Picture Perfect
Part 2
by Rachel Lynn

I'm beginning to think I have a palm-slashing obsession. >.< And I have a new found respect for everyone who writes Ken. The dude's really hard to write. X_x Well, two parts down, one more left to write. ^-^



I can't be you. I thought I knew that, I thought that I'd already learned that lesson. I guess I was wrong.

Sometimes, late at night when Wormmon is curled up beside me and I can hear Dad snoring down the hallway, I wonder what you'd think of me if you were here. I imagine you would have been furious with me. The Kaiser. Not only did I steal your favorite RPG character and turn it into something twisted and wicked, I also transformed my own appearance so that I looked just like you.

You'd hate me, I know, if you'd seen what I'd done in the name of your memory.

It's just that to my eyes, when you were alive, no one ever stood in your way. Osamu, the genius brain child of two ordinary people. The fucking proverbial ocean parted at your feet, and no one dared to tell you no. Not even Mom and Dad.

You have to understand. Back then, I saw you as the dictator. You were the reason no one ever paid me any attention. You were the one who hurt my feelings and pushed me down. You were the one who made me realize just what a vile creature I was.

I wished for your death. I wanted you to die so that I could have a chance. All I wanted was to be happy, to be a normal little kid -- like everyone else in my class at school. I didn't realize that if you went, I'd never be able to escape you.

So you died. I guess you can imagine how responsible I felt for that. It was my first taste of guilt, and I've been playing with it ever since.

Mom and Dad were heartbroken. Their little baby, their perfect Osamu. Gone. And in your place? Well, let's just say that little inconsequential Ken finally found himself the center of their devoted attentions.

Except they didn't want Ken. They never had. They wanted their Osamu back. And I wanted to please them so badly. I wanted them to look down on me with the affection and adoration that they had given you. I wanted them to love me, and they made it painfully obvious that the only way that would occur was if I became you.

But all I could remember of you was the smart, bully big brother who'd always gotten his own way. Every time I'd looked at you, I saw a tyrant. The Kaiser.

So I bloodied my hands. Terrorized innocents. Tortured those I captured, and enslaved those I found suited my purposes. In the digital world, I finally had a place where I could rule supreme without the taint of your memory overshadowing me. But, in reality, I never escaped you. I was you.

Out of all my slaves, Wormmon had always been the most loyal. Even without a black ring, he'd been there at my beck and call. And I despised him for it. Can you understand that, Osamu? I looked at my partner digimon through the Kaiser's eyes and saw myself. And I hated who I had once been. That little ignored boy who'd been so pathetically eager to please. The little kid who would have done the lowest of chores and given up the greatest of toys, just to have someone turn and look his way with love in their eyes.

I hated Wormmon because he reminded me daily of my weaknesses, of the things I couldn't change, of the counterfeit life I was living. He played Ken to my Osamu faultlessly, and I never realized it until he was gone and it was too late to apologize.

Would you have apologized? I lie in bed some nights, wondering.

I thought I'd put you behind when the real world and the digital world opened to each other. I thought I had finally put your memory to rest, that I'd come to terms with your death. I thought that I'd finally learned how to be me again and not you.

I'd started remembering some of the good times, you know. The childish vision of the despot faded into a more realistic picture of you. Remember the two of us blowing bubbles on the terrace together? I could see then that Mom and Dad had pressured you as they had me. They had pushed you hard and long, until I think they finally broke you.

Then you didn't seem like such a bad bully big brother anymore. No, you were like a kindred spirit now, understanding the strain I felt, the pressure I was under. I'd sullied your memory, and I wanted to make it up to you. I wanted to succeed for you, be smart for you. Carry on in your place so you wouldn't truly be dead. Without the power of the dark spore though, my efforts were in vain.

And it wasn't even until I saw that I'd failed to be the genius for you, that I realized I was even trying.

Had I ever wanted to be smart? I don't think so. Do you know I look at Daisuke's life with envy? That's the kind of life I wanted for myself. Me. Ken. I never wanted to have what you had. I never wanted the power or the intelligence to wield over other people. I never wanted the strain and the pressure that came when people learned to expect exceptional things of me.

So what am I saying?

I can't be you, Osamu. I don't want to be. I'm sorry you're dead, but I can't live on in your place anymore. I just don't have what it takes. I'm sorry, brother, but I have to be my own person now. Without you.


I feel a sharp stinging on my palms, and as my eyes flicker open groggily to look at my hands, I can see the blood starting to seep from them. "What?" I mumble as I try to sit up, swaying slightly in the process.

"Ken?" I blink back the dark spots dancing in front of my eyes and turn my head slowly over towards the right, feeling incredibly queasy as I do so. Where the hell am I? How the hell did I get here?

Takeru's blue eyes look back at me with wary concern, and I can feel myself giving him a confused frown as I finally manage to get into a sitting position. I look down at my hands and then back up at him. What the hell is he doing with a knife in his hands? He wouldn't… he didn't cut me, did he? "Takeru?" It comes out as a croak as the words stick to the back of my throat like molasses. He gives me another guarded glance, and then brings the knife to his palm. Two slashes, and his hands are bleeding just like mine.

"This'll just take a couple of minutes." He says almost apologetically as I stare at his bleeding hands in a trance. A few minutes? What will take a few minutes? He draws in a fortifying breath and then he grabs my hands in his, matching up the palms.

"Takeru…" I stop in mid-sentence as a jolt of electricity runs down through my body. I try to scream. I want to scream. But nothing comes out of my open mouth. I look over at him, and vaguely, it registers in my head that he's screaming. His face is contorted in pain, and there are beads of sweat forming and dripping down from his hairline.

He was okay before he touched me.

The thought latches onto me, and I start struggling against his hands.

Let go, Takeru! If it's hurting you to touch me, then just fucking let go of me.

He grits his teeth, and if anything, the pressure of his grip increases. I can feel the blood, sticky and slick between our palms, and the droplets that have escaped imprisonment between us, dribbling down my forearms.

I can't watch him scream anymore. I just can't. It hurts to see my best friend in this much agony. Dammit Takeru, just let go! But he's still resisting my urges, so I just shut my eyes and will myself not to hear. The sight doesn't leave me though as my eyelids shut. Oh no, it just transfers. I don't understand this. I know I shut my eyes. I know I did.

But I can still see him sitting in front of me, screaming. He hunches forward, breaking off for a few moments to keen in quiet, stifled sobs, and then in flurry of movement, I can see two… two wings sprout from his back. I don't have much time to admire them or wonder over their presence though, because something seizes at my heart, almost piercing it.

And for a couple of agonizing moments, my soul is being ripped apart.

There's a sharp stab at my shoulder blades, and then my soul is ripped from my body. And I see wings in the periphery of my vision. Leathery, onyx-colored appendages complete with jagged claw adornments at the tips.


I force my eyes to look up at him and away from the growing pool of droplets there on the floor between us. Feathers. Silvery white, pristine, and soft. They… he looks innocent, untouched, pure. Like I always knew he was. He's fought darkness, I know he fears it, but he's never been tainted with it. Not like me.

His eyes meet mine for a moment, and then he squeezes them shut as pain apparently grabs at him again. Let go! I try to yank my hands back in panic, but he refuses to give in. His feathers are melting. Like burning plastic, they're dripping into each other in globby chunks.

And the scent of smoldering flesh grows stronger in my nostrils as I suck in another panicked breath. God damn it, Takaishi! Let- fucking- go!

It's like the blood has cemented our hands together, and I can feel his nails digging into the back of my hands painfully in attempts to keep them in his grasp. The feathers are melting together, transforming themselves. I know what shape they're taking, and I can feel the tears pricking at my eyes as his soul starts to look like mine.

He's falling, but bring me up at the same time.

I can feel the weight of my soul lightening, by degrees. Instead of onyx, they're now a slate gray. And the claws are slowly becoming little nubbly stumps at the tips.

He looks over at me one last time, and then gives me my wish and let's go of my hands. And as I feel myself slipping out of consciousness, I know it's too late. He and I are the same now.


"I think he's waking up." I groan as I force my eyes to peel themselves open. I blink, and Daisuke's wavering face slowly comes into focus. "Ken, you okay? Do ya need anything?" Hesitantly, I give a negative shake of my head, trying to keep the Daisuke before my eyes in one person instead of three.

"Where am I?" I manage to squeak out as I put my hands down on the bedspread to push myself up. The second I put pressure on my palms though, I yelp in pain. "What the hell happened?" I demand as I look down at my bandaged hands.

The last thing I remember… the last thing I remember is Daisuke punching me and running. Why? Oh fuck, that's right. In a moment of weakness, I kissed him. Well, that definitely was not one of my more well thought out plans. I knew he wouldn't take it the right way, or even return the feeling really. I've been watching him for a long time, and there's never been anything to indicate that he saw me in a similar light.

It's just with Osamu's anniversary on Friday and transferring schools… I'd been in quite a funk. And after the movies I'd snapped at Daisuke for some stupid inane comment he'd made. He's not dumb by any stretch of the imagination, he knew something was up with me, and he called me on it. And, well, I acted on impulse. Of course, his punch in the gut quickly reminded me why it is that I don't act on impulse very often. It may work for someone like Daisuke, but not for me.

"We're at Gennai's in the digital world." Daisuke says with that oh so obvious guarded look he gets when he knows something he really doesn't want to tell me. I stare him down patiently and finally he heaves a sigh and gets this incredibly guilty look on his face. "Well, general consensus seems to be that when I punched you last night, it was the last straw in the whole dormant spore business."

"Excuse me?" I had to have heard that wrong. I had to have. But then, why am I missing an entire day of my life?

"I punched you, the spore went active." Daisuke flushes. "I came over this morning to try and apologize, but you barely gave me the time of day, so I hightailed it over to Takeru's cause I thought he'd be able to talk you into listening to me at least. Well, he figured that you were acting a bit Kaiser-ish and got to wondering what was going on. Somehow he and Gennai got you here and they did… something so that Takeru took half the spore out of you and into himself so that it wouldn't have the power to control you anymore." Daisuke shifts uncomfortably as he refuses to meet my gaze.

Takeru… Takeru took half of the dark spore? I shoot Daisuke a confused glance, and he just nods guiltily.

And then I can smell burning flesh. See feathers melting into ugly gray leather.

I'm going to be sick…

"Where's the bathroom?"

Daisuke points, bewildered, and I take off to empty the contents of my stomach. When I get back, Daisuke's gone. Oh God, someone please give me a break here. Is that really too much to fucking ask? Tiredly, I fall back down on the bed. I'll face it all in the morning. Right now, I'm just going to let the oblivion of sleep take me.


I suppose I've felt worse in my life. The moment when Wormmon disintegrated right before my eyes comes to mind. But there haven't been too many times besides that where I've felt this shitty. In fact, the only thing that's gone right so far today is the fact that I didn't have to go to school. I'm not supposed to start at Odaiba High until next Monday, but my parents figured it wouldn't hurt to let me miss a week. Of course, I think my haggard appearance might have had something to do with that decision.

I glare at Takeru's doorbell as I tap out this Nine Inch Nails song that I have stuck in my head on it. Answer the damn door, Takaishi. I know you're in there. This little trick of yours may work on Daisuke, but I'm a great deal more patient than him. I can do this all day. And just to prove my point, I start thumping out a rhythm on the door to go along with the doorbell. The door swings open though just as I start to get into it. Figures.

"Alright, I've opened the door. You can knock it off now, Ichijouji, the neighbors are complaining." He won't look me in the eye.

"They wouldn't have had to complain if you'd opened the door after I rang the doorbell the first time." I say calmly, trying to regain some of my wits. Takeru looks like shit. Damn, if I look half as bad as he does, I think I understand why my parents were so quick to agree to let me stay home. He's got bandages wrapped around his own hands too.

God, why did he do it? Did he have any idea what he was getting into? Did he think it would be a snap to adjust to? I know it's not going to be, even at half the force, I'm fighting the damn thing's urges to say 'fuck the world, I'm going on a rampage'.

"Yeah, well, given the choice, I wouldn't have answered at all, but Patamon made me." Normally Takeru gets this insanely cute look when he sulks, but this time he seems a lot more surly and a lot less cute.

"Why'd you do it, Takeru?" I ask quietly since it's pretty apparent that he's not going to invite me in. Given the way he's probably feeling, I don't blame him much; I'm probably a nasty reminder of why it is he feels so shitty.

"Why?" He rolls his eyes. "You're my best friend, why not?"

"You should have just left it alone. Left me alone. I'm sure, given the time, Gennai would have found a way to remedy things without you having to take half of… of this. What the hell were you thinking taking on a burden like this? You've been sheltered your whole damned life. You have no idea what you're getting yourself into. Trust me, I know. Damn it anyway, Takeru!" I'm frustrated and I can admit it. And I'm ashamed. If I hadn't been, well me, this wouldn't have happened. His soul would still be clean. He'd still be untouched. Unsullied by my filth.

"Well I didn't fucking leave it alone so just goddamn deal with it, okay." He snarls as he turns on me. I take a step back and blink. He's finally turned those baby blue eyes of his on me, and I can see that they're overly bright with unshed tears. Well fuck. I'm not handling this very well at all, now am I? I should probably just be thanking him for not letting me turn into the Kaiser all over again. It's just that I care about him too; I didn't want him to have to deal with this.

"Takeru…" I start off hesitantly. He glares at me and then his hand snakes out, grabbing the front of my shirt and pulling me close. I stare at him in muted shock. I think I've seen him get really and truly pissed off once before in my entire life. It is a bit unnerving. "Listen Takeru…"

He's kissing me. Oh my fucking Tokyo! He's kissing me.

And as quickly as he grabbed me, he shoves me back. "I did it because I love you, genius." And then the great Takeru Takaishi slams the door in my stunned face.


"Ken, are you okay?" Wormmon asks worriedly as I groan into my pillow.

"Just peachy." I mutter. Takeru loves me? Since fucking when?! And why did I not see this before? Rolling over slightly, I catch a glimpse of Wormmon's anxious face out of the corner of my eye, and with a sigh I reach over, pulling him over to me. He snuggles up against my chest, but stays silent. I guess that's something he and Takeru have in common. They know when I'm in one of my moods, and they'll give me the time and the space to just think.

Not that Daisuke's a real pest or anything about it. It's just that he can't seem to stand silence. If it's quiet, he's got to fill the void. What happened at the movies on Sunday is just one example of many. And while cheerful chatter usually does make me feel a bit better, sometimes all it does is reinforce the artificial flavor, the isolation and loneliness of things. Sometimes a totally inane comment can make you laugh and snap you out of a bad mood, other times it just reminds you of how rotten you feel and how great the rest of the world is feeling in comparison.

So where does that leave me? I mean, I need both Takeru and Daisuke in my life. Takeru's there in the moments where I just need a silent companion to sympathize with. And Daisuke's there in the moments that I need someone to just be crazy and wild to knock me out of my funks. If I had to choose between them? Can I choose between them?

Fact of the matter is I don't want to. Sure I do some pretty heavy flirting with Daisuke. He's just so dense though. It's all harmless because he rarely ever figures out that I'm even coming on to him. And yes, I did kiss him. But it was in a moment of weakness, as much as I hate to admit it. I suspect I would have done the same thing if it'd been Takeru there at the movies with me instead of Daisuke.

So logically, what happens next?

I growl in frustration as I give my pillow an ineffectual punch. Wormmon gives me a concerned look, and I try to give him a reassuring smile. Daisuke's all fire, passion, and energy. Who wouldn't be attracted to that? And that's not even taking into account the way he looks. Being with Daisuke is like an adrenaline rush. He just has a way of making everything come to life around him. He reminds me of the Ken I want to be, the kind of life I want to lead. He makes me want to try and be a better person, despite the odds and the obstacles in my way. I feel alive when I'm with him.

Takeru's more like an ocean breeze all calm and quiet. Understanding. He may not have Daisuke's passion, but he's got his own subtle power. You can see it in the way he acts, the way he moves, the way he looks. Takeru, in many ways, is a lot like me.

Maybe more so now than ever before.

With Daisuke, every thought he has is written there for the world to see. Daisuke doesn't have anything to hide, and even if he did, I doubt he'd bother. But that's not the way I work, and Takeru understands that because he's the same way. I can relate to him. He knows exactly when to get off my case and give me my space, and he knows when to be there to lend support. And he's every inch as loyal as Daisuke, it's just that Takeru doesn't see me so much as an exotic type fish as he does a comrade in arms.

Fuck. I love them both.

Which of course means that I can have neither. I suppose I really should have listened to Daisuke's rants on romance more closely, it appears as if he was probably right about it. But where does that leave me now? One of my best friends just took half of a dark spore for me. What am I supposed to say? 'Oh gee, thanks, but I can't really return your love because I can't seem to decide whom I love more: you or Daisuke'? I'm sure that would go over real well.

There's a light tap at my bedroom door and I roll over slightly, careful not to crush Wormmon in the process. Daisuke's standing there at the door with the most incredibly guilty look on his face. I hide a smile as I climb down off the top bunk to greet him. Poor Daisuke, he never does guilt very well. And me? Well, I'm a pro at it, right?

"Listen Ken…" He starts off and then stops as his face goes through this pretty impressive display of emotions. "Fuck man, I am so sorry." He finally spits out with this crushed look on his face.

"Daisuke…" I start but he waves a hand and cuts me off.

"No, I mean it. I really, really fucked up this time. It was bad enough that I got all flustered and punched you like that. But my timing couldn't have been worse. God, I'd totally understand if you can't even stand the sight of me at the moment, but I've got to apologize. I never meant for things to crash down like that."

"Daisuke, it's okay." I grab his wrists so he'll quit flailing his arms around in frantic gestures. What? Did he think I wouldn't forgive him? He's forgiven me wrongs of far greater magnitude. He looks me straight in the eye with those liquid brown eyes and I can't help but give him a smile. A real smile. "It's not really your fault that things snowballed like they did. I should have told you or Takeru what was going on instead of keeping it all inside like that. The dark spore has always been my responsibility and my burden, and I should have realized that I was heading into a danger zone with the way things were piling together."

"Yeah, but I punched you."

"That hurt, too, you know." I can't help but give him a small guilt trip for it.

"I'm sorry. I just… I wasn't thinking. I just reacted." He says shamefaced before he turns and avoids my gaze. Well shit, I guess I might've misjudged how guilty he felt about the whole thing. He looks like I just shot Chibimon dead or something.

"I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have just kissed you out of the blue like that. I know you don't feel the same way, and it was wrong of me to try and force our friendship in a different direction." I finally get out with a heavy sigh.

"You don't think I feel the same way about you that you do about me?" I jerk my head up and stare at him, confused. Of course, the semi-perplexed look on his face isn't clearing up matters any, either.

"You don't, do you?" I ask with a bewildered snort. He frowns and then looks me straight in the eye.

"Kiss me again."

"Excuse me?" I demand as my eyebrows shoot up into my hairline.

"Kiss me again. I wasn't expecting it the last time, and if I'm gonna know for sure, I need something to go on." He tells me calmly, as if what he's proposing is the most logical thing. Sometimes, I think it would be a lot of fun to live in the same world Daisuke does. The natural laws of the universe obviously don't apply there, and overall, I think it'd be a pretty trippy experience. "Ken?"

Sucking in a breath, I grab the sides of his face and bring my lips to his. His impulsiveness is catching. That's the last coherent thought that goes through my head before I feel his tongue dart into my mouth and work it's way over mine, experimentally and uncertainly. Shyly, I start matching his movements stroke for stroke.

A long time later, we finally separate and I get to breathe again. He's standing in front of me panting slightly with a semi-dazed look on his face, and I imagine if I could see my reflection, I'd see much the same on mine. "Wow. Just… wow." He manages, and I nod numbly.

Two kisses in one day, how'd that happen? Oh shit! Takeru! Daisuke shoots me a questioning look and I realize that my revelation must be showing on my face so I just decide to come clean.

"What about Takeru?" I ask softly.


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