"It Could Have Gone Worse (but not much)"


           Takuya paced nervously outside the door.

          “This was such a bad idea.” He muttered.  He glanced down the street.  Maybe it wasn’t too late to make a break for it.    He glanced back at the house.  It wouldn’t really be fair for him to run off now.  He raised a hand to knock and then dropped it.

          “I can’t do it.” He hung his head, ashamed, and turned to walk away.  He heard a sound behind him – the creak of a door opening.

          “Takuya!” The cheerful voice froze him in his tracks.  “I’m almost ready, let me just grab my coat!”  He turned and met a heart stopping smile.  He smiled back weakly.


          She had to have noticed that he was facing away from her door.  But she hadn’t said anything.  The look in her eyes said that she understood and that it was okay.  It was odd, but that actually made him relax. Maybe he had been silly to worry in the first place. This was his friend, he didn’t have to impress her or deceive her, she wasn’t going to hate him when this was over.  It was okay.  He just needed to be himself.  It was just a date! He could handle this.

          Just as he finished his mental pep talk she reappeared. 

          “I’m ready.” She shot him another dazzling smile.

          Takuya swallowed and gave her a smile of his own, nervous but genuine. “m-me too.” He stuttered.  Oh that sounded convincing.

          She laughed, “Well, yeah silly.  You’re here, so I kinda figured that much.”

          “Oh, yeah.” He laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his head.


          Takuya stared at her blankly.  Then he realized she wanted to go, and she was waiting on him.  That was the point after all.  To go out.

          “Right, let’s go.”

          She nodded then stuck her head through the door.  “Mom!  Takuya’s here, I’m going.”

          “Alright Zoe!  Don’t be too late.” Her mother called from somewhere in the house.

          “I won’t!” With that Zoe shut the door behind her and turned to Takuya once more.

          “Um… shall we.” He indicated for her to walk beside him and they started down the street.

          Zoe smiled, enjoying the walk, and his company, but after a few moments she broke the silence.  “Umm… Takuya,” he looked up at her, “This is nice and all, but, weren’t we going to go anywhere?”

          “Of course.”

          “Where?” she smiled at his unease.  What was with boys anyway?  They’d known each other for years, and now he was being all weird just because of the word ‘date’.

          “Well, you said the other day you missed the digital world so I thought maybe,”

          “Oh Takuya!” she threw her arms around him, “You’re taking me to the digital world!  You’re the best!” 

          “Uh, yeah..” he said slowly, turning bright red. Zoe still hadn’t let him go.  “Uh, Zoe…?”

          Zoe looked at him inquisitively and then suddenly realized what she had done.  “Oh my!” she turned scarlet and quickly removed her arms from his neck.

          “Uh…” she nervously tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

          Takuya cleared his throat and continued, ignoring the whole scene “Yeah, so, I though we might go there and have a picnic.  Bokomon promised to have a basket waiting for us.”

          “That’s great.” Zoe’s enthusiasm was returning and her embarrassment faded.  This was going to be a great day!


          Takuya rolled his eyes.  Bokomon just wouldn’t shut up.  He appreciated being… well, appreciated, but the little digimon had to have something better to do with his time than gush about Takuya’s greatness.  Takuya cast a sideways glance at Zoe.  She was being a good sport, but she obviously was ready to go.  This was supposed to be a date for cryin’ out loud, not a reunion!

          Setting his jaw in determination Takuya grabbed the basket from Bokomon, “Yeah, well, it’s been great talking to you, see you later, thanks, bye!” he said in a rush, grabbing Zoe’s hand in his free one and walking quickly away.

          Behind him he could hear Bokomon stutter but he squelched the feelings of guilt and kept going.  Bokomon did know why they were here after all, he should learn when to keep his mouth shut.

          “Bye Bye!” he heard Neemon call cheerfully.


          “Finally.” Takuya sighed, sinking to the grass. He threw her a look of sincere apology. “Sorry, I didn’t expect him to go on like that.”

          Zoe smiled, “He’s just happy to see you again.  He’s missed you.”

          Takuya grinned, “You convincing me or yourself?  I don’t hear you complaining about our sudden exit.”

          She giggled and sat beside him, “You got me there.  I thought he’d never shut up!”

          “Yeah.” Takuya laughed warmly.

          “I mean, he kept going on and on about you.  It was like he’s been compiling a list of your best traits since we left.”

          Takuya shifted uneasily, “Uh, yeah, I guess…” he said slowly.

          Zoe flipped up the lid of the basket and rifled through it, her eyes focused on its contents.  “It’s like you’re his idol or something.  Must be nice to have fans.”

          “Fans?” Takuya rubbed the back of his head and blushed a little, “I’m not so sure about that.”

          Zoe shook her head, pulling out something that looked suspiciously like a head of lettuce.  “Oh definitely.  Bokomon thinks you hung the moons” She sniffed at the lettuce.  “Smells like potatoes. Yum.”  She took a bite.

          “Uh, Zoe?”

          She swallowed, “Yes?”

          “Could we talk about something else?”

          She looked up at him innocently, “Something other than lettuce and potatoes?”

          He sweat dropped and then saw her smirk, “Zoe!” he sighed in exasperation, “Oh, never mind.”

          Zoe laughed.  “I’m just teasing you silly.”  That boy didn’t take compliments very well.  Like the very idea of someone admiring him was foreign, like he didn’t deserve it.  She would have to change that.  He really was a great guy.

          “Okay.”  Takuya gave a slightly forced smile.  Bokomon always made such a big deal out of everything.  It was embarrassing.  Worse yet, he couldn’t think of another topic of conversation.

          Zoe sighed.  <Great going Zoe!> she mentally berated herself <killed the conversation already.  That’s got to be some kind of record> She looked around uncertainly and her eyes lit with excitement as they fell on something familiar.

          “Takuya!” She grabbed his arm and he looked down in shock.  He could feel warmth spreading from the area she had touched, creeping up his neck and flushing his cheeks.  She stood, removing her hand from his arm, unaware of what she had done and the affect it had had on him.

          “Look,” she pointed and he followed her gesture.  “meat apples.” She said happily.  “Let’s get some!” she took off almost at a dead run and Takuya quickly scrambled up after her.

          “Zoe! Wait!”

          “Oh, come on Takuya!” she laughed, “Gimme a boost!”

          Takuya stopped short behind her, his eyes traveling over her, “B-but-”

          “Oh Takuya,” she placed her hands on her hips, “I want meat apples, and you honestly can’t expect me to give you a boost!”

          Takuya knelt cautiously and offered his cupped hands.  She stepped up, and, although he kept his eyes focused on the ground, he flushed.  Why had she chosen to wear a skirt today!?  And what would she do to him when she remembered?  He should have told her where they were going!

          “Higher Takuya.” She commanded.  He raised his hands slowly.  “There.” She grasped the lowest branch and kept one hand on it to steady herself.  Then she reached for an apple.

          “Got one!” she dropped it to the ground below.  After she had picked three or four apples she was ready to get down, but then she noticed a white apple just out of her reach.  Those were the best!

          “Zoe,” Takuya’s voice was strained, and not because it was an effort to hold her up there – it wasn’t.  “I think you’ve got enough.”

          “Wait, just one more.” She stretched, just brushing it with her fingertips.  Gnawing her lip in concentration she reached once more.  As her hand closed around the apple her grip on the lower branch slipped, and since Takuya was only holding the soles of her feet there was little he could do.


          “Zoe!” Takuya’s head came up as he felt her slipping and, despite the precariousness of the situation, he immediately flushed and jerked his head back down.  Blindly he tried to steady her.

          “Takuya!” she came crashing down on him, knocking him to the ground.

            For a few moments they lay still, stunned and catching their breath.  Then Takuya realized that Zoe was on top of him, and his hand was dangerously close to her.  He flushed and shifted it away.  Unfortunately his movement caught Zoe’s attention.  Realizing their position she too blushed furiously than pulled back.

          “You pervert!” She smacked him.

          “Ow!” Takuya rubbed his cheek, “Hey!  You’re the one who fell, you’re the one who had to have meat apples!”

          “Hmph.” She crossed her arms and turned away.

          Takuya sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, “Fine, whatever, I’m sorry.”

          Immediately Zoe’s stance softened.  Guilt filled her.  It had been her fault.  And he had apologized!  And he had saved her life!  Well… maybe not really, but he had softened her fall.

           Zoe launched herself at Takuya and threw her arms around his neck, “I’m sorry, Takuya! Thank you for catching me!”

          Takuya jerked back in shock, sputtering incoherently.  Realizing she had made him uncomfortable, and feeling a little uncomfortable herself, Zoe pulled back.  “Uhh.”

          Takuya cleared his throat.  “S’okay,” he coughed and started again, he sounded like he’d swallowed something wrong.  “That’s okay.” He reached down for the meat apples that had miraculously escaped the whole fiasco.  “So what do you say we start a fire?  I’ve really missed meat apples.”


          The meat apples had been great, and the conversation had almost made them forget the earlier incident.  This date was actually going pretty well.  But that wouldn’t last much longer.  You see – Bokomon had been really happy to see Takuya again.  And he’d kinda let it slip to some other digimon that he and Zoe were here, and they, in turn, had told other digimon, who had told other digimon, until eventually the news reached the Beemon.

          The Beemon, you may recall, had started a Zoe fan club.  And membership had grown.  In fact, it had reached several dozen.  Now the word was out – Zoe had returned – and the fan club was on its way.


          “That was great!” Zoe exclaimed happily,

          “Yeah, it really was.” Takuya leaned back on his elbows, watching the happy girl beside him.  He smiled.  It had been stupid to be so nervous, after all, they’d already weathered one potential catastrophe – and he’d gotten a hug out of the deal!

          “Let’s see what else Bokomon packed for us!”  she jumped up and skipped over to the basket.  Dropping to her knees she began to dig through it.

           Standing slowly, Takuya followed her.  That was Zoe for you – always thinking about food.  She ate more than a football team and she was still thin as all get out.  He shook his head in wry amusement.  They should put her in the Guinness book of World Records. He made a mental note never to take her anywhere expensive for dinner.  He would just have to stick to buffets.  His only other hope was to strike oil.

          He had almost reached her when he stopped short, turning around uneasily.  It felt as though he was being watched.  Not that he’d heard anything or seen anything, it was just a feeling.  But he had long ago learned to trust his instincts.  He narrowed his eyes, peering at the bushed that lined one side of the clearing.  There was something there, he was sure of it.

          “Takuya!  Come on!” Zoe’s insistent call and cheerful voice forced his attention away from the dark undergrowth.

          <Probably just some harmless digimon> he thought.  But deep down he doubted it.

          Smiling he came and knelt beside Zoe.  She began to hand things to him.  His grin widened, evidently Bokomon remembered her appetite too.  He’d packed enough for an army!

          Fruit, a table cloth…

          “Hey, didn’t I leave some lettuce here earlier.  Hmm, I wonder where it went?”

          Zoe seemed unconcerned, but Takuya eyed the bushes once more.  Had something, or someone, taken the lettuce?

          Some juice, chocolate…

          “Hey, where’d he get that?” Zoe wondered aloud, “I didn’t think they had chocolate here.”  Takuya shrugged.

          Some berries, a melon looking something…

          “Hmm, I wonder what this is?” she pulled out an unfamiliar object and sniffed at it, then handed it to Takuya.

          “I don’t know.  I don’t remember ever seeing it before.  But then, a lot of the digital world was missing when we were here.”

          “Yeah.” Sorrow tinged her voice as she remembered that time.

          Takuya noticed and decided it was best not to dwell on it.  “But it sure smells good.” He gave an exaggerated sniff.

          “Takuya!”  she scolded, laughing.

          “Here, it does.” He handed it to her and then began to rifle through the basket himself.

          “Hey, what’s this?”  He pushed a few items aside and dug in the back of the basket.  Too bad it didn’t have two flaps.

          Zoe abandoned her perusal of the mystery item in favor of peering closer, “I don’t know.” She leaned further over the basket. 

          Takuya’s eyes widened as he pulled the object out.  “Meat apples.” He said in a monotone.  Then he repeated it louder and with much more emotion.  “MEAT APPLES!”  He quirked a brow at Zoe, who backed up.

          “Well, how was I supposed to know?” she demanded defensively.

          “MEAT APPLES!!!” He jumped to his feet.  Zoe scrambled quickly to her own feet.

          “I’m sorry!”

          “Oh, no.” Takuya took as step toward her, “Sorry isn’t nearly good enough.  You – will – pay!” 

          Zoe took off running as Takuya playfully growled and took off after her.  They were laughing and quickly running out of breath when a noise drew their attention.

          It was a sort of crashing and rumbling.  A large cloud of dust rose above the trees.  And it was moving toward the mat an alarming rate.

          “What the?”  Takuya watched in shock as trees began to fall to the ground.  Out of habit his eyes darted to the likely course of whatever was coming’s path.  His eyes fell on Zoe, several yards away from him.  Her eyes were wide, fixed on the trees.

          When the first digimon appeared in the clearing he acted without thought.  Diving toward Zoe he grabbed her and rolled to the side, down a small incline and into a patch of bushes.

          It was ridiculous, but for a moment he thought he heard a voice shouting over the rumbling.  It sounded something like: “No fair!  How come Takuya always gets to fall with Zoe!?”

          <That’s funny, for a second I could have sworn I heard JP>  he shrugged the thought off.

          Now the rumbling had stopped and he pushed himself up in to a crouch, peering through the bushes.  What he saw in the clearing amazed and very nearly disgusted him.

          There were dozens of digimon and in the front three Beemon holding a picture of Zoe.

          “Oh, good grief!”

          “What is it?” Zoe couldn’t see because, one, she was behind Takuya, and, two, she was still on the ground.

          Takuya reached back and helped her to her feet.

          “And you say I have fans.” He snorted.

          Zoe cautiously peeked around him as she dusted herself off.  “What is – OH!  The Beemon!” she exclaimed, jumping out of the brush.

          “ZOE!!!” the fan club chorused happily.

          “What are you all doing here?” she asked, coming to stand before them.  Takuya followed close behind possessively.

          “Ruining our date.” He muttered.  Zoe darted him a look, but she evidently hadn’t heard what he’d said.

          “We heard you were here and couldn’t beelieve it.”  The first Beemon started.

          “We had to beehold it with our own eyes.” Another joined in.

          “You are as beeautiful as ever.” The third gushed.

          <And you are unbeelievably annoying> Takuya thought <wait! Heard we were  - BOKOMON!> Takuya clenched a fist, imagining what he would do to the small, white, digimon.

          “Um,” Zoe played with a strand of hair, glancing back at Takuya apologetically.  She turned back to the digimon, “That’s nice, really, but you see, I’m kind of busy so…” looking at their expectant faces she couldn’t bring herself to say it.  She looked to Takuya for help, but he wasn’t about to get involved.  Besides, he was about to have troubles of his own.

          At that moment a familiar figure came stumbling into the clearing.  He stopped and hung his head, panting, his black ponytail falling over one shoulder.  He looked up and around urgently, his eyes falling on Takuya.

          “Takuya!” he hurried over, “I’ve been looking for you everywhere!  I need your help!”

          “Uh,Koji, I’m kinda busy right now.” He darted his eyes meaningfully toward Zoe, who was trying to nicely explain to the fan club that they needed to leave.  They weren’t getting it. 

          Koji glanced at Zoe quickly before dismissing her and turning back to Takuya, “Yeah, yeah, right.  Look, it’ll only take a second.”


          Koji interrupted him, “See, my brother wants to…”

          “Zoe you must sign this picture for me!” a large digimon pleaded.  Zoe pulled back, a bit afraid to say no to him.  They wouldn’t hurt their icon would they?  She looked at his long claws and gulped.  Well, not on purpose anyway.

          “No! She has to sign mine first.” A smaller, white digimon insisted.  He looked kind of like a rabbit.  Wait – wasn’t that one of the digimon that had tried to eat JP on their first day in the digital world?

          “No, mine!” another yelled loudly.  Soon the entire fan club was fighting over who would get an autograph from Zoe first.  Zoe took the opportunity to edge away, but when she turned toward Takuya she found him desperately trying to interrupt Koji who just kept right on talking.

          “And then Kouichi said that he didn’t have to.  But I think he should. And…”

          Zoe felt really bad for Takuya, but what could she do?  And then, there was still the fan club to deal with.  Maybe she and Takuya could just run off.  She moved toward Takuya only to stop short when someone hurtled out in front of her. 

          It clasped her hands together in both of its own and held them to its chest.  Zoe drew back, startled. 

          It was JP!

          “Zoe! Why?!  I love you. Please don’t leave me for Takuya!  I need you!” Zoe watched in shock as JP went on.

          “It’s been killing me, watching you two all day, and the meat apples and the falling!  Oh ZOE!!!” he wailed.

          “And then, Takuya, are you listening to me?” Koji demanded.  “You are my best friend you know.  You’re obligated…”

          But Takuya wasn’t listening, he was watching JP accosting his date.  He stomped over to the two teens, Koji following after, still insisting that Takuya give him his full attention.

          “JP!” Takuya pointed an accusing finger in his friend’s face, “I knew it!  I knew someone was there, and I knew I heard you!” His eyes narrowed suspiciously, “Did you take the lettuce?”

          “I was hungry!” JP defended pathetically.

          “JP, could you let go of me now?  I can’t feel my fingers.”  JP released her and Takuya took her hands, rubbing them gently.

          “Better?” he asked.

          Zoe nodded and moved closer to him as though seeking protection, everyone was so loud!

          As JP watched his eyes went wider.

          “Zoe! How could you choose him over ME!?!” he wailed.

          “TAKUYA!” Koji tugged at his arm, “I really need your advice!” He insisted.

          That did it, Takuya had had enough.

          Dropping Zoe’s hands he shook off Koji’s grip and stalked to the center of the fray.

          “CAN’T YOU ALL SEE WE'RE ON A DATE!?!” his shout ricocheted off the trees, echoing over and over again.  He was panting, his face red.

          All noise in the clearing stopped as all eyes turned toward him.

          “Thank you!”  He sighed, ‘Now would you all just go away? Please!” he begged.

          The digimon and people in the clearing stared at him, then one by one turned away.

          “But,” JP began.

          “Just – go.” Takuya ground out.

          And he went.

          Koji started to go as well, realizing that his question could wait, but then he paused.  “You know Takuya, if you’re on a date… maybe I could give you some advice…”

          Takuya looked up at him in disbelief. “Oh, like I’d want dating advice from you!  You have terrible people skills.”

          “Geeze, just trying to help.”

          “OUT!” Takuya pointed toward the trees.     

          “Sorry, man.” Koji mumbled and Takuya nodded.

          When they were alone in the clearing Takuya sunk to the ground and buried his face in his knees.  He probably should have handled that better.  Now Zoe would think he was some sort of psychotic barbarian.

          He thought about all the things that had gone wrong on this short date.  If there were a record for the shortest, most disastrous date in history, surely they had beaten it.

          Zoe looked down at him sympathetically and then came and sat beside him.

          “Takuya?” she called his name quietly.

          Takuya groaned and buried his face in his hands.  He couldn’t even bear to look at her; after all that had happened she probably never wanted to see him again. 

          At least she was breaking it to him gently.

          “Takuya.” She said again.

          “Yes.” He mumbled miserably.

          She placed a hand on his arm.  “Thanks,” she said sincerely, “Can we do this again sometime?”

          Takuya’s head whipped up toward her nearly colliding with hers.  He stared at her in disbelief.  “You wanna go through that again!?”

          Zoe laughed lightly, “Well, maybe next time we could do it without the fan club, and the colliding… and JP.” She laughed once more then moved closer to him, “but yeah.  I’d like to go out with you again Takuya.  You’re a great guy.”

          Takuya blinked at her.  She wanted to go out again?  She looked serious.  His heart rate accelerated and he had to force himself to breath normally.

          Zoe’s smile faded, “Unless of course you don’t want-”

          “Oh no!” Takuya hastily interrupted, “I want to –uh… how does next Friday sound?”

          “Sure.” Zoe agreed.

          Takuya smiled, “And this time – let’s just go to the mall!”