Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon

A Time to Heal

Chapter: 4

Takato sat on the porch of his cousin's home, watching the sun as it sunk towards the horizon, it's golden light seeming to ignite the sky with fire, and the clouds that floated lazily by, alongside the sparkling water that surrounded Okinawa, basked in its soft glow. Takato looked at the golden, amber color with a look that was both a mixture of sorrow and worry. After a moment of silence Takato hitched a sigh. As much as he tried to enjoy the sunset he couldn't find the ability within himself to do so. The way the colors reflected on the clouds, the deep orange that surrounded the sun with a golden nimbus, the shining rays that broke through the gaps in the clouds, the general calmness that he felt in the air during this time of the day…

…They reminded him of Rika.

Takato looked away from the blazing sky and shifted his gaze to his left hand as it rested lazily on his knee, his crimson eyes showing the depth of turmoil that he had felt in both his mind and heart these past couple of weeks. Three days had passed since he had arrived on Okinawa in search of rest and relaxation and while he had found both in abundance they did little to ease the tension that he felt building within his heart. Almost unconsciously he found himself going back to the memory from his room, two days after Lucemon had destroyed BlackGuilmon and returned to the digital world. In his minds eye he was sitting on the floor of his room once more, trying to draw Guilmon. The sound of a soft knock followed by his bedroom door opening reached his ears and there at its entrance stood the fiery Tamer, smiling gently at him, asking him if he needed some company. His mind played over the next scene quickly, her encouraging him to finish his drawing to her returning his goggles, then becoming a listening ear as he poured out the last of his inner demons to his friend, and finally her show of friendship as she held him, her face drawing closer, her eyes closing, neither of them quite realizing what was going on or what was about to happen, the pause in time at that moment right before their lips… and here Takato's mind paused. That moment was all but branded into his mind, and he doubted that he could forget it even if he tried. Truth be told, he wasn't sure if he wanted to, but…

Yeah. But.

Three days and he had yet to figure out how to deal with what had gone on between him and the red haired Tamer that he had first seen in a dream almost a year ago. He didn't even know how far it had affected him, not just what he felt for Rika but his own feelings for Jeri as well. He liked Jeri. Liked her a lot, that much he knew for certain, and it seemed sometimes that it went beyond just a mere crush, almost to the point where he felt as though she were a natural part of him the way Guilmon had been. Kai had remarked on it once before the last battle with D-Reaper, and he had certainly felt her pain and fear during her imprisonment with the D-Reaper as though she were right next to him. He cared for her, no doubt about that…

But now that Rika had shown him the same amount of care that he had for Jeri…

Oh man… what am I going to do…?

"Hey! Takato!"

Blinking in surprise, Takato turned his head to see Kai approaching him from within the house. As soon as the dark haired boy stepped outside he spoke.

"Hey. Gramps says that dinner is going to be ready soon and…" Kai paused as he took in the expression on Takato's face. "Hey. You okay?"

Takato furrowed his brow as he turned back to the sunset, and Kai felt certain that he was thinking about whatever had been bothering him these past few days since his arrival. He at times wondered if his cousin was still worried about Guilmon, and he didn't have many reasons to think otherwise, especially since his partner's egg had yet to hatch, but ever since he had brought up the subject of Jeri three days ago he had a feeling that the brown haired girl lay at the heart of the matter, or at least pretty close to it. Seeing as how he had closed up when asked about how things were going between them, and that he had said that things had become 'complicated' Kai had quite a lot to go on to confirm this hypothesis. The look on Takato's face right now told Kai quite a lot as to how much this was bothering him.

Something pretty big must have gone down between them if it's had Takato like this…

Kai got down on the porch floor next to his cousin, joining him in watching the sunset, letting the silence have its say for a moment as the wind played with their hair before he spoke.

"Do you want to talk about it now?" Asked Kai softly.

A few seconds passed during which Takato said nothing, just sitting there, watching the sun continue its descent towards the horizon. The sky was starting to shift from a golden, amber color to a more reddish hue. Kai waited patiently, not wanting to disturb his cousin as he collected himself, and after those few seconds were over, his patience was rewarded.

"I didn't tell you the truth, three days ago," Takato began, picking his words carefully, finally deciding to let it out, feeling a strange sense of relief, mingled with apprehension at doing so, but continuing on anyway, feeling that by doing just that he could finally find an answer to the problem that had been plaguing him these past few weeks. "When you asked me if I was okay and I told you about how I thought it was unfair that her partner couldn't come back the way Guilmon did…"

If he did, thought Takato but he quickly banished the thought and resumed what he was trying to say.

"I don't really know what to say… how to tell you… it's just all so confusing, and every time I think about it, I feel like I'm stuck in a room where the walls are closing in on me and I have no way out… no way out without hurting someone I care about…"

Takato paused, trying to sort through his thoughts and untangle them from the torrent of emotions that he was experiencing. Kai, picking up on this, decided to approach the situation with a more direct manner based on what guesswork he had already made thus far.

"Takato," began Kai. "What happened between you and Jeri before you came here?"

Neither one said a thing for a few seconds as the full weight of Kai's question settled in on the silence, allowing them both to digest it properly. Takato was a little bit surprised at Kai's question, mostly at its directness and rather bold affirmation as to what he felt lay behind the problem that had been troubling him of late. He guessed that Kai was right to believe that was the case, since he knew about his feelings for Jeri, and noticed how he had reacted to the subject when his feelings for the girl were brought up.

Of course, that was only part of the problem. And that was what he was going to tell Kai now…

"That's just it, Kai," said Takato. "It… it wasn't Jeri… nothing happened between us, but in a way she is a part of it all…"

Kai waited patiently for Takato to continue, watching his cousin with a curious and confused expression on his face.

"It wasn't Jeri," Takato reiterated. "It was Rika…"

Kai's face became scrutinizing as he processed this bit of information, and then his eyes widened in shock as comprehension dawned on him. Takato, for his part continued speaking, so as to clarify what he had just told him.

"She was pretty worried about me when Guilmon died… I guess that makes sense, I mean everyone was worried about me and we were kinda close as friends, so her reaction was understandable. She helped me out a lot, helped me in ways that went above and beyond what I would have expected her to do…"

Memories, scattered images of that terrible week after losing Guilmon came to him once more. Rika, holding him after his disastrous first encounter with BlackGuilmon; Rika, comforting him in his room and standing by his side at Hypnos; Rika, facing him down when he was merged with BlackGuilmon, first as Sakuyamon and then finally as… herself. No weapons, no cards… just plain Rika, his friend and fellow Tamer. Helping him with nothing more than her friendship to fight through the anger that had clouded his mind, her words, her voice practically a light in the darkness that had held him prisoner within the armored form of ChaosGallantmon.

Takato continued to speak.

"…And when it was all over… she… she was reminding me that everyone was going to be there to help me get through… what happened, and…"

Takato's words, and his voice tattered as he spoke. He was having difficulty in conveying the rest of what he was trying to say, though judging from the look on Kai's face at this moment he doubted that he needed to say anything further. Takato felt that he had to nonetheless. He had to say it! He had to get it out there, so that he could finally come face to face with what had happened, acknowledge it, and eventually come to terms with it.

"…And… I guess that she cared… cared a lot more than I thought since we became friends. She…"

Takato paused once more, letting the sentence drift for a moment as he watched the sun sink even further towards the horizon, this time it's bottom was just starting to disappear beneath the far off edge of the ocean.

"…She kissed me Kai…"

There. He had said it. But… now the question became… now what?

"Takato…" whispered Kai, unable to hide the shock that he felt. He finally understood what it was that had been bothering Takato during his stay here.

No wonder… who wouldn't be? That kind of emotion… someone's bound to get hurt from this, and it's a sure bet that no one will get out of it without some kind of scar…

"So…" Kai stumbled over his words. He was having some trouble comprehending what Takato had told him. Rika? Sure, he had teased Takato a little bit about her after the issue with Mephistomon had been settled and he had been introduced to his cousin's friends (the red haired wonder was certainly pretty for her age, and as far as Kai knew at the time, the only girl that Takato hung out with on a regular basis), but he never expected anything like this! "So… does she…? I mean…"

"Yeah…" said Takato quietly. "I guess so."

"Man… so…man…"

Kai sighed and ran a hand through his hair as he tried to put his thoughts together.

"That's… whoa…"

"Yeah. I know."

A light breeze blew over them as they sat on the porch, watching the sun as it set beneath the waves.

"I wish I knew what to do about this," said Takato. "I mean I always knew that she valued our friendship. Even though she doesn't always like admit it at times, but she really is quite close to all of us…" Takato gave a dry laugh. "…Even Ryo, Kazu, and Kenta no matter how much she tries to say otherwise."

Takato laughter died down as he sobered up, and his thoughts returned to the present.

"…But this…"

"Have you tried talking to her about it?" Asked Kai carefully.

"I… I haven't had the time… so much has been going on and… no. That's… that's just an excuse. To be honest… I've been afraid to talk to her about it. I really have been…"

Takato inwardly reflected on the irony of the fact that he had faced so many enemies without so much as batting an eye, but when it came to love he felt a fear that not even D-Reaper had been able to bring out of him. Takato looked deep within his heart, and he found himself approaching something that maybe… just maybe… he wasn't ready to face just yet.

"And what about Rika?" Asked Kai. "How do you feel about her?"

Takato thought about that for a moment before answering.

"I wish I could answer that, Kai. I care about her, but I don't think that it's in that way. I've certainly never thought of her that way before, not even when I first saw her…"

In that dream, Takato thought in his mind, but that wasn't important in the here and now. Still, like so many other things, the dream that he had about the red headed girl had come up in his thoughts more and more often. He hadn't thought about it in so long…months in fact. It just seemed to have lost all relevance when the digimon invasion began to really kick into high gear, and Rika hadn't been all that thrilled to hear about it in the first place anyway, but now that he did think about it, it struck him as odd that he had had it at all, and that nothing that he had experienced afterwards had revealed any reason for having it at all.

Funny… mused Takato dryly.

"Does Jeri know?" Asked Kai, though he felt that he already knew the answer. The shake of Takato's head that was given in response to his question didn't at all surprise him.

"Grandpa would say something along the lines of 'follow your heart'," said Kai after a second. "And even though it is a common thing to say, and to hear, it does have some merit. But I don't think that it's as clear cut as that though, as I'm sure you can guess, huh Takato?"

The brown haired boy nodded, forcing a small smile onto his face.

"One thing that you definitely want to ask yourself is what you feel for them before you make any decision. Whether or not you talk to Rika and Jeri about this is up to you, but I'm pretty sure that you know that that's something that you really can't avoid…"

Takato nodded numbly.

"I really wish I could help you with this Takato," continued Kai. "Of course, no matter what you know that I'm here if you want to talk," Kai grinned a little at that. "Even with the distance separating us but I'm still here for you despite that."

Kai pointed at his chest as his grin turned into a smile.

"In here, where it counts. You've got my support, and as long as you're here I'll help you face this, but really all I can offer is my support… and some advice."

Takato looked over at his cousin.

"And what sort of advice, Kai? I mean, you're not that much older than me…"

"I know. I can freely admit that I don't have that much experience with this sort of thing either, but when you live with someone like my grandfather you pick up a few things."

Takato had to smile at that. He supposed that if he lived with Kai's grandfather he probably would learn a thing or two. If nothing else, a little bit of the old man's personality had rubbed off on his grandchild.

"Anyway," said Kai, picking up where he left off. "This isn't something that I can really help you decide what choice to make, but I can give you something to think about so that you can get an idea on what to do. What my advice to you is this: Whatever you do choose, make sure that you're certain about it. Don't get yourself thinking that you're really in love with someone, or getting into a relationship with them, just because you don't want to hurt them; that kind of thing… that kind of relationship…isn't really the best kind, and usually worse for those involved, because then your relationship, whether as friends or more, will become awkward."

Kai's eyes softened as he looked out towards the ocean.

"Trust me. It's not something that you want to get into."

The two of them sat there, just looking out towards the ocean waves as the sun continued to set. Takato couldn't say that he felt any better, even with having the conversation, but strangely he felt cleansed in some way. He felt as he did when he came back from a swim. Perhaps… perhaps he did feel a little bit better now that he had gotten it out in the air and talked about it, but that didn't belie the fact that it still made him uneasy. He had a few more days to think things over, and talk to Kai about it before he had to go home and take it from there. He just hoped that everything turned out all right in the end, even though he feared that it wouldn't.

The excited sound of Calumon reached the boys' ears, and together they turned around to see what all the commotion was.

What's that rolling sound? Wondered Takato as he felt his body start to tense up.

"Come back! Guilmonnnn! Come back!"

As if on cue, a white colored egg with red spots rolled out onto the porch, causing both Kai and Takato to leap to their feet in surprise. A second later Takato was running forward to grab the egg just as soon Calumon bounced outside in pursuit. Snatching it up, Takato felt the egg vibrating in his hands. His eyes widened in surprise as Kai ran up next to him. He faintly heard Kai asking him what was going on, with Calumon babbling something about how Guilmon had gotten restless all of a sudden, but so caught up in what Guilmon's egg was doing that he really didn't hear either of them.

Is it…? Thought Takato with a sense of delirium. Can it be…?

A crack appeared on the side of the egg, causing Takato and Kai to jump in surprise while Calumon blinked and cocked his head to one side. After a few more tense minutes of constant vibrations, shivering, and cracking, the top half of Guilmon's egg split and broke off, falling to the floor. Neither Takato, Kai, or Calumon took any notice of this as before them, held within the bottom half of the eggs remnants, cupped carefully in the slightly tanned hands that belonged to Takato, was a little, reddish-orange ball with large, dark eyes, an X symbol on its forehead, and bat-like wings for ears. It was this last that Takato, Kai, and Calumon recognized all to well.

The reddish-orange ball glanced up at Takato and blinked its eyes.

"Mon!" It cried in a small, childish voice as it quivered in the remains of its protective egg, as though aching to hop out and get as close as it possibly could to the boy that held it carefully in his grasp.

Takato felt tears beginning to form at the corners of his eyes, and he choked out something akin to a joyful sob as he looked at the tiny creature.


Takato couldn't finish what he was trying to say, so completely overjoyed by what he was seeing. All of the emotions that he had been experiencing now came to a head in one mad rush and he quickly burst into tears.
Calumon, taking note of the increased wetness on Takato's face hopped down and picked up the broken top half of Guilmon's egg and held it at Takato's feet. A couple tears plopped into its interior as Calumon stood there with the remains of the egg, catching the drops of water as they came down.

"Takato…you're face is leaking…I think we're going to need a bucket."

Kai chuckled as he placed one hand on his cousin's shoulder, silently congratulating him on his partner's return to the land of the living.

"I think he's going to be okay Calumon," said Kai.

That evening found Takato once more preparing to fall asleep on the floor of his cousin's home, the sounds of Kai, his grandfather, and Calumon now joined by a little red ball, covered with a blanket and sleeping away in a basket that Kai's grandfather had picked out after dinner had ended. The little digimon was voraciously hungry, something that made Takato smile as it gave him hope that his partner had come back all the way, though it still remained to be seen if that was the case. Beyond saying 'Mon', the digimon that his digivice had identified as Jyarimon, had a limited vocabulary, and would probably remain so until he digivolved to his In-training form of Gigimon.

Things were almost perfect now. Almost back too normal, almost right.

Except for one thing.

Finding himself unable to sleep Takato got up and, after taking one last look at the basket that Jyarimon slept in, with Calumon laying nearby, keeping a close, watchful eye on the little digimon like an older brother, walked over to his bag. After a couple seconds of digging through it Takato finally brought out what he was searching for and walked outside with it. In the light of the night sky's stars and moon Takato looked at the photo of himself and his two friends, Henry and Rika, from that day all those months ago, his gaze settling on the red haired, violet eyed girl that looked calmly, almost indifferently at the camera as she sat there, waiting for the picture to be taken.

And he wondered.

A/N: And that ends A Time to Heal. Not much to it really. More of a character-thinking piece. I didn't really intend to resolve a whole lot in this story, but I wanted to touch on some things, such as Takato's development and his own private thoughts on events from 'Hazard's Sorrow'. Some of it, particularly Takato's relationship with Rika and Jeri will be touched upon, and will be a sub-plot in the next story Less Than Human. Even the issue of Guilmon's rebirth, and whether or not he came out okay will be a surprise for the next story as well (I'm mean, aren't I:)). If anyone feels that there is anything amiss in Jyarimon's description (it should be pretty noticeable in fact ;P) I have a reason for writing it that way, which will be made clear once Takato returns to Shinjuku in the next fic.

I'd also like to extend a thanks to all those who reviewed so far.

Righteous Fury, pokeme, lol, pyro-chan the dragon king, FallenArchangelDD, Nolaquen265, milesprower06, and zeo knight.

Thanks you guys. 'Till next time then. Later.