Disclaimer: Nope, that'd be Toei. And I don't own Christmas either. Which is a real pity, because I'd make a fortune from all the gifts that are exchanged this jolly time of the year.
Rika sighed. "Honestly, it's like I need Henry to buy his own gift…"
Frowning, Takato replied, "Well, did you expect that I'd actually know exactly what kind of hardware he wanted to upgrade his computer with?" To punctuate this statement, Takato peered at a pair of computer monitors. "I don't get it. What's the difference between these two?"
"…point taken. Next time, I'll just buy him a doll and tell him to be happy with it."
Takato pondered this for a moment. "…wouldn't that require you to walk into a store that sells dolls, and then buy the doll at the counter? I mean, your image would be shot in the head instantly if anyone saw you…" Suddenly gulping at the baleful expression on his friend's face, Takato muttered, "Right, I'm shutting up now."
Rika groaned as she took on a look of hopelessness. "For the love of Father Christmas, why is this so difficult?"
"Well, honestly, it could be worse."
A menacing expression re-manifested itself on Rika's countenance. "Takato…" she began in a tone that was far too soft and even for the other Tamer's liking.
"Shutting up again."
The time is, obviously, Christmas. In fact, it's the day before Christmas. And all of the Tamers have finishing their shopping… with the notable exception of Takato and Rika. This is easily explained by two things: first, by Takato's scatterbrain and second, by Rika's inability to choose something that her friends might actually want.
"As long as we don't end up pulling a 'Gift of the Magi', I'm perfectly happy just getting something…"
Ahem. Anyway, there is a light dusting of snow on the streets of Tokyo. Or, at least, there would be if it hadn't all been turned to brown mush by the pounding feet of an angry horde of eleventh hour Christmas shoppers.
"This is why I hate the holidays…"
…and this is another reason that two of our favorite Tamers are having… problems.
Back outside in the crisp air of late December, the pair, bundled up in colorful, warm woolens, make their way to yet another packed store. This one holds a small library of books and other various forms of literature…
"'Christmas Bunnies'? Okay, that's just wrong…"
"TAKATO! STOP LOOKING AT THE MAGAZINES! WE'VE GOT WORK TO DO!"
Oh, for Pete's sake. Fine, you guys can do this on your own.
Rika flipped through a leather-bound volume for several moments before realizing that the text was in Greek. "Terrific." Replacing the book back on the shelf—a little more roughly than was strictly necessary—the redheaded Tamer called out to Takato, "Any luck?"
"No," came the muffled reply. "I can't find anything remotely interesting in here. It's all a bunch of biographies in this section."
Suppressing a groan, Rika answered, "Well, just pick one at random! Maybe Henry will actually like it."
"…Leopold Stokowski. What do you think?"
"…no." Rika felt an increasingly powerful urge to bang her head against the bookshelf. "Is there… anything we could use here?" she asked again, beginning to get a little desperate.
"…hey. Maybe he'd like this."
"What is it?" Rika asked wearily, finally joining her companion on the other side. In response, Takato held up the large tome he had found on a wall shelf.
"'Mythological Creatures and Their Origins'…" Takato read from the cover. Looking up with a grin, he said, "You know, this could apply to Digimon really easily. Maybe—"
"Bag it and let's go." Turning on her heel, Rika strode towards the store's door, ticking off another name on her mental list.
'This leaves just... Mom. Great, this is going to be hard…'
Behind her, Takato blinked. "O…kay. I guess I'll cover the cost, then." Digging into his pocket, the Tamer produced the last of his pocket change.
"…aw, nuts. This is going to leave me broke. And there're still two more presents I need to get…"
Outside, Rika breathed on her pale hands in an attempt to warm them. "Stupid, stupid, stupid… why didn't I get this done at the beginning of the month? Or right after Thanksgiving?"
"I guess you're just getting into the Christmas spirit," Takato answered as he appeared with a bag in his left hand.
"Bah, humbug," Rika replied sourly. Sticking her hands into the pockets of her parka, the Tamer sighed mournfully before saying, "Well, I think it's time we stepped into the lion's den."
Takato blinked. "You mean… ah. Right."
Growling under her breath, Rika set off for the clothing store down the street. Takato followed her as closely as he could; sometimes living in Tokyo was a regular pain in the neck when it came to getting around. Especially on a hectic holiday like Christmas.
Finally the pair halted in front of the luridly… pink shop. Rika looked as though she was approaching the gallows, while Takato merely gazed at the decorations disbelievingly.
"How much pink can they cram into a little building like this?" the Tamer mused wonderingly.
"Way too much for sane human beings to be able to survive for long," Rika retorted in a strangled tone. Then, squaring her shoulders, the girl stepped inside swiftly, as though hoping the speed of her entrance would somehow assist in the speed of her departure.
Pink, pink, pink. It was practically all one shade of the same nauseating color, and it was everywhere. From the fabric to the window draperies, the twinkling Christmas lights, and even the shop girl's hair, it was all…
"Very… interesting," Takato managed as he stopped at Rika's side. Thankfully, this particular store seemed to be somewhat more vacant than the other businesses in the area.
Rika decided that the décor had something to do with it.
"You think we can find something in here?" Takato ventured, gazing around as though he was standing in a cave full of toxic Numemon.
"Mom'll love something out of here, trust me," was the grumbled reply. Drawing a deep breath, Rika approached the shop girl, who was currently sitting behind the counter filing her pink nails.
"Hey there, sweetie! What can I do for you?" the girl asked brightly, turning her attention to the uncomfortable Rika.
"I'm looking for something for my mom… she's a model, and I figured I could…"
Grinning, the girl waved her hand. "Say no more, I've got a little section at the back of the shop that I think will do nicely; it covers the latest range of fashion. By the way, I'm Sakura. Nice to meet you."
"Just follow me back here and we'll find something. Oh, and your boyfriend can look around if he wants."
A little bit of red was finally added to the shop's color scheme. "He's not… oh, forget it. It's not worth it…"
Meanwhile, as the two girls disappeared among the countless racks of shelves of fabrics and dresses, Takato found himself wandering about aimlessly. Or, maybe not so aimlessly.
"Ah, let's see… even if I had money, I couldn't afford that dress. The jacket? No… how about the…? Oh, come on, I don't even know if that'd fit her… wow, nice robe. Still too pricey, though…"
Without a sense of where he was going, Takato eventually wound up in the one area where he probably would have been best off avoiding, for everyone's sakes. Especially his own.
"Uh…" Takato stammered mindlessly, staring at the countless racks of garishly pink lingerie. "No, I don't think… no." Even without a mirror, the teen could tell that his complexion was approaching Guilmon's normal hue.
Beating a hasty retreat, the bewildered Tamer finally found himself in front of a small glass case. Inside gleamed a number of small pieces of jewelry. Several pendants hung on thin chains of gold—Takato dearly hoped they were fake, otherwise he'd never find anything here—while a few childish watches lay strewn across the case's bottom.
As the Tamer surveyed the jewelry inside, his eyes were quickly drawn to a very small necklace with a tiny pearl set inside a dangling pendant.
"You know what? That's perfect."
"Find something, dear?"
Takato jumped as Sakura and Rika—holding a bundled up sash of very light pink silk—suddenly appeared from behind a rack of coats.
"Um, yeah, I think I did."
Quickly taking the teen's measure—and likely financial budget—Sakura's eyes found the very necklace that Takato had been considering. Smiling, and gently nudging Rika in the side with an elbow—causing the redhead to sigh in exasperation—the shop girl said, "I can give that to you for twenty-five dollars."
Takato's eyebrows rose. "Oh, that's really generous. Ah…" His face falling slightly, the Tamer stuck his hands into his pockets, desperately hoping that a large amount of money had somehow gone unnoticed in his previous searches.
Noting this, Rika rolled her eyes. "You got the book, I'll take care of this, Gogglehead."
Smiling widely, Takato replied, "Uh, thanks, Rika. It means a lot to me."
"It better. I'm not about to make this a habit."
"I wouldn't expect you to," Sakura interjected, fixing Takato with a mock severe look. "Girls aren't supposed to pay for their boyfriend's presents."
Blinking in bewilderment, Takato said, "I'm not her—"
"Of course not, dear," Sakura interrupted, suddenly winking mischievously. Rika shook her head as Takato scratched the back of his neck in confusion.
"Anyway… your total's sixty-seven dollars. You two have a nice day!"
"Don't worry, Jeri'll like it," Rika said as they walked down the street, both with bags in one hand.
"You think so? I mean… how'd you guess?" the Tamer replied sheepishly.
"I'm lucky that way. I could make a fortune off of horse races…" Rika returned dryly.
The two continued on in silence for a time.
"…you're not mad?"
Rika stopped, her face conveying puzzlement. "What do I have to be angry about?"
Takato shuffled his feet as he answered, "Well, I still haven't gotten your present, and I, ah… well, I don't know if I can get something as nice for you…"
"Takato… it's no big deal, honestly." Shaking her head in wry amusement, the female Tamer continued, "These are all just little gifts. I don't really care how much they're worth or how pretty people think they are. It's the… thought that counts, after all," she finished in embarrassment, turning away. "Besides… if you'd gotten me a necklace, I would have rearranged your face."
"You mean that?" Takato asked impishly, suddenly gaining a grin. Seeing this, Rika flushed lightly before muttering, "Well, not really…"
Takato laughed. "Then I'll get you something that you will like. How's that?"
"And how are you going to pay for it?" Rika retorted, gaining a grin of her own. "You had to borrow money from me to get something for Jeri a minute ago."
Shrugging flippantly, her companion replied, "Well, I'll just take it out of Guilmon's bread. I mean, if he stopped eating all together—"
"I don't think miracles come in that size…"
"—then I'd have enough cash to buy a house like yours."
Rolling her eyes, Rika continued, "Well, then, you've got the means, but what are you going to get me?"
Takato shook a finger, a smile dancing in his crimson eyes. "Ah, ah, ah," he chided lightly. "No spoiling the surprise. You'll find out tomorrow."
"And how exactly do you plan to get it under my tree if we don't go out and get it together now?"
"I'll drop it by later tonight. Heck, maybe I'll come down the chimney."
"In that case, I'll be sure to set some mousetraps…"
"Don't you want your present?" Takato gasped in mock astonishment. Rika laughed before she shook her head.
Turning to go, the Tamer said over her shoulder, "If you can get past Renamon without her catching you, you don't have to pay me back for that necklace."
"Deal!" Takato exclaimed excitedly. He watched, a smile on his face, as his friend disappeared into the crowd.
Then, half turning to the alley entrance he stood next to, he asked, seemingly to no one, "Well, care to help me with this one, Renamon?"
The kitsune materialized in the alley's shadows with a surprised look on her face. However, this expression quickly faded into a small smile.
"Of course. And, though I hate to admit it… I believe you have caught me."
Smiling lightly, Takato said, "Maybe, but you don't need to tell her that. What I've got in mind won't cost much, anyway, so I don't need to 'win' the bet. If you can drop by later tonight, it should be all ready. I'd appreciate that."
"Consider it done."
Renamon phased out of sight, and Takato set off for home. He knew exactly what to get Rika.
As Rika tore the wrapping paper off of a small, flat, rectangular present, she sent a questioning glance at Renamon. Her partner merely smiled and dropped her gaze to survey the unveiled gift.
Amethyst eyes also looked downward, then widened.
In a polished, beautifully ornate frame was a photograph. All the Tamers and their partners stood in the park, in front of Guilmon's hideout. Kazu and Guardromon held up their fingers in a 'V' while Kenta and MarineAngemon laughed beside them. Suzie had Lopmon's ears bunched in her small hands, but the two looked equally happy anyway… even though Lopmon was dressed in an absurdly cute, frilly dress. Ai, Mako, and Impmon stood side by side, beaming at the camera…though Impmon looked rather exasperated with his Tamers' insistence on his participation. Jeri, Ryo, and Cyberdramon waved cheerily from another side…
…while Takato, Guilmon, Henry, Terriermon, Rika, and Renamon stood at the center, their arms clasped around each other. Wide smiles adorned their faces, and it was obvious that, even amongst all their other friends, those six were in their own little world together.
Smiling beatifically, Rika looked up at the glistening, winking ornaments of the Christmas tree. Through the window, the pale, sparkling light of Christmas morning shone through.
'Not bad, Takato. Not bad at all.'
A/N: Merry Christmas, everybody. Don't forget to leave a review under my tree!