Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon
Song of the Setting Sun
"TAKATO! GET BACK HERE WITH THAT FRISBEE!" Shouted Rika in a voice that spoke of barely contained irritation as she chased after the goggle-wearing boy. Takato gave a fearful yelp and sped up his pace, trying to gain some distance between himself and the red haired girl that pursued him while behind them the others were shouting encouragements and warnings to him. Takato risked a quick look over his shoulder and at the sight of dangerously flashing violet eyes pursuing closely behind he once more found a reason to speed up, all his months of running through the city to get to digital fields to combat rogue digimon finally paying off as he ran for his life from perhaps the most dangerous being this side of two worlds. Rika Nonaka.
The reason for her pursuing him was simple, as she had made quite clear just a second ago, revolving around the green disk that he held tightly in one hand. Sometime after he and Rika had joined the game of Frisbee that Henry and the others had going, Rika had picked up a highly aggressive streak, so much so that the game had dissolved first into a game of keep away and finally turning into something vaguely resembling football as she threw herself into it with an abandon that was so unlike the normally cool, reserved girl that they all knew. Most of the Tamers, with the exceptions of Jeri and Henry, had some degree of dirt and grass stains on their clothes or exposed skin, signs of the struggle that they had had to endure since the headstrong Tamer had joined.
And now Takato was the latest target. Had he the time (and distance) to stop he would have gotten rid of the item that had now made him a target, probably aiming it towards Henry or Kazu if either of them were available. As it stood though (or rather, ran) Takato did not have that kind of luxury, for any deviation of movement that required him to toss away the Frisbee, even if he just threw it without any degree of accuracy and kept running, Rika would be on him in seconds.
Of course, tossing another look over his shoulder, he realized that seconds were, at best, really all he had left.
Takato grunted as he felt the girl impact him from behind, nearly dragging him down, but on one of those rare occasions, Takato kept his feet and kept the Frisbee close to his body as he struggled to break free from Rika's grasp. He wasn't succeeding very well, as Rika's hands had snaked around and grabbed hold of the green colored disk and pulled on it, almost wrenching it from the boys grasp, but Takato held fast and pulled back, and soon enough the two of them had started a tug-of-war. Trying to get out of Rika's grip, Takato's eyes slid over Rika's face, almost letting go as he saw the look of uninhibited joy on the girl. A wide smile curving upwards, her eyes burning with that same fire that he normally saw when she went into battle… but before he could really take note of it, Rika gave a hard tug on the Frisbee, causing Takato to wake up from his daze and tug back. Feeling a surge of energy at Rika's competitiveness, Takato finally pulled the Frisbee away and sent it flying just as Rika lunged forward, bringing them both to the ground. The Frisbee soared through the air towards Kazu, and he spread out his hands to catch the flying projectile.
"I GOT IT! I GOT IT!" Called the boy loudly as the Frisbee neared him.
And then the form of Renamon appeared in mid air and caught the Frisbee with one gloved hand, and somersaulted gracefully to the ground with something that could almost be a smile gracing her features. Kazu sulked.
"Aw man… That's not fair! I thought that you weren't a part of this game… or that you didn't join in games in general."
"Let that be a lesson to ya then," said Rika as she stood up, hauling Takato to his feet as she did so, the boy chuckling rather dazedly. "Expect the unexpected dim bulb."
Kazu just groaned and scratched the side of his head while behind him, Jeri, Henry, and Kenta laughed.
"Man Rika," said Kenta with a note of admiration in his voice. "You've been on fire since you joined in. How come you didn't when we asked earlier?"
Rika just gave a soft smile, eyes sparkling a little as she began to relax. Kazu took note of this rare and bizarre phenomenon with a cocked eyebrow and a sarcastic comment.
"This is just too weird. I'm not used to Rika acting like this. It's kind of making me nervous. All right, who are you and what have you done with the real Rika?"
"Kazu!" Chastised Jeri from behind the visor wearing boy as Rika glowered at the boy. "You'll ruin the moment!"
"What moment?" Asked Kazu. "All I see is Rika… oh."
Rika looked at Kazu with a raised eyebrow, wondering what the heck they were talking about, when Jeri giggled and pointed at Rika's hand, which was still wrapped firmly around Takato's wrist from when she pulled him to his feet. With a frown and a light blush, Rika let go of Takato's wrist and folded her arms across her chest, glaring at the other Tamers, daring them to say something. Kazu, to his credit, managed to repress a snicker.
"I told ya," said Terriermon as he hopped up onto Henry's shoulder and giggled. "Lady killer."
"Terriermon…" said Henry with a chuckle, once more rapping his partner on the head with his knuckles. Rika and Takato gave the pair a weird look, wondering what they were talking about, and once more there was a round of laughter from the other Tamers, which had the effect of deepening Rika's blush while Takato just looked around, confused, wondering if he had completely missed the joke all-together before deciding on giving a nervous laugh, shutting up only when Rika glared at him, setting off a red discoloration on his face and he looked away, humming quietly to himself.
Jeri continued to giggle at this strange turn of events. No doubt tomorrow, things would calm down and Rika would return to being her usual self, but Jeri was glad that today at least she was acting a lot more childish, letting go of her inhibitions for this short amount of time. Especially after she had spent the majority of the day acting either a little out of sorts or irritated over something. Jeri had an idea as to what had been bothering her since her little eavesdropping on Rika and Renamon's conversation, so it was good to see the normally grouchy Tamer actually doing something to blow off some steam. Jeri did wonder as to what had led to the quick change. She had seen her talking to Takato earlier before the two of them joined in on the game, but they hadn't talked for very long. Rika had just gotten up as though she had reached a decision and got Takato to his feet as well. While she had no idea as to what had happened between them in the short amount of time that they had been together on the Wong's picnic blanket, but it was clear that whatever it was, Rika was now a lot happier than she had been throughout the course of the day.
Jeri wondered if Takato's just being there had something to do with it.
"HENRY! JAARIN!" Called out Janyu, interrupting Jeri from her thoughts. "SORRY TO INTERRUPT YOU, BUT YOUR MOTHER AND I ARE GOING TO TAKE YOUR SISTER HOME! ARE YOU GOING TO STICK AROUND?!"
Henry looked a little bit startled while next to him, his sister Jaarin called out, asking for the time. Janyu promptly announced that it was quarter of four. As one, the children sweatdropped.
"Man," said Takato. "We've been hanging out here that long? That's… uh…"
"Eight hours, Gogglehead," said Rika with a small smile.
"Time sure flies when you're having fun," said Terriermon with a smirk and a suggestive wink. "Like time will for Takatomon I'm sure afterwards…"
"More like the way certain rabbits will if they keep making smart remarks," growled Rika. Terriermon laughed.
"Now that's just plain mean," said Terriermon. "Why would you want to do that to Lopmon?"
"Just because you're supposed to be a dog doesn't mean much, especially with those long ears of yours."
Terriermon just waved the girl off.
"Momentai, Rika. Mo-men-tai."
"I'll momentai you when you've been buried six feet under…"
"Ah…" began Henry with a nervous smile. "With that in mind, it is starting to get late."
"Spoilsport," said Jaarin as she elbowed her brother, but apparently she was in complete agreement because she set off in the direction of her family, with Henry pausing long enough to get the family's Frisbee from Renamon and bid the others goodbye before leaving. As they marched away, Terriermon and Lopmon raised their ears in farewell, and the other children and digimon returned them.
Kazu sniffed and looked at his metallic partner.
"Yeah, Guardromon and I should probably consider heading back home also. Kenta too."
The bespectacled boy raised an eyebrow as MarineAngemon floated nearby, doing aerial somersaults and giggling.
"Huh? You're going home early? Why? And how come you're dragging me into it?"
Kazu just grabbed Kenta by the arm and began to drag him away from the others.
"Do I really have to spell it out to you chumley? What did we talk about this morning?"
"We talked about a lot of things this morning," replied Kenta. Kazu just groaned.
Takato, Rika, and Jeri just watched the two boys walk away, continuing their back and forth conversation, its noise diminishing as they got further away.
"Finally," muttered Rika as she breathed a sigh of relief.
Takato looked down as he felt Guilmon tugging at his pant leg.
"What's up boy?"
"I'd like to head down to the bakery now and get something to eat."
"Oh. Okay boy. Just give me a second to…"
Guilmon silenced his Tamer with a calm shake of his head.
"I can get there fine on my own, Takato," said the red dinosaur. "You have more important things to do right now."
"I do?" Asked Takato as he looked at his partner with a confused expression.
"Well, Kenta and Kazu say that you do anyway. I'm not really sure what they meant though, but they sounded like they knew what they were talking about. Might have had to do with that talk from this morning…"
Takato's face suddenly turned red as he swore he could feel two sets of female eyes on him. With a nervous laugh Takato looked at his partner.
"Ah… ahem! Uh… sure. No problem Guilmon. I… uh… I'll be sure to bring you some more bread later, okay?"
"That's okay," said Guilmon. "Kenta and Kazu owe me some bread anyway! Whee! Guilmon Bread!"
Takato raised an eyebrow as the red saurian turned and took off.
But Guilmon was already too far away to hear Takato's question. Scratching his head in confusion, Takato turned back to Rika and Jeri and gave a nervous cough.
"I guess that it's just us again…"
But Jeri shook her head with a sad smile on her face.
"Sorry Takato. But I should probably be getting going also. My father doesn't like it when I stay out too late now."
"Oh." Takato's face fell for a second, but brightened again as he thought of an idea. "Um… then… uh… can I walk you home?"
"Sure. Do you want to come too Rika?"
The red haired girl shook her head.
"If it's all the same to you, I'd like to stay here for a little while longer. I think I've babysat you two enough for one day."
Jeri smiled at Rika, seeing the playful grin on the other girls face and nodded, understanding her reasons before telling her goodbye.
"Bye Rika," said Takato as he gave her a wave before following after Jeri. Rika just smiled at the boy before setting herself down on the ground.
Rika breathed a contented sigh as she enjoyed the feeling of relaxation that flooded her body after the intense game of Frisbee that she had just been through. It was rare that she let herself go that much, as it wasn't her usual style but for once she just didn't care about the fact that she had basically sunk down to the level of the others. Pretty strange that doing so would make her feel so much more relaxed, but time would change that soon enough. Well, at least she could go to bed happy, and no longer have to think about all the things that had bothered her today. It was almost as if… just by involving herself the way she did in the Frisbee game today had cleansed her in some way that she couldn't identify. She still felt those annoying feelings from earlier, but it was as if they didn't matter as much. Looking out towards the horizon, Rika felt content to just sit here for a moment before she too decided to head home. Renamon materialized next to her, not saying a word, but simply letting the silence speak for itself.
Takato and Jeri walked in silence. Takato had the sensation that there were butterflies fluttering about in his stomach but dismissed it as just nerves. Here he was, alone with Jeri once more, like things had started out back when he had first asked her to go with him to see the Cherry Blossoms. Okay, so things hadn't turned out the way that he had planned, but that wasn't important right now. They had had fun today! All of them did, including Rika! It was certainly weird seeing her act that way, but perhaps that was just a testament to the level that she was enjoying the game. Takato wondered if she regretted sticking around now when Jeri had asked her too, despite her saying that she disliked watching the Cherry Blossoms. Well, it certainly didn't look like she regretted staying. Not with the smile that she had on during the game and even afterwards. Without really noticing, Takato found himself thinking about how nice Rika looked when she smiled, and silently wished that she would do so more often.
Jeri was likewise having similar thoughts, but with more of an eye on the things that she had learned today. Some of the things that she had discovered still confused her, such as the dream that Takato was reported as to having about Rika, and of course there was Rika and her unspoken feelings for the boy, even if she didn't, or wouldn't, realize them for what they were, if she even had them that is. She did feel a little bad still for asking Rika to join her and Takato in watching the Cherry Blossoms when Takato had once asked the girl that on her birthday, but that couldn't be helped. She just hadn't known beforehand, but the affect that it had on Rika bothered her nonetheless. Rika was one of her closest friends, and she didn't like seeing a friend hurt.
Through it all, Jeri wondered many things. About what Rika really felt towards Takato; what Takato felt about Rika, and what she herself felt towards him as well. She didn't doubt that Takato liked her, and the feeling was mutual…
But would it last?
Jeri had heard that first crushes, especially at so young an age as she and Takato were, generally don't last, and of course there were those who would say otherwise. Jeri's outlook was much more mature. She wasn't going to turn away from Takato because of some fear that they might end up not liking each other, or that someone else would come between them later on. Jeri had much more faith than that, especially in Takato, because he had such a big heart. They were young and life could take them in any direction, but Takato wouldn't lose his love for her, whether it was as a friend or as something more. Would she? And what if what she had thought about earlier, about Takato's dream having some kind of meaning concerning destiny? Well… time would tell on that one.
For now, perhaps it was best to leave things as they were, and let things develop naturally as they went. It's not like they were in any particular hurry to get anywhere in life, and like she thought earlier, things could change over time. Who knew for certain what would happen? Well, certainly not her or any of the others. Not even the digimon Sovereigns. Jeri knew one thing for certain though, she still needed to think about the days events, and about her own feelings before she went anywhere and did anything with them.
Jeri stopped in the park's path, and Takato stopped next to her, raising an eyebrow.
"Takato?" She asked tentatively. "Thank you for the wonderful time today."
Takato gave a goofy grin and blushed.
"Heh, heh. Sure Jeri. You're welcome."
"I know that you wanted to walk me home," continued Jeri, watching as Takato's face began to look concerned. "…But I would like to go the rest of the way on my own."
Takato's face broke a little at that.
"I… I don't understand. Did I do something wrong, Jeri?"
Jeri shook her head, and offered a comforting smile at the boy.
"No. No you didn't Takato, and I'm sorry for making you think so. It's just… I have some thinking to do right now, and I'd like to be alone for that. I'm sorry, Takato."
Takato nodded numbly. He felt his heart crack a little at this, but he could understand her position. Well, to an extent. He didn't know what she had on her mind, and he'd like to be there for her and help her through it, but this feeling was tempered back for his respect for Jeri's feelings. If she wanted to do this alone, then he should at least respect her decision.
And he did.
"Everything's all right though, right?" Takato asked with a shaky smile on his face. He had to at least know that everything was all right between them. Jeri smiled once more and took his hand into her own and gave it a comforting squeeze.
"Sure. Don't worry Takato. Everything's fine. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
Takato's smile became a little firmer, more confident.
"Sure," he said quietly, and Jeri gave his hand one last squeeze before she let go, and set off on her own. Takato watched her go for a moment, a forlorn expression on his face, but he still held hope that everything was going to be fine. Jeri had told him so, so why should he believe otherwise, right?
With that question hanging in the air, Takato turned and headed off in the direction of his home, a sense of confusion fogging up his mind.
Rika walked through the park, hands dug into her pockets, her eyes relaxed and a small smile on her face. She felt a strange sense of liberation as she breathed in the air of the park, and she rejoiced in it. It wasn't often that she felt this kind of serenity, and she was going to hold onto it for as long as possible.
Takato's sudden appearance pretty much put an end to that quickly.
Rika didn't lose the feeling over Takato's presence, though she certainly found it a strange curiosity since he was supposed to be walking Jeri home. It was the look on his face, that look of confusion… and was that sadness as well?…that caught her attention.
Something's happened, thought Rika as she casually walked up to Takato and gave him a questioning look.
"Hey Gogglehead," said Rika. "Why the face?"
Takato looked up at Rika and blinked.
"Huh? Oh… hi Rika."
Rika resisted the urge to roll her eyes, and sighed.
"All right. What's wrong?"
"Nothing!" Said Takato quickly before taking a deep breath, as if he had to calm himself. "It's… nothing."
Rika didn't believe him.
"Right. Where's Jeri? Weren't you walking her home or something?"
Takato's face became even more downcast.
"She… uh… she said that she wanted to do some thinking. Alone, so…" Takato just trailed off, not wanting to continue. Rika raised an eyebrow.
"I see. Is everything all right between you two? I thought that you two were really hitting it off today."
Takato rubbed the back of his head, wondering why Rika was talking to him about this. Usually she wasn't concerned about how he felt. Well, there was the rare occasion, like that time back in the digital world when she first biomerged with Renamon to become Sakuyamon, when she had asked him if he was all right, but it's not like that meant anything, right? Takato shook his head at the memory, realizing that he had forgotten about it in the mad rush of events that occurred afterwards with D-Reaper. It was a little bit odd that he should remember it now after so long, but that didn't answer his question as to why she was asking him about how he felt. Oh well, she was his friend after all, and she did show a lighter side to herself not too long ago so that might have something to do with it.
"Jeri says that everything's fine, but… I don't know. I can't help but wonder what she might be thinking about that she doesn't want to share with me. That she would want to be alone for."
"It's a little confusing…"
Rika had to agree with Takato on that. It did sound confusing. Maybe tomorrow would bring answers for him. Until then…
"So," began Rika. "You going home now?"
Takato nodded. "Yeah. There's not a whole lot for me to do right now so I might as well. I've still got to get Guilmon something to eat."
"I see," said Rika as she took a moment to think about this. Looking at Takato right now, Rika felt a little saddened at the look on his face. Putting a hand on his shoulder Rika spoke.
"Tell you what. Why don't I walk with you for a bit? You know, to keep you company. It's the least I can do for interrupting your date with Jeri."
Takato restrained the urge to fidget.
"Um… you don't have to you know…"
Rika's eyes narrowed, and Takato's shoulders sagged. He really didn't want to get on Rika's bad side right now, and she was being friendly…
"Okay. If you want to."
Rika nodded and set off in the direction of Takato's home. After a moment she realized that Takato hadn't yet moved from his spot. Rika halted and looked over her shoulder.
"Well? Are you coming? Or are you going to stand there all day?"
Takato gave a startled cry before falling into step beside her, and the two of them continued their journey, neither one of them saying anything.
After what felt like an eternity the two of them entered the area of a playground, and Takato called for a quick rest before they continued. Rika made an impatient noise but agreed and the two sat down on a park bench. Takato looked at the swing set, overcome by a feeling of nostalgia as he realized that this was the same playground that he had spotted Rika at yesterday on his way home. She had been singing…
Something clicked in Takato's mind as he remembered something that Kazu had kept bugging him about. Something about singing.
"So that's what he meant," whispered Takato, and Rika gave him a strange look.
"What who meant?"
"Eh? Ah!" Takato's face went beat red. "Um… nothing. Nothing at all. Heh, heh." Takato sweatdropped and Rika just snorted.
Takato breathed a sigh of relief as he looked at the swings once more, wondering how Kazu had found out about yesterday, if that was what he had been talking about. And then he remembered something about what Guilmon had said about Kazu owing him Guilmon bread…
Sheesh! Don't tell me he bribed my partner! Oh man… no wonder Kazu wouldn't shut up about that. I just hope that Kazu forgets about it before he says something about it with Rika around. That would be bad…
But while his mind was on the subject, he unexpectedly posed a question to the red haired girl that sat next to him.
"Rika? What was that song that you were singing yesterday?"
Rika looked at Takato, a little bewildered at the boldness of his question. Takato was himself taken aback by it, but he held his ground, despite Rika's narrowed eyes. Well, only for a moment…
"Um… you don't have to tell me of course. I'm… uh… just curious… ahem…"
Rika was silent for a moment, studying Takato carefully, debating as to whether she should say anything. She didn't like talking about herself, and wasn't the type to easily get sentimental about anything, but at that moment, Takato's face, and question melted her heart just enough to show some pity, and mercy, on the boy.
Rika looked at the playground, focusing on the swing set that stood in it, the memory of yesterday playing through her mind, of Takato accidently eavesdropping on her singing (she still wondered if it was an accident as he had claimed, but she at the very least she gave him the benefit of the doubt). Rika remembered that she had been thinking a little about her mother, and of her own father whom she hadn't seen in years. Memories that had been given renewed life on the day of her birthday when she had been possessed by a Parasimon. The day that Takato had saved her…
"It was just something that my Dad taught me when I was a kid," said Rika, breaking the silence between them. Takato looked at Rika, eyes slightly wide. He hadn't expected Rika to open up to him.
"Your…?" Takato stopped, unsure of where to go now. He hadn't heard Rika talk about her father before, and he had never seen him at her house either. He didn't really know what that was about, but he had guessed that Rika's parents were divorced. She never spoke about it, and rarely talked about family. He didn't know how she would react to talking about it, and now he regretted even bringing it up. Rika continued anyway in spite of Takato's worries.
"Yeah. My Dad. I don't really think about him much, since he left when I was little, but… I do think about him sometimes. Occasionally I wonder what he's doing. What he thinks of me, if he remembers me at all…"
Takato looked at Rika's face, which had taken on a rather distant look, as though she were trapped in the world of her memories.
"Rika…" began Takato, but the fiery Tamer interrupted him.
"Look. How much longer are we going to sit here? I thought that you wanted to get home."
"W-well, I'm in no hurry. I mean, I would like to get home; it's just that… er… I kind of… um… like being with you… uh… here… that is…"
Takato's voice drifted off as he felt some heat rise in his cheeks. He had to sound like the biggest idiot in the world right now. Trembling slightly, Takato looked away, his muscles tensing as he did so, not wanting to see what Rika's reaction would be but having a pretty good idea anyway. Takato felt very awkward right now, and wished deeply that he didn't. Rika might get the wrong impression…
Rika narrowed her eyes at the boy, wondering just what was going through that head of his. She wasn't quite sure how to take that comment of his, though if the warm feeling that she was getting on her face was any indication she was a little embarrassed by it.
Why does he keep doing that? Growled Rika mentally. Isn't he supposed to like Jeri or something? What is wrong with him?
Rika clenched her eyes shut, feeling the wave of heat as it cascaded over her body. Once it passed, Rika looked to the side and saw Takato trying, with great effort to avoid looking at her, his own face looking a bit red itself. In an attempt to break the tension, and to show Takato that she wasn't upset with him Rika reached out and draped an arm over his shoulder, eliciting another flush of redness and warmth on the boy's face. Rika gave his shoulder a slight squeeze for added emphasis.
Takato felt as though he had electricity running through his body, but couldn't explain why. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that there was a girl, a pretty girl at that, sitting next to him and sort of hugging him. From another person's vantage point they might even look like a couple, albeit a very strange couple…
Stop it, Matsuki! Thought Takato fiercely. You… you don't see Rika in that way, and I'm sure that she doesn't see you that way either! No need to worry, right?
Oh, how Takato wished he had an answer to that question.
Takato was starting to feel a little bit flustered. All sorts of worries bubbled to the surface, mostly focusing on himself, Jeri, and Rika. He couldn't explain why he was feeling them, or why they had become so dominant in his mind right now, but they were threatening to overwhelm him. Threatening to stop him up in much the same way that he did when he got nervous around Jeri. He needed something that would break him out of it.
"I-I'm sorry," Takato stammered. Rika gave him a questioning look. "About yesterday, and about asking about your dad. I… I don't think that I should have done either of those things…"
"Takato," began Rika. "We already discussed the first part yesterday. You were just following a noise. As for my Dad…" Rika paused. "… Trust me. It's no big deal, at least not with my friends. You weren't trying to make me feel bad or anything and I doubt that you would try even if your life depended on it. If it makes you feel any better though, I'll accept your apology, just so long as you don't ask me to go see the Cherry Blossoms as a cover for one."
Takato blinked, wondering what she meant by that before finally remembering that he had asked her that on her birthday, mostly because he had ruined her birthday surprise and wanted to make it up to her.
"Oh. Right. Sorry about that…"
"Takato? You better stop saying you're sorry or else I'll be the one who apologizes for hitting you."
Takato laughed nervously.
"Gogglehead…" Rika growled.
Takato opened his mouth at first to apologize again, and then realized that was what was annoying Rika at this moment and then promptly shut his mouth with an audible click. Rika chuckled and lightly rapped her knuckles on his head.
They were awfully close now, almost face to face, both of them looking into each other's eyes. Rika had a small smile on, her amethyst eyes sparkling as they searched his own crimson ones for… what exactly? Takato didn't know, but it almost looked like there was some hidden message in them. Once more Takato felt heat rise in his face and he looked away nervously. After another moment Rika did likewise, her expression becoming thoughtful.
"Um… Rika?" Asked Takato tentatively.
"What is it?"
Takato swallowed nervously. He didn't really know what he was going to say, what he had even wanted to ask, but before he knew it, he got his answer.
"Would you… would you sing that song for me?"
Rika gave him a questioning stare, wondering if she had heard him right. After deciding that she had she wondered if she should. She hadn't sung for anyone. Not since her father at any rate and normally she wouldn't sing for anybody. She hadn't at her birthday because of her experience with the Parasimon. That, and it was because Kazu had been the one who had asked.
Looking at Takato now though, she couldn't see a reason why she shouldn't. They were alone after all. With the exception of themselves and Renamon, the playground was remarkably devoid of human life. Besides, Takato probably needed something to take his mind off his worries. The way he was acting right now she was afraid that he'd have a heart attack before he got home.
With a smile, Rika squeezed his shoulder once more.
"Sure, Takato," said Rika softly, almost caringly, and before Takato could say anything Rika began to sing. Slowly, softly, almost as if she were giving voice to the Sakura trees that were blossoming, as if just with her voice alone Takato could see their branches swaying gently in the wind. The world disappeared for Takato, and all that he knew became just Rika's voice.
You promised the sunset we'd always, always be together
I want to see you now, so please tell me how you feel
You came into my lonely heart so suddenly
You gently wrapped up the place that hurt
I've never felt this relaxed
I want to put that warmth in my pocket so I can walk around with it…
You promised the sunset we'd always, always be together
When I'm sad I watch the growing orange glow
The sunset whispers to me that it would surely, surely be all right
I want to see you now, so please tell me how you feel
I want to do my best everyday
To greet you with that smile you love so much…
You promised the sunset we'd always, always be together
Though I feel like giving up, I embrace the beautiful orange glow
The sunset taught me that it would surely, surely be all right
If I just believe, my feelings will get through
You promised the sunset we'd always, always be together
Though far away, we feel the same orange glow
It will surely, surely be all right, because the sunset connects us
Don't cry, our love lights up our hearts
Our love lights up our hearts…
Rika voice slowly tapered off as she came to the end of her song, and came to a quiet stop altogether as the last word came out of her mouth. Takato's view of the world came back, feeling rather stunned at what he had heard. After a moment, one that seemed to take forever, Takato smiled softly at the girl. Rika looked over at him and smiled back.
"Thanks Rika," said Takato quietly. Rika nodded, still smiling. They stayed like that for a moment longer before Rika detached her arm from Takato's shoulder with a sigh and getting up from the bench.
"Come on, Gogglehead," said Rika. "We'd better get you home. I'm sure Dino-boy's just dying for you to get back."
Takato nodded and joined Rika. Together the two of them continued their journey through the park.
Takato and Rika halted outside of the Matsuki bakery, at the side entrance. They both stopped at the door and looked at each other, Takato a little nervously, with Rika looking as though she were thinking about something.
"Um… well… so…" began Takato. "Um… thanks Rika, for being there and for… uh… hanging out with us at the Sakura trees. It was… fun."
Rika nodded, a small smile once more appearing on her face.
"Yeah it was. It always is though isn't it? Well, with the exception of when Kazu's around…"
Takato laughed, and then the door opened, revealing Takato's father, Takahiro Matsuki, carrying a currently empty crate. He looked back and forth between the two children, noting with some amusement that both of them seemed to be blushing at his intrusion. Takahiro grinned at them.
"Hey, Takato. Glad to see that you're home. You're mother would like for you to lend a hand in the kitchen as soon as your able too."
Takato bobbed his head up and down enthusiastically.
"Sure thing, Dad! I'll… ah… get right to that."
Takato paused to take one last look at Rika before they parted. Takahiro noticed.
"Incidently," the older male began, his grin widening. "When Guilmon came in saying that you were going to be late because you were walking a girl home, I wasn't expecting it to be your friend Rika. And aren't you supposed to walk her home and not the other way around?"
Takato's face instantly became bright red and he chuckled to cover it.
"Um… well… it's not like that… I mean it is… I mean… ah… she… I…ahem… er… that is…"
Rika just crossed her arms and gave the boy a glare before turning to Takahiro with an amused glint in her eyes, though she too was blushing. Lightly though.
"I only met up with him a little while after he was with Jeri," said Rika and then said, without missing a beat, "Besides. If Gogglehead here ever tried to walk me home, I'd send him back home with a black eye."
Takato cringed, but put up a humorous smile, hoping that, at least she was joking about that. It was so hard to tell with her…
"I see," said Takahiro with a knowing smile still plastered on his face. "Well, don't let me keep you two." And with that, Takahiro set the crate he had been carrying down on top of a stack of them before heading back inside.
"Don't take too long saying goodbye though," said Takahiro.
Rika turned to Takato with a bemused expression on her face. Once more, Takato blushed lightly.
"Heh, heh. Sorry about that. Parents."
"Yeah. I've had my fill of them."
The two shared a light laugh together, and it was soon followed by an awkward silence.
"So," said Rika slowly, her eyes swiveling up to meet Takato's. "See you tomorrow?"
Rika smiled and turned, giving him a casual wave before walking off.
"Good to know. Until then, Gogglehead. Later."
Rika headed off, turning the corner leading out of the alley that the Bakery's side door faced, and began her journey home. Takato stood there waving for a moment before heading inside, feeling truly comforted and relaxed for the first time in hours...
There was a crash of something unidentifiable hitting the floor in the kitchen, and the next thing the boy knew he was the recipient of one very heavy dinosaur leaping at him.
Mei Matsuki shook her head with a rueful smile on her face as she heard the distinct cry of her only son following the joyful glee of his digital creation. Yup, just another day in the Matsuki household.
Rika walked slowly on her way home, wondering at the strange feeling that filled her heart. It felt a little bit like how she felt after the Frisbee game, but at the same time it was something else. At present though, she wasn't about to go analyzing it. Maybe it was nothing, but then again maybe it was something important. Maybe… just maybe she actually…
Rika pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind. Time would tell soon enough as to what it was she was feeling, if it ever came up again. For now, life went on, and all further worries and musings were for the next day.
With this in mind, Rika continued on her way home, shadowed by her friend and partner, Renamon as she followed from a safe, agreeable distance, away from any prying eyes. A small smile lit up the females face as for the first time in a long while, she felt relaxed and completely at peace with herself. As she walked down the streets and headed towards the park to find a path that would take her home, she began to hum the tune to her song as in front of her, the sun arched downwards towards the horizon.
You promised the sunset we'd always, always be together…
The sun dipped a little closer towards the buildings. A journey of life never meant to end…
A/N: Well, that's it. Took me the entire day (from Nine O'clock in the morning or so up 'till 4:30 in the afternoon) but I'm done. I wanted to end this story on a sentiment moment (a tribute to Pandemonium Theory's review of Chapter 2 from when I first started this fic ;) ), and while nothing's been really resolved, things have been set up where they could go either way for the people involved in this fic, though with a greater emphasis on my personal favorite pairing, Rukato. I would also like to dedicate this fic to PTT, the one and only self-proclaimed, 100 percent, Jurato supporter to read this fic. You have my respect, for being one of those few who read a story over their preferred coupling. I have tried to treat all the characters involved with as much respect as possible in keeping with the show, and I hope that I at least did a good job with that (though it is admittedly hard getting characterization down right).
I'd also like to thank everyone who has read and reviewed so far.
Kuroy, Pandemonium Theory, Notorious P.A.T., Black, ZeroXGundam, Keyo-Red Angel of Hope (always good to hear from you dude :P), Cony, Ruki44, TrialAndError1192812, Shadowzero789, Red Eye, Alforce Zero, Renaki and dbzgtfan2004.
This fic was something of a challenge for me, as I had made no plans as to what I was going to do with it. By and large, I think that it was much more successful than my first attempt at that sort of thing, though I did feel that I nearly dropped the ball a couple times. While Rika and Takato didn't officially get together, that wasn't really what I was aiming towards. I was doing this more as an experiment with three specific characters and wrote to see where it would go. Besides, this was, as I realized last chapter, the type of fic that wouldn't, or couldn't, have an end to it that solidly grounded the feelings of any of the characters. Not if I wanted to be realistic and true to the show at any rate, so I just left it off with some emotions in question and some ties strengthened. Jeri hasn't stopped liking Takato and vice-versa, and Rika hasn't yet fully realized what she feels for Takato. They are still kids after all, with a lot of growing up to do still.
Ahhhg… there I go again, rambling on endlessly. Anyway. Thanks again for reading and reviewing. Hope you enjoyed this fic. Later everyone. You are now leaving the world of…