Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
A Gesture of Friendship
A Digimon Tamers story by: Crazyeight
It was a clear, sunny day in the city of Shinjuku. It was one of those warm, spring days where all of a person's troubles and worries were left behind and hanging out with ones friends and doing nothing but enjoying each other's company was considered the greatest thing that one could do with their leisure time. It was a time of friendship; a time of caring; a time of love, and the sound of chirping birds making their music set the tone of the day, drawing smiles from just about everyone who heard them and walked beneath the branches of the trees that they roosted in. For this one moment, all in the world was perfect, and all of life's problems could never be farthest…
A broad smile graced Takato Matsuki's face as he walked through the paths of the park, his mind cast adrift on the winds of thought and memory as he reflected on times long past, and those of a more recent vintage. As he made his way down the familiar, well-worn pathways of Shinjuku Park, Takato wondered if it was possible for anything to be better then things were now. The company of a good friend, conversation, and hanging out… what more could one ask for?
Well, maybe for Guilmon to be here to enjoy this too, thought Takato as his red colored eyes became downcast for a moment as he thought of his crimson scaled digimon partner, who was presently at home enjoying all the culinary delights of his families bakery. But he was the one who insisted that I enjoy these little outings without him. Don't know why really, but whenever I ask him he's always adamant that he let me do this on my own and he never gives a reason.
Takato rolled through the possibilities that his bread consuming, reptilian partner (or the bread scarfing doofus as a couple friends have referred to him as in the past) might have for not wanting to hang out with him during this particular event before eventually giving up on it. He just couldn't make heads or tails of it and Guilmon wouldn't say anything more on the subject either except that 'he felt that it wasn't right to intrude' and that seemed to be all the answer that the fire breathing dinosaur needed.
Well, everyone has their reasons I guess, commiserated Takato as he folded his hands behind his head, his fingers fiddling lightly at the elastic band that held his goggles onto his forehead, smiling fondly at the memories that they brought to mind. It had been two and a half years since the day that he had become a Tamer, and he still continued to wear the goggles that had been his (as well as a couple fictional characters) trademark. He wore them less often nowadays, but he liked to take them out whenever he was off on Tamer duties or for a special occasion. Besides, he was so used to them that he didn't always think about how odd they made him look to the world around him and more often then not, simply put them on because it was a reflex from those early days. And it wasn't as though anyone raised a complaint about them…well, with the exception of two people, one of whom was walking next to him.
Takato's smile became softer and more reflective as his gaze settled the person who walked next to him as she calmly, with graceful motions that was neither too slow nor rushed, raised a spoon to her mouth from the bowl that she held and stuck it in, and deftly removing it a second later and returning to the bowl. Mysterious, violet eyes flashed in the sunlight as they turned to meet his own, magenta ones, and a small, playful smirk appeared on the girl's features.
"You're going to regret this Gogglehead," said Rika Nonaka as she eyed him for a moment, gauging his reaction. Closing his eyes, Takato fidgeted with his hair, as he felt slightly uneasy under Rika's scrutinizing gaze. Takato felt a nervous laugh building up inside his chest but for the time being he managed to hold it down.
"W-Why's that, Rika?"
Without answering his question in words, as she had taken the moment to once again raise the spoon from the bowl that she was holding into her mouth, Rika indicated the bowl that she was holding and Takato's eyes followed it reflexively, raising an eyebrow as he did so. The bowl that she was holding was simple in appearance, white colored and with a plastic, circular construction befitting that of a normal consumer product. On the surface it appeared to be nothing special, but it was what lay within it that was the subject of Rika's claim that Takato was going to be regretful. In it, nestled within its curved depths, were two scoops of fresh ice cream.
Takato looked back up at Rika, having missed the girl's point.
"I don't get it," he said finally. Rika chuckled lightly before speaking again. Her tone carried a smooth, but teasing sound to it that made Takato think that she was a cat that had just caught its prey and fully intended to play with it before delivering the coupe de grace.
Ryo's right. Rika is a Wildcat…though somehow I don't think that she'd appreciate hearing that from me.
"Well, if you want me to spell it out for you…"
Takato shook his head, and his smile, which had been simple and reflective just a few minutes earlier, now became lopsided and quirky. Uncertain…
"Uh…am I missing something here? I mean it's only the ice cream I bought for you…"
"That's kind of my point Takato," said Rika, her voice becoming a bit more serious now, but still not yet losing its teasing, playfulness. "You, bought me, ice cream…"
Takato scratched his head in confusion, feeling as though he actually had missed something somewhere in the conversation. It wasn't as though this was the first time he had done something for her, just like today wasn't the first time that they had gone out and done something together as friends.
In the two and a half years that they had been friends they had grown to be pretty close, something that they had both would have thought impossible during the early days of their Tamer careers, mainly because of the fact that their first encounters generated more fighting between them then any friendliness. Rika had made it pretty clear in the beginning, though not in so many words (as her actions tended to speak much louder and often got her point across with little trouble), that she was not interested in being friends with either him or Henry, but events, as well as the efforts of her digimon partner Renamon, had helped change that. Something for which Takato was immensely grateful. The past year had seen some recent changes in how they interacted with each other, such as today for example, in that they tended to hang out with each other, and only each other on a more regular basis (though this did nothing to alter the number of times that they were with the rest of their friends by any means). A couple of their friends had commented on it before, but so far nothing more came out of it then just simple observation. For Takato's part, if he had been asked, it was simply because he wanted to get to know her better and that was the truth behind it. There had once been a time, almost a year ago to the day, when they had spent some time together (oddly enough, at Rika's request), and it had ended rather badly. Not that anything particularly bad had happened between them, it was more that things had been awkward between them. They just weren't used to the setting, and it seemed that they had little to say to each other. Takato had looked back on that day as another one of his failings, and feeling that he had let Rika down in some manner he had done what he could to make up for it, though through the months that had followed no real opportunity had presented itself…that is, until the winter festival…
Since the day of the winter festival, whenever Takato thought too deeply about the friendship that he had with the red headed girl that he was presently sharing the day with, he wondered about how things had changed between them, and if he was supposed to be taking a hint about something and it was flying over his head. For some reason, he felt as though that had been happening a lot more lately…
"But…" Takato began as his smile faltered, the uncertainty growing in his heart, making Takato wonder if he was possibly doing something wrong with getting Rika the ice cream. "You said that you were feeling a bit hungry and you didn't bring any money with you today…"
Rika sighed in exasperation as she stuck some more of the ice cream into her mouth, as though wondering how it was that Takato could be so naïve and oblivious.
"The gesture was nice Takato, I'll give you that," said Rika as she once again turned her gaze to the brown haired boy. "And I do appreciate it, but," Rika took a moment to have a little bit more ice cream before continuing. "…But…it feels a little too close to making us look like we're dating…"
Takato's eyebrows shot up in surprise at that, and all of a sudden the air around his face began to feel just a little bit warmer.
"But we aren't…uh…are we?"
Oh great, thought Takato as Rika's face suddenly bloomed with a light blush of her own at the rather dumb sounding question. Nice going Matsuki…
"Just when I think that you can't get any weirder," muttered Rika as she quickly downed the rest of her ice cream and upon spying a nearby trashcan quickly dumped the plastic bowl before stuffing her hands in her jeans pockets, hmmphing in irritation as she valiantly fought down the burning redness that darkened her cheeks.
"Ah…um…" Takato stammered as the redness that enveloped his own face, coupled with his sudden nervousness towards Rika, made him stumble over his words. In the end, all he was able to do was blurt out a, "S-Sorry."
Rika turned a critical eye to him, her embarrassment now replaced with a look of annoyance.
"There you go again…if it's not your mouth saying something dumb it's saying something that's unnecessary."
"Hey!" Exclaimed Takato defensively.
"What?" Asked Rika, a small, playful smirk once again appearing on her face. "Admit it Takato, you do apologize a lot, even when there's no need to. After all the time that we've been friends you still act like I'm going to pummel you for acting the way you do. How long have we been hanging out like this? Seven months? Trust me, if I wasn't happy with you about something I'd have let you know."
"It's not that," said Takato as he looked down at the ground, his blush fading back a bit. "It's just…sometimes…I don't know. Seven months is a long time, but even so I don't always feel like I'm up at your level. I mean, I thought that I used to know you before but after that time when we went to the winter festival together it was like everything just…opened up, you know? Sometimes I feel like I'm left behind and you're always having to come back and drag me along and…" Takato looked back up at Rika, his eyes containing a mixture of sadness and confusion. "…This…it's just so much different from everything that I was used to before..."
Rika tilted her head to one side, one elegant eyebrow raised in confusion as she tried to understand what Takato was saying.
"So…what? Are you saying that you don't want to hang around with me anymore? Is that it?" Rika was beginning to sound angry now, and as though it had been a trigger, Takato felt his own frustration rise, and turn towards himself.
"No! It's not…I mean…" I really need to figure out how to express myself better… "Rrrrgh! I just wish that I really knew how to make you happy!"
Rika looked at the boy for a moment, her brow furrowed before turning away, a wistful expression appearing on her face before she glanced back at her friend.
"You already do, Takato."
Takato blinked, his frustration evaporating instantly as it transformed into confusion. "Say wha…? But…the ice cream…you…"
Rika shook her head at Takato as he fumbled over his sentences and walked back over to him, placing a hand on his shoulder as she came to a stop in front of him, causing Takato to flinch reflexively at her touch. Takato's blush deepened as a result of the contact and Rika frowned, as though uncertain what to make of his sudden discomfort.
"Look Takato. I don't know whatever gave you the impression that you're holding me back, but let's get one thing straight between us. You don't, so just get that thought out of your head before I really get angry with you. As for the ice cream…I'm not going to get mad at you about something like that, and it's stupid of you to think that way in the first place! You should know that much by now at least! We're friends, and if we enjoy hanging out with each other and doing things for each other then we should no matter what anyone thinks. I was just making a point about how we looked together because of your…gesture, that was all and of course you just had to take it and run off the edge of a cliff with it." Rika gave a small, soft smile, as she looked Takato fully in the eyes. "Not that that can't be a good thing sometimes. At least you're entertaining…"
Takato looked into Rika's eyes, feeling his cheeks heat up just a little bit more as he stared into their sparkling depths, once more getting a strange feeling that he was getting a hint and missing it completely.
"I just…" Takato began, feeling the need to explain himself and his reasons for acting the way he did. "I…uh…wouldn't want you to h-have a repeat of…um…the day we went to see the Cherry Blo…"
"Takato," interrupted Rika, her voice much softer now as she removed her hand from his shoulder and placed it on his cheek so that she could shut him up and get his attention. "Some time you'll need to learn to stop talking and actually think about what you're going to say. You get into enough trouble already because of it, and I'd hate to see you ruin something…important…because of…that…"
Rika's voice trailed off as she glanced over at her hand, still pressed to Takato's cheek, as if noticing its location for the first time. Takato, whose mind had just now awoken to the fact that it was there, flushed a deep crimson at it, and his mind began to unravel at the girl's touch. Rika looked at her hand for a few moments, and almost as if by magic, her thumb began carressing Takato's cheek thoughtfully, gently… soothingly. A spot of white in a sea of red…
Takato gulped as he looked into Rika's eyes. His mouth had suddenly gone very dry…
"R-Rika?" Takato stuttered, his voice barely above a whisper. There was something about the way that Rika was looking at him that made him feel…strange. Like there were butterflies fluttering about inside him, a feeling that he normally only got when their mutual friend, and his crush, Jeri was around, but why was he feeling that here? And towards Rika? They were just friends…
Rika was silent as she gazed into his eyes, her expression serious. It was very hard to tell what was going through her mind right now. And…Takato suddenly noticed that Rika was a lot closer to him then she had been earlier. Her eyes were sliding shut, and her lips parted slightly as she leaned towards him. Takato's skin tingled as he felt the faint gusts of her breath touching his lips as she leaned even closer…Takato's mind tried to catch up to what was happening, tried desperately to find some coherent explanation for what was going on but was lagging terribly. The world felt as though it was spinning out of control…
…The last thing that he could clearly recall in that chaotic moment was a nervous, energetic pulse fluttering in his chest when he felt a pair of soft, warm lips beginning to press against his. Rika's hand stayed pressed against his face…her thumb continuing to glide along his cheekbone…
Suddenly Rika jumped as her cell phone went off, breaking the connection between them, and Takato's view of the world snapped back into focus. His face flushed, his ears burning from the heat. Takato blinked his eyes as he opened his mouth in an effort to say something, anything, but as of yet he couldn't even muster the willpower to speak. In fact, it was amazing that he was still standing…
Rika was red faced from embarrassment as she pulled out her cell phone and flicked it open.
"Hello…? Grandma! Oh…yeah, uh…sorry. I know that I was supposed to be back now but…Takato and I…we…just lost track of time." Rika laughed that last part out nervously, the blush on her face lightening visibly as a cool breeze washed over them. "Hmmm? No… No. We…uh…we weren't doing anything important. We were just…talking… and…um… Look. I'll be heading home now so I'll see you then, okay? Okay…bye."
Rika hung up her cell phone and quickly pocketed it, and looking up at Takato with an apologetic look before hesitating, and changing into something that looked almost…confused. And perhaps…regretful?
"I…uh…" Rika jerked her thumb over her shoulder, indicating the path behind her. "I gotta go…so I'll…um…see you tomorrow, okay?"
Takato, still speechless from what had transpired between them nodded dumbly.
"Okay," said Rika, returning his nod as her face gained something more of that red discoloration to it. "Later."
With that, Rika moved past Takato and headed off down the path, not looking back as she did so. Takato, still caught in a daze watched her go, his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open, still working to try and speak while his brain fought to pull itself together. Distractedly, he noticed the familiar form of Renamon phasing in and out of view as she followed Rika, her partner, Tamer, and friend. For a moment, though Takato would never know for sure (or even remember it with how scrambled his brains were at the moment) it appeared that Renamon had taken a second too long with one of her teleportations and looked back at him thoughtfully…but then she was gone.
Finally, after Rika had long disappeared from his view, the gears in Takato's mind began to turn again, and a dazed thought echoed from the confused corners of his soul.
What…just happened here?
Takato suddenly felt that his life had just become a whole lot more complicated…