'Cave of Wonders'-Prologue
(authors notes at bottom)
The door opened with a soft creak as Amy stepped through, partially closing a few seconds later as a relaxing silence washed over the trouble physician. Measured steps guided her over burgundy and gold oriental rug to her chair behind a rich mahogany desk. With a tired sigh Amy Mizuno sat down, glad to be home at last.

"Rough day?" came the whispered query from her husband, his hands gently massaging the tension from her shoulders.

Amy tried to flash Greg a reassuring smile, but the healer could only manage a subtle grin; more than enough to tell that 'rough day' didn't even come close to covering how she felt.

An understanding looks passed over Greg's eyes as the brown haired man nodded in understanding. "I'll make dinner then. You just relax. Spaghetti sound good to you?" Receiving a nods in reply, he smiled..."I'll call you when it's done..". With that, Greg kissed her cheek once more then retreated, pulling the door back into place as he left his beloved alone to enjoy some well-deserved downtime.

Not a sound could be heard in the room save for the soft ticking of the old grandfather clock in the far corner, and to the troubled doctor it was little more than background noise. With a heavy sigh, Amy removed the small tape recorder from her lab coat and cued the tape to the correct index point. Puling the small remote from the device, she stood and slowly paced around the room, gathering her thoughts. Moments later, she applied slight pressure to the remote's 'record' button and the small light on the counter blipped on.

"Update on patient Rika Nonaka: Her checkup was today, March 22nd. Progress with the pregnancy is as expected; no unforeseen complications has come up. Physically, she is in excellent health but..." It was then Amy paused the tape and sat back down, exhaustion giving way to worry. With another light application of pressure, she continued.

"I fear that, based on information gathered from Renamon, that her relationship with Takato in is danger. It's been almost a full month since the incident in the park, and neither of them has told their parents of Rika's situation. To further complicate matters, Takato has-based on Renamon's observations--been making active attempts avoid Rika. In most cases, this is not a good sign. While I can understand Takato needing time to come to terms with his newfound responsibilities, I fear if he waits much longer Rika's physical changes will force the issue to light which will only serve to aggravate the situation."

Amy paused, and looked out the window at the waning daylight and watched the shadows dance in the distance. Debating silently, a mix of emotions ran through her mind as she pondered on what to add next.

"I almost called Raye today, hoping with her proficiency in child psychology she could talk to Takato; help him come to terms with what has happened. But doing so without Rika's permission would violate every doctor-patient confidentially and it is doubtful Rika would give it considering how private she is. I can always talk to Takato myself, but I should only do that as a last resort. Rika is my patient first and her welfare must be my foremost concern. If I speak to Takato and things take a turn for the worse I will have failed in my primarily duties as her physician....".

A soft knock on the door interrupted her recording as the young woman paused and glanced up. "Greg...?" she inquired as the door creaked open and her spouse peeked his head into the room.

"Sorry to interrupt Amy, but five minutes until everything is ready. I thought you would want time to wash up."

A gentle smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she nodded. "Thanks honey. I'll be there in a moment...".

Nodding, Greg slipped back out into the hallway, his footsteps echoing for long moments before they vanished from hearing. Lingering only but a moment further, the doctor went on to finish her recording. "I only hope that Takato confides in someone soon as the growing distance between him and Rika can only lead to an ending in which they both suffer greatly. It is my most fervent wish that this does not come to pass."

Ending the recording, Amy stood once more and slipped the recorder back into her lab coat, then draped the garment over her chair. Turning off the small lamp, Amy slipped out the door and down the hall to enjoy a quiet dinner with her beloved husband.

But even as her mate wrapped her within a powerful embrace, Amy couldn't help but think of Takato, and the thought of watching the bond between him and Rika crumble was something she could not let happen. The young teen /had/ come to terms with all that had happened before all was lost.

That thought haunted the edge of her awareness most of the night until she finally fell into an uneasy slumber as the night passed slowly by.

It was just after sunrise as Henry slipped into his bed, a wistful smile upon his lips. Snuggling into the warm covers, the teen quickly fell into a deep sleep, guided by the memories of his first kiss with Renamon shared such a few short hours.

And outside the door, Janyu frowned and walked away son's room, choosing to not press his concerns for now.

There would be another time; of that he was certain.

Seiko Hata stood there, shocked by the small book she now found herself holding. It was only by accident she had found the volume; an early morning attempt to vacuum the house had inadvertently dislodged the book from its hiding place under Rika's desk.

The book wasn't very big; maybe the size of one of those condensed study guides students read instead of the original works. But-despite the size-it was one of the most powerful books the woman had ever seen. What other book could so change a person's life so completely as one entitled 'A Teenagers Guide to Pregnancy'?

The elder woman sighed, sitting down on Rika's bed as understanding washed over her like a tidal wave.

Rika was pregnant.

**Not...again...** thought the grandmother as she felt the weight of her years rest upon her shoulders. Once more, she had to face the disturbing fact that one of her family was bringing new life into this world long before they were ready. It had happened with Rumiko, and now the cycle was going to repeat itself with Rika.

**But.../how/??** mused Seilo as she flipped through the pages, only half noting several were dog-eared. **Rika's always had a better head on her shoulders than /this/!? /What/ could have possessed Rika to have sex at her age? And /who/ was the father??**

The answer suddenly emerged as handwritten scrawls inside the front cover caught her attention. Apparently, Rika had been considering several different names for her child; many were unexpected, some were names that only Rika could have considered. But it was the last name scrawled at the bottom of the list that gave Seiko pause, her early wonderment at the fathers' identity now revealed in stark black on white.

Yuki Matsuki.

"Takato...." whispered the woman as she sat there for a long moment, unable to do little more than try and process that a polite and responsible young man like Takato could be the one that caused...this.

The sound of a car door slamming startled Seiko from her thoughts and galvnized the great-grandmother-to-be into action. Standing, she looked at the book one final time before slipping it back into hiding before her inadvertent find. After taking the vacuum and removing any signs she had been present, Seiko slipped out into the hall and shut Rika's door. Putting the appliance up, the woman then slipped into her bedroom to change clothes. As her casual garments were swapped for something more approiate, Seiko's mind filled with memories.

She had tried to guide Rumiko as best as possible, but thought it wasn't her place to make the choices that would be a part of the mother-to-be forever. 'If she's old enough to have sex, she is old enough to make those decisions for herself' was Seiko's mind set at the time. But with age comes wisdom, and after watching her daughter divorce and grow estranged from Rika for the longest time, Seiko knew that she could not stand by and let history repeat itself.

She /couldn't/ let Rika face that alone. She simply /couldn't/.

But with the need to act also came realization that she was--in many ways--stepping into a part of Rika's life where she was uninvited and possibly unwanted. Rika was a proud young woman- one who might not appreciate interference, no matter the reasons.

But to Seiko, there was no other option. Standing by doing nothing was a greater tragedy than any feeling of trespass Rika might feel. Whatever was necessary to assure her granddaughters happiness she would do; Rika would not suffer the same agonies as her mother.

*I just hope Rika will forgive me in time...* thought Seiko as she finished changing. Grabbing her purse from its resting place on the table, she headed out into the sunshine-filled morning and pulled the door shut behind her.

The bakery Takato's parents ran was not that far; maybe 10 minutes or so by bus. But the woman chose to walk, needing the additional time to sort through the thousand questions running rampant through her mind. With measured steps she began her journey, nodding politely to those she passed as her soft smile masked the torrent of emotions within.

Seiko didn't know what to expect when she came face to face with the young man, but one thing-above all others-was crystal clear.

The boy had some serious explaining to do.

Miles away Takato sighed, his teachers' workday off from school was rapidly turning into a day of chores. Business had been picking up steadily of late, so now both his mother and father were in the back making rolls to keep with demand. Thus he was helping out inside when he wanted to be outside having fun. But here he was, stuck behind the counter as a couple bickered over which filling for their bagels was to be the choice of the day. Behind them, the other customers began to grow more impatient by the minute.

**Can this day get /any/ worse...?** he asked himself as another batch of customers walked in. With a dejected sigh he put on his best smile and greeted the new shoppers, unaware that the answer to that very questions was drawing closer with each passing moment....

To be Continued

Author's notes!
Welcome to the prologue to 'The Cave of Wonders' the story where we find out how Takato and Rika went from friends to lovers, and perhaps get a glimpse of what is yet to come for the Tamers and their Digimon partners!

The rest of "Cave of Wonders' will be out as soon as possible, but with my RL work schedule for the next month I can not say for certain. I hope you enjoy this prologue and I appreciate your patience and understanding. Thanks for reading and (hopefully) enjoying my work!

And a special note of thanks to Lord Archive for some invaluable proofreading and knowledge about Japanese culture I was unaware of. Thanks L.A.!!!