A/N: This story takes place shortly after the events depicted in 'Hazard's Sorrow' and will focus primarily on Takato and his thoughts on his experiences in that story, with the other Tamers making brief cameo appearances early on, though it can be said that the impact of their friendship on Takato, particularly one, will play a factor in this story. Hope that you enjoy this latest fic. :P
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon
A Time to Heal
A Digimon Tamers fic by Crazyeight
A pool of sunlight spilled out onto the floor, warming the wood with its rays as the sounds of frustrated grunts filled the air. Kneeling just off from the pool of sunlight a young, brown haired boy in a blue hoody shirt fought with a duffel bag as he tried to cram as many clothes as he could and force them down so that he could zip it up properly.
"C'mon…" the boy grumbled in irritation as he pushed down on the pile of clothes that threatened to erupt from the bag. "…Get in there!"
This is what I get for putting things off until the last minute, thought the boy with a sense of irony as he forced the clothes down once more and held them down with one hand while the other grabbed the bag's zipper and used this brief respite to close it up. The boy who went by the name of Takato Matsuki (just Takato to his close friends, and occasionally Gogglehead for one of them) smiled as the bag finally began to close.
Bull's eye baby, Takato thought triumphantly.
It was then, that in a rather bizarre twist of luck, the bulging sides of his duffel bag proved to be too difficult for the zipper to close up properly, and it quickly became stuck. His heart slamming in his chest in agitation and near panic, Takato pulled away the hand that was holding the clothes down to work with the zipper…
Only to have the clothes that were no longer pressed beneath the bag's opening take the moment of relieved pressure to erupt outwards like a volcano, just as soon as Takato gave a yank on the zipper. As Takato's crimson eyes widened in shock, he saw a piece of his shirt enter the zipper's channel, jamming it.
Takato gave a sigh of exasperation as he began to work through the bag, removing some articles of clothing so as to relieve the pressure, tossing them to the side as he thought about the time that was coming up. A couple days ago his parents had approached him and said that, given everything that had been going on for the past week and a half, especially with the news that he had recently received from the government agency known as Hypnos, they thought that it would be best if they sent him Okinawa to visit his cousing Kai so that he could have a little time to himself and wait for things to cool down a bit. A lot had happened to him recently, enough to say that he needed a period of calm weather, figuratively speaking to let it all sink in properly.
Memories flashed through his mind; recollections of his battle with Lucemon, Guilmon's subsequent death and his own struggles to deal with his best friend's loss, his failure at it that resulted in the creation of the dark BlackGuilmon and Lucemon's reappearance to combat it, BlackGuilmon's forcefully using Takato's energy to digivolve, nearly recreating the dark Megidramon again if it wasn't for his own last minute Biomerge with the creature, instead resulting in the birth of ChaosGallantmon, his own realizations about the nature of BlackGuilmon in regards to his own emotions as its creator and Tamer, his own battle with his friends; with Henry and Terriermon, and with Rika…
Takato paused at the name of the fiery haired Tamer that he had called his friend for nearly a year, his eyes becoming downcast as the faint traces of a blush appeared on his cheeks as yet another memory came to mind; the day that she had arrived at his house to return the goggles that he had abandoned in Guilmon's old den.
Looking over at his desk Takato's eyes lighted on the photograph from last year, the time that he had gone to Okinawa shortly before the V-pet crisis. It had been taken after the ordeal had ended and Gulfmon had been destroyed. His gaze settled on the red haired, violet-eyed Tamer for a moment and he looked away, feeling uncertainty take root in his mind.
I still can't believe that she did that, thought Takato as he once again began to un-jam his duffel bag's zipper, his motions making it difficult to discern whether he was trying to attack the problem with the annoying object head on, or was just looking for an excuse to do something while he collected his thoughts. I mean I always knew that she valued our friendship, even though she didn't always make it look that way. I never realized that she felt… I never thought that she'd…
Takato tugged on the zipper extra hard as his thoughts began to tatter. On the front with the Tamer known as Rika Nonaka, the Digimon Queen, he was still a mess, had plenty of reasons for it in fact, and it didn't look like he was going to be able to resolve the issue any time soon. The way things have been going lately, between the news from Hypnos and his family sending him off on vacation he had been distracted enough that he hadn't had much time for any of his friends outside of school, and even that was sporadic enough as it was. The battle against Lucemon had caused enough damage where power outages were frequent and some roads still closed off. Of course, the rampaging Triceramon that had shown up last week certainly didn't help things much either…
Takato snapped out of his reverie and looked back over at his desk and after a second's consideration he got up and walked over to it. He stood in front of the desk for a moment, looking at the picture, his brow furrowing in thought before reaching out and picking it up. A second later he walked back over to his bag and placed the picture amongst the articles of clothing that he had decided to take with him on his vacation. As he began to pull the zipper closed his eyes caught the image of Rika from that time in Okinawa almost a year ago, and he felt his heart pause for a moment, as though contemplating what had gone on between them recently, and a second later the bag was closed. Takato drew in a deep breath as he sat there, closing his crimson eyes.
He was going to have a lot to think about during the next week…
Takato raced out of the door of his home, bag slung over one shoulder as he fought to fight down the growing sense of panic that raced its way through his mind as he quickly bid his parents goodbye. True to form, unintentionally, Takato was late getting down to the airport to catch his flight. He had had a lot of time beforehand to get things ready, but that time had gotten away from him, distracted to say the least, especially in regards to his recent discussions with Shibumi and Yamaki when they had presented their surprise to him. Before he believed that he no longer had anything to do with Hypnos, but now… after what Mr. Mizuno had done for him… it was all he could do to not be at Hypnos. And who could blame him? If everything had gone through all right… if Mr. Mizuno had succeeded…
"TAKATO!" The sound of Mei Matsuki, his mother, cut across the street as she stood at the door, waving at her chaotic son as he raced through the crowd of people, already losing himself as he turned one last time to wave back. Mei's face softened as she lowered her hand. She had hoped to give him one last hug before he had left, but he was in a hurry. His habit of being chronically late for just about everything short of a digimon attack never failed, and showed no signs of being broken any time in the near future. He had to have gotten it from his father…
"Did Takato take off already?" Asked Takahiro as he poked his head out of the bakery's door, just behind his wife.
Speak of the devil…
"I wish that he had waited," said Takahiro as Mei nodded in response to his question. "I would have given him a ride…"
"Oh, you know that he'll be okay," said Mei as she turned back and reentered the bakery. "It's not like he hasn't made the trip before, like I reminded you the last time he went to visit Kai before that mess with the red blob. He'll be fine."
"But…" began Takahiro only to be cut off by a shake of Mei's head.
"Don't you have some bread in the oven that you have to keep an eye on? If you burn another batch you'll be making your own dinner tonight." Mei smirked at her husband as she said that, leaving him to try and guess as to whether or not she was joking. Takahiro just blinked in confusion.
"Just get in there. We've still got to make sure that we have fresh bread to serve for the customers. Takato knows what he's doing and I trust his judgment. I know that there are times where he'll waver but…"
Mei looked up at the sky for a quick second before ushering her husband back into their home and business, Takahiro giving his wife a strange look all the while.
"That's what his friends are for," finished Mei as she shut the door behind them with a jingle. A second later a shadow rushed over the front of the bakery.
I'm late! I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!
Again and again the thought hammered through his mind as Takato wove in and out of the crowd of people that had sprung up with the sunlight of the afternoon, a golden radiance casting its light upon the streets as above him the orb responsible for such luminosity sunk ever closer towards the horizon. At another time, one that was even less hectic, he would have taken the time to admire the light but not so now. All he knew at the moment was just how close he was cutting it and he still had quite a ways to go before he got to the airport. He wasn't at all sure that he was going to make it onto the plane on time but he at least had to make the effort! Oh, how he wished that he had taken the time to get things done sooner…
So caught up in his flight of emergency that he didn't immediately notice that the crowd of people around him was parting suddenly like a wave, as though startled by something. The sudden increase in the ease that he was having in getting through them grabbed his attention after a few seconds and he looked at them in curiosity, one eyebrow raised in confusion, wondering what was going on while at the same time grateful for the reprieve that he now had. It was only shortly after that that he noticed a strangely familiar shadow that was growing in front of him.
Um… thought Takato as his pace began to slow in response, his brain already attempting to process what was happening. What's going o…?
"Hey there," spoke a voice that was both familiar and friendly sounding as something landed behind him. A strong arm grabbed hold of him around the waist and suddenly the next thing Takato knew was that his feet had left the ground.
"Going up!" Said the voice again in an almost melodious tone as Takato saw the ground surge further and further away from him, the people that stood there watching in dumb amazement dwindling into small specks as he and his abductor rose into the air.
"Hu-wha…!" Came Takato's intelligent response as he tried to grasp what was going on. Looking down at the arm that was holding him he took note of the purple colored glove that held onto him tightly so as to make sure that he wouldn't fall. His widening eyes tracing over to his left, he took note of golden armor, a strong, mature face half obscured by what looked like a fox mask, and grasped in the other hand was a long, bronze, vajra staff. It didn't take him long to recognize who his captor was.
"Sakuyamon!" Exclaimed Takato in surprise.
"That's us," responded Sakuyamon in her duo voices of Rika and Renamon. "Now would you settle down already? I don't want to accidentally drop you before we get to the airport…"
"You were going to the…?"
"Duh. We all are! What? Did you think that we were just going to let you leave without taking a few minutes to see you off? In case you've forgotten we haven't seen all that much of you lately. I only heard about this from Jeri two days ago…"
The way Sakuyamon, or rather Rika had said that gave Takato the feeling that she wasn't at all happy with him for not filling her in on his plans for vacation, and to be honest, he really couldn't blame her. He should have taken the time to tell her, especially seeing as how they were friends and he had told the others about it. Of course, the other Tamers went to the same school as he did, and most of them were present when he had to inform Ms. Asagi about his vacation. Rika went to a completely different school and… Takato's eyes became downcast. That wasn't much of an excuse. He could have at least called her, but with everything that had been going on so far…
Except that's not it, is it? Thought Takato. Not by a long shot.
"Sorry," said Takato quietly as the wind blew at his hair. "I've had a lot on my mind lately…"
Sakuyamon didn't say anything in response to that, instead merely tightening her hold on the boy for a brief moment as they flew through the air, making Takato wonder if she was simply making sure that she had a good grip on him or was letting him know that she understood what he meant. There was a lot between them that had gone unsaid lately, ever since that day that she had arrived at his home to return his goggles. Since then Takato no longer knew how to react around the red haired Tamer, or what to say to her, her and Jeri…
As the airport finally came into view, Takato was once again confronted with the uncomfortable knowledge that he was going to have a lot to think over while he was at Okinawa.
The rest of the journey was made in silence.
Sakuyamon landed gracefully on the ground at the entrance to the airport and set Takato down on the ground before the light of de-digivolution enveloped the Mega Shaman's form and parted, revealing the two figures of Rika Nonaka, oddly enough dressed in the dark colored uniform of her school, and the golden furred kitsune digimon known as Renamon. As she took a quick moment to put her hair back up into its traditional ponytail Takato thought about trying to say something to her, something that might elate the sense of awkwardness that he had felt building up between them for days now, but try as he might he couldn't think of anything that sounded right. A strange irony he felt. He needed to say something so that he could find some semblance of normalcy between himself and his friend Rika, but because of what had happened he could no longer trust his words to not ruin what friendship that they already had.
And judging from the look on Rika's face, he had an idea that she was running a similar line of thought in her mind right now.
Rika's brow furrowed into a frown as she glanced downward, as though irritated at something, and then she looked back up, her face taking on a softer expression as her violet eyes met Takato's crimson ones and she opened her mouth to say something.
"Takato…" a pause and another frown as the red haired girl clenched her right hand into a fist by her side as a breeze blew at the corners of the skirt of her school uniform. "I…"
The sound of a plane taking off interrupted her, and Rika glared at the object for a moment before remembering what the purpose of their being here was.
"C'mon," she said as she began to walk towards the entrance to the airport. "We'd better get you onto your plane."
"Rika…" began Takato only to halt when she turned to look at him, her questioning eyes once more becoming fixed with his. The brown haired boy tried to say what he felt needed to be said in his heart, but something refused to let the words come out. So instead he opted for something else that was close to what he wanted to say, and were just as true in every sense.
"Thanks for… thanks for stopping by and picking me up."
The corners of Rika's mouth drew up into a small smile as she nodded.
"No problem," Rika told him as the two of them and Renamon resumed their journey. "I was almost afraid that I was going to end up being late seeing as how my school is farther away then yours. Figured that while me and Renamon were biomerged we should check on your home to see if you had already gotten a head start or were going to be late again and needed a lift. Good thing one of us thought ahead…"
Takato smiled as the three of them entered the airport.
Takato, Rika, and Renamon met up with the others outside of the gate that would take him to his flight, greeting each and every one of them as he saw them, and they did likewise, and they wished him the best of luck with his vacation, Terriermon jokingly stating that he didn't know whether or not he should be jealous of Takato for the break that he was going on while at the same time commenting on Rika's school uniform, to which she responded with a glare and a quick question to the rabbit dogs Tamer if he had any objections to her beating the digimon senseless. Ryo chuckled at the exchange, but unlike his friend's digital companion, he had both the wisdom and the tact to not say anything on the subject and instead wished Takato the best of luck in his time away. After a few pleasantries were exchanged with Kazu and Kenta (leaving the boy to wonder if he should be at all worried about what they meant by 'we'll take care of things at the bakery'), Takato found himself the recipient of one crushing hug from Jeri Katou. Takato raised his arms and returned the hug gratefully, though not with the same amount of force that she put into the act, as he didn't want to accidentally hurt her. No words were exchanged between them, but were instead content to stay where they were, holding onto each other. There was a lot that she wanted to say but time, thanks in part to Takato's procrastination with his packing, wasn't on their side at this point. For now all she could do in the time given to them was wish him luck, even though she didn't feel that he was going to need it. Jeri knew full well that he'd be all right, having been there when he had received the news from Yamaki about Guilmon…
Jeri smiled at him as they parted and playfully flicked his nose, causing the boy to go through several colors of red. Jeri giggled.
"Take care of yourself Takato, and have fun. Say hi to your cousin and Guilmon when you see them…"
Takato swallowed as emotions began to flood his mind and he nodded. He hoped that everything was going to come out all right with Guilmon. He had to have hope on that front…
"I'll be sure to do that," Takato said as he smiled back. Finally Takato turned to see Henry and Rika standing behind him, Henry smiling calmly, his gray eyes a picture of warmth and friendship. A sight that was shared in equal measure with the red haired Tamer that stood next to him. The last of goodbyes were shared between them and soon enough Takato was heading through the gate that was connected to his flight. A voice called out over the loudspeakers that it was boarding now. Takato picked up his pace. Throwing a look over his shoulder, his eyes met with each and every one of his friends that were gathered to see him go. His eyes settled on Rika for a moment before he turned his face away and continued on towards his destination, his brow furrowing in deep thought.
He was going to have a lot to think about…