I do not own Digimon. There. I said it.

This takes place in my own continuity, involving the stories 'Lost', 'The Absent Years', and the hertofore unnamed sequel, which now has a workng title of 'The Path Between'.

But that doesn't matter. The only things you need to know to understand the story are that Takato and Rika live in the Eastern Quadrant with the Digidestined, the other Tamers do not, and that Takato works for Mimi, in the resturaunt she owns.

Any and all questions and responses to reviews for this fic will be answered in a special section of the next update of 'The Absent Years'.

- Timing is Everything -

I growled and hit the table with my fist.

Where the hell is he?! He should have been home an hour ago! He is sooo going to get it when he gets here.

Ordinarily being late was something I could tolerate. But in the last week Takato and I hadn't done anything together.

And today of all days!!!

I sighed. Under normal circumstances, I was the last person you'd expect to have romantic notions. But after some time had passed, I had come to expect, and even be pleasantly surprised with Takato's attempts to sweep me off my feet. But in the last two days…

Takato's barely been home! He doesn't even get here to sleep last night!

Which was true. I knew because the bed we had made for Takato one of the couches of the apartment was always neat. Takato never made that bed until told to, which meant he hadn't slept in it.

Where the hell is he!!!

I was interrupted from my mental rant by the phone ringing. I picked it up.


[Rika? What's wrong?]

"Nothing Yolie. Just that I've barely seen Takato in two days, and he's supposed to live here."

[That's weird.]


[I haven't seen Ken in two days either.]

"What? You're kidding, right?"

Ken was one of the most responsible and practical people I knew, rivaling Henry. Ken going missing was not a good sign.

[No. His parents have seen him, but he's hardly home. I called Kari earlier, and she says that Tai and TK haven't been seen either.]

"So you're telling me that Tai, TK, Ken, and Takato haven't been seen in two days. That they've all virtually gone missing at the same time. Probably together?"


I heard Yolie sigh.

[What do you think is happening?]

"I don't know, but they're up to something. And the next time I see Takato, I'll pound it out of him."

Then, there was a knocking at the door. Hard, as if the person on the other side was furious.

"Hang on a second Yolie. I have to get the door."

I walked to the front door, muttering a few choice fraises about Takato while getting there. I opened it to find a steaming Mimi. I blinked as she acted a lot like me, grabbing me by the shirt and yanking me forward.

"Where is he?! Where is that idiot?!"

"Who Mimi?"

She blinked herself, the let go of my shirt.

"Izzy. That jerk. I haven't seen him in…"

"Two days?"

She grimaced.

"How'd you know?"

"Hang on a sec."

I walked to the phone and picked it up.

"Yolie, I'm going to put this on speaker phone, Mimi just showed up."

[Izzy too?]


I put Yolie on speakerphone and walked back to the couch and sat down.

"Listen to this. Yolie, tell Mimi what you just told me."

[Apparently, Tai, TK, Ken, and Takato have been gone for two days as well. I still haven't asked about Matt or Joe or Davis, and I'm a little afraid to.]

Mimi's eyes narrowed.

"I've seen Takato at work, but I didn't know he wasn't coming back here."

I narrowed my eyes as well.


My digimon phased in behind me.

"Can you find Takato for me?"

"Actually, no. He made me promise not to."

I turned on Renamon in shock.

"What?! Where is he Renamon."

Renamon kneeled before me.

"I apologize Rika, but I cannot."

I growled, and kicked an unoffending chair.

Stupid Gogglehead. Corrupt my digimon will you?

I sighed.

"Fine. I'll find out another way."

Renamon nodded and phased out, leaving the two of us, three if you count Yolie on the phone, alone. I turned back to the others.

"Takato had better have a very good excuse for this."

[Hang on a second. I just saw Davis enter the store. I'll stall him, you guys get down here.]

"Right. Come on, Mimi. Let's get some answers."

She nodded, and we left.


I looked up at the sound of someone groaning in pain. Davis entered the room with a black eye and ripped clothing.

"Davis, what happened?"


I winced.


He grinned at me.

"I don't think this is anything compared to what will happen to you when you go home next."

I groaned and put my head in my hands.

I am so dead.

"Did you say anything?"

Tai had just come in from the street, and he was looking pretty winded. Davis shook his head. Tai grinned.

"Way to take one for the team Davis."

"Yeah, yeah. Just don't screw up. I'd hate to think I took that beating for nothing."

He sighed.

"I hope this wears off soon…"

Davis went and laid down on one of the cots we had been using in the next room. I glanced at Tai.

"What happened to you?"

A pained expression crossed his face.

"I had to run through three intersections, across the park, and down two back alleys before I lost Sora."

Then his face brightened.

"But it'll all be worth it."

"Yeah, for you guys. I'm not sure how Rika will react. She might have put a dent in my skull under ordinary conditions. Now that she's mad…"

Tai chuckled.

"Well, it's your fault you chose such a live wire."

I bristled a bit. Tai saw.

"Sorry. You know I don't mean anything by it."

I sighed.

"I know. I just know her better than you guys, that's all."

Tai nodded and left, leaving me to my thoughts. Which were interrupted by a buzzer going off. I sighed again.

I hope Ken gets back soon.


Later that evening, I carefully opened the door to my (and Rika's) apartment, a wrapped package under my arms, and a clothes bag over my shoulders.


I gulped. Rika's voice was low and dangerous. Much more so than usual.

"Heh heh… Hi Rika…"

She grabbed me by the collar.

"Don't you 'Hi Rika' me, you idiot!"

Uh oh. This is bad.

Her voice was still low and deceptively calm.

"Did we forget what today is, Takato?"

"Um, no?"

I held out the box in my defense. Her eyes softened a bit, and she let me down, but I could tell I wasn't out of the woods yet. Today, you see, was Rika's birthday.

Bad day to be late… hopefully she won't kill me. Think fast Takato…

"Um… don't you want to open it?"

She was still really pissed off, but she complied. She walked to the unused couch and sat down before tearing off the paper, and opening the box.

The moment of truth.

"A dress!? You got me a dress for my birthday?"

Oh no. Move to plan B.

"Well, that's not all of it…"

Her eyes narrowed again.

"What's the rest Matsuki?"

I could tell I was treading on thin ice now.

"It's a surprise?"

"A surprise."

I nodded furiously.

"We really shouldn't be late, and we still have to change."


The conversation was getting a little repetitive, but I kept nodding my head. It kept her front taking it off.

"Yeah. Me and the guys have been working really hard."

She frowned a moment, then her expression cleared to a more neutral state. I was a few steps closer to safety.

"I assume you want me to change into the dress?"

I nodded some more.

"Yeah. That would be good. It's kind of a fancy place…"

She nodded slowly and got up.

"Alright. I'll play along for now. This had better be worth it."


I stepped into my room and closed the door. It was now kind of obvious what Takato had been doing the past two days.

Still. This depends on what the 'surprise' is.

I picked up the dress. It was a satiny purple color, with a red sash at the waist. Sliding it on, I had to admit I liked what I saw. The dress had a heart shaped neckline, and fit me perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that I stopped to have a few dark thoughts concerning my boyfriend and the sanctity of my underwear drawer.

But I brushed those thoughts aside as well. Depending on how the rest of my night went, I would either conveniently forget them, or murder him for them. It all remained to be seen. Taking a last glance in the mirror, I noted that my hair was still up. I left it.

I stepped out, and immediately knew I was making a good decision. Potentially anyways. Takato stood there in a black tuxedo, and I had to keep my heart rate under control.

He's cute like that…

I sighed at my rather girly thought. I had to concentrate on the fact that I was supposed to be angry for a moment.

"Are we going or not?"

He nodded a little dumbly. He had to make a noticeable effort to keep his eyes off of me. I smirked.

Note to self: Dress turns Gogglehead into personal slave.

Takato led me down to his car, and we drove off into the night.


The car pulled up into what was probably the fanciest restaurant in all of Odaiba. So upscale, in fact, that I wondered what kind of personal loan he had to take out to bring me here.

Okay, not my style, but I'm a little impressed.

The valet looked a little familiar, but in the darkness I couldn't be sure. Takato herded me inside. The host was a little on the young side, and was also vaguely familiar, but I was lost in the splendor of the place. Takato walked up to him, blocking my view.

"Your reservation, sir?"


"Ah, right this way sir."

The man led us down the hall to a door labeled 'Ballroom'. He opened the door, bowing at the same time. We walked in. Inside was a three-piece band, playing chords of something that I hadn't heard before, but was certainly pleasant. The room was done in white hues with a soft golden color swirled in tastefully. There were a few doors leading places, including a large set of double doors at the end. There was a long bar at one end with a cover down, obviously a buffet of some kind. I also noticed, that except for the band, the place was only sparsely occupied. Then the music stopped, and the people rose. Some of them weren't people.

Tai, Sora, and their digimon rose from one table, and the others followed suit. All of the Digidestined were here with their digimon, Gatomon and Patamon digivolved to Angemon and Angewoman, and Veemon stood proudly with Floramon, who was wearing a red dress.

"Okay, Goggles, what's up?"

He smiled at me.

"The guys and I rented the place for the night. Thought it would be special."

I smiled.

"Just for me?"

He looked a little nervous.

"Well, the guys wanted to surprise their girlfriends too, so part of it was a group thing…"

"But still, it's a good effort, Goggles."

He smirked.

"It took a lot you know. We did everything. We couldn't afford to rent the people it took to run it, so we had to do everything ourselves."

I arched an eyebrow.


He nodded.

"We all did something, I cooked, Matt wrote the music and got his band to play it, and Tai drove himself insane coordinating everything and making sure everything was on time."

I smiled.

"Talk. If you couldn't afford people, where did you get the valet and host?"

He grimaced.

"Kazu and Kenta. I just hope my car is one piece."

I laughed as we walked down the isle to the floor where the others waited.

Maybe tonight won't be that bad.

Then, BlackGuilmon came in through one of the doors, and I blinked. He was wearing the top part of a white tuxedo. It actually seemed to be spotless. Renamon followed a moment later; her only adornment was a ring of blue flowers on her head. Takato leaned down to whisper in my ear.

"BlackGuilmon made it for her. Don't say anything or I'm a dead man."

I smirked at him.

"What's it worth to you?"

He grimaced.


"I'll think of something then."

As we reached the floor, the band started playing happy birthday while everyone sang. Then, the double doors at the back were opened from within by Leomon and Dobermon on one side, Gargomon and Cyberdramon on the other.

He didn't…

Next came Ai, Mako, Suzy and Impmon, carrying the largest birthday cake I had ever seen, followed closely by Lopmon wheeling a children's wagon filled with presents. Ryo and Alice (Mrs. Akiyama with a slight bulge below her waistline, indicating the bundle of joy to be) came through, then, Henry and Jeri came through, arm in arm, Henry in tux, and Jeri in a square necked green dress. The two couples smiled warmly but mysteriously, and parted, each to their partner, and faced the door.

And in came a stunningly beautiful woman in her mid thirties, wearing a simple pink dress.


She smiled at me.

"Happy Birthday Rika…"

I felt a small nudge on my back, and looked to find Takato nudging me toward her. I smiled a little and started forward.


I watched Rika walk to her mother with a small smile on my face. I glanced around and gave Tai a thumbs-up. Everything was perfect. Henry and Jeri were arm in arm again, and heading my way. I clasped Henry's arm.

"Good to see you."

He smiled back.

"We need to get together more often."

Jeri punched me lightly in the arm.

"Yeah. For a guy who can cross the quadrants at will, you don't get out to see us too often."

"I'll try harder. I promise."

Then I saw something that could potentially ruin the entire evening. My face whitened.

"If you'll excuse me, I need to disarm a potentially hazardous situation."

I ran off to the buffet table that I carefully assembled food on. In the corner by it was BlackGuilmon, not stuffing his face. That wasn't a problem. That was good. The problem was that he was trying to stuff Renamon's instead.

"No BlackGuilmon."

"But Renamon…"

"No means no."

Seeing that Renamon had the situation in hand, I slowed.

No reason not to spy on my digimon's love life…

She sighed then.

"Tell you what. You go fill a plate, and then bring it back here. Then we'll eat it together."

BlackGuilmon noticeably brightened, then trundled off back to the cart, where, obviously remembering my warnings, he filled a normal sized plate before heading back. I watched in amusement as he handed it to Renamon. She picked off a piece of fruit and held it out to him. He gently ate from her hand, then sat at her feet.

Good thinking Renamon…

Seeing that the situation wasn't going to explode anytime soon, I scurried off before Renamon caught me watching.

I glanced up at my girlfriend, who was still in deep conversation with her mother. I smiled.

That may be the second best thing about this party. Rika getting a chance to talk to her mom again.

I patrolled the side, watching the couples dance. Veemon was actually pretty good, which was surprising. Angemon and Angewoman were engaged in a strange but beautiful three-dimensional dance, considering they were airborne. Kazu and Kenta, the dateless wonders, were chatting with the majority of the digimon off to one side.

A noticeable absence to this conversation was Impmon, who was being dragged to the dance floor by Ai, mostly because her brother was dancing with Suzy. Henry, I noted, had a worried expression on his face as he and Jeri danced next to them.

The others danced more or less 'normally', lost in their partners, and I stopped at the table to get a drink for Rika and I, almost running into BlackGuilmon, who was there to refill his plate.


I glanced around the room for Takato, finding him at the bar with BlackGuilmon.

"You're really in love with him aren't you?"

I glanced back to my mother, and sighed.

"Yeah. Me can make me really mad sometimes though…"

She smiled.

"I know the feeling. Your father was like that."

I gave her my full attention then. She never talked about my father. Never.

"He was young, a little older than me, very handsome. We dated a long time before you were conceived. I remember when he asked me to dance at a school function. It was the happiest day of my life to that point. Every girl in school wanted him, and he wanted me! It made me feel special.

"We dated, and he would make me so mad some times. We would fight a lot. We fought a lot about you."


She nodded, staring off into space.

"Yes. I, honestly at the time, didn't want to keep you. I wasn't ready for a child, and I knew it. But he wanted you. We fought bitterly over it, and one day, he up and left, going out. Later that day…"

She stopped then, pain in her eyes.


Her voice cracked a little then.

"Later, I received word that he had died in a car accident, coming back to me. I decided to keep you then, no matter the consequences. He would have wanted it."

A few tears slipped out then, and I hugged her. She hugged me back, fiercely.

"I know we've had our differences, Rika. We'll probably have more in the future, but I want you to promise me something."


She turned me around to face the bar, where Takato was standing, laughing with BlackGuilmon.

"Don't let the little things he does bug you so much. Don't let him get away from you. And one other thing…"


The grin my mom's face had suddenly grown had me a little scared.

"I want to see at least one grandchild before I die…"


She smiled at me impishly, then her smile softened into a wistful one.

"Seriously, Rika, don't let him go. Men who care as much as he does for you are hard to come by. Now, let me help you with your hair. It's a mess."

I felt mom rustling with my hair for a moment, then felt it fall free. She smoothed it, and left it down, kissing my forehead.


"Hush Rika. Now go. I think there's a young man who wants a moment of your time."

I turned to find Takato looking at me, smiling. He held out a drink. I took it, and sipped at it a little. Takato gently slipped his arm in mine, and for some reason I couldn't find the strength to push it off. We stood there for a bit, just enjoying each other's company, when Takato leaned over to me and whispered.

"Would you like to dance?"

Somehow, I couldn't find the will power to resist, and I let him lead me down to the dance floor, and we joined the throng already there. We danced apart at first, but gradually drifted closer together as our bodies swayed to the slow beat. Eventually, I ended up with my head resting on his shoulder, my eyes closed, just enjoying the feeling.

Then, the music slowed and stopped, and my pillow vanished as my boyfriend sunk to one knee, looking up into my eyes. Glancing around, I saw that all eyes were on us, and judging by the grins on everyone's faces, they all knew something I didn't. Takato's voice captured my attention as he began to speak.

"Rika Nonaka, you are the most perfect woman a man could ask for. You are strong, brave, and not afraid to belt me when I need it."

There was a small titter in the crowd.

"You have always been there for me when I needed it, even though I have not always been there for you. Rika, I wake each morning overjoyed at the fact that you are my girlfriend, and that you love me. I now ask the final question, wondering if you will do me one final honor."

He pulled a small box from his pocket.

"Will you, Rika Nonaka, my girlfriend, do me the honor of becoming Rika Matsuki, my wife?"

He opened the box to reveal a simple gold band with a diamond set in the center, two smaller rubies to each side. My emotions overcame me, and tears gathered in my eyes.


Takato's eyes grew tears as well, and he placed the ring on my finger, sealing us together. He rose to his feet, and kissed me. I heard some sniffing behind me, and knew that there were others overcome as well.

I didn't care. I just focused on kissing my new fiancé.


I awoke in my bed, yawning and stretching. I smelled something wonderful, and looked to the door to see my fiancé, his heart in his eyes, and breakfast in his hands. I motioned him over, and he set the tray before me, and we began to eat in earnest.

Takato stood after a bit, and left to the bathroom to change. He emerged a few minutes later and removed the tray, me replacing him in the bathroom. I exited to find Takato ready to leave for work.

"See you tonight Rika!"

He turned to the door.

"Takato, wait!"

He turned back.


I ran up to him, and blushing, gave him a long kiss. When we broke, I leaned my forehead against his, looking into his soft red eyes.

"Thank you for the wonderful evening, Takato."

The look on his face was a bit dazed as he mumbled a 'you're welcome' and left. I smiled.


It was a bit later, and I was relaxing, reading the paper, when the phone rang.


[Rika? It's Mimi.]

"Oh, hi. What's up?"

[Could you do me a favor?]

"What's that Mimi?"

[Don't kiss Takato before work anymore. He almost set half the block on fire. I'm sending him home for the day.]

I slapped my forehead. Fiancé or not, he was still a stupid Gogglehead. Then I smiled.

But he's my Gogglehead.