The Stench of Death

Nick and Asher Vare are siblings, best friends for life, even into their twenties and with their own families. Their history may prove more difficult for them today than it could have been in the past - for them as well as Aiden and Riley.
DISCLAIMER: These characters are original creations that my friend and I made in the Digimon fandom. They do have Digimon partners for this, but in other works, they may not. Also, I changed up some of the lyrics that are in the last part of the story.

Ni

"Tag! You're it!"

Riley watched as her friend and sister-in-law jumped around in the tall grass. It was something an immature child would do, not a twenty-five-year-old woman. But that was Asher for you. Riley herself could never keep up with her sister-in-law's energy, but she tried her best to.

"Asher," Riley called to her, cupping her hands around her mouth. "Don't go too far away!"

The girl with pale brown hair looked up and grinned. "Come get me, Riley!"

The woman twisted a strand of dark brown hair between two fingers, looking slightly annoyed. Finally, she let out a sigh and followed the younger girl. At least it would be something to do.

She and her husband, Nick Vare, had taken a vacation - as bad as it sounds - away from their five children. Pamela was the oldest at six years old, and she was becoming more and more of a handful every day, not helping the fact there were other babies to take care of. Riley also enjoyed the break from her teaching duties and from Kudamon. She and Kudamon were partners and loved each other very much, but Riley could take a break from her cynicism once in a while. Terriermon, Nick’s Digimon, had also been left behind. Everybody had been stationed at Camp Taylor for the week, hanging out at Zeke and Layla’s house. From what Riley could tell, her brother-in-law wasn’t too happy about the idea. That just encouraged her to put her family there even more.

Asher was Nick’s younger sister. They had lived the majority of their lives thinking that they were cousins, and they were still very close, so not much changed between them after the revelation of the big secret, save for the fact that Nick became openly envious of Asher’s relationship with their father. The twenty-five-year-old girl had just recently been married to Aiden Durant, and they were the average newlywed couple that always spent their time together and did all sorts of lovey-dovey stuff that annoyed the living daylights out of Riley.

Still, Riley had a soft spot for her little sister-in-law. She was energetic and fun, reminding Riley somewhat of her twin sister Layla, back when they were kids. Asher was always tagging along with Riley, looking up to her as an older sister, and Riley certainly wasn’t going to push her away! In fact, it had been Riley to suggest that Asher come with her and Nick on vacation, seeing as Aiden would be out of town for a conference of teachers, or something. She hadn’t really paid attention to all the details Asher had rattled off to her.

The grass there at Evergreen Mountain was very tall, and very unruly. Riley, stepping slowly, had almost completely lost sight of Asher. Finally, she saw her throw up her arms in what Riley imagined to be happiness or surprise. The woman hurried over and glanced at Asher. “You didn’t have to go running off,” she muttered, violet eyes darting to the side.

“I told you to come get me!” Asher chirped, bright blue eyes sparkling. “For a teacher, you sure don’t follow directions very well!”

“Ha.” Riley gave the younger girl a half-smile. “Okay, it’s time to go back in. Nick said he was fixing lunch, remember?”

“I hope it’s something warm!” Asher hugged herself in exaggeration. “It’s freezing out here! You know,” she added, changing the subject instantly, “Nick isn’t a very good cook.”

Riley swallowed awkwardly. “I know,” she replied, “but it’s good to let him feel useful.”

“Hey!”

Just then, Nick’s head poked out of the sliding door of their little cabin. He smirked jokingly when he saw them, leading Riley to believe that he had heard the whole conversation. “Come back inside!” he shouted to them. “Food’s ready!” After his announcement, the man ducked back inside.

“What if I just took one bite and pretended to choke and die?” Asher asked Riley coyly as they began to walk back toward the cabin.

Riley suppressed a chuckle. “I think you’d give him a heart attack.”

Asher laughed, hugging herself again. The laugh broke into a cough. As Asher brought up her hand to cover her mouth, Riley glanced at the younger girl in concern. Finally, after a couple of seconds, the girl staggered slightly and fell to her knees. Her blue eyes glazed over, and she collapsed on her side. With a jolt, Riley fell beside her, trying to hold her up. Her heart began to race as she noticed the blood trailing from the corner of Asher’s lips. “NICK!” she screamed as loudly as she could, violet eyes wide and panicked. What had just happened? Asher was fine just a minute ago!

NICK!”

---

Nick had been absolutely restless for the past five hours. He paced back and forth beside the bed he and Riley had placed Asher in, mind racing for an option. Riley had taken some of the burden off of him, and for the past three hours, she had tried over and over to call Dia or Savannah. So far, there was no answer from either of them.

“I just don’t get it,” Nick said finally, his voice cracked and raspy from having been silent the whole time.

Riley looked up from her cell phone. “I know,” she murmured, glancing back at the screen. “You would think that they’d want to know what’s going on with their daughter.”

“Savannah doesn’t care,” Nick mused, biting his lip. “I never understood why she hated Savannah so much, but I guess it’s because Savannah hated her. Hates me, too,” he added, shaking his head and running a hand through his pale brown hair. “I doubt we’ll be able to reach her at all. Dia, I thought, would pick up.”

“Maybe he’s busy?” Riley suggested.

Nick scoffed and crossed his arms. “Not for this. Asher’s his whole world. Or, at least, she used to be. Maybe not anymore.” He had been so jealous of his sister for that reason exactly, but he would take it all back if she just came out okay.

“I still don’t understand how this happened.” Riley looked over at her sister-in-law. “She was completely fine; you saw her! She just…passed out there at the end.”

“Maybe she caught something?” Nick shrugged, sighing. “I don’t think we should be too worried about it. The Vares do have weak immune systems, and just because she married Aiden doesn’t mean she’s not a Va – ”

“Aiden!” Riley exclaimed with wide eyes. She looked over at Nick, slightly flustered. “We should have probably called him first! And poor Labramon would want to know, too…” The Digimon would probably just get in the way of everything, but Nick understood why he would want to come as well. He was Asher’s partner for life, after all.

Nick blinked in realization and slapped his forehead. “Okay, yeah. Call him. We’re idiots.”

---

About an hour later, Nick had made a call to a local doctor in the area. They would usually choose Ian North to take care of the family and the rest of the DigiDestined, but he was simply too far away from them right now. After hearing Asher’s condition, the local doctor had decided that he should get to the cabin. He had been inspecting Asher for about thirty minutes after he arrived, and Nick was starting to get nervous.

After what seemed like a hundred years, the old man turned around. “Nick, was it?” When Nick nodded, the man cleared his throat and continued. “Well, Nick, does your family have any history of fatal diseases?”

What?” Nick screeched. He tried to move forward, but Riley gripped his hand tightly, holding him back. Tears brimmed at the corners of Nick’s eyes. Asher was going to die?

“Calm down.” The doctor offered him a weak smile. “I’m not saying what she has is fatal. She’s developed a minor case of tuberculosis, but it can easily be cured with the right medication.” Nick relaxed slightly. “Still, it is pretty serious, so just take it easy. Things will be all right as long as nothing happens to her.” The doctor put his hands in his pockets. “I suggest that you all stay here until she becomes stable enough to move.”

Riley looked nervous. “But our ki – ”

“Thank you.” Nick smiled shakily, glancing back at Riley and trying to communicate that he’ll talk to her about the kids later.

The doctor nodded and smiled. “I wish you good luck.” Putting his hat back on, the doctor headed out of the room and toward the outside door.

When Riley heard the door slam, she glared at Nick. “Our kids!” she exclaimed, brows furrowed in anger. “Nick, we can’t just leave them with my sister forever! Zeke might eat them!”

“I really don’t think he would do that,” Nick protested weakly, taking her hands. “I promise you, we won’t stay that long. As soon as Aiden gets here, I’ll take you back home. But,” he added slowly, sighing, “I’ll have to drive back up here.”

“Y-You’re crazy!” Riley shook her head. “Nick, why would you – ”

“She’s my little sister,” Nick answered weakly, blinking tiredly. “She’s my only sister. I can’t just leave her.” He let out another sigh. “Riley, imagine if she was Layla. You don’t blame me for wanting to stay, do you?”

Riley bit her lip and cast another glance at the girl in the bed. She had hardly moved at all since they had put her in the bed. Looking back at Nick sadly, she nodded. “I understand, and I respect your decision.”

Nick gave her a shaky smile. “Thanks.” He gave his wife a peck on the lips before embracing her. Riley shakily hugged him back, and Nick realized she was just as afraid as he was for his little sister. Everything was going to be okay, though. It was all going to be okay.

---

Riley lay in bed alone that night. She tossed and turned under the covers, completely unable to put her mind at ease. Every thought was consumed by praying for the safety of her sister-in-law. She had woken up a couple of times, screaming and crying. It had taken both Riley and Nick to calm her down. Just an hour earlier, when Riley had retired to the bed, Asher had been crying out for Aiden. Her heart went out to the younger girl. Riley would have stayed up with her but she was just unable to take it. She had never taken pleasure in seeing people in pain, and seeing Asher like that was like seeing an abused and frightened puppy.

Nick had decided to stay up in case Asher needed something. He had been quieter since Riley’s outburst after the doctor had left, and Riley felt as if she was to blame. She did feel selfish over wanting to go back home. After all, Zeke loved kids, and Layla loved her nieces and nephews, at least. It wouldn’t hurt to leave them there for a few more days.

Just as she was getting out of bed to tell Nick, Riley heard the shifting of gravel in the driveway. Not wanting an unwelcome visitor to bother Nick, she hurried toward the cabin’s door, flipping on a light switch and peering outside. The driver’s door was the first to open, but the first to get out was someone in the backseat. A dog, by the look of it, but not any average dog.

“Where is she?” Labramon exclaimed, brown eyes huge. He stopped right in front of Riley, shifting nervously. “Where’s Asher at?”

Riley stooped low and tried to quiet him down, looking up only when Aiden arrived at the door. He looked restless and stressed, dark circles under his eyes and his red hair messy. “T-Tell me where she is, Riley,” he pleaded, green eyes glazed over with sadness and fatigue.

“Nick’s with her right now,” Riley responded quietly, stepping aside to let them in. “Just be quiet, okay? I think this is the first time she’s actually been sleeping peacefully.” Aiden nodded absentmindedly and walked toward the room, Labramon at his heels.

The final car door slammed outside. Riley looked outside again to see FanBeemon slowly flying in. “You don’t seem very haggard,” she observed, watching him fly onto her shoulder.

“Why should I be?” he grumbled, shaking his head. “We get woken up at two in the morning our time, then we have to leave and drive all the way over to this place. I see no reason to be upset over this.”

“But it’s Asher,” Riley reminded him, turning off the light and closing the door.

“I don’t care.” FanBeemon narrowed his eyes and stared at the wall.

Riley smiled knowingly. “Right.” She patted him on the head. “Your secret’s safe with me, little buddy.”

She walked into the room where everyone else was, pulling her long hair up into its familiar ponytail. Riley gazed around the room tiredly, violet eyes taking in everything. Nick had moved from the chair to allow Aiden to sit down, and he now leaned against the wall, watching them with dull, unblinking eyes. He looked up when Riley approached and stood up straight.

“We don’t have to go home,” Riley murmured, giving him the best at a smile that she could attempt. “We can stay here.”

Nick shook his head slowly. “No,” he muttered. “We should just go home. I’ll come back in a few days.”

“If you’re sure.” Riley sighed and glanced back at the younger couple. Aiden was on the edge of his seat, holding onto Asher’s hands tightly. The girl slowly began to open her eyes.

“Aiden?” she whispered almost inaudibly. “Labramon?” Riley glanced over in surprise, waiting to see if she would do anything else.

The redhead jumped out of his seat instantly. “I’m here. We’re both here,” he added, looking back at Labramon. Tears brimming in his eyes, Aiden rested his forehead on Asher’s. “Everything’s okay.”

Riley turned away, feeling that the moment was personal. She looked up at Nick, who seemed to be faring much worse. “Let’s go,” she choked out, swallowing the lump in her throat. She didn’t want to be around this any longer.

Nick nodded, wrapping his arm around her waist. “Yeah. Let’s pack and head back home.”

---

A couple of days had passed since Aiden had arrived at the cabin. Asher seemed to be getting somewhat better. She could actually stand and move around now, although her energy was nowhere near the level it usually was. Aiden could only watch as she grew paler and paler, unable to do anything.

He had gotten used to helping her out however he could, but Asher still retained some of her independence and wouldn’t allow him to help her with trivial, everyday things. Today, he stood in the kitchen, making something for himself to eat since Asher hadn’t been very hungry during her illness. He turned around and leaned against the counter, keeping an eye on Asher. The girl was now curled up on the couch under a blanket with Labramon, watching television. She sneezed every now and then, but her coughs seemed to be getting slightly worse.

“Can’t we do anything?” FanBeemon asked quietly, flying over to sit on Aiden’s head. The Digimon had always been calm and cool, showing apathy to pretty much everyone. When a member of the family was in danger, though, he would always approach the matter with masked concern and fear.

The redhead sighed. “I’m not sure. I thought medicine was supposed to be coming, but…” He shook his head. “I haven’t heard anything from Nick and Riley, either. Right now, I think she’ll just have to tough it out.”

FanBeemon nodded slowly. “She’s a tough girl,” he put in, attempting to raise Aiden’s spirits. It didn’t help.

Abandoning his lunch, the redhead walked over to the couch and sat beside his wife. She glanced up at him and silently leaned over to lay her blanket-covered head on his shoulder. Aiden gave her a weak smile. “What’re you watching?”

“Something about elephants,” she replied quickly, big blue eyes never leaving the screen. Asher swallowed uneasily, and she soon had a coughing fit. Labramon winced and jumped from the couch. He knew what was coming.

Aiden quickly got up and hurried toward the kitchen. He pulled off many sheets of paper towels and hurried back over again. Kneeling in front of the brunette, he hastily began to wipe off her frail hands. Asher winced. “Aideeeen,” she groaned.

“Just let me do this, okay?” he asked gently, wincing slightly as the paper towels became redder from the blood Asher had coughed up again. Lastly, he carefully wiped her mouth off and stood up to discard the towels.

Asher caught his arm with one of her now-clean hands. It amazed Aiden how strong she was for being so sick; maybe that was a sign that she was getting better. “Aiden,” she said seriously, causing him to glance back at her. She looked like a pouting child, and even though she was very sick, Aiden still found it adorable.

“Asher,” he answered with a small smile, balling up the paper towels with one hand.

She tilted her head, pale brown hair falling to the side. Fear began to grow in her big eyes. “I’m not gonna die, am I?”

Aiden paused. How was he supposed to answer that? He couldn’t guarantee that she would be okay, especially since tuberculosis was a very serious thing… “No,” he said at last, getting a surprised look from both of the Digimon. “No, you won’t. I promise. It’s just a cold.” He gave her a reassuring smile.

Asher seemed to take it as the truth. Relieved, she let go of him and leaned back, smiling and beginning to watch the elephant show again. Aiden swallowed nervously as he walked toward the trashcan.

Who was he to make a promise that he couldn’t keep?

---

Nick had his things all ready and packed up in a duffel bag. Riley fluttered around him nervously, straightening up any little thing she could. Their kids all sat in a row on the couch behind them.

"Is Auntie Asher going to be okay?" Pamela asked, twirling a lock of blonde hair around her finger.

"I wanna go!" Oliver squeaked, flailing his arms.

Kudamon sighed and closed her eyes. Terriermon gave her a kiss on top of the head and hopped over to Nick. "Don't worry, Riley!" the Digimon exclaimed with a grin. "I'll take good care of him!"

"You'd better," Riley murmured, smiling weakly.

"I'll be fine." Nick smiled and kissed his wife, clutching his bag tightly. He waved at the children, his keyring resting on one finger. "See you guys! Love you!"

The children all chorused together in one "Love you, too" statement as Nick began to walk out the door. His eyes suddenly went wide as the door opened, and he stared at the ground.

"What is it?" Terriermon asked, looking at him curiously. "Nick?"

Nick lurched forward and squeezed his eyes shut. He fell to his knees, coughing into his hands. With a gasp, Riley hurried over to his side. Wearily, Nick held his hands away from his face.

They were stained with blood.

---

"Yeah, we don't know what's going on."

Riley leaned back in her chair, the house phone pressed up to her ear. The kids had once more gone to stay with Zeke and Layla so that she could keep a watch on Nick. He hadn't passed out and appeared to be much stronger than Asher in dealing with the disease, but Riley had sent him to bed all the same, not wanting to take any chances. She was now on the phone with Aiden, and they were discussing the conditions of the siblings.

"I actually did some research about this type of thing," Aiden's voice crackled over the phone. "It's a contagious disease, but it's not supposed to be spread easily. Besides, if it was that contagious, I'd be sick by now, too."

"That's true," Riley admitted. She twisted her hair around in her hand. "Do you think it's hereditary, then?"

"I'm thinking it most likely is," Aiden replied. "There are facts about tuberculosis being very prominent in the concentration camps and ghettos during the Holocaust."

Riley sat up straight, eyes wide. "And their maternal grandmother was in one in occupied Poland!"

"That's right!" Riley could almost picture Aiden nodding over the phone. "I did a little extra credit and looked up the Szevlk family tree. Their grandmother and her three younger sisters all contracted tuberculosis at one point. The sisters died, but Gramma Szevlk escaped the ghetto and received medical attention. Then she hid, had Savannah many years later, and the rest is history."

Riley sighed lightly. "So Savannah was probably a carrier," she mused. "Just another reason for them to hate her." She shook her head, brown locks flying in her face. "So now that we know where it comes from, what are we supposed to do about it?"

"I'm not sure about that," Aiden admitted with a sigh. "I guess all we can really do is hope for them to get better."

Riley nodded. Quickly realizing that Aiden couldn't see over the phone, she added, "That's all we can do right now, I think. They're strong. Of course they'll be able to pull through!"

"Right, of course." Aiden didn't share Riley's confidence; she could tell in his voice. "I'm going to check on Asher. See you later."

"Bye," Riley murmured as he hung up. She pulled the phone down into her lap and sighed, gazing at the ceiling.

Please, God. Help them.

---

The next three weeks passed slowly. Aiden had gotten in contact with both his and Asher's work. The principal of the high school had been quite understanding, and he had told him to take as much time as he needed. The producer of Asher's show was also kind, assuring Aiden that they had enough dramatic plotlines for many more weeks to come, so she shouldn't rush to get back to full health.

However, things between the two weren't going so smoothly. Asher had stayed up late one night when Aiden had fallen asleep on the couch and had gotten on his laptop. The first thing she had seen was the research he had done on tuberculosis, and she hadn't talked to him ever since.

While Aiden sat on the couch alone, Asher lay down across the floor, her blanket wrapped around her. The only source of light in the dark room was that of the television, playing another episode of the elephant show she adored. Aiden had even gotten Asher a stuffed elephant over the weeks, and she had treated it like her prized possession.

A commercial finally came onscreen. Asher rolled over on her back, much to the discomfort of Labramon, and looked up at Aiden, light reflecting off her eyes.

Aiden looked at her in surprise. He blinked a couple of times, and then asked, "What?"

Asher tilted her head to the side, suppressing a cough. "When I die," she began quickly, "and you marry some other lady and have, like, fifty bajillion kids, can you name one after me?"

Aiden gaped in shock. "Wh-What?" he exclaimed. "Asher, you're not going to die! And I'd never marry anyone besides you, anyway!"

Asher narrowed her eyes, scrunching up her nose. "I am going to die." She rolled back over onto her stomach, making Labramon yelp in pain. "They died in the Holocaust!"

Aiden flinched. "That's different!" he protested. "They didn't have medicine, or medical attention, or... anything!"

"I have medicine?" Asher asked innocently, though there was venom behind her words. "Gee, nobody told me!"

Aiden was quiet for a moment. "There... there isn't a known cure, Asher..."

"So I am gonna die! Back to square one!"

Aiden didn't reply. Asher's heart sunk instantly. She didn't want to die; in fact, she was downright afraid of it. Her husband's silence made her all the more worried. She wouldn't make it. She wouldn't last.

She gave up her hope.

---

It only took a few weeks for Nick to get better. He did not have the full disease of tuberculosis, just a minor infection. Riley couldn't have been happier for him, and he longed to spend time with her and the kids, but he knew that he had promised to check on Asher.

"You're not going without me!" Riley had told him, grinning. So she and Kudamon joined Nick and Terriermon on the journey back up to the mountains.

They were just pulling into the driveway when the sun rose. Nick opened the door for his wife and looked up at the cabin. Something just wasn't right. It was too quiet, and, according to Aiden, Asher had been getting a bit better, so she should have been bouncing all around the house.

"Something's not right," Riley whispered into his ear as Kudamon curled around her neck. Nick nodded, helping Terriermon onto his shoulder.

"I was just thinking the same thing."

The couple held hands walking up to the cabin. Nick tried the knob and jumped in surprise when he found it unlocked. He exchanged a worried glance with Riley, and they both headed inside.

Nick stepped into the living room, and what he saw took him by surprise. Aiden was sitting on the couch, Asher held tightly in his arms. She was breathing shallowly, and she only took a breath about every twenty seconds. Labramon and FanBeemon looked up as they approached, the former having tears trailing down his furry cheeks. Aiden was completely focused on his wife, trying as hard as he could not to cry.

"No..." Nick whispered, tears welling up in the corners of his eyes. He cast a glance back at Riley. The woman was already crying, tears rolling down her cheeks with little whimpers. Even Kudamon hung her head, tears sparkling against her porcelain skin. Tears were falling from Terriermon's eyes, too; Nick could feel them against his neck.

"What's happening...?" Nick asked, kneeling down in front of the couch. Riley followed suit, trying to calm herself down. Nick held onto her hand and also reached for Asher's, but the girl wouldn't let go of the stuffed elephant in her hands. She clung onto it as if it were life itself. "Aiden...is she..."

Aiden's look of pure desperation and confusion told Nick all he needed to know. "Why?" the redhead choked out through his tears. "She's just twenty-five... Nick, please fix it!" The redhead had finally snapped. He was screaming at someone that couldn't do a thing about it.

"Asher," Riley whimpered. She let go of Nick and reached out for her sister-in-law, almost as close to her as her real sister Layla. Riley placed her hand on Asher's, breaking down in hysterics.

Nick tried to ignore the pitiful sound of his wife's whimpering, hiccupping mess. They would comfort each other later. Right now, he wanted to see his sister off to Heaven. "Asher," he said, his voice wavering, "please don't... If you can hear me, just hang on, all right?"

FanBeemon shook his head slowly from the top of the couch. "No," he responded quietly. Even he sounded choked up. "There's nothing else that can be done." Labramon threw back his head and let out a howl of pure anguish. The sound of it sent chills down Nick's spine.

Aiden looked up suddenly. Asher began to slip from his arms, going limp. "N-No!" Nick watched, tears falling freely from his own eyes now.

Asher's arms fell from herself, making her grip on the prized elephant slack. Finally, she let go, dropping the elephant altogether. It hit the ground as soon as she breathed her last.

Nick let out a cry of grief, almost harmonizing with Labramon's monotonous howl.

~ If I die young, bury me in satin. ~

Riley held onto Nick's arm, digging her nails into his skin. Nick felt numb to the pain. Nothing was as awful as this.

~ Lay me down on a bed of roses. ~

Nick's mind spun round and round as he tried to grasp the situation. His sister - his poor, little sister. She had fought tuberculosis.

~ Sink me in the river at dawn. ~

And she had lost.

~ Send me away with the words of a love song. ~

And now there she was, lying there lifelessly.

~ Lord, make me a rainbow. I'll shine down on my brother. ~

Nobody could question Nick and Asher's relationship. They were the best of friends no matter what, and though Nick was annoyed by her at times, he couldn't stay mad at her.

~ He'll know I'm safe with You when he stands under my colors. ~

Nobody could stay mad at her.

~ Life ain't always what you think it ought to be. ~

She used to be so full of life, and now she was just lying there, growing cold. Another fit of tears hit Nick. His face hung below his arms, tears dripping into his lap.

~ Ain't even gray, but he buries his sister. ~

What happened?

~ The sharp knife of a short life. ~

Where did the life go? It was all drained from her at once, at the young age of twenty-five.

~ Well, I've had just enough time. ~

She had always said she'd rather die young, but Nick doubted she meant like this.

~ If I die young, bury me in satin. ~

Riley held herself, sobbing hysterically. Shakes wracked her body and left her feeling like a lifeless heap of jelly. Was it possible?

~ Lay me down on a bed of roses. ~

Was she really... gone?

~ Sink me in the river at dawn. ~

It couldn't happen. It just wasn't possible. They were DigiDestined. Nothing bad was ever supposed to happen to them. Never.

~ Send me away with the words of a love song. ~

And especially not like this.

~ The sharp knife of a short life. ~

Asher was the youngest of the DigiDestined. She couldn't be the first one to die. It was just...impossible.

~ Well, I've had just enough time. ~

No more smiling faces. No more mindless laughter when Riley told a corny joke. All the memories were going to fade away, just like Asher. Tears streamed down Riley's face as she broke into another agonizing sob.

~ And I'll be wearing white when I come into Your kingdom. ~

Nick lamented over Asher's short life. Just the past March, she had become a Christian after tagging along with him and Riley to church multiple times. She discovered the missing pieces of the puzzle that was her life. She was finally getting her life back together. Was it all for nothing? For this?

~ I'm as green as the ring on my little, cold finger. ~

Eyes were always drawn to Asher whenever she wore jewelry. She rarely wore it, but what she always wore was the silver ring encased with an emerald that Aiden had gotten her for their engagement. Just to commemorate the night Asher Emerald Vare had agreed to become Asher Vare Durant.

~ I've never known the loving of a man. ~

Aiden felt as if he had been ripped in two. His whole world crumbled beneath him in that one second that Asher had taken in her last gulp of air.

~ But it sure felt nice when he was holding my hand. ~

How was he supposed to move on? They were supposed to be together forever.

~ There's a boy here in town, says he'll love me forever. ~

They had only been married a short time. They hadn't even gone on their honeymoon. The weeks filled with grief and silence during this ordeal hurt Aiden deeply. He should have tried to communicate with her. He knew that there was only a slim chance that she would live.

~ Who would've thought that forever could be severed by... ~

Yet he still played along that she was going to survive, to make it through.

~ The sharp knife of a short life. ~

The three humans cried over the body, tears staining practically everything. They were united as one body, the closest people to Asher in her entire life. Now there would be no more smiles, no more laughter.

~ Well, I've had just enough time. ~

No more Asher.

~ So put on your best, boys, and I'll wear my pearls. ~

Labramon, through shouting his grief to the skies, noticed that something was wrong with him. Bits of his tail and hindlegs began to chip away, fading into small pixels of data. The other three Digimon instantly rushed over to him, wondering what was wrong.

~ What I never did is done. ~

Of course, Digimon are bonded forever to their partners. Labramon was going to be deleted, just as Asher was deleted from life.

~ A penny for my thoughts, oh no. I'll sell them for a dollar. ~

Labramon began to fade away, chipping away quickly, almost as quickly as Asher left. Soon, he was completely gone, but not before whispering his goodbyes. The humans were busy grieving, shaking and hiccupping. They all looked weak, their faces twisted into agony.

~ They're worth so much more after I'm a goner. ~

Nick swallowed hard, looking up at his sister wearily. If only he had done something to help. If only he had gotten there faster.

~ And maybe then you'll hear the words I been singing. ~

He picked up the stuffed elephant, wiping away the tears that were blurring his vision. Exchanging a saddened glance with Aiden, Nick placed the elephant back into Asher's limp, lifeless hands.

~ Funny when you're dead how people start listening. ~

Aiden felt something shift under his hand. A twitch.

~ I won't die young; don't bother with the satin. ~

Aiden, tears still in his eyes, roughly grabbed Nick's shoulder with a free hand. Nick turned his gaze to his sister's body.

~ Even though I'd want that bouquet of roses. ~

Shallowly and slowly, her breathing resumed.

~ I'll swim in the river at dawn. ~

Before their very eyes, a comforting light danced in the air. A Digi-Egg came from it, being distinctively yellow with red accents.

~ Sing me to sleep with the words of a love song. ~

"Asher," Riley whimpered when Nick had touched her shoulder. Her face brightened up completely as Asher began to shift again.

~ Uh-oh, the ballad of a dove. ~

"Thank God," Aiden muttered, tears of happiness now running from his eyes. Nick smiled weakly, taking ragged breaths after crying so intensely.

~ Go with peace and love. ~

A cough came from the girl's mouth in response, but there was no blood. Everything would be okay. She really wouldn't die.

~ Gather up your tears; keep them in your pocket. ~

"What...?" Asher's nose twitched, and she slowly opened her vibrant eyes. She looked at them tiredly, confusion feebly masked in her eyes. Nick threw himself at his sister, holding her tightly and sobbing.

~ Save them for a time when you're really gonna need them. ~

"We thought..." Riley began, unable to finish her thought. She stood up, also joining her husband in hugging her sister-in-law.

~ The sharp knife of a short life. ~

"I'm so glad," Aiden muttered, squeezing her hands tightly. "I-I thought you were..."

~ I have not had enough time. ~

Asher gave them her signature grin, though it was weak and somewhat frail. That would change soon, though. She was determined to be fully healthy again. "I'm not going to leave you guys! Not now, not ever!"

~ So don't cry tonight, boys. ~

Asher Vare Durant was not dead yet. And, if she could help it, she wouldn't be for quite a while.

~ My life won’t unfurl. ~

The End

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