Episode 11: Come Right Out and Say It
Sam groaned as he sat back in his chair, running a hand backwards through his hair.
It was coming on seven AM, and he still hadn't slept yet from the night before. Huge digimon fights certainly had a way of igniting the adrenaline and getting the mind racing-- or maybe that was the energy drinks? The empty aluminum cans littered around his computer station were a fine testament to that. HE WAS DOING JUST FINE THANKS FOR ASKING.
The point was: last night had been the Meramon fight, and Sam was still awake and working away at his computer desk.
"Still?" Gelermon said, stretching out and looking over at him. She, unlike him, had actually gotten some sleep-- mostly on-and-off naps, cracking her eyes open every now and again to check whether or not her partner had actually gone to sleep yet.
"Awake again?" Sam said, not looking away from his computer. "Can you toss me a--"
"If you say another energy drink, I'm going to literally toss it, directly at your head, in hopes it knocks you out, because there's a nonzero chance that the next one will be the one to vibrate you off the mortal coil," Gelermon said, before Sam could even finish his sentence. She had been saving that one, apparently.
"I was going to say bottle of water," he said, "but that would work too."
Gelermon snorted as she pulled open the door of the minifridge at the foot of Sam's bed, grabbing a bottled water out of the door and walked over, passing it over instead of lobbing it as she had so threatened.
"You're not still worked up about that shit, are you?" she asked, peering at the screen as she stood next to his chair.
"I have never, in my life, stopped being worked up," Sam replied flatly, cracking open the bottle of water and taking a swig of it. "You should know that."
"Right," Gelermon said, "I'm just waiting for the day you explode."
"Any day now. I can feel it. Though maybe that's the caffeine buzz."
Ever since he and Gelermon had gotten home, he had been throwing himself full-force into the D-Rive with an intensity that he hadn't quite managed to muster since the initial excitement wore off.
He still wasn't stupid enough to plug it into his main computer, which meant one of his less-important laptops was the test dummy of the day.
The more he looked into this stupid thing, though, the less sense it made. He almost felt like it was deliberately, actively fucking with him. Every time he made headway into digging anything useful out of the files it dumped to his computer, said computer began to hang up if not outright crash-- and when he got it running smoothly again, the file it dumped was different. There was no consistency-- sometimes he could pick his way through data for hours before it started hanging up, and sometimes it was like hitting a brick wall inside of ten minutes.
He half wondered if the stupid thing was deliberately fucking with him. Sure, it was a kind of out there idea to think that the D-Rive could deliberately do anything, but at this point, he wasn't going to discount anything.
He was also doing a fantastic job of not really looking into the actual contents of what what's-his-guts had said about corruption and backup drives and all that shit.
An idea struck him.
"Hey, Gelermon," he said, looking over his shoulder as he dumped one more copy of the file. "I want to try something. Can I minimize you for a second?"
"I get the feeling this is going to be a horrendously bad idea," Gelermon said, practically able to sense it in the air. There was a moment of silence, before she grinned. "I'm in."
Sam disconnected the D-Rive from the laptop, and minimized Gelermon into it.
For all he had experimented with it, he had never tried dumping the file with Gelermon minimized into it-- he rarely had her minimized up here in his room at all.
When he plugged the device back into his computer, he dumped the file once again, and with the press of the D-Rive's button, Gelermon re-emerged.
"What? Is that it?" she asked as Sam disconnected his D-rive from the computer. She watched as he opened the first file-- the one he had dumped immediately before minimizing her; it came up with the same error message as usual. "I was expecting a lot more, honestly."
"Did you feel anything?"
"No?" Gelermon said, slightly confused as to what Sam was getting at. "I mean, it felt a little tinglier than usual, but I figure that was just the fact that it was actually connected to--"
As she spoke, Sam attempted to open the second file, and Gelermon was immediately silenced-- not least of all because of the unholy screeching that began emitting from the computer.
It was the most spectacular crash Sam had ever seen in his entire life. We're talking legitimately surprised that the laptop did not begin smoking.
The screeching continued for a good fifteen solid seconds like the vengeful spirits of every 20-year-old printer on the planet; in this span of time, the screen lit up in a torrent of symbols and colours. Windows popped up and closed of their own accord, bands of pixels stuck and un-stuck themselves, and then--
And then it shut down, unceremonious and sudden, like the battery had been pulled out of it.
"Well that's real fuckin' fascinating," Gelermon drawled, eyebrow quirked.
"Ain't it just," Sam said, sitting back and folding his arms. Gelermon peered over at him.
"You're not sleeping anytime soon, are you."
It'd be fair to say that everyone learned a valuable lesson, now that the cruel light of day was shining bright and the news stations had gotten a hold of the footage.
That lesson was 'if you want to keep the fact that there are monsters up in the city under wraps, don't start a fight in the middle of the street with nine-later-eight monsters'.
Not a terribly useful life lesson for the rest of us, no, but that's beside the point.
Yes indeed, if they had ever planned to keep things under wraps, that goal had neatly been shot to pieces. Smaller amounts of damage, minor incidents... those could kind of be brushed off, more or less. The whole, building in downtown going up in flames, thing? ... a little harder to ignore. Sure, there were no good pictures of Meramon-- but pretty much from the moment the digimon had evolved up to champion level, there were more than enough pictures and videos floating around of the fight. The news was going wild, the populace was going wild...
It seemed that all bets were off-- and rest assured, a certain strain of enterprising people were actually making bets.
Yes, Peter knew this last point for a fact, because he had the pathological inability to keep his nose out of things, and he was looking for what was being said, now that the news had had the chance to disseminate.
The only upside he could find was that nobody really seemed to think twice about the humans that had been nearby throughout the monster fight. The monsters themselves were much more interesting than the humans trying not to get their eyebrows burned off, and as a result, none of the photo and video evidence lingered too long on them.
Look, you have to look for the small blessings, okay?
And anyway, there were other things to deal with.
"I-- yeah," Peter said, cradling his phone between his shoulder and his ear. "Yes, I know. Tomorrow, right. I'll be there." He was typing away at his desk. His mother had called, which was always a recipe for-- well, a given value of fun. That is to say, if your given value of fun was the literal opposite of fun, then yeah, it was tons of it.
Initially, when he had seen it was his mother calling, he had been momentarily afraid-- had she seen him in the shaky footage? He knew he was unique in the group as being the only one who had managed to, for all these years, keep his digimon a secret from his family.
(Admittedly, this hadn't been hard-- his mother was forgetful and distracted on the best of days, and Wispmon had been so very, very easy to hide. He had -- grading on a scale -- lucked out.)
"Right. I know, I don't work tomorrow, I already made su--... yes, I know," he said, desperately wanting to be having any other conversation, but his tone was even. "Look, I have to get ready for work." Pause. "Right. I'll see you then."
He ended the call, and sat back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head. "She's going to forget," he said to himself, sighing.
"She remembers sometimes," Banmon said, poking her head up from inside her laundry basket hidey-hole.
"Seventy-to-thirty she forgets, then," Peter ammended dully, tilting his head back and looking up at the ceiling.
"That's still not a hundred percent," Banmon tried, but to be honest, even she wasn't sure why she was trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. "I'm sure it's just hard on her, too."
Peter sighed through his nose as he looked back down-- his eyes drifted from his computer screen, to his D-Rive sitting on his desk, and then finally over at Banmon. He nodded once, at least acknowledging what she had said, even as he moved the subject along himself. "At least I won't have to bring you in a bag this time." Beat. "Assuming you want to come, that is."
"Of course I'll come. Why wouldn't I?"
"I just didn't want to assume," he said, looking back over at the little device. He picked it up and turned it over in his hand, then looked over at Banmon. "You holding up alright? You've seemed a little bit shaken."
Indeed, she had been a bit more withdrawn than usual-- and honestly, if she got any more withdrawn, she was liable to straight up implode.
"I'm not... a fan of the fighting," Banmon said, stating the obvious, then looked over at him. "I'll be fine."
"If you say so," he said, not quite believing her.
my parents haven't said anything either, Natalie said in the group chat. Peter had just remarked on his own mother's total lack of notice. i have no idea if they're somehow unaware or if they're just waiting for a dramatic moment to talk to me about the health risks of monsters.
i wish my mother didnt notice :/ Meghan lamented. she saw a tiny glimpse of me in the footage and practically exploded. every time i go downstairs she goes off again about me running off into danger... :/
Xander snorted. He was laying on his futon, one hand behind his head and the other holding his phone.
how the tits did she recognize you? Xander typed in. i watched that shit too, and it's practically impossible to make out anything between, you know, the fire and the monsters.
my dyed hair? the fact that ibexmon is still pretty recognizably oremon? idk for sure Meghan responded.
pffft. fuck that. sounds like your mom is just crazy Xander replied.
it's not that!! she's just worried, you know?
It's not the least dangerous thing we could be doing. That was Peter, if the proper punctuation and capitalization didn't give him away. Though I don't agree, I can still see why she might be concerned.
Xander almost replied with something about 'cool idea: shut up', but he decided against it. He snorted, setting his phone down as the conversation ticked on without him. He had really only opened his phone to confirm that the plans he had were still a-go.
He glanced over to where Desmon was reclining in her little hammock-net.
"Hey. Desmon. Question."
"That's a dangerous way to start a conversation. Sup?
"You're a girl." Beat. "Kind of." Another beat. "What the fuck do girls like?"
"Cash settlements and mozzarella sticks," Desmon said, with shocking immediacy. Xander paused, sitting up slightly.
"Follow up question: why the fuck did I ask you?"
Desmon snickered. "An excellent follow-up question. At least I didn't say 'cars and money'."
The entire afternoon, Peter's mind was anywhere but on his job.
Well. He usually mentally clocked out somewhere around 30 minutes into his shifts, but this was even more than usual. He felt like his head was in a fog, and he vaguely contemplated the idea of seeing if he could be replaced by one of those custom-order coffee machines that they had around campus at Northwest without sacrificing the efficiency of his job any.
Between thinking about the fight, the news coverage of the fight, Banmon's concern, the interpersonal bullshit with the rest of the group... he had a lot to think about, and the brain-rotting process of his job was actually kind of a godsend. The autopilot was strong in this one, today.
Right up until he came to a grinding halt.
"Iced tea for--," he began reading off, and he stumbled. It wasn't a terribly busy day, so there were only so many people this drink could be for, and when he looked out... well. If it hadn't been less than twenty-four hours past, he likely wouldn't recognize the face at all, but sure as anything, he laid eyes on the girl who had been partnered with the red panda digimon just last night. "Jen."
Was there a single goddamn person in this stupid city who didn't come here for their drinks?
(It's almost like he worked at a very well-known cafe in the university district, where a lot of people around their age frequented even during the summer because it was where half of everything that wasn't downtown was. Weird.)
She was looking down at her phone until he called her name, so she didn't see his awkward moment of realization, for which he was grateful. He momentarily wondered if he was mistaken, right until he saw her furrow her brow and puff out her cheek in obvious thought.
"Have I seen you before?" she asked as she approached the bar, peering at Peter's face, and he fixed his face into its usual flat expression.
"I've worked here for the past year and a half," he said evenly, going for a technical truth. "If you frequent the Lotus, there's a substantial chance you've seen me before." There was a nonzero chance they had seen each other before, after all, but he wasn't fooling either of them.
(Though now that he thought about it, he thought he saw her face in here pretty regularly...)
She didn't quite lunge over the bar, but she did lean forward to get a closer look, and Peter leaned backwards in kind because, hey, personal bubble. "Yoooou were at the fight last night, weren't you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," he said after a moment's worth of pause, and putting her tea on the counter.
"Uh-huh," Jen said, rolling her eyes and picking her tea up. She stood up straight and took a sip of her drink. "Chill, dude, I'm not going to start a fight with you in the middle of a cafe or nothin'."
"You wouldn't be the first if you did," Peter deadpanned, unable to stop himself, and Jen raised an eyebrow, huffing a little bit of a laugh.
"So which one was yours?" she asked, obviously meaning which digimon. Aside from the obvious connection of Natalie and Raumon, courtesy of Ryan, it was easy to not remember which monster went with which twenty-something.
"I decline to answer."
"You're unfathomable, aren't 'ya? Here I am, just tryin' to make some small talk, and you gotta give me the hardass act." She puffed out a cheek in mock indignation. Her tone was casual and conversational-- and she had the slight inflection in her voice that led him to half expect her to end a sentence with eh.
(Just say it, Peter. Canadian. She sounded Canadian. Was this relevant to anything? Not really. Did he notice it anyway, in a way he might not have when they were in the middle of a -- pardon the pun -- firefight? Yes.)
Eh, no point in pretending he really didn't know what she was talking about if she wasn't buying it from the get-go. "You kind of tried to kill my partner last night," Peter said, keeping his voice low. "I think I can be forgiven for not being particularly generous about that."
"It's nothing personal, you know?" Jen said offhandedly-- flippantly. "I don't have anything against you or nothin'."
"Just my best friend."
"Yeah!" Jen said, then paused. "You know, that sounded better in my head."
"I imagine it did," Peter said, curling his lip slightly-- just ever-so-slightly.
"Well, my point stands. It's nothin' against you," she said, shrugging one shoulder and turning. "I'll see you later, I'm sure!"
And like that, she was on her way out the door.
For a few delirious moments, Peter considered flagging her back down and demanding she explain herself, and what she knew, and what she had meant when she had talked about their digimon--
But at that moment, a gaggle of teenage girls entered the café, and he had no choice but to let it go. He sighed through his nose and watched her go.
It definitely gave him food for thought all evening-- as if he didn't already have enough to think about.
He didn't say anything to the rest of the group about it just yet.
When Sam, at around half past seven, messaged the group asking if they could hold a minor meeting at anyone's place ("nothing catastrophically bad just easier to demo than explain"), he figured he'd get the chance to say it anyway.
"Honestly, I'm surprised it didn't catch fire," Sam said, tugging idly at the brim of his cap.
He, Natalie, and Peter were seated on Peter's living room floor; Sam had just finished explaining the first pass of his experiment with the D-Rive, while their respective digimon watched on from a comfortable seat on the couch.
Yes, the digimon were on the couch while the humans sat on the floor.
It was now half-past eight, that same evening. Ian had just left for work and Peter had just gotten home, which meant that he had the most freedom to invite people over right now. Xander had -- to the surprise of nobody ever -- declined the offer to come, and Meghan had also declined, which struck them as a bit odd, but they figured it wouldn't be hard to catch them up. Sam just wanted an audience; neither Natalie nor Peter could deny the sneaking suspicion that the primary reason he had actually come was that he was the one who was calling the meeting.
"What state is the computer in now?" Natalie asked, furrowing her brow.
"See, I'm ahead of you," Sam said, practically bubbling over despite the fact that he looked like he hadn't slept in a while (spoilers: he hadn't)-- he was clearly excited to have the chance to explain. Peter had seen him get something like this before, when they had been exchanging theories before the Strigimon incident, but this was even more so. He sat back, watching.
Sam turned around; he had brought a messenger bag with him, and from within it, he pulled a slightly beat-up looking laptop. "I actually experimented a little bit with it, and I figured it'd be easier to show you than to try and explain it."
"Oh no," Gelermon groaned, anticipating what was about to happen.
"It's going to be loud, isn't it?" Banmon murmured in worry, looking nervously between Sam and Gelermon.
"That's certainly a word for it," Sam said. "You might want to cover your ears." All in attendance followed his advice, and he pulled the laptop open and pressed down the power button.
They immediately understood what he meant when he said he was surprised it didn't catch fire. Just as it had the first night, the computer began screeching and glitching out immediately; this again lasted for maybe fifteen seconds before the computer powered down of its own accord.
"Should make that your wakeup alarm," Raumon said, uncovering his ears nervously. "It'd get you up right quick."
"Never," Gelermon said, grumpily, "again."
"Christ," Natalie said, looking to Sam. "Couldn't just leave that to the imagination, could you?" she said, but on the other side of her, Peter looked more thoughtful.
"I swear I've heard that sound before," Peter said, stroking his chin, but saying that was enough for Natalie to get the hint, and she practically bolted straight upright as she exclaimed.
"That was the noise our D-Rives made when our digimon first evolved!"
There may as well have been a lightbulb floating above her head.
"Okay, I'm not going crazy, then," Sam said, and again, his excitement was palpable. "But if I wanted to just share that, I could have spammed the group chat with a noise file appropos of nothing, just to fuck with you guys."
"Truly, I feel blessed that you didn't," Peter said flatly, arms folded and eyebrow raised in amusement.
"Check it, though," he said, pulling his D-Rive and a cord out of the messenger bag. He pried the cover off of the little USB port on the side of the D-Rive, connected the cord, and plugged it into the side of the laptop.
When he reached for the power button, everyone except for Sam and Gelermon instinctively covered their ears.
However... the computer started up like normal, quiet except for the buzzing of the worn-out fan and the whirr of a too-old laptop resenting the idea of starting up.
"If I were to pull the D-Rive back off," Sam said as everyone cautiously removed their hands from their ears, "it'd go right back to fuck-up town. I can show you if--"
"NO," Natalie said a bit too forcefully as Sam reached for the cord, but the self-satisfied look on his face was evidence enough that he was just fucking with them.
"I'm pretty sure that this thing is functionally bricked, otherwise," Sam said, watching as the computer booted up, slowly but totally normally, "but it was pretty much just a scrapper anyway, so I'm not too hurt about losing it."
Peter found himself distinctly glad that it was Sam, with junky computers to spare, who had been the one who went digging around like this.
"So," Natalie said, speaking out loud as she was swiping her thumb across her phone, obviously copying it down to send for the benefit of the absent duo, "you plugged it in with Gelermon minimized, and it does that if the D-Rive isn't connected."
"Good, you were listening," he said; Natalie and Peter both chose to ignore his snide sarcasm, having gotten to the point where they realized he didn't mean much by it. "Anyway. I'd been thinking a lot about what the douchebag brigade said, and I think that may be related to it."
Peter sat up a bit straighter, paying more attention.
"I mean-- I don't think I'm going to be rocking anyone's world if I say that the digimon are probably at least vaguely technological in nature," Sam said, speaking quickly. "I mean, come on-- Digimon, Digital World, the fact that they explode into pixels, it's not exactly rocket science here to make the supposition--"
"Stay on track," Gelermon prompted, even though the dog would likely have bitch-slapped (heh) anyone else who interrupted Sam in such a way.
"Right. Anyway-- the file that dumps when Gelermon was in it. I can't exactly be sure -- not without checking another digimon outside of our little group here, but somehow I feel like the douchebag brigade," and yes, he was still going with that nickname, "wouldn't be too excited about letting me give it a whirl-- but if you asked me to imagine in bluntest terms what corruption in something digital looked like..."
He gestured at the laptop.
There was a brief but heavy silence as that sank in.
It was a heavy thing to really accept. Sure, they had all heard what they had been told, but that didn't mean it was a real thing. But...
"... do you suppose," Raumon said, tapping his beak, "that that might be why we don't remember anything?"
"What do you mean?" Banmon asked as she, and everyone else in attendenace, turned to look at him.
"Well," Raumon said, "they -- Shitomon and Lurumon and Hulimon I mean -- they seemed to remember us, but unless anyone's lying about what they know-- and I don't think anyone is -- we're still in the dark. Maybe that's why?"
"So... it's true, then?" Banmon said, clearly frowning, even without a visible mouth.
Gelermon seemed less concerned-- and in fact, a bit more dismissive. "Some world-destroying corruption this must be," she snorted, "if all it can do is knock a few memories loose. Come on. Weak."
Banmon looked down at her hands and sighed.
"Sounds like they're having fun," Meghan said, scrolling through the messages on her phone. Natalie was practically liveblogging the information they were finding out, and Meghan was reading out the messages for Xander's benefit.
The two of them were sitting on the hood of Xander's car in the growing-ever-darker parking lot of his apartment building; they were just about to part ways, but they were taking advantage of the temperate evening while they had the chance.
Their having spent the evening hanging out was the cause for their absence (rather, Meghan's-- again, Xander probably wouldn't have gone even if you had paid him). It had been Meghan's idea, unsurprisingly; they had simply met up at the mall nearest to them and had roamed. This had eventually culminated in a particularly heated two-player round of an ancient first-person shooter game in the arcade.
(Meghan was a significantly better shot than Xander was expecting; she had won by a narrow margin, and Xander insisted that it was because his gun was a busted piece of shit. The cabinet was ancient, so it was a viable possibility, but the truth of the matter shall forever be lost to the ages.)
This was not the first time digimon had entered the conversation. It felt like it was on everyone's minds; they had actually heard random people discussing it as they had passed. It was... stressful, to say the least, but it wasn't surprising that the subject had come back around. When Sam had asked about holding a flash meeting, they had figured it was something of the sort.
"What a pain in the dick that sounds like," Xander said, rolling his eyes pointedly as he leaned backwards, supporting himself on his hands. "Doesn't sound like we're missing much."
"Does it really not interest you at all?" Meghan said, setting her phone down next to her.
"It just honestly doesn't matter that much to me," Xander said with a shrug-- and the blunt answer surprised Meghan somewhat.
"I'm guessing there's more to that than just you not being able to muster the give-a-fuck about your digimon?" she said, quirking an eyebrow, and Xander shrugged again.
"Basically the exact opposite of that, actually." When Meghan continued giving him a bemused look, he continued. "Look. far as I care, Desmon could literally be the mortal avatar for the dread god Cthulhu, but that's not gonna change the fact that turning her over to the asshole brigade is going to happen over my cold, dead body. I mean, you practically threw yourself in front of the fox dude for Oremon even with that bullshit about them secretly being fuckin' Satan spawn or whatever."
He shrugged. "I'd rather not waste time trying to get to the bottom of shit when it's not going to help, and the alternative is we get in, take care of the monster shit, and be out of there before we get caught on the goddamn evening news again."
Meghan paused as she thought. "I guess I see your point," she conceded. "A bit blunt, but I suppose I can appreciate it."
Xander got the distinct impression, a second too late, that that sentence meant more than one thing.
Before he could commentate, Meghan stretched her arms above her head and slid off of the hood of Xander's car.
"I should get going before my mother puts out a missing person alert or something."
Xander snorted, but nodded. "Yeah, I'd rather not deal with a suburban white housewife gettin' on my case."
Meghan's mother -- Meg herself had explained -- had very strong feelings on the digimon attacks-- and had spent most of her afternoon handwringing about it and wavering between worry and anger. She had related to Xander how she had actually had to show her D-Rive's deactivated radar (and explain what that meant) before she calmed down enough to not panic about Meghan heading out for this little excursion.
(Which, frankly, Xander thought was bullshit, but considering he hadn't spoken to his parents in years, he realized he may not exactly be the model to turn to.)
Meghan huffed a little bit of a laugh. "I'll see you later," she said over her shoulder as she crossed over to where she had parked her own car. Xander stayed where he was, watching; he could see the flash of orange light as Oremon materialized out of her D-Rive the moment he could appear in the shotgun seat. Oremon folded his arms, which was basically his defualt stance, but he at least nodded in acknowledgement as Meghan tossed a little wave out the window as they left.
A familiar burst of blue light accompanied Desmon appearing on the car hood beside him.
"Way to go, you charmer, you," Desmon said slyly, and he could practically hear the grin in her voice.
"Show me where I asked for your opinion."
"Right around the point you said you'd still kick ass over me if I were a Lovecraftian horror. My opinion is now valid in all circumstances."
Xander shoved her off the hood of his car.
Much later, long after everyone had cleared out and normal, sane people had gone to bed, not everyone had the luxury of being asleep.
Peter didn't realize how late it was until he heard the muffled sound of Ian getting home around four in the morning, and the accompanying shafts of light that poured under his door.
It had been one of those nights where he wasn't laying awake by any means, but any sleep he got was spotty at best. Any time he closed his eyes, he had no way of knowing if thirty seconds, thirty minutes, or three hours had passed by the time he opened them back up.
One of those nights.
He forced a sigh through his nose. At least he didn't have work tomorrow-- today? Today.
Not that that was a blessing. He wasn't looking forward to-- well. Let's be real, he probably wasn't actually going to see his mother. She'd either forget or flake out on him, and he'd be left going to the cemetery alone. He didn't even particularly like going, but the fact that he was the only one who consistently did was still... frustrating.
He sat up, watching as the lights in the living room shut off again as Ian retreated into his own room, likely to go collapse into sleep.
Peter slid out of bed, doing his best to keep quiet so as not to disturb Banmon-- which, as it turned out, might not have been necessary. He looked at her usual hiding place in her designated laundry basket, but he saw no bundle of beige fabric and smoke.
Well. That was slightly disconcerting.
He grabbed his D-Rive off of his bedside table and began opening the radar, practically out of instinct.
The little glowing shape resembling Banmon's head was still smack in the middle; off to the side, he saw the little Ratamon dot cut across a corner of the radar. He wasn't sure what he had been expecting.
He cast a look up at the window. Because they lived in the basement part of the duplex, the window was high on the wall-- it was at ground level from the outside. The view, as a result, wasn't terribly impressive, not least of all because of the tree that took up a goodly amount of said view.
Not even bothering with his glasses, Peter pulled on a t-shirt and a proper pair of shorts over his boxers before he carefully crept out into the living room, D-Rive still in hand. Ian was probably already asleep, and he slept like the fucking dead, so he wasn't terribly worried about waking him up, but old habits die hard. He slipped a pair of sandals on before he very gingerly made his way outside. He circled around through the grass to the tree outside his window, and if he looked really hard, he could see tan fabric hidden in the boughs.
(He couldn't deny the sense of relief he felt when his hunch was right.)
(He also couldn't deny that maybe he should have put his glasses on, but it was too late now.)
"Hey," he said quietly once he was immediately under the tree. Though he wasn't looking up, the sudden rustle of leaves even though there was very little wind would seem to indicate that Banmon was given quite a start.
"I didn't know you were awake," Banmon's voice drifted down out of the trees after a second.
"Only in the broadest sense of the word," Peter admitted, leaning against the tree and sighing. He felt like shit; he was awake only by the process of elimination. "You doing alright?"
There was another moment before Banmon answered. In this moment, she poked her head out of the branches and looked around, making sure there were no onlookers, before she drifted down, floating next to her partner.
"I don't know," she said.
Peter hummed quietly, but didn't push.
"I--" Banmon said without prompting, shaking her head. She paused, trying to find words, and she looked at Peter, worry on her face. "Do you think we're doing the right thing?"
"What do you mean?"
"If this really is all our fault," she said, choosing her words carefully. "If there's all this that we don't remember. If we are what they say we are, then... do you really think we're doing the right thing?"
"I mean-- I mean, you heard what the girl said," Banmon said, and Peter had kind of forgotten that Banmon -- who had been in his D-Rive at the time -- would have heard his conversation with Jen. "They don't have anything against you. It's just... us." She sighed. "You could stop worrying about all of this, and I'm sure it would be better for-- for the digital world, if you just--"
"That's not going to happen," Peter said, cutting her off before she could even finish the thought. He looked at his D-Rive, held loosely in one hand. There absolutely had to be more to it-- these little doohickeys were proof positive of that, as far as he was concerned.
"Besides, if I decided to tap out now, then I'd be the biggest hypocrite in the world," he added, and Banmon laughed at least a little-- that was good. He looked over at her.
"I just-- if the corruption is the reason we don't remember anything," Banmon said, "then-- I just... I wonder what it is we did, and why-- why us."
"In the past fifteen years," Peter said, quirking an eyebrow, "you've been by far the gentlest, most sensitive individual I've ever known, human or otherwise. Either you were the same person, or that's not the person you are now."
Banmon paused, looking down at her hands.
"I guess..." she sighed. "I just... don't know whether or not I want to know what happened. Or what might happen because of it."
Peter couldn't help himself:
"I know." He sighed heavily. "But either way. Nothing's going to happen to you as long as I have any say in it."
They went quiet, allowing their thoughts to sit while they enjoyed the cool air of the early morning; the birds were beginning to start up, and Banmon cast a slightly nervous look up at the birds' nest in the tree she had been hiding in.
"Are you doing alright?" she asked after a little while, looking at Peter, and he looked slightly surprised for a moment that she asked. "I know you must be thinking about--"
"Yeah," he said, lifting and dropping one shoulder in a half-shrug and not letting her finish her sentence. "Wanna go back inside? Some sleep is better than none."
Banmon frowned, knowing full well that there was a lot on her partner's mind that he wasn't saying. "Alright."
Peter sighed heavily, looking down at his phone. He had slept, but not nearly enough; the shadows under his eyes stood as testament to that. It was early afternoon, now; the sun was shining, the birds are singing, and exactly as he had expected, his mother was nowhere to be found. He had been waiting by the gates for almost forty-five minutes, holding out hope, and said hope was starting to wear thin. In years past, he might have tried calling her or messaging her; now, he didn't bother trying.
"You know," he said, speaking to himself and the unseen audience of Banmon, safely minimized in his D-Rive, "I'm not sure why I even bother. Nobody would care if I didn't come."
He'd know, though.
Dammit. He'd just go himself.
He stuffed his hands into his pockets as he crossed through the lines of stones and grave markers and tall, dark trees, his feet on autopilot.
He came to a stop in front of the familiar marker, and he looked around. He was alone; it was a bright and sunny July day, nobody wanted to spend a day like this in a graveyard.
He held his D-Rive loosely in one hand, and he looked down at it, and then around himself. "Banmon, if you want to come out, you can. Nobody's going to see you."
There were a few seconds wherein Banmon hesitated, before she materialized in a burst of white light, and Peter looked sidelong at her, nodding. She nodded back.
Peter sighed, sitting down in the dirt, and Banmon drifted down next to him, settling on the ground among the leaves and the scrubby grass. She curled up next to him, saying nothing but keeping him company for as long as he sat.
He wasn't sure how long he had been sitting there in silence when his D-Rive lit up. He had practically forgotten he was holding it.
He almost wanted to scream, but instead he muttered, "why now?"
He turned to look to the sky, and he could already see two flying shapes over the tops of the trees, and he sighed, minimizing Banmon, just in case.
The freak of the week (... wait, it was the second digimon attack that week. The freak of the day didn't have as nice a ring to it, though) was a large red eagle with huge curved black horns, name of Aquilamon.
It was a weird, weird turn of affairs that they considered themselves lucky that Aquilamon had a bone to pick with them-- because it meant it was really easy to pull somewhere they wouldn't have as much of an audience at 1 in the afternoon. They were really desperate to avoid another scene if at all possible, for whatever reason.
Corymon had actually managed to lead it here-- a slightly wooded area that was, if memory served, near the cemetery. Here, Doctorimon was ready to head the eagle off.
(After all, who would be hanging around in the cemetery on a day like this?)
They had had to come up with the plan very quickly, and Xander hadn't been terribly enthused about it, but seeing as he was the one who had seen the emergent on his radar first...
Well, they made do.
Doctorimon hurled his rose like a dagger and it struck true, and Aquilamon growled as it fell to the ground, snapping a few tree branches in the process.
"Dirty tricks," Aquilamon growled. "Nothing more than I'd expect of filth like--"
It didn't get to finish its insult, as it exploded into pixels.
Natalie came jogging through the trees as Corymon, with Xander clinging tight to her back, alighted down next to Doctorimon. "Well, that could have gone worse," Natalie said; Doctorimon nodded curtly.
"Not a fan of this passenger fighting thing," he remarked flatly, dusting himself off as he let go of the death grip he had on Corymon's mane.
"Like I'd let you fall," Corymon said cheerfully, and she began to glow as she reverted back to Desmon. Doctorimon followed suit. It hadn't been a terribly difficult encounter; the real problem had just been trying to lead it out here without being seen, but they had more or less succeeded.
This desire not to be seen was a big factor in the fact that that all in attendance nearly had a heart attack as they heard footsteps coming their way. Xander and Natalie prepared to minimize their digimon-- but they relaxed substantially when the familiar face of Peter came traipsing through the trees instead, with Banmon floating cautiously after him.
"Aw, he's late, missed all the fun," Xander said dryly, relaxing less than Natalie did.
"Shame," Desmon chimed in.
"Somehow," Peter said flatly, "I think I'll survive." He looked around, lips pressed tight until he spoke. "That was you, I take it?"
Natalie frowned, furrowing her brow-- she could sense something off, something about the stiffer than usual way in which Peter held himself, or maybe the shadows under his eyes that practically broadcasted that he was tired, or--
Maybe the fact that he was here, even though she and Xander hadn't coordinated their makeshift plan in the group chat?
Raumon had the same thought, apparently. He stroked his beak in thought and furrowed his brow, but said nothing. He didn't need to, because there was another pair far too willing to speak up.
"Sure was," Xander said, shoving his hands in his pockets.
"Am I needed here, or do you have it all under control?" Peter asked, looking to Natalie instead of Xander.
"What, are we interrupting your free time or something?" Xander interrupted anyway, raising an eyebrow. He very deliberately chose the words that Peter had snapped at him over mere days ago.
Peter definitely noticed it, and he turned his gaze onto him. Instead of saying anything, he merely stared for a moment, an unspoken are you done?.
Xander was slightly taken aback, and he curled his lip just slightly.
"Hey, it was just a question," he said, voice dripping condescension, shrugging one shoulder.
"Dude, now may not be a good time," Natalie said cautiously, taking a half-step back; the tension was downright palpable, and Xander was doing something that would charitably called making it worse.
"Hey, if he's gonna give me shit for it, I'm gonna give him shit."
"You could try not giving each other shit at all, you know," Natalie said, but she had the feeling that this was a fruitless endeavor.
"It's different," Peter said curtly, looking icily at Xander.
"Oh, I'm sure, seeing as your free time is more important than everyone else's," Xander cut back, confirming Natalie's suspicion that her attempts to de-escalate were useless. "Go on. Piss off, see how much I care."
Banmon squeaked ineffectually, every inch of her smoky body desperately broadcasting that she'd like nothing more than to not be here. Peter said nothing, nodding an acknowledgement to Natalie and he turned to leave, stiffly turning around to go back the way he came.
"Man," Desmon said, "he's really playin' up the ice queen bit today, isn't he?" She sounded at least a little bit more sympathetic, but that wasn't saying much-- sounding more sympathetic than Xander was not difficult.
Xander snorted. "Probably pissed that he's having to take time away from whatever the fuck he does with his spare time. Condescend to people about shitty music, probably. Cry me a river."
"Do you ever, like, turn that off, or do you just say whatever comes to mind?" Natalie asked out loud, looking at Xander with a quirked eyebrow.
"Mostly the latter option, yeah," Xander said. At least he was honest about it...?
Peter didn't seem to appreciate the honesty, though, as he had turned back around and was walking back, presumably to retaliate to Xander's comment.
He looked like he was thinking what the best comeback would be-- what biting, laconic thing he could say to really cut Xander down to size.
Instead, he hauled off and lunged for Xander, swinging at his face with a closed fist.
It happened so quickly that even Peter himself didn't seem to see it coming, and he was the one doing it. He had a few inches on Xander in height, yes, but Xander was significantly more solidly built, so the element of surprise was undoubtedly key in the relative success of this attack.
Desmon was, uncharacteristically, struck dumb.
"Peter--!" Banmon cried from behind, looking like she was about to cry.
"Oh my god--!" Natalie yelped, stumbling backwards a few feet and almost falling on her ass in her surprise; Raumon practically puffed up his feathers as he, too, jumped back.
Xander, though, didn't wait, immediately coming back with a swing of his own, having at least the decency to punch Peter in the stomach instead of the face. Wouldn't deck a guy with glasses in the face, at least! ... no, no, wait, yes he would. What's going to pass for lucky is the fact Peter's glasses they flew off his face when Xander's fist connected.
They began to exchange blows, but luckily, they didn't get far-- once the shock had worn off, their partners were quick to and intervene. (After all, if they got in a scrap, that was one thing, but humans totally weren't supposed to be the ones fighting-- let alone with each other.)
"Xander!" Desmon yelled, flapping up and grabbing a hold of her partner's shoulders with her feet, and she leapt backwards, flapping and physically wrenching him back.
Banmon, too, intervened-- she threw her arms out, wrapping her hands around Peter's upper arms and pulling him back. Raumon bolted to pick Peter's glasses off the ground-- they were a little dirtier now than they had been, but luckily enough the worst damage they had sustained was a tiny bit of bend in one arm.
"Could you keep your mouth shut for two seconds!?" Peter yelled, his cool officially gone. "Or is it that hard for you to not hear your own voice!?"
"I'm not the one who suddenly fucking psycho snapped over being called a hipster!" Xander spat back, glaring. He wrenched himself free of Desmon's grip, but he stood solid, and didn't try to lunge at Peter again. He rolled his shoulders, and Banmon slowly released Peter.
"You have no idea what you're talking about," Peter snapped, gritting his teeth.
"Oh, do enlighten me," Xander said, making a terribly sarcastic, sardonic bow. Peter stared at him-- and said nothing.
Raumon cautiously approached Peter to hand over his glasses; he took them with a simple, tense nod. Then, without a word, he spun on his heel and walked away, not even waiting for Banmon.
The little ghost visibly panicked.
"I'm sorry!" she cried, before taking off after her partner.
"What the hell was that," Desmon said, quiet and confused and shockingly sober of tone.
"I think you may have struck a nerve," Raumon said matter-of-factly, stating the blazingly obvious.
Xander folded his arms and snorted derisively, but Natalie rounded on him.
"You realize he was probably here for a reason, right?" she said. "Like, did that occur to you at all?"
"So he's a creepy fucking hipster who hangs around near cemeteries, big whoop," Xander muttered, but Natalie fixed him with a hard stare, and he, entirely too belatedly, shut his mouth.
"You know, she would have been nineteen today," Peter said as he trudged back to the gravemarker he had been sitting at before... that uncomfortable digression. He didn't know why he was going back now -- but he felt like he had to leave on a better note than that.
The way he spoke, it was like that little altercation hadn't happened at all.
"I'm sorry," Banmon said.
"Not-- that anything here is my fault, just... in general..." she trailed off as she drifted behind him, and he went quiet in thought again. "I don't know."
"You're fine," Peter said, and he meant it, no matter how distant his tone was.
He had always felt like there was something to the fact that not even half a year after losing his sister, Wispmon had appeared in a little ball of cloth and smoke.
Even when he was six, he had quickly dismissed the idea that Wispmon was actually his little sister's ghost. Mariah had been loud and rambunctious and adventurous, while Wispmon had always been bashful and quiet and mild. Even a wild-eyed kid who, let's be real, didn't entirely understand the full impact of what was going on could tell the difference.
It didn't change the fact that for a long time, he had always felt there was some kind of a connection-- a reason for it.
He still remembered eavesdropping on the conversation between the doctors and his parents, and how much he hadn't understood at the time; it had been a problem with her heart, and apparently they had known from the time she was born that she was likely to be a ticking time bomb, and...
You know. It was just a lot, and his understanding as a six year old boy had been lacking at best. She had only been four.
(Maybe part of his obsession with finding out all of these why and how and what was the manifestation of all this coming back out again, now that he really had the chance to understand Banmon had come to him.)
Or something like that, anyway.
He would never say it, but he was already feeling a pang of regret that he had lost his temper like that. He had always prided himself on his self-control, but...
He maintained that they had to work together. They were in this together for a reason. He was more convinced of that than ever, with all the new information they had recieved recently, but... dammit, dammit, dammit, Xander just had to pick at that wound today. He had to try and pick a fight, and...
"Do you want to go home?" Banmon asked quietly. Peter sighed, raising a hand to his cheek where Xander had punched him back. It was probably going to bruise.
He really only had himself to blame.
"Yeah. Fuck it, yeah."