Disclaimer: I don't own digimon.


Fists rained down on him, six or eight at a time. Three or four bodies crowded around him. He covered his head with his arms, trying to block the painful slams against his face. But it didn't stop the blows to the back of his head, his back, or stomach.

"Get off of him!" someone screamed. The blows persisted for a moment more, and then they had ended. He collapsed to the ground, exhausted and beaten. "Leave him alone."

A laugh rang in his ears and a hand pressed his face into the cement. "Take that T-ass. You just got lucky your dumb ass jock friends were around. Next time you won't be so lucky," Jacob sneered. The hand and the presence soon disappeared.

"Dude, you okay?" Steven's hand appeared on his shoulder. TK shrugged it off and pushed himself onto his hands and knees. Blood dripped from his nose and from the multiple scrapes on his face. His ribs burned and he involuntarily spit blood onto the gray cement basketball court. "TK?"

"I'm fine," he choked out. "I feel amazing."

Arms wrapped around his waist and helped him to his feet. He tried to pull away, but Steven held tight. "You're hurt."

"I'm fine."

"TK!" An amber-haired girl ran up and took his face in her hands. "My god," she gasped at his condition. He averted his eyes and tried to move away but she kept her hands on his face.

"Riley, let up. He needs to sit down." Steven pushed the girl back.

TK held up his hands. "I'm okay Rei. Thanks. And I'm fine, Steve." Three others joined them. "It's no big deal." TK tried to pull away but became unsteady; Steven and Riley caught him before he fell.

"Come on, we'll sit down." He motioned to he bleachers and the six walked and limped over to them with Rei carrying TK's basketball. TK collapsed onto the second bench up. Steven stood over him and TK gestured him over a couple of feet to block the sun from his eyes. The three others, Josh and Alec, both from the basketball team, and Linda, Riley's friend, sat down around them. TK just stared at Rei, who began nursing his wounds with a tissue from her backpack.

"Rei, I'm fine." He touched her hand.

"I don't care, you're bleeding," she argued.

Alec replaced TK's red U of A hat back on TK's head. "What's Jacob's problem?"

TK shrugged and lay back across the bench. "He's an ass." Riley sat down and pulled his head into her lap.

"I'm gonna kick his ass," Steven growled, grinding his fist into the palm of his hand. Josh and Alec nodded in agreement.

TK shook his head. "Don't. That's what he wants. I'm not sinking to his level." Rei met his frozen blue eyes with her fiery red ones and her face expressed uncertainty.

"Um, no offense TK, but you just got your ass kicked," Alec pointed out tactlessly. "A fight may be your only resort. Stand up for yourself."

"I've fought before and I'm tired of it. I shouldn't have to stand up for myself," TK replied. "If someone has a problem with me, let them have a problem."

Steven crossed his arms, obviously annoyed with TK's passive attitude. "You may have a problem with fighting, but I don't. Next time, Jacob's not walking away."

TK sat up. "Steve, whose fight is this?!" Steven's silver eyes filled with confusion. "Its mine, so let's keep it that way. You have no business fighting with Jacob. Leave it at that." With a groan, TK returned to his position in Rei's lap and rubbed his face with his hands.

"Whatever you say, TK. But that's not gonna stop me from stomping on him next time he tries stompin' on you." Steven turned away from TK, ignoring any argument. TK didn't even bother.

"TK." The group looked up to see a tiny brown haired girl staring up at them with fearful eyes. It was Kari. Steven, Josh, and Alec smirked at each other and jumped down from the bleachers. Kari took an involuntary step back.

"Well, who do we have here?" Steven approached her first, looming over her by at least a head. She just stared up at his silver eyes. He grabbed her arms and pulled her close to his body.

"Let me go," she fought in nothing more than a whisper.

"I don't think so." He ran his hand down her cheek. "Little Goth girls have no right to be over here. School rule. I would have thought you'd have remembered that." He pushed her to Josh, but TK stepped in and caught her, barely staying on his feet.

"You know, I really wish you wouldn't do this," he snapped to his friends.

Kari pulled away from him. "Tai's here to pick us up."


"Natalie's teaching him to drive," she answered. "They're waiting." She turned to leave, but Josh got in her way.

TK grabbed her arm and pulled her from Josh's grasp. "I'll see you guys Monday." He took up his backpack from the bleacher seat beside Linda, and walked back to the school parking lot.

"TK!" He glanced back to see Riley dashing after him. "You forgot your ball." She held up his basketball.

He stopped walking and let go of Kari's hand. "Oh thanks," he grinned, despite the pain it caused his face.

She tucked her hair behind her ear. "It was no problem." She glanced down at the floor. "TK, I um-well..."

"What's wrong?" He asked.

"Nothing," she blushed with a smile. "It's just-TK, will you go out with me?" She blurted. Her sun kissed skin became dark crimson across her cheeks. "I really didn't mean to sound like an idiot," she continued, as he stared at her in shock. "But I was hoping to get more then silence out of you." Again she seemed uncertain.

"Yes, I'd love to. It's just that, well, I've never been asked out before," he glanced at Kari who seemed expressionless. "I'd love to," he said again.

"Great, um, tonight maybe?" Riley suggested, ecstatic.

"Well, I'll have to talk it over with my guardian, but I'm sure he'll let me," TK grinned.

"All right, um, I'll call you when I get home," she kissed his cheek and ran off.

TK watched her for a minute, grinning dumbly to himself before turning to see Kari watching him. His face fell and he grabbed her hand. "Let's go."


Gennai looked up from the TV to see TK standing in the doorway to the living room and his jaw dropped in shock as he took in TK's appearance. The blond teen looked beat and bloody with various scrapes and cuts across his pale face. They worsened his already sunken cheeks and thin frame that had been diminished by chemo therapy. "TK, what happened to you?!"

TK looked startled for a moment before he touched his face and felt the marks. "Oh, I got into a fight," he shook his head. "Just like yesterday and the day before and everyday for the past week."

Gennai stood up, pushing his large form off the forest green couch. "That boy still bothering you?"

"Yeah, he is," TK shrugged, obviously uninterested in the conversation.

Gennai picked up on this and changed the subject. "What do you need?"

"Can I go out tonight?"

"With who?"

"Just this girl in my class. Riley Chistien," he shrugged.

Gennai smirked playfully. "Just a girl, eh?" TK blushed. "Where were you thinking of going?"

TK blushed and smiled again. "I dunno, she asked me. She's gonna call me later when she gets home." The black cordless phone on the couch where Gennai had been sitting rang loudly. "That might be her." TK dove over the back of the couch and grabbed the phone. "Hello? Hello?" He answered as he tumbled onto the floor.

"Is TK there?" A female voice asked.

"This is he, I mean, that's me," TK stuttered.

"Hi TK! It's Riley."

"Hi Rei!"

"So can you come tonight?"

"Yeah I can."

"Great!" There was silence for a second. "Where do you wanna go?"

"Um, I dunno. You know Tucson better then I do," he admitted.

"Well we could go to a movie and then hit the food court down at the mall," she suggested.

"Sure, I can meet you at six. Is that good for you?"

"Yeah, it's terrific. So I'll meet you at Park Mall at six, in front of the theater?"

"Yeah! Great! See you then."


"Bye!" TK turned off the phone and danced for joy, despite the pain in his ribs. The sound of chuckling made him look up, and he saw Gennai still standing in the doorway. He froze.

"I take it you've got a date tonight," Gennai laughed.

TK blushed. "Six o'clock at Park Mall."

"All right, get ready and I'll take you."

TK nodded and rushed past him, taking the stairs two by two to his room.  He stopped at the doorway to see Matt on his bed fiddling with his guitar. He stepped in slowly, not wanting to bring any unwanted attention to himself.  Matt was the last person he wanted to talk to. He walked straight to his closet, head down.

"Hey TK," Matt called. TK ignored him and stripped off the dirty green shirt he'd been wearing. "Yo TK, what's up? You mad at me?"

No," he gunted as he pulled a black long sleeved shirt from a hanger. It was Matt's or maybe Tai's, but it didn't matter. Usually it didn't matter, no one cared, as long as it didn't smell and it fit.

"What's wrong then? You didn't even say hi to me." Matt started playing a tune on his guitar, keeping the pace slow. TK automatically recognized the song and really wished Matt hadn't begun playing it. Damn, TK hated that song.

"Maybe I don't feel like talking," he snapped as he pulled on a pair of loose fitting jeans.

"Fine," Matt sounded exasperated. "How was school?"

"You shouldn't play that song," TK growled.

"Why not?"

"Sora might hear."

The music stopped in mid-cord.

"Damn." TK stepped out of the closet and tried to make a break for the door. "Why'd you change?"

He stopped. "I'm going out."

"With who?"

"A girl," TK shrugged.

"Ooo, a girl," Matt laughed. "Who is she?"

"Just a girl," TK snapped.

"Damn, TK! I don't know what you've got stuck up your ass, but if you've got a problem with me, say it to my face!" Matt yelled.

TK whirled around, "I said I don't feel like talking!"

Matt pushed away his guitar and stood up. "You got beat up again?" He demanded.

"No!" TK dumbly retorted.

"Bullshit. What happened to your face?" TK didn't answer. "Who is this guy? What's his problem?"

"He's nobody. Just a jerk."

"How about I go teach him a lesson tomorrow? I could make him regret ever touching you!" Matt cracked his knuckles against the palm of his hand.

"NO!" TK burst. "You'll only make things worse!" He turned to leave and Matt followed.

"What do you mean I'll only make it worse?" Matt demanded as he followed TK down the hall. "What would he do?"

"Nothing!" TK snapped walking to the bathroom. "Leave me alone!"


"Yes!" With that he slammed the bathroom door in his brother's face.

"What do you mean I'll only make it worse?" Elijah looked up from the bottom of the stairs to see Matt and TK on the upstairs landing. TK limped away from his brother who followed, looking angry. "What would he do?"

"Nothing!" TK snapped as he disappeared from Eli's sight. "Leave me alone!"

Elijah rolled his eyes and shook his head. They were at it again; all they ever did was fight. A door slammed and Matt stomped back to his room, unaware of Elijah watching him. "What's going on?" a voice asked. Eli pulled his attention from the upstairs hall to the source of the voice. Natalie stood outside her door. "I heard yelling from my room."

"Matt and TK," he replied as he wheeled up to her. She looked absolutely dazzling dressed in a long black skirt and a tan sweater. She didn't dress up very much, but when she did, she was stunning. "You look amazing." He knew he sounded dumb.

"Thanks, you don't look bad yourself. You clean up rather nicely," she joked as she kissed him. "Are you ready?"

"Of course. Just waiting for you."

"Well, I had to make you wait a few minutes," she said, excusing herself. "I think it's a dating rule."

"It doesn't work quite as well when your boyfriend lives with you," Eli said as he rolled his eyes.

She waved him off. "Yeah, yeah. Let's go already. Let's blow this popsickle stand." She floated past him, running her fingers through his hair on her way out the front door.

"Gennai, we're going," he called as he followed her out. She stood waiting by her car, a green compact son of a bitch that only worked half the time. But she loved the damn thing and refused to trade it in, despite many opportunities. She held the door for him and he climbed in, feeling guilty as she put away his chair. "I hate this car," he said as she climbed into the driver's seat.

"I don't care." Putting the key in, the car gargled to life. "It purrs like a kitten." She grinned, stroking the dashboard.

"A kitten that's being strangled maybe," he countered, crossing his arms.

She turned to him; full brownish lips puckered into a pout and a soft manicured hand ran down his chest. "You know, Eli," she said seductively. "If you really don't like my car," she jabbed him in the chest, "You can wheel yourself to the restaurant."

"Ow," he touched his chest as if he had been wounded. "Okay, I get it. No dissing this wonderful piece of junk."

"You're pushing it, buddy, you're pushing it," she growled playfully as they pulled out of the driveway.

A twenty-minute drive found them in the parking lot of the Persido Plaza, a huge shopping center. The place always amused him, it was littered with the strangest people. As they pulled in, jittery coffee addicts and college students who didn't sleep crowded the coffee shop on the corner. A man with a red spiked mohawk and at least seven piercings in his face alone, exited Zia, the most popular locally owned record store. Skinny tree huggers and vegetarians swarmed Wild Oats, an all natural store right next to


Then there was the City Grill, their destination for the night.

They got out of the car and entered the City Grill, one of the most expensive restaurants in town. It was incredibly funny to see the wealthy couples dining in the restaurant gasp as people like the Pierced Man entered the establishment.

"It's under Elijah," Eli told the attendant manning the front desk.

"Very good sir," the golden haired waiter smiled a cheap forced smile. It was obvious this guy was ready to go home. "Your table is ready." He stepped out from behind the desk, clad in a white button up shirt and black pants, two menus clasped in his hands. "Right this way." He led them to a table deep in the interior of the restaurant and held Natalie's chair for her when they got there. Placing the long black menus in front of them, he folded his hands in front of himself. "Here are your menus. The special tonight is the Parmesan chicken and the soups are vegetable and cream of mushroom. Enjoy your dinner, your waiter will be with you shortly."

As he left, Natalie took a deep breath, savoring the warm smell of the restaurant. "It feels so good to get out. It's been such a long time since it was just you and me," she smiled at him. "I mean with Christmas and Tera, and then me on probation " She trailed off as she looked down at her hands. "We just never go out." Her voice had grown soft.

"You shouldn't think about that. It was just a slip up. You've been eating and maintaining your weight," he reasoned, trying to make her smile again.

"Trying to maintain it at least. I've been at 108 for the last few weeks," she shook her head annoyed with herself. Loose strands of black hair fell into her face. "My mom would have killed me at that weight, or at least not let me touch any food, but that-that's not enough for Gennai. I-I don't know why I can't handle it." With a heavy sigh she buried her face in her hands. "Damnit!" She struggled to breathe normally.

"Natalie, I'm sorry. Come on, let's talk about something else. It's our first night out in months.  I don't want to make you cry." He reached across the small round table and pulled one hand from her face. "Come on, look at me. I got dressed up all nice and I got these reservations, now you gotta enjoy yourself, because this dinner is gonna cost me three paychecks at least." She giggled behind her hands. "Look at me," he begged.

She looked up; her green eyes not as lustrous as before and her hands shaking on the table. He reached out and touched her tan hands, but she drew back involuntarily. Catching her action, she put her hand into his, "Sorry. You know, just-"

"Don't apologize." He shook his head. "Never apologize."

A flaming red haired woman walked up to the table. "Evening. My name is Abby and I'll be your waitress for the night. Have you decided on something to drink for this evening?"

"Water," Natalie replied.

"Do you have coke?" Elijah asked.

"We do, sir. Is that what you'd like?" Elijah nodded. "Have you decided on what you'd like to order tonight or would you like more time?"

"More time please," Natalie replied. The woman walked away and Natalie opened her menu, studying the pages and Elijah followed suit. "Anything sound good to you?"

"The steak," he replied pointing to his selection on the menu.

"That's the most expensive thing on the menu!" Natalie cried reading the price.

He grinned. "I'm here to splurge. Like I said, three paychecks. Dude, I am having fun tonight."

Natalie laughed, "You just called me dude."

He scratched the back of his head and grinned. "Sorry, you know, I got carried away. Does anything sound good for you?"

"The Parmesan chicken sounds really good," she answered. "I don't know. Maybe I'll just get a salad." He shook his head. "Or maybe I will get the chicken."

"Good idea." He shook his head. "Salad? We could have stayed at home and had that." She smiled and glanced around the restaurant. Her lips began to move as she said something to him, but he didn't hear a word she said. He debated to himself whether he should tell her his news.  But why ruin the evening like that? But he really should tell her...


He snapped out of his stare. "Huh? What?"

"You were staring off into space," Natalie giggled. "Where'd you go?"

"Sorry," he blushed, embarrassed. "I just kinda lost track of the conversation. I was distracted by this beautiful girl in front of me."

Her face flushed soft crimson. "You're unbelievable, Eli. I love you." She said the last part softly.

'Ugh...I can't tell her '

"I can't believe how bad that movie was!" Rei laughed as she walked out of the theater. "It had so many good reviews!"

TK followed her steps, laughing along with her. "I know. It had no plot! This is what happens when producers get bored and have money. They blow things up, film it and call it a movie!" (That's what I said about Black Hawk Down.)

"I am so sorry we had to come see this. If I hadn't enjoyed the company so much I might have demanded my money back." TK jolted in surprise as her hand slipped into his own. She didn't call attention to it. "You hungry? I'm hungry. How about dinner?" She pulled him toward the food court just outside the theater, which was located in the mall.

"So what shall we have?" He gazed around at the different eateries. "What's good here?"

She gave him a look of skepticism. "Haven't you ever tried anything here?" He shook his head. "Well, then you need Richie's Pizza! You haven't eaten pizza until you've eaten Richie's Pizza!" She pulled him past a steamy Japanese place, a McDonald's with about five kids screaming at the counter, and a Subway with a line at least ten minutes long. She stopped him in front of a small joint in the corner. A sign of a chubby chef holding a card that had Richie's written in big red letters hung above the door. "What's your favorite topping?"


"Good choice, go grab a table and I'll get the food."

"All right." He pulled a five-dollar bill from his pocket and gave it to her before turning and searching the sea of tables and heads for an open spot. The place was packed. Finally he found a booth on the outside of the court just being cleaned by one of the mall personnel. He slipped into the seat, beating out another young couple by seconds.

Five minutes later, a tray dropped down in front of him. "Sorry it took so long. I couldn't find you."

A paper plate with a grease dripping, pepperoni spotted piece of pizza that hung over the side of the plate by inches lay in front of him. "Wow, that's big."

"Yeah," she grinned. "I'm pretty sure one of these slices could feed an entire Somalian family." She sat a soda the size of a pitcher in front of him.

"Why so big?" He picked up the heavy drink in awe. "This must have cost a fortune."

"Not really." She plopped down in the seat in front of him. "That's a small soda."


She laughed, a sweet sound that bubbled from her throat, suddenly causing him to loose all interest in the soda. "So how is it?" She asked suddenly, wiping pizza sauce from the side of her mouth.

"How's what?"

"The pizza."

He snapped out of his trance. "Oh uh-" He bit into the pizza, scalding his tongue on the burning grease. The pizza was delicious. "This is really good," he said through a mouth full of cheese and dough.

"I told you you'd like it." They fell into silence, munching on their pizza and guzzling their enormous sodas. He found himself distracted, watching her as she ate. She was beautifully exotic, with dark sun kissed skin and intense, dark red hair. Her lips were dark and thin like her eyes.

"It's okay to talk to me. I bet it would be more fun then staring at me," she smiled, not looking at him.

TK found himself dumbfounded and he gave an embarrassed smile. "Sorry, I'm a bit rusty when it comes to dating. It's been a while."

"You've dated before? Anyone I know?"

"Oh, yeah," he nodded shyly. "Kari."

She looked surprised. "The goth girl?"

"Yeah, she wasn't, well, she's not so much a goth by the standards I grew up with. She was different when we went out."

"She lives with you right?"



"We have to." He shook his head. "That came out wrong."

"Well, aren't you from Japan? How come you came here to Tucson?"

"I had to, um, in Japan I got sorta... depressed. My guardian is an old family friend so I came here to his... halfway house."

"Are you still? Depressed, I mean?" TK didn't answer. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to intrude. I'm not very good at watching my mouth."

TK waved his hand. "It's okay. I'm just... I am, I think. Maybe. Yeah." He shook his head and adjusted the red cap on his head. "I'm sorry. I'm probably boring the hell out of you."

"No," she shook her head vigorously. "I don't mind. And I asked anyway." She sipped her drink and wiped her mouth. "Well anyway, you'd be my first."

"First what?"

"First date."

"No way."

"Yeah. I-uh-didn't think you'd say yes either," she seemed embarrassed. "I didn't think you liked me."

He felt a surge of excitement. "I didn't think you liked me that way either! We hang out all the time, but I didn't think you'd... noticed me. I mean, I'm not the 'stud muffin' I could see you with."

She giggled and pushed her short hair out of her eyes. "Stud muffin? I doubt it. I'm far from ideal."

He snorted. "You're beautiful."

She froze. "Th-thank you," she stuttered, blushing.

"I fear I may have just overstepped my boundary." he replied, not sarcastically.

"No, you just caught me by surprise," she laughed. "TK, you're something different, you know?" And she leaned over and kissed him.

The gunshots went off like firecrackers, popping loudly in his ears. The bodies of those who had been standing beside him slumped and he stared in horror at the darkness until a third crack caught him off guard. He bowled over; he'd been shot in the back.


He fell to his knees, unable to support his own weight. The fourth shot went off, the sound muffled by his own pain and as he hit the floor, another body fell beside him. Familiar and vacant deep blue eyes stared into his eyes and all he could do was stare back.

Elijah sat straight up, gasping and sweating. He sucked in air laboriously, searching the room with his eyes as he deliriously tried to figure out where he was. Jack...Rick....Lilly...oh god, Lilly. He let out a ragged sob, still confused and gasping.

"Elijah?" The bed beside him groaned and a hand touched his cheek. "Elijah," the voice was panicked. "What's wrong?"

"Who?" he wheezed.

"It's Natalie. Elijah, what's wrong?"

Natalie...he knew Natalie. Natalie...his girl. "I'm fine," he choked back the rest of his tears. "I had a nightmare."

"I know," she whispered. "It's okay. Hush now, it's okay," she cooed softly. Her cold hand touched his burning chest and she pushed him back down to his sweaty pillow. She seemed to realised something, and said, "Oh wait...sit up." He did, and she took his pillow and replaced it with her own. "See, it's okay. It's okay." Her voice continued to coo him back into reality, but tears came to his eyes again. As she lay her head down on his chest, black hair veiling his bare torso, he sobbed back into a dreamless slumber.

I'm sure everyone wants to know what happened to Kari and this cutting thing, but I'm not explaining it yet. I'm having a lot of trouble with that subject and it's very very sensitive for me because I do it and I've been doing it a lot lately. I gotta get myself under control first. So don't expect it written for a while because I can't.

So, what do you all think? I'm sorry if this chapter seemed forced but I only had a little time to work on it, because I was out sick from school and was trying to finish it quickly. So anyway, good news is I have the entire rest of the story all outlined out so I know what I'm doing all the way down to the very end, last chapter. Its looking really good, took me forever though.

Oh and by the way for all those TaKari lovers out there waiting for me to now kill Rei off, I'm really sorry, but its not going to happen. It doesn't look like this will be a Takari, it wouldn't work for this story anyway. Thanks!

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