Amethyst Blizzard: Down the familiar road of writer's avenue…once again. This time I'm just exploring the tension between Rika and Ryo, and this short story really has no purpose except to expose some of my own feelings. And of course for the readers' enjoyment.

This one-shot takes place directly after Homeward Bound, the episode when the Tamers come back from the Digital World. If you haven't watched it in a while, don't worry because neither have I – I'm just working on memory here, people.

Floramon: Amethyst does not own Digimon. Happy?

Enjoy amigos!


Shiver

The breeze tugged at my auburn hair, nipped at the back of my neck. Made me shiver. My bare arms exposed the pale flesh that betrayed my pretentious argument that I was not cold. Looking out beyond the metal fence dividing me from the small pool of water, I relished in the beauty of the scene. The flavoured green trees swayed slightly in the light, refreshing breeze, giving me ample time to reflect on the day's events. Well, it had been much more than just one day, but this particular day had held many silent answers for me. For one, I realised I was not afraid to try different things, to let down my defences and just have fun with the people I had grown quite close to.

Even him. I had laughed with him on the journey home and I didn't feel any guilt about it. It felt good. I knew he saw me as something he wanted, something he felt attracted to, and in a sense I felt the same way about him. My mind ran through the time during the tiring journey home when I had lightly punched his cheek. It was out of friendly teasing, but I couldn't repress the shiver that ran down my spine when I thought about the way his cheek felt under my half-hearted punch.

"That was a nice thing you did for Jeri," I knew it was him before he even opened his mouth to speak. I could sense him coming to stand beside me at the railing before I saw him out of the corner of my eye. "But you'll be cold now."

I shook my head indignantly, my eyes unable to meet him. "I'm not cold."

I could see him tilt his head towards my arm and he flicked out his hand to lightly brush it. "Yeah." He didn't believe me, I could tell by his sarcastic tone.

I couldn't congest the shivers that spilled out from under his touch, his warm hand lightly brushing against my freezing arm. I could tell he was inwardly laughing at seeing the goose bumps on my flesh. That irritated me. "Look, I don't need a jacket, ok."

He chuckled and leaned forward against the railing, letting his arms fall out and rest over the cold metal. "Whatever you say."

I sighed and slightly turned outwards, away from him, his touch. Instead I stared straight towards where the Ark had once been. It was now just an empty pool of water. It reminded me of Ryo's eyes. Those dark, deep blue orbs that had me mesmerised the first time he looked at me. They were now staring straight ahead, as were mine. There was a seemingly endless silence that gaped into the dark night, and I dared a stolen glance at Ryo.

He felt my eyes on him and stared back, an unreadable expression on his face. He was so annoying the way he could do that; just make me imagine what was going on in his head. He smiled, a perfect smile that didn't show his teeth. It was a friendly smile, one full of acceptance and elation. I couldn't help but smile back, an incomplete smile that said I didn't know what else to do.

He breathed in and turned away, back towards the empty void of inky water, the reflection of the full moon rippling like a single feared eye. "First time back in a while. I've missed it here."

I stared eternally into the flickering pool, imagining what it would feel like to be him, to be alien to his own world. "So, you live in Kyushu, right?"

Conversation really wasn't on my side, most of the time. But tonight was different, I felt invincible, as if nothing could touch me, as if I could reach out to the glistening stars and not get burnt on the way up. He didn't move from his position to answer my question, didn't even move his eyes away from the water.

"Yeah. A few hour drive from here," he almost whispered, as if regretting something. Only then did he look away from the lake to rather glance up at his dad, who was watching us sternly from a comfortable distance. Ryo sighed and turned back to me. He read my look like a picture book. "I don't have to go just yet."

He said this as if trying to comfort me in some way, and that annoyed me. As much as I wanted him to stay longer, I wanted to be far away from him. "I don't really care," I shrugged indifferently, giving the false impression that I really didn't care.

Ryo chuckled and stood up fully, lightly stretching his well-developed muscles underneath his torn clothes. He was wearing a maroon jacket over the top of his grey attire and I noticed for the first time the way his hair drooped down over his forehead, slightly accentuating his blue eyes. "But you do care," he added casually looking down at me.

This startled me. How could he read me so effortlessly, and why did I feel like flicking open all of my pages and letting him read them? What was this feeling, this slight insecurity? The light breeze reached in under my hair and I felt the shivers increasing. It made me uncomfortable so I turned away from it and looked towards the footpath, where my mother and grandmother stood waiting. Renamon was nowhere to be seen.

I heard movement but did not turn around. Next thing I knew I felt a warm velvet cover slip over my shoulders, and two warm arms pressing it flat around mine. The shivers increased, though the chill had disappeared. The arms lingered around my arms until he reluctantly pulled them away. It made me fleetingly wonder about his intentions, but the cynical thought floated by without a second consideration. Ryo was my friend…and a good guy. He wouldn't hurt me.

"You'll be warm now," his tone was slightly mocking my earlier declaration that I was not cold. He was right, I felt a lot warmer now.

I turned back around to face him, to face his glowing ocean eyes. "Thanks, Ryo."

He grinned mischievously and leaned sideways against the railing. "So, we're on first-name basis are we, Rika."

I couldn't help but smile back at his perfect grin, the grin I would've normally negatively contemplated for hours on end. But this wasn't the norm. In fact it was far from it. This place, this time had a vibe about it, a feeling that made me believe I was invincible. Free. His slightly woolly jacket engulfed me with the promise that it would always keep me warm.

I looked up again into his eyes and suddenly felt his face a lot closer than it had been, his breath a lot warmer than I was used to. His eyes seemed to have a look about them that excited me and my heart beat abnormally fast. My breathing seemed inconsistent, as was his, and I couldn't exactly tell whether or not this was real. My surroundings seemed to be spinning; the lush trees swirled with imagined grace and the pool swelled up from its core and parted through the middle. He was going to kiss me.

Or not. At that last second when I could just about taste the coffee he had consumed since returning, he pulled away and abruptly straightened, looking out towards the empty night. The trees stopped swirling and remained calm in the still breeze, and the small pool of water crashed back down into its shallow depression. His eyes glazed over with slight indifference and his back didn't arch the way it did when he had lowered himself down to my level. He stuffed his hands stiffly into his tattered pockets and kept his gaze tightly focused out into the distance, anywhere but on me.

It suddenly occurred to me that our parents were most probably watching us, so I followed Ryo's suit and stared out into the starry-eyed sky. I wanted to say something…anything, but it was as if my lips were tightly sealed with glue and no words could escape. I was sure Ryo felt the same. Finally, the ice was broken and words formed in his mouth, through his teeth.

"It's getting pretty late."

I answered quickly, not really thinking. "I don't mind." What was I, a child wanting to stay up late so she could see her dad come home from work? That was what I sounded like anyway.

He breathed out through his mouth and I watched the trail of condensation pour out into the cold night. Suddenly I remembered that I shouldn't be acting like this, I should be punching him for trying to make a move on me. But he hadn't, had he? He hadn't kissed me and I felt like hitting him because he didn't. My mind reeled at the realisation that I was in a huge mess. I had convinced myself that I would be cold and distant to those who wanted to help, but instead I had opened up and invited them in, unafraid for once of the consequences.

I didn't want to feel as I was now: uncertain. What happened to that invincibility I had felt not long before, when Ryo was smiling at me? I wanted it back. I yearned for it. I didn't want to be indifferent and distant anymore, I wanted to finally be free and unburdened.

I looked at his profile and turned myself around fully so I could see him properly. His chin jutted out slightly and his nose curled up at the end. The two tufts of chocolate brown hair that fell down onto his forehead accentuated his tanned skin, even in the faint translucent light of the moon. His chest heaved up and down with his methodical breathing and the tattered ends of his clothes swayed in the breeze. His blue eyes stared forward, ignoring my own probing ones. Why was he doing this?

I finally found words, but they were far from comforting. "Listen, just…forget about tonight. Nothing happened."

"Yeah," he breathed into the cold, empty night. Again the condensation poured from his lips like wistful smoke. It evaporated suddenly and my eyes lost its trail. "Nothing happened."

Blame it on the wind. That was fine with me. Wasn't it? I didn't know, not anymore. I searched for the answer to why I was feeling this way, and decided that it was best to just blame it on the ambience. After all, I couldn't find a plausible explanation, anywhere.

He turned around then, meeting with my eyes for the first time in what seemed like hours, though it was probably just minutes. He was smiling; I could see the burning flames in his eyes again. "So you do have a heart, huh? Bringing Impmon back and everything. I bet he'll be grateful for the rest of his life."

Teasing again. Ok. "Yeah, maybe," I shrugged. "Maybe not. It's not like he said anything on the way back."

He turned his back to the railing and leaned against it, his hands still in his pockets. "True, but I know he was grateful."

I could see the smile tug at his lips and envied his ability to see the most positive things in certain, dire situations. "Ryo…"

He turned around expectantly but I realised I had nowhere to go. I had no words; I just needed to say his name. Why was beyond me, but something compelled me to just speak something that belonged to him. He tilted his brows, urging for me to continue. What was I supposed to say?

"I'm…sorry," I cringed. Sorry? For what exactly?

"Sorry?" Ryo mirrored my own question.

I could only force a shrug, just to be neutral. Sorry was just a word that had escaped my mouth, holding no meaning behind the shallow shell. Ryo was still looking at me, but I ignored the feeling to elucidate my emotions to him in detail. What would I say, that I was attracted to him? That I wish that kiss had actually happened? That maybe it could work out between us? I didn't want it to. My life so far consisted on the reliable padding of ice that I could lie back on, and feel completely at ease. I needed no one to crush that ice and allow me to fall back into the unpredictable land of love. I needed no one.

I turned back to my mother and she tilted her head at me, a gesture only a daughter could understand. She understood everything; she had been hurt deeply by love…and she had survived it. But I wasn't her. I wasn't as strong as her. Not yet. I needed time, that was all. Turning back to Ryo, I smiled weakly and shrugged off his warm jacket, handing it to him feebly. He reached out a hand to take it, but I wouldn't let go. Not until I had leaned forward and was close to his ear.

"I wasn't cold. I'm not cold," I whispered to him while a swift wind blew past us, igniting small shivers up and down our arms.


A/N: How was that? Short and inconclusive, I know, but as I said before this really had no purpose. But I kinda liked how it came out :)