Word Count: chapter: 4,482||story: 18,489
"Odd tastes?" Iori's green eyes were full of concern as
he stared up at Daisuke, the silver collar around the redhead's neck
gleaming faintly in the school's overhead lights. "Just what
does that mean?"
Daisuke hesitated only a little, trying to think of some way that
he could make this sound even remotely sane. For all his tendencies
to bull his way through anything however, something came out of his
mouth that was utterly unlike what he'd thought about saying.
The exact truth.
"I've been having some really weird dreams, or something like
dreams anyway," Daisuke blurted, reddening more and more with
every word. "I'm with the Kaiser in them. I mean with
him. Not just...with him, but with him."
They were staring at him. It wasn't the usual kind of thing when
he started to go off about something, or anything, or nothing at all,
the way he usually did. No, they were staring at him as if he'd just
sprouted three heads and nine tentacles and was asking if they looked
good on him.
Takeru was the first one to speak. "Are you sure you're
feeling all right? The Digital World can have some really weird
effects on people sometimes. If that's all there is to it, there's
nothing to worry about."
"And what does that have to do with this?"
Miyako once more pointed at the collar encircling his neck. "I'm
not getting it, Daisuke."
He took a long breath; when was someone going to get around to
inventing telepathy so he didn't have to say all these things
to people? "In my dreams, the Kaiser...Ken...put this around my
neck. I'm not even sure when, it was just kind of there."
Hikari reached out a hesitant finger and brushed it across the
neckwear slightly. "It feels so cold. How can you stand
to have that on?"
"It feels warm to me." Daisuke touched it himself, the
warmth of it pulsating through where his skin contacted it as if it
were alive. "Almost hot, sometimes."
Iori shook his head skeptically. "I don't understand how
something that you dreamed about could be something that you are
wearing in the waking world. It doesn't make any sense."
"I'm not all that sure I remember the last time my life made
sense, Iori." Daisuke sighed quietly before he started to yank
on the collar once more. "All I know is that I woke up with this
on. I've been trying to pretend it wasn't there all morning." He
glanced down slightly shamefacedly. "I think I was thinking if I
pretended it wasn't there, then it wouldn't be, and everything would
just be normal."
Takeru snorted slightly. "That never works. I've tried
before." Something about the way he said that which said clearer
than any specific words that he was serious. Daisuke made a note to
try and find out what it was. He didn't like it when his friends kept
secrets from him.
Miyako prodded at the collar again, then hooked two of her fingers
underneath it and yanked. Daisuke yelped, pulling away from her with
the best dirty look he could manage at the moment. "Thanks a
lot, Miyako, that hurt!"
"You and me both!" Miyako held out the fingers that
she'd used, displaying a small set of blisters. "You're right,
that thing was hot! Red hot!"
Hikari gasped softly at the sight, then tugged her friend over to
the nearest restroom, muttering about cold water and bandages.
Daisuke sighed softly; whatever this thing was, it didn't want to
"I don't think there's anything that we can do about it right
now." Takeru decided, almost reaching for the collar himself.
Daisuke stepped back before the blond could touch it, not wanting any
more of his friends hurt because of something he had on himself.
"We'll get Koushirou to check it out after school. If we don't
hurry, we're going to be late anyway."
Daisuke snapped a quick look at the nearest school clock and
groaned. "You're right. Let's go!" He had never been that
fond of school, but right now, anything that would take his mind off
what was going on was more than welcome.
Hikari stuck her head out of the bathroom door quickly. "You
guys go on without us. I'm going to make sure Miyako's all right.
I'll be a little late though."
"We'll tell the teacher what's up." Daisuke blurted
quickly before realizing they couldn't tell him just what was
going on. Well, he'd improvise. He tended to be good at that, most of
Iori nodded slightly and hurried on towards his own classroom,
casting a worried look in the direction of the bathroom as he did.
Daisuke figured the little guy was more worried about Miyako than he
really wanted to let on. Part of him wondered what it was like to
care about someone like that; not in the way he liked Hikari, or even
in the way he was starting to regard Takeru, but as a best friend one
could count on anything and everything for. V-mon came so very close,
but he wasn't everything Daisuke could want in a best friend,
no matter how hard he tried.
Once he and Takeru had told the teacher why Hikari was late, and
had slithered into their seats in the classroom just a few seconds
ahead of the bell, Daisuke tried to get his mind on the education he
was supposed to be getting. After all, history was supposed to be
interesting. Unfortunately, everything that the teacher said kept
going right over his head.
This has to be the most boring class I've ever been in.
Daisuke propped his head onto his hand and stared at the book, hardly
comprehending a thing in it. He knew he could read it; he'd read it
before when he hadn't had anything else to do. But today, it was just
a mass of incomprehensible symbols and glyphs.
He doodled a few things he supposed might've been notes, if he
were in the mood to make them readable. If the teacher said anything
to him about it, he had an excuse ready-made. They were in his own
special shorthand, one that he could read even if no one else could.
He had no idea of what he'd do if he were asked to read them out
The door opened, and Hikari hurried in, bowing slightly in apology
to the teacher before taking her seat next to Daisuke. "I'm
sorry I'm late, but I had to help a friend, she needed to go to the
nurse for a few minutes."
"Very well. You haven't missed much, but you might want to
ask someone for the notes you didn't hear." Daisuke could see
the teacher looking from him to Takeru and winced visibly. This was
the stuff nightmares were made of. "I suggest Takaishi. He's
more likely to have what you need."
"Hey!" Daisuke jerked his head up instinctively, his
mouth engaging before taking time to check in with his brains. That
happened a lot to him. "Why wouldn't I have what she needs too?"
The teacher eyed him in amusement. "Do you expect me to
believe you've been taking real notes, Motomiya?"
Oops. "Well, of course I have! What else would I be doing,
other than sitting here being bored to death?" Uh oh. His mouth
was on a roll without him again. Detention? He was staring at a
week's worth of it already, and he'd barely said twenty words yet.
Well, it was better than occupying the space at Ken's feet. Wasn't
it? He'd have to get back to himself on that.
"Mmmmhm." The teacher paced slowly towards him, growing
larger and larger with every step. Daisuke lifted his head proudly
and stared right into his eyes, refusing to back down. He was the
Child of Courage and Friendship, and there wasn't anything some
schoolteacher could do to him that would get him
afraid. He'd seen things that would drive this man stark raving nuts
and lived to talk about it. "Let's see what you have here."
Daisuke barely had time to even reach for the notebook when the
teacher had already picked it up and was looking at the first visible
page. "I'm not quite certain just what you're taking notes on,
Motomiya, but it's most certainly not my class. Japanese history has
very little to do with something like this." He turned
the notebook back to Daisuke, motioning to something the young boy
hadn't even noticed on it before: a recognizable drawing of a very
familiar face. "While we're all concerned about the whereabouts
of Ichijouji, I don't think drawing pictures of him in my history
class will really accomplish much towards finding him. Now, Yagami,"
the teacher looked back at Hikari. "Make certain you get the
notes from Takaishi. And perhaps you should make certain he
does as well." A lesser person than Daisuke might've sunk into
his chair at the look the teacher gave him. Daisuke only grinned
wildly, not letting any of the worries that clawed at him show in his
eyes or expression.
As the teacher returned to the front of the class, Daisuke closed
his eyes and ran his fingers through his hair, avoiding dislodging
his goggles by instinct by now. How the heck did that get there? I
don't think I drew it. I don't even draw. But there it
was, staring back at him in black and white. He didn't think Ken
could make something like this appear, not unless they were in the
Digital World. So there had to be some other explanation for it.
The question was, just what could that explanation be?
He closed his eyes, trying to calm himself. There had to be
something somewhere that would give some answers, even if he didn't
know what it was. He could feel the collar around his neck a little
more clearly now, and he tried to adjust it without bringing the
teacher's attention back to himself. He had no idea what might
be said to the class if that thing became visible. Probably cracks
about his taste in jewellery or something like that.
Maybe I should just wait until I can talk to Koushirou about
this. He fingered the collar again, wincing as it seemed to grow
a little heavier. I wish I could figure this thing out on my own.
It's about to drive me through the wall! Things like this had
never been his strong suit, however. That was for people like
Koushirou or Miyako. It did take all kinds, of course.
He peeked slightly towards the class clock and stifled a groan.
They were barely half an hour into the lesson! How was he going to
survive until the end of the day for the chance to get some answers?
Maybe he'd be able to ambush Koushirou at lunchtime. That was only a
couple of hours away, surely there'd be time! What was more
important, eating lunch or saving a friend from a life probably a lot
worse than slavery?
Daisuke stared down at the desk again, letting whatever the
teacher was going on about wash right over him. He'd check with
Takeru later and find out what it was. This was more important. He
toyed with the collar again and again, trying to see if it did
anything else besides annoy him. Now, however, it didn't seem to
change at all. Not hotter, not colder, not heavier, not lighter.
Well, he put it on me, and probably made it. Guess I
shouldn't expect it to be normal. He sighed heavily and leaned
back in his chair. Some days it just didn't seem to pay to get out of
"Motomiya." The teacher's voice fell on his ears, along
with the sudden dead silence all around him. Daisuke wanted to close
his eyes and pretend this wasn't happening all of a sudden. That
hadn't helped with the collar, however, and he was growing to be of
the opinion it wasn't going to help with much else. All right, time
to face the music.
"Yeah, what is it?" He grinned as brightly as he was
capable of, one hand coming up almost against his will to touch and
caress the collar one more time. He glared briefly at the offending
appendage; couldn't he leave that thing alone just once? Maybe
that was one of the things it did, make him fiddle with it
"Detention, Motomiya. For an hour after school. Whatever it
is you have around your neck, it can't possibly be more fascinating
than classwork." Heavy in the teacher's voice was the
implication that there just might be some confiscation of a certain
collar. Daisuke wondered just what might happen if the teacher did
Maybe it would be worth getting into more trouble to find out.
For right now, though, that wasn't an option. He drooped his head,
looking as downcast as he could for getting yet another detention. He
could feel the teacher's eyes on him for several more seconds, then
the regular drone of lessons picked back up. Daisuke felt like
jumping and yelling in delight. Yet another victory for the Patented
Motomiya Brand of...well, he wasn't really sure what to call it, but
it kept most of the teachers off his back so he didn't have to worry
about them that much. Keeping the teacher from bugging him would have
to do to keep him occupied until lunchtime.
In the peculiar way that time has in such things as long school
days, dreams, and other such things, a few eyeblinks later it was
lunchtime. Daisuke dodged away from the teacher's disapproving eye as
fast as he could, heading for the lunchroom. Glad I don't have to
help serve today. That gave him more time to hopefully talk to
The halls were so crowded with people Daisuke barely had room
enough to breathe, much less move. But he was used to this, and he
knew a shortcut or two. Maybe I should've waited for Hikari and
Takeru. He glanced behind himself for a moment or two, but
couldn't tell if they were anywhere near him or not. Well, those were
just the breaks. He'd meet up with them in the lunchroom anyway.
As he squirmed his way past a group of older students, he noticed
a door that was usually closed was open today. He'd never went
through it, so he had no idea if it were an unused classroom or what.
That's weird. I wonder who did that. As he passed by it, he
glanced in curiously, expecting to see some teacher, or at best a
student doing something in there, if anything at all. Maybe a couple
of kids had decided to make out there.
Instead, his headlong rush came to a crashing halt, as he saw the
Digimon Kaiser standing there. Tall, elegant, refined, clad
impeccably in a suit that shouldn't have existed in this world but
very obviously did, Ichijouji Ken stood, arms folded across his
chest, eyes directed straight at Daisuke.
"Come here and shut the door." Perfect calm edged his
voice, but Daisuke could no more help the fear that began to curdle
his guts than he could help himself from walking forward, closing the
door, and looking back at the Kaiser as if to be told what to do
next. "What a good boy you are, my Daisuke."
"I'm not a dog." Daisuke clenched his fists, and
thought about not hitting that arrogant smirk just for a
second. Two seconds later, he was swinging with all of his weight
behind the blow, aiming directly for Ken's face.
Unfortunately, three seconds later, Ken had spoken a single
word, and Daisuke had dropped to his knees on the floor at the
blue-haired boy's feet as if he'd done this every day of his life. He
stared at the tiles, fury seething through every vessel and vein he
possessed. That single word, down, spoken not even in tones of
command, but as if Ken had been pointing out something that happened
to be below them, that was what had done this.
"You may not be a dog, but you are mine, and
everything that is mine obeys me." Ken told him. Daisuke caught
a glimpse of his shadow moving, and mentally winced; he knew what was
coming. Indeed, Ken's fingers began to caress and slide through his
hair possessively. Daisuke clenched his fingers into fists, doing his
best to fight against the strange feelings surging through him with
every pass of that hand. His mind wanted to drift away as it always
had, but he wouldn't let it. He couldn't let it.
Ken chuckled softly. "You do amuse me so." He lifted his
hand gently and tapped the side of Daisuke's collar. "Do you
understand anything about this yet? You've certainly been paying
enough attention to it."
"It's just another Evil Ring!" Daisuke snapped, glaring
up at his mortal enemy. "No matter how fancy it looks, that's
all it is! Something to control someone else!"
"Partially." Ken looked almost as if he were proud of
Daisuke for a moment. "But not entirely. You'll find out other
things it does soon enough. I've been thinking about you." His
lips thinned ever so gently. "I might wait a little to bring you
to me permanently. The chance to toy with your former friends a
little more is so sweet, and since you seem to want to have
that lesser genius examine my handiwork..." He didn't
finish the sentence, but there was no need. Daisuke understood
perfectly. Ken wanted to see exactly how superior he was to
Koushirou. For a moment he had a mental image of the two of them
sitting across a table from each other, both dressed casually,
talking about things that went way over his head. I need to
get more sleep. That was just crazy.
Daisuke tried to get to his feet, but his entire body was locked
in place. He settled for glaring angrily at Ken's ankles. "Are
you going to let me up from here?"
"Maybe. When I'm ready." Ken paced around him in a large
circle, and Daisuke had the uncomfortable feeling that more was going
on here than he really wanted to know. Ken had never expressed
any kind of an interest in anyone else before. The closest he'd ever
come to anything that looked vaguely like that, and Daisuke wasn't
even going to think that was what he'd meant, was when they'd
found out that the Digimon Kaiser and Ichijouji Ken were the same
person. Even then he just wanted to kill me, not kiss me. I guess
people can change their minds, but I just don't know. It didn't
ring right to him. There was something wrong going on here,
something that reached far beyond what was visible.
He glared at the pacing ankles before they went out of his sight
behind him. "Why are you doing this? What do you want?"
"I told you this game was over and I'm the victor." Ken
paused directly behind him. Daisuke figured out in record time that
being on his knees with Ken behind him was a very
uncomfortable position, for multiple reasons. "Every winner
needs his trophy, Daisuke."
"I don't remember that being on the sign-up sheet for
"Keep that sense of humor." Ken began to walk around him
again. "It'll amuse you when I don't want you around to amuse
Daisuke gulped; that really didn't make him any more
comfortable. "What do you mean, amuse you?" As long as Ken
was talking, maybe he could get a few more answers out of him.
"That's rather obvious, I believe. Not that I expected anyone
else to understand something as subtle as my sense of humor."
Ken stopped in front of him this time and snapped his fingers. "Get
up, Daisuke. Our little conversation is finished for the moment."
Daisuke was on his feet almost before Ken had closed his mouth.
"Would you stop doing that to me? I hate being yanked
around like a puppet!"
"Get used to it. You move to my tune now, and I'm a
very stern dance master." Ken laid his hands on Daisuke's
shoulders and stared into his eyes. The other was quite uncomfortably
reminded of when they'd been in the fortress together, and tried to
inch a little away. Ken's hands kept him right where he was, however.
"If anyone asks about what delayed you, you won't tell them I
was here." He paused for a moment, then nodded briefly. "In
fact, I think it's better if you don't even remember that I
Daisuke was swiftly making out a mental list of things that were
too impossible to be believed. Every word that came out of Ken's
mouth in the last twenty-four hours pretty much ranked at the top of
the list. "So how do you intend on making me not
Ken's smile contained nothing of joy and everything of pure, raw,
unadulterated smugness. Daisuke would've sold his old goggles
for the chance to knock it off his face without getting pushed down
onto his knees. Whatever happened to those anyway? Daisuke
shook himself mentally; there were a whole lot of other things that
were worth thinking about right now! Then again, maybe they
were how Ken so easily manipulated him. He remembered a fantasy novel
Mimi had told him about, where the evil wizards had used items that
belonged to some people in order to control them. Maybe that was what
was going on here and now.
"You'll see. Not that you'll remember that either, but
you'll see." Ken leaned closer, whispering something into his
ear. Daisuke tried to hold onto the words, but they went through his
mind like wind, leaving only the most vague of impressions behind.
Ken's petting hadn't made him feel even this light-headed. He
was somewhat aware of eating something that tasted familiar, but he
had no idea just what it was. It was soup of some kind, that was all
he could be certain of. "I'll see you again, Daisuke. Have those
little meetings with those idiots. Let yourself hope. It amuses me.
Now, I think it's time for you to go."
There was a sensation as of something passing through Daisuke's
hair, and he blinked. Had there been someone in here? A quick look
around revealed just the usual clutter of a classroom, nothing
unusual at all. He ran his hand over his head, adjusting the goggles
that seem to have gotten knocked a little off-center somehow. "That
was weird. I better get to lunch before I pass out or something. I
think I was seeing things."
He hurried out of the room, closing the door behind himself, and
headed for the lunchroom. The halls were clearer than he remembered
them being, and he stopped quickly to look at the time. Whoa!
That's weird. It was still lunchtime, but not for much longer.
The last I remember, lunch break had just started. Where'd the
time go? Was I just standing there all this time?
"Daisuke!" He looked up to see Hikari and Iori waving at
him from the door of the lunchroom. "Come on, you're going to
miss lunch! What kept you?"
"I don't know, Hikari." Daisuke ran over to them, wiping
at his mouth absently. He glanced at his fingers and frowned; had he
been walking around all morning with whatever this crusty mess was on
his face? Why hadn't someone said something to him? "It was
really weird, one second I was going through the hall, the next, I
was just standing in this empty classroom. I lost a whole fifteen
minutes, I think."
Iori frowned briefly, his usually expressionless face creasing
lightly. "That's not normal. Have you been feeling strange at
"I think we're going to have to redefine 'strange', Iori.
I've been feeling weird since before I got up. But I don't think I'm
sick." That sounded about as silly as anything he'd ever said.
"I just lost a little time." Well, maybe that was sillier.
Hikari tugged on his sleeve some. "Come on, Koushirou's
waiting to see this collar of yours. He's really fascinated by it."
She laughed brightly. "I think he really wants a chance to see
what it does when he touches it."
That reminded him of something else. "How's Miyako doing,
anyway? Those burns weren't too bad, were they?"
"Not really. She'll be fine in a couple of days. I just hope
that thing doesn't burn anyone else." Hikari shivered, taking a
quick look at his neck. She didn't reach for it, though, and he
didn't expect her to. Some lessons really were burned in.
He could hear the others talking as they got closer to the table,
and blinked. That wasn't really what he'd expected to hear, not from
"I hate saying it, but it might be true. It's something we
should think about, anyway." Takeru's words came clear first. He
was staring down at what was leftover on his tray, very much not
liking whatever it was that he was talking about.
Miyako shook her head, violet hair flying. "I don't want to
think about it either. I mean, this is our friend! It's
nothing he can help, even if it's true! People just don't change like
that, even with something like this! It's not his fault."
"We won't know either way until I can examine the collar."
Koushirou's slightly more reasonable tones intervened. "But you
should all make some kind of preparations, I think." He paused
for a moment, forehead wrinkled in thought. "Perhaps we all
should. This could happen to any of us, logically."
Takeru sighed, burying his head in his hands. "I just don't
know. Can we trust Daisuke right now? The Kaiser's got that
thing on him, and for all we know it works just like one of those
blasted Evil Rings. He could turn on us when we least expect it. Can
we trust him?"
Daisuke pulled a chair out and sat down, not looking at any of
them. Takeru stared at him, words frozen on his lips and shock in his
blue eyes. "Daisuke..."
"No, it's all right." Daisuke watched as Iori and Hikari
sat down in the chairs they'd vacated to go find him. "I heard
what you were saying."
"I didn't mean it badly." Takeru told him,
fidgeting as nervously as Daisuke had ever seen him before. "I
just don't know. This hasn't ever happened before."
The goggle-wearer nodded, feeling a little detached somehow.
"Takeru, it's okay." He looked around at all of
them. Hikari and Iori both looked worried. Miyako was even more
nervous than Takeru. Koushirou was simply watching calmly. "I
don't think you should trust me. I really don't."
To Be Continued