Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon

Hazard's Sorrow

Chapter: 36/ Closing the Circle

Takato groaned lightly as he shifted his legs, his senses just beginning to wake up with the rest of him. He could hear voices around him… familiar voices. Voices that he felt comfortable with. Ones that brought back warm, happy memories…

A small smile grew on his face and he shifted once more beneath… hold on. Takato furrowed his brow in confusion.

Why do I feel bed sheets?

A steady beeping noise reached his ears, intermingling with the voices that he had been hearing. There was a feeling of calm and comfort in the atmosphere around him. He heard one voice make a joke… sounded pretty dumb. Something involving chickens

Only Kazu could tell jokes that bad, thought Takato distractedly as he slowly cracked his eyes open, getting a good look at the world around him. His first glimpse was that of a white, tiled ceiling. Lowering his gaze revealed to him that yes, there were other people in the room with him. Some adults, other kids his age, and strange creatures that were otherwise known to the world at large as digimon. For a moment nothing came to him as to what their identities were and in that moment he began to fear that he had amnesia or something, but that moment passed swiftly and memories began to impart on him the identities of each and every person that was in the room with him. Henry, Rika, Kazu, Kenta, Renamon, Terriermon, MarineAngemon, Yamaki, Rielly, Ryo, Impmon… no Guardromon or Cyberdramon, but then they were too big to fit into the room anyway, and it was cramped enough as it was…

Takato felt a hand gently squeeze his own and he turned to see who it belonged to, his eyes resting on the soft, gentle eyes of…

Jeri… Takato's mind whispered as he began to sit up.

"He's awake guys," said the brown haired girl, the unmistakable sound of relief in her voice as a smile spread its way on her face and suddenly everyone was congregating around his bed.

"About time," said the red haired girl, Rika as she smirked at him and crossed her arms. "You gave Jeri quite the scare earlier. I was tempted to smack you just out of principle for that…"

Takato felt his face scrunch up in confusion. That certainly had not been the kind of reaction that he had been expecting. Next to him Jeri giggled.

A dark haired boy wearing an orange vest, Henry, coughed politely at Rika's joke, smiling lightly as he looked at the boy in the hospital bed.

"How are you doing Takato?" Henry asked.

Takato raised his eyes back up to the ceiling, pausing for a moment to take in the tiles that lined it as he considered his friend's question. Just how did he feel? There wasn't any pain… at least nothing physical as far as he could tell. Well… okay, he did feel a little bit sore, especially in the area around his face as though someone had punched him, but those feelings were more in the background so they were barely noticeable. But aside from that he felt… empty inside. Like something was missing. And he felt tired on top of that. Very tired, yet at the same time, in a rather cruel sense of irony, too tired to even sleep.

Probably because I did enough of that already, thought Takato glumly as he returned his gaze to his friends, looking over each and every one of them as he did so, grateful to have each and every one of them as his friend. Almost without realizing it, his eyes settled on the red haired Tamer known as Rika, and the world seemed to freeze for a moment as a memory came to him…

Anger. Rage. Darkness. That was all that he knew. All that he ever seemed to know in fact. His own name, his identity were long forgotten now once the battle had started, and now all he could do was react, feeling a fire burning from within his heart, feeding him strength as he fought. He had just taken down the giant war machine when the shaman digimon attacked him, surprisingly putting up a good fight despite being at a type disadvantage. But there was something else. As soon as he saw the shaman flying towards him, ready to do battle with him memories came unbidden to his mind. Places, a parking garage, a park path… in each of them there was a red haired girl and a yellow furred fox wearing purple gloves, threatening him. No… threatening his partner. Trying to destroy him. His best friend, saying how digimon were nothing more than data, and that he and his friend were nothing more than mere stepping stones to her. A cold anger awoke in the dark knights heart, feeding the fires that already burned within him, giving him even greater strength as he and the shaman fought, both striving for victory over the other.

Was she still trying to delete him? Still trying to load his data? Was that why they were fighting here and now? Something in him told the dark knight that this digimon were that same girl and fox that he remembered, only merged. Just like… he was? It was so hard to think. All he knew was the rage, the anger of it all. He couldn't afford to think right now. He had only one priority. To defeat his enemies as they came to him. Anything else would come after he had claimed victory over their broken bodies. Anyone who threatened him deserved no less. No mercy. No forgiveness…

With a cry of never ending rage from the deepest depths of his soul, Takato… ChaosGallantmon, noticed that the Sakuyamon seemed to be distracted by something. Taking his chance, the dark knight charged forward, pulling his lance back as he prepared to strike down his foe.

Takato jerked his eyes away as he felt shame well up in his heart. He… he had tried to kill Rika and Renamon… he had even hurt Henry and Terriermon. They had tried to help him through his grief and what had he done for them in payment? Sure, he had not entirely been in control of his actions, but they were still his actions regardless, and BlackGuilmon, as much as he hated to admit it, was every bit a part of him as Guilmon had been before he died… everything that he had felt when he and BlackGuilmon had merged were his and his alone. All the anger, frustration, fury…

He had felt such emotions back when they had first met, and to know that they still had that kind of power over him was rather unnerving to him.

It took him a second to realize that Henry was trying to get his attention.

"Huh? Oh! Uh… sorry about that Henry. Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. I feel… fine…"

"Good to hear," said Yamaki, finally entering the conversation. "I've looked over the doctor reports from when they brought you in. They still have to finish their analysis but from what they do know at the moment they say that you were lucky to come out of this as you did. They believe that you'll make a full recovery but it's likely that you'll be kept overnight so as to make sure that nothing unexpected occurs…"

As Yamaki continued on, saying that he had sent for his parents and that they should be arriving soon (though it was likely that there would be some detours taken due to all the damage that had been caused by the fighting) Takato lay back in the hospital bed and let his mind drift. He felt Jeri's hand squeeze his own gently, and the boy smiled lightly, but as memories from the past week, particularly the fight from today drifted through his mind, the smile didn't reach his eyes.

The sun shone down on the Matsuki Bakery, the light glinting off the sign and reflecting off the shops front window where many a pastry sat, tempting customers with their delicious appearance and sweet smells. Up on the bakery's roof the noble form of the nine tailed kitsune known as Kyubimon with her partner, Rika sitting on her back phased into view, appearing as if by magic before leaping down into the small alley that led into the bakery's side door. Rika looked around carefully before climbing down from off her partner, caressing the side of her face for a moment as she took a moment to think things through.

Two days. It had been two days since the day that the BlackGuilmon had been destroyed. Some schools had been closed down due to the damage that had been caused by all the fighting as well as some roads and most of the area around the park as well. Though Rika's own private school hadn't had the luck of closing down like that of her other friends, her mother, Rumiko, had called her in sick anyway. A strange thing to do Rika felt, but was nonetheless grateful for her mother's decision. If nothing else, it gave her the opportunity to finish up on some business that she had yet to take care of.

Poking out of the top of her back pocket was a pair of yellow trimmed goggles. Reaching over to them, Rika touched the familiar item with a tenderness that belied her usual attitude, and with a soft gaze she turned her lavender eyes up to the familiar window that led up to Takato's room. She had been meaning to return his property to him for a while now, but events just kept getting in the way. That and she had wanted to return his property to him personally, and without anyone else around, which was why she had shown up when she did, at a time that it was most likely that the others wouldn't be up and already on their way, and if they were they would have to detour around the park due to the repair work that was being done there, which would take a bit of time, which was one reason why she had ridden over on Kyubimon. It wasn't so much that she cared what the others might think if they saw her give Takato his own goggles, but more that she didn't want them asking him any questions about why he had left them in Guilmon's former den to begin with, and she would just as soon return them and leave it at that, putting the whole thing behind them so that they could all move on. Asking the Gogglehead why he had deserted his goggles might bring up all sorts of questions, questions that he might not want to answer.

With a small smile and a nod at her partner, Kyubimon, Rika walked up to the entrance to the Matsuki Bakery and went inside, taking off her shoes before enquiring as to Takato's whereabouts and quickly being directed to his room. With a word of thanks, Rika began to climb the stairway, the sound of her feet echoing within the hallway until she finally came to a halt in front of his doorway, pausing only to take a deep breath before knocking lightly on its surface and turning the knob.

Takato sat on the floor of his room, sitting next to the glass door that led to his rooms porch outside leaning slightly against the doors edge, staring at a blank sheet of paper in his sketchbook as he pondered on what to draw, but not entirely sure what to do or where to go. It was a reversal of his usual habit to sit at his desk and lose himself in his imagination but he really couldn't help it this time. The spot of sun that shone in down on his floor looked so inviting, and he was more in a nostalgic mood anyway, preferring more to think and let himself drift rather than to do any actual drawing anyway…

A shadow blew across his sheet of paper, causing Takato to blink in surprise and look outside. Seeing nothing however that could have caused the sudden occurrence Takato went back to his sketchbook, his mind once again setting sail upon the sea of thought, a light breeze pushing the ship of his mind forward as it rocked gently upon the water.

Curious thing though, Takato noted absently, the area around Hypnos seemed to be glowing a little bit green today, but with the sun beating down on his window pane he passed it off as just his imagination.

Time crawled by slowly, and Takato breathed a heavy sigh as he tapped the top of his pencil against the paper, hoping to find some inspiration, and finally he set the tip on the pad and began to sketch, slowly, carefully, and soon enough the familiar lines of Guilmon's face began to take shape. Takato paused at this now, swallowing a painful lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat. Memories of the crimson dinosaur played in the back of his mind and Takato's face softened as he once again was reminded that his best friend was no longer there with him. Thoughts of trying once again to rescan his drawing were furthest from his mind. After what he had experienced two days ago he could no longer trust that doing so would have the right affect, the effect that he wanted anyway. Maybe it was really time to move on now… Takato looked at the drawing once more, not liking the thought but feeling helpless to do otherwise. Guilmon was gone… as much as he hated to admit it Guilmon wasn't coming back, and there was no digital portal that he could go through to bring him back. His days as a Tamer were over.

Oh Guilmon…

The sound of someone knocking at his door startled Takato out of his reverie. Turning his head, Takato saw his door open and in walked perhaps the one person that he didn't expect to see…

"Rika…" Takato said softly, unable to hide the surprise in his voice as the red haired girl entered the room and smiled at him.

"Hey Takato," said Rika in a tone that sounded too soft for how she normally tended to be, but then she had been that way towards him an awful lot in the past few days. "Need some company?"

Takato blinked in surprise before nodding, still a little stunned but quickly recovering. "Huh? Uh… Oh! Yeah. Sure. Um… Thanks."

Returning Takato's nod Rika padded on over to the boy and set herself down on the floor next to him. The two sat in silence for a moment; Rika regarding the boy carefully while Takato returned his attention to his sketchpad, occasionally glancing over at the girl with an expression of uncertainty. The air seemed to become tense as they sat there. Rika, quickly picking up on that tension, and the silence, felt the need to break it and quickly did so.

"So… how're you holding up? Since I last saw you I mean…"

"Huh? Oh… you know… the usual. This and that, trying to stay occupied… and… uh… stuff…"

Takato gave a light, nervous laugh, to which Rika returned with a small smile before reaching behind her, digging into her back pocket and bringing out a pair of yellow trimmed goggles, handing them over to Takato, who once again blinked in surprise, as well as stunned amazement at what he was seeing.

I thought that those were gone for good, the boy's thoughts echoed in his mind as he carefully took the goggles from his friend.

"I came here to return those to you," said Rika once Takato had taken the goggles from her. "I found them in Guilmon's den a little while ago, the day that… well… anyway, I thought that you might want them back, so here you go."

Takato's face softened as he held the yellow goggles in his hand for a moment, his crimson colored eyes tracing over them before he turned his gaze to Rika and smiled at her.

"Thanks," he said, his spirits feeling a little bit lighter now, and Rika once again smiled back at the boy.

"No problem," the fiery Tamer said. Another moment passed, during which Takato set the goggles down on the floor next to him and returned to his sketch book, the drawing of Guilmon still as yet unfinished, and likely to remain so. He… Takato sighed mentally. He didn't feel like drawing anymore…

Rika watched Takato carefully, a little bit surprised that he hadn't decided to put his goggles on after going so long without wearing them. There were times past where she had thought that they were glued to his forehead or something as she had rarely seen him go anywhere without them. Raising her eyes to his face, Rika traced over his expression, noting the look of sadness that pervaded it before glancing down at his drawing pad. Her curiosity piqued the girl scooted closer to the boy to get a better look at what he was doing.

"Drawing Guilmon?" Asked Rika as she noted the familiar, child like eyes, bat-like ears and strange fin like objects attached to the side of his face. Takato nodded.

"Yeah. I'm just… I don't know. I'm just trying to work a few things out… wasn't really planning on doing anything and Guilmon appeared." Takato sighed. "I'm probably not going to continue with it anyway…"

Rika raised an eyebrow.

"Giving up, Gogglehead? You've never done that before."

"I'm not!" Takato exclaimed a little heatedly, before blanching a little at his tone. It wasn't often that he reacted like that, least of all to Rika, as she would most likely kick his butt for talking that way to her. But then, she had yet to follow through on any of the threats that she had made towards him so…

Why's she smiling?

"Good to hear," said Rika, throwing an arm over his shoulder, giving him a light, companionable squeeze that caused the boy to blush lightly at the treatment. "I'd hate to see you just quit like that, 'cause if you did I'd have to hurt you."

Rika fixed Takato with a gaze that was both firm, yet oddly comforting.

"I think you should finish your drawing."

Takato met Rika's violet gaze for a moment, once again amazed at how she was helping him even when he didn't believe that he deserved it. The past few days… they just weren't his most shining moment that was for sure, and his own actions had put everyone in danger. Heck, he had tried to kill Rika and Renamon not too long ago…

That last thought brought Takato up short and he looked away, once more feeling shame for his actions. Rika took notice and tightened her hold on him, rubbing his shoulder gently as she did so.

"Hey. What's up?"

"I… I just… I don't deserve you guys. I put you all in danger, tried to hurt you, and…"

"Gogglehead?" Rika interrupted, now sounding a little bit irritated. "Shut up and stop feeling sorry for yourself already, will ya? What you did last week… trust me. I understand we're you were coming from. Losing a friend like that… losing Guilmon… it's hard on you. It was hard on Jeri when she had to go through it also. It's not like you're a special case where you had to react differently. We all mourn in our own ways. Should you have done things differently? Yeah, but none of us are going to blame you about what happened. As for the fight… you said that you were overwhelmed by anger over Guilmon's death…"

"Not just Guilmon's death!" Takato blurted out, surprising Rika into silence with his outburst. She waited for the boy to continue. Takato took a deep, shaky, breath before continuing.

"It was much more than that. Every emotion… every feeling of anger that I ever felt… towards people… towards the world… I felt them all at once when I had joined with BlackGuilmon. I couldn't tell left from right, I could barely even remember who I was or that I was even friends with any of you. In fact, when I saw you, all I could think of… all I could… I…"

Takato's voice trailed off a bit as he fought to get what he was trying to say out of him. Rika once more squeezed his shoulder to encourage him, as well as to comfort him, letting him know that he could say it, whatever it was that was bothering him.

Takato swallowed nervously.

"…All I could think of was the day that we first met, and you had tried to load Guilmon's data…"

Takato closed his eyes, and let a lone tear trace its way down his face. Her expression softening, Rika reached over with her left hand and wiped it away, causing the boy to look at her in surprise, remembering the last time that she had done something like that for him.

"Takato," began the red haired girl in a calm voice. "That's all in the past now. I wasn't exactly a good person then, and things have changed since then. At that time I would say that I probably would have deserved getting bashed around like that, but things are different now. I don't see you guys as the competition like I used to. We're friends, and that means that we forgive each other for the stupid things that we've done against to the other, just like I forgive you for trying to hurt me. However, given the circumstances, let's just say that we were making up for lost time, and then forget about it, because it's not worth dwelling upon."

Takato looked at Rika, again surprised, and surprised that she kept finding a way to do that to him even after all this time that they had known each other. Still… it made him feel good that she didn't harbor any bad feelings over their battle.

Rika continued.

"If it makes you feel any better, Henry and I didn't know that you had joined with BlackGuilmon until well after we had attacked you, so I'd say that you had every reason to be angry. But don't do it again. I'll have to hurt you even more if you do…"

Takato frowned.

"What's that mean?"

Rika looked at the boy, her violet eyes teasing and she smirked at him.

"Let's just say that you have a glass jaw when it comes to getting punched."


Rika chuckled a little at the boy before their eyes met once again, staring into the other. There was no anger between them, no hard feelings, sadness, or any other form of negative emotion. All that was there now was… friendship, and the relief that comes with knowing that the other is all right, or at least will be given enough time. Rika was glad now, seeing and knowing that Takato was going to be all right. All that she and the others had to do was help him get through the rest of his pain… not alone but with all of them supporting him through their friendship…

Without even realizing it, Rika leaned forward towards the boy, her violet eyes closing as she did so, and a second later she showed him just how far the depth and strength of their friendship ran.

Her lips met his tenderly at first, brushing lightly against Takato's before pressing gently onto them as a tingle that she could only describe as electricity ran down her spine, and with it came a feeling similar to what she had experienced when she had merged with Renamon to become Sakuyamon. A comforting warmth filled her heart and swiftly spread throughout her body and she deepened the kiss, feeling Takato stiffen in surprise against her as she did so. An eternity seemed to pass by, an eternity that was far too short in Rika's eyes as she pulled away and looked into Takato's eyes, noting his surprise as well as the deep redness of his face, a redness that she was sure was reflected on her own as well. A small smile slowly spread across Rika's face as she carefully took Takato's hand into her own. A feeling of worry over what she had just wrought made itself known in her heart, but for now she ignored it. No doubt she would be hearing from it later, but until then she was content to let the moment be, and to exist in that moment for however long she was able to as a feeling of contentment spread throughout her.

"R-Rika…?" Began Takato, his voice trembling slightly. He had not been expecting this from her… not at all… "W…wha…?"

"Takato," began Rika quietly with a shake of her head. "Just… shut up for now… okay? Just… shut up…"

Her words, though harsh sounding in terms of choice, were not so in usage as her voice carried a tenderness that she had only shown to Renamon and Jeri in the past… and now she had shared it with Takato.

Pulling the boy closer to her until he was almost leaning on her, Rika rested her head on top of his as she closed her eyes, one lone tear making its way out and rolling down her cheek.

"Stupid Gogglehead…" Rika whispered as they sat there together, in the light of Shinjuku's rising sun.

Off in the distance, the building that was the central headquarters to the government organization known as Hypnos flashed once, briefly as an emerald light enveloped it, and then returned quietly to normal, as though nothing had happened.

All done, thought Shibumi as he finished typing in the last few commands on his keyboard before reaching over and taking a sip from his coffee mug. After many hours of painstakingly sitting in front of this computer screen, running through various programs, simulations, data scans, file recognition programs and modifications he was finally finished with his project. As he had suspected, it had taken him longer without the use of the BlackGuilmon to help him, but as he had told Yamaki before, he was confident that he could pull it off. He had to admire the man really, creating the Juggernaut. Nasty little program that it was, it certainly had its uses just like it did back during D-Reaper. Just like it did now. A digital portal that sucked up data like a vacuum cleaner modified just enough to grab small bits and pieces of data rather than mass collections of it so that it wouldn't affect the Tamer's digimon. Now all he could do now was wait and see what happened… if the second part of the program worked and if his theory was right…

Rings of data began to coalesce on his computer screen, growing in number as the information was fed directly into the software. Shibumi's eyes widened as hope filled his heart and he mentally crossed his fingers. The data continued to gather until finally, after a few minutes, connections were made and solidified. A second later an image of an egg with red spots appeared on the screen, and a smile appeared on Shibumi's face.

Now this is where things get interesting… thought Shibumi as he raised his hands back to the keyboard and began typing away once more, preparing his computers diagnostic programs for a complete and full analysis of the digi-egg.

There's always reason to hope, thought Shibumi as he busily typed away on his keyboard, the sounds of keys being tapped the only noise that echoed in the room, a sound of hope for the future, and all the surprises that it held.

The End

A/N: First I'd like to thank everyone who has reviewed so far, and for taking the time to read my story and for putting up with my work. You guys are awesome.

Dag 417, Kuroy, Salim, ShadowJ51, Claypool, Wolfy, TrialAndError123456, Pandemonium Theory, Alforce Zero, Lantz Blades, Righteous Fury, Blue Bragon, Unnamed, Epsilon Zeta, Rex, FallenArchangelDD, ofdarknesschaos, Wing Zero, Random, Renaki, fred2008, Linkmaste, Yuki's Little Girl, Peter Kim, Demonica the Fox 'Sonica' Foxie, lol, unknown, Vashkoda, Pojo32, ficmaster, taichi-dai, r, Minwolf, Samuramon, pyro-chan the dragon king

A couple of dedications to hand out here. One goes to Unknown, for breaking the 200th review barrier for me, a first for me so many thanks to you and to everyone who stuck with me from beginning to end. Another dedication goes to a friend of mine, pyro-chan the dragon king, who has been a pretty cool friend for me, taking the time to talk with me about story ideas and other random stuff. He recently had his eighteenth birthday, so I'm making this chapter a late birthday present for him. Congratulations pyro. You're now old enough to vote.

As you all know, I do have some sequels lined up for this story, one titled 'A Time to Heal', which will be a much shorter story, focusing more on Takato as he goes on vacation to visit his cousin Kai to recover and come to grips with everything that had happened to him in this story. Very few appearances of the other characters, but they will be there in the beginning, and Calumon will be tagging along with the Gogglehead too. He didn't get any screen time in this fic, for which I am sorry. I just couldn't see him as appearing in this story, and it would have been difficult adding another perspective to the amount that I already had going. The next story will change that though.

After that, there's the story that's been sitting on my planned projects list since practically forever, titled 'Less Than Human'. A few changes have been made to the general storyline and plot, but its still got the same idea to it, the time frame taking place at the same time as Takato's vacation, and will feature multiple subplots in addition to its major one. It's going to be a while before I get to either of these (less so for 'A Time to Heal' though) as I still have some other fics that haven't been updated in a while and I should get back to them soon. There are some things about this fic that I feel that I could have done differently (like the interaction between Lucemon and the Nakata family for example), but I'm not going to worry about them too much. There were a lot of things that I wanted to experiment with, such as character interaction, development, and working with a large cast and still able to explore their thoughts deeply (a difficult thing to do, and requires a lot of patience), and I learned a lot while writing this story. I'm going to miss it. Anyway, thank you everyone for reading and reviewing, and I hoped that you all liked the story. Later everyone. You are now leaving the world of…