Author's notes: It's been literally years since I've written. However, I recently received a message from someone asking me if I could finish off Dark Wing. I'm touched people still bother, even after my own interest waned. So, this is a little ficlet I wrote in an attempt to revive my fire. Hopefully, I'll finish Dark Wing's final chapter before New Year's, so please bear with me just a little longer. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Digimon Tamers, Akiyama Ryo, Makino Ruki and related elements are registered trademarks of Toei, Bandai and their respective owners and are used without permission.

Digimon Tamers: Price of heroism

In a sparse, dark room, an unmoving figure lay on a bed. He could've been considered good-looking, but his blue eyes were blank and unseeing, focused on the ceiling. The door opened and a nurse entered. She walked over to the bed and checked on the boy, her face showing pity. She looked over her shoulder to a figure standing in the doorway. "Here again?" she asked. "There's no change today either."

Makino Ruki stepped into the room. Her face didn't seem to show any emotion, but her eyes seemed sad. The nurse shook her head and left the room. Ruki pulled up a chair and sat beside the bed. "Yo," she said as she let her eyes rest on the boy. "You're looking good. Guess all the rest's helping out, huh?"

She steepled her fingers. "Takato and Juri finally announced they're going out today." The redhead shook her head and gave a long-suffering sigh. "Like we didn't already know that." She tilted her head, smiling slightly. "Shuichon asked them when they wanted to get married before Jen managed to shut her up. They looked like Meramons. You would've laughed."

A brief look of hesitation flashed over her face before she reached out and took a limp hand. "Ryo...I know you're in there somewhere...Everyone misses you, you know." She squeezed his hand. "I miss you. I mean, you weren't perfect, but at least you were entertaining." In spite of herself, a slight blush came over her cheeks. "And when I think about it, you weren't so bad looking either." She frowned and leaned in. "You tell anyone I said that, and you're dead, got it?"

"I don't think that's going to make him react, Ruki." Renamon appeared out of the shadows as she spoke.

Ruki self-conciously released Ryo's hand and pulled back. "Aa..." She was embarrassed not that Renamon had seen her holding Ryo's hand, but because she'd let go so easily. She'd come to terms with her feelings long ago, but old habits died hard.

Renamon stood beside her Tamer, looking down at the prone figure on the bed. "Ruki, you were supposed to go straight home after school. Your mother asked me to go get you because everyone else is already there."

The former Digimon Queen looked up at her closest friend. "I know. I just wanted to see if anything changed." She looked down at Ryo again. "Would've made a nice birthday present..."

She felt a reassuring hand on her shoulder. They both knew Renamon didn't need to show her support physically, such was their bond, but once in awhile it was nice to feel her warmth. "Ruki..."

The teenager rose from her seat. "I know, I know. Let's go home." Renamon nodded and vanished while Ruki made her way to the door. She paused and looked over her shoulder at the silent, staring boy on the bed. "I've got to go, Ryo. I'll come see you again tomorrow." She faced forward as she whispered, "Sleep tight..."

And on the bed, Akiyama Ryo, hero and once renowned as the Legendary Tamer, continued to stare at the featureless ceiling.

Author's notes: This was inspired by some of my old notes I happened to recently uncover. Those people who've played all the games Ryo has appeared in noted Ryo's personality changed over time, possibly because of mental trauma. This little story is what I think would be Ryo's fate should his mind finally snap from all the battles he's been through.