Word Count: chapter: 4,621||story: 64,787
Daisuke couldn't move. He had no idea if his frozen state came from the sheer shock of seeing Takeru falling, the knife buried in him, or from the command Mori had given him. All he knew was he wasn't moving at all. He couldn't even be certain if he were breathing. Everything around him seemed to be moving in slow motion, as if this were a movie. He almost wanted to hear someone call 'cut!' and see Takeru sit up with a fake blade in him, and fake blood, and for all of this to be a nightmare.
None of it had been a dream so far, though. It all held a dark reality that had been dredged from his darkest nightmares. None of that changed, either.
"Takeru..." Yamato stepped forward, his eyes huge with shock. Daisuke had never before been so grateful not to be someone else. Mori was going to be in about fifty worlds of pain...
"Y...Yamato..." Takeru slowly began to sit up, and tension Daisuke had barely known existed began to drain out of him. The blond wasn't dead! At least not yet. If they could get him out of wherever this place was, and to a hospital, then there was probably a chance. Not that he was a doctor, but it seemed okay to him. But with everyone else still staring in shock, they might not have the time.
Then someone else moved, and Daisuke wasn't at all surprised to see that it was Jyou. He dropped down by Takeru, hands moving quickly and with great surety. Daisuke winced as the bloodied knife came into view, and he heard Takeru's soft groan. That really didn't sound that good.
“Jyou?” Yamato came closer, sparing a quick compassion-filled look for Daisuke, but his main attention was on his little brother. “How bad is it?”
“We're going to have to get him out of here, and the sooner the better.” Jyou leaned back, looking through his ever-present medical kit. “I can keep him stabilized for right now, but not for much longer.”
The blond whirled on Mori, eyes flashing in anger the likes of which Daisuke had seldom seen there, in his memory or out of it. “What the hell did you think you were doing?”
“If the next words out of your mouth are 'you could've killed someone', don't bother. That's exactly what I was trying to do when your brother got in the way, Ishida.” Mori eyed the whole situation with undisguised contempt. “If he hadn't wanted to be a hero, then Ichijouji would be gone and this would be over.”
Ken shook his head slowly, not taking his eyes off Mori for a heartbeat. “This won't be over until we have Daisuke back.”
“Then it'll never be over, because you'll never have him back.” Mori grinned slowly. “At least not as--”
“Yeah, yeah, not as we remember him, we got it all five minutes ago.”
Apparently snarky comments were under the control of the Trait of Courage, Daisuke decided. He and Taichi had a tendency to come up with some similar ones. He had to admit that one wasn't too bad. His would've been better, if he could say something, though. That was one of the first orders of business: how to get this thing off of him so he wasn't subject to Mori's commands any longer. It would help if there was anything like a latch or something on it, instead of being as smooth as if it had been grown there.
Evil geniuses sucked.
Well, all the ones who weren't Ken, anyway.
“Since you understand that, the rest of this should be simple. Leave.” Mori turned his attention back to Daisuke, a smirk hovering on his lips. “Come over here, Motomiya. It's time to say good-bye to your former friends.”
I wonder if I could get him some acting lessons? Daisuke wondered as he started over to the twisted man. He could certainly use them. Daisuke's eyes fell briefly to his feet, watching as they carried him away from the ones he wanted to be with. There had to be some kind of answer, something to break what was going on. Somehow, he didn't think Mori was going to kill him, or even wipe his memory completely. No matter how many threats he made, he still wanted to torture Ken more than anything, and he couldn't be so stupid that he didn't realize Ken's torture would end with Daisuke's life ending. At least Daisuke was pretty certain it was.
He was also pretty certain that Mori's torture would just be beginning if he died.
“Daisuke!” The agony in Ken's voice cut right to his heart. If V-mon were out of that cage, maybe he could break through this thing. There weren't too many metals that some kind of Digimon couldn't break through somehow. Though the thought of WarGreymon trying to cut through the collar was more than a little terrifying. It wasn't that he didn't trust the huge Digimon, but just thinking about that huge blade coming close to his head was unnerving.
He ached to turn and look back at Ken, to make some kind of gesture so his boyfriend would understand and know how he felt. Nothing happened, though, as he came to stand by Mori. For the first time in his life he really wanted to cause major damage to another human being. Or whatever it was that Mori was. Daisuke was seriously beginning to have doubts about his humanity.
Mori looked up at him, a smirk of victory hovering over his lips, then started to reach for Daisuke's hair once again. Before he could touch it, however, someone else was there.
“This ends, now.” The words, or ones similar, had been said multiple times since they had arrived, but there was a hint of finality to them that hadn't been heard before. Unimon pointed his horn carefully at Mori, determination shimmering in his eyes. “I won't let it go on, Mori.”
“Unimon, you claim to be on my side. Then don't stand in my way.” Something very like shock and a hint of anger and horror rang in Mori's voice. “You're supposed to be my best friend. My partner. Why are you turning on me?”
“I'm not.” Unimon didn't move an inch, his horn pointed directly at his partner. “I'm trying to help you, even if it hurts you. This isn't what you need.”
“And how would you know what I need?”
“Because that's what Digimon are for.” Wormmon wriggled closer, and Daisuke felt a surge of hope. When the little green caterpillar had turned on Ken and joined his power with Magnamon to defeat Kimeramon, they had defeated the Kaiser. Maybe that was a hint of what was going to come for now. It certainly couldn't hurt matters.
Mori turned a cold look onto the small insect Digimon. “What in the world are you babbling about?”
“Digimon are their partner's best friend. They're always there to talk to, to listen, and to be there. Why haven't you talked to Unimon about how you've been feeling? It could've helped you a long time ago.” Wormmon stared up at him with eyes of gleaming blue. Daisuke wondered why he hadn't ever noticed they were so much like Ken's. Not quite identical, but they had that same shade of faith sometimes. Like now.
“I've tried to talk to him, several times. He's always pushed me aside.” Unimon's voice was soft and full of pain. Daisuke caught a glimpse of Ken wincing, and wasn't surprised to see a glimmer of a teardrop in one of his eyes as the former Kaiser looked down at his partner.
“That's probably the stupidest thing you could have ever done: to ignore your partner.” Ken told Mori, clenching his fists slightly. “I've been down that road myself, Mori. It's not worth anything that you'll do, or that will happen.”
“Maybe you think that, but if you missed it, I'm not you.” Mori started to reach for his D-3, then froze as Unimon's horn began to track him perfectly, light gleaming off of it. “Unimon, stand aside. We can go riding later. I haven't ignored you. You shouldn't be doing this.”
“You've spent time with me when you could make the time, but you've ignored me when it mattered the most.” Unimon almost seemed to be trembling as he spoke. “You've ignored everyone who didn't tell you what you wanted to hear. Me, Kondo, all of them. Do you really think your brother would've wanted you to do this?”
“Do you really think I'm doing this because I think he'd want it or not?” Mori challenged, anger rippling through him. “He's dead and gone, and the only thing I have left is revenge!”
“The only thing you have left is your own ego and your own pride.” Takeru groaned the words out as he began to pull himself up, leaning against Jyou and Angemon at the same time. “And your refusal to let any of it go.”
“Why should I?”
“Because it's the right thing to do.” Iori chimed in. Daisuke was struck again by how much the youngest Chosen had grown in the years that were missing from his memory. A few vague flickers of teasing him through his growth spurts slipped through the back of his mind, and he grinned. He'd do it again, once he got the chance. And it would be just as much fun as the first time.
Mori shook his head, rolling his eyes. “I don't see how any of you were able to defeat anyone if this is your philosophy. Just talking to your enemies? If this is the best that the Digital World can do for defenders, then I'm surprised it still exists after all these years.”
“This isn't how we fight.” Yamato growled darkly, and beside him Gabumon evolved to Garurumon in the blink of an eye. “This is how we rescue a friend. But if you want to see how we fight, we'll be more than glad to show you!”
“Motomiya, stand in front of me.” Mori's lazy order resulted in Daisuke standing in between his captor and the other Chosen. He stared at them helplessly, fury boiling in every vein and cell he possessed. How could someone like this even dare consider calling themselves a Chosen? Of any kind? He was more like an Anti-Chosen. A dark reversal of everything they ever should have been. Even the Kaiser had been more of a defender than Mori was, and he hadn't ever defended anything but himself and the twisted destiny he'd thought he had.
“Mori. Having someone else protect you?” Unimon shook his head sadly, voice throbbing in pain. “Could you be any less of a Chosen Child?”
“I don't really care that much. If they attack me, they'll kill their friend, and I have what I want. If they don't, I'll take him away, and I'll still have what I want. You see, Unimon, it's a win-win situation, no matter what happens.” The smugness in his tone could've been spread on bread and eaten with jelly. Daisuke absently wondered how long it had been since he'd had something to eat that wasn't Mori's cream of Mushroom of Forgetfulness soup. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or some ramen, would go down just perfectly. Or both. Great, he was starting to get cravings. The last time that had happened, Jun had been pregnant with her and Shuu's first kid!
Hey, I remember that! His mental grin got even wider. Mori's little concoction was fading out of his system more and more. Things couldn't get much better.
Well, getting the collar off would help. It just had to be broken somehow. WarGreymon might be the best choice after all. In fact, he was probably the only choice. No one else had any kind of weapons that could help. It had to be something that could cut or saw or just shatter it, without killing him at the same time. That cut down on a lot of their attack opportunities.
“Wrong.” Unimon stepped forward, his horn grazing lightly against Mori's throat. “I can make you lose right here and now, and give them back what they want the most: Motomiya.”
Daisuke went as stiff as he could, which was quite stiff all things considered. What was Unimon talking about? He wasn't going to kill his partner, was he? As much as Daisuke himself wanted Mori out of the way, that would be revolting just to think about!
“Go ahead and kill me if you think you can.” Apparently Mori didn't quite feel the same way about it. That was fine by Daisuke. The thought of thinking like him was disgusting. “But I don't think you have the nerve, Unimon.”
“I don't need it. I just need to do this.” With a whirl and a flash of hooves, Unimon pivoted to face Daisuke, moving his head quickly to slam into the young man's side with all of his considerable strength. Daisuke barely had time to realize what was going on before he had been thrown headlong back at the others. “Get him out of here. If he can't hear Mori's voice, he won't be able to obey him.”
Just as quickly as Unimon had moved, Ken wrapped his arms around Daisuke and started to pull him away. Daisuke struggled a little, his body wanting to obey the earlier command that Mori had laid on him: to stop them in any way he could if they tried to pull him away.
“We're going to have to do something to get him to stop fighting us!” Taichi growled, shooting a look that would've laid Mori underground in half a heartbeat if such looks could truly be deadly. “Anyone have any ideas?”
“Pressure points?” Iori suggested a bit hesitantly. “Certain of those pressed could cause him to pass out and he wouldn't wake up for hours.”
That wouldn't have been Daisuke's first choice for how to deal with him. It more than likely had something to do with the fact that every other time he'd passed out, he'd awakened in Mori's crafted nightmares or his captivity, and he really didn't want to do that again. He hoped they'd come up with something better.
“That's still not going to stop Mori himself.” Miyako pointed out, keeping an eye on their arrogant enemy. “Until we can stop him, this isn't going to do much.”
“It'll do enough to get Daisuke away from him. That's his biggest weapon right now.” Garurumon appeared to chew the words out, his eyes never once leaving Mori. He took a step forward, and Mori seemed almost to flinch as Unimon stepped to the side, not protecting his partner at all. “You are no Chosen, Mori. You are unworthy of being partnered to a Digimon. You are unworthy of being human.”
“Neither one of those things are something that you can take away. I know why you don't want to hurt me.” Mori smirked, folding his arms across his chest. “Because each one of you knows that you could be me. I am what you could be if you stopped believing everything you've been told about being the heroes and the saviors and the---urk!”
The sound of the slap against his mouth rang around the entire room. Daisuke would've laughed quite a bit if he'd been able to once he saw who it was that had done that.
“You are really getting too mouthy.” Mimi told him, her hand raised again to hit him. “We don't want to hurt you because we're the good guys and that's what you should be. But since you don't want to be, I guess we don't really have a choice.”
“Could any of you kill a human?” Mori taunted, eyes flickering right to Miyako and Iori. “You've been known to have that problem before. You could barely bring yourselves to kill Digimon, who don't even die like proper creatures! What gives any of you the right to decide the fate of another?”
“Aren't you the one who should be asking yourself that question?” Kondo asked quietly from where she had been standing watching it all. “You decided it was your job to gain revenge for your brother's mistakes, instead of not making them yourself.”
Daisuke was almost certain he caught a glimpse of uncertainty in Mori's eyes, but if it was there at all, it was washed away by arrogance and conceit a few seconds later. “Don't try to confuse the issue, Kondo. Are you just going to let them kill me?”
The young woman looked from her erstwhile leader to the Chosen and back again. Daisuke, still caught up in trying to keep himself from being taken away, wondered what was going on in her mind. She was almost as strange as Mori himself, but at least she had more brain cells that were actually working. That put her several notches above him, in his way of thinking.
“No.” Kondo replied at last, shaking her head. “I won't just let them kill you.” She paused for a moment, resolve hardening her tone. “But I will help them stop you in whatever way is necessary. If that means killing you...I won't like it. I won't ever be happy about it.” Her eyes met his, and the strength in them was unmistakeable. “But I will never stop them from doing it.”
The effect that had on Mori would have been noticeable if someone had been blind, deaf, dumb, and living on a planet that circled a star on the far side of the solar system. He stumbled back, shock and horror replacing everything else in his eyes. No matter what, Daisuke realized, he had expected both Unimon and Kondo to support him, to at least want to spare his life and to stand by him. With both of them siding with the Chosen, something he'd considered as steady and unchangeable as the sun rising in the east had just fallen out from under him.
Daisuke was fairly certain he was mixing his metaphors, but he didn't care.
“No, Mori. This is over with.” She glanced towards where Daisuke fought against Ken still, then looked back at Mori. “Release him. Let it go. You can find another way. Something else can be done, I'm sure of it.”
Cold anger began to replace everything else on Mori's face. “No, I don't think I will.” The determination that had filled him earlier returned, in greater quantities than ever. “It will end on my terms or no one's.”
“No.” The word came from every throat but two in the entire room: Mori's and Daisuke's. It would've come from Daisuke's if he'd been able to speak, and the look he threw his captor was just as eloquent as the way everyone else said it.
Takeru, leaning still between his brother and his partner, shook his head. “Why can't you just realize that you were wrong? You're not the first person in the world to make mistakes, and you won't be the last, either. People have made mistakes bigger than this.” He sighed a little, and Daisuke wondered just what this had cost the Child of Hope. Takeru had eased up a little on his firm belief that evil could never change, but when faced with one that didn't seem to want to, there wasn't much he could really do about it. Daisuke didn't want them to kill for his sake, and he had a feeling Takeru would do it.
But what about for the sake of everyone else? He had no idea where the question came from, only that it was there, and he had to answer it, either now or later. For the sake of all of his friends, what would he do? Or what would he not do? Mori was only threatening him, and Ken by extension now.
No, that wasn't right. He was threatening Ken, and using Daisuke as his weapon to do it. His own determination turned to diamond within Daisuke. Whatever it was he had to do in order to keep his friends safe, he would do. Sometimes you just had to kill, whether you liked it or not.
He remembered something Iori had told him. It had rung in his head over and over because it was the young boy who had told him. It was a decision that Iori had come to after his own agonizing wrangle with what it might mean to be a Chosen.
We can't always do what makes us happy, as much as we might all want to say it, think it, believe it, and live it. Sometimes we're going to have to do something that makes us un happy: because it's what we have to do.
Iori was growing up, or had grown up, to be a really smart guy. Daisuke looked back over at Mori, Unimon, Pidmon, and Kondo. They'd destroyed his life and almost his existence. Kondo had helped only out of friendship and probably hoping she could get Mori to give up the revenge once he'd had a taste of it. Unimon had only done what any Digimon partner would, as had Pidmon. But Mori himself was so eaten up with hatred and vengeance there wasn't anything left of him. What did this mean for all of them? For the others who had been touched by BelialVamdemon and the darkness?
There will always be failures. The knowledge came from inside himself, from the deep part that had once whispered to reach out the hand of friendship to Ken, to keep faith in himself and in the others when they were going against the ultimate darkness. But there will always be successes, too. The key would simply be in finding out which was which, and working to make it all work out somehow.
Daisuke twisted and twitched some more, his outer body not recognizing the things that his inner mind had. That stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid collar again! He had to do something, or Mori would just win by default! And he'd never let that happen, and now didn't seem to be a good time to start.
“Hold him.” Ken had thrust him over to Taichi and Jyou before Daisuke's mind quite fully grasped what was going on. Once again the Rocket darted across the floor, and stood before Mori. “Mori, you're sick. You need help that we can't give you. So we're going to have to take you somewhere that can help you.”
“If there were such a place, then you would've been locked up in there long ago yourself, Ichijouji.” Mori sneered in contempt. “I don't need any kind of help, except to get rid of all of you.” He turned, his lips parting, but before a single syllable could escape, Ken quite simply put a hand over his mouth, pinning him against the wall with his other hand.
“Not anymore, Mori. Daisuke belongs to himself, and that's the way it's going to stay.” Ken's voice ran with all the intensity of the Digimon Kaiser, and all the compassion of the Child of Kindness. The combination was beyond intoxicating for Daisuke. They were going to have to get seriously reacquainted once this was all over and done with.
Unimon tapped one hoof firmly on the ground. “There is a way to be certain of that. Remove the collar.”
“We figured that one out a while back.” Taichi reminded the Digimon. “The problem is, we don't know how. That thing doesn't have any way to take it off.”
“If it can't be unfastened, then the way is to destroy it.” Unimon said simply. “Break it into pieces, and there will be nothing more that Mori can do.”
“Could he make another and make this start all over again?” Hikari wondered, worried eyes flicking all around the room. “Is that going to stop him for good?”
“It'll stop him from controlling Daisuke for good. I've got something else in mind to stop him from doing this to anyone else as long as he lives.” Ken said, softly and firmly. “How can we destroy that thing, Unimon? What's it made of?”
“Digital silver. It's not as hard as Digital chroma-zoid, but it worked for what Mori wanted it to do.” Unimon pawed a little nervously, swishing his tail as he glanced over his shoulder towards Mori. “The risk is because of how tightly it's around his neck. Unless it's done just right, destroying the collar could kill him.”
Yamato's fists clenched firmly. “We don't have a choice. Not doing it is worse than doing it.”
“He's right.” Miyako shivered as she looked quickly at Daisuke. The others chimed in their agreement, no one looking fully comfortable with this. Daisuke knew they couldn't ask his opinion, since there was no way he could give the one he really wanted to. But he trusted them all to know what he wanted. It would be better to be dead than to keep on having to do what someone else said, no matter what.
Unimon nodded a little, then stepped towards Daisuke. “There really isn't a weak point. He made it very well. Hitting it anywhere will do, if you have just the right amount of force behind it. I could do it.”
“No.” Wormmon raised himself up on his last few legs, attempting to look fiercer than usual. “Daisuke is my friend, and Ken has been through too much trying to find him for me not to do this.”
Daisuke wanted to smile and hug Wormmon more than he ever did. There was just something about the adorable bug that made him so sweet even in the darkest of times. My knight in shining carapace? He mentally snickered and decided to try and do something very nice for Wormmon in the very near future, if this worked out perfectly.
“All right.” Ken shifted a bit, and his place pinning Mori was taken by Yamato and Garurumon, both of whom looked more than ready to turn the maniac into Digimon chow at the earliest opportunity. Ken pulled out his dark D-3 and looked down at his partner. “Ready?”
“Ready.” Wormmon braced himself, and was enveloped moments later in the light of evolution. “Wormmon evolve to...Stingmon!”
As the light faded, the gleaming insectoid warrior stood there, posing slightly as he felt all the eyes on him. Taichi and Angemon both got a better grip on Daisuke, making certain he couldn't move very much. Koushirou put his laptop to the side, and joined Iori as he assisted in keeping Daisuke restrained.
“I trust you, Stingmon,” V-mon whispered, pattering over as Agumon managed to finally work through the lock on the cage keeping him restrained. “Bring him back to us.”
Stingmon nodded slightly, raising one arm as it began to glow softly. His wings fluttered and he lifted into the air, rising higher and higher and buzzing about more and more as he built up momentum. Daisuke watched, his limbs twitching just a bit as they still fought to obey the command put into them.
Then he darted forward, and the echoing call of Spiking Strike sounded, and he struck the collar dead on. Daisuke fell back from the impact, falling through the grip of the four trying to support him, and crashed to the ground, and everything around him went absolutely black.
To Be Continued