The Incorruptible
Chapter 1 - Prodigal Son
by ainokitsune

Well, I have done, sort of. This was intended as a song-fic (gasp!) one-shot, but it isn't turning out that style doesn't seem to take one-shots very well. So it's going to be, a) chaptered, and b) containing more than one song. Erg. Complicated but...what can I do?

My first attempt to write for Takeru, too. I tried this with Daisuke, but it just doesn't work. He's too...I don't know. It just doesn't work. Anyway, Takeru lovers might want to avoid this. I'm not the boy's biggest fan; he's just too perfect. I like him better like this, he's a whole lot less perfect, but uh, if you like him because he is, save yourself the irritation at this story and just don't read it. Or do; if you're a sucker for punishment.

Everybody else, make of it what you will.


The Incorruptible (1) Prodigal Son

You win a prize for that, for telling lies like that so well
that I believed it. I never felt cheated. You were the cho-
sen one, the pure eyes of Noah's dove. Choir boys and
angels stole your lips and your halo.

"We need you, Takeru."

"No, you don't."

"Like hell! Do you understand what it is that we're up against? Do you have any idea?"

"It doesn't matter. You don't need me."

"Are you afraid?"

The blonde boy's eyes narrowed.

"That's it, isn't it? You're afraid. You don't want to put yourself on the line, and that precious partner of yours--"

"That's enough, Daisuke."

"Enough!" The dark boy laughed, a bitter sound. The years had aged him, cruelly, he was barely fifteen and his eyes were cold and hard. The scars on his body were hidden, but he walked with a pronounced limp. Takeru had seen the others; they were all the same.

"This is our last chance," the leader of the Chosen was saying in a low, tight voice. He leaned across the table, trying to catch Takeru's eyes with his own. "There won't be any more reprieves. No more falling back, or regrouping, no strikes in the dark. No new tricks. He's gotten older, Takeru, do you understand? All of us put together are no match for him! Not even Miyako...hell, if there was one person in the world who ever understood strategy, it's Miyako, and not even she can...begin to comprehend his mind. Battles are lost and won by strategy, and all we have is brute strength--"

"What about Taichi? Yamato? The others?"

It's not enough. Takeru--"

"Then what difference do you think one person is going to make?"

Daisuke sat back. He was lean and tautly muscled, and his once spiky hair had grown long enough to hang in his face and shadow his eyes. The look he fixed on Takeru was cool, calculating, and light years away from the boy Takeru had once known. There was no pride there, no joy, just a bitter terrible strength and an unbending will of steel.

"I have asked you," the leader of the Chosen said quietly, "I have begged you. Miyako, Hikari, Iori...we all have. Every year, I have gotten down on my hands and knees and pleaded with you to grace us with your presence. And you, Takeru, will not life one snow-white finger to help us. This is our last chance, and I am tired of asking."

Takeru leaned back too. It seemed he had been waiting his whole life for this moment.

"Takeru," Daisuke said, slowly, as though he hoped to drag out the moment as long as possible, "For the last time. Will us...defeat the Kaizer?"

Takeru straightened and fixed Daisuke's cold brown eyes with his own: bright, blue, pure. Still young, still innocent. Still a child.

And Takeru said, "No."

Daisuke was across the table in an instant, exploding into motion so fast Takeru didn't have time to catch his breath. A heavy body slammed into him, overbalanced the chair and sent all three crashing to the floor. He felt fists hammering his belly, chest and ribs. He tried to fend his attacker off, turning his head, body twisting, trying to avoid the increasingly savage blows. He caught a brief glance of Daisuke's face, almost calm, but his eyes were on fire.

There was a sound of shouting and a crash, and suddenly Daisuke was yanked backwards, struggling in the grip of his captors. He growled, a low animal sound, and his head jerked and he snarled. The other Chosen were holding him back, and Miyako murmured something inaudible in his ear. Takeru met Iori's eyes and they were, if anything, colder than Daisuke's had been.

Takeru propped himself up, wincing in pain. He wiped his mouth and looked at Daisuke. The leader of the Chosen seemed to have himself under control again; although Miyako and Hikari's hands were still holding his arms they didn't seem to be actively restraining him. He shifted position, shook his head again, and fixed his gaze on Takeru.

"If I ever," he said, even as the girls tried to turn him around, guide him away, out of the suddenly silent internet cafe, "If I ever see your face again, Takaishi Takeru, I'll kill you. And that goes for your damn partner too. Understand?"

Takeru didn't bother to respond, and Daisuke didn't wait for an answer. He swung around, practically dragging the two girls, and without so much as a glance behind him walked out of the cafe. Iori alone remained after the departure of the others. His gaze stayed fixed on Takeru as the blonde boy collected himself and stood. He swayed a bit, and clutched at the table for support. Iori's expression was impassive, and after a moment Takeru let his frustrations get the better of him.

"Don't you have somewhere to be?"

Iori's expression didn't change, but he took a step back, away from Takeru. The other Chosen were standing outside, waiting, apparently, for their absent fellow.

Iori, taller now, with a closed-in face and a mark where a wound on his lip had ever fully healed, let an expression flash briefly across his face--a flicker of his eyes, a slight twist of his lips. He was standing away from Takeru, and the older boy had a sudden, incredible sense of distance, an awareness of the vast ocean that stood between him and his former comrades. He was completely alone in the world.

"Coward," Iori said, and he turned on his heel and walked away.

In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more lives.
In your reckless eyes, you only have time and you love
of danger--to it you're no stranger.

He walked into the apartment and flicked on the lights, grateful to find that his mother was not home yet. The hum of the lights and the refrigerator in the kitchen were all that greeted Takeru. He kicked off his shoes and shuffled down the hall, stripping off his bag and jacket as he went. He tossed them unceremoniously in his room, watched them trace a perfect arc through the air from the doorway to his bed.

There was no Patamon. What Daisuke and the others didn't understand was that there would never be any Patamon, ever again.

He ambled into the kitchen, poured himself a glass of water and sat down at the table.

It wasn't fear that drove him. He told himself that every day. He'd never been afraid, not to fight. Fighting was easy. Competition...and hell, he understood the Digital World better than any of them, with the possible exception of Hikari. He stared down, not at the glass but at the fingers holding it--long, slender pale appendages. Snow white, as Daisuke had said. Untouched.


He hadn't even made the choice. It had come to him in the deepest part of the night, a cold black realization. Uncompromising and distant as the stars.

"I can't go back," he'd said to Patamon.

He wondered sometimes if he was being selfish, if he truly had betrayed the trust the Digital World had placed in him. He kept his Digivice in a drawer in his room, buried beneath stacks of old tests, reports, grade cards. He wondered what Hikari thought, and Yamato...well, he knew what he thought. There were times when he almost second-guessed himself, when he stood with the drawer hanging open and stared down into its depths, and his fingers itched to cast off the rumor of cowardice once and for all. Because he wasn't afraid. Not to fight.

What drove him were the living phantoms of the people he had once known. Daisuke, lean and hungry. A wolf, or a jackal. Miyako, hard-edged, sharp-tongued, a perpetual sneer hovering about her lips. Hikari. Sad, desperate, angry, her gentleness perverted into a hidden capacity for cruelty. And Iori, who would never know what it was to be a child.

Takeru was certain. This was the price of battling a human enemy. Demons and monsters were one thing, but a boy.....

He'd never announced it. Never told anyone, except Patamon. He'd simply failed to become involved. Stood aside, let the others fight. Refused directly, when it became necessary to do so. Hikari came to him first.

"Please, Takeru," she'd said, all the charm of her early innocence turned in his direction, "Please do the right thing."

And Takeru had responded, "I am."

The end was coming sooner than he'd expected, and he felt a vague sort of sadness to know that the outcome was already so firmly decided. It had shone clearly in Daisuke's eyes, a beacon of blank hopelessness. And if the leader knew, they all knew.

A last battle could only ever mean one thing.

Takeru stood and walked away. He left the glass sitting where it was, casting pale reflections on the table, and began to restlessly pace the apartment. He felt displaced in the Universe, and in the end he retreated into his bedroom and shut the door.

"I wasn't wrong," he said aloud, a protest to the empty air and, perhaps, to the deepest parts of his soul. "I wasn't. I'm not a soldier. I can't...I won't...." He raised his hands, watched the fingers curl, slowly, into loose fists. Or the hands of someone grasping in desperation. "It's not right. I love the Digital World, maybe more than any of the others, but...."

Daisuke: "This is war now, Takeru."

"I'm not a soldier," he breathed. Because he wanted to believe it.

In that August breeze of those forgotten trees
your time was set for leaving, come a colder
season. In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got
more lives. In your reckless eyes, it's never too late for a
chance to seize some final breath of freedom.
Very, so very wise. Don't reveal it. I'm tired, tired of knowing
where it is you're going.

The snap and hiss of a match being struck broke the tense silence lying over the hilltop, and cause Miyako to look up from her digital maps and raise a slender, wine-colored eyebrow.,

"Since when do you smoke?"

"Since when do you care what I do?" Daisuke removed the cigarette from his mouth and flicked the ashes onto the grass. He noted dispassionately the fact that his hand was shaking.

"Is it really over?" Iori asked. He was sitting a few feet away, legs stretched out before him, and staring down into the valley below. It was deceptively quiet, but they all knew that a few kilometers away the land was charred and black.

Miyako sighed. Her maps--two and three-dimensional projections of the immediate territory--winked into nonexistence, and she stood, brushing her trousers off as she did. She came to stand between Daisuke and Iori, and the breeze lifted her hair.

"You know the answer," she said.

"I just can't believe...." The youngest member of the team shook his head. "It seems like this has been my whole life."

"Isn't there any chance at all?" Hikari raised her eyes to the taller girl. Of all of them, she seemed the least changed physically, and had perhaps been the most affected by the horrors they had endured. She was hugging herself loosely and her eyes had a gaunt, hollow look.

Miyako pulled her glasses off and pointed with the earpiece down the slope of the hill, at their defenses. They'd elected to take the middle ground, for fear of the air and surface troops, and the last remnants of the Chosen's forces were arrayed along a low ridge edged with sharp stones.

"It's a Goddamn line in the sand," she said wearily, "and about as effective."

"We'll see," Daisuke spoke up suddenly, and in his eyes there flickered--briefly--an echo of the fiery spirit that had once defined the boy. It died quickly, though. Too quickly.

"Would it have worked if Takeru were here?" Iori asked, then flinched sharply when Daisuke flicked his burning cigarette at the boy. Daisuke stood.

"I don't ever," he said harshly, "want to hear you say that name again. Any of you." His gaze raked over the others and Hikari cringed away; only Miyako could meet steel with steel.

"It might have worked," she said calmly, hooking her glasses over her ears and pushing them up her nose. "In a normal battle one person more or less is irrelevant. Here,'s not so much how many you have, it's what you have. It's an army composed entirely of champions."

"But surely Angemon--" Iori began, then broke off, casting a glance at Daisuke. The leader was lighting another cigarette and ostensibly ignoring the younger boy.

"I don't know," Miyako said. She keyed a code into her terminal and one of her maps sprang into life--a standing two-dimensional depiction of everything in a 100-kilometer radius. The maps were one of Koushiro's earlier innovations, designed to combat the Kaizer's own technologies using the same virus codes that twisted the makeup of the Digital World into his flying fortress and, Koushiro had discovered, that allowed him to view anything that happened in the confines of the World. Shortly after the development of the maps, he'd come to them with the Shield, a piece of software encoded directly into Miyako's D-3 which somewhat hindered the Kaizer's ability to observe their activities. He could view their movements, see where they were, Koushiro had said, but not what they were doing.

"The Kaizer's forces are here, here," Miyako traced several arcs over the glass-seeming surface of the map, "here, here, here, and over here. See? Half of these forces are still encamped, they won't deign to move against us unless we present a threat to his vanguard," her gloved finger came to rest on a point not far from their hilltop, "here."

"So we're surrounded," Hikari said dully.


"And having Angemon couldn't have possibly made any difference to us, in the long run," Iori completed the girl's thought.

"I don't know. It's impossible to say. We still haven't really figured out this Jogress business, or why Hikari and I seem to be the only ones capable of accomplishing it--logic says that you and Daisuke ought to be partners, but clearly that isn't the case. If we had a full team--"

"We're only at half strength now," Daisuke interrupted. He was sitting with his knees drawn up and the burning cigarette in one brown hand, resting on his knee. His eyes were calm in their shadows. "One person makes a tremendous difference, at least in this case." He stuck the cigarette in his teeth and turned to stare back out over the landscape.

"Well, there's no point in worrying about it now," Miyako said flatly. "What's done is done, and we just have to live with it."

"Look at this, Miyako," Hikari said suddenly. She'd been rummaging in the small patch of bushes that grew along the side of the hill, and now she returned, bearing with her what appeared to be a handful of ordinary leaves. She held her hands out and the other two peered down at them. After a moment even Daisuke stood and came over.

"What are we looking at?" Iori said, but at the same moment Miyako drew in a sharp breath, and Daisuke's eyes narrowed. The leaves in Hikari's hands were curling in on themselves, drying and changing rapidly from green to brown. After a moment they crumbled into dust and Hikari let the small pile slide through her open fingers. The Chosen Children stood in a small, solemn group, silent as the full implication of what they'd just witnessed sank in. Finally Iori spoke.

"The world is dying," he said.

In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more
lives. In your reckless eyes, you only have time and your
love of danger--to it you're no stranger.

Takeru stood staring at the monitor, gleaming in the half-light like a huge, dark eye. Or like thousands of eyes, a million insects peering back at him out of a dead and hungry silence.

He looked down at the Digivice, clutched loosely in his hand. He didn't know what he intended to do, or how he had come to be here--he vaguely remembered rummaging through his desk, almost frantically throwing out reams of papers, tests, pencils, erasers and pens, and then the cold sharp sensation of laying his hand, abruptly, on the Digivice. He'd forgotten what it felt like, the material that was neither metal, nor plastic, nor glass. It's peculiar weight, it's heft, the way it fit so snugly in his palm. And yet it felt...maybe a little too heavy, a little colder than he remembered. A little like a dead thing.

But he brought it to the computer and stood, staring, running his thumb over its smooth white surface, waiting for what he did not know. A moment of desperation, perhaps, a kind of madness that would seize him, cause him to act without thinking. Enable him to do so, to cease weighing truths, greater and lesser, pros and cons, hopes and fears, and choose with his heart.

The possibility frightened him.

"I wasn't wrong,' he whispered helplessly, "All this time, I can't have been...wrong."

But, whispered a voice, Do you really believe it?

He shook his head, only half aware of the action, and clutched the Digivice tighter, squeezing it until his knuckles turned white and sharp pain began to shoot through his hand.

You don't believe it, do you? You've been lying to yourself for years.

"No," he whispered, "I did it...I didn't think it was right."


"It's wrong. Fighting people is wrong! What would I stand for, it not what's right?"

You were afraid.


Afraid to get your hands dirty. Afraid to be anything less than perfect.

"I don't care about--"

Telling lies to yourself is a waste of time. You know the truth. You were afraid. Afraid of what you might become.

"And I was right! Look at the others! Look at what happened to them!"

Because you weren't there. You might have made the difference. You might have been able to save them. Daisuke, Miyako, Hikari, Iori....

"No," the word was a drop of pure pain on his lips.

Now you'll never know.

A cry escaped him, a wordless noise of fear. He was curling in on himself, holding the device to his chest with his shoulders hunched and his head bowed, and slowly his knees began to bend and he felt himself collapsing.

"It's not my isn't, I couldn't have done anything. I couldn't's not my fault...."

It is.


You might as well have carved the scars on Daisuke's body yourself, and Hikari and the others. You're worse than a coward, you're a traitor.

"It's not too late," he heard himself say hoarsely, "Maybe there's still time. Maybe I can do...something."

"Like what?"

"I don't know...I don't...."

You're a failure. You don't even deserve to be a member of the human race. You betrayed the trust of the Digital World, you betrayed your crest and your friends.

"Stop," he moaned, pressing his hands over his ears. "Stop, please."

You betrayed your partner.

"Stop it!"

You betrayed yourself.

"I'm not--" he clambered to his feet suddenly, staggering slightly, the Digivice clenched in his fist. "It's not over!" He shouted into the silence. He felt feverish, lightheaded. "It isn't over! You'll see, I'm not a traitor! It isn't too late, not yet, not yet...." He held out a trembling hand, the dead-seeming Digivice facing the dead eye of the monitor.

*Open," he whispered, "Open please."

And the eye spilled forth a terrible light.

In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more
lives. In your reckless eyes, it's never too late for a
chance to seize some final breath of freedom.

lyrics: 10,000 Maniacs
Noah's Dove
Our Time in Eden.


A/N: Well, what's the verdict? I'm looking at 4-5 chapters here, and I seriously think this story may win out as the darkest one I've ever written (though not the most, uh, socially relevant.). Go ahead, try to guess why

I seriously set out to write a one-shot short piece, as close to fluff as I could get?not happy fluff, maybe, but pretty pointless nonetheless. See what happens when I try to do that? See? There is something seriously wrong with me.

Next chapter: First Blood


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