" An Ultimate Level..." Tohma said slowly in awe of the situation.
They had hurried the butler to come back to the Norstein residence with Agumon before heading to the designated area, which happened to be the place where the DATS HQ building had previously been. It had been in the process of rebuilding, but now it had been reduced to a pile of rubble once again... and a giant Digimon was standing right on top of it. The tall highway lights which would normally have been keeping the area alit at night were still up, but they were acting as a spotlight for the Digimon now.
" Hey, are YOU the one who did this?" Masaru shouted up high from the far distance they had stopped at. He didn't think the Digimon would even hear him. Apparently, it didn't, since no response came.
Tohma pulled out his Digiwindow to analyze the Digimon.
" Omegamon... This one's no ordinary Ultimate; he's a combination of two Ultimates, WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon."
" Hmph, then that's all the better since the two of US are here!" Masaru said with a grin, " Agumon, let's go!"
" Yeah, Aniki!"
" WAIT, Masaru!" Tohma quickly grabbed Masaru by the shoulder. " Take a better look first. Something's unusual about him."
He was right. The eerily tall, white, machine-like Digimon was simply turning his head from side to side, as if in search of something. His noble stance and cape billowing behind him didn't suit the fact that he was standing on a mass of buildings he didn't even seem to be aware he had destroyed.
" Well, whatever he's doing, we don't have time for it," Masaru turned around shortly to face Tohma. " We've finally got a chance for a fight. And first off, he's gonna attract a lot of bad attention with that size of his. Either way, we gotta take him down, so why wait?"
" He's obviously not another Belphemon out to destroy the world. If we fight him with our Ultimates here, then we'll just be making another mess out of the city!"
Masaru paused. " Che. Then let's drag him over to some open place where we CAN beat the crap out of him!"
" You just want a fight."
" Hell ya I do. Know how long it's been?!"
Tohma grabbed Masaru's shoulder once more. " Then you can spar me in boxing after this if you want. Just CALM DOWN for now."
Masaru briefly looked over at Agumon, who seemed eager to fight just as much as he did. He threw his Digimon a short apologetic look before snarling back at Tohma. " ...You're really gonna get it."
" Hmph. Try me."
After their agreement, Tohma realized Gaomon from his Digivice and they all headed towards Omegamon.
The DATS operator, Aoi, had done the smart thing and had prevented the filming crew from coming too close to the designated area, as a battle between Ultimates would put them in too much danger. In fact, the whole area had been pretty solidly evacuated by the time the DATS duo had arrived. The crew would be allowed to record from a distance, but they weren't likely to get anything worthwhile anyway.
" Geez... Hey, you up there! Are you even aware that you just destroyed that building?!" Masaru shouted when he got within hearing range.
Omegamon slowly turned his head to face the group that had approached him. His voice came at them like it was coming through a gigantic concert speaker. " Is that what happened to this building? That's too bad."
" Too bad?!" Masaru frowned, a little dumbfounded.
" I had difficulty finding an opening to the human world. This was the only one I could find after weeks of searching. I believe the other end happened to be inside this building, causing it to collapse upon my entrance."
" Ahh, this guy talks just like a certain other weirdo I know..."
" Don't look at me like that, Masaru," Tohma said as he raised an eyebrow. " Omegamon, what business do you have here in the human world?"
" Me? I'm just here as a mediator and escort. The one who's really here for business is..."
Out of the darkness under Omegamon's cape, a small figure hurled towards the humans.
" Tohma, INCOMING!" Masaru warned as he dived away from the object.
Tohma ducked out just in time. The pavement of the highway beneath them gave out and almost completely spliced into two by the crack from the impact.
" What the hell...?" Construction particles cluttered the air around them and Masaru had to shield his eyes for a moment. But that moment was short-lived, for he soon sensed a deadly aura behind him...
He turned around in a split second and leapt back. In front of his eyes, he saw a slick of silver flash through the dust. And not just a flash... a slash. A thin trail of dust followed through as the silver darted by. That was a definite slash. The sharp kind of slash.
" Shit!" Masaru found himself saying as he dodged more flashes. He couldn't see anything else in the dust.
" Aniki! It's a Digimon!" came a shout from another direction.
" A Digimon? There's another?!"
The attacks stopped. The dust finally started to give way.
" Take the shield!" came a girl's voice. Before Masaru could say anything, a round shield was thrown in his direction. There was an incredibly thick thorn-like piece sticking out of the face side. The other side had a grip for him to hold onto. And not a single millisecond later, something was attacking him again.
' Why a shield?' was his first thought, but since he had one to go against whatever sharp thing was after him, he might as well use it. He held onto the grip and brought the shield out in front of him, and the next few attacks that came upon him clattered upon the shield's thorn.
He was just about to see who had attacked him through the clearing dust, but the figure vanished. His instincts told him to watch his back, and sure enough, the next attack came from behind. He turned around in a whirl and let the shield do its work, but this time he was literally sent flying.
" Strike Roll!" came the feminine voice again.
He'd been sent pretty high up. In fact, he was on eye-level with Omegamon...
" Whoa." He felt a touch of battle nostalgia as he took a glimpse of Omegamon's huge eyes high up in the sky. Omegamon himself hadn't moved an inch.
Masaru recognized the voice and looked down to see that most of the dust had cleared away and Gaogamon was emerging, Tohma on his back. The great blue dog-like Digimon leapt up and cushioned Masaru's fall, letting Masaru cling to the far end of his backside with his free hand.
" Good save!" Masaru said to the both of them. " Now what the heck is going on?"
" That Digimon who's attacking you..." Tohma began.
" An opening!"
BAM! Masaru was suddenly knocked off from Gaogamon's back. He had managed to bring his shield up in time, however, and once again he'd been sent into the air.
" Got you this time!"
It was Masaru's line. In the next strike, even in mid-air, Masaru had grabbed the assailant by the object that had hit the shield. It was the massive blade of a broad sword. With leverage, he brought his legs over the blade and slid down, heading directly towards the wielder and freaking her out.
They both ended up collapsing on the ground in a messy heap.
" Ow, ow, ow..." Masaru muttered as he picked himself up with the shield still in hand. He got a good look at the assailant under him. It was a very obviously female character wearing a helmet with feathers coming out on the ends like wings. " Uh..."
" Get off me, you oaf!"
She quickly got back up, and realizing that her sword had been thrown some distance along the way, struck out with her fist instead. Masaru caught it face on. There was a set of ferocious serpent eyes staring at him from her gloves, surprising him a little. However, his gaze flashed to another fist coming his direction, and he stopped that one with his other fist as well.
He smirked at catching his opponent in a deadlock... or so he thought.
She flipped back with superhuman strength, swinging Masaru with her in a crazy waving motion. Masaru was forced to let go before he was slammed into the ground from the momentum. He was lucky enough to even be able to get back on his feet from the swing.
They had brief eye contact before they lunged at each other again. Or at least he thought he did since her helmet had a pair of serpent eyes that caught his attention. And again they were in a punch fest. The others didn't even bother to interrupt at this point. Agumon just stared in awe, Tohma and Gaogamon watched with casual interest in the back, and Omegamon seemed to not particularly care about what was going on at all.
Eventually, both Masaru and the female stood back from each other, panting off their exhaustion from trying to sock it to each other.
" You're... pretty tough... for a human," the female said between heavy breaths. " Let's call it a draw for now."
" You're not so easy yourself, for a female..." Masaru returned, tossing away the shield to relieve himself of the weight. " So who are you?"
She waited a while before replying, and as she did, she took her sword and shield back up and struck a tall pose. And she was in fact taller than both Masaru and Tohma... by perhaps a few centimeters. " Minervamon, of the 12 Olympian Gods. And you, young warrior?"
" Young warrior?" Masaru repeated, feeling a little odd from the title. " The name's Masaru. Daimon Masaru. What are you doing on my turf?"
" I'm looking for a certain Digimon whom I believe went here to the human world a few weeks ago. I don't suppose you would know where to find him. I've been looking for quite a long time."
" You had to bring this big 'ol Digimon here for that? You guys destroyed our HQ just when it was being rebuilt!"
" I don't know anything about this whole human world stuff, so I had to ask the first person I could find to take me there, that's all!" she countered with a pout, " No one besides big, tough guys like him ever bother to come near me. That's just how it is."
" Minervamon, based off Minerva, the Roman name of Athena, the Greek goddess of crafts and wisdom," Tohma stated as he approached the two, his Digiwindow open in front of him. " If you came here looking for someone, why did you attack us?"
Minervamon jabbed her sword into the ground (breaking more concrete, although the whole road would need fixing anyway) and started fiddling around with the locks of sky blue hair on the sides of her face. It was then when Masaru noticed she had some kind of hairpin on her locks, a silver, hexagonal one with some design on it. " I hadn't gotten a fight ever since I started looking for the guy. I needed to get it out of my system and you guys looked like you could take a few beatings."
Tohma looked like he wasn't sure if he was supposed to take that as a compliment, but Masaru sure did. " Heh, how convenient! I was just thinking the same thing."
Tohma came closer, still riding Gaogamon's back. " Looks like you two would get along just fine. You won't need a sparring match with me later at this rate, Masaru."
Ah. Something just now made a little pang sound inside him.
But the continuing conversation distracted him from lingering on the mental pain.
" Who're you?"
" I'm Tohma."
" Hmph." Minervamon said as she crossed her arms. " You look like some horseback prince from a fairy tale, except with some weird outfit on and an odd steed instead."
" Wha..." Perhaps he felt offended, for he dismounted Gaogamon and had him de-evolve back to Gaomon upon hearing Minervamon.
" Oh, don't worry about it. It's just what I picked up from reading so many stories from the human books that were in the Digital World."
Tohma looked puzzled. " You can read human books?"
" A good friend taught me. And with all the free time I've got, I do a lot of casual reading. Would you believe it?"
" I have no reason to doubt you..."
" Hey, Minervamon. Who is it you're looking for anyway?"
" Hmm? Oh, a fellow named BanchouLeomon. He's the one who taught me how to read! I was going to pay a visit to him at our usual place, but he wasn't there when I looked, and I heard he was here in the human world, so now I'm worried about him."
" BanchouLeomon!" Masaru exclaimed. " Wait, what are you worried about?"
" Eh?" At the question, Minervamon suddenly lost the excitement in her voice. " Well, uh... I'm sure you guys kind of know. When humans see things they're not familiar with... a lot of them get scared and do all sorts of horrible things to them. I mean, at least I know differently thanks to BanchouLeomon, but a lot of Digimon back in the Digital World think ALL humans are like that."
" ......" Masaru and Tohma both clenched their teeth and knew what the other was thinking at first glance. They were all TOO familiar with what Minervamon was referring to.
" BanchouLeomon can hold for himself," Masaru said after a while. " Although I do wonder where he's been lately."
" Speaking of that..." Omegamon suddenly spoke up, " He's not here."
" What?! What do you mean?" shouted Minervamon.
" Yggdrasil gave us Royal Knights tracking devices for that Digimon. The tracking device isn't responding at all, which means he's not on this side. He probably went back to the Digital World already."
" Yggdrasil...?" Tohma repeated.
" What does the maintenance server want with BanchouLeomon?" Minervamon said with a wide frown. " And why didn't you tell me before we went into the human world?! What was the point of us coming here?!"
" The... thought had never occurred to me until just now."
She pointed an accusing finger up at the other Digimon, looking thoroughly unconvinced. " You just wanted to see what the human world was like!"
The big Digimon simply stood, unmoving, as he had been since arrival. But his eyes veered to one side conspicuously.
" Haa, well, there's no use griping about it now," Minervamon groaned as she went into a limp position for a moment. " Okay then, we're heading back to the Digital World! And you guys seem to know him too, so you're coming with us to help me find him!"
" Hey, don't decide things on your own!"
" We don't have the time for that kind of request..."
But before they could say or do anything else in resistance, Minervamon had pushed them towards Omegamon, who surprised the DATS members as he bent down and scooped them all up. The giant Digimon proceeded to take a light leap, and all of a sudden, a Digital Gate expanded underneath them, and Omegamon let himself fall in, dragging everyone else with him.
" EHHH?!" came the general shouts of disbelief from the DATS members.
They arrived on the other side in a location they were all too familiar with. The deep blue crystalline structures in the wide space surrounding them, the giant floating rocks that made perfect stepping stones for Omegamon...
" This is Mercurimon's palace..."
" Oh, you've been here too? Such experienced humans~" Minervamon said in cheeky delight.
Omegamon released them in the area where Mercurimon's throne lay. He then proceeded to turn back to the gate room and cried, " ALL DELETE!"
A pure white light flashed out of the cracks behinds the throne, followed by a long whoosh sound.
" EH?" Masaru found himself repeating again. " Did he just..."
" He destroyed the gate," Tohma finished, eyebrow twitching.
" Deleted, more say. He did mention to me before that that gate was getting unstable anyway." Minervamon corrected. She was peering at some devices in her hand with curiosity.
Tohma's eyes widened when he saw them. " Hey, those are our communication devices...!"
CRACK. In the next moment, both Tohma and Masaru's communication devices had been reduced to useless, broken shells.
" Nooo! I had mine so well-customized too..."
Masaru couldn't help but feel a little sorry for Tohma mourning over their broken devices. But then he realized that their way of contact to DATS HQ had just been eliminated as well. And that meant no going back to the human world unless they managed to find another Digital Gate. They were stuck in the Digital World until then...
" Errr, sorry about that. I just wanted to see what kind of functions they had... but I've never been that great with machines."
Tohma's eyebrow twitched again. " Your ineptness with machines is even worse than Masaru's. Oh lord..."
" We're stuck here, Tohma."
" ...I know."
" Eh, we're stuck here?!" came the cry from Masaru's follower.
" All the more reason to find BanchouLeomon as soon as possible! I'm sure he'd know where to find another Digital Gate. He knows so much about both the human and Digital worlds, after all," Minervamon said as she walked towards the center of the throne room.
There was a huge opening at the top of the throne room now, letting the night sky seep in from above. Assumedly, it was how Omegamon had entered.
The two DATS members and their Digimon all looked at each other for a moment.
" Not like we've got a better choice, Masaru. They... they don't seem to mean harm anyway," Tohma admitted.
" Yeah, yeah. Let's go already. The sooner we find him, the sooner we can get ourselves back to the real world."
Omegamon stepped out from the gate room and brought them all out of Mercurimon's palace and up through the skies.
" I'll take you guys to one stop and then I'll have to part ways for now. I'll need to report to Yggdrasil," he said.
" Yggdrasil... you mentioned him before," Tohma noted.
" We Royal Knights are Yggdrasil's loyal servants."
" Yggdrasil... ah, I just remembered!" Masaru shouted all of a sudden. " Dad went to look for Yggdrasil! If you know where Yggdrasil is, Dad's gotta be there! Can you take us to him?"
" Yggdrasil chooses who he will meet, not the other way around. If Yggdrasil wishes to meet you, Yggdrasil will appear before you. That is all."
" Whaaa? That's ridiculous... But I guess I knew it wouldn't be that easy either. Do you know if my father met Yggdrasil at least?"
" ...There was one human who did."
Masaru's eyes widened in excitement. " That must've been him then! Can you take me to HIM? Or at least tell him that we're looking for him?"
" But he's no longer with Yggdrasil. It makes no difference."
" ......" What kind of answer was that? He knew there couldn't have been anyone else who had met Yggdrasil, but if his father had done that, where the heck was that old man NOW?
" He's no longer with Yggdrasil... what exactly do you mean by that?" Tohma asked. Masaru looked over at him and was surprised to see the blond look so serious.
" I'm not aware of the details. I was not present when the event occurred."
Masaru, sitting cross-legged on the massive MetalGarurumon cannon, bent forward and plopped his head on his palms, pouting like no one's business and cursing. Tohma, however, fell into deeper thought.
" What could've happened to him if he hadn't tried making contact with us after meeting Yggdrasil?" the genius pondered.
" Hey, hey you guys, we're looking for BanchouLeomon, not some other guy!" Minervamon reminded them.
" Oh right. Omegamon, didn't you say you've got a device that tracks BanchouLeomon?" Masaru spoke up. " Since you said he's back in the Digital World, bring us to where he is!"
" Mm, the problem with that is... It's more like a Doppler device. It only tells me if BanchouLeomon is in the area and the reaction changes depending on one's distance from him. It doesn't show his exact location, however."
" ...What a useless device." Masaru grumbled. " You guys live in the DIGITAL World! Shouldn't your technology or whatever be all high-tech and all?"
" Perhaps I should've checked Yggdrasil for an upgrade. I haven't upgraded the device since I first received it five years ago."
Masaru and Tohma sweatdropped. " You've ruined my vision of the Royal Knights being responsible Digimon," Tohma said with some humorous pity. " In that case, since you say you're going to report to Yggdrasil, upgrade it after you drop us off somewhere and come back to us in the morning. Would that work out?"
" Sounds like a plan," Minervamon agreed.
" All right," Omegamon said afterwards. " Then how does staying at that building over there look for you?"
Omegamon didn't even need to point, for in easy sight ahead was the cliff where Masaru and Tohma had obtained their Burst Digivices. There was light coming somewhere from the inside of the dojo sitting atop of it, illuminating the long row of windows from their distance.
" Huh? I thought that dojo had been destroyed," Tohma commented.
" This place changes every time we come to it, apparently," Masaru said.
He remembered the first time they had gone to it, when it was just Tohma and their Digimon and they had been searching for a vaccine to cure Yoshino and Ikuto. That upside-down mansion had contained some kind of clue about his father before Blossomon had destroyed it, and when they had come back, BanchouLeomon had them use the dojo that had been set up there in its place. And now it was back...
" I'm sure a building is more suitable for you humans than a place like Mercurimon's palace," said Minervamon. " Speaking of which, I wonder where Mercurimon went."
" You knew Mercurimon?" Masaru asked.
" Oh boy do I know him~" Minervamon replied with a sly smile, her serpent eyes glowing. Masaru blinked. Present tense...
" Minervamon is one of the twelve Olympian Gods along with Mercurimon. It'd only be natural," Tohma noted.
" He and I are close-close buddies, just like BanchouLeomon. He's like my older brother except he's so much nicer than an average older brother~ I haven't seen him ever since he started guarding the gate here ten years ago though. I normally live very far away from here. Like alllll the way on the other side of the Digital World, you could say. But I can still remember making a ruckus with him just like it were yesterday. Oh, how I miss him... I wonder if he's doing all right?"
Masaru, Tohma and their Digimon glanced at each other in slight worry.
" The next time I see him, I've got so many stories to tell him..."
Omegamon softly landed next to the dojo at the cliff. Minervamon immediately took to running inside the dojo to check it out. In such aspect, she was even more childish than the others had thought, despite possibly being far older than them.
Tohma gave his worried look to the giant machine Digimon.
" Omegamon, I'm sure you know what happened to Mercurimon..."
" Yes, but I figured it would be best for someone closer to her such as BanchouLeomon to tell her the truth. She needs someone like him to be by her side when she learns of it."
The blond smiled faintly. " For a Royal Knight, you're really considerate of others... I've renewed my opinion of you."
" Hmm." Omegamon said with just the tiniest change of emotion. " I will return tomorrow morning then. Good night." With a grand wave of his cape, Omegamon launched himself from the ground and was gone in an instant.
" All right, we should head in as well. Some sleepover this turned out to be, eh, Masaru?"
" Ah? Oh... Yeah, not exactly what I imagined it'd be like," Masaru joked back.
Actually, deep down, he was feeling some sense of loss, but he couldn't pinpoint what exactly it was still.
" Sorry about this, just when I had finally been able to return the favor..."
" We'll just have to redo it another day. First, we gotta get back to the human world."
" Hmm~ You guys want to go back to that human world?" came a familiar female voice. Minervamon had her head peeped out from the dojo entrance. " I frankly wasn't all too impressed with whatever I saw. Too many blocky buildings in the way. I could hardly see anything except those!"
" It certainly wouldn't be much of a sight when everyone had evacuated anyway. None of the other lights were on," Tohma informed.
" Whatever. I just go where my friends are, and since BanchouLeomon's here, I'm fine staying here."
Tohma just shrugged and made his way into the dojo. Masaru didn't say anything as he followed.
The only light inside came from a sort of chimney that had been added there since the last time they had been to it. Nobody asked who had lit the fire in the chimney, but they were happy to have it. The fire gave the whole dojo space an earthy glow, bright enough for them to see, but also dim enough for them to rest their eyes easily. There was even some bedding material in a closet space behind one of the walls... or more like practice mats, meditation pillows and the like. Well, they had to make with what they had.
" A fighter's lifestyle can be quite simple, indeed..." Tohma observed as he settled onto the mats. His gaze fell on Minervamon and the other Digimon, who had all already gone to sleep all huddled together next to the chimney fire. It was a rather touching sight.
" It's definitely not the big soft bed YOU're used to," Masaru said, settling next to him.
" I've spent plenty of nights in the Digital World, as I'm sure you're familiar with. I can deal with it just fine, thank you."
" I know, I know. Don't get all uptight about it." Masaru laid back on the mats next to Tohma. " But if you want to know something, even this feels so much more comfortable than the DATS warehouse shelter."
" The warehouse shelter..." Tohma suddenly grew quiet.
" It was HORRIBLE trying to get to sleep there. The floors were so freaking hard and cold. I mean, I'm a man so normally I can take that much, but that warehouse was SERIOUSLY uncomfortable. Of course, you wouldn't know..."
" You're right. I wouldn't know. But if you're comfortable here now, that's all that matters. Let's just hope... you won't have to go through that again. Good night, Masaru."
" ...... Good night."
Masaru had a flash of déjà-vu right there. Wasn't their sleepover before... just like this?
He wasn't going to have things end up the same way twice in a row. He sat up then brought himself over Tohma, his arms holding himself up to blockade the blond in between.
" No more beating around the bush. I've had enough."
Tohma, startled, made a hollow throat noise.
" What the heck is it you want?! Do I need to punch you again? Whatever it is, just say it clearly."
" What I want?" Tohma said, very apparently confused.
" Yeah." Masaru said firmly.
" Is that how I seemed..." He turned his head to the side for a moment, as if contemplating the feedback, then turned back with an apologetic face. " I'm sorry, Masaru."
The Digimon were still sound asleep despite Masaru's mini outburst earlier. The chimney fire crackled on while Tohma continued.
" I kind of got ahead of myself back on ElDoradimon. I hadn't imagined things would have changed so quickly afterwards. I... want you to forget what happened there. Didn't I say that before?"
It was then when Masaru remembered where they had ended their previous conversation. Sure, Tohma had given him an answer... but he still didn't feel satisfied. Whatever kind of answer he was looking for, that definitely wasn't it.
" That answer's not going to satisfy me... but we gotta move on somehow."
" That's what I had in mind."
" Okay, then how about this? I'll try forgetting about it or whatever. But then YOU need to forget about it too. I don't really know what's going on here, but you've been acting a little strangely ever since you came back. Basically, you're saying you want to do some kind of rewind, right?"
Tohma's eyebrows lifted up his forehead. " In essence, yes, I suppose."
" But that's impossible."
Even if he were to use the memory erasing device, he doubted he would forget. He had already broken past its effects once, and he knew he would end up doing it again if it ever were to reoccur.
" ... But at this rate, we'll just be stuck in the same place. Masaru, you're the one who said..."
" Yeah, yeah, I know! That's why I'll do it. And you too, right?"
Even without the memory erasing device, he could still try to forget on his own. If that would stop Tohma from being so weird around him... If that would stop HIM from FEELING so weird around Tohma...
Tohma looked up at him, still sandwiched between Masaru's arms at his sides. After a slight pause, he nodded.
" Good. Now that's more like a man. We'll start as a refreshed team tomorrow morning, yeah?"
Tohma smiled. " You're just going to punch everything that gets in your way as usual, aren't you."
" Hmph, if you think I'm so easy to read, then that's all the better for you to strategize some support, isn't it?"
" Glory hog."
They stared each other down in the firelight. Or more like Masaru did and Tohma stared upwards. Then Masaru gave him a smirk and turned back towards his own spot on the mats, freeing Tohma. He chuckled to himself quietly, glad to relive a bit of their light arguing. Despite their negative comments at each other, he felt quite relaxed by the end, like squishing a stress ball. This was more like their familiar old days.
And out of the quiet came an even quieter whisper. " Anything to support you, Masaru."
Masaru blinked. He wasn't sure if he had heard that at all or if it was just his imagination. " ...What did you say?"
" Good night, Masaru."
" A... Ah. Good night, Tohma."
Masaru felt some huge relief in him finally, but at the same time he was still a little confused. Well, at the very least, the situation was looking a lot better for now.
That was right. He was in the Digital World. He could fight again. His comrades were by his side: his best fighting pal, Agumon, and the one he trusted most... Tohma. Even after everything they went through because of Kurata, he found himself only trusting Tohma even more.
Now if only he could tell what the hell that genius nobleman was REALLY thinking at times like this.
But no matter. He knew he didn't have the ability to read minds anyway. If it came down to it, he'd punch it out of Tohma sooner or later. Now that they were going to start on a clean slate (well, "cleaner" slate), perhaps it would put his mind more at ease...
He stared into the fireplace as he sensed himself nod off to sleep. The flickering of the flames seemed to grow heavier and darker, until he had drifted off completely into a separate consciousness.
And within that consciousness, only Tohma was there with him...
I figure Yggdrasil would be a much less intrusive existence as long as both worlds weren't in perilous danger of colliding into each other like the canon. ^^;