your unbreakable friendships? Bonding over some stupid sport or another? At least you don't have stand around and listen to the most popular girl in your grade jabber on about her fashion sense and love life and pretend to find it fascinating just to get on her good side!"

He had gone outside after that if only to escape being the target of another one of his sister's spazz attacks. There was a field not too far from his apartment and he grew excited at seeing some kids from his school there playing soccer when he arrived. The black and white checkered ball rolled to a stop at his feet from an off-side kick.

"Oi!" yelled a black-haired boy called Reiji if he remembered his name correctly. "Could you give us that back?"

Davis had picked the ball up and rushed over his heart pounding nervously. Maybe Jun had been right after all and he was about to make friends!

"Funny," Reiji had laughed when he held out the ball to him.

"Huh?" Davis had said confused.

"Most people would have just kicked it back," Reiji shrugged.

Davis' face turned beet red. Not even a full minute in and he was already showing his cluelessness at the sport!

"Hey, you're Motomiya, right? From class 1-B?" another boy said coming up to them.

Davis nodded slowly, not recognizing him.

"Kyousuke," the boy introduced himself smiling. "I sit two desks behind you. Hey, Reiji, let him join us. Then we'd have even numbered teams."

"Can you play?" Reiji had asked him.

Davis had nodded enthusiastically without hesitating. Truthfully, he hadn't played much soccer. He and his friends back in Chiba had been more into video games and anime than any sports. Most of what he could remember of the game consisted of kicking a ball around in the sandbox in preschool and watching it on tv. But still, it didn't seem that hard to figure out. It was just kicking the ball with your feet and not letting the other team get it right?

Wrong. Because apparently, hogging the ball all to yourself was considered bad form, but Davis couldn't help it because it soon became evident that he had absolutely no passing skills and all his kicks had missed their intended marks. After falling on his face for the fifth time, he found himself surrounding by his frowning teammates.

"Listen, if you can't play then you shouldn't lie about it," Reiji said. "We don't have time to waste on teaching you the rules."

"Yeah, our school is gonna win the Japan Little League tournament! We don't have a place for losers on our team!" cried a red-haired boy shaking a fist at him.

"Hamada!" Kyousuke said reproachfully, "Just because he can't play doesn't mean you are allowed to be so mean!"

"If we're nice to him, he'll only stick around and drag us down!" Hamada declared.

"I'm sorry, Motomiya," Reiji apologized politely but coolly. "But we have a goal we intend to reach. If you are not prepared to take soccer seriously, then do not bother to play."

They had left after that, left them there on the field, none with much as a backwards glance at him except for perhaps Kyousuke, but even his look was fleeting and dismissive.

And Davis realized suddenly that he hated soccer.

oOo

Thump!

Thump!

Thump!

In an isolated, wooded area of the park a soccer ball bounced off a tree trunk as its owner repeatedly kicked it towards the same target.

It wasn't that Davis had changed his mind about soccer. He still hated it. But no one called him a loser! He'd practice until he was better than all those guys, then he'd flaunt his skills in their faces, and get scouted by some famous Little League coach, ha! Not that he would ever join some lame soccer team, but he couldn't wait to see the envy on his classmates' faces. Then they'd be sorry they hadn't made friends with him!

Davis swung his leg out and kicked with vicious relish, imagining it was Hamada's face and the ball rebounded off the tree and smacked painfully into his stomach, causing him to double over wheezing.

"That's a funny way to play soccer," someone commented behind him.

Davis spun around still short of breath and his eyes landed on the silhouette of the person who had spoken. He was standing in a shadowy area of the trees so his features were hard to make out, however, when he cocked his head to one side curiously, sunlight was caught and glinted off the plastic eyepieces of the goggles holding up the person's wild hair.

Davis swiped one hand under his nose to rub away any dirt or leakage that he had failed to take notice of and turned away from mysterious newcomer without a word. He couldn't afford to get distracted. Wasn't that what Reiji had said? There was no time to waste and a goal to obtain. He'd become the best soccer player ever and prove to those jerkwads exactly who the losers were—it certainly wasn't him!

Thump!

This time the ball catered off the tree's trunk with a wild spiral to the left. The strange boy stepped forward into one of the small patches of sunlight and caught the ball with his hands easily. Height-wise, he was about three heads taller than him, and looked to be only a couple of years older. His skin was tan, his eyes and wild hair brown and he was grinning friendly at him.

"You've got a good solid kick there, but absolutely no sense of direction," the boy stated matter-of-factly.

Alright, that was it! Now even random passer-bys were making fun of him playing soccer? He wasn't going to take it anymore!

Davis hurled himself at the older boy with an angry shout, arms stretched out to snatch the soccer ball from his grasp. Only, the boy dropped the ball at the last second and began rolling it between his feet. Every time Davis attempted to try and get it with his hands, the boy would kick the ball up with his heel and ankle and bounce it from one knee to the other, spinning circles around him as he did so.

"Gimme my ball back!" Davis shrieked enraged, shooting out his foot in desperation as the boy let the ball drop to the ground again. The tip of his shoe connected and sent it hurtling a good ten yards away.

He dashed wildly towards it, aware of the older boy matching his stride alongside him. They reached the ball exactly at the same time, both their feet locking it between their shins for a brief moment before Davis acted on impulse and twisted to the right, managing to successfully steal the ball.

Davis stood with one foot resting on top of it, red-faced, glaring and panting in exertion, silently daring the other to come any closer and the older boy clapped his hands delightedly and laughed, "Yes! Yes! That's how you play soccer!"

Davis blinked. What?

"Hey, I've got to go now. It's getting close to supper time," the older boy said glancing at the late afternoon sky peeking through the treetops. "But I'll be here tomorrow—if I survive tonight's meal—and we could play again. You're pretty good for a beginner! You've got loads of talent, kid!"

Davis had watched the back of the boy's blue shirt until he had lost sight of him. He picked up the soccer ball and scowled.

Come here again tomorrow? Yeah, right. Forget it. Soccer was stupid and people who wore goggles were crazy freaks.

oOo

Davis never asked the older boy's name, and he never gave him one nor asked for Davis' name, preferring to address him as "chibi". Goggles, as Davis had become to think of him, thankfully never questioned him about his private life or school. He seemed to have assigned himself as his coach without Davis' consent. Every day, Davis would go to the same place and the boy would be there or arrive shortly after. Every day, Davis learned a little more about the rules and the world of soccer. He told himself that he was only using the older boy to become a better soccer player. He had almost convinced himself of this when one day Goggles complimented him on how his balance had improved and now his kicks were more stable, and Davis was shocked to discover himself flushing in pride at the praise.

"Aw, that's a cute look for you, chibi!" Goggles had laughed, poking his red cheek with one finger in a teasing manner. "Do that more instead of frowning. You'll have girls swooning at your feet!"

Davis had pushed away his hand. "Why are you doing this?" he demanded confused.

"Doing what?" Goggles asked, that goofy, annoying grin of his still plastered on his face.

"Helping me with my soccer!" Davis burst out angrily. "What? Am I so pathetic that I need a tutor in sports too?" His parents had recently arranged a private tutor for him because of his failing grades. Now he had one when he went outside school too. Did he really suck at everything in life?

"Is that what you think I'm doing?" Now it was Goggles who looked confused. "I come here to play soccer with you because the game is more fun with two people than all by yourself."

"Soccer? Fun?" Davis repeated, not understanding.

"Sure!" Goggles bobbed his head up and down vigorously. "Haven't we had fun playing together?"

Davis thought about it. About how lonely he had felt since he had first moved to Odaiba. How he had only focused on soccer because his classmates were so obsessed with it and he desperately wanted to fit in. How much he eagerly looked forward to these few short hours in the wooded area of the park every day not because his soccer was improving, but because of the person who would be there waiting for him.

It was almost as if he had made a friend without even realizing.

The astonishment must have shown on his face for Goggles let out another one of his barking laughs and laid a hand on head, ruffling his spiked hair affectionately. "Hey, chibi, since it's the weekend, I think our families won't mind us skipping one meal at home. Let's go eat out. My treat."

They had ended up at an open-booth ramen cart with Goggles grumbling about how he couldn't believe the udon stall was closed today of all days, but that ramen was an okay substitute.

The vendor had been a young woman who had squealed excitedly about how adorable the two brothers were and how sweet it was for the older one to be looking after the younger.

"Hey, chibi," Goggles had whispered to him when the woman's back was turned as she prepared their dishes. "Your big brother's name is Tai."

"D-Davis," Davis had squeaked.

A sudden weight came down on his neck as an arm was slung around it.

"Nice to finally meet you, little bro," said a voice above his head with a faint trace of amusement and Davis felt his face flame red once more.

For the first time since moving to Odaiba, Davis found himself not missing his old home at all.

oOo

It had been about one month since his first, disastrous meeting with the Odaiba Elementary soccer club when one day upon walking the path that passed by the field, Davis was surprised to see the members sitting on the grassy slope that led down to the playing area watching something.

Curious, he stopped and followed their gazes. There was a group of older boys on the field in red and white soccer uniforms.

"Eh? What are you doing here, Clown-boy?" Hamada had been the first to spot him standing off to the side watching along with them.

"Who are they?" Davis asked wondering why the club members were allowing their field to be used by strangers without a fight.

"Tch, you really don't know anything, do you?" Hamada scoffed and explained smugly. "That's the Odaiba Elementary soccer team."

"Wait, you mean you guys aren't on the team?"

"There are different leagues for elementary soccer teams depending on their grade level," Reiji had spoken up, his eyes never leaving the players below. "But the fifth and sixth graders are the ones the Junior League scouts for their middle schools."

Davis looked back down at the red and white uniform players. Oh, so that's who they were.

"They're so cool!" Hamada exclaimed abruptly, admiration glowing in his eyes. "One day I'm gonna be just like Atarashi and Kamiya-sempai!"

"Numbers 05 and 01," Kyousuke pointed out helpfully when it was clear that Davis still didn't get who Hamada was talking about.

Davis did another sweep of the field, his eyes landing on the black-haired boy who wore the Number 05 uniform and the brown-haired boy in the Number 01 uniform.

"So, they're good then?" he wondered out loud.

"Good?" Hamada spat as if he had received a personal insult and leaped to his feet. "They're awesome! They're soccer geniuses! And they're something you'll never hope to be in a million years so just beat it already!"

Davis fell down as Hamada shoved him roughly in the chest. His backside had barely hit the grass before he was upright again, anger flaring in his chest, and flinging himself at Hamada in flying tackle that had them both rolling head over heels down the slope where they tumbled to dusty stop on the dirt field.

"Get off! Get off me, you freak!" Hamada shouted pounding him with his fists.

Davis raised a fist of his own ready to belt an all-too satisfying punch to his tormentor's nose, when he was suddenly hauled off him by the back of his shirt and dangled a few feet off the ground.

"Whoa there, calm down, chibi," said a familiar voice and Davis threw his head back to see who was holding him.

He wasn't wearing his favorite head accessory so his hair was falling down in sweaty, matted locks instead of standing up in its usual wild fashion, but now up-close, there was no mistaking the boy's face: Goggles—no, Tai—wearing the Number 01 uniform. Kamiya-sempai, Hamada had called him.

Davis gaped. He hadn't known Goggles went to his school.

"What's going on?" Number 05, Atarashi-sempai, asked jogging over.

"Ah, Atarashi-sempai, Kamiya-sempai, sorry, I'm so sorry!" Hamada cried horrified that his idols had caught him fighting and threw himself face-first into a prostrate position on the ground.

By now the rest of the younger year soccer club members had skidded down the slope and were bowing their apologies as well.

"Please forgive us," Reiji said bowing solemnly. "We didn't mean to disturb your practice."

"Yeah!" Hamada bit out, lifting his head and pointing a finger towards Davis. "Besides, he's the one who—"

"Aha, I've got it!" Goggles exclaimed loudly, interrupting him. "You guys enjoyed watching us older kids play so much that you wanted to join us!"

"Eh?" Hamada looked taken aback by that declaration.

"I'm sure we could manage to fit in one small game into our practice time. How about it, Sano?" Goggles asked, turning his head to Number 05 and setting Davis back on his feet. "Two on two play? You and OTL over there versus me and chibi here? Kitagawa and Asama can be our goalies."

A sly grin broke out across Atarashi-sempai's face as some hidden message passed between them. "Fine by me," he shrugged, trotting over and hauling Hamada up by his collar. "Come on, OTL, let's plan out our battle strategy."

Davis allowed himself to be led onto the field, hardly able to believe what was happening. He was going to play soccer? Here in the open? With both his classmates and kids from upper grades watching him? All he knew was that his soccer couldn't possibly have improved so much over a span of four weeks to make any good lasting impression.

"Just follow my lead, my spit-fighting kouhai," Goggles murmured out of the corner of his mouth as they took up their positions on the field. A hand patted the top of his head in the same caring manner it had that day in the park.

Then the whistle was blown to start the game and everything exploded into chaos.

"Attack Pattern Alpha!" Goggles cried out the command, shooting his arms out dramatically as he dribbled the ball towards the opposite goal.

Davis nearly tripped over his own feet. What? He had never once heard that come out of Goggles' mouth in all their time together. He had absolutely no clue what he was supposed to do.

"Oh no! Not Attack Pattern Alpha!" Atarashi-sempai exclaimed aghast. "Quickly, OTL! Counter-measure with Strike Force 9000!"

Hamada appeared as equally confused as Davis. What battle-strategy the two had discussed before the game, it didn't seem to involve this. The boy had stopped mid-field looking positively bewildered and Goggles passed by him in a blur.

"Your defense is easily broken, my rival!" Goggles crowed as he prepared to head off with Atarashi-sempai. "You will never withstand my Pepper Breath Shoot!"

"Ha! Your Pepper Breath Shoot is no match for my Equation Stunray!" Atarashi-sempai laughed crazily as he and Goggles fought over control of the ball. "What is the square root of sixty-five to the twelfth power divided by pi?"

"Noooo! Not math! Anything but that!" Goggles moaned piteously clutching his head as if to stop his brain from leaking out and did a 180 spin, kicking the ball in a back-pass to Davis. "You're our last hope, chibi! Defeat the enemy with your special ability!"

"Don't just stand there, OTL! Stop him before he crushes us with his overwhelming power!" Atarashi-sempai shouted frantically.

They were both crazy. Stark-raving mad. A couple of lunatics.

Going by Hamada's expression he agreed whole-heartedly with Davis' sentiments, however, he didn't seem particularly keen on the idea that he could be beaten by an amateur such as him. The boy was tearing down the field straight towards him, and all Davis could do was blame the madness that had engulfed the soccer field for what he did next without thinking.

"R-R-Ramen Cart Charge!" he shrieked the first thing that jumped into his head as he dashed forward with his head lowered.

He heard Hamada give a surprised yelp as he knocked shoulders with him, jarring the other sideways in his rush pass and then Goggles was waving his arms and Davis had kicked the ball to him out of pure reflex.

It was by no means a perfect pass and veered way off course, but somehow Goggles still managed to get to it. "My eternal gratitude, chibi!" he saluted him sharply before turning his attention to the goal now only a few yards in front of him. "Prepare to be vaporized! Here it comes! PEPPER BREATH SHOOT!"

"Aiyah!" the goalie screamed high-pitched, collapsing to the ground and covering his eyes as if blinded. "I am no match for the brilliance of such an awesome attack! I concede your victory!"

"Yahoo!" Goggles was screaming, jumping up and down excitedly. "We won, we won, chibi!" Then Davis felt himself being picked up and spun around until he was dizzy and breathless. "Such a splendid and amazing attack! The Ramen Cart Charge shall go down in the Hall of Fame as one of the most deadly assaults in soccer history!"

Aloft in the air, close enough that he felt he could reach up and touch the clouds, a bright warmth was spreading across Davis' chest, almost something akin to happiness when Hamada's voice sounded out angrily.

"That wasn't real soccer, so you didn't win! Play seriously!"

Davis found himself deposited on the ground as Goggles' carefree expression turned abruptly somber.

"Did you hear that, Sano?" Goggles said crossing his arms. "I don't think OTL is satisfied with just one game."

"Ah, if I heard correctly, he wants a serious game," Atarashi-sempai said stepping up next to him and copying his pose. "Whatever shall we do?"

"Well, I suppose you and me could take him and chibi on together," Goggles suggested cupping his chin thoughtfully. "Too bad they don't seem to get along…"

"Me and Motomiya will beat you! Wait and see!" Hamada burst out shocking Davis. He thought that he would be the last person on the boy's list that he would choose to be on his team. However, it seemed Hamada was angrier at the two people he looked up to not taking him seriously than he was at being paired with a green-horn at soccer.

"Well, if you really insist…" Goggles drawled out, shrugging as if it didn't matter one way or another.

"Come on! We'll take you on right here, right now!" Hamada challenged looking more livid every second. "My little sister plays better soccer than you!"

"Oh, Sano, did he just…" Goggles wiggled his finger around in his ear as if to clear any blockage.

"I believe he just implied a girl could out-play us at soccer, yes," Atarashi-sempai confirmed somberly.

"Has he met Sora yet?" Goggles wondered out loud. "She'd take that as a compliment."

"But going by what he said, that's implying Sora could easily whip both our butts at the game and that also, we play worse than girls," Atarashi-sempai chuckled, looking as if he was eagerly awaiting Goggle's reaction to that statement.

A dark shadow had passed over Goggles' face and a dark, foreboding aura seemed to be emitting from somewhere behind him. "Oh, not in a million years! Right!" he growled, punching a fist into the open palm of his left hand. "You're going down, OTL and chibi!"

"I didn't say anything!" Davis protested feeling slightly betrayed that Goggles had switched sides and now was up in arms against him.

"Come on, Motomiya! Let's slaughter these pushovers!" Hamada cried with a maddened fervor giving a sportsmanly clap on the arm.

It connected with enough force that Davis could already feel the bruise forming beneath the skin. What was strange though was that he found it hurt in a good way. It felt sort of like when Goggles had lifted him into the air and spun him around.

They hadn't won, of course. In fact, it had been a rather dismal defeat: 1-5. In the end, Davis and Hamada lay sprawled out on the field winded and limbs limp from exhaustion, their clothes and skin smeared with dirt and grass stains. It was almost refreshing when Goggles and Atarashi-sempai dumped their bottled water over both their heads, high-fiving each other as they did.

Except that Davis got a fat lip from Hamada's hand smacking into his mouth when he yowled and thrashed about like a cat that was drowning.

But not too long after, Hamada had opened a bag of sour gummy worms and shared it with him. Only him and no one else.

And then he had practically ordered him to join the Odaiba Elementary soccer club, glaring at everyone else in it that might have any objections.

But there had been no protests from his classmates, their smiles warm and accepting, and then the upper years had suggested that since the entire soccer club was here which was rare, they should all eat out and make a special memory of the event.

"Udon! Let's go eat udon!" Goggles had demanded, rocking back and forth on heels in anticipation.

"No!" Atarashi-sempai yelled looking green at thought. "Aren't you sick of eating that every day?"

"Nope!" Goggles grinned.

"Well, me and the rest of the team are!" Atarashi-sempai said and several teammates backed him up vocally.

"Fine," Goggles pouted. "We'll let our newest member decided then. Ne, chibi, what are you hungry for?"

Davis was quiet for a few moments, but not because he was thinking about it. He knew exactly what he wanted to eat, he just having difficulty finding his voice. In the past hour he had gone from spending most of his time alone to a full schedule of friends and a sport they could all connect with. It was overwhelming.

Finally, though, the word managed to free itself from his throat. "R-ramen."

"Ramen!" Goggles had cried, flinging his arms around him and hugging him so tightly that he was sure his lungs were going to pop. "Another contender for noodles! Sempai is so happy!"

"Y-yay," Atarashi-sempai said paling slightly.

Maybe if he never got scouted for a professional soccer league he could open a ramen cart business. Because honestly, if he had to spend the rest of his life doing something he loved, of the two things, he couldn't think of a time he had ever been happier.

Odaiba, Tokyo. Fall 1999.

Davis Motomiya loved soccer.

But he loved his sempai more.

oOo

Fujiyoshida City. January 2005.

"Davis, focus!"

Davis tore his mind away from the memories that threatened to envelop him and barely had time to register the reality that the road was splitting in half underneath him before he threw himself sideways purely on involuntary reflex. He skinned the palms of his hands and knees on impact and simply sat there in a bit of a daze as concrete flew up into air where he had been a few seconds ago.

"What were you thinking, porcupine-head?" Yolei's shrill voice sounded out reprimanding a few yards away. "Standing in the middle of the road like a mindless zombie in all this? You wanna become one of the undead that much?"

"You alright?" Ken asked coming over and offering him a hand up.

"Yeah," Davis mumbled taking hold of the proffered hand. The world spun dizzily around him as he was pulled to his feet and he blinked, feeling disoriented like he had forgotten something…

"Ah!" he yelped as patted down the pockets of his jacket, the weight of something that was supposed to be there notoriously absent. He cast his eyes about wildly and felt the panic welling in his chest die down as he spotted the object lying a few feet away.

Walking over, Davis bent down and retrieved the goggles, brushing debris particles and dust off the eyepieces and running his thumb over the white frames tenderly.

He hadn't been able to put them on since he had taken them off before bed that night he had spent at Ken's place.

He hadn't been able to leave them behind either so he had stuffed them in his jacket pocket instead when Digimon had started appearing in droves at Fujiyoshida City.

He could still hear Matt's words as they all stood outside of the Izumis' closed door thoroughly shocked at the scene they had just witnessed.

"Davis, Davis, don't believe him! He didn't mean any of it! He was… upset…"

And all he could feel was a numb, cold sensation all throughout his body except his hand which was still stinging from where it had been slapped away.

Slapped away and rejected from the very person who had ever first believed in him; who he had tried his hardest to tribute and aspire to.

The very person who had given him these goggles.

oOo

"I think you were really brave back there in that battle, but I noticed you lost your goggles. And as we all know, the leader of the Digidestined just wouldn't look right without them, so here. I want you to have mine."

oOo

Dimly, Davis realized that Yolei had started shrieking something at him again, but her words weren't registering, and then Ken was grabbing him by the wrist and practically dragging him through the street. Behind him, the building they had stood in front of exploded in a massive blast from overhead and an overpowering wave of hot air and smoke rolled over them. Eyes watering and lungs on fire, they stumbled blindly through it—Yolei's voice was like a foghorn guiding them to safety.

"Have you gone deaf?" the girl screeched once they had cleared the smog. She was yelling at both of them, but Davis knew it was directed solely at him. "Pay attention next time someone's warning you about incoming threats on your life!"

"I think it would have been a better idea if we had stayed outside of the city and just let our Digimon go in," Ken said wiping perspiration off his smudged face.

The younger team had all rushed as fast as possible to Fujiyoshida City when the news report had shown Digimon emerging there. Unsettled by the recent attacks of MarineDevimon and LadyDevimon, they hadn't been sure what to expect, but they still shouldn't have been taken off guard by running into Oikawa and his two cronies fleeing the city. Arukeniemon had turned the van on a dime and the team had chased them back inside without much thought. It was a decision they soon regretted when they were forced almost instantaneously to take on three tasks at once. One: to safely evacuate any remaining citizen left behind in the city. Two: to round up the rogue Digimon that were rampaging the city and hold them at secure point until the older kids came so that they could send them back to the Digital World through Izzy's laptop. And three: to catch Oikawa, Arukeniemon, and Mummymon, all of which had ditched the van and split up to add to the confusion.

And naturally, they had had to maintain a safe distance from their own partners so as not to become potential targets for an adversary's close combat range.

The team had become unwittingly separated in less than five minutes in running in opposite directions from a Tankmon's attack.

Yolei's D-Terminal beeped indicating she had mail. "It's T.K., Kari, and Cody," she said reading the message. "They want to know where we are."

"We're in a freaking battle-zone! Where else would we be?" Davis snapped, anger sweeping over him suddenly. He welcomed it gladly. At least it was better than the horrible, numb feeling that had been haunting him for the past two days.

"Obviously!" Yolei shot back acidly. "Read the name off the street sign!"

"What street sign? You mean that street sign?" Davis pointed to a thin, metal pole that lay bent and twisted among a pile of rubble, the lettering on the green sign all but charred unrecognizable.

"Fine! We'll just go to the next block and read that sign!" Yolei cried thumbing to the next junction over her shoulder.

Just as a gigantic flare of red light tore through the street disintegrating everything in its path.

"Any more bright ideas?" Davis couldn't resist one final jab.

Yolei was glowering at him, her brown eyes smoldering from behind her round-framed glasses. She looked like she was refraining herself from slugging him. Alright, so she was a girl and it was against the rules to hit her back if she did, but Davis was all in favor of some good old-fashioned hair-yanking in the name of self-defense.

"We're in front of the Kawaguchiko Station, so that would make this the cross-section of Kawaguchiko and Yamanakako Street," Ken spoke out loud as he typed in the reply to his own D-Terminal. "I took a train through here to Shinjuku for an interview once."

The reply on the D-Terminal was fast.

"Hey, they're only two streets east over," Yolei said brightly, reading the other's location and glancing at the map she had pulled up on the screen. "Let's go!"

They set off in a hurry and had barely turned the corner before smacking into T.K., Kari and Cody, all of whom were running as if their lives depended on it.

And going by the sight of the enraged Tuskmon charging behind them, flashing a gaping red mouth and rows of sharp, elongated teeth, it did.

There wasn't even time to panic before the ground was falling away beneath their feet as enormous talons carefully cupped themselves around the children and lifted them up safely away. Red and gold wings beat in broad strokes as Garudamon sliced through the air at a swift pace, not slowing until they had arrived at the intended destination where they were deposited onto a concrete surface.

"T.K., everyone, are you alright?" Matt's voice called out.

"We're on top of a roof?" Davis voiced incredulously taking in his surroundings.

"Believe me, it's a lot safer up here than it is down there," Izzy said issuing to the war-ruined city streets below.

"Don't worry, Garudamon and MegaKabuteriemon are shielding us," Sora said pointing to the humongous bird and beetle Digimon hovering in the air above.

It stung. That he had missed such a glaring oversight. That he hadn't thought of keeping one of the Digimon close as a bodyguard for their fragile, human partners. One of them could have gotten seriously hurt.

Like Taichi-sempai that Christmas Even night…

oOo

"… when they d-die… humans aren't reborn at Primary Village!"

oOo

A conversation had started up around him, but Davis only managed to catch snatches of what was said. He didn't feel a part of the group at the moment. He stood there in the midst of it all and let their words roll off him like waves crashing on a rock.

"Considering that none of our partners have de-digivolved, I'm assuming there aren't any Control Spires nearby," Joe said.

"The news report earlier seemed to imply that the Digimon came here from Mt. Fuji though, so we shouldn't forget to check that out later. There might be a Control Spire or a rogue portal at the very least up there," Izzy said.

Izzy, who hadn't taken his laptop out from the carrier bag strapped to his back; wasn't bothering to boot it up and open a gateway back to the Digital World.

"What are you waiting for?" Yolei asked looking a bit unnerved by his lack of action and by the older Digidestined's grim expressions.

"These are real Digimon," Kari put in worriedly. "I mean, we did run into Arukeniemon before so some of them might be Control Spires, but I don't think all of them are."

"They're not here to help us send them back," Ken spoke up suddenly, his tone quite somber as he grasped the situation they found themselves in. "They're here to help us get rid of them."

"Get… rid… of," Yolei echoed slowly as the full implication of what that meant sunk into her brain. Her face turned white as she finally connected the dots. "You can't!"

"We could always destroy one of their limbs and see if they have any obsidian-coloring underneath if that would ease your discomfort, however that won't change our decision even if they do turn out to be real," Matt informed her coolly.

"Matt!" T.K. cried.

"Don't joke about something like that!" Yolei exclaimed.

"I wasn't joking," Matt said humorlessly, his blue eyes ice-cold.

"So… so cruel," Yolei breathed backing up a few paces.

"Think what you want. This isn't the time to hesitate or show weakness," Matt said turning his back to her.

"Yolei," Joe spoke up quietly. "What do you think would happen if we pull those Digimon into the computer, send them back to the Digital World, and they turn out to be Control Spires after all?"

"And whether real or not, they'd continue on their rampage wrecking things and judging by the state of the Digital World last time I was there, I don't think it can handle much more destruction," Izzy finished.

"So you're just going to hurt them anyway even if they turn out to be harmless?" Yolei sounded caught halfway between furious and horrified.

"Does that look harmless to you?" Matt proclaimed loudly pointing down below to a Monochromon smashing through the side of a building. "There might even still be innocent civilians here too. I'll bet not everyone got evacuated in time. And what will they do once they've finished wrecking this city to the ground? Carry on to the next one! I know it's hard for you to grasp the concept, but you have to realize that some Digimon exist purely to inflict pain and suffering on others, and I'm not just talking about Control Spire Digimon!"

Yolei swallowed back what sounded like a choked sob to Davis' ears as she shook her head rapidly.

"Yolei, remember how Golemon was about to break the dam and flood YukimiBotamon's village?" Mimi asked stepping forward and putting her arms around the distraught girl. "We had to stop him just like we have to stop these Digimon here from tearing apart this city."

"But… but… Golemon wasn't a real Digimon!" Yolei burst out.

"Oh, just forget it. Trying to make her see sense is useless and we're going in circles with this entire conversation! She doesn't understand!" Matt all but exploded.

"You can't just destroy them so carelessly!" Yolei screamed breaking free of Mimi's embrace and whirling around to face Davis desperately. "Don't let them do this!"

It should have been hilarious that she was seeking his help. Yolei, who always scorned or mocked anything he did or said; who never had really respected him as a person, but oddly enough had as leader and teammate, even if she had done so grudgingly with verbal jabs every now and then. It was almost laughable that she thought he had any idea of halting the Digimon's mad rampage without hurting them.

Because he didn't.

Not one spark of inspiration came to mind.

"Taichi-sempai was right," he murmured hollowly.

oOo

"You've got nothing on me. You think you know the Digital World pretty well now? You haven't been through half the experiences that I—we all have shared!"

oOo

He closed the hand that was clutching the goggles around them tightly.

"We don't understand, do we?" he repeated.

oOo

"With you it's nothing but school, save the day, go home, save the night, hang out, go to sleep, rewind! You wouldn't have lasted one day in the Digital World we were thrown into!"

oOo

Why did T.K. sometimes cry out fitfully in his sleep when they spent the night in the Digital World? Why did Kari's face seem to age beyond her years whenever she saw a wounded Digimon? Were they reminded of past experiences that ended tragically for them? Like the incident with Wizardmon? There were probably a number of more situations the older Digidestined had been in that the newest members hadn't been told about. Why? Because the others hadn't wanted to ruin their innocent child's-eye view of the Digital World and spoil its enticing beauty with the horrors they had encountered?

oOo

"So what makes you so special? What is it about you that made the Digital Sovereigns decide we weren't good enough to save the world a second time?"

oOo

"Because they made a mistake," Davis whispered to the goggles. "That's what I am: one big error."

It was selfish, he knew, to be caught up in these emotions. That he should be focused more on the battle raging around them and trying to think up a solution that everyone would agree on and that would benefit the Digimon, but it was hard to ignore the lump at the back of his throat growing larger every second like had swallowed a cactus; hard to ignore the dim ache in his chest and something prickling at the corners of his eyes. He hadn't felt this miserable since those lonely days after his family had moved, before he joined the soccer club.

A faint roar sounded somewhere in the distance and at first Davis' confused state of mind shoved it aside as one of the many Digimon in the city, but then it continued growing louder as it got closer and he realized it was more mechanical than beast… and that he had heard this sound many times before.

But what on earth would the source of that sound be doing here of all places? No, it had to something else, right?

It was like something out of dream when he saw the light blue coloring of the moped crest over the top of the hill and begin its descent down the road that led directly in front of the building there were on top of.

The only thing that made it all real for him—that he wasn't hallucinating some mirage from the depths of his mind—was the fact that his digivice started beeping shrilly announcing the arrival of another Digidestined apart from the ones already gathered behind him, their own digivices and D-3s going off in perfectly synched unison.

He couldn't see the two passenger's faces—they both had helmets on, but even ten stories up, Davis recognized the clothing: the long, dark blue coat with orange paw prints on the back… the brown hooded parka with white fur trimming…

His breath caught in his throat, stopping the names he wanted so very badly to shout out. He didn't know why now of all times, he had suddenly lost his sense of speech. Maybe because his mind felt like it was trapped in a whirlwind—everything was happening too fast; the world was a giant, jumbled mess turned upside-down.

Then the person in the blue coat ripped off his helmet, wild, brown hair spilling free as he did, and his face was turned upward towards the top of the building where Garudamon and MegaKabuteriemon stood guard.

He was shouting something. Davis was too far up to make out the words. They didn't carry far enough, but that didn't matter. All that mattered right then was the presence of the person below him and the fact that he had cared enough to come. That meant everything.

Then a mighty spiral of wind blew through the sky and ripped away the cold claws holding his voice captive and Davis was leaning so far over the edge of the building he felt hands on his clothes keeping him from falling, and he was screaming, "TAICHI-SEMPAI! TAICHI-SEMPAI!" and waving the goggles high above his head like a raving madman.

The distance between them was too great. It was difficult to make out his sempai's facial features, but when his arm shot out giving him either a thumbs up or 'V' for victory sign, Davis knew that he had understood.

That both their messages had been the same.

I still believe in you.

To Be Continued…

A/N: Okay, wow, back from an unintended three-month hiatus. Um, Happy Valentine's Day?^^;; I really don't know what to say other than I am so sorry, and no I didn't have Writer's Block, I was just was procrastinating writing the battle scene (and still am, obviously). I actually had planned to end this on a cliff-hanger, but then I thought "Nah, why torture the poor readers even more?" Besides, it won't be as traumatic—er, I mean dramatic—from Davis' perspective, kekekeke!

How'd you enjoy this chapter anyway? Too flashback-ish? I dunno. I just wanted to share the backstory in my mind of how Tai and Davis met. I mean, we got completely deprived of that in the show. It helps you realize how much Tai's words would have hurt Davis. You know, re-watching 02 in whatever language, now years later, has made me see that Davis doesn't trust people easily. He's friendly with them (like when he first met T.K. and Ken at the soccer game), however once they betray him (omg, T.K. likes Kari! Omg, Ken's the Digimon Emperor), it takes a long time to earn his respect. And then, when he does become your friend, Davis does it full-heartedly. I think that's why a lot of people (Digimon fans) like him. Personally, I think he's the most popular out of all the Digimon Seasons' leaders (including Tai—pets hair—don't worry, hun, you'll always be my fav).

Fun Facts: I was not in anyway influenced by Inazuma Eleven when writing this chapter. *crickets chirp* Okay, that's a blatant lie! I love that show sooo much that if I had watched it earlier as a kid, I think I would have joined my school's soccer team and I hated sports when I was younger! XD Also, I stumbled across Inazuma Eleven GO (IE's sequel) before Inazuma Eleven and lemme tell you, it was totally Tenma and not Endou that sold me into watching the entire series! Yes, it was his hair, I shamelessly admit. I love anime guys with fluffy brown-spiked hair! *starts spewing out names like a broken freight train* Sena from Eyeshield 21, Daisuke from DNAngel, Mihashi from Ookiku Furikabutte—okay, I'll shut up now… Mikoto from Over Drive (whispers) watch Over Drive's OP! I watched the series because of the awesome song! *w* Other songs I listened to while writing this: Inazuma Eleven and Inazuma Eleven Go OSTs. Had a blast! Favorite song of all in IE-verse? "Maji de Kansha". Good song to listen towards the end of the chapter.

Right then, epic battle you all have been waiting for since November *cringes and ducks readers stones* will be next! Along with a few surprises I can't even hint about, muwah! X3 I'll try not to be so long with it this time!

P.S. Should I change the second category of this fic from Humor to Action/Adventure? I mean, obviously, the action has overwhelmed the humor since ch. 11 now...

I hope you have enjoyed reading this! Please review and share your thoughts and favorite scenes. I love hearing what you liked best and it's the only reward a fanfic author gets. I like knowing what my readers think and feel. Thank you!^^ If you have any questions feel free to voice them and I will answer as best as possible without giving away any plot.

On to the next chapter: Jump Then Fall


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