Rating: PG -> PG-13
Warnings: [violence] [language] [het] [shounen-ai]
Pairings: Takeru/Ken, Legolas/Ruki, Daisuke/Juri, Lee/Takato, Ryo/Hikari & Iori/Shuichon
Notes: I wanted to say this, as people have been asking me about it... I apologize, but I have no say over when Tarnished Wings is updated, as it's run by Meimi and Ajora. ^.^;; I know that finding stories at FF.Net can sometimes be hard, if you don't have them bookmarked. So my advice is to either bookmark it, or bookmark the official website that I run, Digital Mirkwood: the link to it is on my profile page.
Also, gomen gomen! A long wait between this chapter and the last one! Sorry, but quite a few things went down in my life, and just about the time they were clearing up my computer crashed. -_-;; Hopefully (barring a catastrophe) I'll be updating regularly again.
Dedication: Apple From Mars! I can't believe I didn't dedicate the last chapter to you! O.o;;
Disclaimer: If I owned either Digimon or Lord Of The Rings I'd... well, I'd probably still be writing fanfiction and drooling over Orlando Bloom. And the ending of Digimon 02 would be completely re-written. But I don't own them, so all I can do is... uh... write fanfiction and drool over Orlando Bloom. ^^;; Yeah.
Chapter Twenty-One: Torimodoshu (Restoration)
"Well, you managed it." Daisuke snorted, sounding as if he wasn't sure if he should be pleased or amazed. "But I can't imagine how. You know, Takeru, sometimes you are just a fucking moron."
"Uh-huh." Takeru replied dryly, "says he who got himself shot and killed."
"For your information," Dai retorted, narrowing his eyes, "I did it to save Ken. You should be thanking me."
"You know, you really need an attitude adjustment, considering you wouldn't have gotten out of those chains at all if I hadn't-"
"Daisuke." Gandalf interrupted, before the boy could finish his sentence and the two of them could get into a further argument, which was looking more and more like the prelude to an all-out fist fight. Interposing himself between them, he sighed. "Stop that. He's tired and injured, and provoking him will only drain what little energy he has left."
"Hey!" Takeru had never snapped at Gandalf, and normally wouldn't have even considered it. "I'm fine!"
The Wizard raised an eyebrow. "Of course..."
"Huh." Crossing his arms, Takeru turned to survey Ken, who was laid out on the bed. "Is he going to be okay, Gandalf?"
"Perhaps. He will need you before he is whole again, though, Child of Hope."
"What Saruman did..." A short hesitation as Gandalf considered his next words; "having the Dark Spore forcibly removed from Ken... was akin to a mental rape. His mind is very unstable right now, and you must not forget that he was also subjected to what he thought was the Digimon Kaiser personality. He will be confused, hurting and frightened when he wakes," his lips thinned in concern, "and he may even lash out -- it is a natural reaction, of course, but... Takeru, I believe you would be the best one to help him through the coming hardships."
During Gandalf's explanation, the blonde had completely forgotten his annoyance with Daisuke. Similarly, Dai was looking about as worried as he ever had -- but since Ken was his best friend, it was understandable. Takeru tapped a finger against his arm and sighed. "I don't know if I'm strong enough to handle both his pain and my own."
"Like hell." Dai snorted, earning a sharp look from Gandalf.
"You are stronger than you imagine, Takeru." He told him, with the same aggravatingly cryptic tone the Child of Hope had learned to live with months ago, "and your strength will be direly needed in the coming days..."
Takeru blinked, then narrowed his eyes in the Wizard's direction, "you're not just talking about Ken, are you-"
Blue eyes opened painfully slowly, and the first thing that he experienced was pain. Not the same kind of pain he'd been dealing with the last time he was awake, thankfully, but pain nonetheless. Takeru allowed a soft groan as he turned his head and attempted to remember what he'd been dreaming about... Gandalf again? He couldn't recall for sure. Was that what he had just been dreaming, or echoes of a previous dream?
<I should just go back to sleep.>
Instead, he raised a hand and allowed it to rest on his forehead for a moment before gritting his teeth and forcing himself to sit, despite the racing pain in his sides. A quick tally told him that he'd been healed again, though definitely not as well as Gennai's previous attempt -- scarring was obvious down his arm and side, and most of his body appeared to be one huge bruise.
The room was empty, save for himself and Ken, and the curtains had been drawn so the light was minimal. He remembered the room... the same one Ruki had occupied the last time he'd been at Gennai's, only with a temporary cot-like bed added. That was what he was sitting on, and next to him Ken was laid out on the actual bed. The Child of Kindness was still out cold -- either sleeping or unconscious -- and looking as if he was on the verge of tears, despite not being awake.
Takeru's brows furrowed, and he shoved himself off the cot and onto his feet with a painful hiss. His clothing was draped across a chair near the door. Or, a new set of clothing was -- his original clothes had been destroyed, so they couldn't have been worn again. The new clothing was... scarily similar to Gennai's own outfit. In fact, it probably was one of his outfits. Where else would they find something for him to wear? He made a mental note to thank Gennai when he saw him next.
Well, they were comfortable clothes, at least... and they were only one layer thick, unlike the Elven outfits he was used to. Loose pants in a dark shade of brown, and a matching sleeveless turtleneck, and while brown wasn't his favorite color he wasn't about to complain.
He decided to forgo the beige robe. It was something he'd never seen Gennai without, but he just didn't feel up to dealing with it right then. Instead he struggled his way into his boots (which were next to the door, and were his boots instead of a borrowed pair) and then stepped out into the hallway after another quick glance at Ken.
The corridor wasn't long, but it seemed to take forever, and halfway down it he considered going back and sleeping for another week or so. His muscles ached, his chest still stung, and the remains of the circle-design in his right arm itched. A lot.
Voices drifted from the main part of the house. He could recognize them, but he couldn't catch exactly what they were saying; Ruki sounded angry, of course, and Legolas seemed to be attempting to calm her. Aragorn's voice was low and contemplative. Gennai was asking questions. And he could hear giggling, which he assumed came from Patamon and the other digimon, save for Renamon.
Reaching the end of the hall, Takeru leaned against the wall to catch his breath and watched silently as his comrades had a discussion that seemed to be bordering on an argument. Ruki was ranting as per usual, pacing back and forth beside the window and casting glares out toward Isengard, with Legolas playing the part of her voice of reason. The Elf was also half-explaining something to Gennai, with Gimli interjecting comments here and there. At the table, which sat in the center of the room, Aragorn was conversing with Renamon, with Takato paying close attention, and Patamon was joking around with Guilmon while Wormmon watched sadly from nearby. The insect-like digimon was probably worrying himself sick.
Takeru cleared his throat, and everyone stopped abruptly.
Gimli's eyebrows shot upward, "you're up already, lad!"
"Barely," Gennai observed, "Takeru, you're clutching that wall for dear life-" standing, he made as if to head over, but the blonde waved him off and walked to the table himself, then dropped into a chair. "How do you feel?"
"A little off." Takeru shrugged, "thanks for the clothes."
"Well I could hardly leave you in what you had." A half-grin, "they were barely more than rags."
"Well, torture will do that to you."
Silence followed that pathetic attempt at a joke, until Ruki stabbed a finger in his direction and snapped; "your brother's right, you are a fucking moron!"
Somehow, her attitude made him want to grin. Maybe because of what he had just been though, but the Tamer's statement just didn't rub him the wrong way -- as it undoubtedly would have otherwise. He didn't say anything for a moment, and Ruki glared at him the entire time. Legolas was giving her 'please don't start' looks, which she was effectively ignoring.
She must have noticed him attempting not to break into a childish giggling fit, for a flash of annoyance crossed her features seconds before he lost the fight and began to snicker. Seated next to him, Aragorn jumped in surprise and stared at him as if he had grown another head.
<I think it's fair to say everyone thinks I've gone insane.>
After a moment he managed to get himself under control again, and sighed as he leaned back into the chair and closed his eyes. "Sorry, it's just... I needed to laugh. Hard to explain, I guess. And yes, Ruki, sometimes I can be an idiot."
"I didn't say you were an idiot. I said you're a fucking moron." The girl replied icily.
"Ruki." Renamon chided vaguely.
"Well he is." Ruki spat, and crossed her arms. "You dumbass, Aragorn told you to stay here!"
Takeru gave a lopsided smile, "now you know how well I listen."
"You goddamn don't!"
She snorted, "and you're deaf."
"Exactly." The blonde agreed, and looked around the room for backup -- then cleared his throat nervously when it was apparent none was coming. "So... I guess I really upset all of you when I ran off."
"You might say that." Aragorn commented.
And Gennai raised an eyebrow, "not that we didn't know where you'd gone; we were brainstorming how to get you out when Patamon told us something was wrong. A feeling he was getting or something -- probably because he's your partner." The man waved a hand toward Patamon, "and we had no way of getting to you."
"Eventually Patamon freaked out," Takato supplied then, "and just took off."
"You are lucky," the Ranger said gravely, "that he was able to get to you in time."
He didn't have to say it twice -- Takeru was more than aware of how close he'd come to his own death. But... he would probably have done it again, if he'd had to. At least, he decided, he'd managed to get Ken out with him...
"You fixed me up again?" It wasn't really a question, but more of a statement, and it was directed toward Gennai, "the same as before, I'm assuming, except it doesn't feel like it worked as well."
"Hm," the guardian nodded, "well, it's much the same as a floppy disc, Takeru -- I can restore your data, but the more it's purged and repaired the less it works. You can only reuse and restore a floppy disc so many times after it's been damaged..." he nodded in the blonde's direction, "next time it will work even less than this time, and the time after that even less, and so on until the program does you no good at all."
"So, may I suggest not getting yourself that badly hurt anymore?"
<Easier said than done.> Takeru thought sarcastically, but nodded, "sure, I'll try."
An abrupt but not unfamiliar weight dropping onto his head made him look upward then, and Patamon peered down at him through his hair. He didn't say anything, but the look on his face conveyed very clearly his thoughts about what his partner had done... the Child of Hope winced internally and made a mental note to apologize to the digimon the next time they were alone.
On his head, Patamon sighed, "how's Ken doing?"
His words made everyone look toward the hallway, and Gennai hesitated. "He's... in a different state than Takeru was when you brought them back here, Patamon."
Brows furrowed all around, and Renamon asked; "how so?"
"His catatonia seems to be self-inflicted." Gennai explained, "he wasn't all that badly hurt physically, so I healed him easily enough -- but he seems unwilling to regain consciousness. There's no other reason why he isn't awake..."
"Saruman took the Dark Spore from him."
Gennai jumped, "what?"
"He took the Dark Spore," Takeru repeated, "forcefully."
"How do you-?"
"I was there. I saw it happen."
"But, it should have-!"
"Killed him, I know." The Chosen Child nodded, "but it didn't." He chose not to mention the Digimon Kaiser incident that Saruman had forced on Ken as he continued; "he's... in a lot of pain, even if he doesn't look like he is."
Legolas sounded concerned when he asked, "is there anything we can do?"
He was hesitant to respond, and pursed his lips thoughtfully. "I... don't know."
And that was that. He really didn't know, though there was something nagging at the back of his mind -- about his own strength being needed to help Ken though the darkness -- or something. He couldn't really remember, and the fog that seemed to have drifted into his thoughts was beginning to annoy him; he needed to rest still, and he knew it, and from the look on Ruki's face he wasn't going to manage it until she was good and finished with yelling at him...
"I'd still like to know," she said slowly, "what in the hell you thought you were doing."
Takeru shook his head and pushed himself to his feet again, using the table as leverage, "getting Ken back." He told her flatly, in a tone that left no room for arguments. "And I did it, so shut up and leave me alone. I already admitted it was stupid of me, what more do you want?"
She said nothing.
"Gennai, I need to borrow your couch... or something else where I can sit and be comfortable." He mentally added 'and alone' but didn't vocalize the thought. The others were worried about him, and he knew it, and he didn't blame them. "If you don't mind, I mean."
"What? No, of course I don't mi-"
The door slammed open, making the entire house rattle. A picture frame fell from the wall and landed on the floor with a crash. Everyone jumped. Patamon and Guilmon uttered surprised squeaks and Patamon fluttered off of Takeru's head to hover in the air beside him
Wormmon was the first one to find the strength to speak; "Ken?"
The blue-haired boy stood in the doorway to the lone bedroom, one hand on either side of the frame, head down and eyes narrowed as he surveyed the room in front of him... uneasiness welled up inside of Takeru, and he took a step toward the Child of Kindness -- then paused when an unexpected sound tore itself from Ken's throat.
Ken had begun to laugh, softly, but it was true.
A pin would have sounded like a freight train in the deathly silence of the house, and the giggles rose a bit in volume before stopping all together... Ken smirked and straightened, dropping his arms to his sides, and sharp eyes finally focused on Takeru, who found his heart in his throat and that he was having trouble breathing.
He knew that look. He knew that laughter. He knew-
"My, this is a cozy site." The Digimon Kaiser chuckled, condescending as he ever had been, "I almost expected hot chocolate and a roaring fire."
<Shit. Shit, shit!>
The Kaiser flexed his fingers and started toward Takeru, eyes never leaving the horrified blonde. "You're the one who rescued us... Takeru Takaishi. Because you think you have some kind of pathetic feelings for Ken, of course. But you did manage it, against all odds." A pause and he snickered to himself, "I almost expected you to die as easily as that idiot Daisuke."
"You..." Ruki's voice growled from behind him, and Takeru blinked in surprise and glanced back for a split second -- enough time to see Legolas lay a restraining hand on the orange-haired Tamer's shoulder.
"And what would you do, Ruki Makino?" The Kaiser asked, amused and mocking, "you couldn't do anything for Motomiya... or for Boromir, for that matter. Or for anyone. You talk tough, but you're really just a school girl."
He needed to do something before Ruki decided to take the matter into her own hands. Despite how his muscles still ached, Takeru walked forward -- the Kaiser's attention returned to him, and he was graced with a sadistic smile. Despite how the look in Ken's eyes made him shiver, he only stopped when he was a foot away. "Ken-"
The Kaiser slapped him.
The movement was so fast he didn't see it coming, and before he could react his head snapped to the side, his neck wrenching painfully. His cheek stung -- it hurt like hell! -- and he worked his jaw as he slowly faced forward again.
"Do not." The Kaiser growled lowly, "call me by that name."
The Child of Hope raised a hand to rub his face and tried again; "Ken, listen to m-"
His sentence was cut off as, again, the other boy slapped his harshly, this time with the back of his hand. An angry noise rose in Takeru's throat and his expression has hardened when he again turned toward Ken, who raised his hand to strike him a third time-
-and the blonde grabbed his wrist, spun him around, and shoved him as hard as he could (which wasn't all that hard given how much he was hurting), then followed the stumbling "Kaiser" down the hallway. Before the bluenette could catch his balance, Takeru latched onto the back of his shirt and violently shoved him again -- this time back into the bedroom -- and followed, slamming the door behind himself.
Muffled by the door, he could hear Gimli's exclamation of; "what in the hell just happened here?!" before he turned his attention back to Ken, who was glaring at him with the Digimon Kaiser's eyes from across the room.
"Who do you think you are?!" He spat, his hands clenching into fists.
"You stupid bastard!" Takeru snapped, making him scowl, "what do you think you're doing?"
"How dare you talk to me like-"
The Child of Hope was across the room faster than even he thought was possible, and he grabbed Ken's arms, smacking him up against the wall, before the Kaiser could say anything else.
He didn't know if he was more upset with Ken or himself, but rage was scratching at him and he wasn't about to let his friend -- though he was that and much, much more -- torture both of them with delusions that had been brought on by Saruman. His teeth were gritting together as he stared at the other boy from only a few centimeters away, and the Kaiser seemed to be at war with himself... or with Ken... as confusion and anger warred in the familiar features.
"You think you can talk to me like I'm... like I'm common?!" He was nearly shouting, "how dare you! Take your hands off of me before I'm forced to-"
"Ken!" Takeru tightened his grip on his arms and shook him, "would you fucking get over it?! I know what Saruman did hurt you, okay, but... shit! Think about this, damn it! Just think! The Dark Spore is gone now, so why in the hell would the Kaiser have come back?! Explain that to me!" A hint of fear was coloring Ken's eyes now, and Takeru made a frustrated noise, "the entire fucking Kaiser thing happened because of the Dark Spore! You know that, I know that... everybody knows that! So snap out of it before I have to hurt you!"
"..." he seemed to be struggling with something, and then the Kaiser righted himself again; "let go of me, Takaishi!"
"If you don't release me, I'll-"
Takeru kissed him.
It wasn't planned. Hell, it was the farthest thing from either of their minds -- but somehow it happened, and with Ken pinned to the wall there wasn't much the Kaiser could do to stop it. After a second, the blonde broke away but didn't let him go. "Wake up, Ken. We've got more important things to do than fight amongst ourselves right now." His voice was barely a whisper. "Our friends need us... we have to get back to Primary Village."
A soft whimper escaped from the Child of Kindness.
"I know you're hurting." Takeru continued, "I know -- I know that... even though you didn't want the Dark Spore inside you, having it ripped out like that... it hurt like hell, and left you... in agony, I'm sure. But this is no way to deal with it." He took a deep breath. Ken's eyes had closed, and pain was showing in his face. "The Kaiser is dead, Ken. Dead. Before, at Isengard... that wasn't you... wasn't the Kaiser. Ken, that was Saruman, and if I ever get my hands on him..."
He trailed off, and relaxed his hold on the other boy, stepping back.
Ken stayed where he was, taking shuddering breath after shuddering breath-
-and then his voice-
-barely audible at all-
"I can't do this."
"Of course you can."
"I'm not strong enough."
"You're plenty strong." The Child of Hope didn't move to comfort him, and Ken's eyes cracked open once more -- Ken's eyes, with no hint of the Kaiser. "You wouldn't be here if you weren't, and neither would I."
Another whimper, and the bluenette slid down the wall and wrapped his arms around his legs, resting his forehead on his knees. His voice was muffled; "Takeru, he just... went into my head..."
"I know." Two steps and he sat down next to Ken, but didn't touch him. "I know."
"The healing begins." Gandalf nodded approvingly, and Daisuke peered over his shoulder.
"Please." Daisuke groaned, "they're drowning me in sap, here."
The Wizard chuckled, and rapped his staff lightly against the top of Dai's head; he was in too good a mood for the redhead to change that. Ken would be fine -- the Kaiser was a sort of self-defense, apparently, but Takeru had gotten through to him. And though Gennai's program hadn't restored Takeru to his previous state, he was well enough to be up and around.
"They will be alright for now," he said, mostly to himself, "but soon they will have to fight again."
Daisuke's interest perked. "At Primary Village, right?"
"Yes, Daisuke. They are needed there, for the battle to come... that is something I tried to convey to Takeru, and can only hope he understood." Frowning now, Gandalf turned his eyes back to Takeru and Ken, who were silent as the Child of Kindness sorted things out in his head. "If they do not arrive in time, all will be lost."
"Yes." Gandalf nodded gravely, "the battle for Primary Village... will decide the Fate of not only the Digital World, but mine and yours as well."
Me: So... I had a bit of a BRICK WALL there for a while. T'wasn't all my fault though.
Patamon: But we're back into the updating now, right?
Me: =^-^= Right! ...well, I don't know if I like this chapter or not. Sometimes, one just comes out that I find mediocre. :p Mar. This one is probably less than stellar because it's the only chapter left to do that I didn't have completely planned out before I started writing. ^^;;
Takato: And our lesson for today is?
Me: O.o;; Don't cut corners in your fanfiction?
Me: Ooh! We finished that dub of Runaway Digimon express! ^_^ Yay! I played Ruki Makino, Rumiko Makino, Juri Katou, Megumi Onodera, Reika Ohtori and the Train Station Announcer! (I was going to play Renamon, but Vashkoda ended up playing her instead. XD) Anyway, I'll post a link to FETkun's site in my profile for any of you who might want to download it -- it's in .rm format, so you nead RealPlayer to watch it.