Episode 17: A Darkness in
the Light

  dark                      light

Bella organized the papers on her desk meticulously, making sure everything was where she needed it to be for the next two or three hours. That folders of paper were properly sorted, easily accessible. The photos were clean and placed in the correct order. She had gone to extreme lengths to get these photographs; she did not want the displaying of them to be done incorrectly.

Today she felt positively cheerful – an odd feeling for her. Bella rarely felt anything any longer, or at least didn’t feel anything of merit. She was stoic, unreadable. Many of the board members for Atlas Corp had told her this, that people were afraid to air issues and disputes because of her stone face, and how unapproachable she could be. Bella reacted the same each time this came up; she confirmed how little she cared about how others – especially the board members – perceived her, and that if they did want to put anything forward to her and were too frightened of a powerful woman to do so, then they should submit it in writing and file it under ‘trash’.

Many of the board members were men and had been accustomed to being in charge of their own companies. They had been the top dogs and were not used to answering to anyone but themselves. That had been years ago, before Bella had had three years of hostile takeovers of smaller but powerful companies. She had made many enemies in those short years; and forced many job losses, but she had lost no sleep over it. Her company was powerful; she had some more powerful men behind her and their money well invested. Bella was a shrewd business woman; she did not need to be liked by the board members. They knew where they stood when it came to her; and while she listened to their advice and took it if she felt it useful; she never ever made the effort to befriend them.

Staring out of the windows at the cold morning, the city was covered in a thick blanket of white, making it almost blinding when the sun reflected off of it, Bella had no trouble getting to work, her driver was always well prepared and had secured snow chains to the wheels of the BMW she was driven everywhere in. She had seen several accidents as she had been driven throughout the city – she hoped the snow would not prevent her children or guest from reaching the Atlas Corp building. This meeting had been some time coming; it had been planned down to the last detail.

It was going to be perfect.

It had to be perfect.

Like a well rehearsed play. Despite her icy demeanor, Bella could play the caring, maternal card very, very well. She could still seem a simple and defenceless woman, and wrap anyone around her finger with the right words and gestures. She had no doubt that what she was about to do would be difficult – she did not expect an answer straight away from her target; it would have been too easy.

But she would have time on her side, time and all the things she could offer.

Eleanor knocked softly of the translucent door to Bella’s office; she turned as the young woman looked around the door.

“Yes, what?” Bella asked briskly. She hated how timid Eleanor was. It irritated her to no end. Eleanor clutched several letters and files in her hands, and handed them to the blonde haired woman. Bella strode over, snatched them and started to sift through them. “Anything else?” She asked, handing the junk back to Eleanor for shredding.

“Yes, your children have arrived.” Eleanor said softly.

“Send them in then.” Demanded Bella, Eleanor scurried away, and the door swished to a close quietly. “Stupid girl.”

It was a few seconds later than Rose entered, followed by her brother. Bella glanced up at them both as they settled into chairs. Rose had changed her hair – again – Bella was accustomed to this, it seemed to change each time she saw her. For now it was a bubble gum pink, with yellow streaks running through it. Both were dressed for the season. Rose wrapped up in a turtle neck and fur coat of sable. Hunter more casually in a plain winter jacket over jeans and a hoodie. Bella tutted to herself; he never put the effort into his appearance that Rose did. She looked like someone who belonged to Atlas Corp, Hunter never did. And he always toyed with those awful dog tags.

At least he had had the forethought to tie his hair back.

Their Digimon followed them into the room and settled in a corner, curling up together.

Bella handed them both a selection of photographs. They had been part of the cause for her cheerful demeanor this morning. The photos had been taken from a news helicopter and also some were stills from news cameras. There were about ten in the group, each one showing a different angle from the attack of SkullSkadimon a week ago, the Digimon fighting him, and the faces of those involved.

The destruction caused by the skeletal Digimon had been immense. An estimated thirteen million dollars worth of repair needed doing to the city. Not only had the Digimon destroyed roads, houses and buildings with his bulk, but he had crushed water mains under his rampage, and destroyed electric lines. Roads needed countless repairs; many people had been put into the hospital, not to mention the money needed to fund the failed air attack.

“I saw this on the news.” Hunter said, throwing the photos onto Bella’s desk. “What’s so amazing about it?”

“It’s a weakness.” Rose said, answering Hunter’s question. “They’re exposing their weaknesses a bit at a time. This... this is the result of a forced evolution, isn’t it?”

“That it is.” Bella confirmed with a satisfied smirk. “A forced evolution to a creature that almost killed one of their own. The little blonde one was in hospital for two days recovering from her injuries, as I understand it.”


“Piper.” Rose muttered, “Funny – her Digimon seemed to be one of the stronger ones.”

Hunter leaned back in his seat, “Is she okay?”

“She’s fine.” Bella said breezily, leaning on her desk. “The point is their weaknesses are showing themselves and should be exploited.”

“What are you suggesting?” asked Rose, eager as always.

Bella pursed her lips; she was clicking with her mouse, staring at something on her computer screen. “You both know why you’re here today; our third guest should be arriving shortly for his meeting. In the mean time, I understand the attack when they arrived home did not work out as we had hoped?” Bella stared pointedly at Rose.

“No... not exactly.” Rose said. She met her mother’s intense stared levelly; she was not one to back down from anyone, including Bella. They were two similar women, strong and out for themselves. Hunter felt out of place. He struggled often to understand how he was related to the two. He was nothing like either of them – he was glad of it. At least he had the decency to treat people like people.

“What happened?” Bella asked.

“It seems the situation resonated deeply with one of them, their Digimon evolved to a further stage.” Rose explained simply, “Our attacker was chased off, but was caught unawares. Next time we will not be.”

“Make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Bella said fiercely, “If any more of their Digimon evolve we could have some trouble on our hands.”

“Surely not, if your proposed plan takes off. They’ll be a weaker group for lacking one.” Rose pointed out, her arms and legs folded. Hunter glanced between his mother and sister; they appeared to have forgotten he was in the room, having their own conversation. One he did not understand – he felt out of the loop. He had not heard anything about one of the other Digimon evolving, except the one that had evolved to SkullSkadimon the week before. He knew nothing about ‘their’ Digimon. He was confused and angered by it. Still he said nothing; he could gain more from staying silent and listening.

The intercom buzzed on Bella’s phone and she pressed for the loud speaker. Eleanor’s voice came through loud and clear. “Your eleven o’clock appointment is here. Shall I send him in?”

Bella smiled to herself, nastily – she looked like the cat that had swallowed the canary. “No... have him wait ten minutes, make him worry.”

“Yes Ms. Divine.” Eleanor’s voice crackled off, and Bella stretched.

“I feel quite at my leisure today – I believe things will start going my way.”

-----------------------------

He swore under his breath as water dripped from his chin, staining his red shirt. He had been in the bathroom for almost five minutes, he imagined the pretty assistant wondered where he had gone, like maybe he had got stuck in the door; or fallen to the floor in a coma. In fact that was how he felt – like he wanted to fall over and never wake up. His legs felt weak beneath him and he was forced to cling onto the ceramic sink to keep standing.

“Come on, get a grip.” He told himself harshly, staring at his reflection in the mirror. “It’s just a meeting; you’re putting your case across.” He paused and glared at himself. He looked tired; since he had received the phone call two days ago he had barely slept. At least not naturally. He had been forced to take some sleeping remedies to get him just two hours of rest, but the side effect of those was that he still felt groggy and like he had been hit with a truck.

The room echoed with the tip-tapping of hooves on the ground.

“James?” Odocomon was at his side, staring at him with worry evident on her face. She had been in his D-Touch upon his entering of the Atlas Corp building but as soon as he had entered the bathroom and been sick, she had materialized out of concern.

“I’m all right.” He assured her, affectionately rubbing her ears. Her face told him she didn’t believe him, but she refrained from saying anything. He needed to believe he was all right, and she understood that. Carrying on as normal was the best thing to do. She crossed to where there was a towel on a rail and tugged it off with her teeth; she held it up off the floor and offered it to James when she reached his side again. He took it gratefully and patted his face dry.

Putting the towel to one side he examined his reflection. He wished he had more suitable clothes, but he had to make do with the things he had. A red shirt he usually wore while waiting tables; a suit jacket and a pair of cheap but presentable black trousers. He also wore a tie. And just to make his appearance a little more presentable, he had managed to get his hair to co-operate, and flattened it down.

“Why are you so worried? You’re arguing to get your job back – you have a valid reason.” Odocomon said, she sounded puzzled.

James laughed to himself, “Being in the Digital World doesn’t count as a valid reason. No one else knows it exists.”


“Where do people think expendable energy goes, then?”

“I don’t know.” James laughed again, if anything, having her there with her questions did calm him significantly. “Thing is, I’ve never met Bella Divine. I’ve never been to the Atlas Corp head quarters – I had never imagined I would have to put my case to the CEO of the company. I figured it’d be Mr. Winch and his boss... nothing on this scale.”

“Maybe they want to offer you a better job?” Odocomon suggested, “I would imagine you deserve it.”

James laughed again, “Don’t let me get my hopes up. I need to be realistic.” He turned, leaning against the sink. Odocomon hopped up, supporting her front hooves on the ceramics. “It’s more than likely I’ll put my point across, they’ll consider it for two minutes and tell me that there’s nothing to do.”

“They must be reasonable. What happened... it wasn’t your fault.”

“Bella Divine is an ice queen.” James explained, he was rubbing Odocomon’s ear slowly, like it was keeping him calm. “When Atlas Corp took over that chain of stores... Shop’n’Go I think, she fired about seventy percent of the work force. For no reason.”

Odocomon frowned, and her ears flopped to show her worry and concern. “I could always threaten her?”

“No,” James laughed, and smirked, “Thanks for the offer but I don’t need to add ‘jail time’ to my resumé if I’m going to be looking for work.” He took his D-Touch out of his pocket and tapped a couple of buttons, before pointing it at Odocomon, “In you go. And don’t come out under any circumstances.”

“As you wish.” Odocomon replied and then went silent. James slipped his D-Touch into his back pocket and turned back to the mirror. He smoothed his hair back and inhaled deeply. He just had to be calm, cool and confident. Say what he needed to say, not beg – he wouldn’t do that – but he needed to be firm and make the important points of his situation apparent. He could do this. He had to. Looming at the back of his mind was the thought of the letter he had received that morning, that he now officially had a month to find a new house for his family to live in.

Another thing for him to stress about. On top of checking whether his girlfriend was still in the land of the living, dealing with his father’s illness, and the new discovery that one of his brothers possibly had Asperger’s syndrome. Never mind he had the duties of having a Digimon, making sure he was there when they needed him, and that another event like what had happened with SkullSkadimon didn’t happen again.

He had been furious when he had seen the images and films of the rampage on the news; more than anything he had wanted to go to Eva and Tom’s apartment to give them a piece of his mind, but then the camera had panned in on Eva’s face when she had faced off against SkullSkadimon alone and he didn’t have the heart to lay into her. She had been terrified... anyone with half a brain could see that. He hadn’t asked after what had happened when he had last seen the duo – he had tried to keep things as simple as possible, it seemed everyone had things happening.

Since coming back from the Digital World it felt like there was an unrelenting wave of bad karma just pushing against the entire group, making them crack and push themselves to get through. James was starting to wonder if it was worth it, but every time his mind brought up this question, he would simply watch his Digimon do whatever it was that she was doing at the time, be it sleeping, eating or just simply sitting and reading one of his comic books and he was reminded why he put himself through all the turmoil and the messes this whole thing had taken him to. She was loyal to him; he could only do what he thought best and be loyal back.

A knock on the door shocked James from his thoughtful stupor and he found himself glaring at his reflection in the mirror. Another quick rake through his hair with his hand. “Okay James, let’s get this over with.

-----------------------------

James was shown to Bella’s office by Eleanor, who closed the door behind him silently. It clicked shut softly and James turned towards the desk at the far end of the room. He was shocked to say the least. Rose and Hunter both sat in chairs, with a third in the middle of them. Bella was sitting at her desk. His heart rate shot up and he placed his hands on his D-Touch.

“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you.” Rose spoke, turning her chair so she faced James. On her lap sat Hatimon who was growling. James inhaled sharply.

Suddenly this meeting didn’t seem like the meeting he had envisioned, and he understood why he had been called up to see Bella herself and not one of her lackeys. This was going to be nothing to do with his job; this was going to be about the Digimon. It hadn’t occurred to him that Bella would have any clue about the Digimon her children possessed – but it made sense. After all, his family knew of Odocomon, and it was likely they had all received their Digimon at near enough the same time.

James hesitated.

“It’s rude to linger in doorways.” Rose sniped.


“Now Rose,” Bella purred from behind her desk, “Mr. Parker is our guest, we must be polite.”

Rose made an audible ‘hmph’ noise and twisted the chair back so she faced Bella. For a moment, Bella’s eyes flickered to the pink haired girl, and back to James.

“Come, sit down, please.” She indicated to the third, empty seat.

James hesitated. This didn’t feel right, his gut instinct was to turn and walk away; that being here in this room, with two people who had tried to kill him, and their mother, was the worst place to be. Like a fly in a spider’s web. He rubbed his hand through his hair, nervously.

“We don’t have all day.” Bella added snappishly, “Sit or leave, the choice is yours – but I do think you should listen to what I have to say.”

“I think I’d rather stand.” James managed to force his voice from his vocal chords. Where he stood he was closer to the door in case things turned sour and he needed to run. Bella shrugged her shoulders and rose from her own seat; she carried with her a pile of papers, and approached him, holding out several sheets.

“Take a look.” James took the papers and quickly scanned them. There were a selection of photographs, and some sheets with typing on them. Bella was crossing back to her desk while James examined the photographs carefully. “I understand you and your family are in some kind of trouble – that for some unknown reason you did not turn up to work for two weeks.”

“Yeah.” James murmured, he had not looked up from the photographs, and was not entirely listening.

“Why was that?” Bella feigned interest. James did not answer. The photos had his attention wrapped. His memory was stirring, the photographs were of a woman in her thirties it looked like; her hair was a strawberry blonde, pulled back into a ponytail and she wore different clothes in each picture. They were all candid shots, she had not been aware she was being photographed. But there was no mistaking who she was.

Summer Parker, James’ estranged mother.

In his back pocket his D-Touch vibrated and at his side, Odocomon began to materialize. Skollmon and Hatimon were immediately on alert, growling and snarling at the appearance of the deer Digimon. She took a moment to scan her surroundings; she saw the two canines, and her back was up.

“What did I tell you?” James snapped at her.

Odocomon ignored him, eyeing Bella but staying locked at James’ side. “You know precisely why he didn’t turn up for work. His being missing was the doing of your children.”

“Odocomon.” James growled. He placed a hand on her head to placate her. “I don’t need you to step in right now.”

Odocomon shrank back slightly, her ears lowered. She looked confused but did not disobey and flanked him. James moved closer to the desk. His fingers were gripping the photographs in his hand, creasing them somewhat.

“What the hell is this about?”

“Recognize her?” Bella asked, the warm honey tone to her voice had returned. Hunter was amazed she could pull it off – he had not heard that tone since he had been a child.

“This is my mother.” James pointed out. “How did you--?”

“I have powerful friends, James.” Bella explained, “I also have people who watch out for me, and do my bidding... I understand she has been missing for some time.”

“Five years, give or take.” James explained, “What of it?”

“She left you, didn’t she? Your family. Left you with the responsibility of a sick father and younger siblings?”

“So?” James responded fiercely. He folded his arms, “What is your point?”

Bella’s expression twisted a little, she looked – for a moment – annoyed. She was not breaking through his shell as easily had she had hoped. He had internal strength that was for sure, he was devoted to his family, but she had more to offer than just snatched photographs of his mother.

“I know where your mother is, James.” Bella explained, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to bring her back here? Your father would be well, and your siblings would have a mother again.”

James scoffed, “She doesn’t want to come back. She didn’t want to be found – believe me, my dad tried.”

“But she has been found.” Bella persisted, “And she can be brought back here. You can be a family again. You could have a wonderful house, newly built, paid for and sustained by Atlas Corp. Your family could be together, your father could get the support and help he truly needs to battle his demons.”

“Careful, James.” Odocomon murmured from his side.

James was curious, his eyes were questioning and his expression was stony. He felt as if his stomach was trying to leap up his throat as he felt the desire to be sick. At the same time though, he felt giddy, nervous. All the nerve endings in his body were tingling; and he couldn’t deny the way his skin had turned to goose flesh on seeing just pictures of his mother. What would he do if she were here? If they could be all together again.

He breathed slowly. Dont get ahead of yourself. Theres a catch. Theres always a catch. James told himself and slotted his hands into his pockets to hide the way they clenched into fists. He was aware of Rose’s and Hunter’s eyes on him, and those of their Digimon and his own but he focused entirely on Bella.

“What are you offering?” he asked tentatively, “And-” he added before Bella spoke, “What do you want in return?”

A smile slipped across Bella’s lips, she crossed her arms and stood up straight. “I am offering you everything.”

“Too vague.” James snapped.

“You’re a smart boy.” Bella commented. She continued, “Everything. Meaning your mother returning; proper, professional help for your father. A new, custom built house for you and your family. New schools for your siblings, a life time allowance so you can afford all the things you want and need. In return-“

“Yes?” James pressed. His heart was thumping in his rib cage like it was hammering to escape. He could barely breathe.

“In return I want... you.” Bella’s eyes narrowed. James cast her a confused look. “I want you, and your Digimon. On my side, exclusively.”


“What?!”

“No!” Odocomon shook her head violently, “James would never agree to that!”

“Oh no?” Bella glanced distastefully in the deer’s direction. “Are you so sure? This offer will never come again – think of what you could be passing up if you let this opportunity pass you by. Happiness and stability for you and your family for the rest of your lives.”

“You’re asking me... to turn on my friends.” James rationalized.

“Are they your friends, though?” Bella spoke smoothly, “Think it through, can you really trust any of them at all? They’re all so caught up in their own lives. They didn’t even bother to contact you when they really needed you, when one of them nearly destroyed the city.”

“Stop it!” Odocomon snapped. “James, don’t listen to her!”

“Imagine it – everything you’ve ever wanted for your family. You wouldn’t have to be in charge any more. You could do the things you’ve put on hold for the benefit of your loved ones. Think of it, James. You could go back into education – do anything you’ve ever wanted to do. Think of what I’m offering you.” Her arm was around James’ shoulder, and she had steered him towards the wide window overlooking the city below.

James felt sick. Having her so close was making him nauseous. So were the thoughts he was having.

“Of course,” Bella purred, “I don’t expect you to answer straight away. After all, it’s a huge decision to make and one you should talk over with your family first…but the offer will not last forever.” She returned to her desk, sashaying across the room and sweeping into her chair. “I’ll give you a fortnight to make a choice. If I haven’t heard from you in two weeks, I’ll assume you’re not interested and take my offer back.”

“Right.” James could just about speak. He had questions, dozens of them floating and whizzing around his head. How had she found his mother? Where was she at the moment? Could he see her, before making a choice? Why did he have to be her’s exclusively? But he could not find his voice to ask any of them.

“You can go.”

James nodded jerkily. He left the room without another word and made a quick dash for the bathroom door. Bella smirked to herself as the door closed softly. She glanced at one of the photographs on her desk and slotted them in a folder.

“Do you think he’ll go for it?” Rose asked. She had been aware of Bella’s plans. Hunter had not and was less than enthusiastic about this idea. Mainly from a moral point of view, but also because he had not been informed and felt as if he was being kept out of the loop by his mother and sister.

“Oh yes.” Bella said confidently. “He will. He’ll wrestle with it for a few days I imagine, but eventually his loyalty to his family will over-ride his loyalty to ... those others.”

Getting up from her seat, Rose cleared her throat, “Well done mother. We’ll keep you informed about any other changes or activities from now on.” Hunter also stood up, Skollmon at his feet.

“You do that.” Bella waved her hand dismissively. Without further exchange, Hunter and Rose left the room.

-----------------------------

“Spark Ripper!” Taranimon’s lightning claws ripped through the telephone wires, sending shocks of electricity down them, onto the wet ground. Bambusmon leaped from the street, up to the safety of small corner shop building. Rusdramon was forced to endure the charge, jolting up her legs, pinning her to place until they ceased.

It had started raining heavily when James had been driving home from the Atlas Corp head quarters. He had been in a daze since leaving, and despite her best efforts, Odocomon had been unable to get any sense out of him. He had been monosyllabic, unable to go into detail about what had happened in the office. He was overwhelmed. The offer was intense – he knew he would never get an opportunity like this again in his entire life, but the offer came at a huge price.

He could do as Bella said; join with her, Rose and Hunter. Face against his friends, be loyal to his family, and get them everything they ever wanted or needed or even dreamed they wanted. Or not. He would remain loyal to his friends, and his Digimon. But then what – what would become of his family? To anyone else the answer would have been simple; surely anyone with half a brain would have taken the generous offer from the powerful company. These were not normal circumstances.

“Not that I’m ungrateful you’re here, but can you get a grip?” Reyez shoved James out of the way of an oncoming attack from the towering electric Digimon.

Taranimon had disappeared; his metal bindings still remained on the ground, meaning he was close by. Erratic shots of electricity zoomed over the street; aimed in random directions.

“Where is everyone else?” James asked. He and Reyez were soaked through; the rain was not about to let up. Reyez had called James while he had been driving, said he had come across Taranimon and needed backing up. The last time they had met the electric-charged Digimon he had ruined Ms. Lynn’s funeral and Hurakamon had evolved. He was no easy Digimon to fight against – that much was for certain.

“Eva ain’t leaving the apartment. Tom’s on his way.” Reyez explained. “Shit-!” He barely dodged a trail of yellow lightning that travelled between himself and James. “This is fucking stupid!”


“What about Frankie? Or Piper?” James asked. He didn’t want to be here. His mind wasn’t in the right place; but he couldn’t leave Reyez to fight alone. He and Bambusmon would be destroyed.

Reyez shrugged, “I don’t keep tabs on your girl.”

James nodded, “Right.” In truth he hadn’t heard from Frankie in a few days. He had texted her, and tried calling, but she wasn’t replying to messages, or answering the phone. James was starting to think she was ignoring him.

“He’s too strong.” Rusdramon explained, she was panting and her fur was dripping. “He has the upper hand here. We should retreat.”

“No.” Reyez said sternly. “You guys can do this.”

Rusdramon cast James a glance. His expression was glazed. She turned and ran back towards the battle, her head lowered in line with her back. She was charging Taranimon.

“Grand Cross!” Her head moved in the sign, and sent the glowing shape crashing into the other Digimon.

“Great Cannon!” Bambusmon cried from above her, sending down a charge of natural energy that hit Taranimon dead centre. He faltered back somewhat from the impact of the two attacks, hitting so close to each other. Then he roared, swiped his massive arms and caught Bambusmon. She struggled in his grip.

Taranimon was directing current through his body into the fingers than grasped Bambusmon’s body. She was in pain, her body jerking and shuddering unnaturally.

“Fight back!” Reyez yelled.

“I can-- AH!” Bambusmon yelped; a high voltage thrusting through her entire body.

“Amethyst Chains!” Links of mauve light wrapped around Taranimon’s wrist. Rusdramon yanked her head roughly this way and that, pulling Taranimon’s in the same ways. Electricity was trailing down the chains but was nullified by Rusdramon’s antlers. Bambusmon grunted as she was tossed to one side to another.

“Duskbane!” A flock of ravens swarmed Taranimon’s head from above and he momentarily lost grip on Bambusmon, she dropped to the ground in a crumpled heap. Taranimon swung at the ravens with his hands; Valramon soared above. Tom raced down the street towards the battle. Rusdramon was helping Bambusmon get to her feet, out of danger of Taranimon’s flailing feet. Bambusmon still shuddered and twitched where electricity continued to accost her body.

Taranimon roared, “Spark Ripper!” His claws tore at Valramon who stayed safely out of reach. The lightning jumped from his hands and disappeared into a street light.

“Any bright ideas?” Tom asked Reyez, taking in the situation before him.

Reyez thought about it for all of two seconds and to himself admitted that, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, and that Rusdramon was right. He grumbled, “Yeah - we get the fuck out of here!”

Bambusmon regained her composure.

“Marijuana must’ve worn off.” Bambusmon taunted at Reyez, he only replied with a middle finger.

Before anyone could get anywhere, Taranimon reappeared.

He grabbed both Rusdramon and Bambusmon in both hands, shocking them in his palms before slamming them against each other. 

Taranimon looked in the direction of Tom and Reyez, as both young men looked at the tyrant and turned to run. Taranimon loved a good chase. He picked up his walking pace behind the boys, toying with them as they ran in between the traffic.

“Duskbane!” Valramon attacked, trying to divert Taranimon’s attention. Taranimon swatted the attack away like a small fly, continuing to follow the boys closely…but something else caught his attention.

James was lost in thought; he stood still on the street as his mind raced with everything at once. Taranimon turned, marching his way towards the young man.

Tom skidded to a stop, calling out to Reyez who stopped running as well.

“HEY!!! JAMES!” Tom yelled out.


Reyez called out, following with a “YO!!”

James mumbled to himself, weighing out the pros and cons of joining Bella’s team, finding his mother.

“JAMES!” Valramon shouted, “Duskbane!” She attacked Taranimon again but had flown too close this time. Taranimon grabbed the bird, throwing her into Bambusmon and Rusdramon who were finally getting up to their feet.

The shadow loomed over James, prompting him to look up. His mind was suddenly hit with another fear.

Taranimon smiled manically, reaching his claws down. “Spark Ripper!”

James’ pupils dilated, he was stuck in place and all he could do was look up and gasp. Before Taranimon’s claws could make impact, something yanked James away just in time but sent him hitting into the side of a car.

Rusdramon gasped, breathing heavy as her chains of light depleted. 

Taranimon turned once more, only to notice the boy was gone. Everyone was gone. He grimaced.

-----------------------------

Reyez turned to James and his fist impacted with the younger man’s jaw. “You fucking IDIOT.” He yelled, “Do you realize you could have got us all killed!?!”

James rubbed his jaw. They had escaped Taranimon somehow, he remembered being cornered by the Digimon; he recalled Rusdramon’s panicked cries, and Reyez swearing violently. But aside from that he remembered little else.

“Sorry...” he muttered.

“Oh he’s sorry! That’s okay then!” Reyez snapped, throwing his arms up in frustration. He grabbed James by the shirt collar and shoved him up against the wall. “What the fuck is going on with you?!”

“Nothing!” James struggled. “You wouldn’t understand!”

Tom laid a placating hand on Reyez’s tensed arm. “Let him down, Rey. Fighting’s not going to help.” He told him. Reyez’s green eyes twitched, his jaw was grit so tightly together he felt pain rippling through his jaw. He exhaled heavily through his nose and released James’ collar. James slumped against the wall.

Reyez sat on the edge of the bench. James rubbed his neck and swallowed uneasily. Tom levelled him with a glare. “You realize how stupid you were, don’t you?”

James sighed, “Yeah...” he rubbed his hands through his hair. “I don’t...”

“Don’t what?” Reyez prompted. “You can’t explain? Or don’t have an explanation? You can be a flake, but fuck I didn’t think you’d actually endanger us.”

“That wasn’t my intention!”

“Then what was?” Ailurmon asked, her arms folded. She came to Reyez’s defence immediately, taking his side in all things.

How could he explain it? He couldn’t, not really. He couldn’t tell his friends the offer Bella had made to him, what he faced. What was occupying his mind at this precise moment in time. If he told them, they would be outraged that he was even considering it. She was bad, the enemy. Evil. As were her children. She was responsible for all the Digimon attacks, and her children for sending them to the Digital World, nearly killing them all. Why would he side with them, at all? Why would the thought even cross his mind?

Well, because they didn’t know what she was offering him.

“I just...” James grasped his head and growled at himself, his eyes clenching shut. “Fuck’s sake.”

“What?” Tom asked, “What’s so bad that it’s getting to you this much?”

“My house is being pulled down the end of this month. I have bills to pay, no job; I can’t find a job because I’m constantly on the lookout for Digimon attacks. I can’t pay bills without a job. I can’t look after my family without money from a job. My dad’s moods have gotten worse. I just – argh. None of you understand!”

“I am so sick of this.” Reyez said calmly, his expression stony as he eyed the brunette. “All you do is whine about how crappy your life is. You need to stop the excuses and pick up a purpose.”

James growled. He dashed forward and landed his fist into Reyez’s chin. Reyez reeled back, stunned for a moment. He regained his composure a moment later and lunged at the other boy, grabbing him around the waist and shoving him hard into the brick wall. James hissed in pain, but jammed his knee up into Reyez’s chest. Reyez recoiled, spluttering.

He threw a punch that impacted on bridge of James’ nose. His head hit the brick work behind him and James shouted out.

“S-Stop fighting!” Poemon pleaded. Tom had backed away from the fight, not wanting to get involved.


“Get him, Reyez! Get him!!” Ailurmon was cheering from the top of a trash can. “Give him a beating!”

James kicked his leg out, his foot was caught by Reyez and he twisted it, throwing James to the ground. Reyez loomed over him, his fists clenched, bleeding a little from a split in his lip where James had thwacked him. James’ legs shot up, his heels landing square in Reyez’s gut, shoving him away. James was on his feet a few seconds later. His nose dripped with blood, and some more was running from a cut he had sustained above his eyebrow.

In a frenzy, James smashed his foot down as Reyez struggled to get to his feet. The impact knocked him back down to the ground. Another kick into his stomach, and another into his chest. Reyez coughed and spluttered with each painful hit. Through the kicks he judged and timed James’ movements, grasping his foot and again pulling the younger boy to the ground. Reyez clambered onto him, snatched his shirt collar, pulling his head off the ground, he threw a punch into his face, followed by another and another.

James was grunting under the barrage of hits, trying in vain to guard his face.

Tom grabbed Reyez’s shoulders, “That’s enough.” He grabbed tight, trying to pull him off, “Rey! ENOUGH!!”

“Stop it! STOP IT!!” Odocomon yelled. Light formed in her mouth and she expelled it forward into Reyez’s side. The light impacted into him, forcing him to drop James’ collar. The brunette’s head fell to the ground. Reyez held his side where the attack had scorched his skin through his jacket. He glanced at Odocomon and then down at James. He sniffed indignantly and got to his feet. James’s face was bloodied and bruised, he wheezed as he struggled to his feet. Odocomon dashed over helping him to stay upright.

James mopped his mouth on his sleeve and spat blood out of his mouth onto the pavement.

“James, man-” Tom started but stopped, seeing the rage building in the other boy’s eyes. He stood protectively in front of Poemon.

“Fuck you guys.” James snarled, “Just... fuck this.” He turned and limped out of the alley, clutching his left side. The rain had started again.

Reyez flopped on the bench, leaning forward. He nonchalantly pulled a cigarette from his pocket and lit it with little to no trouble from the rain. Tom brushed his hair back, slightly stressed.

“What the hell is going on…?” Tom asked rhetorically.

Reyez shook his head, “They’re winning.”


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