DISCLAIMER: I don't own Digimon, but I do own the original characters introduced in this story and my other stories (except where stated otherwise here or elsewhere by myself).
A/N: Now for the final part of this Epilogue, and, indeed, of the whole of Book Six. It's been a (very) long journey, but it's also been an exciting one too, and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. Before we start, a few thanks. I'd like to thank E.S. Simeon for being my 600th reviewer and for providing so much support since I started this whole series. I'd like to thank Digi9346, Chaos Blademaster, WarBard, Roguespirit, DarkDremora4, Digital Dive, FireFairy219, Fireblast123, HarpieAna, Pjacthefighter, Potgenie, RGZ Archer, TheMightyBlues, Bsh41194, and all my reviewers and fellow writers who I've enjoyed chatting with about anything and everything.
Oh, and, of course, lest I forget, I'd like to deeply thank Crazyeight for all the beta reading, tips on writing, reviews and other support he's given, it's been invaluable. I look forward to all your support as we head into Book Seven and beyond!
Now, without further ado, on with the final part of Book Six…
By Blazing Chaos
The Trick to Birth
SATURDAY, 27th FEBRUARY 2011
Shinjuku General Hospital, Shinjuku Ward
Pain. More pain. Repeated pain. And the worst thing was it was her own body subjecting her to it.
A long, pained groan escaped Rika's lips, as she struggled to keep herself comfortable in the present situation of near-endless contractions, everyone just that slight bit more painful than the last, to the point where the epidural had lost its effect. She bit her lip and breathed uncomfortably, not wanting to even begin to contemplate the harsh pain to come. Why was it lasting so long?
"I'm so tired."
Rika glanced aside, seeing Takato there, a deeply concerned gaze on his face as he stood over her, facing into an invisible wall so much that he knew he daren't move any closer or reach out to her. A tear blipped down her face, but whether it was one of pain or of sadness the redhead really couldn't tell.
"Breathe Rika, breathe," called a voice, but unfortunately it wasn't Takato's. Rika looked to her other side, seeing Setsuko, a woman who had been with her constantly for the past half hour or so as she drew ever-closer to the final stages of labour. The woman wasn't saying it, but it was clear: it was nearly over. The only problem was, the worst was still to come.
"Screw it, I don't care how fucking scared he is," Rika cursed, turning her head back with a defiant look to Takato. "Takato," she said, her timid voice not matching her thoughts. "It hurts," was all she could think to say, her words quiet and mumbled.
Takato stared on, not sure how to deal with her reaching out to him. Her eyes were so sad, her voice so quiet, and he swore he saw a tear on her face. In any other situation, he would've been right there - not only holding her hand but probably kissing or embracing her too, helping her up from her fall, be it real or metaphorical (although with Rika the former would be unlikely to ever provoke such a reaction). But now…he just…couldn't. His eyes looked over the intangible wall between them once again.
"What's wrong with me?!"
On any other occasion, the voice in his head known as Chaos would probably have used the opportunity to give a comprehensive list of exactly what Takato had asked for, but even he, the great tactless wonder, could tell now was not the time. "Takato, just hold her hand. You always said you would."
"But I just can't get over the idea that I'm going to be a Dad."
"Whoop-de-doo, I'm so happy for you. I'm going to be a poet."
"Ugh, don't you get it? Do I have to spell absolutely everything out for you?!"
"…no…"Takato thought, his nerves shot even further thanks to his alter-ego.
"It. Was. A. Rhyme. Now, just suck it up and hold her hand. Forget what the hell you feel right now - you'll have plenty of time to think it all over once she's born."
"But…we're talking…uh…thinking about a whole new life here!"
"Then don't! Christ, she may look like she's constipated and be holding back her tears like the cry-baby she secretly is, but she's still Rika…and Harmony, much to my irritation. Just hold her bloody hand and forget all the baby stuff…'cause you're driving me completely nuts."
Rika, seemingly to coincide with Chaos' pep talk, at that moment let loose a long moan of pain. Takato listening, Rika's urge to resign permeating throughout the noise, both painful to hear and painful for her, but the all-too-horrifying reality of how inescapable her present situation was lit up Rika's eyes like a wildfire. She breathed erratically, Setsuko speaking calmly as always.
"Just breathe Rika," she said, inspecting the girl's progress. "Not long now…just think of the baby girl you'll soon have."
"But it's so painful," Rika groaned, all attempts at keeping to her usual stoic and restrained self in her emotions quickly collapsing. "I want it to be over," she cried, fingernails pressing into the bed sheet in lieu of anything else as she was forced to sit up further. The idea that it was nearly over after hours of mind-numbing agony should've been a well-received one by her, but both outside knowledge and the increasing pain she felt with each contraction (even with the aid of the epidural) meant that she doubted she could last that long.
"Suck it up and be a woman."
"Yeah, everyone said be a man but I think they're aiming far too high for you."
Takato, wisely, ignored Chaos as he caught sight once again of Rika's eyes, violet, pain-filled eyes reaching out for him but seeing only their invisible wall. He glanced down uncomfortably, seeing her hand still pressing into the bed, trying to vent her anger and distress in her usual manner - violence. Not that Takato could entirely put her down for it - at least she found some way to relieve her stress even if right now she'd probably have enjoyed more punching Davis, Ryo, Kazu, Terriermon, or a whole host of other annoyances in the face. Takato himself seemed to have a habit of bottling up his anger.
"Grab her hand. Grab her hand."
"But it'll hurt!"
"Uh…crap! Why did I suggest this?"
Takato breathed in, holding his breath and staring on at her shaking hand. Time seemed to pause, the words of Setsuko blurring into a slurred mess and Rika's breathing slowing and becoming more distinct in his mind.
"Come on, she needs you Takato."
"Why are you talking in the third person? Do you have another alter-ego?"
He barely heard Chaos either, as he lifted his hand, it creeping forwards slightly before juddering back, the sequence repeating. The world continued at its slow pace, making the move towards Rika seem even more painful.
Finally, Takato swallowed, pushing his fear down temporarily and summoning up just enough bravery to put his hand on top of hers.
Her eyes looked up in surprise, amazed that he was suddenly trying to reach out to her. His courage even extended to a smile, the girl turning her hand over and gripping his back as they made true and long eye contact for the first time that evening. Takato felt her grip tightly, something which didn't surprise him but which he still found painful, as did another.
The problem, however, with prolonged eye contact, is that at some point it has to end, and that could only mean ill.
Takato's eyes glimpsed away, seeing the large bump still dominating Rika's belly, his grip loosening almost instantly. Rika noticed just as fast.
"Takato?" she asked, not caring how frail and muted her voice sounded.
"Uh…" Takato mumbled, wanting to think logically but with his mind simply swamped by the sight of her bump. His grip suddenly dropped completely, as he made his excuses. "It's nearly over…I'll…I'll go get our parents and Rey," he said, not believing a word of what he said. Rika didn't believe him either, as he stepped back, the scared and saddened expression returning to his face only now about ten times more powerful. She grasped the air, part of her mind hoping he would see it, take the hint and be there again, but her sensible half telling her that this wouldn't be the case.
"Okay," she mumbled, her words not much more than that. He looked so guilty, as he began to wander to the entrance. Guilmon glanced up at Renamon, waving and beginning to follow his Tamer before Takato turned.
"Don't worry Guilmon, I'll be back soon," he said, the Digimon nodding, oblivious to what this all meant in Rika's mind.
"Okay," the dinosaur said.
"He's going…not even with Guilmon…he's going…he can't!" Rika thought, going to sit up but both the pain and the fact he had already left the room stopping her in her tracks as the midwife told her to settle down and relax again. "No…no…no…no…no…no…" she chanted to herself, her nails splitting the bed sheet as she dug into it again.
Renamon looked down to Rika, seeing the pain in her face and feeling that she had to do something to prevent it getting any stronger. She looked across to Guilmon, putting a paw to her lips and passing down the egg to him before vanishing altogether. Rika was too out of it to notice, her mind blurred by pain of the heart and of the body.
Guilmon looked down to the digi-egg in his arms, before looking back up to Rika, frowning as he saw the hurt look in her eyes. It something even his mind, not known for always being entirely in touch with what was going on, could relate easily to one particular emotion. "Aw, please come back soon Takato. Rika looks really sad."
A pen dropped onto a table, a signature drawn and an employee of the hospital finishing their shift with a sigh of relief. Hand ran through ruffled blue hair as the woman took a step back, smiling as she filed the card but feeling that it wasn't right yet to be happy. As much as her tired eyes wished for a quick trip home and a nice long night, her mind and her heart told her to do otherwise.
Fumiko turned, forgoing the formality of uttering a quiet goodbye to the nurse in the room who seemed not to be paying much attention anyway, the computer annoying her more than anything. She stepped out and into the corridor, turning and catching a pace. The number of non-patients intensified as she neared the waiting room, and she pondered, half with concern, whether Rika had given birth yet. Despite the fact, of course, that it would mean a fair bit more pain for the girl, she did wish that if it had to come to that she could be there at the time.
She frowned, before a rather tall object approaching made her stop in her tracks, wondering why it wasn't moving. She blinked, a brief look of surprise on her face.
"You look like you've seen a ghost," a British voice quipped dryly, the doctor chuckling and shaking her head in disbelief. Even with the fact she had met a number of Brits in her capacity as a doctor, never before had she met one with such an impeccable grasp of Japanese. Every subtle meaning conveyed, every drop of social status exhibited - a perfect translation. Perhaps too perfect, but, the doctor had noted several times, this wasn't remotely the most remarkable thing about the boy.
"Besides, Mari seems the same. I'm getting the impression this is far from a lifetime study of Japanese…given they arrived here without a plan a year ago," she thought, giving a smile. "Must be an Angel thing." "You could say that, although you made that joke the last time I saw you."
"I have a bad memory," Ryder chuckled, the pair taking a step to the side when they realised they were in the way of a number of trolleys and staff passing down the hallway.
"Or a bad sense of humour," MiniDonmon added from his Tamer's shoulder. The boy glanced to one side, into his partner's eyes, a brief jokey yet slightly tired glare conveyed before he looked back to the doctor.
"Either way, it's been a while, hasn't it? Are you still…" Fumiko paused, fishing for the right word to describe Ryder's bizarre condition. Life only had individuality in relation to death, after all.
"Alive? I'll get back to you on that one. You?"
"Busy, very busy, but surviving. How's Mari?"
"Sleeping like an Angel," Ryder noted, the comment seeming like a simple compliment from anyone not in-the-know. A quick blast of a smile passed between the pair, knowing it was better to keep the truth hidden. "I think she's gotten over what happened last year now."
Ryder was evidently side-stepping a point, and Dr Imai was no less than completely blunt about it. "Have you?"
Ryder frowned, not liking how the bad memory of his second kill was being dredged up into conversation, as much as Fumiko didn't mean to depress him. "I have to."
The boy gave a deep sigh, putting his hands in his pockets. "No rest for the immortal, I guess."
The doctor put a hand on his shoulder, a reassuring smile warming onto her lips. "Cheer up. You've been given a second chance…"
"Not to mention a third and a fourth," MiniDonmon chipped in.
"Yes, and you can't let it go to waste. You've got a gift, and, even if you aren't running the same risks when you go into battle as your friends, you can use that to your advantage. You can take the really big risks, and your friends will be able to survive because of it."
"Yeah, like sharing your immortality," the bat added.
"Doesn't stop it hurting like hell when it happens though," Ryder noted, putting his hand on his stomach as he remembered the pain there. Worse still, that only accounted for two of the eight bullets in total. Yet, oddly, none of them hurt at all. The memory, however, was hard to get rid of.
"What do you mean? Does death hurt that much?"
"No, I don't recall it really hurting at all but…it takes a lot to kill someone…and, far I be from being an expert on this, eight bullets is rather painful, even if it usually ends quick."
"Hmm, I see."
"Still, if it were Mari or I, I'd be pushing her out of the way just like that, immortal or not," he said, clicking his fingers with an enthusiastic smile. "Just…uh…don't tell her that. She's still not confident enough that I'm immortal and…well, I don't want to push my luck either."
"She doesn't want you to die," Fumiko surmised. "Given her…family situation…"
Ryder nodded. "Yeah…I'm all she's got," he said, a grim smile on his face.
Fumiko frowned, a tinge of guilt in her heart for raising the subject. "Listen, I'm sorry for bringing up the family thing…I think I pry too much."
"No, it's no problem," he replied, giving a smile to wash away the concern. "Hey, you've been helping her and I out so much, you're practically a family member anyway. Just…uh…don't raise the subject around her." An awkward smile appeared on his face. "I've made that mistake all too often."
Fumiko nodded, quickly glancing to her watch curiously. Midnight was fast approaching, and the signs of the tiredness were already manifesting on her.
"Oh, sorry…are you meant to be somewhere?" Ryder apologised, noticing the gesture. The woman quickly shook her head, smiling.
"No, I just clocked off work. Are you on your way somewhere?"
"Vending machine. Not really that hungry but it's about the only thing to pass the time now. Matt and Joe went out and got us all some rice earlier, but that feels like ages ago now. Plus, I don't really like the stuff, which didn't exactly help."
"I ate most of his," MiniDonmon claimed proudly.
"You know, I can't tell whether to complain or thank you for saving me from a difficult diplomatic situation," Ryder said, looking to his shoulder again and sighing. "I'm still not used to this country."
"You haven't even been here a year, so I'm not surprised," Fumiko surmised.
"It's not just that. Everything over here is so different from the UK, and most of the West too. In London, the biggest skyscrapers were in the City and Docklands, but here…they're everywhere! I mean, not as much as New York was, but still…it's just…big. And, whilst I've seen beautiful places in this country, there's still tons of concrete. Then again, home wasn't too different, although I do miss things like the Beeb and the fact it felt like a small country on a big scale. Here, it feels like a huge country squashed into a small one, and everyone's always on the move. I thought I'd enjoy the gadgetry, but I didn't realise how much crap was filtered out on the way to Britain. And then, there's all the odd customs going on that neither Mari nor I really understand, and whilst our friends are helpful it's a bit like an alien planet at times."
"What was life like at home?"
"Heh. You never visited someone without calling first, talking to your neighbours was strictly for lunatics only and it was all about the planning permission. God knows what they demolished to build this city, but I'm sure if it were home the Save Wimbledon Alliance would've blown a fit. But, for all its stupid faults and customs, it was home. I really do miss my family and friends, even if I have tons of people here who are my friends now."
"It's a universe away in plenty of ways then."
"Yeah, guess so. We have this saying back home that "home is where the heart is.""
"And is it true?"
As Ryder went to speak, the doctor's expression changed and kept him quiet a few moments long. She had glanced over the boy's shoulder, a new sight catching her smile as she saw it walking towards them with a quiet yawn. The boy turned, wondering what she was looking at and seeing it with a concerned smile.
"I really don't know," he replied, sighing as a tired Mari gave him a confused expression.
"What's wrong?" she asked, noticing how he seemed unhappy to see her. He shook his head, flashing a smile.
"Never mind, just making myself depressed again."
"It's your hobby," she said, the boy giving a light chuckle before Mari turned her attention back to what had attracted them in the first place. "Hey," she said to the doctor, the woman only a fraction taller than her as she waved a hand casually.
"Hey," Dr Imai replied, smiling. "Long time no see, although given my profession I'd say that's probably not a bad thing."
"True, but you're still our friend," Mari said, smiling back despite her sleepy eyes. "Sorry for not keeping in touch…Dumbass here lost your number and we only found it the other day down the back of the sofa," she said, giving a playful wink at her boyfriend.
"Dumb arse," Ryder corrected, stressing the 'r', something which she didn't gratify with a response.
"I'm just glad to see you're both alright. The life you've chosen isn't exactly the safest one."
"Ha, chosen. If only," Ryder laughed.
"Aw, but…" MiniDonmon began, a hurt expression appearing on his face.
"I didn't exactly phrase that right, did I? I mean, if I'd had the choice, I'd rather have this all without all the death, destruction and despair, but still with you and all the other Digimon," he corrected himself.
"But you are leading a life without death," the Digimon stressed.
"Don't be so sure," Mari said, glancing across to them before looking specifically at Ryder with a concerned and slightly scared expression. "I don't want you taking any stupid risks."
Ryder frowned, Dr Imai nodding slightly to him in recognition of what he had said earlier. "I wish you two all the best in every battle and all my colleagues are rooting for you…well, most of them."
"Most?" Mari asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Some people still aren't sure what to think of all of you - the number of casualties we had last year when all those buildings were collapsing made it rather hard for any reason to be heard. But, they also know how many people you've saved, and when you're a doctor you get used to seeing the world in a different light. I wouldn't be worried."
"I don't really blame them for being scared to be honest," Mari said, giving a light frown. "I've been on the receiving end of a Digimon attack as just a lowly citizen before, and it's not fun."
Ryder gave a deeper frown, recalling the particular incident, and, indeed, incidents, which she was referring to. Her parent's death, Taiki's attack on her in the shopping centre, being snatched up by the Royal Knights to lure him out, how BlackRyudamon had ambushed her - DarkRenamon was a blessing for her, as were her Angel powers.
"It's a shame really. Digimon are such interesting creatures," Fumiko said, a smile on her face as she looked over MiniDonmon, someone who's existence still defied her belief. Of course, he wasn't alone in doing so.
"You can say that again," Mari said with a smile, glancing aside into the shadows as DarkRenamon gracefully stepped from them, bowing her head to the doctor.
"Yeah, thanks," MiniDonmon added, grinning.
Dr Imai smiled and nodded back. "It's no problem."
"I wish they could all see the wonders we see," Ryder noted, gazing slightly off into space as he contemplated the best parts of his adventures. Your partner getting stronger thanks to you, visiting the Digital World, two hearts, one Digital, one human, beating as one in a biomerge…it was completely indescribable. "Particularly the Digital World - that place throws logic on its head."
"I've never been there," Mari mused, frowning.
"Well, I've never been to the one for this world but I've seen it on TV. It's a mix of vast deserts, lush forests and bustling cities, the orb of the real world in the sky towering over the tallest mountain and casting thousands of data streams down on the world's inhabitants. It's…fantastic, if a bit frightening."
"I can't imagine the idea of going to another world."
"Maybe one day ordinary people might get to see it all."
"Yeah, maybe…but I don't know how they'd be kept safe."
"Yeah…and, of course, I'm hardly ordinary any more either, thanks to you."
"No problem," Mari said with a smile.
"The idea of thousands of humans in my world is certainly a strange one," DarkRenamon pondered, the concept of so many people bewildering for a place which until relatively recently had barely been aware of the existence of its neighbour.
"Zhuqiaomon would blow a fit," MiniDonmon joked, Ryder nodding in agreement.
"There'd be tourist resorts too - every beach covered in sun beds, every Unimon used as a seaside donkey," he contemplated, shuddering at the thought. "I think we'd have to avoid taking all our problems there with us."
"At least it'd be easy to build things there, with the right programmers at least," said Mari.
"Sounds like the Digital World is going to have a lot of difficulty in the future as humans know more about it," Fumiko surmised, frowning before returning to a smile. "I'm sure you are all up to it though."
"Hope so," Ryder mumbled, frowning. Everything lay in their hands, it seemed, and right now, they weren't even sure of the present let alone the future. How could they manage an entire world?
He shook his head, smiling to himself at the unbelievable nature of the concept of a whole world lying in his hands before becoming scared and overwhelmed by the idea, and deciding to settle down into more domestic matters, which were far easier to deal with and didn't risk thousands of deaths as a result.
"Right, shall we go get a cup of brown water?"
Fumiko gave the boy a bewildered gaze, before Mari muttered what he meant. "Tea."
"Oh," she said, a smile on her face as she nodded. "Yes, but we'll have to be quick. Rika must be a fair way along it all by now."
"Not long until a whole new life enters the world," Mari said, beaming at the concept as she imagined the sight of the newborn Rey.
"And Rika can finally rest," Ryder said, remembering how tired the girl was in his most recent visit. He yawned widely, stretching out his arms before chuckling "And so can we."
"Stupid hard plastic, I can't find anywhere to sit," Gatomon complained, wandering across the chairs and along the backs as she 'searched' for a decent seat. In reality, however, she was merely trying to pass the time, occupying herself with whatever was available and envying Patamon who slept snugly with his wings tucked around him on a seat nearby. She looked about, seeing the array of Tamers, many of them now asleep, including two of the youngest, Kristy and Suzie, who, despite their initial enthusiasm and seemingly boundless energy, had now succumbed to the endless head-dipping effects of boredom.
She looked to her Tamer, slouched down slightly in one of the seats and staring boredly off into space as she tried to entertain herself with counting the ceiling tiles. Oddly, despite her search for an alleviation to boredom, she was so much in her own world that she failed to hear her partner talking, and was only woken up when that very same partner sprang onto her head, claws firmly but gently gripping her straight short brown hair.
Kari looked briefly surprised before casting her eyes upwards, Gatomon smiling, primarily out of being glad there was something to do. "You look tired."
"I am," the girl replied. "But I can't exactly go to sleep whilst we're waiting for Davis to come back with the sodas."
"He's been a while."
"Probably wandering around looking for one with the right sodas in."
"Or just wandering around to pass the time."
Kari smiled, chuckling to herself. "That too," she said, sitting up a tad and glancing about at those around her, from Tai sleeping on a slightly peeved Sora's lap to Rey sitting deep in thought, or, at least, telepathy. She considered talking to the girl, wanting to know what was going through her mind right now, but her instinct told her that she simply needed some time to herself.
The girl gave a light smile which faded quickly as she saw another of her friends, this one seemingly just as deep in thought but not for such an explicit reason. Takeru lay across a number of seats nearby by his partner, his eyes open as he stared up at the white of the ceiling tiles.
"You okay Takeru?" Kari asked, concern laden in her voice as she pushed down again that gut feeling that she already knew what was causing the commotion. It simply made her feel queasy with worry about what would happen if she was right. She didn't want to see anyone get hurt, not least two of her closest friends, Davis and Takeru.
Getting no response from the boy, she reached out, ruffling his blonde hair with a light smile. His eyes looked up and towards her, surprised as he was awoken from his trance.
"Oh, sorry. What did you say?"
"I asked, are you okay?"
"Really? You looked really out of it there."
"I'm just a bit depressed."
"Want to talk about it?"
Takeru frowned, knowing he couldn't possibly talk to Kari of all people about it. Hell, he knew he'd choose Davis if he had to choose any day - at least with Davis a wrong word wouldn't destroy as old a relationship. Still, at the same time, his friendship with people like Davis had become close enough that it made no difference to how strong their bond seemed. Still, at least Davis would be easier to laugh about things like this with, and he'd also probably have found it easier to actually say any words about it to the Goggleheaded boy.
Takeru gave a noncommittal grunt, not wanting to say yes and force himself to bluff or say anything about it, or say no and simply leave the girl even more concerned about him.
But even so, what could he say? That he had a 'crush' on her? The boy suppressed a cringe, the word seemed…inadequate, childish, but most of all it meant admitting what was happening. He didn't want it to be happening, and calling it a 'crush', a 'fancy', infatuation, or even love, simply made it more realistic than he wanted it to be.
Kari paused, wondering whether to press him on further or be safe and hold back. "I should just ask him…this is going to get worse and worse otherwise."
She opened her mouth, a sudden rush of courage building up and generating…
She frowned as she closed it again, looking away and seeing a familiar face arriving, someone to tell her how amazing she was and take her mind off things even when right now she couldn't have felt lower or more engrossed in what had become a major problem in her life. A slim smile appeared on her face as half of her thanked the gods for a diversion, and the other half cursed her for letting it stop her helping a friend.
"Hey," Davis called, keeping his voice hushed all the same for fear of waking anyone, including Takeru who looked asleep from his angle. The boy cradled three soda cans in his hand, DemiVeemon perched on his head with an oddly eager smile, one mirrored by his Tamer. Unaware of what he was doing, he merely noted Kari's nod and Takeru's slightly increased movements as he sat in the gap between them, passing a can to Kari.
"Thanks," she said, pecking him on the cheek before he turned to pass the other can down to Takeru.
"Here," he said, grinning at his success in scavenging. Given the fact that most of the machines were rather empty by now (thanks no doubt to the large swarm of teens who had descended on the waiting room) the comparison perhaps wasn't as metaphoric as it seemed.
"Thanks…how much do I owe you?"
"Nah, it's on me."
"Thanks," Takeru uttered, swivelling around and sitting up to deal with his can without it dripping everywhere. Absently, he pulled it open, only to immediately regret it as foam began to spew from the top. He put it down on the ground quickly, looking down at his damp lap in horror.
"Oh, yeah…should've mentioned that I found that one first and carried it around with me while I looked for the others," Davis apologised, scratching the back of his head as Kari watched with concern.
"Looks like it's now on you anyway," Gatomon quipped, Davis searching his pocket and pulling out a tissue. Kari watched as Takeru accepted it, frowning at the sight as he and Davis began to try and mop it up.
This would only make Takeru more depressed, and he couldn't even take it out on Davis as he was no doubt hoping to thanks to the boy immediately coming to his aid, the one person who already was probably already aggravating him. At least now it was all hidden, god knew what'd happen if everything came out into the open. The amount they stood to lose was tremendous, petrifying even, and Kari knew she couldn't do such a thing. She dearly hoped things would sort themselves out on her own, despite her logical side telling her it was unlikely. She frowned, knowing she had to help her friends somehow, even if she couldn't speak of the elephant in the room, one that she couldn't help but feel was all her fault.
"You okay Takeru?" she asked, trying to be of some help despite knowing she didn't have any tissues. The boy paused, looking to her with a dour face and nodding as he held a soaked tissue.
The walls of the hospital became older, the people became older, and Rika's ward seemed further and further away as the boy simply walked, not caring where he ended up in the sprawling maze of hospital passageways. Where a few minutes ago he had recognised the occasional room from his previous visits, now he was all on new territory.
He told himself he wasn't running away - he was still in the hospital, he just needed some time to think.
But even he didn't believe his own lies, and he became angrier and angrier at himself as he walked for daring to make them, to a point where Chaos had become completely redundant in their mental conversation.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid Takato!" he cursed, pressing a hand into his forehead as he turned another corner, spying a fire escape at the end and unconsciously making a beeline for it along the quieter corridor. He told himself he was simply going to go up a floor, but right now he hadn't the faintest clue what he was going to do.
"Takato, just stop."
Takato ignored Chaos, perhaps because he simply couldn't hear them. Takato's thoughts were drowning out Chaos', and the disembodied alter-ego couldn't think of a single thing he could do to sort it out. Even taking over Takato's body seemed to be off-limits right now, the boy's emotional state practically locking the entity in a cage.
Chaos couldn't help but question why he was doing this. Why was he trying to stop what he had once wanted anyway? Once out that door, once his parents had disowned him for leaving Rika, he would be free, free to cause chaos just like in every other life. They could go to the Middle East and start a riot, to the USA and bring down swathes of the internet, to the Digital World to corrupt data and make it a hazardous place. No Rika, no Renamon, no Rey, no Realmon, no Angels, nothing to hold them back, not even Guilmon. The thought of lacking his eponymous partner soured Chaos' mood further, but sacrifices had to be made, and he had had to survive without the dinosaur in past lives.
So why did he not want to do that now?
Had he become…tamed? Had Harmony begun to control him? Had she…won?
"No…I haven't lost to her…I can't have…but…if I go out that door, I will. She wants me to be an evil bastard so she can justify what she's done - she hates everything I do without cause, she never considers her own actions and she treats me like crap. Sure, I do the same, but I do it jokily…she just…hates me."
So, he would do it. He would stop Takato, he would prove he was better than Harmony, that she was not always in the right - never in the right. It was time for him to prove himself.
"Ah, who am I kidding, I can't do anything. How the hell is Takato able to do this? None of my previous incarnations ever locked me down like this, and some of them were both stronger and smarter. I need a bloody miracle."
A figure leapt from the shadows, fulfilling Chaos' wish in a painful manner as it threw Takato up against the wall violently, stopping him before he could reach the exit in the quietened corridor.
"You are not leaving Rika!" hissed a voice, its anger maxed out and its associated blue orbs glaring with an intensity never seen before. The boy squirmed against the tight grip, the yellow blur pressing his shoulder against the wall.
"I…I…can't…" he mumbled, petrified. His eyes darted, his mind ablaze and nothing around him being there to stop his wildly running thoughts. No Chaos, no Guilmon, no Rika, no Henry, no Jeri, no parents…no-one! The runaway thoughts which once went untamed when he was a child were practically nonexistent in comparison to this train wreck, spiralling out of control as his mind practically egged him on.
"Takato, I care for you so deeply but you have crossed a line," Renamon hissed, gobsmacked at how the child, as she tracked him, had not only gone in completely the wrong direction to find Rika's parents in his wanderings, but had also been about to escape the hospital entirely. Takato squirmed back, before a sudden surge of red energy flashed through his hands and gave him the force to throw the Kitsune away from him.
Startled, Renamon fell back, slamming into the opposite wall and filling the air with a loud racket as a scared Takato stared on, anger quickly fading and a long line of curses protruding from his mouth. "Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit," he muttered, beginning to wander back and forth as he gripped his head. "Sorry," he said, Renamon standing to her feet and glancing down the corridor. Seeing a number of eyes cast their way, she ignored the boy's words (if they could be called that, being mostly incoherent) and the remarkable pain the human had just managed to inflict on her back and stepped forward, this time standing over the boy and using her height to pull him in close as her mood flicked entirely.
"Calm down, calm down," she mumbled, her words still with tinges of anger which made them ineffectual. Finally, she looped her arms around his waist, the pair vanishing from sight.
Takato froze, completely stopping as he felt the world rush past at breakneck speed, his mind suddenly relieved of the problematic thought for just a moment as hospital lights and doctors flashed past his vision so quickly that he thought he was going to be sick. Suddenly, he felt a cool wind through his hair, and the pressure around his waist suddenly vanishing as Renamon took a considerate step back.
The boy blinked, his eyes taking a while to adjust to the sudden darkness about him. Well, that wasn't entirely an accurate definition - pinpricks of light filled his vision as it cleared; the light beginning to form windows and car headlights.
He leant on a concrete barrier and looked down, suddenly working out where he was as he saw the floors and lights of the hospital cascading away from him vertically. He took a step back, fearful of falling even with the barrier there.
"Takato," Renamon said, the boy's mind suddenly becoming so focused once again. Perhaps it was the wind, perhaps it was the surprise of the quick trip, perhaps even the use of Chaos' powers had sparked some sense back into his convoluted mind, but he suddenly found himself able to think clearly again.
"Why did you bring me here?"
"We needed to get away from everyone, and this was the only place I could think of."
"But…uh…" Takato mumbled, the nervousness also returning, an oddly promising sign for the Kitsune. "Aren't you worried about me, you know…?" he said, gesturing downwards. Renamon shook her head.
"I know you're not that stupid."
"Not that stupid?"
"I have spent too much time with Rika," Renamon said, a slim smile on her face as she reminded Takato of why they were there. The moon above them did little to illuminate them, both because the city lights blurred it out and because it had already fallen away piece by piece to a sliver of what it was. Renamon glanced upwards, somehow knowing without any idea of why that it was only five days until the New Moon.
It seemed that their new lives, however, would be settling sooner.
"Renamon, I'm scared," Takato said, expressing his thoughts as truthfully as he could. It was rather redundant, Renamon had already gotten the point of what was wrong with him, but it was also rather chilling to hear nonetheless. This was a boy who had rushed into the D-Reaper to save Jeri, had risked life and limb by pressing the orbs together to defeat Daemon, and had fallen in love with easily one of the most scary and cold people on earth (at least, that's how she conveyed herself to the world). And yet now, he was scared of a simple change, a simple new addition to a group which had already seemed many. Was there more to it than that?
"There has to be," Renamon surmised. "Takato is easily scared but he is not stupid." This had to be genuine fear, and it was fear over something Renamon knew she didn't know enough about.
Takato, still to get a reply, leant on the wall and looked out over the city, his condensed breaths lit up by a nearby safety light on the roof. His clothes didn't really help that much to insulate him, but he barely noticed. It was only a short term thing, and he'd learnt lately that 'short term' wasn't long at all. "Rika's pregnancy was 'short term', and it flew by in a flash."
Could he have used more time? Was nine months not enough for him? Or did it make no difference?
"You need to talk to her…" Renamon said, her words cut off by Takato's sudden and almost pre-planned reply.
"You two need to resolve things between you."
"I mean I can't. Not right now."
"Takato, you have to stop avoiding your…"
"I can't do it Renamon because now is not the time," Takato said, turning round to face the yellow vixen as she paused in surprise at his sudden confidence. "Rika's in too much pain to even hear me, and if I say anything I'm just going to make it even more painful for her. I know that talking normally resolves things, but right now…right now we don't have that luxury."
Renamon frowned, hearing the words which seemed strangely mature. Was Takato…thinking this through that much?
"You can't cut off the opportunity for talking to her by running away then, even if you are scared."
"Renamon, I don't care about me being scared. Hell, do you think I'd have gotten anywhere in life if I let everything I worry about get to me constantly?" he asked, Renamon's superior vision seeing the sincere look on his face. "I'm scared because I don't want to hurt Rika…I'm scared because I know that if I can't support her it'll only devastate her even more. I had so many chances in there to help her, and we both knew I'd never pull through. I am never going to pull through…who are we kidding? I'm not cut out to be a father."
"But you could…"
"Rika doesn't need me, she really doesn't. Even if I'm there, I'm just going to make things worse. If I can't even get over the stress of having a kid before it happens, how am I going to deal with it afterwards? And this way it all works out because she has her mom, grandma, you, Kristy, my parents, everyone, and she deserves it. I don't end up with anyone but Chaos and that's right too."
"How can you think that's right? Takato, her father…"
Takato frowned, looking down at the ground as he leant on the wall, making sure not to put himself anywhere near a position where he could fall over. "Her dad stayed with her and then broke her heart, and she never knew it was going to happen. I can't do that to her again, I can't promise her I'll be there forever. I don't want to see her heartbroken again."
"If you run away, you won't see her at all."
"Well, I don't know, maybe that's better," Takato mumbled, sighing deeply. "I just…I just want more time, I just want to mature, because I'm not ready to be a dad - I never really considered ever being one before all this happened."
Renamon went to open her mouth, but she paused, before raising a hand. "Stay here," she said, before vanishing from sight as Takato's eyes widened in surprise. He looked about the rooftop, suddenly finding himself alone again.
Suddenly, he found himself not alone on the rooftop again, Renamon reappearing with another figure being released from her grip. She paused behind, Takato seeing the person she had brought with her and staring on in disbelief. He swore he saw a wink in the Digimon's eye as she vanished once again into god-knows-where, leaving him to struggle to close his mouth again.
"Dad?" he spluttered, wondering why the Digimon had brought him up here. Evidently, the older man didn't know either, surprise on his middle-aged face as he glanced about at his new surroundings.
"Takato? Where is this?" Takahiro asked, seeing the lights of the city around them but not being able to place where they could possibly be seeing them from. The last thing he knew, he was sitting on a seat in the waiting room only to be told by Renamon that they had to leave in a hurry. After that, everything had become a rather sickening blur, and now, he found himself here, with Takato.
"It's the roof."
"The roof? Huh?"
"Renamon must've brought him here to talk…but…is it just 'cause he's my dad? I mean, he's a great dad, but he's not exactly a motivational speaker." "Yeah," Takato said, feeling a tear in his eye from the sheer weight of the day's events. He snivelled, accidentally drawing attention to his weeping.
"Takato, are you crying?" his father asked, his concern about where he had ended up pushed completely aside as he walked over to his son, gripping him in a hug as the tears began to stream from his ducts. "Oh Takato," he mumbled, his son crying over his shoulder.
"I'm scared," he blubbed, his father patting him on the back.
"It's okay son," Takahiro replied, his son gripping him tight as he clung to the few pillars of support he felt he had remaining. If his father knew…if he knew what a coward he was being, maybe he would lose that too. "Don't cry."
"I'm immature, I'm naïve, I make mistakes, I can't even face Rika…I'm going to be a terrible dad," he said, something clicking in his father's mind which made the man push his son away from the hug, looking him in the eye as Takato became so afraid that he had actually lost that pillar of support to. Thankfully, such was not the case.
"Of course you are son."
The tears stopped in their tracks, eyes too wide to let them through the tear ducts as Takato ran over what he had just heard from his father a thousand times.
"Wow, he really isn't a good motivational speaker, eh?"
"Heck, do you think I was a good father at first?"
"Uh…I don't know," Takato mumbled, suddenly pushed off the firm footing of the argument he had convinced himself to believe by the unpredictable response.
"Well, I'll tell you, I was absolutely terrible. Mie had to do everything, and she was always saying how useless I was, and she was right."
"Uh…can't quite see how this is meant to reassure me."
"You're still alive, aren't you?"
"Yeah, but…uh…I don't remember you ever being a bad dad."
"Well, I was. Takato, I was less mature than you are now and I was ten years older at that point. You'd have done better than me."
"But, how? I'm going to be completely useless. And I'm not mature; I spent the past ten minutes wondering what countries I could escape to."
"Cuba is good, but people don't notice when you make things worse."
Takahiro briefly paused, still amazed by this alter-ego who both wasn't and was his son at the same time. "Takato, you deal with so many things in your life, and even when you looked really determined facing the D-Reaper I could tell you were scared, and you were right to be scared. When you're scared, you realise how important everything all is, and nothing is more important than your children."
"But I don't know what I have to do."
"I'll teach you if you get stuck. And anyway, I'm not sure how I'm going to be a grandfather either…it just makes me feel old, but I know I'll cope, and you will too."
"Yeah…just like everyone's been saying…I have to grow up," Takato said, his mind flashing back over those times, both that day and before, when people had given him a 'reality check'. When they were all telling him to propose to Rika…
"Takato, I know this sounds stupid coming from a guy who loves to lie in and would rather watch cartoons than go to a lecture, but you have got to grow up!" Tai insisted.
…and just a few hours ago, with Fumiko…
"Yeah, okay, I did mean that…but…what do we do?" Takato asked, peeved by not getting an answer yet.
Rumiko gave a smile, one slightly unnerving for the boy as she gave an inconvenient truth. Her hand landed on his shoulder as she looked into his eyes. "You grow up," she answered, before looking across to the door. "Now come on, Rika's waiting,"
"Do you know what growing up means though?"
"Uh…tax returns, work and senility?" Takato asked, saying the first three things which came to his mind.
"No," Takahiro replied, grinning widely. "Growing up means telling everyone else you're older and more mature while on the inside simply wanting to goof off and act like a kid, like driving faster than seems safe."
"Oh, yeah, Rey mentioned that."
"But, while you want to goof off and act like a kid, you also realise where to draw the line. I did that as safely as possible, and I didn't take any big risks, but I did it so that I could be here sooner, to help you and Rika through this. I mean, I haven't been able to help much so far, but that's because you two work off each other so much it's hard for anyone else to get involved."
"Are you kidding me? We've barely spoken!"
"Then you have been working off each other, even without realising it. She's sad so you're sad, you're sad so she's sad…it's what couples do. It's when you don't line up that you want to be careful - that's when you argue."
"Dad…I think you're going to be a really good granddad."
"You think?" Takahiro asked, surprise in his eyes. "Oh, now I feel old."
"You're growing up then," Takato said, actually smiling for the first time in ages.
"I guess it does just happen then."
"Yeah…" Takato mumbled, contemplating everything he had heard as he looked out at the city lights. This world around him, it was in flux, his whole life was changing and he could do nothing to stop it but…it was still his world. He was growing up, but he was still him, he was still naïve, kid-like, a "Gogglehead".
A smile appeared on his face, finding himself unable to think that word without hearing Rika's voice, her intonation, the meaning behind it, everything. The same girl who right now was in pain, the same girl he had to help through this. The same girl he would help through this.
And then, as if the great gods of chance were shining upon him, the event which had been holding out for so long finally happened.
"Takato!" called a voice across from the fire escape door, a groaning of metal heard as both father and son turned to face it. Illuminated from behind by the light inside stood a smiling figure, blue hair ruffled by the wind and a determined look on her face. "It's time," she said forebodingly.
Takato said nothing to Fumiko, instead looking to his father. "I'm ready," he said, unable to resist giving a determined smile. Takahiro nodded, quickly deciding what he had to do.
"You hurry to be with Rika…I'll go get your mother and meet you there."
"Be quick," Takato said, both nodding in agreement as Takato began to hurry across to the stairs. Fumiko smiled as he arrived, holding the door wide open for him and smiling to his father as Takato's hurried footsteps fell away down the stairs. Everything was right; everything was going to work out.
The footsteps pounded down against the speckled floor, similar only in DNA to the previous ones. Red hair fluttered about, as a set of paws to her side paced just as fast as her. It took every instinct of Rey's to avoid slamming into every trolley she passed, every person, every machine, and her mind was so far away she was amazed she could even still do such a thing.
"This is it. Please Takato, please be ready," she thought, pressing her hands together quickly in a prayer. Not to a god, not even to her parents, but simply a prayer of hope. She glanced to her D-Vice, the seconds of the 27th February drawing away.
She already knew what was happening.
"This labour takes so long that it just goes over into tomorrow," she thought, a smile on her face of reassurance for herself. She hadn't screwed up; she had just made a miscalculation, an insignificant one in the long run. Everything was going right; everything was going as it should. She hoped.
Finally, she reached the door, barely glancing at the Maternity Room 29 sign on it as she barged her way through, Realmon following straight afterwards as they entered the chaos.
The atmosphere suddenly changed, the girl glancing about to see who was in the room, trying to ignore the groans of her mother in the bed with the midwife, Setsuko, currently performing procedures she neither knew nor wanted to know. She saw Guilmon and Renamon, the latter clutching the now-rapidly vibrating egg and occasionally glancing to the door with a concerned expression. She saw Seiko, standing over and watching it all whilst offering the occasional word of encouragement. She saw Rumiko, by the side of the bed…
"Mom, mom, I'm scared," Rika moaned to her mother, the sheer pain of it all so overwhelming but no relief coming, not even from the anaesthetic she had had. "Make it stop!" she cried, clutching her mother's hand tightly as the woman tried to tell her words of reassurance. It was useless, every single phrase she said failing to get through to the girl's panic-stricken mind.
Rey fell into a frown, the reality settling in. Takato wasn't in the room, and neither were his parents. Fumiko wasn't here either. Rika was alone, and both of the people she had hoped on had failed to show up.
Rika strained her brow, letting loose a groan of pain and yet ending up with only more pain to groan about. "Rika, you've got to help here, push," Setsuko said, oddly calmly for such a seemingly desperate situation.
"I can't!" Rika insisted, clenching her jaw together. "I really can't," she cried, never before having looked so horrified and weak in her life.
Suddenly, the door was once again barged through by the pounding of footsteps, but these ones knew exactly where they were going, ruby D-Vice flashing in the bright lights of the hospital room. Rey stepped back at the last moment, eyes widened as Takato rushed past her.
Renamon smiled, looking across to Fumiko who soon after entered the doorway, and nodded back to her. Her last second rush to find Fumiko after finding Rika in the throes of labour had paid off.
Rika's face lit up with surprise to see both Fumiko and Takato, and an odd sense of happiness flowed over her despite their late arrivals and the sheer pain currently surging through her.
Rumiko looked up, just as shocked as her daughter to see the very determined face of Takato. She let go of Rika's hand, and almost instantly it was taken up again by Takato, the boy leaning over his girlfriend, his fiancée, the mother of his child, Rika, and planting a kiss on her lips, one she savoured for all its short-lasted glory as she resisted the urge to moan once again in pain throughout its duration.
"You are always so fucking late," she said as they pulled away again, a strangely cheerful tone to her voice which Takato doubted he would ever forget. What dominated her voice even more, however, was a sheer sense of relief, partly that he was there and partly because she could now finally grip his hand as tight as possible, a method of revenge for him ever considering leaving her.
He winced in pain, reality striking him as he went to groan before he realised that now was not the time to worry about such a relatively insignificant thing as his hand. "I love you too," he said, fighting the pain as she did likewise in her reply.
"I really love you."
SUNDAY, 28TH FEBRUARY 2011
At the stroke of midnight, the door saw its final new arrivals of the pre-Rey era as her other grandparents, Takahiro and Mie arrived, both looking around the scene of chaos in surprise. But, both also looked at Rika and Takato, together, one clutching to the other and the other clutching back, and both knew that everything was going to be alright. Fumiko pushed the door closed, knowing that now would come the biggest scream of all.
"Push, push," Setsuko said, Rika finally doing exactly as she said despite the sheer pain of it all. After all, she had an outlet, Takato, one who was somehow fighting the sheer pain in his hand as he felt his bones threaten to contort and break down.
"Push Rika," he groaned against the feeling of it all, taking a step closer to the 'action' as he egged himself on to look. He peeked, and immediately regretted it as the sight was permanently printed onto his vision. "What the hell?!"
Chaos simply laughed.
"Push!" Setsuko called, trying to feed the baby out.
Renamon clutched the egg close to her chest, its vibration practically constant and Guilmon's eyes stuck for what to watch, the egg or Rika giving birth. "It's time," she thought, looking across to Rika and wishing her strength to deal with the next bit.
"One last push!"
Rika took a deep breath, before putting everything into it; straining downwards, squeezing Takato's hand and letting loose an almighty scream, one permanently etched into the memories of all present as a flash of light burst from the egg nearby.
And then, as four D-Vices struck 00:00:29, it was over.
Everything suddenly slowed, the world seemingly coming to a standstill as the midwife held the baby in her hands, all bloody but still well-and-truly living, and, not only that, but taking her first breath and thus taking her first move on her own two feet. Well, metaphorically.
And she was not alone in being new to the world, for born at the very same instant and lying in her mother's arms alongside a black D-Vice with a half-ruby, half-sapphire ring around its screen, was a small, red blob-like Digimon, timidly clutching close to her mother's arms.
Born in the same moment, taking their first breaths from the same air, and being bonded their whole lives.
Rey stared on, disbelief in her eyes at what she was seeing. That was her. That was her. That was her. The thought failed to register in her mind, the paradoxical nature of it all completely bewildering her as she resorted to simple amazement at how fragile she looked. "I'm so…tiny…and…just…how…how?"
Realmon was similarly gobsmacked, not sure who to look at first: Rey or her. Ultimately, she herself won out, and as she stared on at the frail red blob cradled in her mother's arms, the opportunity to see her own birth through her own eyes an opportunity no-one had ever had before. She found herself not only thoughtless, but speechless.
Takahiro could barely breathe, not for asphyxiation but simply because all his breath had been stolen away by this very moment, the very sight of a new life entering their world, and not only that but a new life related to him, his granddaughter. "Takato finally did it…I'm so proud of him," he thought, casting his eyes across to the boy.
Guilmon looked up, staring at the red blob and, like all the rest, not being able to speak, or even think very coherently. His mind simply focused on Rejimon, a tiny little thing that had somehow been inside that egg the whole time. His nostrils twitched, taking in the smells of the room but being the only one in there who could actually tell Rejimon's scent apart. "She's real."
Seiko smiled, looking proudly down at her exhausted daughter who nonetheless was transfixed by her child. The woman looked to her great granddaughter again, somehow feeling so young despite her new position supposedly making her feel old. This child, her DNA had passed from her, down to her daughter, down to her daughter's daughter, and now found its way into this tiny, timid, fragile new life, taking her first glimpses of the world around her as involuntary cries sprang from her mouth. "It may have been a mistake, but she is still a Nonaka, and she is still one of our family. I still cannot believe it's Rey though."
Renamon looked down, feeling the tiny thing nuzzle against her chest as a smile manifested on her face. Could it really be real? Could Digimon produce other Digimon? So long until now, she had simply seen all this as part of Terriermon's patch, something not originally intended, perhaps wrong, and definitely a mistake on her part but…maybe, maybe this was natural. Maybe this tiny thing was proof that they as Digimon could resist anything; could overcome anything. She cast her eyes over to her Tamer and her fiancée, hands still tightly gripped together. "And the same is true for humans," she thought with a smile.
The first thing which Rumiko could think of when she looked down was how similar everything felt to when Rika had been born 17 years earlier, albeit without the Digimon. A tiny child, so fragile, so innocent, born out of what seemed like a mistake but cherished so dearly by her parents. She looked over to her daughter, both tired, but both together, and both determined to succeed. "And they will."
DarkBiyomon looked up, seeing everyone frozen as a collective breath was caught. From the red blob in Renamon's arms to the child in Setsuko's, there was suddenly new life in the room - creation, rather than destruction. A sign of change, a sign of rebirth, and a sign of people being closer than ever before, two families joined by a child. But most of all, it was a sign of happiness, and as the bird stared on without an expression, she somehow felt some of that joy enter her mind also. "Chiyo should've been alive to see this, but it is still a good thing."
Meanwhile, Mie's thoughts were practically voiceless, the sheer sight of the baby freezing her mind as it struggled to come to terms with what this all suddenly mean. A snip of the scissors on the umbilical cord brought her back to enough for a smile to manifest on her face, one that only widened when she proudly looked over the baby's mother and father. "They will be alright."
"Congratulations Rika, Takato, it's a girl!"
Fumiko took it upon herself to announce the gender, providing that pillar of support that Rika needed but never got enough of from her throughout most of the process. She watched as Setsuko carefully lifted the baby and took her across to her mother, smiling as she let Rey down into her mother's arms, her father looking over, both so close to the child they had worried so much over. "Now it's real Takato, and now I know you'll be able to manage it. You're still here."
Chaos, staring down at his child, found it hard to work out what to think. Part of him wanted to reject the girl - she was the spawn of an unholy and appalling occurrence, not because it was sexual but because it was sexual between him and Harmony. And yet, he couldn't. This was his child, a child he felt closer to than any he had ever had before in his many lives, one so close that he knew that he had one thing to impart to her. "The ways of causing absolute chaos."
Harmony, meanwhile, had seen this happen and done this act so many times that the amazement of seeing a newborn was limited, yet, somehow, this one felt more important than all the others. This little girl, this little God, Rey, was truly her descendant, in DNA and in shape. Hazel eyes blinked back, a few tiny strands of very short reddish hair on a bald-looking head. The eyes, even when crying, looked so familiar, so…harmonic. "She's my daughter."
Takato stared on, the fact he was a father now only just beginning to register in his mind as he looked over the infant. Yet, somehow, the word had lost all its power over him - it failed to scare him like it once had. Maybe it was Takahiro's talk, maybe it was Renamon, maybe Fumiko, Rumiko or Chaos maybe all of them. But, he knew one thing, and that was that it was definitely Rika. Even in not saying much to him, she had told him so much. Even after the strains of childbirth and the sheer trauma of it all, she still looked beautiful to him, her eyes determined and full of new vigour yet tired and proud. And most of all, there was a smile on her face, a maternal smile, one that told him that Rika was feeling motherly, feeling protective, feeling a deep love for the baby there.
He was wrong, because Rika felt only one, unbelievably overwhelming emotion as she cradled the infant gently in her arms from where she sat up at the end of the bed.
Blue hair shook to a stop as two dozen pairs of eyes looked around the waiting room to the corridor, a dozen conversations silenced by the sight of the wide smile on Fumiko Imai's face, a smile of pride, of happiness, and of relief. "It's a girl!" she called, a great cheer arising from the amassed Tamers as a wide smile appeared on all faces.
It was finally over.
"Aw…she's so adorable," cooed Kristy as she looked over her niece, cradled in her father's arms and wrapped in a white blanket as he cautiously made sure not to drop her. He sat on the edge of the bed, trying not to disturb Rika's attempts at relaxing behind him, the events of the past hour far too overwhelming for her, despite the fact an oddly calm atmosphere had fallen upon the room, the fluorescent lights now seeming warm and friendly rather than harsh and clinical.
Takato forced himself to look away from the baby, his eyes transfixed by her little fingers, hazel eyes and the fact she was, well, his. Somehow, now, it felt right though, an inexplicable feeling that he was doubtless deeply grateful for. He looked up to the people in the room - not everyone, of course - the room was too small for that even if a lot of people had already made flying visits and had now returned to the waiting room, to home, or to the corridor outside. His parents looked proudly over at them, and so did Rika's. Fumiko had stayed, even though she felt unbelievably tired. Henry had stayed too, although his mother had arrived to take Suzie home, the girl absolutely exhausted despite her eagerness to see the baby.
Rey had sat down at the foot of the bed, occasionally looking to herself but evidently just needing some time to herself, and Takato couldn't blame her. This was difficult enough to get to grips with as it was, let alone with the additional pressure of knowing that it was actually her.
Kari, Mari and Jeri stood along with Kristy, looking over the baby up close for all her adorability. Takato held onto her tight, for some reason not liking the prospect of anyone else taking her from his arms. Perhaps it was a paternal feeling, perhaps he simply didn't want to let go, but right now, he simply didn't care.
"Can I take a photo of her?" Kari asked, clutching her camera, something almost eternally on a string around her neck or in her pocket even if the actual model of camera had changed a number of times. Takato smiled, nodding and turning Rey to face the lens, smiling into it as the baby simply stared on, perplexed about what it was. Of course, everything perplexed her just as much as it did, even as a quick clicking noise made it clear the photo had been taken (sans-flash of course, which would not have been the smartest thing around such a small child), she continued to stare at it, and at the faces staring back at her.
Kari held the camera out, showing the picture to the boy who simply smiled, before looking down to the real thing, something that a photo could never hope to rival.
"Aw," Mari cooed, smiling and looking over the girl as she looked around at the world, her retinas still not sure what to focus on. "I want one," she commented, turning to face Ryder, just in time to see all the blood drain from his face and his eyes and jaw widen in total shock.
"Wha…what?!" he stuttered, the girl finally breaking her fake expression and laughing at him.
"You are so easy," she laughed, stepping over and putting her arm round him, noting how tensed up he had gone and simply shaking her head in disbelief. "They're all the same," she mused, chuckling. He simply looked down to her face, staring for a bit before deciding to cast the joking suggestion away to the winds.
Setsuko, having stood back from proceedings thus far, looking over to the girl sitting on the end of the bed with a concerned expression, before looking back to the group of teenagers and taking a step towards Ryder.
"Pardon me to intrude, but is your friend Ivy alright?" she whispered, Ryder simply giving a completely bewildered expression whilst Mari raised an eyebrow.
"Uh…" Ryder began, wondering if this was simply another of Ivy's messages, albeit this one seemed far less cryptic than all the rest. How did she contact Setsuko anyhow? They were a universe apart, and the midwife didn't seem to know anything about their situation.
He glanced over the woman's shoulder, seeing Takato silently laugh nervously and nod frantically, making it clear that they still had something to explain to him and Mari.
"Yeah, she's fine," Ryder replied, still not sure what the woman was referring to. She took a concerned look down the end of the bed, Rey still deep in thought as she stared at Rejimon in Guilmon's arms, the Digimon sitting against the wall with Realmon sitting nearby and watching herself. Still unsure but not wanting to make an issue of it, the midwife nodded, stepping away from proceedings and out of the room.
"Okay, what on earth was that about?" Mari asked, turning to Takato with a bewildered expression. He laughed sheepishly, looking down to Rey.
"See, we couldn't exactly tell her Rey's real name, and on the spur of the moment…"
"Ah, I see," Ryder said, still wondering why they had to pick that name of all those available. "Ugh, Rey is as Rey does."
"Takato," Rika said, her voice oddly timid and silent, a sense of exhaustion seeping through. She looked to the baby in his arms, the slightest gesture of eye and hand making clear her intentions. He nodded, gently passing the infant over and into the girl's awaiting arms, a contented smile on both their faces as the baby girl looked up again at her mother.
Sensing that their presence had become excessive, Jeri tapped Mari on the shoulder, the girl nodding back as the teenagers began to head out of the room, slow footsteps kept silent as they resisted the urge to stay and simply watch the child.
"We'll give you a bit of space to breathe, shall we?" Seiko suggested, a warm smile on her face which met an exhausted one on Rika's, a nod passing between them as the various parents echoed it. Rumiko gently guided Kristy away, the girl transfixed by the sight of her niece. DarkBiyomon trailed behind her Tamer, still trying to come to terms with all she had seen as they exited the room.
Fumiko stepped over to Takato, gesturing to the door. "I'll go and begin arranging all the paperwork and everything, okay?"
"Thanks," he said, nodding. Rika smiled to her in thanks, not saying a word as the woman stepped out of the door, it's form finally falling silent as it was closed. Takato glanced around, a truly peaceful atmosphere settling as he, Rika, Rey, Rey and their partners were left alone to take in all the emotions raging through their minds.
Rika sighed in relief, looking up to Takato and finding herself unable to get rid of the smile on her face, and certainly unable to get rid of the exhaustion behind it. The boy simply smiled back, gently reaching out and putting his hand on hers, the slight redness in it thanks to its earlier use as a stress ball seen as nothing but an unfortunate side effect now by him. "She's really ours," Rika mumbled, her mind still trying to come to terms with the idea that she had produced another life, one so small and fragile which had somehow before been inside her.
"She's amazing," Takato echoed, smiling and leaning over to kiss Rika. This time, without the pressure of Rika's pains and of the rapidly approaching birth, it was far deeper and longer, their lips clutched together and hoping they would never have to let go.
Rey glanced up from the end of the bed, a smile on her face in spite of the fact she was still struggling to come to terms with what had happened. She looked back across to Renamon and Guilmon, the latter engaged in a staring contest with Rejimon. Could she tell what was going on? Was the red blob-like Digimon conscious of her own actions yet, her own thoughts, the events around her, or would she develop like a human, in tandem with her partner who she would forever share a close bond with? Realmon watched the trio, keeping her distance for fear of accidentally coming into contact with herself.
Renamon stared contentedly down at Guilmon and their child, knowing their relationship with their offspring would be radically different from that which Rika and Takato would have with Rey. Rejimon would survive regardless of whether they were there or not - they would support the creature simply by protecting her from all that was bad in the world, entertaining her, and helping her become close to her Tamer. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."
Takato and Rika finally broke their kiss, a longing for more in both of their eyes but the sheer exhaustion in Rika's making it clear she had to stop and yawn, as she did. Takato smiled, glancing down to Rey again who seemed to have loosened up and become freed from her own world by the sight of the kiss. No words being said, she shuffled along the bed towards them, eyes locked on herself in Rika's arms, a sight which truly did beggar belief.
"I think I'm causing every paradox in the book just by being here," Rey said, her younger self looking directly at her as they locked eyes. What was she thinking? Could she tell it was her she was looking at? Did she, deep down, know herself in the future?
"I think she likes you," Takato said, smiling to his daughter, both present and future.
"I'm just glad it all worked out fine, I was really worried there that I'd screwed everything up and I'd be born early."
"Yeah, it all happened just in time," Realmon said, leaping onto the side of the bed by her Tamer, a hand reaching out and gently stroking her tails. Rey breathed a deep sigh of relief, smiling.
Rika reached out, pressing her hand against her belly, and not for the first time either. She gave an awkward smile, half-happy and half-bewildered, as she looked over to Takato. "It feels so weird to be thin again," she noted, part of her glad to be rid of the huge, movement-restricting blob on her and part of her missing it. She ran her hand across her skin, her mind trying to remember what it had been like nine months prior, searching for what had changed. It definitely felt tender, although she knew that that was because of the dramatic body-change she had undergone, some almost completely unseen as their concentration focused on the child. "I'm telling you one thing though, I don't want to go through that again," she added, looking to Takato with a stern expression.
"We'll be more careful next time."
Rey gave a light smile and chuckled. She watched them talk; pleased they were finally back on good terms again even if they weren't talking particularly about the drama of the past few hours. She doubted they would ever want to revisit it, a time when they had been so distant right when they should've been ever so close.
Takato nodded in agreement to Rika, not entirely sure when the 'next time' would be. He knew for certain that their parents wouldn't want it to be for a while, even if the 'innocence' they were meant to maintain was already nine months gone.
"Yeah…on second thoughts, please never do anything like that again."
"I have to agree with Chaos."
"Not the rarest thing to happen today. And you should be thanking me; I did a good thing today."
"And what would that be?"
"I'm not evil; I tried to stop Takato escaping. I proved you wrong, 'cause I'm the greatest."
"How does your ego still fit in Takato's head?"
"'cause I'm the greatest," Chaos said with a wide grin.
Renamon, taking her attention away from Rejimon for the first time in ages, stepped over towards Rika, smiling subtly as ever as she held out a black, ruby and sapphire device - Rey's D-Vice. Its screen glowed dimly, deactivated as Rika curiously took it in her hand, looking down to Rey.
"I think her wrist is just a little too small right now," she said, passing it to Takato for safe-keeping. "But someday," she added, looking to Rey who nodded in return.
Once again, the girl cast her eyes down at herself, the baby girl staring back again. Those eyes, those beautiful, round, wide, innocent eyes, her eyes. Unconsciously, she began to reach out, her hand moving towards herself.
And then, a jolt of reality struck her, her hand leaping back before it could get anywhere near her own skin. "Blinovitch," she muttered to herself, reminding herself that she had to be unbelievably careful from now on.
Rika frowned, seeing the disappointment and self-berating manifest in the girl's expression. She looked down to the child, making a decision that she knew would be risky, but she also knew that Rey needed right now, in both present and future forms.
She lifted the girl, passing her to Takato who gave her a briefly bewildered look when he saw her gesture with her eyes towards the older Rey. "Uh, here," Takato said, holding out the blanket-covered form.
"I can't," Rey insisted, shaking her head as, across the room, Guilmon and Rejimon looked up, the latter bouncing towards them despite being shy of all the people present. Realmon, petrified, leapt across the bed like a frightened cat, Renamon raising eyebrows in surprise.
"She must be worried that Rejimon could leap at her or something."
"If you just hold the sheet, you're not touching your own skin, right?" Rika said, explaining her reasoning.
"Yeah, but indirectly I would be! I don't want to take that risk."
"Rey, if I hadn't taken a stupid risk in the first place, you wouldn't even be here," Rika said, a defiant stare on her face. "So do it."
Rey looked back to Takato, seeing a look of nervousness in his eyes as he held Rey carefully, glancing down to her. He breathed in, looking to the older Rey who reached out, also breathing in deeply as her hands moved out. They curled, ready to take herself in her arms but staying just below as she grappled with her own mind about what she was about to do.
"This is going to go wrong, I know it. Why am I listening to everything Rika's telling me to? She doesn't know, she doesn't…"
Her thoughts were interrupted as weight began to be laden on her hands, the soft feeling of the blanket caressing her skin. Takato's hands remained underneath baby Rey, making sure the older Rey had a grip on her before doing anything.
Rey looked down, seeing herself staring back, safe and sound. The world hadn't exploded. Bursts of light hadn't bound them together. The hospital was still intact, and she was standing there, her hands safely touching the blanket without incident.
"It worked," she mumbled in shock, pulling her baby self closer and sitting back on the bed, stroking her own skin through the blanket as her mind ran wild. Was this really safe? What if she dropped herself? What if she left permanent mark on her own skin? Wouldn't that be a paradox? Wouldn't that be impossible?
But, suddenly, those thoughts vanished into the ether, all thanks to one thing.
Baby Rey smiled. And Rey smiled back.
Rika watched contentedly, not wanting to say a word to interrupt the touching moment. Neither did Takato, nor Renamon, Rejimon (if she could, a least), Guilmon and Realmon, and even Chaos and Harmony kept quiet for once.
Unfortunately yet rather aptly, Destiny chose that moment to interrupt the calm.
A knock at the door sounded, heads swinging round to look as Takato called for the person to "come in". Smiling, the very familiar face of Fumiko peeked in, taking a step into the room and being greeted warmly by all those inside, in spite of the fact she was interrupting a peaceful moment.
"Sorry if I'm interrupting," she said, giving a light frown as she raised a clipboard, a number of papers attached to it. "This is the birth certificate," she noted.
"Ugh, always the paperwork," Rika groaned, sighing deeply as she knew her mind wasn't ready for such an ordeal. Fumiko wandered over, giving a light smile at Rika's remark before looking towards the two Rey's.
"She's so adorable," Fumiko said, having seen hundreds of newborns before but finding oddly that none of their cases compared to this. "Have you decided on a name yet?"
Rika looked to Takato, both smiling. "Yep."
"Good, because that'll make this a lot easier. Who is going to fill it out?" she asked, Rika reaching out for it.
"Pass it here," she said, taking both a white pen and the clipboard. Briefly glimpsing across it, she signed her name at the bottom, before passing it over to Takato. "You can do the honours," she said, surprise on his face.
"Uh, okay," he mumbled, looking down at the key document, the birth certificate, some things already penned in like the signature of Setsuko, of Fumiko herself, of Rika and Takato's parents and of a legal advisor, along with the date and time of birth, the location, and a number of other things. He sighed, gesturing to the table in the corner, knowing how difficult it was to write on a clipboard. "Just give me a sec," he said, wandering over towards it as Rika and Fumiko nodded.
"That was cruel," Fumiko said, smiling.
"Fun too. Besides, I'm completely wiped out. You try pushing a baby out of you."
Fumiko's expression faltered, Rika coursing her eyebrows as she wondered what she had said wrong, what she had said to bring such a sad expression to the woman's face so quickly.
"I did," she said, looking over to the baby Rey as an awkward silence fell, her words close to a whisper. "It didn't work."
Rika looked briefly bewildered, before suddenly her mind cottoned onto the truth, one which hit her like a ton of bricks as she looked at the girl. "Oh…I'm so sorry. I never knew," she said quietly, Rey too busy locked into a staring contest with herself to even hear what was going on.
Fumiko's sad expression remained as she remembered the harrowing feeling, the depression, the loss, her lowest point ever. Her miscarriage. "Don't worry, I never told you, there was no way you could've known, but…maybe that's why I wanted to help you with all this…I don't normally get involved so deeply in the maternity ward, I'm usually a medical doctor…there are a lot of doctors who are more experienced at this sort of thing than me. And, maybe that's why I was really worried about you and Takato."
"What happened to the father?"
"We broke up. Our relationship wasn't as strong as yours, and without the baby or marriage it simply couldn't last. I almost quit my job, but…I knew that I'd never recover if I did that."
"Aw, that's so sad."
Fumiko frowned, nodding as she cursed herself for ever letting the subject be raised. "But, I'm not going to let that sour today. I bounced back from that, and I decided not to let myself end up that badly again, and I'm better off for it. Sure, it would've been nice if things turned out differently, but…we live with what happens."
"Whatever happens," Rika said, a smile on her face as she recalled those words and their terrible record for making bad things happen.
"Yeah, that's one way of putting it. So, have you decided on a name yet?"
Rika glanced to her daughter, both present and future, before smiling widely and looking back to the doctor. "Yep. Rey."
Fumiko looked to Rey, thinking that Rika was telling her fellow redhead to tell her the name. But, she simply looked back, a slightly nervous expression on her face.
"So, what is it?"
Fumiko looked back to Rika, the girl giving an honest face as her eyes widened slightly, restating what she had just said. "It's Rey."
"But…you already know a Rey? Are you naming it in honour of her?"
"No," Rika said, shaking her head and grinning widely as it was Fumiko's turn to stand, bewilderedly looking between the trio of redheads (albeit one only with very short and fine hair) and trying to work out what on earth they were talking about. And, likewise, it was her turn to be struck by a ton of bricks.
"No…no…wait, you can't mean?" she spluttered, glancing between Rey and the baby to be named Rey with her eyes as wide as plates. "That's not…possible."
"I've travelled in time, Fumiko," Rey said, Rika smiling, almost with pride, as the doctor stared on in disbelief. "This, this baby, is me," she added, looking down to the infant who stared back at them, bewildered by the situation. Whether she could actually see them, and whether she could tell what they were, was doubtful, but she definitely could tell that something was going on.
Rey looked down to herself, carefully continuing to hold the baby whilst she gestured to her left arm, the time device prominently on it as always. "This thing. I came back from the future, and I wanted to see my own birth. I…I can't touch myself, but I can touch the blanket," she explained, trying to answer all of the questions she knew Fumiko would have.
Fumiko stepped back, leaning onto the bed in total shock at what she had just been told. This couldn't be true…could it? She stared at the older Rey, beginning to see it all. The eyes, the hair, the jaw line…all so familiar. Elements of Takato, of Rika, of their parents as well. This girl…this girl, was their child.
"Sorry for not telling you sooner," Rika said, smiling as she did so. "It's just another one of our big secrets."
Fumiko paused, trying to collect herself as she looked between Rey, Rika and Rey. "I still don't understand."
"Did Ryder tell you about the Angels?" Rey asked, the doctor searching her scrambled and confounded mind before simply nodding. "Well, did he mention any Gods?"
"Well, yeah, I think he did."
"Fumiko, meet Chaos and Harmony," the redhead said with a smile, gesturing to the boy walking back towards them, papers in hand, and to the girl in the bed, a smile on her face. The former looked briefly surprised, having been too caught up in the documents to overhear their conversation. "The Gods."
"Pleased to meet you," Harmony said, her low, mature, feminine tones contrasting with Rika's.
"Howdy," Chaos echoed, Takato coming to a stop and trying to work out what he had missed.
"My name is Rey, and I am the Tenth Angel of Destiny," she explained, a proud smile on her face as she held herself tightly, fighting the urge to put her hand on her heart with pride. "You see, because I am their daughter, I have a few more…powers than most, and even than most Angels. Not this time device though, it was given to me by a friend."
"Your world…it…it…" Fumiko stuttered, before she simply sighed and chuckled to herself. "It just never ceases to amaze, does it?"
A silence fell, the doctor glancing between them all and still trying to take it all in. Takato coughed finally, interrupting it as he held up the clipboard.
"It's done," he said, Fumiko nodding and looking down to the sheet. She smiled, her eyes still wide with shock at what she had learnt as she read it, what she had been told being confirmed by what was written under Forename.
"Well, then," she said, taking an enthusiastic sigh and looking down to Rey and Rey, her father and mother nearby and looking eagerly up to her, awaiting the words of the beaming doctor. The baby, not knowing what was going on, looked about from Rey's arms, as her name was called for the first time. "I'd like to welcome you, Rey Matsuki, to the world."
Takato smiled proudly, whilst Rika's expression faltered. "Matsuki?"
An all-too-familiar sheepish laugh filled the air, as Rika glared at her fiancé. "Well, you see…"
"Give me that," Rika called, reaching out for the birth certificate. "I thought we were going to discuss it," she said, before casting her eyes down to where it was written, clear as day.
"See, you told me to fill it out and I thought we'd agreed on her name being Rey Matsuki. I mean, I know we're not married yet, but I thought, you know…uh…Rika…you haven't said anything in a long time."
And sure enough, she hadn't. Her eyes glanced back and forth between the clipboard and Takato, a suspicious and rather peeved look on her face.
"Takato…you stupid, stupid, Gogglehead!"
"You spelt Rey wrong you dimwit!"
"No I didn't. It's R-E-I, right?"
"No! It's R-E-Y, how couldn't you know that?"
"I've never seen it written anywhere!"
"I have, she told me how to spell it."
"But she never told me."
"But how can you spell Rey as Rei?"
"She's Japanese; I thought that's how we'd spell it!"
"But Rey's a Japanese name too."
"But it's really rare, isn't it? I don't know anyone with it."
"That doesn't matter, it's nicer if she has a more individual name." Rika insisted, groaning as she ran a hand through her hair. "Ugh, now we're going to have to get a new certificate written and this one burned and we've signed it and our parents and the doctors too and ugh, how stupid can you be?!"
Takato frowned, looking down at the ground sadly as Rika berated him, not an unfamiliar situation. Had he failed, had he failed at the one task he needed to get perfectly right?
"Wait," Rey interrupted, the eyes of the spectators stopping their endless glances back and forth between the pair like it was a game of tennis (albeit with insults rather than a ball) and all focusing on the girl. "So my name is Rei Matsuki, with an 'I'?"
"No, it isn't. Rey, we can change it," Rika insisted, shooting daggers at Takato.
Rey froze, her eyes widened in realisation as she stared off into space. "No, wait…it all makes sense now!"
"Wait, what does?" Realmon asked, still keeping her distance from Rejimon by sitting on the other side of the bed.
Rey looked to her partner, her eyes shining with newfound truth. "Why I never got to see any documents, why you guys always hid them from me. Every passport, every application, every census reply…Christ, have I been living a lie all this time?" she said, falling off her feet to perch herself on the edge of the bed.
"It doesn't matter, we can change it," Rika insisted, trying to reassure the girl who seemed so shaken by revelation.
Rey was too caught up in thought to reply yet. "The thing is, I always did think 'Rey' didn't look very Japanese…it sounded too Western, I always wondered why you chose it…but…if it really isn't my name, then…you guys taught me to always spell it wrong!"
"Then you can change things. We're going to change things anyway, they may as well change your name to Rei and teach you that," Realmon suggested.
"No, but that won't work. Mom, dad, please…you have to teach me to write my name with a 'y' until I go back in time, okay? Like, a pet name, you know? And you can't let me see anything to the contrary?"
"But, how?" Takato asked, wondering how they could possibly keep things from her for so long.
"You must've managed it. Just, make sure you don't let me know, okay?"
Rika looked to Takato, both now completely bewildered but both nodding to each other, and then to Rey.
"Fine," they both said together.
"This also means you'll have to call her Rey Matsuki, because otherwise when you change her name to Matsuki when you get married she'll find out," Fumiko noted, Rika inhaling deeply and nodding in agreement, some reluctance in her movements.
"Ugh, I hate time travel," she groaned.
Takato chuckled nervously. "To be fair, we are going to get married anyway…it really shouldn't matter what she's called until then," he said, Rika staring into his eyes as he strained against the glare she sent.
Finally, she let out a deep sigh, rolling her eyes heavenwards before giving in. "Fine, fine…we'll keep her name with an 'i' then."
"So, I guess…I guess that makes me Rei Matsuki then," Rei said, looking down to herself again with a sense of disbelief still in her voice. She smiled widely, swearing she saw a smile in reply on baby Rey's face. "And you're Rey Matsuki too," she said, waggling a finger in front of the baby's face as she pointed down at a visage she could never touch. But, despite all that, despite the name difficulty, despite the pain of Rika's birth, despite the future this girl had, and despite how difficult her life would be in trying to avoid touching her…it was still her.
Takato finally let out a deep sigh, almost deeper than that Rika had given at the end of her pregnancy. And likewise, it was for one, clear, simple and joyful emotion.
Nonaka Residence, Shinjuku Ward
Rey once again found herself clutched in her mother's arms as she entered the home she would have for the next few years, a place sure to be cherished in all the memories she would have of it. For Rika, it felt like it had been ages since she had last been there, and even longer since she had last been this thin at home. She only carried the baby, but behind her followed Rumiko, Takato and Rei, carrying various bags, nappies and other items from the car. Renamon, Rejimon sleeping in her arms, Guilmon and Realmon followed their Tamers, the latter keeping a safe distance from herself even though she was asleep at that moment.
Rika breathed a deep sigh of relief to be home, as Kristy rushed up from the sofa and eagerly looked over the baby. Evidently, she had already had a chance to sleep, and it must've been a better one than the sleep Rei, Takato and Rika had had that morning, neither the hospital bed nor chairs proving to be very comfortable.
"Aw," Kristy said, Rika quickly shushing her.
"She's asleep," she whispered, Kristy nodding and putting a finger over her mouth. Kudamon, still sitting on the coffee table, watched his Tamer's reaction with intrigue, knowing that he'd never understand her mannerisms no matter how long he was her partner. DarkBiyomon, sitting on the couch nearby, continued to watch everything the humans did with intrigue, being Chiyo having given her a narrow view of the world. She was seeing brand new reactions, brand new events, brand new people, and she wasn't entirely sure what to make of them.
"I won't say a word," the girl whispered back.
"You just did."
"From now on."
"Good," Rika said, giving a playful smile before she looked up to her grandmother, smiling proudly back at her and glad they were home safe and well.
"Tired?" the older woman asked, her granddaughter nodding repeatedly.
"How many nappies does one baby need?" Chaos grumbled, Harmony revelling in his misery as Takato continued to carry bags and packs in from the car. Rei helped, trying to fight back the urge to stand and take in the moment for what it was.
"That's the last one," Rumiko finally said, closing the door to their home and stepping inside. A strange silence fell, none sure what to do until Rika yawned, looking to Takato.
"Ugh, I don't know about you but I'm tired."
"You should sleep when she sleeps," Seiko advised, Rika nodding in agreement.
"Yeah, but I'm finding it hard to even consider parting with her."
"Don't worry, I'll check up on her," Rumiko said, her tone reassuring enough to overcome the difficulty Rika had with the idea.
"I put the cot in the spare room for now - I wasn't sure whether you'd want her to sleep in the same room or to use a monitor," Seiko noted.
"I'm too tired to think about that, so I'll just put her in the cot where it is for now."
She turned to Takato, leaning forward to kiss him on the lips. She smiled contently as he did the same, before casting her eyes down the hallway. "Shall we go tuck her in then?"
Takato nodded, Rika taking a step in the direction of the hallway. Takato paused, glancing to Rei. She at first took a step forward to follow her mother, before questioning herself. Rika paused and, with a tilt of the head, gestured that she could come too, the time traveller nodding and the trio excusing themselves from the adults before making their way down the hallway.
The light of the oncoming evening began to settle, the world diming and Takato flicking the warm lights of the corridor on as he passed. They stayed silent as their footsteps progressed along, past Rika's room and onto one of the several guest rooms next door, now finding itself with a new purpose as baby Rey's bedroom.
Takato opened the door, Rika smiling tiredly before stepping in, the dimly-lit interior perfect for a baby needing to sleep. Sure enough, the cot was there, all prepared and ready for its occupant, and Rika wandered over to it before gently settling down Rey into it.
Rika paused and stared over the baby's form, pulling the blanket over and trying to remember everything from her baby books about the correct way to let a baby sleep in a cot. She was surprised as it came remarkably naturally to her, something which definitely reassured her in her abilities as a mother. She leant down, gently kissing the sleeping Rey on her forehead before turning back to face Takato and Rei, no words said as she walked back towards the doorway.
Rei and Takato paused, staring into the crib with a sense of amazement still in their tired eyes. They finally took their eyes off the girl, turning to follow Rika back out of the room, her hands gently closing the door behind with barely a sound.
She looked to Takato, an unbelievable sense of relief in both their eyes as she gripped him in a tight embrace, glad that everything had worked out. Takato hadn't left her. Rey had been born on time. Fumiko had been there at the birth. And she felt like a mother. She pulled back, smiling tiredly.
"I need to sleep. Will you still be here when I wake up?" she said, her voice a strange mix of contentment and frailness, the memories of the pain of giving birth still fresh in her mind and making her feel particularly vulnerable even when she knew she had the power in her fingertips to do, well, almost anything.
"If you want," he said, smiling back to reassure her. He was still expecting at some point that he would freak out from the fact he was now a father, but oddly and thankfully for him, it hadn't seemed to happen yet. Fingers crossed it never would.
"Please," she added, leaning forward and pushing her lips against his once again in a kiss. "I love you," she said as she pulled away.
"I love you too," he replied, their words ending as she wandered back towards her room, entered, and closed the door as gently as ever behind her.
Takato watched her go, before turning, looking back to Rei who had watched proceedings with a silent jaw.
"This is all so different," he said, the fact that both his fiancée and daughter were now sleeping or going to sleep in the two rooms next to them a very odd one indeed for him.
"Hmm…Rei, does this mean we're getting closer to when you have to, you know, intervene?"
"I think so, yeah."
"What do you think will happen?"
Rei frowned, shrugging. "I don't know Dad."
"Well, whatever happens, we'll be there to help," Takato said, yawning deeply and stretching out his arms before cursing himself. "Aw nuts, I said it again."
Rei chuckled at her father, the boy turning and shaking his head at himself in disbelief as he wandered back towards the living room. "He should really get some sleep too," she thought, but knew that he wouldn't rest until he knew both his girlfriend and their child were okay and were going to be well-cared for.
And then, Rei Matsuki found herself alone, the hallway empty and only the quiet sounds of chatter and snoring echoing down it. Her own breathing dominated all, as she pushed, putting her hands on the back of her head and stretching her elbows out to either side, looking round at the 'moment' she had travelled so far to visit.
A flash of metal flickered at the edge of her vision, and she lowered the time device in front of her, reminded of her task. She undid the strap, holding it out in front of her, but with no intention to press its button. She turned it over, gently running her fingers across the brushed metal case, the letters R and M written on it. Her hand paused on it, knowing what was underneath.
A button, one which would staple time in place, one to prevent catastrophe.
Rei frowned, knowing that, for all the happiness, she still had a job to do. The whole world, the future of the whole entire world and all its people, even perhaps the future of the whole universe, would soon rely on one person.
Her. Rei Matsuki.
A/N: Well, it's finally over, and I can breathe a sigh of relief that it didn't take too much over a year in the end. I've been very busy over the past few weeks with exams and such, and although I'm now sounding like a broken record I'm sorry for the extreme delay. If you'll notice, today, the day of publishing, is the very same day as that the ending scenes are set on, the 28th February. I couldn't resist aiming for such a fantastic piece of temporal irony. In any case, I'd like to thank all of you for bearing with me through the highs, the lows, the trials and of course the pebbles of writing Book Six, and I hope you have thoroughly enjoyed what has now become my favourite Book (so far, hehe).
There will be a short interval now while I change the film…I mean, finish planning out Book Seven, so I suggest you read up to date in Extra Dimensions (including Story Seven: Christmases), and also Dimensions: Stratagems. From now on, I'll be expecting that everyone has read everything so far in the series, including Extra Dimensions and Stratagems.
To anyone reading this in the future when Book Seven is already underway or complete: I still recommend you take this chance to read those side-stories so you don't end up lost. As a quick note, in case it went under the radar of anyone, the girl in Survivor is Naoko, not Rika. It's all basically one huge play on the reader, and hence it's definitely one of my favourite Extra Dimensions stories.
Oh, and also, you'll now find URLs for my Twitter and DeviantART things for Blazing Chaos on my profile page at the bottom, as well as more links on the wiki. Another thing to note is that my style of formatting, dates, locations etc. is likely to change a bit for Book Seven, allowing me more freedom to write more professionally without the restraints which having to keep track of times exactly have always placed on me. Key times will still be put in, but closely occurring scenes will be unlikely to have new timestamps. Apologies in advance to anyone who enjoyed keeping track of things this way.
Now, to finish off Book Six, we shall look forward to Book Seven with, as is becoming usual, a preview:
Next time in DIMENSIONS
"My name is Ryder Mark Watson Stevens."
Ryder stood, arms braced, held outwards as he awaited his fate, the lights illuminating his face as he closed his eyes.
"Somehow, I ended up in a different world far from my old life, a world where my dreams are becoming a reality."
With a flurry of tail and fur, DarkRenamon touched down next to Mari.
"Am I mad, in a coma, or is this real?"
Taking a desperate breath, Ryder sat up, a cold sweat running down his face as he came face to face with someone he didn't expect to see, and yet oddly still did.
"The worst thing is that I know that if my two worlds collide, I'm going to have to make a sacrifice."
The fiery inferno ripped upwards, screams barely heard above the roar of the fire and explosion as the flames engulfed their victims.
"Dreams or Reality. Friends or Family. Mari or Ivy."
Ryder fell into her arms, the sheer exhaustion of what had just happened wracking through his body so much that the only cure right now was that magical thing known as an embrace.
"If I just knew the truth, maybe I could decide."
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Please Ryder. Don't die."
"You wanted a way home, didn't you?"
"Ryder, are you insane? They'll kill you!"
"I have to do it Mari."
"The country is in turmoil, the government is using military action to contain those responsible for this attack. They are reassuring people that the perpetrators will be caught and normality will be restored as soon as possible."
"The whole city…what's happening?"
"Takeru, are you okay?"
"Run, run, run, as fast as you can. Nowhere is safe."
"Above all else, the government is reassuring civilians not to panic."
The flames rapidly raced up the sides of the pair of towers, licking upwards into the sky as a thunderous roar shook the very foundations of Tokyo itself, the fiery vortex smashing window after window and generating a catastrophic firestorm.
All went silent.
"Please Ryder, you have to hear me. You have to wake up," cried Ivy, leaning down by his hospital bedside and wiping away a tear from her eye, a futile effort as more began to pour, her words becoming but a whimper. "Please."
Dimensions Book Seven: Escapes
Until next time…