Episode 21: Thunderstruck

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Tom was finding it difficult, living like this. The atmosphere in the apartment was always tense whenever it was just the four of them in the small space. Things were fine between himself and Poemon, and between himself and Eva. It was the partnership between Eva and Irbimon that worried him.

Things hadn’t been right since returning from the Digital World. Eva had stayed true to the promise she’d made that she’d make more time for ‘them’ and be a bit tougher on Irbimon when he misbehaved or was unnecessarily rude or unkind. And Irbimon had been struggling with this new regime. It had started with small things, not doing what Eva asked or told him to do, or doing the exact opposite.

Like, ‘don’t eat that’ suddenly became ‘eat a little bit, then drop it on the floor’. Or ‘apologise to Tom’ became ‘stick your tongue out, turn your back and make a fuss’. It had been getting on Eva’s last nerve, but Tom had not interfered. This was her fight and she was determined to get some semblance of order between her two different relationships - with her Digimon, and with him. But things hadn’t improved. They’d gotten worse.

In fact, Tom was convinced the evolution to SkullSkadimon had been the result of this on-going saga. Irbimon had stopped doing even the tiniest thing Eva asked of him, and in that time, Eva had just been bottling up more and more how angry and annoyed she felt at her Digimon; until that day.

Just recalling it brought chills to Tom’s spine and an uncomfortable clawing sensation to his gut. That was one day he knew he would never forget, no matter how long he lived it would always haunt him. The near loss of Eva, and how she had just lost it at Skadimon. How all that negative energy and emotion had backfired and caused him to change into that... monstrosity. A monstrosity which haunted Eva’s dreams, and caused her to wake up in cold sweats, reaching out in front of her for something she couldn’t grasp.

Since then the apartment had just been stifling. Irbimon barely spoke, and for a while Eva couldn’t even look at him. Irbimon had stopped sleeping anywhere near them, and the few times either of them managed to laugh or smile with each other again, it was quickly replaced with a tense awkwardness and unease. Tom knew what was wrong, that between them, the trust that had been building up through all of their lives had been damaged, and badly. It was not irreparable damage; but it was damage none-the-less. It needed to be fixed. But either Eva and Irbimon were too stubborn to be the first to make the first attempt, or neither knew how to go about it.

Tom sensed it was the latter. That they were both fully aware of what needed to be done; but didn’t know how they could approach it. It was sad; even now, watching Irbimon watch Eva while she packed food away in a cool box. Tom could sense the anxiety drifting off the snow leopard Digimon in waves. It was a near constant sight now, that Irbimon would have his ears and eyes down cast; sad, aloof and lonely.

Sure, Tom wasn’t Irbimon’s biggest fan, and neither was Irbimon Tom’s biggest fan. They tolerated each other at best; but Tom wasn’t a monster, he could still feel sympathy for the little Digimon. Even Poemon was at a loss, and if Irbimon had ever not talked to Eva before, he had at least still spoken to Poemon. In this case though, we wasn’t even doing that. Just exchanging the odd, monosyllabic word with the crow Digimon, despite her best attempts at conversation. Siberimon also failed at getting a rise from his brother, when in the confines of the apartment. Outside, his spirits brightened a little bit. Tom was starting to think maybe the arrangement of the furniture was partly to blame.

He would have to rectify that. But first he decided to add a little force into the mix. If the two weren’t going to talk when he was there, then they would have to talk when he wasn’t, and when Poemon wasn’t around for a distraction either.

“Come on.” Tom muttered to the bird Digimon, who had been sitting happily on the banister that segregated the bed area from the rest of the apartment. Poemon flapped her wings and was on the ground in moments, following Tom’s long strides. His movements had caught both Eva and Irbimon’s attention. Eva had paused half way through putting sandwiches into the cool box.

“Where are we going?” Poemon asked.

“Yes, where are you going?” inquired Eva. The sandwiches found their place, and she leaned against the counter top.

Tom moved towards her smoothly and planted a kiss on her forehead. “Out. You’ve used up a lot of the basics with the girly picnic you, Frankie and Piper are having. I’ll go pick up what we need.”

“It’s okay. I can do it on the way home.” Eva protested.

“Nah – I could do with some air. It’s a bit stifling in here.” Tom made a rather unsubtle gesture with his head at Irbimon. Eva visibly paled somewhat. “I might not be back before you go; the bedroom window is open, so remember to close it when you go, okay?”

“Mm-kay.” Eva replied uneasily. Another kiss on the forehead, and Tom was gone out of the door, closing it with a satisfying click behind him. She glanced quickly at Irbimon who was looking at the door with a puzzled expression on his face. Eva sighed and turned back to the food she was putting away. This picnic idea had been a great one to start with. The weather had been so nice recently, considering it was only March, and considering Frankie was out and about again, it had been decided that she, Eva and Piper should have some quality time together, like they had before. Eva was relieved that Frankie hadn’t fallen into a depression after James’ betrayal – but still wondered how she was dealing with it.

That day had given her the most terrible feeling, and thinking about it still brought a sense of sickness to her gut. Almost as apparent as the feeling she got when she looked at Irbimon now. But when she thought back to the appearance of SkullSkadimon, it felt like James’ betrayal paled in comparison. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe she felt that Irbimon’s evolution was a betrayal in itself. She never imagined something so terrible could come from something so small, and someone she had known since her childhood.

She made a conscious effort not the think of the battle with SkullSkadimon. How terrified she had been of Irbimon that day, it was a feeling she didn’t want to relive – ever. But it was still a feeling she couldn’t get rid of. Eva had forced herself to admit that since then she felt scared of her Digimon. What if that was his actual form? What if when he evolved that far again, he turned into it? There was no control, it seemed like he had no control. He had turned from being loveable to being... out of control. A mass of awesome power that didn’t know how to use it.

Maybe this was all her fault? That the way she had turned around so much, how she tried to hold on to the agreement she and Tom had made, that she would be harder on Irbimon when he was unkind or did not do as told when asked. Maybe this whole thing had stemmed from her changes towards the Digimon, and this was her punishment.

“Hmm...” Eva sighed and rubbed her forehead with her fingers. She didn’t want to think about it anymore. She thought about it so much it hurt her head. And she needed to get a move on, if she was going to meet Frankie and Piper in the park in an hour.

“Do you need some help?” Irbimon asked, he was standing at Eva’s side, looking up at her expectantly. Eva’s mouth twitched into an attempted smile, but she found it difficult.

“No, I’m nearly done.” Eva explained. “Thanks though.” An uneasiness settled and Eva reached for the lid to the cool box, and slipped it into place. “Siberimon and Caesarmon are coming, it’ll be nice for you to spend some time with them.” Eva added, putting the box on the floor beside the door so she didn’t forget it.

Irbimon shrugged. “I’d prefer to spend more time with you,” he said plainly. “I guess it’s a bit hard at the moment.” He added softly.

Where she stood, Eva dropped her shoulders and breathed softly. Even his voice was different, dejected and almost like a stranger’s. “Irbimon...” Eva sighed, she turned towards him and squatted to his level. “I...”


“I understand.”

“Really? I don’t.” Eva admitted. “I can’t – it’s not --”

“I’d be scared of me too.” Irbimon said seriously. “I would. I did horrible things as SkullSkadimon. I nearly killed people. That’s a frightening thought.” Eva felt like she was the one being addressed now, like he was explaining to her, rather than how she had intended to explain to him. “But I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It was an accident.”

“I know.”

“Eva,” Irbimon said, suddenly serious and staring at Eva’s face with a difficult expression, “what if that’s who I really am? What if that’s me, inside? Maybe I’m like that, really. A big monster hell bent on destruction. I know you were scared. But I was scared too. I could see everything, but I couldn’t control it.”

“You’re not like that, really.” Eva lied. She swallowed and got to her feet. “A day out will help, I promise.” Avoid the subject, that was the best course of action. Avoid the subject and don’t deal with it. This would pass in its own time. They just needed to get out, be around other people and Digimon, everything would be forgotten eventually. After all, they had been so wrapped up in fighting lately, no one had had a moment of time to relax. And maybe now wasn’t the best time, what with the Generals running amok, but Eva was determined. She wanted, so badly, just to have a day where she didn’t have to think about things any more.

Like a day out would solve everything.

Eva turned back to what she had been doing before, putting on her shoes and resumed doing so. She heard Irbimon shift behind her.

“Eva, look at me.” Irbimon demanded. Another uneasy intake of breath, Eva faced him. “Look at me.”

“I am looking, Irbimon.” Eva murmured.

“Am I so different?”

“I-“

“What if that is what I really am? What if that is what I will always turn into? Eva, you can’t keep avoiding this. It’s probably me. You can’t not allow me to evolve if I have to defend you.” Irbimon’s nose was scrunched up and his eyes were watering. His breathing was shallow and uneven. Just looking at him made Eva’s heart break. All she wanted to do was wrap him up in her arms and cuddle him like she used to. But there was always that image, burned into her mind of SkullSkadimon’s face, leering, snarling. That was what she saw now when she looked at her partner. “Eva, I need to know you’re still on my side.”

Eva’s eyes darted around the room. Uneasy silence, so tense and awkward. It took all her strength to muster the tiny head shake she managed. “I don’t know if...” That was all the words she could squeeze from her vocal chords. “I’m sorry.” She grabbed up the things she needed, and fled the apartment. The air was stifling. She couldn’t handle this.

Irbimon stared at the door as it clicked closed. He rubbed his fur with the back of his paws and tried to ignore the wetness dripping from his eyes. “Stupid Eva.”

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

Frankie sprawled out on the large blue picnic blanket staring up into the sky, her eyes hidden behind her sunglasses. The park was, unsurprisingly, quite busy. With people and families everywhere, making the most of the gorgeous weather they were being treated to. The temperature wasn’t too high, and the day had a breeze, making it pleasant to sit outside and enjoy the comings and goings. The busiest area was by the children’s playground, so Piper and Frankie had selected a spot away from the main throng of people, out towards the duck pond where Caesarmon and Siberimon were already playing.

Piper was throwing clam and oysters into the water as a treat for Caesarmon to find later when he got hungry. For now, he and Siberimon were having far too much fun terrorising the ducks and other waterfowl to be hungry. Piper was only grateful there were no swans.

The blonde came and sat on the blanket opposite Frankie and flipped open a biology book from her bag. Frankie snatched it from her lap and promptly sat on the book as Piper stared at her. Frankie glanced at her over her sunglasses and arched an eyebrow. “No studying. You agreed.”

“But... Eva’s not here yet.”

“I don’t care.” Frankie said firmly. “You need to relax too.”

“It’s not that easy.” Piper argued. “I don’t know how you can be so calm about everything.”

Frankie slipped her sunglasses onto her head and sipped from her plastic tumbler before she answered. She surveyed her surroundings; smirking a little as she saw Siberimon trying to outrun a group of ducks who had decided enough was enough. Caesarmon was laughing in the water close by, and dove under when Siberimon tried to charge him.

“It’s not calmness, necessarily, Pip,” Frankie explained. “I just don’t have the energy. After recent events all I want to do is relax and let the world pass me by. I don’t want to have to think about all the terrible things that have happened lately.”

“How can you just ignore them?”

“I’m not.” Frankie explained. “Not entirely. I am just taking a day to appreciate that not everything is completely destroyed. We’ve still got each other.”

“For the most part.” Piper added without thinking. Frankie made the tiniest change in expression, a minor grimace and Piper immediately apologised. “I’m sorry Frank, I didn’t realise how that sounded.”

“It’s okay.” Frankie waved it off, and took a longer swallow from her drink. “He’s confused. That’s all.”

Piper’s mouth twisted a little. “You really believe James will come back over to us?”

Frankie allowed Piper a small, sad smile, “I have to believe it.” There was nothing else that needed to be said, so Piper smiled back and patted Frankie’s hand. She reached into her own cooling bag where she had stored food for herself and Caesarmon, and handed Frankie a cupcake with a weak smile. Frankie arched an eyebrow, but accepted it wordlessly none-the-less. The two girls caught each other’s eye and were suddenly giggling at each other.

“Did I miss something?” Eva’s voice caught their attention as the plum haired girl appeared, coming along the path cool box in hand.

Frankie’s giggles subsided and she addressed Eva.  “No, nothing like that. You okay?”

“Define ‘okay’.” Eva murmured, setting herself down and putting her own box with the others in one corner of the blanket. Frankie pursed her lips, arching an eyebrow, while Piper slipped into a silence and took to pouring Eva a drink. Eva sighed, and pushed her hair off her forehead. “Honestly, I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay, no problem, we won’t mention it.” Frankie agreed with a firm nod of her head. “Although...”

“Frankie...”

“Does it have anything to do with Irbimon’s absence? Just so I know.”

Eva looked at the other girl with a weary expression. “Yeah.”

Piper tentatively handed a plastic tumbler to Eva before pressing the matter further. “Are things still... difficult?”

Eva swallowed a large lump in the throat. The whole exchange between her and Irbimon had left a fresh, stinging feeling in her chest, like a wound that was trying to heal. She didn’t want to go into detail, she wanted to forget, to move on. The more she dwelled, the longer it would take to move on. She had exhausted talking about it to Tom, there wasn’t much else to say that Tom already hadn’t heard. And while talking more about it wasn’t something Eva wanted to do; there was a niggling feeling in the back of her mind that reminded her that talking about it with others, who hadn’t heard the lengthy rambling Tom had, might help.

Eva drank deeply from her tumbler and fiddled with the cup in her hands.

“Things are... yeah, difficult is probably the easiest way to explain it.” She paused for a moment, and despite how both other girls tried to hide their interest, it was evident. Eva touched the condensation on her mug and stared for a long time at the droplets of water clinging to the plastic. “I don’t know what to do. Irbimon is trying and so am I. But every time I look at him all I can see is a skull face staring back at me. It’s terrifying.”

“What are you scared of?” Piper asked. “That he’s SkullSkadimon, really? That... inside he’s a ruthless killing machine and nothing more?”

“Something like that.” Eva mumbled.

Frankie sighed. “Imagine how Irbimon feels.”

Eva clenched her jaw. “I’ve tried. And I know its selfish of me to be frightened of him when he’s probably more frightened of himself. But I just... I can’t let this one go.”

“No one is expecting you to ‘let it go’.” Piper hummed. “But you can’t keep carrying it around with you like some dead weight. You can’t pretend it will go away in its own time. And you certainly can’t let it hang over your head and prevent you from allowing Irbimon to do what he’s meant to do: protect you.”

“I’ve gone over this with Tom, so many times.”

“How many times have you gone over it with Irbimon?” Frankie arched an eyebrow. “Don’t get me wrong, I like Tom. But this doesn’t concern him, or Poemon. Or Siberimon, or me, or Piper or any of us. This is something only you and Irbimon can deal with, and talking about it with anyone else is just going to end up being words in the wind. Nothing’s going to get resolved, honey.”

“I know, I know! It’s okay for you guys. Your Digimon didn’t nearly destroy a city.”

“No. Mine ruined several priceless artefacts at the museum, as well as put a hole in the roof.”

Frankie nodded fervently. “And Byakkomon nearly stepped on Mrs. Lynn’s tombstone before she was even in the ground. Digimon mess up.”

“This wasn’t messing up. Not on Irbimon’s part.” Eva paused. “It was my fault.”

“And therein lies your dilemma.” Piper pointed out, leaning on her knees. “You got mad at Irbimon, who’d been holding so much anger towards you because of the change in your attitude towards him.”

“You said yourself, you’d stopped letting him get away with everything and started getting at him when he misbehaved.” Frankie confirmed.

Piper carried on. “The day that SkullSkadimon appeared, it wasn’t one or the other, it was both at fault. Irbimon was angry. You were upset. Put those together, the bond between you had cracked, I guess, and therefore, what should have been a normal evolution, became a negative one.”

“What if SkullSkadimon is what Irbimon really evolves into though...?”

“Then you deal. The both of you. Together. You don’t deny him the option of protecting you because you’re frightened of him.” Frankie said firmly. “Imagine how that makes him feel. Unable to do the one thing Digimon are supposed to do.” A pause, Frankie pushed her hand through her hair. “Lecture over.”

Eva noticed why, when a soaking Siberimon and Caesarmon walked passed her, their fur dripping onto the grass. Caesarmon carried an oyster shell in his mouth and quickly slid on the grass, rolling over and over and to dry off. Siberimon shook the wetness out a few feet away (still managed to get a few droplets on Frankie) before he began preening.

“Now,” Piper pushed the lid of Eva’s cool box to the floor, “who’s hungry?”

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

Irbimon was grateful that in her rush, Eva had neglected to close the bedroom window as Tom had asked. Their apartment wasn’t especially high off the ground, and with a few well judged leaps and carefully placed steps, Irbimon could easily make it from the window on to the roof tops of the other buildings nearby. It wasn’t something he did often, leaving the apartment and wandering the city alone – in fact, he had to admit this was the first time – but it felt good to be out of the small space, on his own. Have some air, and most of all, time without anyone else around.

He felt... in fact, he wasn’t sure how he felt anymore. Sometimes it was just sad. Then sometimes it was sad and angry. And then sometimes it was more than two emotions and when it was like that, Irbimon found he would get a headache. He wondered if all Digimon could only manage one major emotion at a time, or whether it was just him. He knew humans obviously felt more than one emotion at a time. Humans were complete messes all the time, so they had to be feeling more than one emotion. He just wondered if any of them felt quite like this one did.

The way the feeling felt changed sometimes, but it was always that same, dreadful feeling. Sometimes it would feel like something had been ripped out of his chest, leaving a huge gaping hole there which pulsated and vibrated with a need and a want to be filled again. Other times it felt like his whole rib cage was constricting in on itself, like his lungs were shrinking and like his heart was going to fracture against his bones.

However the feeling came about, Irbimon hated every second of it. And that feeling was ever-more present when Eva was around. He imagined, or supposed, that this was what guilt felt like. That he was either experiencing intense guilt, shame or a mixture of the two. None of which was what he wanted.

He just wanted things to go back the way they were. Back to how they had been before the Digital World. When he could be mean to Tom and get away with it. Where he could eat food he wasn’t supposed to and all he’d get was a weary ‘Irbimon...’ as a telling off from Eva, despite Tom’s demands he get more than that. The whole... agreement Tom and Eva had made in the Digital World, that was to blame for everything. After that, everything had changed, and Eva had changed. She had started to tell him off, properly, like how he had heard Eva’s mother tell her off as a child when she’d done something bad.

Maybe he hadn’t reacted the right way. Maybe he could have put effort in to do what Eva asked. But where was the fun in that? Acting out was much more entertaining; and had produced so many more arguments and funny situations. He had been working and wearing Tom and Eva down, so that eventually this silly new idea of telling him off when he had done something wrong would flitter away and things could go back to normal.

He’d never expected that to turn into... this. That they would stick together and he would end up being the bad guy. And now, none of it seemed fun, or worth it, since the event with SkullSkadimon. It had been true what he had told Eva. That he could see everything that was going on, he felt the impact of the missiles on his bones. He felt the powerful shot from Bambusmon’s Great Cannon attack. He had felt and seen everything and been powerless against it. Ultimately he had been controlled by instinct and a primal force that Irbimon had no idea he really possessed. Eva might have been scared, but no one, not even Eva was as frightened as he was at that time.

And while Eva may have always seen SkullSkadimon when she looked at him, all Irbimon saw was the terror written on her face when they had stood off against each other.

With a long breath, Irbimon slumped against the side of the building. He had been wandering over roof tops for a while now, moving where his feet went, stopping occasionally to judge distance and watch anything that took his interest. From a height, to someone on the street below, he looked like nothing more than a larger than average cat. He appreciated that he could get around like this and enjoy some time to himself with his thoughts.

He sat back in the shade created by an overhang, peering down at the street below at how other people went about their lives. He hoped Eva was at least having fun with Siberimon and the others. She deserved that, some time away from him. That was obviously what she wanted, to be away from him more than anything. Irbimon wondered why he didn’t just leave, but Poemon had explained why. They were still partners, and he couldn’t just abandon Eva because of an upset like this. At least Poemon spoke to him still, he appreciated the little crow’s efforts to keep his spirits up. He hoped when this all finally blew over, he would be able to repay her in kind.

There was a long time where Irbimon sat, stared at the street looking but not seeing. Letting his mind empty and blinking owlishly from time to time. Which was why when Taranimon loomed over him, staring in the same spot, Irbimon almost leapt down from the building in fright.

The electric Digimon stood and surveyed. Already people on the ground were screaming and pointing at the roof top, Taranimon ignored them all though, focused entirely on Irbimon. Who was completely on guard with ice glistening off his claws.

Taranimon lowered himself a little, attaining better eye contact with Irbimon, quite a feat considering the size differences between the two. “You are lost.” Taranimon spoke, and his voice was more like an electronic hum. Irbimon’s fur stood on end, either through static or through fear he wasn’t entirely sure.

“What do you want?” Irbimon growled.


“You are lost.” Taranimon said again. “Why do you wander so far without your tamer?”

“I’m not lost.”

“No?” Taranimon looked almost quizzical. “You seem so, to me.” A pause. Irbimon kept his guard and defences up. Something was going to happen, Taranimon would do something, there was no doubt in the snow leopard’s mind. He was just waiting for an opening. Waiting for a chance, when Irbimon would drop his guard. “Your tamer does not want you.”

Irbimon drew a claw back and hissed, swiping directly across Taranimon’s eyes. “You don’t know anything!” he shouted. Taranimon recoiled from the hit. The glowing from one of his eyes grew faint. Irbimon dashed from the rooftop, a well timed leap down to the ground and he was running on all four paws through the crowds. Taranimon followed. People dove and jumped out of the way, pushing others onto the ground and away from the charging tyrant. Irbimon slid across the ground, jumping from a car roof, onto a bus and then down onto a taxi. He careered into a side alley and snuck behind a trash receptacle. He panted, and forced himself to breath quietly. He could feel Taranimon closing in. His heart was beating wildly and he was sure it was an audible sound.

Eva... not like this.

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

As it was, Eva was happy when the conversation turned off of her and Irbimon onto other subjects. Siberimon commented once on the location of Irbimon, but Frankie dodged the query expertly and moved on to another topic, this time about some kind of high street vs. high fashion labels television show she and her mother had been engrossed in the last few weeks. Frankie’s mother was no longer staying at Frankie’s apartment, but was remaining in town a few more days. Now they weren’t under each other’s feet, Frankie was quite happy to have her mother around.

Eventually, Frankie gave up Piper’s biology book, only because Caesarmon kept trying to steal it away for the blonde, and Frankie was getting tired of the otter Digimon pawing at her dress. Eva tried to avoid any conversation related to recent events. But it was inevitable that their conversation would turn that way at one point or another.

“I never thought I’d say this, but I kind of miss Odocomon.” Siberimon muttered, munching on a sandwich that Frankie had prepared for him. He sat at her side, dry and basking in the afternoon sunshine. His toes curled happily as he enjoyed his snack and he turned his face towards Caesarmon. “She was kind of stuck-up, but she was fun for playing games with.”

“When you could convince her.” Caesarmon agreed. He had a mound of shells on one side, and a quickly dwindling collection on the other side. The crab in his claws was now missing its shell. “She was a pretty sore loser.”

“Yeah. I think we’re all guilty of that though.” Siberimon agreed.

“Kind of miss James too. Having the truck to travel in was great. Beats being moved around in the D-Touch- what?” Caesarmon turned quickly to Piper who had nudged him sharply with the end of her fork. Frankie had stopped eating and was just staring into the distance.

“Sorry Frankie, he...” Piper paused, “he wasn’t thinking.”

“It’s fine.” Frankie waved it off. Eva knew her well enough to know it wasn’t fine. That Frankie was still hurting after Mrs. Lynn and this latest blow had caused her new anguish, and that she was trying to remain strong if only to be able to pull through and support the others. Piper awkwardly turned a page in her book and fiddled with the dog tags around her neck, a new accessory Eva had noticed she’d started wearing over the last few weeks.

“You know...” Eva murmured, she caught Frankie eye and sidled across the blanket to Piper. Frankie followed suit. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, Piper.” At the mention of her name, Piper’s head shot up. She watched the other two girls coming towards her and closed her book eyeing them both with suspicion.

“...What...?”

“Do have maybe something to tell us?” Frankie asked. “Something about you and... a guy?”

Piper’s face contorted into a confused expression. “No. Why?”

“They’re talking about Hunter, dummy.” Caesarmon said from his spot, his tone laced with distaste.

“What about him?”

Frankie smiled. “You two are awfully cosy.”

“No, we’re not.” Piper laughed forcibly. She opened her book again.

Eva sighed, supporting her chin in her hand. Piper obviously wasn’t going to play along, deciding to ignore their baiting. So she decided to be straightforward. “He likes you.”

 “No. He doesn’t.”

Siberimon butted in. “Hey Frankie?”

“Shh,” Frankie shushed Siberimon, who had finished his sandwich. He was up on his feet, nose up, smelling the air. “He does. It’s pretty obvious. He’s always standing with you, talking to you-“

“Because he knows me better than everyone else...” Piper explained, thinking it was a reasonable explanation. “Besides, I’m not his type.”

“No?” Eva asked.

“Eva? Frankie?” Siberimon said again, but was waved off one more time with a wave of Frankie’s hand.

“You two are so deluded.” Piper sneered, “I don’t know what you’re seeing, but it sure isn’t what you’re insinuating. Hunter’s a scoundrel. Why would I like him?”


“We didn’t say you liked him.” Eva replied. “We said he liked you.

 “Oh.” Piper paused. “Well you’re both miles and miles off. Neither of us like each other. It’s a mutual thing. He’s a scoundrel, I’m not his type. End of discussion.” Piper closed her book loudly as if to make a point. Eva was almost giggling.

Frankie had the widest grin possible plastered across her face. “Scoundrel’s a pretty interesting way of describing him, and you’ve said it twice now. I think someone’s not admitting they have a crush!” She went to add something, but was cut short by the sound of Eva’s D-Touch whistling and whining from her plum haired girl’s bag.

“Saved by the bell.” Piper muttered.

Surprised, Eva grappled for the purse and withdrew the item, trying to find a way for it to stop making noise. The screen flashed with pink and white light, the emblem of Irbimon was fading from the screen, no longer as bright and vibrant as it should have been. Siberimon was at her side, staring, his body rigid as he viewed the screen.

“Why won’t it stop?!” Eva snapped, pushing and pressing every combination of buttons she could think of.

“It’s Irbimon.” Siberimon said. “He’s in danger. I knew it.”

“Why didn’t you say something?” Frankie scolded.

“I tried.” Siberimon replied dryly.

“What kind of danger? Why is Eva’s D-Touch going crazy?”

“Because,” Siberimon took it from Eva’s hands. “Irbimon’s nearly...”

“Don’t.” Eva shook her head. “Can you find him, can you get us to him?”

Siberimon nodded. “Of course.” He ran ahead, the others followed. As soon as they were away from the other picnickers, both Caesarmon and Siberimon were engulfed in yellow and orange light respectively, until Vespasmon and Hurakamon ran in their places. Vespasmon hoisted Piper up onto his back with his left forepaw, and Hurakamon, pulled up Frankie and then Eva, who sat in the clouds covering his back. Vespasmon fell into flank behind Hurakamon.

“This way!”

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

Irbimon panted, pressing himself against the wall, squeezed between it and the dumpster. His body ached with a pain he hadn’t known before. Every inch of him whined and groaned under the strain and anguish he was putting his muscles and limbs through just trying to stay alive. His heart was beating so wildly, any faster he was certain it would burst in his rib cage.

And while his adrenaline ran rampant through his body, powering him on to dodge and escape the constant attacks from Taranimon, he felt an overwhelming tiredness. Black spotting in the corner of his eyes was a constant distraction. And a nagging feeling in his mind that he might not make it out of this one.

From the other side of the dumpster, there was screaming, a heavy foot fall and Irbimon’s temporary protection was lifted from right in front of him by the lightning tyrant. The blue item flew across the sky and crashed into a cab that had been reversing up the road. Irbimon grimaced, hearing metal screech against metal, another car crash. Taranimon was unfazed and stared at the small snow leopard Digimon. He looked almost curious, and Irbimon wanted to believe a glimmer of respect shone through his eyes too. But it was too much to hope for. Taranimon towered above him, and despite his best efforts, no amount of posturing and puffing himself up would make him look more intimidating that a pussy cat.

“You have no one.” Taranimon hissed, bending low to reach Irbimon’s ears. “You have been abandoned...”

Irbimon choked back something he didn’t want to admit was fear. Taranimon’s claws were closing in around him, like instead of offering a quick death with his attacks, he was going to destroy him slowly, painfully, so Irbimon felt every single moment of it.

“Your friends have abandoned you to your fate. Your companions. Your brother.” A pause. “Even your tamer sees you now for the monster you are. That there is no place for you here.”

Irbimon swallowed thickly, blue eyes wide, and he hoped defiant. “You’ll never win.” He found it hard to say, something he, himself didn’t believe fully. How could Taranimon, the Divine family, how could they not win? They were more in tune with each other than he and Eva and the others had ever been. Despite Ryudamon’s best training and patience.

“I admire your courage, little one.” Taranimon’s voice turned to an almost soothing tone. “But you expect the impossible.” He drew his hands closer, surrounding Irbimon with sparkling and sizzling yellow claws. “You will lose.”

The claws closed in, and Irbimon clenched his eyes shut, waiting for the impact. For the claws to pierce and sear his flesh. For the aching to stop, for the pain, for everything to cease. But it never came.

He heard a roar, and through a squinted eye, saw a flash of white and black stripes fly past him, knocking into Taranimon.

“IRBIMON!!” Irbimon’s eyes widened, he saw Eva running towards him, her face aghast. It was like having a new lease, a new power boost. Eva’s voice was like a bell, clearing his mind of a mystifying fog that had almost caused him to ... what? Give in, without a fight? “Irbimon!” Eva was on the ground next to him, and had pulled him into her arms. Her grip was almost smothering, but it felt so good to have that closeness again. “I was so scared, I thought-“ Eva struggled to talk, she was crying into his fur and clenching her fingers into his arms. Irbimon hadn’t realised he was hugging her back just as tightly. “I thought...” Another trailing comment, Eva moved back, and released him a little.

“I’m okay.” Irbimon assured her with a small smile.

“PAIN GEYSER!” Vespasmon thundered passed them a stream of water flowing at Taranimon, who was on the ground, fighting off Hurakamon. Piper and Frankie stood a small distance away.

Eva gathered Irbimon up in her arms. “You’re weak, we need to get you out of here.”

“No.” Irbimon argued. “I feel like I could take on a hundred Taranimon’s.” He stared into Eva’s face seriously. The tiniest movement of Eva’s head gave him a nod, and she lowered him down to the floor. He dashed towards the fray, following after the other champion Digimon. A pink light engulfed him as he ran.

“Irbimon, Over-Clock Evolve to... SKADIMON!!” The roar of his cry was a moment’s distraction for the other champion Digimon, who parted enough to allow Skadimon through.

“Hungering Cold!” Skadimon’s maw was already coated in ice as he sank his teeth into the magnets that made up Taranimon’s ribs. Like a dog with a play thing, Skadimon threw his head from side-to-side, doing the same to Taranimon, like he was a rag doll. A well aimed toss had Taranimon crashing into a lamp post, and the post itself keeling over, crashing to the ground, a car crumbling under its weight.

A moment passed where Taranimon didn’t dare move. The three Digimon advanced on him, a step at a time, and as they did, he recovered. A morbid sounding laugh came from the thunder Digimon’s vocal chords and he sank down into the ground.

“NO!” Hurakamon leapt forward, jaws gnashing together to try to gather some purchase on Taranimon’s limbs, but he was below the surface of the ground and out of reach. The three Digimon spread out, wary and alert. They knew this trick well enough. All they could do was wait for now for Taranimon to attack.

The wait wasn’t long.

“Look out!” Eva shouted. She, Piper and Frankie stood a few feet away. The first rip of lightning shot along the ground. Skadimon was nimble enough to dodge. Another aimed at Hurakamon, and then another at Vespasmon. Soon enough, dozens of trails of electricity were dashing along the ground, too many to be dodged at one time.

“How is this fair?! They can’t attack an enemy they can’t see!” Frankie complained loudly.


Piper chided. “Haven’t you watched a movie? The bad guys never play fair.”

A roar stopped any comeback Frankie might have wanted to make, she turned and gasped seeing Hurakamon encased in a lightning prison, his body jerking and twisting unnaturally in response to the high voltage careening about his form. Another cry, this time from Vespasmon, who, with his soaked feet, was an easy target for the lightning to get to.

“Fight it!” Piper yelled.

Skadimon hissed, he narrowly missed a trail, barely dodging in time.

“There’s got to be a way!” Frankie murmured, chewing nervously on her thumb nail. “Hurakamon! Evolve! You can become Byakkomon!”

Hurakamon groaned in response, the shocks ricocheting around his body too much for him to create a coherent response. Frankie’s D-Touch bleeped, and the symbol of Hurakamon was flashing alarmingly. Vespasmon’s visage on Piper’s too.

“It’s too much, they can’t handle the electricity.” Eva said slowly. Her eyebrows furrowed and she glanced around the area to see if there was something – anything – that could help them. Even a little, something that might turn the tables just enough. She saw cars, some abandoned, some crushed. Houses, trash cans, dumpster, trees, the pavement. But nothing substantial.

“Aaaaaarghhh!!” Vespasmon half growled and half roared. His strength was sapping and the more he tried to fight the electric field containing him, the quicker he weakened. Every movement was like a torture, and so was watching the attempts at movement. Even Skadimon watched in alarm and worry, no longer dogged by the electric flashes. Taranimon appeared to have forgotten he was even there anymore.

“Must... fight. Can’t... let them...” Hurakamon struggled, his claws digging into the ground where he was kept in place.

Eva inhaled. “I have an idea!” She ran, before the other girls could stop her and picked up one of the smaller magnets that usually remained on Taranimon’s body. Skadimon followed her, looked at her with question. “Grab one, and run with it. I bet Taranimon can’t be under there without all of these in the same place.”

“It’s dangerous.” Skadimon grumbled.

Eva shook her head. “He needs to die. He almost killed you.”

“If I evolve?”

“I...” Eva trailed. She stared at the magnet in her hand, and then back at her partner, whose face was in a questioning and almost fearful expression. She had almost lost Irbimon minutes ago, and would not have had the opportunity to say goodbye if Hurakamon had not arrived when he had. That had made her realise so much in a short space of time, that if SkullSkadimon was who Irbimon was, in a respect, then that was who he was. He was still the same – as far as she was concerned – and while frightening, she could handle it now.

She knew she could.

“Skadimon...” Eva murmured, she dropped the magnet on the floor, stepped towards Skadimon and ran her fingers back through the fur on his maw, her fingers coming to rest around his ears, where she rubbed lightly. Skadimon rumbled a response from his throat. “If you evolve, then you evolve. You are my partner. I have complete, and utter faith in you.”

There was a snort from Skadimon, and he had a large magnet in his teeth moments later. Eva followed suit, picked up her original magnet and started running. Skadimon went the opposite direction.

The current of the electricity holding Vespasmon and Hurakamon in place lessened, the further away the magnets went, enough so they began to move, slowly and laboured though their movements were, they were their own.

Taranimon was beginning to rise up from the ground, puzzled and irate. He clawed wildly at the two champion Digimon, who in their weakened states were unable to fend him off of dodge effectively. Taranimon thrashed. “Spark Ripper!!” His voice was a roar of indignation, and Vespasmon and Hurakamon slammed against each other under the weight of the attack. In their places, Caesarmon and Siberimon appeared on the ground.

Magnets formed around Taranimon again, where they were and should have been. Taranimon noticed immediately the missing two and screeched with fury. “You have no idea the powers you are interfering with!” He bellowed to the sky, and took giant steps, starting at a quick pace. He saw Skadimon out of the corner of his eye, and Eva on his other side, weaving in and out of the way of cars. He followed after her, shooting lighting from one hand and the other.

The attacks were badly aimed and ill timed. Cars went up in the air, and a couple of trees had their trunks smashed to pieces, making them tumble. Eva didn’t dare look behind her. The weight of the magnet slowed her down, and the sound of Taranimon’s footsteps made it abundantly clear he was close, and that if anything, she needed to either dispose of the magnet or just keep running and never stop running.

“Spark Ripper!!” Taranimon’s attack flew just over Eva’s head. She screamed and tumbled to the ground, grazing her arms and knees on the pavement. The magnet slipped from her hands and across the ground where it stopped and Taranimon’s reflection appeared in it. Eva recovered slowly, watching as a clawed hand came down and retrieved it. She turned quickly enough to see Taranimon slipping the magnet back into place on his ribs. The other missing one was one from his shoulder. A quick glance, no sign of Skadimon anywhere.

“Foolish – human – girl.” Taranimon spat every word, and Eva recoiled. “You pathetic creatures, you think you can win. You think your bonds with your partners are so strong and unbreakable. You will never achieve your goal.”

“Humans aren’t pathetic. And the bond I have with Irbimon is strong.” Eva argued, hoping she sounded more fierce than she felt, cowering on the ground, bleeding from small cuts and grazes.

Taranimon sneered. “Of course. And that is why your Digimon, your precious Irbimon, became that... abomination. That creature made and built only to destroy and maim.”

Eva got to her feet. “If that’s who he is, then that is who he is. At the end of it, he’s still Irbimon. He’s still the same Digimon I’ve known since I was born. He’s still my best friend. I still love him.”

A derivative noise like a bark of laughter erupted from Taranimon’s throat. “You creatures and your whimsical belief in love... Love will only hurt and destroy.”

“You haven’t been loved.” Eva argued. “You don’t know.”

There was a sudden movement, a flash of pain, and Eva was on the ground clasping her side, and coughing so violently she could taste the coppery flavour of blood in her mouth. Eva turned quickly enough to see Taranimon’s clawed hand about to make another swing, she cowered, curling up into a ball to shield herself.

Instead she was shadowed over, and heard a grunt above her as the impact hit someone else. She opened her eyes, seeing Skadimon standing over her, snarling. His fur bristling and his claws covered in ice.

Skadimon glanced back at her, Eva rose uneasily to her feet, and Skadimon lifted a paw to support her. Never taking his eyes off of Taranimon, he huffed into Eva’s hair, like a cat showing affection, and Eva rubbed his ears.

Taranimon growled. “I will destroy you both. I will show you what this precious love does to you.”

Eva breathed slowly, lightly twisting her fingers into Skadimon’s fur. “Like I said,” she murmured, “I have faith in you.” Skadimon grumbled in reply. In her pocket her D-Touch vibrated. A cold wind struck up and Eva’s eyes were suddenly ablaze with pink light. Skadimon’s body was enveloped in the same aura. Around them both the area appeared to change. The ground became a snow covered tundra and around them where buildings and vehicles had been, frost covered hills and fir trees seemed to appear, creating a snowy haven.

Skadimon advanced, growling steadily. Taranimon moved back a tiny step, barely noticeable.

The light brightened, and Skadimon’s body was totally engulfed.

“Skadimon, Proxy Evolve to...” His voice trailed, and through the beams his changing form was visible. He rose up onto his back legs, his paws still remained huge. His forelegs, moulded into sinewy arms, with huge clawed hands, the wrists decorated with black leather binds. His massive black mane shrank down to surround only his neck, and shards of ice sprang from his shoulders and across his back. Around his neck, and knees, spiked rings sprouted. The new body was muscular and dangling from the waist was a torn loincloth, decorated with an emblem of a snow leopard’s head. “HYROKKIMON!” The light dispersed, showing Skadimon’s new form, still smaller than Taranimon, but towering above everything else.

Hyrokkimon growled and snarled, his claws clenching and unclenching.

Taranimon took a moment. “And now... things become interesting.”

Hyrokkimon lunged towards the lightning Digimon, his claws grappling for the magnetic binds on his wrists for leverage. He shoved, and Taranimon stumbled back.

“Spark Ripper!” Taranimon managed to pull his arms together enough to cause this attack. Hyrokkimon grunted, dodged nimbly and careered through the air, turning mid-air to face Taranimon’s back. Hyrokkimon’s eyes were suddenly a glowing blue colour, and his hands were skyward.

“Piercing Hail!!” His claws came down at speed, followed by icicles, tumbling down rapidly, piercing anything and everything they landed on. Taranimon was in the middle of the fray, taking the most damage. One icicle piercing through a magnet on his shoulder, another one on his rib. Taranimon roared.

“Spark Ripper!” He reacted, and sent a massive shockwave through the air which surrouned Hyrokkimon in its crackling haze. He crossed his arms before him to protect himself from the worst of the attack, and growled through the shocks and pain. Taranimon ran at him, Hyrokkimon threw his arms out, dislodging the electricity and charged.

“Glacial Saber!” A tiny movement of his claws, and suddenly twin blades of ice were being held in his hands. Taranimon roared, and threw his arms out, grabbing Hyrokkimon by the shoulders as he slashed wildly with the blades, missing only narrowly as Taranimon dodged out of the way.

Taranimon growled, and discharged a current directly into Hyrokkimon’s body, causing the sabers to fall to the ground. Hyrokkimon shuddered against the effects, and was thrown to one side by Taranimon, landing in a heap after hitting the side of a building. Taranimon allowed himself a moment of triumph before rounding on Eva, who was suddenly rooted to the spot.

“Now, I will deal with you.” Taranimon hissed, sinking into the ground.

Before he was fully submerged though, Hyrokkimon was pulling on the only magnets still attached to him, those that made up his eyebrows. Taranimon yelled and was quickly reappearing, while Hyrokkimon kept a tight grip, pulling the lighter Digimon away from Eva. With a grunt, Hyrokkimon spun on the spot, and flung Taranimon a few feet away. Hyrokkimon took up a protective stance in front of his partner and hissed, seeing Taranimon charging them again.

“Spark Ripper!”

Hyrokkimon dodged, his muscles bunching beneath him, shooting up into the air. His eyes were enveloped in blue again and his claws came down, bringing with them a barrage of icicles. “Piercing Hail!” Bellowed Hyrokkimon. Taranimon was too slow to react. One of the icicles pierced through one eye, eliciting an anguished sound from the giant Digimon. Hyrokkimon was dropping from the air fast. Taranimon flailed wildly, caught the end of Hyrokkimon’s tail in his hand and threw him forcefully into the ground.

Hyrokkimon struggled for a moment, trying to get back onto his feet to counterattack, but Taranimon was looming over him, one of his glowing blue eyes now extinguished and his face marred with distaste and rage.

“Now, I will destroy you, once and for all.” Taranimon whispered harshly. “Spark RIPPER!” He leaned in close, so as not to miss. As his claws came down, Hyrokkimon grappled for the discarded ice sabers on the ground and thrust the them through the other Digimon. One though his head, and the other through his chest, directly where in a human the heart would have been. Taranimon screeched. Pierced by the saber through his chest, cracked and broken on the end was a DigiCore, which had been keeping Taranimon alive.

It flickered once or twice, trying to crackle to life, but it failed, turned black and crumbled around the blade, into dust. Taranimon made a sound like a forced gurgle, and staggered back somewhat. Hyrokkimon was on his feet and watched as Taranimon stumbled, fell and was a cloud of data before he hit the ground. Hyrokkimon breathed slowly while the data was absorbed in Eva’s D-Touch. She stood nearby, having watched the entire battle from close range.

Eva was tentative, moving across the ground towards the erect Digimon, who remained stationary, panting from his exertions. He only moved when Eva was practically at his feet. Beyond Hyrokkimon, Frankie and Piper were waiting and watching with their Digimon. Hyrokkimon moved a little, slowly. He didn’t want to cause alarm, or make Eva jump. But she looked happy, almost contented and a little surprised.

“I was all set to see SkullSkadimon again...” Eva murmured, while Hyrokkimon shifted and sat on the ground. “Then you go and pull a stunt like this.” His face totally in Eva’s, she let her hands drift up and across his nose and mouth, meshing in the fur. “You’re just full of surprises.”

Hyrokkimon let out a low laugh and breathed out slowly. His body glowed, and he shrank, his form dispersing to Skadimon and then Irbimon, who was wrapped in Eva’s arms once the light had stopped. Irbimon purred against Eva, and let her place him on the ground. She held her hand out to him with a smile, and he took it with his smaller paw.

“Let’s go home.” Eva said. Irbimon agreed with a firm nod of his head.

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

Tom walked into the apartment not entirely sure what to expect. He had received a message from Frankie a short while ago saying Irbimon had defeated Taranimon and that they were all heading home now. Tom had been startled to say the least, that her message had mentioned the destruction so casually. And that he hadn’t heard anything of an appearance of SkullSkadimon while he had been out with Poemon. They had intended to go grocery shopping, and they had -  a bit. Then Tom had gotten distracted.

He was home now, after having a short conversation over the phone with Frankie about what had happened. That Irbimon had evolved again, but this time it had been to a Digimon named Hyrokkimon and that somehow, he had been able to defeat Taranimon. Tom had been almost giddy when he and Poemon had walked through the threshold. He had wanted to talk directly to Eva about it; get all the information, all the facts. This was huge. Absolutely huge.

But the scene that had confronted him when he had walked in was one neither he or Poemon had the heart to disturb. Both Eva and Irbimon were on the couch, a movie on the background ignored as both human and Digimon were fast asleep. Irbimon curled up comfortably in Eva’s lap, as she lay across the sofa, legs dangling off one end, and head supported by cushions on the other.

With a small sigh, relieved to see things that finally been resolved, Tom turned off the TV, while Poemon pulled a light blanket over Eva’s legs and Irbimon’s haunches. The snow leopard Digimon shifted a little against the movement, but didn’t wake and returned to snoring gently. Tom smirked to himself, beckoning Poemon to follow him, he disappeared up to the bed area.

Questioning could wait.


For those that checked out the Soundtracks page, you may recall that "Florence and the Machine - The Hardest of Hearts" is Eva and Irbimon's duet. Here's a little something Xuza whipped up for this episode, which summarizes their relationship in visual form :)


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