A note from the Hime no Argh herself-

Digimon does not belong to me, nor does its related characters and concepts. Now that we've gotten that over and done with...

This is a story about Ruki and about why she destroys Digimon- why she's so hard and cold. In all the animes I've seen, I notice that the hard characters almost always have very complicated backgrounds and histories. This is my guess as to what Ruki's history might be.

I kept only the Tamers' names true to the Japanese version; everything else is as it is when dubbed. One last thing- I've never played a Digimon card game in my life, so please forgive me if I messed up a few things. That's all, and please review!

* * *

A Piece to the Puzzle
Ruki's Story


"How can you do this for sport? It's real, Ruki! They're real! They're not part of some game!"

I stared into Takato's furious eyes. Why was he irritating me again? It seemed to be his life mission to change my views on Digimon, ever since Renamon and I had attacked his Digimon, Guilmon, after he bio-emerged into this world. I regretted that battle, if only because it had made this bothersome, would-be Tamer annoy me since.

"It is a game." My voice was calm and emotionless. "Renamon and I are playing a game, and failure is not an option."

Takato directed his anger to Renamon. "And you! Going along with her like this! You should know better!"

My eyes, hidden under dark sunglasses, flickered to Renamon to see her reaction. She gazed back at Takato levelly; her voice was as calm as mine when she replied. "I follow Ruki. What she wants me to do, I do."

Takato looked at me. His eyes betrayed him- his naivete, his innocence. Childs' eyes. So certain of his own view, that Digimon are real, that they are the equal of humans. And with a partner like Guilmon, who could blame him?

"I haven't been a Tamer as long as you have," he said in a would-be quiet voice, barely concealing his fury. "But I know something you don't- Digimon are living, breathing creatures, and you cannot treat them as if this is a video game."

"You have your views, and I have mine." I smirked. "Excuse me, but I think I hear a Digimon calling- begging to be destroyed."

Takato's eyes flashed, and before I could move, he had grabbed my hand and placed it over Renamon's forearm.

"There!" Takato yelled furiously, dancing back. "I bet you've never even touched her before, have you? Feel that? That's life you're touching!"

Life. I shivered instinctively. This is life I'm touching. Why was I letting Takato get to me? He was nothing to me. His words were nothing to me. They shouldn't be anything to me. But why...?

Maybe it was Renamon. Maybe it was the feel of her soft, silky fur, the feel of hard muscles under warm flesh. I met her eyes; she was watching me. Waiting to see my reaction. Tentatively I drew my hand from her arm. Takato was right about one thing- I had never touched her.

I shut my eyes. "You don't know me," I told Takato, my voice harsh. "You don't know why I do what I do. How dare you judge me?"

"Then tell me why you do what you do. So I don't make that mistake again."

I shook my head and turned from him, ready to walk away from this as I had been doing for the last few months. But then I felt a strong, warm hand close on my elbow.

"Ruki." It was Renamon. "I think it's time to let it go."

Let it go. In an eyeblink, I was transported back. Back months ago in time. Back to a run-down, roach-infested building that smelled of cheap alcohol. Back to a lonely, timid, terrified girl without a friend in the world. Back to that time before Digimon. Before Renamon.

* * *

I stuffed my cards into their box as quickly and quietly as I could, desperate to sneak out before he heard me.

"RUKI!"

I jumped at his voice, scattering cards left and right. Cursing under my breath, I grabbed them up in shaking fingers and dumped them into the box. "What?" I snapped.

I had to duck as an empty can of beer was thrown at me. It struck the wall instead. "Don't you take that tone with me!" he growled, his speech slurred by alcohol. "Where the hell d'you think you're going?"

I shoved the box into my knapsack and shouldered it quickly. "To a tournament," I said quietly. "In West Shijuku."

"You'd damned well better be back in time to cook dinner, you hear me?"

I shut my eyes, wishing I were far away. "Yes, sir," I whispered, and ran out of the building. I ran, and I ran, letting the wind dry burning tears in my eyes.

So he was my father. What right did he have to try and control me like that? He didn't. He had no right. I know this now.

If only I'd known it then.

* * *

The tournament was organized by West Shijuku's park officials. It was held in the park, in a pretty picnic area surrounded by trees. It was just an amateur thing; the prizes were small and anyone could register to play. They had different divisions for beginning and advanced players. I was in the advanced category, of course.

When I arrived, completely winded and five minutes late for my final game, the semifinal was still going on. The players were Ryoki Mitsuko, a kid I knew only from this tournament, and Lee Jenrya. Lee lived here in West Shijuku and played cards almost as well as I did, and I think he considered me a friend. I worked at his mother's office during the summer, shuffling papers and licking envelopes.

I must admit, I was jealous of Lee. He lived in a beautiful apartment with a cute little sister and parents who loved him, while I lived with my drunkard of a father in a crappy building infested with vermin. Most of the residents called it the Roach Motel, and with good reason.

I covered my eyes with a pair of violet-tinted sunglasses and stood on my toes to see over the crowd. Lee and Ryoki kneeled on a raised platform, their cards spread out between them. Lee slapped down a Wargreymon card, and his foe groaned. It seemed he was out of luck.

"The winner!" the commentator announced as the crowd began to put their hands together. "Lee Jenrya of West Shijuku!"

Lee grinned in a modest sort of way as he gathered his cards together. "Hang tight, folks, we'll have the final match coming up in just a few minutes," the commentator added. Lee hopped off the platform and threaded his way through the crowd to my side.

"Hey, Ruki," he said as casually as if this were a day at the beach, but a broad grin was still on his face. "Glad you could make it."

I removed the sunglasses. "I almost couldn't."

Lee looked at me, really looked at me. The grin faded; a questioning look appeared in his gray eyes. "You okay, Ruki?"

"I'm fine."

"No, really. You look a little pale."

I looked at him, meeting his eyes, then nodded toward the platform. "They're ready for us."

Lee sighed and slipped back through the crowd as I followed. "Let's welcome our contestants to the final!" the commentator boomed as Lee and I took our places on the platform and prepared our cards. "Lee Jenrya of West Shijuku, and Ruki Makino of Narika!"

The crowd watched enthusiastically as the match got underway. It was close, and it was intense. Lee was getting better. A couple of times he caught me with cards that he'd slyly kept to himself, but I managed to keep him in check. I wasn't the best card player in Tokyo for nothing.

In the end, my Imperialdramon ruled out his Wargreymon card. The match was mine.

"Congratulations, Ruki!" the commentator bellowed enthusiastically as the watching crowd clapped and cheered.

Lee smiled ruefully and offered me a hand. "Good match, Ruki."

I grasped his hand firmly. "Thanks," I said with a ghost of a smile. "You're getting better, you know. You nearly caught me there with a couple of cards."

We walked together out of the park under the dying sun, each of us thinking our own thoughts. We reached the road were we would part ways; him back home, me to the bus station.

"You want to come over for dinner?" Lee asked casually. "My mom's making meat loaf- it's not the best I've had, but at least it's better than the school cafeteria's."

I tried a smile and failed. "I can't. I have to make dinner at home tonight."

"Oh. Okay." Lee gave me a sideways glance, but I was wearing my sunglasses again, hiding my emotions. Useful things, those glasses.

"See you around." I headed off toward the bus station, carrying my box of cards under one arm.

I was a couple of blocks from the stop, jogging so that I would make the bus, when a couple of kids ran into me, knocking me to the ground and scattering my cards left and right. The kids gave me no more than a quick glance before laughing and darting off.

"Idiots!" I snarled. "Jerks!"

Muttering darkly, I grabbed a handful of cards and shoved them into the box. Two blocks ahead of me I saw the bus coming to a stop. "Don't leave without me, don't leave without me," I begged as I gathered my cards as quickly as I could. "My dad'll kill me- what the hell...?"

I looked at the card clutched in my right hand, letting the rest slip through my fingers. It was blue (blue? What is this? Digimon cards are green) and it had a picture of Digimon etched on the front in yellow. With its elongated snout and full, bushy tail, the Digimon resembled a fox. It was drawn in a computer design, blocky and very primitive.

I heard the bus's exhale of exhaust, the ground trembling slightly as it pulled away. I remained kneeling, staring at the card. What was this? It wasn't mine. I knew every card in my box, and this was definitely not one of them.

I blinked, dug in a pocket, and removed my D-terminal. This terminal didn't store Digi-eggs, but it did analyze Digimon cards. I slid the blue card through the slot.

The was a crackling noise and a burst of light; a hot jolt went through my fingertips like an eletrocution. I yelled and dropped the D-terminal; it clattered to the ground and lay peacefully, its strange behavior over. I stuck my fingers in my mouth and stared at it, unnerved.

The blue card lay tightly wedged in the slot. After a few moments, I tentatively poked the terminal with a finger. Nothing happened. Letting out a breath, I picked up the terminal, grasped the card, and tugged hard. It didn't move.

"Great," I muttered. "It's broken. Stupid card."

* * *

I waited three hours for the bus to Narika to come, and rode for another two hours through gridlock traffic. My nails were chewed ragged by the time the bus finally dropped me off in front of the Roach Motel. It was eleven o'clock at night. Hookers patrolled the sidewalk while strange men sitting on the steps of the Motel leered at me as I passed.

I trembled as I snuck into my apartment as quietly as possible. It was dark; the lights were out. Maybe he wouldn't notice me. Maybe he'd drunk too much again and passed out. No such luck.

I ducked barely in time as a bottle was thrown at me. It struck the wall and shattered, broken pieces of glass raining down on me. I danced away from the wreckage and tried to see my father through the gloom.

"Where the hell were you?" he bellowed in his usual slurred speech, advancing. "I told you to be back in time to make dinner!"

"I'm sorry," I mumbled, backing away. "I missed the bus-"

He lashed out, striking me across the face with a hard fist. I let out a strangled cry and pressed my hand against my cheek. "Daddy, please...I didn't mean to-"

Shut your damned mouth, bitch!" He slapped me, punched me, kicked me, blows raining down. I curled into a ball and held shaking hands over my face, and still he continued to beat every part of my body he could reach. He loomed over me like the monster of my nightmares, his shadow hiding the welts and bruises that his beating left.

He stopped punching me, only to remove his belt.

"Daddy," I choked. "Don't-"

He raised the belt, but before he could bring it down there came a terrible, piercing whistle -a shriek that made my hands fly to my ears- and then there was light, dazzling, blinding light illuminating the entire appartment. My father stumbled back and covered his eyes. "ARRRRGH!" he roared, blinded.

I didn't think- I grabbed my box and my knapsack and I hurtled myself out of the apartment, down staircases and halls of the Roach Motel; I sailed out the doorway and down the front steps. My feet hit the pavement and I was running, running like there was no tomorrow, faster than I'd ever run before, without pausing for so much as a breath. I ran and I ran and I didn't look back once; it was too late, I couldn't look back, couldn't ever go back. My life in that crappy apartment with an abusive father was finished.

When I tripped over some loose gravel and fell hard to the pavement, ripping my jeans and scraping knees and elbows raw, I screamed. It was the harsh, painful scream of a torn and broken child; I screamed my rage and pain to a deaf street until my throat died. And silently I picked myself up off the street and staggered off again.

* * *

I walked westward for hours. I think I was heading toward West Shijuku; I really wasn't sure. It was a painful trip, and the sky was beginning to lighten when I looked up and saw the twin towers.

So. I was in West Shijuku. I sat down on the front steps of some building, holding my face in my hands. I didn't know what to do anymore. I was homeless, friendless. I had nowhere to go. No family in the city. No friends. I wasn't one to make friends easily.

I thought of Lee. I had worked for his family long enough that they probably had an affection for me, as I knew Lee did. If I went to his house, they'd take me in and help me. But that would mean telling them everything. There was no way I could hide the bruises on my face. I'd have to tell them the entire story, and my shame and misery was too great for that.

I thought about those moments back in the apartment, when the light had appeared suddenly, giving me the chance to escape. What was that light? It was a stupid thought, but I could've sworn it had come from the left pocket of my jacket.

I sighed and dug my hand in and extracted…a digivice.

I stared at it. What was this? Where had this come from? I knew what had been in that pocket- it was the broken D-terminal that the blue card was stuck in. But both the blue card and the terminal had disappeared, and were replaced by…a digivice.

This was impossible. Digivices did not just appear where terminals and cards had been. And what was even stranger- this model of digivice wasn't like any I'd ever seen. It was not a Digimon Adventures digivice, and it was not a D-3.

Was this what had produced the light?

"What the hell is going on here?" I asked aloud. There was no reply.

But then there was something…it was like a slow pulse through the earth, a tremor almost, and for a moment I panicked, thinking it might be the beginning of an earthquake. But the tremor was too slow, and it was there and then gone- just a wave passing beneath me.

And suddenly the digivice in my hand went crazy, buzzing and shrieking and jumping. Startled, I yelled and dropped it. It clattered to the ground and jumped like something possessed, shrieking so loudly it surely woke someone up.

Then it was suddenly quiet and still. A shiver passed through it, and a picture appeared on the screen- a circle with four red arrows, and a fifth arrow spinning wildly in the center.

"A compass?" I whispered.

I hesitated for a moment, then picked up the digivice, holding it by the edges as though it might go crazy again. It didn't. The arrow in the circle spun for a few more seconds…then stopped. It was pointing at the twin towers.

I gulped and looked up at the towers, then back down at the digivice. My compass was pointing as plain as day, but why did it want me to go to the towers?

Well, I thought ruefully, it's not like I have anywhere else to be.

I took a breath, and set off for the towers.

* * *

The compass took me around the towers to an abandoned, dusty lot. It looked as though they'd started building something and never finished; there were piles of bricks and sand and old construction machinary lying around. The compass had disappeared the moment I entered the site, so I figured I was in the right place.

I looked around. There was not a soul in sight.

I must be insane, I thought, closing my eyes. I bet that compass was never even there in the first place. In fact, I bet there's no digivice. When I open my eyes, it'll be gone.

I opened my eyes. No such luck.

"Dammit," I whispered, pacing around a bit. "Dammit, dammit, dammit."

I stopped short in pacing. There it was again. That tremor in the earth.

"God!" I screamed to the empty lot. "If something's going to show up and kill me or whatever, just get it over with!"

Then a blinding light exploded from somewhere in front of me. I shrieked, dropping the digivice as I covered my eyes. The light dimmed slightly and I opened my eyes tentatively- an enormous column of light had appeared in front of me.

Stupid, Ruki. Invite something to come and kill you.

Sure enough, there was a dark shape forming in the center of the column. It was a rather small dark shape, barely taller than I was. I stared up at it wonderingly, wanting to run but frozen in place, unmovable.

The shadow came into focus. Detail appeared. Tan fur. A bushy tail. Long arms covered by purple gloves.

Purple gloves?

The shadow looked like a Digimon. In fact, it looked like the Digimon I had seen on the blue card.

My mouth fell open. The column slowly faded away, leaving the Digimon floating in midair. It was curled in a fetal position, legs drawn against its chest, face covered with its clawed hands.

Then the hands slowly pulled away. Blue eyes opened.

"Ruki?" it said.

I fainted.

* * *

My eyes opened slowly. Everything was out of focus. I felt as though I'd been run over by a truck- everything was aching. I moaned and rubbed my eyes, then opened them again.

And saw a pair of blue eyes in a reddish-brown, furry face.

"AHHHHHH!" I shrieked.

The thing standing over me lept back, startled, and gazed at me warily. I sat up very slowly, trying to edge away from it without seeming too obvious. Then I recognized it- it was the Digimon. The one on the blue card. The one that had appeared in the column of light.

"Who are you?" I demanded, too confused to be very scared.

It continued to stare at me. Finally it said simply, "Renamon."

Its voice was deep, husky, and feminine. Between that and the Digimon's slim build, I decided this one must be a female.

"Ah…I'm Ruki."

"I know."

"Oh." I stared at her for a moment longer, then cleared my throat nervously. "Ah, how?"

Renamon blinked at me. "I've been searching for you," she said calmly. "Ever since you opened a gate for me to bio-emerge."

I stared at her. My brain was way too tired to make sense of that.

"You are a Tamer, aren't you?" Renamon asked. Her expression made it clear that she was wondering whether or not I was some kind of idiot.

"Tamer?" I wasn't doing much to change her opinion, but as I said, my brain was exhausted. Then I remembered the title- it was what most Digimon card- and game-players called themselves. Tamers. Would-be masters of Digimon.

"Yes, I suppose," I replied doubtfully. I was a champion card player, after all.

Renamon nodded. "Well, then, we shall be working together." Before I could say anything to that, she added, "Why is your face covered with dark spots?"

I blinked at her in surprise and touched my black eye. I winced- the bruise was sorer than I realized. "My...um...my dad..." I bit my lip, and whispered bitterly, "My father beat me up."

"Ah." Renamon's voice was suddenly cold. I looked at her; her blue eyes were as hard as diamonds. "Shall I destroy this person for you?"

So cold. So casual. Shall I destroy this person for you? I was shocked. My throat worked, but no sound came out. I thought about it for a moment, really thought about it, the idea of my fatehr being dead. Of never having to be afraid again.

I shook my head violently. "No. You can't just destroy a human being."

"Why? I destroy Digimon."

"You do?" I stared at her.

"I have."

No pity. No mercy. She was something I could never be, powerful and unafraid. A part of me was repulsed by her coldness, but a part of me was bitterly jealous.

"It- it's different. Don't- don't destroy him. It wouldn't be right."

"Very well." Renamon's gaze swept me from head to toe. "If this person you call 'father' attempts to hurt you again, however, I will kill him."

"If you insist," I said weakly. I was way too tired for this. I hadn't slept in two days, and now the sun was rising over this empty site, and I had nowhere to go, and at the moment I felt like doing nothing more than sitting in the dirt and crying.

I pushed back the urge. "I, ah...um, sorry if I'm being rude, but I'm going to sleep. I can't keep my eyes open a minute longer."

Renamon nodded. "Where?"

I looked around. The dirt would be well enough. "Here, I guess. I'm so tired I could sleep on nails." I sat down in the dirt, hesitated for a moment, then stretched out fully. "Wake me before nightfall. I don't want to get caught here in the dark." I closed my eyes, and I was asleep.

* * *

I slept uneasily into late afternoon, slumbering dreamlessly and waking at intervals to see a pair of fox-like feet next to my head. As far as I knew, Renamon stood guard over me the entire time I was sleeping, never leaving my side.

I woke up as the sky was beginning to turn orange. I sat up with a wide yawn, rubbing tired muscles, and looked around.

Renamon was still standing beside me. She was staring eye-for-eye with an old man wearing a torn pair of jeans and a dirty old jacket.

"What the...?" I said stupidly, still not fully awake.

Renamon didn't bat an eye. "This man has been watching us for quite some time. I thought you might be angry if I attacked him without permission. May I kill him now?"

The old man's eyes widened. "Whoa, man...you need to chill! Relaaaax, y'know what I'm sayin'?" It occured to me then that this man was homeless, and probably high, too.

"No, you may not kill him," I said to Renamon.

The old guy smiled. "You girls are invadin' my lot, y'know that? Not that I mind the company." He winked exaggeratedly.

I realized that he was harmless, just a high old bum, not a crazy axe-murderer like I'd been thinking. "Don't worry, Renamon, he's not going to hurt us," I assured my tense Digimon. "Calm down." Renamon relaxed about three hairs.

"Renamon, huh? Is that this lady's name?" The old man grinned at me. "She's foxy." He laughed at his pun, a high-pitched giggle.

I smiled faintly as I climbed to my feet. "We'll be going now. C'mon, Renamon."

Renamon followed me out of the lot, still glancing back warily at the old man. "Bye bye, miss," he called to me. "Bye, Reh-na-mawn."

* * *

"I should go home," I said softly as Renamon and I walked through back alleys and empty city streets.

"Why?"

"I don't know- to see how my dad is, I guess. He can't manage without me."

"He'll hurt you again."

I stopped walking and stood with my shoulders hunched and my hands in my pockets, wanting to disappear. I hated Renamon for saying that, and I hated myself for hating her, when she was only telling the truth. What the hell did I want to go back to my fatehr for, anyway? It was true, that he couldn't manage without me- he was a stupid lazy-ass drunk who had a shitty job that paid nothing. But why would I care what happened to him?

"You don't realize," I told Renamon in a would-be calm voice, trying to make her -and myself- understand. "I don't have anywhere else to go. It was my only home."

"If you want to go, then go. I won't stop you. I'll come with you." There was a bit of menace in that last part, the same menace that had been in Renamon's voice when she told me she would kill my father, if he hurt me again.

"I want to go," I confessed, and I did- though God only knew why.

* * *

It was night again when Renamon and I arrived in Narika. We walked through quiet streets that got shittier and shittier as we entered the bad part of town- in which the Roach Motel was smack in the middle of. Renamon went as herself- it was dark enough that no one would see who she really was unless they were right next to us.

"Do you smell that?" I asked Renamon in a whisper as we neared my neighborhood. "It smells like smoke."

Renamon fixed a glittering blue eye on me. "You've only just noticed it now?"

I looked at her- and gulped. I had a bad feeling about this. I began to walk faster.

The crowd on the streets thickened as we got closer to the Roach Motel, and they all seemed to be heading in our direction. Renamon lept up onto the building roofs when she realized that someone might see her. I hardly noticed as I hurried on toward my building.

When I saw the crowd and the cameras and the yellow police tape, my first thought was that I made a wrong turn. This wasn't my building, reduced to nothing but a charred, hollow shell, with fireman carrying bodies from the wreckage. It couldn't be my building.

I pressed through the crowd and stopped when I heard one of the policemen talking.

"Only three dead- Sunaka, Mariko, and Tokeshi. Get them down to the coroners' and have them examined..."

I didn't hear the rest. I think I may have gone temporarily deaf. There was nothing in my ears but a hollow, rushing sound- like the ocean-like noise you'd hear in a conch shell.

I backed out of the crowd.

"It was a Digimon, Ruki," a soft voice said behind me. I whirled and saw a middle-aged man standing there, a man wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses, with sandy browd hair. He was rolling a steel lighter through his fingertips.

"What did you say?" I managed to choke through the heavy lump in my throat.

"I said it was a Digimon," he replied, his eyes hidden behind the sunglasses. "A Digimon killed your father, and did that to your home. A tragedy...but one that can always be avenged."

I stared at him. He shrugged at me, turned, walked into the crowd and disappeared. My mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out.

I heard a soft thwap as Renamon landed beside me. "Who was that?" she asked in her cold, menacing voice.

"Someone." I said it dully. "He told me a Digimon killed my father."

Renamon looked at me. "Do you want me to kill this Digimon for you?"

I looked at her. Looked at her cold blue eyes, at her calm expression. She did not pity. She did not doubt. I wished I could be like her.

"Yes," I whispered. "Kill him."

Renamon merely nodded.

* * *

"So there you have it," I said bitterly to Takato. "Now you have the story. It wasn't what you were expecting, was it?"

Takato gaped at me. He seemed beyond words.

I looked at the ground hatefully, trying to hold back burning tears. When I'd gotten myself under control, I spoke again. "I don't know why I should care. The way my father treated me, I should've been glad that Digimon destroyed him. But I was angry, instead. So terribly angry."

I looked at Takato, and met his gaze. The gaze of an innocent child like I had been once, so very long ago.

"And now you know." I smiled bitterly. "Now you know why I destroy Digimon."

* * *

End.

* * *

So how was it? I hope it was at least well-written. I know it was very abrupt, but I meant it to be that way, really. Please review and tell me what you think!