Oh, Sweet Nightmare
Phase II - The Darkness of Light
by Akira Ichijouji

Disclaimer: You know the drill. Don't own Digimon, never have, never will. Capice?


We went on for several months like this -- our pretend lover affair. I really could not care less whether I really had feelings for Takeru-chan. I was swept away in a flood of hormones. We both were. I could barely see past the flurry of hands and lips that was our relationship. After that one day on the couch, I never even considered that what we were doing was wrong. Neither of us did.

Then I started to have nightmares.

Horrible ones, the screaming kind, the production of Delta sleep, and the more concrete REM kind. Whichever they were at the moment, I hardly ever slept well anymore.

Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night, covered in sweat, clutching the sheets and gasping. Pure terror would fill me, and I would be inconsolable the rest of the night, even though I had no recollection of what I had dreamed. Other times I would find myself screaming after a dream that I only knew too well.

It would start in the desert. Thousands upon thousands of control spires would litter the sands, all destroyed. I would breathe a sigh of relief, happy they were finally gone. Then I would see Takeru. He would be sitting on a fallen control spire, swinging his legs and singing lightly. When he would see me, he would jump down, an accusatory smirk on his face.

"How dare you come here, Ichijouji-sama?" he would say spitefully, clenching his fists. "I thought we told you you weren't welcome here anymore." Then I would look down and see that I was wearing my Kaiser uniform.

"But... I'm not who you think! I'm not the Kaiser anymore!" I would throw down my glasses and desperately try to smooth down my wild hair. Then he would laugh, and begin kissing me. I would feel suffocated, trying to make myself pull away but not being successful.

Then I would hear it.

"Ken-chan! Help! Ken-chan!!!" Daisuke would scream from over the top of a sand dune. I would desperately try to pull away from Takeru, but he would only hold me tighter.

"Takeru-san! Stop! I need to help Daisuke-kun!" I would yell, struggling against his arms. Finally, after a few moments of fighting him tooth and claw, I would break free, stumbling away and beginning to run across the sand. But I would barely be able to move. Takeru would pull me back. I would finally break past him and make if over the dune, to see Daisuke collapsed on the other side. I would run to him, taking him in my arms. Then I would notice I was back to wearing my normal outfit.

"Ken-chan, I'm so glad you came..." Daisuke would say, touching my face. Then I would see Takeru coming over the dune, pulling me away from the dying boy. My legs would move involuntarily, and I would drop Daisuke to the ground. He would cry out in pain, and scream out my name as he disappeared into thousands of tiny shards, like a digimon.

I would wake up, screaming and inconsolable. Afterwards I would look back on the dream with a sense of irony. The symbolism was so thick I could choke on it. I knew I had to break it off with Takeru. But I just could not.

* * *

Some people think I am wonderful. Some people think of me with disdain. Some people think I'm a monster. And some people downright hate me. Iori is one of the latter.

Iori is still a strange child. After several years, he remains almost too serious, almost too polite. He strikes fear into the eyes of those that try to cross him, including me. I have to keep reminding myself that he is only a kid, albeit an odd kid, but a kid. But there is something very disconcerting about his eyes. Piercingly green, they both offset and call attention to his very Japanese looks. Every time he is around me, an aura of anger and hatred wafts around the room. I do not mind, really, it is just a little frightening to be on the bad side of this boy.

I was surprised when he sought me out.

"I know there's something wrong, Ichijouji-san." I was taken aback by his bluntness. "I can tell you're not yourself. And it bothers me." I was almost touched that he was worried.

"You're... worried about me, Iori-kun?" I raised one eyebrow.

"No! Well... I'm worried that you might go all Digital Kaiser on us again."

"Whatever gave you that idea?" I took the tone of an adult responding to a small and silly child. This made Iori furious.

"Fine! *Don't* tell me what's wrong. See if I care!" He turned around and made like he was going to leave. I stood passively, leaning on the doorframe. I knew his curiosity would get the better of him.

He turned around again. "So what if I'm worried about you, Ichijouji-san. You are a Digidestined, even if I'm not sure I like you."

I was surprised. I expected him to go all good little righteous Digidestined on me. But I kept my surprise under tabs. "So what if there's something wrong? Even if there was, it would have nothing to do with you."

Iori's eyes darkened. He hated to be left out. He gritted his teeth, his eyes going all squinty and eerie. "Fine, then, I don't care. If you're going to be like that I might as well let what's eating you swallow you whole." He really left this time, slamming the door in my face.

I felt a marginal amount of guilt. Maybe I had been too harsh on the kid. But he should learn to leave good enough alone.

* * *

I had to talk to someone. Iori was out of the question. He was too young to understand the suffering of the lovesick. Miyako was too lovesick herself to be of any help. I could not go to Takeru, just yet -- I was too worried about him to make any sudden moves out of the nest. He was acting too moody as of late -- I was worried what I had to say might drive him over the edge. Daisuke, too, was out of the question. How could I explain to him that the reason I wanted out of the relationship with Takeru was so I could get into a relationship with him? It would feel too much like adultery. The only one left was Hikari.

I didn't really like Hikari that much. She was nice, but too sickeningly sweet for my taste. She did, however, have the same taint of evil in her soul as I. The stronger the light, the darker the shadow.

I came across her at the park by accident. I had meant to seek her out later, but the opportunity had just presented itself. She was sitting on a park bench, reading Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment". I didn't know she was into that kind of reading. I could relate very strongly to Raskolnikov.

I sat next to her on the park bench. "Hello, Hikari-san," I said simply, leaning back and resting my arms on the back of the bench. She looked up from her reading, startled. The look of surprise was soon replaced with that of puzzlement. I could tell she was trying to figure out why the hell I was talking to her. Suddenly I had a sick fantasy of crushing her neck between my hands. But I forced it down, thinking of ice-cream. Thinking of Daisuke. Thinking of ice-cream *and* Daisuke... mmmmmmm...

"Ichijouji-kun?" Hikari had managed to speak. I looked up quickly. "Did you want to talk about something?"

I smiled pleasantly. "You know, I don't think Raskolnikov should have dragged Sonya into his mess of a life. She became absolutely devoted to him... she even followed him to Siberia, sharing his prison sentence. But I think that was a mistake. She lost several years of her life to a maniacal axe-murderer. But that's true love for you." Hikari looked at me, puzzled. She still didn't know why the hell I was talking to her.

"Your point...?" She could be very blunt when she wanted.

"I don't think he would want me to be telling you this." I suddenly realized that I maybe should not divulge Takeru's naughty secret to his best friend. But then again... she might be able to talk him off me.

"Who? Who wouldn't want you to tell me, Ken-kun?" I was surprised at her use of my given name. We were not that close. I pretended that I had not noticed.

"Takeru-chan." The "-chan" was out of my mouth before I could stop it. Months of intimate relations make the using of it inconsequential.

Hikari looked a little puzzled at the use of the honorific. Then a revelation came over her. "I see," she said simply, placing a bookmark between the pages of her book and setting it on the park bench. Then she leaned back, right into the arm I had stretched out on the back of the bench. She was very pretty, for a girl.

I mentally smacked myself. "What is wrong with you, Ichijouji?" I thought, "You jumped on Takeru, you want to jump on Daisuke, and now you're having impure thoughts about Hikari? You are one sick bastard." I quickly moved my arm.

"You've known Takeru for a really long time, right?" She nodded. "Well, see, that's my problem. I don't really know him that well. We kind of... well, fell into a relationship with no life preservers..." She nodded again. "Everything would be fine if I hadn't... er..." Hikari looked at me expectantly. "... told him I loved him." I covered my eyes with one hand. "I feel like such an idiot. If I hadn't been so blinded by physical desire that I thought was love..."

"Is there someone else?" Hikari asked nonchalantly. I uncovered my eyes, looking at her, startled. The rumors must be true. She *can* read minds.

"Er, yes..." I felt a blush tingle up my cheeks. "But I haven't done anything with them! I haven't even told them..." I did not even want to reveal the gender of my infatuation.

Hikari smiled. "Daisuke will be pleased, I think."

I stared at her. "How did you know?" Now I knew she was psychic.

"No reason. I guessed. By all signs I'm right." Sweet Kami, give me patience. The smug little smile she had on her face was enough to make me want to smack her.

"Yes, fine, I like Daisuke. Are you happy?" I crossed my arms, a little annoyed.

"Ken-kun, you know what you have to do. Takeru-chan is the one you should be talking to, not me. And I know you know that."

I nodded. She had hit the nail on the head. "You don't think any less of me for being this fickle, do you?"

"Of course I don't. I mean, look at me! Until recently I let both Takeru-chan and Daisuke-kun think I liked them. Don't talk to me about being fickle." I smiled as she rose from the bench. Hikari understood me. I was surprised. I was even more surprised when she bent down and kissed me on the forehead. "Good luck," she said softly, walking away into the sunset.

I knew what I had to do.

* * *


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