Date Started: February 22, 2008
Date Finished: February 27, 2008

Summary: Takato is willing to listen. Now if only Ruki would be willing to talk.


Hirokazu's day began as usual: with the loud blaring of an alarm clock that interrupted his sleep. He lazily rolled over onto his pillow in an attempt to fully awaken. He finally managed to silence the disrupting device as he sat upwards on his bed and stretched his back and arms up towards the ceiling. Unfortunately that had done little to help in fixing his sleep-deprived state, and his walk to the bathroom was slouched and sluggish.

He brushed his teeth an extra few minutes than he cared to realize, the pattern of the brushstrokes being all too mesmerizing at the time for his mind to tell when he should've finished. It wasn't until Hirokazu splashed his face with the cold tap water that he managed to come to his senses. It was only minutes later, when he went back to his room in order to get dressed, and then went into the kitchen to pick up the lunch his mother left him, that he was ready to leave for school.

He took his regular route by jogging through the park. He normally met up with Kenta and Takato along the way, stopping to play the Digimon Card Battle if there was sufficient time for it before class started.

Hirokazu came to an abrupt halt near Guilmon's hideout, catching what seemed to be the end of an argument between Takato and Ruki. Or rather, he soon realized, the argument may have been more one-sided in Ruki doing the yelling and Takato doing the pouting. Ruki was now storming off angrily in the opposite direction, her hands balled into fists, holding onto a sheet of paper, and Takato was left behind seemingly bewildered.

Hirokazu shrugged. He'd find out what happened between them sooner or later. He then announced his presence. "Oi! Takato! What's going on?"

Kenta's morning was simply uneventful. He woke up a tad bit too late and was pretty much expecting to spend the first half of homeroom out in the hallway waiting for his sensei to let him back in. Thankfully his mother was renting a car for the day. She had some errands to run out of town – car rental being her preferred choice of transportation – and was offering to drop him off on the school grounds. Kenta happily obliged, and was thus amongst the first students in the classroom.

Hirokazu arrived shortly after with Takato, and casually took his seat next to him. Takato stayed up front to speak with their sensei. It was too far out of earshot for Kenta to hear anything, but it seemed Takato was rather panicked.

Kenta leaned over towards Hirokazu's desk, where his friend was quietly snickering to himself as he watched Takato's display with amusement. "Say," Kenta began. "What's up with Takato?"

Hirokazu turned, his smirk not disappearing. "I don't know all the details, but it turns out Ruki stole Takato's homework."

"Huh?" Kenta voiced his confusion. "Why would she do that?"

A shrug from his classmate was the reply he received. "Beats me, but you gotta agree this stuff is hilarious. You should've seen him just standing there dumbly while Ruki just walked off with his paper."

Kenta frowned in thought. A voice from behind interrupted them. "That doesn't sound like Ruki-chan at all."

It was Katou Juri. Kenta replied. "It does somewhat seem like something Makino-san would do if she saw any reason for it. I just can't imagine what her reason could possibly be."

Juri had a pleasant slumber that night. While a few months ago, her sleep would've been plagued with worries and horrors, these days she slept peacefully more often than not. In general, she found it easier to fall asleep, easier to wake up, and more importantly easier to look forward to the rest of the day. She appreciated life now more than ever, and loved the feeling of being the early bird that wakens to see the sunrise every single morning.

As such, she was always the first student to class. Today was no different, and she was already seated when Kenta arrived. Albeit he was earlier than usual when he normally arrived with Takato and Hirokazu, he still came very late by Juri's standards. She stirred a bit in her seat in order to lean forward in her attempt for some idle chit chat as Kenta took his place at the desk in front of her.

Hirokazu and Takato took that moment to enter the classroom, and her attention wavered towards them instead. As Takato engaged their sensei in what seemed to be a rather awkward discussion, Juri silently wondered what it was about. It seemed that Kenta had thought the same, and turned to his side to exchange information with Hirokazu.

Apparently Ruki had stolen Takato's homework. Juri frowned, maintaining that wasn't something Ruki would do; however Kenta claimed otherwise – if there was motive to do so. Hirokazu even claimed to have witnessed the event!

It was absurd, Juri thought. And come lunch break, she did the only reasonable thing she could: she went to speak with Takato.

"It's just a silly misunderstanding," Takato defended. "It's not even about her taking my work, honest!"

So Ruki did take Takato's homework, Juri concluded, but she desired more information. That little conclusion was far from enough for her, and so she pressed on. "Then what's it really all about?"

Takato remained silent a moment. "I suppose I want us to be better friends – me and Ruki, I mean."

"I'm not quite sure I'm catching on," Juri said, raising a brow. "We're all very close friends, especially after everything that's happened in the last year."

"I suppose. It's just apparently not close enough."

Juri's confused silence pressed him to reason his words further. "There's something that's bothering Ruki. She won't talk about it with anyone, but I kind of know what it's about anyways."

That's all Juri really needed to hear. As soon as school was over, she packed up her knapsack and left to visit Ruki. Nobody knew better than Juri just how good of an ear Takato could lend, and she intended to let her dear friend know just that. And by the time Juri arrived at the Makino residence, Ruki had made it home, too.

"Hello, there!" Juri greeted her at the doorway.

"This better not be about what happened with me and Takato this morning," Ruki said suddenly, blocking the entrance.

"Oh, no, of course not," Juri insisted. It was at least somewhat true, anyway.

"Then what is it?"

"Mm! Takato mentioned something was troubling you."

Ruki sighed. "Juri…"

"Oh, he didn't mention what it was, of course. Just that he knew what it was and that you wouldn't talk about it."

"He already said too much," Ruki replied, turning around and walking into the household.

Juri followed suit. She thought about how to continue. "He listens," Juri tried to stress. "I find it a good thing to talk to him."

"I have Renamon to talk to," Ruki simply said, walking towards her room.

Juri smiled sadly. "It's nice that you have her to confide in."

And then Ruki came to a halt, turning around. "I'm sorry – I didn't mean…"

"Its fine," Juri said. "I have Takato now. He helped me get through… well, you know, everything."

Ruki nodded, and Juri continued. "If you were to give it a try, I think you'll realize there's probably nobody out there that will be as understanding as he is."

"That's debatable," Ruki said, her voice returning. "And what makes you think I want him to understand anything?"

Juri didn't seem to have a rebuttal, and allowed something elsewhere to catch her attention. "Oh, wow, you look so pretty. Did Takato draw this?"

She was pointing to a sketch of Ruki that hung on the wall. She could definitely see Takato's artistic style in the drawing. It was a black and white close-up of Ruki's features. Her face tilted, as if looking to the side. Renamon could be seen in the background, standing sideways, arms folded.

Ruki rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I saw him working on it this morning. Can you believe him? No way was I going to let him carry that around."

"If you're that upset about it, why tape it to the wall?" Juri asked. So it wasn't homework after all.

Ruki shrugged. "To remind him never to draw me again."

I had decided I'd camp out in the park last night - again. My parents were somewhat used to it. Mom was still overprotective, but at this point her concerns were more along the lines of 'Don't stay up too late! Guilmon may not have to get up early, but don't forget you have class to go to!'

Yeah, we've come a long way. But we didn't really stay up that late either. I had set up my sleeping bag by Guilmon in his hideout, and was now wide awake for the sunrise. The dawn of a new day usually tends to lead to artistic inspiration. Unfortunately ever since her birthday nearly two weeks ago, I've suffered from having Ruki constantly invading my thoughts.

Renamon was right. Ruki wasn't all about being talkative. She needed her space, and she'd come talk things over with me when she felt the need to. Although today would be the tenth day she hasn't said a word, and I was getting anxious. It shouldn't take this long for her to realize I'm here to listen to anything she'd like to talk about.

Would she really keep up her act of pretending nothing happened on that train? Maybe I should start off the discussion instead. Hum. "Hey Ruki, about your song that one time…"

No, that won't work. "I know you miss your father, tell me all about it."

Ugh, not a chance. I want to live to see the sunset, too. I tried to come up with something else, but I couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't leave me hospitalized by days end.

Regardless, the sunrise inspired me. And I had Ruki on my mind. So I started to sketch.

Guilmon woke up soon after. He walked up to me sitting just outside the hideout. "Morning, Takato!"

I smiled in return. He peeked over my shoulder to look at my drawing. "Pretty," he commented.

I looked at my wristwatch, checking the time. I'd have to leave for school soon, and neither Kenta nor Hirokazu had shown up yet. I returned to my sketch and Guilmon… Guilmon began rolling down the hill, accompanied by fits of laughs and giggles. Hah, so childish… so… him. If only Culumon was here to join in the fun as well.

As I was putting on some finishing touches, I heard a voice that made me shiver in fright – her voice. "What the heck is that?" she demanded.

I turned. "Uh – Ruki!"

"Yes, I can see it's me," she commended angrily.

Oh boy… "Do you like it?" I voiced meekly, trying to get on her good side. Somehow, I realized it was probably the wrong thing to ask.

"How dare you!" she then said. I didn't quite follow.

Instead I presented the sketch over to her. "It's for you," I tried again. Maybe she'd calm down.

She took the paper and looked it over. She didn't say a word.

"You know, you can talk to me." Boy was that the wrong thing to say.

Ruki eyed me carefully. "About what?"

I stuttered. I wasn't expecting her to ask that. Do I say the sketch? No, that's stupid. She'd be too embarrassed to say anything nice about it. What about why she's angry? Ugh, no, she expects me to know why. My mind raced a mile a minute and the only coherent words that came out of my mouth were: "Uh… you know…. choo choo?"

It was my awful attempt at imitating a train. Ruki didn't find it the least bit amusing. She turned and left, fists clenched, along with my sketch. I sighed, wondering how I allowed this to go so wrong. This simply couldn't get any worse.

"Oi! Takato! What's going on?" Hirokazu shouted from behind me.

Oh great. If he saw Ruki leaving… well, it just got worse.

Guilmon came up to me, too. "Takato, what's wrong?"

"Ruki's a bit upset," I said simply.

"That's an understatement," Hirokazu said. "What was she holding when she stormed off?"

"Just something I was working on," I said. I figured it best to not tell Hirokazu I was sketching Ruki.

"That's a bummer," He said. "Wonder why she'd take your homework."

I wondered where that misunderstanding had come from. Apparently for Hirokazu anything you would work on couldn't be anything other than homework. But I didn't want to question it, so I changed the topic. "Where's Guardromon?"

"In the garage," Hirokazu winked at me. "He's trying to fix up a motorbike he found in the junkyard the other day – trying to surprise me with it. He thinks I don't know about it yet."

I checked my watch again. Kenta was running late, and we couldn't wait for him any longer. I said my goodbyes to Guilmon and left for class with Hirokazu.

When we got to the school grounds, we saw Kenta being dropped off in a car. Hirokazu muttered something unintelligent and we raced off to catch up with him. We didn't manage until we entered the classroom. Hirokazu took his regular seat and I distracted myself with the sensei.

I figured I needed some advice on how to deal with Ruki. Unfortunately, my question about "a friend that needs someone to talk to but doesn't try to talk to anyone" got wrongly interpreted and sensei sent me off to counseling. Sigh, I miss my fifth grade teacher. Nami-sensei understood us.

During the lunch break, Juri caught up with me. She demanded I tell her why Ruki stole my homework. Darn that Hirokazu. He was already spreading what had happened.

I made it clear that it was a silly misunderstanding. That it wasn't even about my sketch… err… work. I had to remind myself to not mention the sketch.

Of course now I had to explain it sufficiently. I sighed, trying to think about how to tell the truth without actually revealing it. I settled on the point. I wish Ruki would see me as a better and trustworthy friend whom she could find solace in. Something was disturbing her and I wanted her to talk to me about it. Simple, right…?

Yeah, I kept making mistakes that day – one right after another. Juri nodded, and ran off without another word.

I didn't realize what she had planned until I went to visit Ruki after school. I took a short detour to pick up Guilmon and was on my way. My original intention was obviously to apologize. But then I saw Juri walking through the gate. She was walking from the Makino residence. She'd gone to see Ruki before I did. Oh boy…

She smiled at me sheepishly as she walked by. "Hello, Takato-kun! Hello Guilmon!"

I nodded in passing. "Hi, Katou-san."

She then waved as she stepped past me. "I'm sure she wants to talk. Don't keep her waiting!"

Guilmon waved back cheerfully. I stood and wondered: just what had I gotten myself into…? Oh boy…

When I called the bakery I found out Takato had camped out in the park with Guilmon. He's such a savage.

The night before I had finally spoken with Renamon about, well, the song, and while it was great to finally get it off my chest after over a week worth of silence, the revelation still fell flat. Renamon couldn't relate. She didn't quite understand what I had been missing in my father. But she did have one suggestion: speak with someone more… well… more human.

I didn't want anyone else to know about this, and since Takato hadn't pressed the issue any further after my birthday, I figured… that perhaps, possibly, maybe he would be the one to talk to.

In the park I had come from behind him. He was busy doodling or whatnot and facing the sunrise. I quickly realized it was in fact me that he was engraving on that paper, and called him up on it.

He seemed shocked I had shown up. Bad timing, I supposed.

I was frustrated, mostly due to the embarrassment and awkwardness of the situation… and how dare he right then and there bluntly ask me if I liked the damn thing? At least his attempts to suck up tamed my temper a bit when he presented me with the sketch. It was rather decent. I thought to tell him so. Alas then the words came. "You know, you can talk to me."

I glared. And just what was I to talk to him about? He dumbly whistled some train sounds. Damn that Takato. Just when I was thinking about complimenting him about not pressing the issue… he… IDIOT!

I walked off without another word. I really had come to talk, but he didn't even deserve the insult at this point. I took the sketch with me.

The drawing bugged me the entire day through school. I didn't think to put it away. I used it on various occasions early on to either calm down by remembering he drew it… or to build up my anger by remembering HE drew it. That's when some of the girls from my class noticed it.

"Awe, Ruki is that you? It looks so adorable!"

"Is that a kitsune in the background? How magical!"


I should've ripped it to shreds – anything to save me from the giggling schoolgirls. They even dared to ask if it was a boyfriend I was modeling for. Blasphemy! For one, I don't model, I told them. And secondly, he is not my boyfriend!

Oh, but did that stop them? Not a chance. They actually suggested I introduce him. They all wanted to meet the wonderful artist behind this masterpiece. Damn it, Takato.

I literally counted down the seconds to when the bell would ring and I would be free to head home. Renamon met up with me halfway back. She questioned the page I held in my hands. Yes, the sketch.

"It's just some silly drawing," I told her.

When she first saw it, I could see her holding back the smile. When I turned away, I could hear her soft laughter.

"Don't start with me," I warned, but I had already gained an admiration towards the picture.

When we got home, the first thing I did was find a place for it on the wall in my room. It was to remind Takato never to do anything so stupid again. That was my reason. Renamon stood by, amused. I shooed her away as a knock came at the door.

It was Juri. My first thoughts were about what happened this morning. It must be why she's here. She denied it half-heartedly, but I soon realized it was exactly that very reason.

Okay, so Juri didn't quite know the specifics of what Takato deemed as "troubling me." But I still felt Takato went overboard here. Why even bother saying you know something when it just brings to attention there is actually a something that's there.

"He listens," she had told me. "He helped me get through… well, you know, everything."

Yeah, everything, I knew exactly what she meant. She was telling me how Takato had comforted her after the entire mess with the D-Reaper. That she had managed to find someone she could talk to in Takato. I offhandedly remarked that I didn't need him as I had Renamon. I wasn't thinking properly. My initial thoughts were how that should've been the winning argument.

Instead I brought up her painful memories of Leomon. I quickly apologized.

She deemed it necessary to change the topic towards the sketch hanging in my room, but not before mentioning that Takato had helped her deal with losing Leomon as well. Hum.

The way Juri reacted to the picture reminded me of the schoolgirls earlier in the day. Whatever, I didn't care how pretty or cute I looked. The reason for it being on my wall was to remind Takato never to do it again. I told her just that.

"Will he be seeing it here that often?" Juri asked innocently. I flushed slightly, very uncomfortable with the question. I could easily see what it implied: since it was hung in my room, in order for it to have any effect on Takato he would actually have to be in my room to see it. I could faintly hear Renamon's echoing laughter ringing in my ears.

She smiled and excused herself, citing she wanted to go visit Hirokazu. Apparently he had been called home early from school due an explosion in his garage. I figured she had simply gotten her points across, so I didn't stop her from leaving.

Renamon materialized behind me.

"You have friends Ruki," she said.

As if I didn't know that, I thought. But I could see what she meant. It wasn't a simple observation; it was advice to take advantage of that fact and confide in someone – whether it be Jen, Juri… or dare I say it, even Takato.

I didn't have a reply, and a hard knock on the door saved me from having to come up with one. It was Takato. And he had brought Guilmon along.

"Hello Ruki!" the digimon greeted.

Takato fiddled with his thumbs. "Hi, Ruki, I – uh – figured, I guess I thought I should come – uh – apologize – uh – yeah."

In the midst of his incoherent utterance, I figured this was his way of saying 'I'm sorry.' I turned to Renamon, and nudged in Guilmon's direction. I asked, "Mind baby-sitting a little bit?"

She took that as the cue to depart and led Guilmon out to the backyard. I motioned for Takato to follow me inside. He seemed a little hesitant, probably trying to figure out why I wanted us alone.

He stuttered again. "I – uh – did want to say, that I'm sorry about dropping the whole – uh, you know – Parasimon incident on you."

I didn't like where this was going. "Knock it off," I told him.

Of course he didn't listen. "I understand you probably want to completely forget about it, and I'm probably the last person that could give you some advice about your father…"

I cut him off. "Takato! Stop talking."

That finally silenced him. He was really making this a lot harder for me. He frowned, avoiding eye contact with me.

"Look, Takato," I started. He looked up at me.

"I know you were there for Juri, and she needed it but..." What was I saying? Okay, I see that after everything Juri went through, she still found she could talk to Takato about it. I also realized how she carefully avoided mentioning Leomon and D-Reaper around me earlier in the day. Somehow I doubt she used the same tone when speaking with Takato about such things.

Fine, I'll admit it; I wanted to tell him everything. How I missed my dad. How I couldn't quite get over his death. It was bad enough getting depressed about it all over again due to Parasimon, but this time it was in front of others. And I couldn't hide it. I couldn't stay silent and find comfort in my own solitude like I had done before. But damn it, I didn't want everyone knowing how sad I was. 'Oh poor Ruki, she misses her daddy. I wish there was something we could do.' No. Simply no – I never want to hear anything like that from them.

But then again... nobody pitied Juri, did they?

"Fine," I suddenly said aloud, echoing my earlier thoughts. I swallowed before continuing. "I do want to talk it over with you, to tell you about my dad and all."

He looked surprised. I couldn't blame him. My own outburst caught me off guard as well.

He smiled then. "I'll stay here all afternoon."

"I don't doubt it," I said.

And I did talk. And he did listen. By the end of the day, I had to admit that Juri had been right. I really don't think I could've found anyone else that would've been as understanding as Takato was. I'm glad he was here with me.

I didn't give him back his sketch. He hadn't brought it up, and by no means did he ask for it back. It still hangs in my room, and ever since that day I had never again looked at it with any hint of anger. And when anyone asks about why it was there, I would instantly reply, "Don't I look pretty?"

End Notes:
- A kitsune is a mystical fox in the Japanese folklore.
- "Kawaii" is Japanese for "cute."
- "Satori" is a Buddhist term for "Enlightenment."
- The Tamers CD-Drama mentions that Ruki's father has passed away. However, when picking Tamer's continuity one has to pick between the CD-Drama and the 6th movie. In the movie, occurring several months after the series ends, the Tamers clearly have their Digimon back. Ruki is celebrating her 11th birthday, which shows she is still in 5th grade. In the CD-Drama, "Message in a Packet," the Tamers are sending pre-recorded messages to the Digital World a year after the series, having not seen their Digimon since. Ruki is in 6th grade at this time.