Part five of a fanfiction by Velkyn Karma

Disclaimer: I do not own, or pretend to own, Digimon Savers or any of its subsequent characters, plots or other ideas. That right belongs solely to Bandai and Toei Animation. The only thing that belongs to me here is the concept for the story.

They reappeared in the Dive Chamber in a blaze of light, and Tohma shielded his eyes out of habit, waiting for the machine to power down so he could see properly again. The glow receded slowly, and the three of them blinked as their eyes adjusted to the lighting of DATS headquarters.

"I'm so sorry for the wait," a female voice said hastily, from one of the consoles. Tohma scanned the room and spotted blond-haired Megumi after a moment, with her partner, the white Pawnchessmon, standing beside her. She stood up from the console a moment later, and added, "Yoshino told us what happened, but there were complications, and with Masaru the way he was we couldn't—"

She choked to a halt on her words, looking rather pale. Agumon, scared by her reaction, asked anxiously, "Is Boss okay? He's...he's not..."

"We're not actually sure yet," Megumi said slowly, after taking a deep breath. "Right now he's at the hospital. Last I heard he was still in surgery. The captain is there right now, and Miki and Yoshino, with Masaru's family. I was there too, but the captain finally got a hold of Masaru's personal effects and sent me back with this to get you guys." She held up Masaru's orange-trimmed digivice, and then added, "It took a while to reconfigure the portal though. Sorry about the wait."

"So we can go see Boss now?" Agumon asked, sounding frantic. "If he's hurt I have to be there! I'm his follower, I have to help him out!"

"You can't just walk into the hospital," Tohma said. "That will cause more panic than help. But if you're in the digivice we can bring you with us." Which explained why the captain had waited so long to get a hold of it again before sending Megumi back—he'd known Agumon would be frantic for his partner and would cause trouble otherwise.

"Oh, of course, I'll do anything! I'll stay in there all day if it means I can be near Boss!" Agumon said insistently. That was a testament to just how worried he was for his partner, because everybody at DATS knew Agumon hated being stuck in his digivice, and broke out at every conceivable opportunity.

Tohma was more than a little anxious for news himself, and Megumi looked worried as well. So they wasted no time storing the digimon in their respective digivices before taking off, and Tohma kept Masaru's extra one slung at his belt for now alongside his own. Megumi had the DATS car that Yoshino usually drove waiting for them, and Tohma was privately glad to discover that she was a slightly more sane driver than Yoshino was, even in a panic situation like this.

They piled into the hospital, and located everyone else waiting impatiently for news in the emergency room's reception area, huddled in a group as close as they could get to the doors of the operating rooms without being reprimanded by the staff. Tohma and Megumi joined them and inquired into Masaru's health immediately, but while there wasn't any immediate bad news, there wasn't any good news, either.

"We still don't know anything," Miki said impatiently. "It's been almost two hours now, but every time I stop a doctor or nurse they just tell us the same thing. 'Just be patient.' We've been patient!"

"The captain had to order her to stop pestering the poor staff," Yoshino whispered quietly to Tohma. He couldn't help but chuckle humorlessly at that. DATS agents varied, but they were all stubborn to a man when it came to it. It seemed to be a requirement for the digimon that partnered with them.

"It's true we haven't heard about how Masaru is doing now," Sayuri, Masaru's mother, said softly. Tohma's heart felt like it was gripped in an angry fist when he watched her; the poor woman looked so exhausted, so worried, and in that Tohma could relate. He'd watched somebody important to him die, too. He knew firsthand how painful it could be. "But," Sayuri added, "The doctors seemed a bit hopeful when they were bringing him in...they said he was in bad shape, but that he should have been dead. His initial treatment was very well handled, they said." And despite all the heartache she had to have been going through, she found the strength to give Tohma a soft smile. "Thank you."

Tohma shook his head. "Don't thank me yet," he began, but cut off with a soft oof as Chika half-tackled, half-hugged him and threw her arms around his waist.

"Th-thanks for s-saving my big b-brother," she stammered. He could tell she'd been crying, and there were tear tracks on her face, but she smiled up at him tentatively after a moment.

"I..." he sighed, and then gently placed a hand on her head. "Of course, Chika." For all their bickering, he knew how close the Daimon siblings were; Chika trusted her brother absolutely, and Masaru was viciously protective of her. It would be a terrible shame if that were to be broken now. All he could do was hope that he really had helped Masaru last long enough to make it back to his family alive.

"How are you guys doing?" Yoshino asked, when Chika finally let go and retreated to her mother a few minutes later. She gave Tohma a once-over, and then pointedly glanced at the two digivices hanging from his belt. "And what happened to the Devidramon? I hope you're all okay...I didn't realize that Agumon wasn't behind me until we stepped out of the Dive Chamber and the captain took Masaru for me—"

"He's really heavier than he looks," Lalamon piped up, from the direction of Yoshino's belt, where she was also hidden in her digivice.

"He is not!" Agumon shot back from his own digivice. "Unless it's from muscle, 'cause Boss is really strong! And I'm fine, Yoshino. I just had to fight, that's all."

"Gaomon's fine as well," Tohma added. "Both of the digimon took a few injuries, but they'll heal pretty fast. And we defeated the Devidramon, so it wasn't a total loss."

"I got him right in the eye!" Agumon added gleefully from Tohma's belt. "Boss'll be real cheered up to hear that!"

"I came close to getting hit once, but he missed," Tohma added, finishing his rough report. "Agumon deflected it, so I suppose it was a good thing he stayed behind after all." If he hadn't been so exhausted, he would have hated admitting that. He was getting better at dealing with Masaru's and Agumon's spontaneous fighting style, but it still took getting used to, and he preferred his own much more understandable logic.

"You look tired," Captain Satsuma spoke up for the first time. "Why don't you sit down for a while?"

It had been phrased as a suggestion, but was definitely a command, and Tohma glanced over at his superior briefly. It was a little strange not to see Kudamon wrapped quietly around the large man's neck like a scarf, but the lack of his partner didn't make him any less imposing. It'd be a good idea to obey—especially because it sounded like a damned fine idea to Tohma anyway, who felt dead on his feet. He sat in one of the waiting room's chairs and stretched out his legs, too tired to bother with proper etiquette at the moment.

So they waited even longer for even the tiniest scrap of news about their friend, as another hour passed, and another, and even Tohma with his near infinite levels of patience was beginning to detest the fact that his whole life seemed to be nothing but waiting recently. Especially now, on top of everything else. He was exhausted, after spending the whole night awake doing nothing but waiting, and he was sure at some point he'd fallen asleep in his chair. When he'd woken it was to find Sayuri's jacket draped over him, and to his horror his own blood-and-dirt smeared uniform had gotten it messy. He apologized to her profusely in his embarrassment; she told him not to worry, and reassured him again that he'd only been asleep for half an hour. He mentally kicked himself and refused to let himself fall asleep again. And still there was no news.

But at last it came, and when it did it was some of the best news Tohma had had in a long, long time. Masaru was out of surgery and stable, the doctor reported to them, and paused politely for the enthusiastic cheers that surged around the group, both from the people and (strangely enough) their hand-held video games.

"He's going to be weak for a while," the doctor informed him. "He had three cracked ribs, which will take at least a month to heal fully. We'll want to hold on to him for a few days to keep an eye on that stomach injury as well, just in case of infection, and to make sure he's regaining fluids properly. But he'll be fine. He's a very lucky man...I understand the injury happened early this morning?"

"A little after midnight," Yoshino agreed.

At the doctor's puzzled look, Captain Satsuma added calmly, "It was an accident during our company camping trip out in the mountains. That's why it took so long to get him here."

A decent enough cover story, all things considered. Halfway true, even.

"Well, he's lucky to have lived that long," the doctor said, looking over his clipboard. "Very lucky. But there was some fast work there, or he'd have bled out or succumbed to infection much sooner. You owe the man who did it a pay raise, whoever he is."

The captain's lips twitched just slightly in amusement. Tohma blinked in surprise. "I hardly need a raise," he said. He wouldn't know what to do with the extra money anyway—he was already drowning in money enough as it was. "Besides, I have a Ph.D in medicine. I have an obligation to treat people, especially my coworkers."

The doctor blinked in surprise as well, a common enough reaction to a mid-aged teenager claiming a Ph.D. Before he could inquire further, however, Chika pushed forward and asked eagerly, "Can we see him?"

"You may, but not all at once," the doctor said, focusing his attention on Masaru's sister. "He's undoubtedly still asleep from the procedure, and will be for some time, but it's important not to disturb him."

Sayuri and Chika went first, taking Masaru's digivice—and Agumon—with them after he promised not to come out. They were only allowed five minutes, but when they came back to the waiting room the color had returned to their faces, and they seemed in much better cheer. It was one thing to be told by the doctors that Masaru would be okay; it was clearly another thing to see it. The captain offered to take them home personally, since the doctors doubted Masaru would wake for a few hours at least, to give them a chance to freshen up before returning. Apparently they had rushed out of their house at five-fifteen in the morning with the frantic call from DATS about Masaru's health, and it was only then that Tohma realized they were wearing pajamas with jackets hastily thrown over them. They thanked the captain for his kindness, and took Agumon in his digivice home with them for now, promising that they would be back in a few hours and that they would keep the others updated about Masaru's health.

Then it was the agents' turns, two by two. Yoshino and Tohma went first, having been there for the majority of the mess, and entered the room quietly. Yoshino seemed nervous, and Tohma understood in a distant sort of way, but he'd long since gotten used to hospitals after getting his medical license. The captain had used his connections to get Masaru a private room, small but quiet and comfortable, with a window looking out over the harbor.

Tohma didn't care much for that, though, at least not now. Masaru was laid out in the bed, surrounded by a number of machines and connected to a fair amount of tubes and IV drips feeding him fluids. There was a breathing mask strapped carefully over his nose and mouth, and his finger was clipped neatly into a heart monitor device, which beeped with a reassuringly steady, calm rate. From far away the cluster of machines and tubes looked bad, but appearances were misleading, and that was obvious when they got closer. Masaru was asleep, probably from the influx of drugs and painkillers, but his skin had a little color to it again, and his lips and fingertips were no longer a pale blue. He wasn't great, and like the doctor said it would take him a while to recover. But he wasn't dead, either, and actually looked comfortable; one of the nurses had even thoughtfully removed his ponytail and combed through his hair so he wasn't sleeping on it.

"Can he hear us?" Yoshino asked.

"Doubtful," Tohma answered. "With all the procedures and drugs it's highly unlikely he's conscious. But he'll be fine. He already looks like he's making a comeback."

"I'm glad," Yoshino said softly. "That was...that was really, really scary. I didn't think he'd get hit like that..."

"Obviously the idiot has to learn to aim better," Tohma said in exasperation, shaking his head at the weak not-quite-joke. But it was okay to say such things now, with the assurance that Masaru definitely was going to live. "If he's going to insist upon punching giant monsters in the face, he'd better learn to do it properly. Those so-called 'talking fists' of his won't mean anything at all if he really gets himself killed next time."

He could have sworn Masaru frowned just slightly at that. But no, he was probably just imagining things.

"Next time?" Yoshino hissed, barely remembering to keep her voice low. "You don't really think he's crazy enough to go back to fighting digimon after this?"

"Please. This is Masaru we're talking about," Tohma said. "He'll just take it as a challenge to get stronger."

"You're probably right," Yoshino said with a sigh. Lalamon chirped her agreement from her digivice.

Their five allotted visitation minutes flew past in a flash, and then the nurse came to shoo them out. They passed Megumi and Miki, waiting anxiously outside, and headed back to the waiting room.

"I'll be heading back with the girls," Yoshino said. "Do you need a ride home?"

"No. I'll call my driver."

"Alright, then," she said. "Get some rest, Tohma. You did a lot of good work today, you definitely deserve the break. Megumi and Miki offered to handle any digimon attacks for the rest of the day, and the captain agreed, so we're off the hook for now."

Under normal circumstances Tohma would have argued. But right now he wanted nothing so bad as a hot shower and his nice, comfortable bed, and so he agreed with a nod, said his goodbyes, and waited for his driver to pick him up and take him away from this whole unfortunate mess.

When Tohma finally got home, it was close to lunch time. He allowed Gaomon out of his digivice, bathed, ate, and then slept like the dead for almost twelve hours. Gaomon, still injured a bit but valiantly saying nothing, seemed to be of like mind, and paused only long enough to eat before falling into an exhausted stupor after all his hard work in the Digital World.

When he finally woke up close to midnight, he felt much better, if somewhat hazy and stupid from sleeping for so long. Gaomon was already up, and informed his master that Sayuri had called around eight PM with news about Masaru. He had woken briefly, she said, for only a few minutes; he'd been dazed and doped up on painkillers, but he'd been awake. The news was a relief to Tohma, who dressed in his spare DATS uniform and had a quick midnight meal with considerably more cheer than he'd had when he went to sleep.

When he was finished, he had his driver bring him to DATS headquarters. There was always somebody there at all hours; indeed, it seemed digimon attacks happened more frequently at night for whatever reason, meaning the station had to be manned even this late. He was sure somebody would be there, and for once he preferred to be in the company of his fellow agents—the only people who could fully understand the scenario—instead of alone in his rooms, twiddling his thumbs and partaking in yet more infernal waiting. At least DATS would provide a distraction, and maybe there would even be a digimon to fight.

As it turned out it was a slow night at DATS, digimon-wise. The entire team was there when he arrived, though—besides Masaru, for obvious reasons—and they all seemed happy to see him. They inquired into his health, and he assured them he was perfectly fine. He and Yoshino explained what had happened since they took the Digital Dive in more detail to the captain and the awed Megumi and Miki, and now that it was over with and everyone would be okay it seemed like a much more thrilling story than it had been when they were living it.

At eight AM Yoshino grabbed her keys and digivice, and announced that visiting hours were open at the hospital. There were still no digimon emergencies, although Megumi and Miki promised to keep them updated should anything surface, so Tohma caught a ride with her. They met up with Sayuri and Chika there, and discovered to everyone's delight that Masaru was doing much better now after being in the hospital for almost twenty-four hours, and that they were allowed to stay in the room with him this time for longer than five minutes.

It was a bit of a squeeze getting everyone in there, especially when Agumon insisted on being let out of his digivice to visit 'Boss' properly this time. Tohma glanced at the charts once and then stood guard discreetly by the doorway, figuring that between keeping an eye out and and knowing the schedule for Masaru's care he'd be able to warn them before Agumon was actually discovered. Sayuri smiled and nodded her thanks quietly, and Yoshino grinned at him before letting Lalamon out as well to keep Agumon company.

Masaru himself was still asleep—not that he would be for long, with this lively bunch, Tohma thought wryly—but he looked much better than he had when Tohma had seen him yesterday. He was hooked up to significantly less tubes than before, and the breathing mask had been removed. His skin was no longer pale, and the dark lines that had been around his eyes were gone, making him look legitimately asleep now and not almost dead. He'd be fine. That was a relief.

Tohma stood guard for an hour while they visited, which mostly consisted of talking to Chika and Sayuri, since Masaru wasn't actually conscious for most of it. He did wake up once, briefly, but he was still groggy and dazed from the painkillers still in his system, and even less of a conversationalist than he usually was. Agumon had nearly thrown a fit over something being wrong with his partner until Tohma hastily reassured him that it was normal and he'd be back to his old self in a day or two when he no longer needed the drugs, and to please not set the hospital machinery on fire as it would only complicate matters. Agumon was placated eventually, just in time for their communicators to beep, signaling for them to rendezvous at a sector across town to deal with a rampaging Monochromon.

So much for visiting hours.

Work kept them busy after that—the Monochromon hadn't been difficult to defeat, but it had done a lot of damage in a rather public area, requiring hours of cover up and memory erasing. By the time they were finished it was almost two in the afternoon. They took a quick break for a late lunch, and then with no other digimon alerts decided to head back to the hospital to check in again.

They were in luck—this time Masaru was awake, and much more alert than before. He couldn't sit up on his own due to the stomach injury, which, even treated and closed, was still bound to be sensitive for a while. But he'd managed to get himself propped up by pillows so he was upright anyway, and had even come across an elastic somewhere to tie his hair back like he usually did. Based on the way he looked over at them eagerly when they stepped into the room, it seemed his vision had fully returned as well after its blackout.

"Hey, Tohma, Yoshino!" he greeted cheerfully. "Good to see you guys! Mom said you stopped by a few times, but I sure as hell haven't seen any sign of you until now!"

"They've been having fun fighting digimon without us," Agumon agreed sullenly. He'd found a short stool and was perched on it near the bed, so that he could rest with his claws on the bedside comfortably.

"Figures," Masaru answered, seemingly without worry, as if he hadn't just been gutted yesterday fighting digimon.

"You're in an awfully good mood," Yoshino said with surprise, raising an eyebrow as she sat on one of the chairs still available. Sayuri and Chika were on the others, still visiting, but Tohma didn't mind standing, and took up the same guard position that he had earlier without complaint.

"Sure!" Masaru answered with a grin. "Why shouldn't I be? I'm alive, right? And I'm totally fine, so what's there to worry about? A fighting spirit like mine isn't gonna get taken down so easily by a few scratches like these!"

Sayuri chuckled slightly, Chika and Yoshino sighed, and Tohma said with exasperation, "Your logic gives me an absolute headache."

Masaru grinned. "They got pills for that here, I bet. You should go ask'em for some." Then his grin became more mischievous, and he turned to Yoshino as he said wickedly, "Hey, wanna see this manly battle scar of mine?"

"Ooooh, don't look, it's really gross," Chika warned. "And my brother is a total jerk about it too." She glared at Masaru warningly, who merely laughed. Yoshino went slightly pale at the offer, and notably scooted further away from the bed.

So began the much more literal visit, when Masaru was actually conscious to appreciate it, and not doped up heavily on opiates. It was just as lively as the time Tohma had visited his household, possibly more so with Yoshino and the rest of the digimon added to the mix (at Chika's request, he had eventually allowed Gaomon to join the impromptu party as well, much to her delight and his embarrassment, and Lalamon was already out). Other than occasional winces when he laughed or shouted too hard, thanks to his ribs and stomach injury, and his obvious weakness when it came to handling objects or moving himself, there was almost no trace of the fact that he'd been close to dead a little over a day ago.

Tohma was content to watch, while quietly keeping an eye on the door, other than the rare occasion when somebody addressed him directly. There was something warm and enjoyable about this lively, caring little family he was slowly becoming a part of, but he wasn't quite ready to dive all the way in just yet; it was a little bit much.

The visit went mostly without mishaps, other than the two occasions when Tohma had just barely managed to warn everyone in time before a nurse came in to check on things. Agumon and Gaomon had been forced to duck behind the bed to hide, and they passed Lalamon off as a stuffed animal brought in as a get-well joke. But before long a nurse poked her head in to tell them that visiting hours would be over in ten minutes, and that they had to think about leaving. Everyone groaned, Masaru loudest of all (he claimed the hospital would be enormously boring without his friends around or interesting fights to participate in). Sayuri and Chika promised to come back first thing tomorrow morning to visit again, and Yoshino added that she and Tohma would stop by if the digimon decided to take a break with their rampaging. The digimon were hidden in their digivices once more, and everyone began to file out, when—

"Tohma. Hey, Tohma! Wait a sec."

Tohma blinked and looked back over his shoulder. Masaru was waving for him to come back for a moment, which Tohma found puzzling. He'd been there for hours, and Masaru hadn't bothered to address him directly until now—what could this possibly be about?

"I'll be waiting outside with the car," Yoshino told him, and everyone else filed out of the room, closing the doors behind them.

Puzzled, Tohma crossed the room and stood near the bed, folding his arms in front of him. "Well? What's this about?"

"My mom and Chika told me about what happened," Masaru explained, "when you guys were out doing DATS stuff. I wanted to say—"

He was interrupted as the door banged open, and a nurse stepped in, saying politely but firmly, "I'm sorry, Mr. Daimon, but visiting hours are finished, and you simply cannot break the rules as you please."

"Screw that," Masaru said, with his usual roughshod attitude and I-am-about-to-punch-monsters scowl. "I've got something important to say here, so you can wait. I just need five freaking minutes, okay?"

The nurse sighed. Tohma knew that sigh well—it was the long-suffering sound of a person dealing with an extremely difficult patient, and barely holding it together despite years of professional practice. He sympathized. It was the way he felt every day he worked with Masaru. "Sweetheart, if I could let you have your friends sleep over, I would," she muttered under her breath—Tohma just barely heard it, and Masaru wouldn't at all. "Certainly less trouble for me that way." Out loud, she said with the same polite but firm tone, "Alright. Five minutes. That's it."

"You've been making a name for yourself amongst the staff, I see," Tohma observed dryly, when the woman had left and closed the door behind her.

Masaru shrugged, and immediately looked like he regretted it, to judge by his wince. "Not my fault," he said, by way of excuse. "I'm not the one being so damned unreasonable here."

Tohma begged to differ, but they were on a bit of a schedule, so all he said was, "You wanted to say something?"

"Right," Masaru said, and his expression became a little more serious. "Mom and the doctors here said I definitely would've been dead if I hadn't gotten some good treatment ahead of time. They said I was practically dead when I got here. I guess it was handled really well or something. So thanks for that."

Tohma raised an eyebrow. "Why are you thanking me? How do you know it wasn't Yoshino that handled everything?"

Masaru snorted. "Yeah, right! Tohma, she wouldn't even look at my scar, and that's just stitches. No way in hell she'd have been able to deal when it was all open and bleeding and stuff." He laughed at that. Tohma didn't see what was so funny about the situation, but decided Masaru had a point. For once.

" 'sides," Masaru added after another moment, his expression more serious, "I don't really remember a lot past when the Devidramon attacked, but I do remember hearing your voice a lot. Bossing me around and all. But I'm gonna guess you did more than that, based on what everybody else is saying."

"I didn't really," Tohma said truthfully enough. "Not in the long run...just a little first aid. You were really lucky, you know. I don't think you understand quite how lucky. If those claws had hit just a little higher, or gone a little deeper, it would have been over for you. I wouldn't have been able to do anything at all then."

"That's not luck," Masaru said, perfectly straightforward. "That's just a man's fighting spirit shining through. If a man's got more dedication to a fight than his opponent, there's no way he'll ever die."

Tohma could have argued that spirit had nothing to do with it, and medical science certainly begged to differ, but Masaru was already speaking again. "But besides that," the teen said, very seriously, "I'm gonna thank you anyway, 'cause whether or not you believe you did anything, everybody else seems to think I'd be dead without your help and your quick acting. And as the number one street-fighter in Japan, I've got enough honor to know when somebody saved my life, and to recognize that I owe them a debt. So you can bet I'll be there to pay ya back when the time comes, Tohma."

The look in his eyes was intense, and Tohma was a little floored by it—and, he had to admit, the tiniest bit touched by the declaration. After all the shame and backstabbing and abandonment that he'd dealt with in the Norstein family, it was almost a relief to have somebody tell him straight-up that his efforts had been recognized—and even more importantly, that they were worth repaying, because somebody actually bothered to care. Masaru could be a bull-headed, thoughtless, idiotic excuse for a human being most of the time, but Tohma was starting to realize that he was the trustworthy sort, and not so bad after all.

Of course, he couldn't admit to such a thing out loud, so all he said was, "Is that so? And do you have a medical degree, if I somehow get it into my head to abandon all reason and charge down an angry digimon, only to get myself nearly sliced in two?"

Masaru smirked. "Nope! But hell, I'd carry you all the way to a hospital on my back if I had to. That's just how it is when a man owes somebody his life, you know?"

Tohma snorted. "And I expect you would have simply punched a hole in the air to create a Digital Gate back to the real world, if it came to such necessities."

"Sure, if that's what it takes." He appeared to have said it with perfect sincerity as well. Maybe he thought he really could punch a hole cross dimensionally. With Masaru, it was sometimes hard to tell...this was the same person who thought punching out digimon with large teeth and claws was a good idea, after all.

Tohma was confounded, and merely shook his head, saying, "A kind enough offer, but if it's all the same to you, I certainly hope I never have to take you up on it. Personally, I prefer to avoid near death experiences." He paused, and as the nurse finally opened the door again to insistently shoo him out, he added over his shoulder, " is a reassuring thought, to know that the offer is there all the same."

Masaru just grinned.

And there we have it! One adventure completed :)