Where is the man that has the power and skill
To stem the torrent of a woman's will?
For if she will, she will, you may depend on it
And if she won't, she won't; so there's an end to it
Traveling through Tokyo at dangerously high speeds, dangling from the jaws of a huge nine-tailed fox, is not an enjoyable experience. At least it wasn't for Yashida Imato, who was kept from screaming in fear only because he had a wad of cloth stuffed in his mouth.
Suddenly, Ruki seemed to remember something, snapping her fingers in a 'oh-yeah-that's-right!' kind of way. She leaned forward, asking Kyuubimon to stop. Curious, Jenrya and Rapidmon slowed as well, watching curiously as Ruki alighted, and began to walk towards Yashida, still held aloft in Kyuubimon's jaws. Guilmon, perched on top of Kyuubimon, growled a little as he saw Ruki go near Yashida; he quieted down at her quelling look. At Ruki's nod, Kyuubimon released her captive, letting him fall unceremoniously to the ground. Yashida, despite his cloth gag, managed to sigh in relief at being back on something solid again.
This relief was short-lived, as Ruki clipped him mightily on the side of his head, causing him a faceful of dirt and much pain. He struggled upright again, yelling something angrily through his gag. Ruki looked at him disappointedly, saying, "Guess I didn't do it right."
She sighed. "Oh well." She took out her deck and rifled through it for a few seconds, withdrawing a card with the air of someone who is pleased at her own competence. She stepped well back from Kyuubimon and Yashida, motioning at Jenrya to do the same. Yashida watched them go with a fearful expression on his face.
"Card Slash: Flowermon's Sleep Powder!"
Kyuubimon obediently breathed a cloud of yellow powder towards Yashida, whose eyes bulged in panic as he began to scramble to his feet. This was a mistake, because when his eyes did close in forced slumber, that meant his fall to the ground was from his full height rather than from a nicer, less painful seated position.
Kyuubimon picked him up in her jaws again, and Ruki climbed back onto her back – but not before she dealt a couple of blows to both sides of the unconscious Yashida's head.
"I'm not really all that surprised," Jenrya called to her as the Digimon resumed their journey, "But why now?"
"Oh…I was just thinking that Yamaki probably wouldn't like it if this bastard knew where Hypnos really was. So he should be knocked out until we get there, right?"
"And the blows after he was asleep?"
"To make sure he stays that way."
"Ah," Jenrya said carefully. After a moment of silence: "You do know we could have just blindfolded him? So that the drugging and the blows to the head weren't really necessary?"
"Oh really?" Ruki's tone held the blandness of someone who isn't really listening, but nods just to be polite. Jenrya mentally shrugged and gave up. 'It isn't like he didn't deserve it…'
They took the over-large cargo elevator, specially built and secured only for the Tamers, to the top floor, where their parents, Yamaki, Riley (who was Yamaki's second-in-command) and the other Tamers were gathered. A babble of voices greeted the ding of the arriving elevator.
"Guys, hey guys, what happened to chumly…?"
"Guilmon! Are you okay?"
"Jenrya! What happened?"
"What the heck was that?"
And the quickening of click-clicks from Yamaki's lighter.
Then they moved more fully into view, and there was a sudden silence as they saw the look on Jenrya and Ruki's faces – and the strange cargo dangling lifelessly from Kyuubimon's jaws.
"…Ruki? Why is Kyuubimon carrying a boy in her mouth?" Ryo Akiyama, eyebrows raised, asked. Jenrya and Ruki glanced at him, in a bit of startlement – they hadn't seen the older Tamer in months.
Fearfully, Juri asked, "He isn't…dead, is he?"
"Of course not!" Ruki, already in a formidably bad mood, snapped. "Why would I have Kyuubimon carry something so gross in her mouth?"
Kazu muttered something to the effect that he wouldn't put anything past her, but luckily Ruki didn't hear him. This may have had something to do with the loud thud Yashida made as he was abruptly dropped on top of the conference table.
"See? He's alive!" Ruki proclaimed indignantly.
"Yes. I'm sure we're all very happy that it is so," Yamaki said, not looking very happy at all. "Be that as it may, why bring him here?"
Ruki and Jenrya stared at him. "Didn't you see the video?"
Five minutes later, Riley was busy arranging for the police to give them the video feed, while Yamaki sat in his chair and assumed an attitude that, in any lesser man, would be called sulking. Jenrya and Ruki hadn't been able to keep themselves from some comments on how they'd overestimated Hypnos's omnipotence.
Kyuubimon and Rapidmon had devolved back to their Rookie selves, and now stood beside – or on – their Tamers. Guilmon prowled restlessly around the table – or more accurately, around the prone body of his Tamer's attacker – uncharacteristically ignoring the others when they called out to him.
Jenrya and Ruki ignored the others' questions by asking some of their own. It turned out that they had heard Growlmon's roar for themselves, and those of them who were Tamers had seen a Hazard sign flash on their D-Arcs. Remembering the last time that had happened, they had taken themselves with all haste to Hypnos. When they arrived, Yamaki had been calling the parents of those who had been at the scene.
"But…where's Takato?" Kazu asked, again. "Why's Guilmon here if chumly's not?"
"Matsuda-kun's been taken to the hospital," Yamaki reported, looking up. "I believe you two called the ambulance?" he said, looking at Jenrya and Ruki. Over the others' gasps and exclamations, he said, "We've called. Matsuda-san is on his way here – Takato's mother refused to leave his bedside."
"He's still unconscious, then?" a concerned Ruki asked, but Yamaki had no answer.
"What happened?" Ryo asked. "Was it a rogue Digimon? I thought Guilmon and Takato could handle most of them, and the Sovereigns said they'd give us a heads-up if anything like an Ultimate crossed through…"
"No," Jenrya answered, making the others look up sharply because of the unexpected seething in his voice. "It wasn't a Digimon. It was him," and he gestured with his chin at the still-sleeping Yashida.
The others looked shocked for a moment. Janyuu stood up, crossing over to put a hand on his son's shoulder. His mouth opened, but he was interrupted by the ding of an elevator.
Takehiro Matsuda, looking very drawn and bedraggled, entered the room. The Tamers stood up, intending to ask about Takato, but at that moment a huge wallscreen flickered to life. Riley said, "Just in time, Matsuda-san. We're about to see what really happened to your son."
Riley had set it so the video began just before Takato was knocked off his bike by the dog, and ended when the ambulance arrived and white-clad paramedics began to load Takato into the gurney. Ruki could be seen arguing with a paramedic, before shoving him aside and climbing into the back of the ambulance. Jenrya followed suit, shrugging apologetically at the paramedic as he did. As the ambulance drove out of the screen, the video was replaced by static.
Silence reigned for a moment, before angry voices rose around the table. The look on Takehiro's face was indecipherable. But somehow, despite all that, Ruki heard Yamaki's quiet voice.
"Well, that's a relief."
She turned to him, incredulous that he could say anything good about the video. "Relief?"
"Yes, a relief." Yamaki snapped his lighter closed with a more emphatic sound than usual. "Do you know how many people saw Growlmon rampaging and firing attacks? When you're in a Digital Field, attacks are shielded from the outside world, but you weren't."
"People managed to take video. This police-cam is the only one close-up, but Growlmon was visible from blocks away, and news crews have converged on the park. We've served restraining orders to all the television stations – no one's going to broadcast footage on it, but no one can keep people from talking. If word got out that a Digimon attacked a human unprovoked, we would have a…" Yamaki visibly choked down whatever word he was going to use. "…a big problem."
"At least," he said to the now-silent people around the table, "we have some justification for Growlmon now. It's still going to be a…" he choked down his words again, "controversy, but I think we'll be alright."
"Why are we worrying about Growlmon?!" Ruki cried, incensed. "He didn't do anything wrong! It was that bitch Yana and her damned stupid flunkies who caused all of this!"
Her words re-ignited the uproar Yamaki's had stilled.
"Yana? Who's Yana?!"
"This guy's named Yana? God, what were his parents thinking?"
"No, stupid, it's not a guy, it's a girl, didn't you hear Ruki?"
"That's an ugly girl, then…"
"Ruki! Your language!"
Ruki ignored the others as she shook Yashida awake, explaining as she did so, "This isn't Yana, idiots. Yana's the…" here she threw in a descriptive phrase that caused another motherly outburst from Rumiko. "…who ordered Yashida to beat up my boyfriend!"
Yamaki raised an eyebrow. "So you two are dating now?" Riley giggled, but the look on Ryo's face was odd. Luckily for him, he had schooled it back to normal before anyone noticed. Or so he thought.
"Uuuugh…" Yashida mumbled as he was shaken back to awareness. "Hey, stop shaking me, you…" He suddenly realized where he was and looked around himself, eyes growing wider as he noticed his strange surroundings and the several unfriendly and downright threatening faces looking at him. "Ummm…ow!" he said as Ruki released her hold on his shirt, causing his head to fall back down onto the table.
"Mr…Yashida, was it?" said Yamaki, his gravelly voice causing goosebumps to spring up on the boy's arms. "I have some questions to ask you concerning your attack on a certain Takato Matsuda…"
"H…hey, what're you? Cops or something?" Yashida asked nervously, shrinking away from Yamaki. "I don't need to talk to you…I'm only a kid…it was just a prank…"
"A prank? A prank?!" Takehiro, silent until now, suddenly said loudly. He stood abruptly, his chair almost falling over. All eyes darted to him. "Your prank, as you call it, put my son in the hospital! Your prank put my son in a coma!"
Yashida's face grew pale, as did a few others. Takehiro glared furiously, more through Yashida than at him, but his sudden animation lasted only a moment. Every trace of fire and life seemed to pour out of him as he slumped back into his chair, bowing his head and pressing the heels of his hands against his forehead. "Put my son in a coma…" Takehiro mumbled again, threading his fingers through his hair and rumpling it even more.
An errant thought, totally irrelevant, crossed Ruki's numb mind as she watched him. Takato always does the same thing when he's stressed.
"A coma?" Yamaki's eyes narrowed. "That makes this a bit more serious…"
Ruki couldn't remember when she'd left the room, but she found herself in an long, empty corridor. Why had she come out here? She looked to the right, then to the left, trying to see if there was anything here she might have been looking for. There was nothing, just the white fluorescent light and the scent of air-conditioning and carpeting.
'…put my son in a coma!'
Ruki clenched her fists. She felt filled with pent-up energy, like she had been just before Growlmon had roared, all fidgety. At least then, she hadn't known anything was wrong…yet. She began to pace, up and down the hall, her strides long and jerky. She knew Renamon was nearby, but the Digimon kept silent – for which Ruki was thankful.
"I'm sorry, Ruki."
The unexpected voice brought the girl's head up sharply. "Mom? You…what are you saying sorry for?"
Rumiko stood nearby, watching Ruki with sad eyes nearly the same color as hers. "Yana…Yana Lang, right? I heard you complaining about her before, but I thought you were over-reacting. I'm sorry, Ruki, for not doing…something."
"Mom." Ruki stopped her pacing and sighed. "It…it isn't your fault. You couldn't have done anything, anyway. She's been careful never to have been caught, to look bad. And you couldn't have known…even I didn't expect Yana to sink this low."
Ruki's face twisted, then, into an expression of such rage that Rumiko felt a cold chill in her stomach. No child – much less her child – should ever have reason to look like that. Without another word, she stepped forward, enfolding her child in a hug such as she hadn't dared to give Ruki ever since she had been a very small girl.
"Ruki-chan, I know you're angry," Rumiko murmured, still hugging her daughter. "And this Yana does deserve to be punished – what she did was reprehensible. But, my darling, the punishment you're thinking of isn't the right course to take."
Ruki stiffened and nearly shoved out of her mother's arms. "So, you're going to give me the old 'violence doesn't solve anything' speech…?"
"I know you and I have different views on this," Rumiko told her daughter, voice uncharacteristically stern. "And I do accept that your fighting with your Digimon is important, and that you know more about real battle than I do. But Ruki-chan, this is a situation where violence really will not solve anything."
"Didn't you hear Yamaki-san inside? People are scared of your Digimon. You can't take your anger out on her physically, even by yourself – then you'd be punished, and Yana would look like a victim. Besides," Rumiko said, and her voice was so like Ruki's when she was about to lay down a devastating card that both Ruki and Renamon were startled. "I think I know what would make Yana really be punished, more than anything physical you could do to her."
Rumiko brandished her cellphone like a person waving a gun and grinned at Ruki, whose wide eyes caused her mother's grin to become more pronounced. "Tsk, tsk, Ruki. You underestimate me. There are people in the modeling business as catty, I bet, as Yana. You don't survive this long without learning ways to handle them."
Aagh, I missed the deadline. Sorry! (grins apologetically) ;; This chapter was really hard to write. I tried to make it funnier, cos after all that's the main point of this fic, but I'm not all that pleased with it…but by now I'm just trying to keep this story rolling. And hopefully wrap it all up soon.
I feel that this scene could have been handled in a different, probably better way. I like this idea, the whole public sentiment against Digimon thing. Maybe I'll try it again in another fic.
I like Rumiko. At least the one here. She's not very fleshed out in the Tamers episodes, actually none of the parents are really except maybe Janyuu, but despite (or maybe because) of her obsession with fashion and so on, I think she could be a rather interesting character. I don't know if this is because or in spite of my own mother being very much like her in some ways (well, from the glimpses we have). And she can't really be all that bad, can she? I mean, Ruki must have gotten something from her mom.
I made up the card Ruki slashed at the beginning. I hope there's something similar. I've never actually seen any Digimon cards. Is there someplace I could get the lowdown on the game?
Yes, to all the people who mentioned it: Yashida Imato is Yamato's name scrambled. If anyone remembers, in my old profile I mentioned that I didn't really like his character. When I'm stuck on names for new characters, I base them on the names of either favored or hated people, depending on what the new character is supposed to be. Yana's another scramble. Shutaro Mendo's based off, by the by, Urusei Yatsura. This character I actually like, in a 'boy it's fun to see him suffer!' kind of way.
Wow, presidential elections (my first, I mean the first held while I was of age to vote) and finishing this chapter on the same day. Cool.
I hope FPJ doesn't win.
I will now stop putting in political notes that no one really cares about, and move onto the next chapter blurb.
Next chapter: Yana gets hers, Rumiko teaches her daughter a thing or two about subtler revenge, and St. Hebreke's gets turned upside down. Due, hopefully, by May 14, 2004.
PS: This is actually v.2 of the chapter. I was going to post it about seven hours ago, but my dad blew his top, flatly forbade any usage of the computer and the Net, and so I was unable to do anything. So I rewrote it on my laptop. As I type this, I am setting my alarm clock to 3 AM. Then I will sneak downstairs, go online, and pray my dad doesn't catch me. Obviously, if you're reading this, then I must have succeeded in some fashion. If I don't post on the deadline, that probably means I was caught. Heh. ;;