Word Count: chapter: 4,695||story: 27,609
“There's no need to shout. I am standing right in front of you.” Ken's lips moved almost hypnotically. Daisuke couldn't take his eyes off of them. It was probably the collar's work again, he decided. Stupid thing. Stupid Ken.
“I'm not blind. I saw that.” He didn't care if the Kaiser tried to put some kind of a punishment on him for that. The thought of their lips touching was revolting enough! “I just think you're crazy!”
Ken's chuckle was soft and amused. Almost pleasant to hear, in fact. Daisuke's stomach churned; he was not supposed to be thinking things like that about his enemy! Flashes of memory went through his mind, images in sharp relief of himself staring into those amazing violet eyes.
Doesn't matter! He's holding my friends hostage so I'll do this, and he's got this damned collar on me, and I don't care how good looking he is, he's a pain in the ass, and I am not going to do this! His eyes flicked down to Lighdramon, and he started to open his mouth, reaching for his D-Terminal at the same time. Fladramon could teach the Kaiser a very hot lesson in how to keep his hands to himself.
“Really, Daisuke, you have to learn better. Stop that at once.” Daisuke could've strangled the Kaiser for that lazy tone of voice alone. It didn't help matters that as soon as the words reached his ears, he did stop what he was doing. He knew just how stupid he had to look with one hand frozen halfway to his jacket, and his mouth partly open. It was Ken's fault completely.
The Kaiser stepped one step closer, reaching out to cup Daisuke's chin in his hand and lifting his head just a little. Daisuke was starting to get very tired of all the physical contact Ken seemed to be so eager to indulge in lately. “The sooner you learn and follow the rules, the better.”
“And just what are these rules?” Daisuke grated the words out, staring defiantly into his enemy's face. It was much better when Ken wore the concealing glasses. Daisuke didn't risk getting distracted by those amused eyes.
“They're very simple, Daisuke. Even you can follow them, once you stop trying so hard not to, just because I'm the one making them.” Ken's hand hadn't left Daisuke's chin, and the intensity of his gaze was creeping even past his shades. It brought up memories of confusion and mystery that the goggle-wearing boy didn't like at all. There was something so completely wrong about all of this. Ken had never done anything remotely like this. Why was he now? Why had he changed?
Daisuke did his best to yank himself away, only to have Ken's grip tighten more firmly. “That's not a rule.” It was't easy to talk like this, but Daisuke managed it. He did have some pretty decent incentive, after all.
“If you want to be specific, very well. The rules are this: I run everything. You do as you're told. You'll be well rewarded.” Ken's lips curved briefly. “Now, we're wasting time. I believe I wanted something from you. Are you going to give it to me or do I have to take it?” There was the briefest of pauses before he spoke again. “Though I suppose I should warn you that if I take what I want, you won't get what you want. That nice little clue to where your friends are.”
Daisuke clenched his fists hard, feeling his nails digging into his palms even through the gloves. Why was Ken doing this? He wanted to shout that question into the other's face, to hopefully get some kind of answer that would make sense, but he didn't. As much as it annoyed him, trying to yell answers out of Ken wouldn't do much besides get you a superior smirk. I'll have to think of some other way. Cunning wasn't his strong suit, but this was a special situation.
In more ways than one, he had to admit to himself. Which meant he was going to have to do something that would probably give him nightmares for the rest of his life. “All right. I'll...kiss you.” His stomach went from just churning to doing flip-flops and threatening to bring up anything at all possible for a return appearance. The last thing he could ever remember wanting was for his first kiss ever to be from the Digimon Kaiser!
“Good boy. You're learning fast.” Ken did nothing to bring Daisuke closer, and the other growled mentally as he leaned forward. The Kaiser was quite obviously making Daisuke do this to himself, not letting him claim more than the slightest bit of persuasion. He brushed his lips lightly across Ken's, ignoring the shiver that went all through him at the contact, then pulled back as swiftly as he could, raising one hand to wipe at his lips.
“Don't do that.”
Ken's order stopped him once again, and he reached for the collar instead, yanking at it half-heartedly for a few seconds. What a rotten day this was turning out to be.
“Well, I gave you the kiss. So tell me where they are!” Daisuke half-shouted, as Ken made no move to say anything else. What else was he going to have to do to get some clues around here?
“That wasn't exactly the best effort you could've made.” Ken looked on him disapprovingly. “You once knelt down and begged for their lives at my command, Daisuke. Surely kissing me can't be that much harder.”
“You'd be surprised.”
Ken chuckled softly, then leaped casually back onto his waiting AirDramon. “A bad kiss gets only a bad clue. If you really want to find them, the easiest way is to give up looking for them.”
“You call that a clue?” Daisuke could feel Lighdramon growling underneath his grip as the Digimon of Friendship spoke up for the first time. His partner was getting as upset over this as he was. “Daisuke did what you wanted, and that's all you're going to tell him?”
The Kaiser looked down his nose at the four-legged warrior. “I could tell him so much less if I were inclined. This doesn't really concern you, Digimon, so I'd stay out of things. Daisuke's collar might not affect you, but this would.” For a moment, a glistening spiral appeared at his fingertips. “And there wouldn't be anything that either of you could do to stop me from putting it on you either. Remember that.”
Both of them stared up as the AirDramon turned and swept out of sight. Daisuke sighed, leaning flat against his partner for a few scant moments. Lighdramon wasn't exactly built for comfort, but he did his best to nuzzle the human on his back. “We'll find them, Daisuke.”
“I know, buddy. I know what his clue meant, too. I'm just not going to listen to it.” Daisuke leaned back, adjusting his grip. “If I stop looking for them and go to him, he'll have them prisoner, and we'll have to play whatever mind game he's got in mind.” He doubted they'd have a chance of winning that one fairly, too. Ken made a pretence at fair play, but only when he'd already stacked the deck in his own favor.
He checked the position of the sun and winced. He wasn't the best at telling time by it, but it was easy to see that sundown wasn't all that far off. Maybe an hour, if that much. Two if he was really, really lucky. Unfortunately, luck seemed to be in fairly short supply these last couple of days.
“Let's get going, Lighdramon. The sooner we find them, the better.”
The armoured Digimon leaped forward, coursing across the landscape as swiftly as he could move. Daisuke clung to him, trying once more not to think of so much. Just the day before everything had seemed so normal. Everything was just the way it should be. His friends had been where they should be. He'd been with them. He hadn't had this collar on himself. Ken had been his friend, not this twisted monster again. They'd been planning some kind of picnic or something, since Takeru's birthday was coming up in just a couple of weeks.
Wait, hold the phone! Daisuke stopped in his mental tracks. Ken had been his friend? Not a twisted monster again? When had that happened? When had Ken stopped being a monster? And Takeru's birthday wasn't until March. It was late July now. Wasn't it? Shivers of fear trickled all through him.
“Lighdramon, this is going to be a really weird question, but...what day is it?”
His partner peered over his shoulder at him. “It's July 28th, what other day should it be?” Lighdramon sounded worried, and Daisuke couldn't blame him. He was already worried about himself.
“No. You're right. I was just curious.” He didn't like lying to his friend, but would anyone believe what he'd just been thinking? He was quite certain he didn't believe it himself. He shifted a little more as Lighdramon raced onward. Only thing that makes sense is that Ken's messing with my head again. He wants me to think we're friends, so I won't fight him. Of course that didn't explain why he'd been thinking about Takeru's birthday. It was probably just some other part of Ken's scheme. The best thing to do was just to ignore it. He was getting really good at that.
As fast as Lighdramon could go, he didn't seem to be going fast enough as the miles flew by under his feet, and the sun inched closer and closer to the horizon. Every time Daisuke looked to the west, it seemed to be later faster. There's got to be a way to find them! Taichi always said he could find the others when they were separated in their day, so I can too!
He threw himself back in his seat suddenly. “Lighdramon, stop! We're going about this the wrong way! I know how to find the others!” He scrabbled for his D-3 before Lighdramon had even started to slow down. “This can find them! Or their D-3s!” Daisuke was never going to tell anyone how long it had taken him to figure this out. Ken had probably been counting on him not doing it, too. Well, he'd show him! Even if it was about twenty minutes to sunset already.
Funny, I thought I had more time than that. Guess time flies when you're hunting for your friends, or something.
“Well, where are they?” Lighdramon craned his head over his shoulders as he attempted to see what was going on. Daisuke stared down at the D-3, working at the buttons until what he wanted came up.
Four small dots appeared on the map, with a fifth looking as if it weren't all that far from Daisuke's own location. He stared at it for a few moments, then groaned. It was plain as day what that meant.
“I know you're there, Ken. You might as well stop staring at me and come out.” He felt incredibly stupid for even saying something like that. What if it were someone else, like one of the older Chosen or something like that? Or even someone like Micheal? Though he couldn't think of any reason that they'd be wandering around here, especially almost in sight of him, and not say something.
The silence stretched on, and Daisuke turned in the direction he saw the other D-3 dot. “I said come on out and stop watching me! What am I, the only good entertainment you can find?”
“Not at all. In fact, that's exactly what I plan to arrange, now that you've lost and I've won.” The bushes parted as the Kaiser stepped through them, looking as cool and regal as he always did. Daisuke wondered if it were even possible to fluster this imperial pain in the neck. It might be worth a lot to find out.
Then just what he'd heard registered in his mind. “You haven't won yet! I still have until sundown, and I know where they are now!” He waved his D-3 in the most threatening manner he possibly could at the Kaiser. “And that counts as finding them!”
“Oh, Daisuke.” Ken shook his head as if he were genuinely disappointed in his plaything. “You do remember who runs things here, don't you? I decide what constitutes as finding them. And seeing a few stray dots isn't even close.” He pointed briefly behind the both of them, and Daisuke winced to see the crimson rays of the setting sun. “I win.”
Daisuke glared at the sun, then yanked his gaze over to the Kaiser. “Well, you don't have to sound so smug about it!”
“I'm simply celebrating a properly won victory.” He snapped his fingers imperiously, pointing to his side. Daisuke's collar seemed to understand what he meant even though he didn't, as he found himself standing where the Kaiser had pointed.
“What do you mean, properly won? You made sure I couldn't find them!”
The Kaiser tapped Daisuke's D-3 meaningfully. “You could've looked at that at any time and been able to locate them. As a matter of fact, I do believe one of them came up with the same idea to find you shortly after they arrived here. I don't believe you can blame me if you didn't think fast enough. That's your own trouble. Let someone who is used to it think, Daisuke, and you'll be much better off.”
“And I suppose you expect to think for me?” Daisuke flared angrily. Ken's smile was even more beatific.
“You were the one who said it, not I. Now, have your little nuisance de-evolve. You won't be needing him to do any fighting for a while. We're going to have some fun.”
Daisuke looked helplessly at Lighdramon, then obeyed his orders. His partner hurried to his side, one clawed hand gently curving around his leg. The Chosen couldn't look at him; not right now. “So what kind of 'fun' are you talking about?”
“Something I'm going to enjoy for far longer than you can imagine, and that you probably won't like at all.”
“I don't like the sound of that.” He followed as Ken turned and started to walk back the way he'd come, V-mon trailing along behind them both.
“I didn't expect that you would. I would rather enjoy it if you learned to, however.” Ken reached casually behind him and caught Daisuke by one hand, not losing a single step in the process. “It would be something we could...share.”
Daisuke shook his head firmly. “I'd rather share a case of head lice.”
“I really must work on what you find amusing, Daisuke.”
Nothing else was said as Ken pulled him through the foliage, arriving at last at a circular clearing. Hovering just above the treetops, visible now that the trees themselves weren't in the way, was a huge building that could only be described as a fortress. Daisuke stared, hardly able to conceive that he was seeing the place they'd spent the last few months searching for.
Ken's smirking face turned towards him. “Yes, it is almost as impressive as I am.”
“Do you have to keep on expanding the door every time your ego gets boosted a little bit?”
Hard violet eyes narrowed, and Ken almost snipped out his next orders. “Don't say anything unless I give you permission.” His gaze dropped down to V-mon, hardening even more. “I don't want to hear anything out of either of you. I have some things to do, and I can do them best without the snide comments.”
Daisuke almost flinched; Ken hadn't spoken to him like that in...at least a day or two! Actually, he couldn't even remember if the Kaiser ever been that snappish towards him. Ken could always be counted on to be superior, arrogant, smug, and a general pain all around, but he'd actually sounded annoyed by the kind of comment they'd been exchanging most of the day.
Before he quite knew what was going on or how it happened, he found himself kneeling beside Ken's throne once more. V-mon was on his other side, seated cross-legged, and Ken was gracefully reclining in the chair, his attention on the screens before him. Daisuke started to lift his head, wanting to see what was going on, then froze as Ken spoke. “Keep looking at the floor, and don't even try to get away or speak. This won't take me long, and I want the surprise to remain a surprise for you.” One hand lazily caressed his hair, a soft sigh slipping out from Daisuke as it did.
I forgot how nice this felt. His mind began to slip away under the familiar fingers going through his hair. He was still aware of his partner being just a few inches to his side, but it didn't seem to matter that much, not with how good this felt as Ken petted and stroked. Whatever fury it was that he'd had outside appeared to have faded away completely. Daisuke gave himself up to the pleasure, knowing it would stop and start completely at Ken's will. There wasn't really anything he could do about it, and even trying was barred from him if that was what Ken wanted.
I'm becoming what he wants me to be. His stomach cemented itself together at the very thought, and he knew the only thing that was keeping him right now was that damnable collar around his neck. It's not because of anything he's done to me, or I've done to myself. Logic and reason were not friends to Daisuke. They were more like the bitterest of enemies. But today was a good day to try something different. It's all because of this thing. I'd be myself again if I could just get it off!
His eyes closed as the caressing fingers continued their cyclic path through his hair, then snapped open once more as he felt his goggles being removed. He couldn't speak or move yet, but he certainly heard the small crunch as Ken's fingers tightened around the headgear. A moment later, the ruined goggles hovered in the air in front of his eyes, and Ken spoke.
“A little present I'm sending to your friends before we make our grand entrance. I think they'll enjoy it, especially once they see you with me.” The goggles were pulled away, and the sound of a keyboard in use echoed faintly from the walls. Daisuke winced the very tiny bit he could, something aching inside at the thought of the destruction of his goggles. Taichi had entrusted them to him, and he'd done his best to keep them safe all this time. Now, thanks to the whim of a stupid kid, they were gone.
What was he going to say to Taichi?
The decision was taken out of his hands, at least for a little while, a few moments later when Ken stood up, abruptly motioning Daisuke to do the same. When V-mon started to do the same, Ken shook his head. “You're staying here. This entertainment is for us.”
Daisuke knew that his partner hadn't had a spiral or ring put on him, but it was still unnerving to see him step back from the Kaiser like that. Something in that had to get across to V-mon as he looked down at him, since the small blue dragon smiled a bit ruefully. “I don't want him to hurt you, Daisuke. So at least until we're out of here...it's like it was back when he had the others all tied up.”
He knew what that meant at once. The others had been Ken's prisoners, and he'd told V-mon to do what he was told, to save them. Wait, there's something wrong about that. He frowned, but the memory slipped away before he could latch onto it.
“It's time to go, Daisuke. Our entertainment awaits.” As he spoke, he turned on his heel and stalked towards the door to the room. Daisuke followed like a tame puppy dog.
The imagery made one of them very happy.
Daisuke was the only human who had ever spent any time in Ken's fortress other than the Kaiser himself. Unfortunately, that time had almost completely been spent in various stages of pickled brains, so he had no idea of anything being unusual in the variations of the hallways outside of the throne room. All he could do was follow along behind the Kaiser as he stalked through the corridors like the king he felt himself to be.
A door slid open in front of them, spilling brilliant sunlight onto them suddenly. Daisuke blinked, trying to get his eyes to adjust, then stared harder at what he saw beyond the glare. This had to be some kind of weird joke. They'd destroyed this! It had been one of the first things they'd done once everyone had their Digimental! He remembered freeing the Gotsumon from it! But there it was, as big as life and twice as annoying.
The arena spread out before them, just as perfect as the day they'd brought it down. At the end nearest them was a giant stone throne, and Daisuke just had time to notice that was where Ken was headed before his legs jerked and started to make him follow the Kaiser once again. It was perfectly circular, with rows of seating as if others were going to come, and a wide central area filled with sand. In other words, a perfect replica of the arenas Daisuke had seen in his history books.
Ken took his seat, settling his cape neatly around himself, then motioned Daisuke to what was becoming his usual spot, kneeling beside him. “I know you want to ask something. So ask.”
“What are we doing here? How'd you rebuild this place? Why did you rebuild it? Where are the others? What kind of game are you playing?”
The Kaiser glanced momentarily down at him, and Daisuke was quite certain he saw a raised eyebrow beyond those concealing glasses. “I'll only answer one question, Daisuke. I'd advise you to make it a very good one.”
Thoughts raced around Daisuke's mind for a few moments, then he settled on the one that might give him the most he wanted. “What's going to happen here?”
Ken's lips moved slightly into something that had a half a chance of being an approving look. “It's quite simple. I'm going to have fun. You're going to learn how to have fun. Your friends...will learn how to amuse us.” He motioned to the arena and snapped his fingers. “Send out the entertainment!”
Rumbling of some kind echoed in the clear Digital World air, and he heard familiar voices raised in protest. A few seconds later, Takeru, Hikari, Miyako, and Iori were herded into the arena, surrounded by at least a dozen Digimon, all wearing evil rings or spirals. There was no sign anywhere of their partners, and all four of them looked furious enough to strangle something, or someone, with their bare hands.
“Welcome to my arena.” Ken's voice brought them all looking up to where the two observers sat. “I've been a little bored lately, and the four of you are going to alleviate that.”
“We're going to do what?” Miyako glared up at the Kaiser furiously, fists clenching by her sides. Daisuke noticed for the first time that all four of them were wearing something unusual around their heads: a headband with a diamond shaped gem right in the center.
Ken leaned back, supporting his chin in one hand for a moment, not appearing to have taken any notice of her outburst. His other hand touched Daisuke's head briefly, not actually petting but just touching, as if in preparation. “The four of you are going to fight for our pleasure. You seem to do decently against my slaves. I want to see how well you do against each other.”
“And how are you going to make us do that?” Takeru folded his arms and glared up, practically glowing with righteousness, anger, and annoyance. Daisuke had forgotten how many times he'd wanted to knock that look off the blond's face, both before and after his crush on Hikari.
There's an after? That might've been more fun to pay attention to, but other things were happening now. Ken leaned forward, his hand never leaving Daisuke's head, and grinned.
“Like this.” Something had appeared in his other hand, some kind of remote control. Daisuke was reminded quite fiercely of several bad movies he'd caught Jun watching late at night, but never more so as Ken flipped the switch on it. The diamond tipped headbands glowed briefly red, which was picked up by the four sets of eyes below the bands. The diamonds faded, but the scarlet glow remained, as the four of them stepped away from each other, hands curving into claws, low and fierce growls issuing from their throats.
“What are you doing?” Daisuke virtually shrieked the words out. This was the stuff of his worst nightmares! “Stop this! Now! Takeru! Hikari! Miyako! Iori!”
His words were cut off as Ken's firm and commanding hand began to stroke through his hair once more. His mind began to reach for that sinfully delicious drifting again, and he fought even harder to pull himself away from it. His friends needed him, and they were going to get an up close view of just what the Kaiser was doing to him if he didn't do something! He tried to move, just a little, and managed to inch ahead perhaps half an inch or so.
“Don't take your eyes off of them, Daisuke. This is far too interesting for you to miss anything. You don't need to say anything, though. I know what you're going to want to know.” Ken spoke as if Daisuke's attempted rebellion were not only not worth bothering himself about, but not even something he'd noticed. Daisuke ground his teeth briefly; Ken had a way of making him feel like the most important creature in his personal universe one second, and treating him like unnoticeable scum the next. “Those headbands are a new invention of mine. I've been working on them for a while. They work on a level similar to my rings, spirals, and your collar. Of course yours is a little different.” A note of pride thrummed in his voice, along with the same irritating smugness. Daisuke wanted to ask just what Ken meant, since he hadn't noticed anything that made what was around his neck any different, but it was a little too hard to form the words right now.
It was really a little hard to do anything at all except watch the horror below. Iori seemed to be doing the best, surprisingly so for his size. He didn't have a kendo stick with him, but he was using some of the same moves anyway, and they were serving him quite well. Miyako had the reach of everyone, with her greater height, but Hikari had sunk her hands into that tempting wave of violet hair and was yanking her best friend this way and that. Takeru was pounding into anyone and everyone he could reach, not caring who or what he hit. Daisuke could see bruises and cuts on them all, especially anyone who had come into range of Miyako's nails, and he wanted to look away so badly. The commands remained in effect, however: he could not take his eyes off of them, no matter how much he wanted to.
There was something else he knew he could do, though. Even if his eyes never left, his mind could. The empty-mindness that came with Ken's hands through his hair beckoned temptingly. It wouldn't hurt as much if he didn't have to actually think. If he could just let it all go away, let it all fade into nothingness and give himself completely up to the bliss that was perfect contentment at Ken's feet...
To Be Continued