Odaiba Memorial Day- 20 Years Later
Chapter Nine- Joe
"Mimi, Iím home" Joe walked through the door, briefcase in hand. He set it down, near the doors entrance and quietly slipped off his shoes before walking into the living room. Mimi had started dinner and strolled in, greeting Joe with an obligatory "arrival from work" kiss.
"Howíd it go?"
"Another fun day at the office." From his cynical tone, Mimi could tell that it was anything but, "I had a guy in that I needed a urine sample from. He just couldnít get anything out. Set me back like half an hour. They donít teach you how to deal with that kind of thing."
"Huh. Well, we got something in the mail that might cheer you up." Mimi smiled, then walked to an end table to retrieve the notice. Joe did perk up for a second.
"Please say they decided to drop the suit." Joe was in a little bit of hot water in the legal department, and he just wished he could get an instant reprieve and be done with it.
"NoÖ itís not about that. Although I think there was something else about it." Mimi took the invitation and handed it to Joe. "It looks like the digi-destined havenít been forgotten after all."
"How do you know whatís in here?" Joe asked while opening it.
"I already got one and replied. I just wanted to see the look on your face when you opened yours." Joeís reaction was not what Mimi expected.
A digi-destined reunion. That doesnít sound so bad. But in Odaiba? That might be a problem.
Joe was pretty indifferent about the whole thing. On one hand, who could pass up getting to see the other ten, some of which Joe hadnít seen in as many years. On the other handÖ Joeís budget didnít exactly have room for two round-trip plane tickets to Japan. Joe looked over at Mimi.
"You already replied?"
"Of course I did. Why, is that a problem?"
"I donít knowÖ we canít just throw money around anymore. Especially with this lawsuit."
"JoeÖ can you really put a price on seeing all our friends again?" Joe knew Mimi was right, but he couldnít just shirk the responsibility.
"No, Iím just looking at things from a money standpoint. I donít know if we can afford it right now." Joe had to bring up one more point as well, "And besidesÖ what if Mattís there?" Mimi frowned.
"Thatís half the reason Iím going. I need to talk to him. I just walked out on him like that, it wasnít right of me." Mimi looked down for a second, then continued, "I really want to go to this Joe. I donít care how much it costs."
"Iím not saying we canít go. I want to go too. I just think we have to see whatís going on with the lawsuit before we settle on anything." Mimi nodded slowly.
"I just wish you would have talked to me before replying." Mimi nodded again. Joe sighed. He didnít want to say that to Mimi, but he was looking at things from a realistic sense, and couldnít avoid the possibility of them not being able to afford it.
"You did get something from the lawyers. I didnít open it."
"Okay. Iíll look at it after dinner." Joe sniffed the air, and the stench of smoke entered his nostrils. Mimi must have smelled the same thing, and she rushed back into the kitchen to save dinner from the haze of smoke. After clearing the smoke away, she looked at the meal, and turned to Joe, smiling.
Joe had a very simple concept for success- he wanted an enjoyable job, enjoyable living conditions, and someone to share this joy with. In college, Joe received an opportunity to study abroad at a school in New York. He enjoyed the open, rural atmosphere a lot more than the cramped college he attended in Japan. After finding an excellent medical school in New York, Joe decided to move there and get his doctorate. And he did. It wasnít long before he found himself licensed to do anything in his field of medicine. And with a friend and colleague, he helped open a clinic upstate. Nothing fancy- just a nice, family-friendly facility. When he started out, Joe loved it. Working with regular people every day, helping people through whatever it was that ailed them. It was enjoyable work.
The clinic slowly grew. It wasnít anything too major, merely requiring some assistants and a secretary to handle the extra business. But still, the clinic turned a profit, and a healthy one at that. It wasnít that of a master brain surgeon, but Joe was definitely making a salary befitting a doctor. With that money, Joe had plenty to work with when house hunting, and he found what he was looking for just outside of town. Not too big, not too small. Not in the middle of everything, but also not in the middle of nowhere. It was a fine house, and Joe found the spacious conditions enjoyable.
Thatís two! Now for the hard oneÖ
Joe couldnít remember exactly why he was in Los Angeles. He recalled something about his colleague and a previous engagement, but the details were foggy. What was not foggy was what he found there. Mimi Tachikawa. He was in the right place at the right time, and had to do nothing more than show up on time for dinner and receive an embrace to find his soulmate. Before he knew what hit him, he had Mimi in his arms, and he had no intention of letting go. Much to Joeís surprise, nothing ever tried to take Mimi away. She was his. He was hers. He had somebody to share his joy with.
And thereís my hat trick. How about that?
It was almost too easy. He had what he wanted, and it didnít take him half the time to achieve success as he had expected. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, Joe lived very happily for the first couple years of his marriage. He had a loving wife, and things were perfect. Even when he had problems at work or elsewhere, Mimi was always there to comfort him. When Mimi showed concern for whatever he was going through, his problems just seemed to disappear. It was bliss.
In reality, not much had changed. The honeymoon was over, but it wasnít something that seemed to cause concern. Mimi and Joe were still very much in love, and both made it a point to express that love every now and thenÖ even if "now" was defined as Valentineís Day and "then" was defined as their wedding anniversary. It was a typical marriage, and Joe knew that it was to be expected.
And now, here he was, eating dinner on a calm Wednesday evening. Or was it Thursday? Or maybe he worked too hard on the weekend at it was only a Monday? No matter, it was calm. In the company of the one he loved, eating a slightly-singed chicken dinner with Mimi. She was talking about her company, and the moderate success that today brought. He didnít really care, but acknowledged the story with a smile and a nod. Nothing to be too concerned about, since Joe knew that Mimi didnít give a hoot about the medical profession but sat patiently through his stories. AhÖ marriage.
So this is what itís like to be successful? To live day in and day out in the same routine? Having the unpredictable cued in through proper sources such as career or spouse? Even when I get the unpredictable, it doesnít seem very fun. Itís usually just a guy that just isnít ready to go, smoke coming from the oven at dinnertimeÖ or a cheap lawsuit that just wonít go away.
Joe tried to convince himself that he was happy. Mimi certainly didnít seem to have a problem with daily life, why couldnít Joe come to terms with routine? As a child, he hated surprises. He loved routine, and didnít want to deal with the unexpected. Now he was living his mundane routine life that he thought he wanted. In fact, he had everything he wanted. He had his job, his house, and his wifeÖ yet there was something missing. He looked across as Mimi finished her story.
"Thatís great." Joe smiled at his wife. She returned it.
"Isnít it though?" Mimi looked over to the side, and just so happened to see one of the lights on the patio go out, "Oh, a light went out. Could you fix that sometime?"
"Yeah, yeahÖ Iíll get around to it." Joe sighed. This was the unpredictable for him.
"Whatís wrong?" Mimi smiled at Joe. Despite her whole saga with Matt, her fall from stardom, and the decline of her company, she didnít seem any bit unhappy. And she seemed to want to comfort Joe right now, "Nervous about the lawsuit?"
"Um. Yeah. Kind of."
"I told you something was in the mail. Go open it."
"I know I should. Iím just afraid that thereís something bad in there. Like something that could prevent us from going to the reunion."
"FineÖ Iíll open it." Mimi stood up and headed towards the end table. She took the large manila envelope, opened it, and removed the papers inside, about four or five pages of material. Joe watched her every facial expression, looking for a sign of either complete hope or utter doom. Neither came.
"WellÖ whatís the news?" Joe asked nervously.
"Itís from a bunch of lawyers, do you think itís that easy to say?" Mimi smiled at Joe, "Thisíll take me awhile to translateÖ fix the light." Joe nodded and headed to the closet to find the spare bulbs.
It was an honest mistake. A simple little erroneous judgment on Joeís part. In most jobs, itís nothing to worry about. Referees make bad calls all the time, and they normally donít face anything worse than complaints from fans. Nobodyís perfect, right? But unfortunately, when lives are at stake, the little things can lead to big problems. He heard all of the patientís problems, did a few simple tests, and came to the conclusion that the patient was feeling the aftermaths of a minor concussion that he had suffered recently. A few drugs would fix things, which Joe prescribed and sent the nice man on his way. Joe was definitely caught by surprise a few months later that the nice man had just been diagnosed with a severe brain aneurysm, something that Joe allegedly could have detected by undergoing a few more tests. This all added up to one healthy lawsuit against Joe.
It wasnít the lawsuit, or the patient, that Joe was mad at. The guy probably had a right to be angry, if indeed Joe made a mistake. It was just the idea of Joe making a mistake which almost cost the a person his life. After hearing the news, he wrote up a sincere apology immediately, but one of his lawyers prevented him from sending it. They didnít want to create the impression that Joe actually did make a mistake, did they? One small error, but one that could cost Joe everything. It was a sickening concept.
It wasnít as if Joe hated his job. He remembered the day he opened the clinic with his associate. It was a great day, and he never doubted the move for a second. And it was such a great job. Helping the local people, becoming friends with them at the same time. He was the local doctor, everybody knew him, and it was a great feeling. He was starting to become "Olí Reliable" all over again. And that wasnít completely gone. He was still known as the doctor in town, and he would often get a smile on his face whenever somebody thanked him for his help.
Once in awhile, at least. The town experienced a bit of a population boom in the years after Joe arrived. Where there were usually quiet friendly villagers were now people who tried to get away from the big city, only to bring the big city with them in the process. Some were rude, some were grumpy, and some had no patience at all. That didnít bode well, since the population growth led to more business, which led to fully booked afternoons, full waiting rooms, and less time to fully treat each patient like they were a special individual. Joe had to get them in, figure out what was wrong, and get them out without being thrown off schedule. And although it was what Joe wanted to do, and although he had no intention of getting out of the business, it was clearly not as magical as his parents had made it out to be.
But itís not like I plan on changing that any time soon.
Joe wasnít Mr. Fix-it when it came to home improvement, but he knew how to change a light bulb. Well, most of them at least. This one was in a very precarious position on the patio. It was at a certain angle, and required just the right approach.
"Letís seeÖ if I take it out from the rightÖ maybe I can get itÖ Iím going to need backup for this." Joe found the project to be a nice change of pace from his normal life. He managed to forget about his problems and concentrate on the task at hand. He was ready to conquer the foe, smite the enemyÖ and swiftly headed to the garage to get a stepladder before he realized how pathetic this really was.
His master plan had come to full fruition. The light bulb had been successfully changed, and was shining brighter than ever before. Joe got down off the ladder and marveled at his work. He had created light where there was none before!
"Another problem solved, thanks to Old Reliable- Dr. Joe Kido!" Joe smiled at the most holy light before realizing that he actually said that out loud. Worse yet, somebody had heard him. Still worse yet was who it wasÖ
"Is that you Kido? Howís it hanging?" The voice was unmistakable. Larry Matthews, Joeís next-door neighbor. The population boom had had its effects in Joeís own neighborhood as well. Joeís house was outside of town. But the recent growth had forced the town to increase its city limits a little, and Joe was now just inside of town rather than just outside of it. And in time, Joe found himself bombarded with neighbors from every direction. To the right of his house used to be a beautiful line of sycamore trees. Now, it was the Matthews family residence.
Call me anti-social, but the sycamore trees were better company. Quieter, calmerÖ and probably smarter than these people.
The Matthews family was everything that Joe disliked about the townís population growth. It brought these kind of people. There was the wife of the family. An overbearing woman who loved to gossip and would talk until your ear fell off. The rebellious son, the one who hated everything their parents did, including moving. He retaliated by wrecking havoc on anything he could get away with. Joe tried not to recall the hell that was last Halloween. And then there was that boyís darling father. Larry. The man of the house, and probably the worst of them all. Obnoxious, uneducated, and out-and-out annoying. Of course, he was completely chummy when it came to Joe.
"So whatís up doc? Fixing the barn?" Larry chuckled at his own joke and took another sip of the beer attached to his right hand. Joe tried not to look at Larry, which wasnít very hard to do, since Larry wasnít wearing a shirt. Given Larryís figure, it wasnít a pretty sight, and in Joeís mind, totally indecentÖ even if it was July.
"Iím just changing a light bulb." Joe tried playing down the situation, trying to end the conversation and reach the sanctuary of his home, "No big deal." Larry nodded.
"Looks good, thatís some fine bulbing you did there. Why donít you come on over and have a drink to celebrate?" Joe shook his head. To Larry, any completed assignment, whether it be a changed light bulb or arriving home from work, was a reason to have a drink to celebrate.
"No. I donít really feel like it."
"Aw come on, you can bring your wife. Weíll make an evening of it." Joe shook his head again. Despite Larry already being "happily" married, it was all too clear that Larry slightly envious of Joeís capture. Mimi was just as repulsed by Larry as Joe was, but it still annoyed Joe to no end. And thatís all Larry really was. An annoyance. Nothing to be worried about. Just a little housefly that keeps bugging you. With no flyswatter in sight.
"Sorry, Larry. Iím not in the mood."
"OhÖ hey! You have a stepladder! I need a stepladder! You gotta let me borrow that!"
"Just for a couple days. I got this stubborn ceiling fan that needs a good screwiní." Joe didnít feel like arguing, and handed the ladder over the fence. He didnít know if he was going to see it again, but Joe was willing to sacrifice it in order to get out of the conversation. "Thanks a bundle Kido, youíre a pal!" Joe rushed back into the house as Larry continued, "Oh, and say Ďhií to the missus for me!" Joe tried to ignore that as he rushed in.
Really, Larry was no worse than a lot of his other neighbors. They all had their own little quirks that make them irksome. The lady whose dog enjoys midnight barking sessions. The guy that believed the police to be his own personal problem-solvers, for him to call whenever he got annoyed with something. The one old man who spent all day on the porchÖ just staring back at you. These were no threats to his livelihood, no serious suitors to sweep Mimi away from under himÖ they were all just annoying. What could Joe do besides sit there and live with it?
By the time Joe went back into the house, he had completely forgotten about what was waiting for him.
"Joe, everything go okay out there?" Mimi had just set the papers on the end table.
"YeahÖ I survived Larry and the patio is bright again."
"My hero!" Mimi shouted with unbelievable sarcasm. Joe was cheered up for a full 0.3 seconds before getting back on track.
"So, what did the lawyers say?"
"Well, I think it was good news. Theyíre willing to settle, itís just a matter of how much that has yet to be determined."
"I guess thatís good. I said I was willing to apologize."
"Thatís part of it. If you assume responsibility, they said they can probably get it down toÖ" Mimi looked down and sighed. Joe put his hands on her shoulders, and tried to look her in the eyes.
"How much?" Mimi looked away quickly. She didnít want to see his reaction.
"Eighteen or nineteen thousand. Could be more, could be less. It all depends on the negotiations." Joe was pretty neutral. Nineteen thousand dollars was a lot of money. Add to that the inevitable legal fees, which heíd probably have to cover for both himself and the plaintiff (a standard bargaining tool). But it could be a lot worse.
"Nineteen thousandÖ ouch."
"Can we still afford to go to Japan?" This was obviously the most important thing on Mimiís mind. Joe didnít want to disappoint her, but didnít want to give her high hopes this soon.
"IÖ I donít know." Mimi started to tear up. She really wanted this, and the last thing he wanted to do was get in the way of it. After all, getting in the way of Mimiís dreams was probably the one thing that troubled him the most.
Joe vividly recalled all the hype. All the talk of "Americaís perfect couple." Matt and Mimi. People went nuts for it. He saw them on talk shows, looking as happy as can be. He saw them in the tabloids, in the news, in advertisements- everywhere. He was saturated with the buzz about his two friends. During their stay in the Digital World, Joe had a little thing for Mimi. It wasnít very significant, and nothing came out of it. Joe was fine with that. But seeing Matt and Mimi together seemed to spark certain emotions in Joe. Jealousy? There was obviously a little jealousy there, but confusion was probably the better word for it.
Joe thought he knew his team. He had to know how everybody reacted towards one another. It was the only way the group would be able to save the Digital World. Joe had perceived Matt as the loner in the group. He would come through for his friends when they needed him, but Matt obviously had his own agenda. And besides his own little crush on Mimi, Joe had observed no real romantic feelings lurking in any of the original digi-destined. They were all close, they were all friends, and they were all there for each other. But nobody was in love. Joe thought that was plain as day. And unless Mimi magically fell into his arms one day, Joe had reasoned that none of the digi-destined, except for maybe TK and Kari, would be romantically involved in the future. After all- if a giant monster hell-bent on killing you and your friends doesnít bring two people together, nothing will. Right?
Matt and Sora was strange enough. Joe was quite surprised when he heard the news about them. Joe didnít observe anything between Matt and Sora in the Digital World, and found it odd that the two found each other when they did. Joe could have delved into it, but quite frankly- he didnít care. The world was not going to be destroyed because Joe didnít know all the intimate details between Matt and Soraís relationship (unlike the first romp through the Digital World, as Joe could contend). That one came and went. Joe moved to America a year later, and didnít see much of Matt besides the tenth reunion. But then he saw Matt and Mimi appear together a few months later. And that one was even stranger.
Matt and Mimi werenít regarded as anything special in the Digital World. They were associates- barely even friends. And here they were- together at last, with the world drooling over them. Even Joe had to admit that they looked pretty good together. But he thought he knew those two. Joe had always imagined that if Mimi was to get together with any of the digi-destined, it would be himself. But was that all it was- his imagination? He thought that he was the one closest to Mimi. Her guardian, protecting her as she went off on her own. But Matt? What did they see in each other? Unlike Matt and Sora, Joe had all the intimate data. America wanted to know, and America wasnít let down. Joe looked at some interviews about them, the usual dopey questions that were asked. They were equally dopey answers- but they were certainly Matt and Mimi. Joe couldnít help but wonder why Matt didnít say anything positive about Mimiís personality before; he was certainly beaming about it in now. It didnít make any sense, and it just left Joe feeling empty.
Joe and Mimi did find each other in the end, but Joe couldnít help but wonder what the price of that was. One minute she was a huge celebrity, the next a forgotten idol. Mimi had obviously told Joe that her relationship with Matt was a sham. But sham or not, she certainly was happy with Matt. And despite how happy she claimed to be now that she was married to Joe, Joe had trouble believing that she truly was in a better place.
She had everything. The world was worshipping her. She had plenty of money, and plenty of fame. Even if it was a fake relationship, Matt would still take good care of her. She had everythingÖ and she threw it away for me. And as much as I try to please her, and as much as I know she loves me, I canít imagine her thinking that it was worth it. Some might call me the luckiest guy in the world. I canít really say anything to deny that, but is it even possible for me to be grateful enough for what she did?
And then there was the issue of Matt. Joe had a hard time believing the whole fake relationship thing. And even if it wasnít real, Joe still felt like he "stole" Mimi from Matt. And he felt really guilty about that. Neither he nor Mimi had seen Matt in years, and had no clue how he felt about the whole thing. One thing was certain- the reunion was going to be very interesting. That is, if he and Mimi could afford to go.
"Penny, how does August look for appointments?" If they were going to go, Joe had to start tying up the loose ends now. His secretary rifled through the appointment book and turned back to Joe.
"Iíve started making a few appointments. Why?"
"My wife and I might be taking a vacation in Japan for a few days. Joe quickly did some calculations to try to figure out exactly which days heíd be gone, and told the secretary the results.
"So you do want me to reschedule them?" Joe looked at her. It started now- he had to decide whether to go through with it or not.
"Okay. Iíll get on that as soon as I can."
Even if we canít afford to go to Japan, I can still use the off time. Maybe we can go toÖ Buffalo or something.
And with that, another day was to begin.
"So how does today look?"
"Fully booked again. The Lawrence family is coming in for their yearly checkup." Joe shuddered at the name. The Lawrences consist of a snotty mother and her four equally snotty children. In the beginning, kids were great to have as patients, but after dealing with the Lawrences, as well as several other children, combined with that Matthews kid, Joe was not a fan of tykes. This was not going to be a fun day.
And as bad as the day was, Joe had even more fun in store for him when he got home. He arrived at just the right moment, just in time to see Mimi ordering the plane tickets to Japan. Thankfully, she hadnít confirmed the deal when he arrived.
"Mimi, I thought I told you not to go any farther with this until we find out more aboutÖ"
"We did find out more. JeezÖ even if itís eighteen or nineteen thousand, we can still get by. I can make a few sacrifices you know."
"But Mimi- we donít know if itís only eighteen or nineteen thousand. They said it all depended onÖ"
"If itís more, Iíll just make a lot of sacrifices."
"Look, Iím already halfway through here. I just need to answer a couple more questions and weíre done. I want to get this over with now. Iíll feel a lot better." Joe looked at Mimi. His sense of fiscal responsibility was dominating him, but he knew that she was important too. The only problem was that common sense told him to wait for a clearer answer from the lawyers, while his love for his wife told him to let her finalize the purchase. He looked away for a second, quickly trying to debate the decision in his own head, trying to decide which one was worth it. Theyíd probably be going anyway, it was just an exercise of caution to wait.
But Mimi would understand if it was an exercise of caution. Playing on the safe side, preparing for the worst. Yeah- Mimiís a good girl, sheíd understand that Iím just making sure that we didnít do anythingÖ
"Yes. Confirm the purchase. Thank you." Before Joe could get out an answer, Mimi had returned to the phone. It was over. It was out of his hands. Just like always. Mimi finished the purchased, hung up the phone, and turned to her husband. "Itíll be fine, I just want to get this out of the way now." And with that, Mimi went into the kitchen. Joeís love for his wife had won outÖ the only problem was that Joe didnít get any input into the battle.
In the weeks to come, little changed. The negotiations dragged on, the neighbors kept bugging Joe, and work was the normal routine. The only plus was that Mimi was visibly excited about the whole reunion idea, which perked Joe up a little bit. With Mimi at his side, he knew he could keep going. That much was certain.
His lawyers had advised Joe not to leave the country until things were settled. There were a few moments when Joe had considered canceling the trip. But Mimi was looking forward to it, Joe didnít mind the change of pace, and the plane tickets were non-refundable anyway. Leaving the house, Joe knew that everything could be completely different when he got back. That a settlement could be reached, whether something Joe could easily afford or something driving Joe out on the streets. Perhaps the reunion may be an invitation for disaster as far as his marriage went- Mattís inevitable presence made that a possibility. On the other hand, everything could be exactly the same, with his financial coffers in the hands of a bunch of slimy lawyers, his dream job marred by annoying patients and busy waiting rooms, and neighbors that served to bug Joe night and day. Joe honestly didnít know which was worse- coming back to find everything different or coming back to find everything the same.
An enjoyable job, enjoyable living conditions, and someone to share this joy with. I have them allÖ or at least I did. I had life beat. I succeeded. I beat the game. And in the years since I married Mimi, I havenít lost anything. I still have my job, I still have my house, and I still have my wife. I havenít lost a damn thingÖ and yet for some reason- the gameís not over yet.
This chapter doesnít have any of the flashy stuff that made chapters like the ones for Mimi, Ken, and Kari so great. No major breakups, no heart-renching scenes on the bridge, not even much of a recap of a previous chapter. This may be looked on as a black sheep to the "Odaiba Memorial Day" family. And it certainly is a little different than the ones before it. But if anything, it ought to make you think about the whole situation Joeís in. Especially that last paragraph. Heís been doing a lot better than some of the others, and yetÖ well, Iíll let you form your opinions on it.
As far as the connection between this reality and the canon ending, this chapter provides one of the stranger oddities: Joe is a doctor (the only established career I actually got right, even if the monsters he treats are in New York rather than the Digital World), yet Mimiís cooking skills didnít really get much of a glowing review. Weird. For the record, I did hint at Mattís possible astronomy career and TKís writing in previous chapters, but both of those were inserted after I saw the real ending. I always ask myself this- what would have happened if Matt listened to Sora and hadnít moved to America?
In case you were wondering, the only one of Joe's annoying neighbors inspired by real-life is the guy who believed the police to be his own personal problem-solvers. He'd call the cops for virtually anything, regardless of how little he was affected by it.
In terms of Joeís observations regarding the romantic possibilities among the 01 digi-destined, make of it what you will. If you have a problem with it, take it up with Joe. I definitely see him taking a viewpoint like that, even if I tend to disagree slightly.
Next time- itís recap, recap, recap! But considering who it is, that ainít a problem!
Chapter Ten- Yolei
Some people ruin their chances of happiness. A couple mistakes here and there cost them dearly. Itís a terrible thing to live through. But for Yolei- it happened twice. After failed relationships with both Ken and Izzy, Yolei struggles to convince herself that it wasnít her fault. But with her past in shambles, thereís only one place to turn that offers any hope for redemption- the future.