Koji stood over an almost magical mountain view. They’d been hiking for three days, the whole way having to deal with Beth yelling,” I hate walking so much!” But, now they were stopping. He admired the clouds below him and the trees above, taking in the beauty of nature. He went off with everyone else, trekking the beaten old path as the trees whispered with the breeze. Tiny digimon followed them from all directions as Michael said,” It shouldn’t be much further.”

“That’s what you said a half hour ago!” Beth complained again, hopping on one leg as she rubbed the other.

“And we were close until you decided to take another break.”

“Ma’am, I could carry you if you want,” Gaomon said as Mei suppressed a laugh, rudely joking,” Yeah, I’d love to see that happen.”

“It’s alright Gaomon,” she said, sipping her water as she glared at Mei. Somehow, the way Mei angered everyone gave them the strength to defy her. The hill started dropping as they encountered a large, vertical slope. Beth suddenly stopped complaining as Koichi asked,” Do you guys smell, salt?”

“And hear waves?” Zoe asked as well.

“Hey, I can see it!” Dorumon said excitedly,” I see the ocean.”

“No way,” Sarah said,” Can we stop there for lunch?”

“Sure,” Michael said, watching the glittering waters through the trees,” We’ve gotta eat after all. Why not enjoy ourselves while we do it?”

When they emerge from the forest, a giant beach stretching for miles greeted them. Massive rocks lay on the shore, pounded by white crests as the golden sunshine warmed their faces. Palm trees swayed as white clouds disappeared into the distance. The sun was at it’s highest and the sand was at it’s best. Michael took off his backpack as Mei said,” I’m changing behind the rocks. Unless you want your front teeth knocked out, no boy better go over there.”

A few minutes later, all the girls were in swimsuits as the guys swam in the cool water. Mei took out a towel, spreading it out as she worked on her tan. Emma and Tommy splashed as Beth relaxed, floating on glee. . All the digimon built a giant sand castle, taller than any of them, as Takuya dived in. He jumped from the rock, splashing next to Sarah, who was smiling as she sprayed water back. Michael finished getting everything ready as Christine was the last to emerge. She looked shy at first, but everyone knew how beautiful she looked. As she walked over to Michael, he undid her hair as she ran to the water. But on the way, she twisted her ankle, crying in pain as she tried getting up.

“You okay?” Michael asked as he sped to her.

“I’m sorry. You go have fun.”

“Let me see,” he say, examining her as he said,” Nothing’s broken. I think you just pulled a muscle. “

As they gathered around her, Christine started to feel bad. Out of guilt, she told them,” It’s okay. You guys go swim without me.”

“Or,” Michael said, lifting her off the sand,” I could lay you on the water and you can at least build a sand castle.”

“But, what about our journey?”

“Don’t worry. We can stop here tonight. We’re making excellent time.”

“Yeah,” Liollmon called from afar,” You can still have fun.”

She paused as he put her down. He smiled and she smiled back as everyone went back, keeping a close eye on her. Mei went back into her chair, reading her magazine as Koji glared at her angrily. When everyone else went to see how she was, Mei stay put. Michael knelt beside his girlfriend, asking her something they didn’t hear.

“No, Michael, no!” Christine screamed with glee as he helped her into the water. He was getting her to swim, splashing as she floated freely. Christine grinned as the water reflected off their faces. Takuya was watching when Sarah ran off the cliff, plummeting as she screamed,” Payback!”

The fun lasted all day, until the sky turned purple. A fusion of yellow, orange, purple and blue melted along with pink clouds as the sun turned the ocean orange. Emma and Tommy were still playing as everyone dried off around the fire. Michael had patched up Christine’s leg and it now wore clean, white bandages. Mei was still relaxing when Koji went up and asked,” Mei, we need someone to help clean up.”

“Why me?” she asked obnoxiously, her eyes still glued to her meaningless piece of paper.

“Because you haven’t helped anyone with anything.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means ever since we got here you’ve been at my throat. What‘ve I done to make you hate me so much?”

“I don’t hate you Koji,” she said, shaking her head as she said,” I liked you, and that’s the problem. Every time I meet a guy I like, he breaks my heart. But not this time. Not again. You won’t hurt me because there’s nothing to break.”

“That’s crazy.”

“Oh yeah? My last boyfriend broke up with me for my best friend. The one before that was using me to make his ex jealous and before that I caught him stealing from me. You’ll hurt me just like everyone else hurt me. And when you do, I’ll be waiting with a very special ‘I was right’ waiting for you.”

She walked back to camp, leaving Koji alone on the beach. As he strolled back, slowly, he thought about the pain Mei was going through. Weighed down by terrible memories, he recalled what it was like being alone in the Digital World without a friend. As Mei planted herself beneath a palm tree, she watched the sea, trying to calm herself down. She simply closed her eyes and drifted into sleep. Koji returned soon after, telling them her story as he sat by the fire.

That night, he didn’t sleep. He left the tent, watching the white water as he left to get Mei. Frail seashells cracked beneath his feet, the sand bending to his toes. Three moons illuminate Mei’s face as she slept, still under the same tree she ran to earlier. He gently slid his arms under her back, lifting her above the ground while waves slid over the rocks. She mumbled a bit as he walked back, strolling by the forest. Koji placed her in a new bed, by the camp and on the sand, still beneath a tree.

A gentle breeze blew as he sat beside her, watching the sky as he said,” I don’t know why you kept me up Mei. I guess it’s because you’re so much like me when I first came here. I still remember how sweet this place was. But I was so angry. I thought my new step mom was trying to replace my real mom, and that made me upset. You may be angry now, but I hope this world heals your heart like it healed mine.”

He returned to his tent, Mei’s face glowing by the moon’s light. As he closed the cloth, returning to sleep, Mei opened one eye. A smile spread over her face as she smiled, better after hearing his side of the story. Although she was still weary of him, she felt better about Koji. She was even considering letting him in. But, it was late. Mei adjusted herself to the tree, letting her hair down as the night went by.

“How’s your leg Christine?” Michael asked.

The morning came, bringing sunshine and warmth. Christine tested her leg, walking and bending in each direction as Michael watched, very attentively. Takuya and Koichi were getting the tent as campsite cleaned up as the girls got everything else fixed. Blue skies greeted Mei as she awoke just in time to leave. She rubbed her eyes, trying to get started as Koji offered,” Coffee?”

“You kidding?” she said, taking it as she took in big sips. The steam lifted into her nostrils, a find black taste filling her with energy. Lunamon went beside her as Michael led them forward again, everyone else ready for guard duty.

“So, it’s just one more day?” Zoe asked, running up to Michael as he answered,” Yep.”

“So, what’s this station look like?” Takuya asked leisurely.

“You’ll know when you see it.”

“Is it dangerous?” Tommy asked, holding Emma’s hand as they went across the sand.

“Not likely. It’s been abandoned for thousands of years.”

“Then how do you know it works?” Sarah asked.

“It was built to last,” he said, starting to get annoyed as he asked sarcastically,” Any more questions?”

“Yes,” Lunamon said,” Are we there yet?”

It was the best time to be walking. Everybody was at their prime, energetic from a good nights sleep. They were too early into the journey for Beth to start complaining and there wasn’t a digimon in sight. All they really had to do was follow Michael.

By the time their period of joy ended, Mei was on her second cup of coffee as Beth started grumbling. They stayed close to the coast, following the rocky shores. The cool breezes seemed to beg them to get in the water as the sun rapidly heated up.

As they strolled, Michael kept checking his map, his eyes locked on that precious piece of paper. Soon they crossed paths with a narrow, wooden bridge. It went over a creek, which flowed from the jungle as it’s waves poured into the Net Sea. They crossed it without a second thought as Mei suddenly felt the pillars shake beneath her.

“What was that?” she asked herself as it began to collapse around her. Her friends began falling into the water. Some of then splashed and floundered as others reached solid ground. Mei, now alone on the remnants of he bridge, found herself bound by clammy scales. Strange blue scales and red markings were all she saw beyond the haze. It felt like a snake, lifting her higher until she saw it. A Seadramon. This digimon was like an eel or serpent. It wore a golden helmet over a white head and cold, blue eyes.

“Mei!” Koji yelled as he took out the D-Tector,” Don’t move!”

He scanned his Fractal Code, transforming to his wolf-like beast form, KendoGarurumon. White armor and golden blades adorned the body of a digimon capable of fighting at the speed of light. But while Koji was focused on saving Mei, everyone else was focused on Mei in a different way. As she struggled, she shouted things like,” Get off of me you overgrown earthworm! You won’t be laughing when I turn you into a belt.”

Koji sped to Seadramon, trying to clamp his teeth down. He dodged as Koji landed in the water, trying to swim back. Mei sighed at his attempt, replying,” Koji you idiot! You can’t fight him on water.”

“I’ll get him,” Takuya said confidently, only to have Michael stop him as he said,” Patience. This is Koji’s fight. We won’t interfere until we absolutely have to.”

“But how’s Koji supposed to win?” Zoe pleaded as KendoGarurumon landed in the sand.

He’d been tossed by the creature, only to get up again. Mei watched his determination and started to feel bad about the way she’d been earlier. Why would a stranger Mei barely knew try to save her, especially after the way she treated him? As he got up and tried again, she tried to help, her insults turning to begging as she yelled,” Koji no! Just go away. I’m not worth it.”

“Yeah Mei,” he said, chuckling as he continued fighting,” you are worth it.”

“No Koji. Why do you keep fighting!?”

“Because one day you’ll leave this world a better person. And I wouldn’t miss that for either world!”

Her shock turned to light. The fact that some one cared about her was so strange to Mei. Imagine a world where you honestly believed nobody loved you. But here was Koji, risking his life to save her and shape her morally. The light concentrated in her digi-vice, burning Seadramon into letting her go. Mei fell onto the beach, taking her D-Tector as Lunamon ran to her side.

“Alright you slimy serpent,” she said angrily, flipping her hair and summoning her Fractal Code,” I told you you’d be sorry, and I don’t go back on my word! You with me Lunamon?”

“All the way, Mei.”

“Great,” she cried, sliding her hand past the ring, yelling,” Execute Digivolution! Lunamon digivolve to Lekismon!”

Lekismon was a pink, rabbit digimon that walked on her hind legs. Blue rigs wrapped around her silvery armor and yellow markings. As Seadramon snarled at his new rival, Mei pointed at the beast, yelling to her,” Wipe the floor with him.”

Lekismon ran down the beach as Seadramon chased her. He fired blasts of ice, freezing the trees and sand as Lekismon dodged. Mei and the others ran, following the carnage as it raged along the coast. Once he lost focus, Lekismon braked, digging her paws in the sand as Seadramon kept going. He quickly turned around, trying to ram her as she stuck out her fist. Waves of air swept as his helmet cracked under her palm. He tried biting her only to have Lekismon leap in the air, punch him down, and kick him away. She charged an ice arrow, launching at him as the waves it created froze in their place. The flowing mess shimmered as it purged Seadramon of the darkness within. His fractal code emerged just as Mei appeared.

“Great work Lekismon,” she said, sweeping the digi-vice as she yelled,” Fractal Code, digitize!”

Only an egg was left as Seadramon turned to pixels, his last words the forced name,” Epsilon…”

“Are you okay Mei?” they asked as she walked away, muttering,” Stupid fish spilled my coffee.”

They walked along as if nothing happened. Michael and Christine laughed as Takuya and Sarah followed their example. J.P. tried teaching Zoe a magic trick as Koichi and Beth listened to music together. Tommy and Emma played “I spy” as Mei walked along with Koji. She was uncomfortable, trying to force herself to speak. As he went along, his hands relaxed behind his head, the lock on her mouth suddenly burst as she released,” I’ve been thinking and I’ve decided to consider being friends with you.”

“Really?” he asked smugly. Her face was like an apple, her cheeks like cherries as she said,” You did try your best to save me, and I was awake when you talked to me last night, and I’m starting to think you’re not like the others.”

“So what, now you wanna be friends?”

“No,” she said, trying to keep up her pride as she explained,” We’re friends on hold. Only when I say so can we officially can each other friends. You’re still just my bodyguard.’

He stared at her, confused and struggling to solve the puzzle that was Mei Lynn Sung. But, for now he was okay with being a “friend on hold” as she was adjusting to her bad romance. But, their quest went on. They walked into the sun drenched beach as the Station lay only a day away.