Strings of Wind

By: Jesanae Tekani

I don't own Digimon or any characters from it. All I own is the one character I made up.

........What's that sound?" Yamato Ishida listened hard, trying to discern the cause of the noise over Tai's bright response.
........"What's what sound? I didn't hear anything." The noise stopped abruptly, and Matt wondered if he had imagined it. Tai gave him no time to reflect on this. "Besides, why're you worrying about some noise? You're supposed to be looking for a good place to camp!" Matt shrugged, and they kept on walking. In a moment, he stopped and pointed off to the left.
........"There's a clearing here that looks good. Let's camp there." Mimi groaned.
........"Oh, good. I need somewhere to rest my poor achy feet. Joe looked apprehensive.
........"Are you guys sure it's safe? I mean, we could all be attacked in our sleep. We should make sure it's safe before we set up camp." Tai snorted derisively.
........"Don't be such a worrywort, Joe. Of course it's safe."
........Matt kept silent, not wanting to get into another argument with everyone. He hoped Tai was right.
........Insects hummed as day faded into dusk. The crackling fire was burning high as Tai, the pyromaniac, continually and unnecessarily fed it twigs and dry leaves. The Digimon were already asleep, tired out from the walk and not possessing of Tai's boundless energy.
........Matt stayed off to one side of the clearing, ignoring everyone else's talk, and began to play his harmonica. Gradually, the conversation died down, and the only sound was the instrument, creating a strange harmony with the ever-present humming of the insects.
........He just played, letting the harmonica choose the melody, and thought about nothing and everything. He remained so until Tai's bright tenor crushed the silence.
........"Hey, we're trying to sleep here. Can you knock it off?"
........~I will NOT fight with Tai. I will NOT fight with Tai.~ Matt forced himself to keep any and all barbed comments from surfacing. He put the harmonica carefully back in his pocket and got ready for bed. He couldn't remember what he had been thinking about, but he guessed it hadn't been important.
........Although he was exhausted, he found sleep to be curiously elusive. ~Of all the nights to have insomnia. Might as well go for a walk.~ He got up, dusted off his pants, and headed silently towards the stream they had discovered close by.
........It was unnaturally calm, the stream flowing lazily and soundlessly wherever it might be going. Matt dipped his hands in the cool water and took a long draught. ~Better. Maybe I can sleep now.~ A sound from his right nearly sent him plunging into the stream. He threw his balance backwards, gracelessly scrambling to keep from falling. As he recovered his equilibrium, he concentrated on the sound. ~Is that someone-- singing?~ He crept towards the noise. It became more audible as he got closer to a break in the trees. He peered through to another clearing.
........A person sat on the ground, strains of music spiraling from its mouth. The figure wore dirty, stained cutoff jean-shorts and a ragged black tank top. What looked like a leopard-print bandana circled the figure's head, holding back a cloud of black hair. ~A girl?~
........She didn't appear to have noticed him. A backpack and a large black case lay on the ground near her. ~I'd better tell the others.~ Matt quietly retreated, but a twig snapped, and her head jerked up. She hastily flipped her hair back, jumping into a defensive crouch.
........"Who's there?" she demanded, voice as harsh as a raven's cry. "Who are you? Come out!" Matt tensed, then stood and entered the clearing. She eyed him warily. "Who are you?" she repeated, more forcefully. He felt slightly awkward.
........"I'm Yamato Ishida. Who're you?"
........"Jesanae Tekani. Who wants to know?" A slanting beam of moonlight hit her, and Matt got a good look at her face.
........It was oval, with high cheekbones and upswept eyebrows. Her nose was long and straight, and the soft mouth was offset by a stubborn chin. Her eyes were large, and a startling, deep amber. He wasn't sure, but he thought he detected a ghost of a dimple in her left cheek. Her face was bruised, the cheeks hollow and gaunt. It was pale, and the moonlight lent it an ethereal quality. The eyes held the haunted look of a cornered animal, wild and terrified, coupled with a ferocity that made him step back.
........"Well?" she demanded. "I'm not gonna wait around if you don't start talking!" Matt opened his mouth, and at the same time, a call was heard from the camp.
........"What's goin' on? Who're you talkin' to? Yourself again?" Sounds like those of a drunk elephant heralded Tai's blundering arrival through the bracken. He looked at Jesanae. "Who're you? What happened to your clothes, did you fall out of a tree or somethin'?" Everyone else, drawn by the ruckus, stumbled sleepily into view.
........Jesanae's crouch deepened and tensed with each new arrival, and she watched as though she were estimating how many she could drag screaming into Hell with her. She relaxed slightly when she saw T.K. and Kari, but didn't move from her stance.
........"Hey, I said, who are you?" Matt groaned. Tai was many things, but a diplomat was not one of them.
........"Jesanae Tekani, and I'm not sayin' it again!" Tai strode boldly forward into the clearing.
........"What're you doing here?"
........"Stop! Right there!"
........"Oh yeah? What for?"
........"I said HOLD IT!" She executed a graceful leap, decking Tai with her heel and landing in the same crouch in one fluid movement. Tai, uninjured but indignant, scrambled to his feet.
........"Hey! What was that for?"
........"Back off, pal, or you're gonna get hurt!"
........"We don't wanna fight." T.K. walked hesitantly up. "We just wanna know what you're doing. Can we just be friends?" Jesanae stared at the little kid for a second, then a tiny smile worked its way to her mouth. To Matt's intense relief, she dropped to her knees.
........"Sure we can. Sorry about all this. Although I'm not sorry about him." Everybody flocked around, myriad questions and comments forming a confused jumble.
........"I wouldn't be caught dead in clothes that dirty!"
........"That was a neat trick. Can you show me?"
........"I was of the understanding that we were the only humans present in the Digiworld. What conjunction of circumstances brought you here at this point in time?"
........"Why the heck did you kick me?"
........"Are you gonna hurt us? Don't break my glasses!"
........"Where did you come from?"
........Matt could think of absolutely nothing to say. Jesanae looked less wary, and somehow vulnerable. The Digimon wisely kept mostly quiet, although Agumon looked upset.
........"You can all call me Jesse. First person who calls me Jess is gonna regret it. It’s not my fault they're filthy, maybe I'll show you how to do that later, I don't know how I got here, I kicked you because you pissed me off, I ain't gonna hurt you if you ain't gonna hurt me, and I came from Tokyo. That answers all of your questions. Now you answer mine. Just what the hell are you doing here? I thought I was alone! And who are you?" Tai introduced everyone, and they all shook hands with Jesse.
........"We're the Digidestined, these are our Digimon, and we're here 'cause we gotta save the Digiworld. What about you?"
........"I don't have a clue what you're babbling about! I told you, I don't know what kind of weird shit brought me here or why! Right now, I'm an angry, tired, hungry, and irritated black-belt, so I don't want any more questions!
........"But--" Tai's mouth snapped abruptly closed as Jesse glared at him. Matt had never seen anyone shut Tai up that fast without punching him. T.K. grinned.
........"You want some food?" She smiled.
........Later, they all curled again around the guttering campfire to catch a few last hours of sleep. Matt, unable to do so, stayed sitting by the embers, thinking about Jesse. She confused him. Her reaction to him, to Tai, to the others. To clear his head, he brought out his harmonica again and began to play softly. When his fatigue began to catch up with him, he fell asleep by the glowing coals, harmonica in his hand. He did not see Jesse watching him.
........They walked the entire next day, with little or no talk, although there was much grumbling from Mimi and Joe. It wasn’t until they camped for the night that anybody really talked to anybody. No one else seemed to want to risk talking to Jesse, so Matt ventured a cautious conversation start.
........“Where did you live before you came here? Heighten View Terrace? I used to live there.” He looked at her, and immediately knew that he had picked the wrong subject. He was about to tell her to forget it when she answered him.
........“I didn’t live anywhere. I don’t have a home.”
........“What?” Matt said, even though he had heard perfectly well.
........“I lived mostly in the park. I ran away from home. My parents were not the best of people, and it was rough. I scrounged, did a lot of busking.” She mentioned towards the black case he had noticed the night before. “I didn’t know much in the way of work, except karate and stuff like that. I lived in the park for two years.” Her next comment floored him. “I liked it.” He gasped like a drowning fish, floundering for something to say. He sensed that this was not the safest of subjects. “I learned some good lessons there. How to take care of myself, use my head, live alone. Then I made my own family.”
........“Um, if you don’t wanna talk about it--” Instantly, anger flared in her face.
........“I thought maybe I’d found someone who wanted to listen! Nobody listens! And now you don’t wanna hear any more!” She balled her fists.
........“I didn’t mean it that way--”
........“Don’t get near me, you bastard!” She stood, rigid, and stomped off towards the edge of the clearing.
........“But--I just thought YOU didn’t want to bring it up! I do want to hear! I didn’t--”
........“Shut UP, damn you!” She paused in mid-stomp. “You do?”
........“Uh, sure!” She was immediately contrite.
........“I’m sorry. I have a temper. Lately it’s been coming out more often.” She returned to her prior spot and resumed her story. “I went out and looked for others without homes, organized them, brought them together. They became my family. We were a tight bunch, the eight of us, none of us over fourteen. Some of them didn’t even remember what their names had been, so we all had new names, just for the group. J-chan, Saki-chan, Wu-chan, Ikumi-chan, Kasu-chan, Joae-chan, Mamu-chan, Sasami-chan. Then one time, Ikumi-chan and I were off street busking. She played flute. While we were gone, the others got involved in some sort of gang fight with some men. There were guns. None of them made it. Ikumi-chan ran off, swearing she’d hunt down the men and kill them. I never saw her again.”
........“How long ago?”
........“Four months. I got here a week ago.”
........“I was in the park, moving out, and had all my stuff with me. It was night. Nobody else was there. I saw a shooting star, but it landed practically on top of me, and it wasn’t a star at all. I picked it up. There was wind, and lightning, and water, and I was falling. And I was here.” She stood. “And I’m going to bed.
........She left him to his thoughts.
........“Hahaha! This is fun!”
........T.K. laughed with delight as Jesse swung him around by his hands, her momentum carrying him higher than waist level and menacing Tai’s hair as he ate breakfast. Tai scowled and ducked repeatedly, but, amazingly enough, stayed quiet for once. Matt savored his silence. For some reason, only Tai’s annoying chatter could effectively jar him from his thoughts, and he had more leeway to think this way.
........~I used to feel sorry for ME.~ He wondered if he would have been tough enough to take that kind of abuse. ~Probably not. Maybe. But probably not.~
........He stood.
........“I’m going to get a drink. Anyone else coming?” Jesse put T.K. down and yawned.
........“Sure. You comin’ too, T.K.?”
........“Naw, I’m not thirsty. Hurry back, OK? I was havin’ fun!”
........“Sure, Squirt.” She cast a disparaging glance at Tai. “YOU’RE not coming, are you?”
........“What, you wanna be alone w--”
........“Let’s go, Matt,” she said, nonchalantly strolling off in the general direction of the pool. Matt was glad Tai was not coming. He still had some questions left that he had not thought to ask. He did so as they headed into the trees.
........“Do you have a Digimon?”
........“Since I don’t know what that is, I’m betting no.”
........“Like Gabumon. A little talking animal. Don’t let him know I called him that.”
........“No.” Jesse looked at him curiously. “Should I?”
........“Um,” he said intelligently, “we all did when we came here. I just thought that maybe you would too.”
........“Maybe it hasn’t found me yet,” she said, rather defensively. “I’m sure I have one somewhere, if you all do.”
........“O-kay. I also wanted to know what kind of instrument was in that case. You mentioned it, but not what it was.”
........“A violin. You play?”
........“No. I play this, though.” He pulled it out.
........“I heard you.”
........“Two nights ago.”
........“Oh. O-kay. Sure.”
........It was quiet until the next day.
........Tai was cooking, and his phony French accent grated on Matt’s nerves. And everyone else’s. Jesse was visibly restraining herself from either injuring him or shutting his mouth with duct tape. ~It’d be fun to watch. And he’d shut up.~ He conjured a mental image of his ‘fearless leader’ with duct tape all over his face, trussed up with more of the same. He laughed. Jesse gave him a look.
........“What’s so funny?”
........“Oh, I was just thinking it’d be cool if--” He never finished his sentence, for at that moment, SOMETHING appeared from nowhere, towering, blotting out the sun in an instant. It formed itself into a grotesque shape, appendages sticking out at odd, unnatural angles. It was the color of old blood.
........Mimi let loose a bloodcurdling shriek and ran as fast as she could towards the rest of them, Palmon trailing in her wake. The thing stood motionless for a moment, then moved faster than any of them could see, swooping down and scooping with one giant claw. It vanished as though it had never been.
........“What the fuck was THAT?” Jesse asked incredulously. Matt didn’t hear. He looked around wildly.
........“T.K.! Where’s T.K.?”
........“And Kari!” Tai yelled. “KARI!”
........“And Patamon and Gatomon are missing, also!” observed Biyomon.
........Jesse sprang to her feet. “We have to find out where that thing took them!”
........“I’ll go!” Matt didn’t get four feet before he was tripped flat on his face by Jesse.
........“What are you talking about? We’ll ALL go!”
........“He’s my little brother! I have to get him back!”
........“No listen here--” She stopped abruptly. “He’s your little brother?”
........“Yes! Tai forgot to tell you?”
........“Well, you were the one giving introductions! And that doesn’t matter now! Let’s GO!”
........“Fine! I’m going too, no arguments!”
........“I don’t care anymore! Just come on!”
........Piedmon watched the children’s antics with amusement. It almost disappointed him how easy it had been. Take away their most vulnerable parts, and the rest become just as weak. He snapped his fingers, and a tiny Digimon appeared.
........“Lord Piedmon?”
........“Bring Cholimon to me.”
........“Yes, Lord Piedmon!” The Digimon scampered away. In a moment, Cholimon appeared, it’s irregular shape shifting to accommodate the narrow doorway. The eyes, a bright aquamarine, focused on Piedmon and flickered questioningly.
........“Do not do anything as yet. They are merely the bait.” The eyes turned from aqua to a deep brown. “No, we cannot afford to damage them. We need them intact, but only until those other fool wander onto my elaborately set stage.” The eyes grew larger and shifted to a deep, glowing red. Piedmon smiled. “Good. Good. I should love to see that drama unfold.”
........Jesse plopped down on the forest floor, exhausted beyond belief. Matt and Tai both refused to get any sleep, and only under pain of extreme pain had they agreed to stop at all. Jesse needed time to think.
........~I wonder why they didn’t tell me. If I’d known that was his little brother--well, maybe I would have acted differently, but what’s done is done.~ She wondered briefly why T.K. being Matt’s brother bothered her more than Kari being Tai’s sister, could come up with no answer. Disturbed she picked up her violin case and headed to a distance where she felt she was safely out of sight and earshot. She raised the violin to her chin, but all the songs she knew seemed to have deserted her. Slowly, she began.
........It was a new melody, her own, original, coming from somewhere she didn’t know existed, rising above the trees to the sky and beyond. Its delicate timbre and subtle harmonies filled the clearing, and there seemed to be a hush as she played, as thought the forest listened. The haunting tune touched even her with its beauty; a sweet, aching longing, melting into the night, tangible and yet as unreachable as the stars. It built to a climax, an impossible, defiant height, and the last note seemed to shatter the still air, then fade away into nothing.

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