Disclaimer: These Digimon belong to Saban... I'm not sure I'd want them.

Guitar Strings and Other Things

By: SilvorMoon

Etemon's day started in the usual way. He woke up at eleven in the morning to find his robe already neatly pressed and laid out for him. A pair of Gazimon servants stood in attendance, and he barked an order at them to start getting his morning meal prepared. They scurried out of the room. Yawning and stretching, muttering about the early starts one had to make when one had a DigiWorld to rule, he pulled the robe on and padded out of his bedroom and the room beyond, where he kept his guitars, with a mind to get in some practice while breakfast was being prepared. He had fifteen guitars in every size and color, all in their own special closet - all but his very favorite. It was kept hanging on the wall, where he could pick it up any time the mood struck him. Now, still yawning and rubbing at his eyes with one hand, he reached out with the other for his guitar. His hand groped the empty air. He opened his eyes and stared. The guitar was gone.

"AAAAAAAGHHHHH!" he bellowed.

Screaming at the top of his lungs, he jumped around the room in a dance of rage and shock, until finally his foot caught on something. He fell, not with a thud, but with a twang. He looked down to see his toes tangled in the strings of his guitar, which was lying inexplicably in the middle of the room. While he was still trying to disentangle himself, a group of Gazimon came running into the room with various expressions of fear on their faces.

"Etemon-sama, what happened?" one asked.

"Who moved my guitar!?" Etemon shouted. "Who's the wise guy who moved my guitar?"

"Calm down, Etemon-sama. We'll get you free," said another Gazimon. He and his friends began trying to untie their ruler's feet. With a final sproing, his toes came loose. He skidded one way, and the guitar went the other, finally colliding with the wall with a bong. The Gazimon began trying to pull Etemon to his feet.

"There you are, Etemon-sama," said one. "See? Everything's all right now."

Etemon was not to be distracted. "One of your flea-bitten Gazimon moved my guitar!" he said, massaging his toes. "It was you, wasn't it?"

He pointed at one of the Gazimon, who cringed away, babbling fearfully. The other Gazimon turned to stare at him, wondering if maybe Etemon was right. The accused was a newcomer to the lot, a creature known as Patch for the white circle of fur around his eye. He had only come to them a few weeks ago, and since then had proven to be nothing but trouble. Young and newly-evolved, he was at least a head smaller than the other Gazimon and ridiculously clumsy unused to having arms and legs. His intentions seemed good, but everything he touched seemed to go wrong. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that if he got within ten feet of that guitar, he'd have found a way to break it somehow... but what he would be doing in Etemon's guitar closet was anyone's guess.

"Well? Answer me, ya little furball!" Etemon shouted at the hapless Gazimon. "You were trying to sabotage my guitar, weren't you?"

Patch cringed. "No, Etemon-shama. Patch wouldn't shabotage nothin'."

"Don't lie to me!"

"He's not lying," said one of the senior Gazimon. "Patch is too stupid to even think about something like that. He probably doesn't even know what 'sabotage' means."

"Yeah, I guess that's true," said Etemon thoughtfully. "But if I ever catch the 'mon who did this, I'll turn him into a pair of bunny slippers, ya got that? Now, go get me my breakfast."

"Yes, sir!" the Gazimon chorused, and marched out.

Etemon glared at them until they were gone. Then he knelt and picked up his poor guitar, cradling it as if he thought he might injure it. The diamond-bright finish he'd polished onto it was scratched from being shoved across the floor, leaving a chalky white smudge across the once- glossy back. He ran his fingers over the strings and was rewarded with a sour twang.

"Great," he muttered. "I'm gonna have to spend all afternoon tuning this thing. Grrr... When I find whoever did this...!" He made a ripping motion, nearly dropping the guitar and just barely catching it again. Snarling, he hung the guitar back on its hook and stomped off.

At least breakfast looked to be getting off to a good start. His table was already set, with a box of cereal and a dish already waiting, and he could smell his favorite banana pancakes cooking. He sat down at his place and poured a bowl of cereal. Just as he was slicing bananas into the dish, a Gazimon appeared, laboring under the weight of a tray of pancakes that was too big for it.

"Oh, no, not him!" Etemon moaned.

"I'm coming, Etemon-shama!" Patch lisped, staggering under the tray. His hind paw found one of the cables that snaked around Etemon's base. Etemon covered his eyes, not wanting to see the tumble that accompanied the sudden crash.

"Clean it up," he ordered. "And find someone else to bring my breakfast!"

"Yesh, Etemon-shama," said Patch, sadly picking up the pieces of a broken plate.

Etemon sighed and went back to his cereal.

"This is gonna be one of those days. I've been awake fifteen minutes, someone's ruined my guitar and dropped my breakfast," Etemon sighed, reaching for the milk carton, "and to top it all off, some idiot went and homogenized my milk."

"I think it's supposed to be like that," said one of the other Gazimon, appearing with a fresh tray of pancakes.

"Don't talk back to me, ya little weasel," Etemon snapped. He started shoveling down his breakfast, talking with his mouth full. "Until I find out who messed with my guitar, I'm going to say all of you are the ones who did it, and you're going to pay! Today all of you are going to wash the trailers, inside and out. You're going to check the whole network. You're going to polish my guitars until I say everything's perfect. Understand?"

"Yes, Etemon-sama!" the Gazimon barked.

"That's right!" Etemon said. "So? What are you all waiting for? Get to work!"

The Gazimon scattered and vanished. Etemon finished wolfing down his breakfast and wandered off to tune his guitar.

Shortly afterward, Patch found himself in a group of other Gazimon who were hard at work cleaning the sand off of one of Etemon's trailers. All of them were lugging buckets and brushes, sweltering in their fur beneath the desert sun.

"Who does he thing he is?" one of them was muttering. "It's not our fault! That dumb guitar probably just fell down by itself. Why should he punish all of us?"

"If it just fell down, why would it have been in the middle of the floor?" another one asked. "No, I think someone moved it on purpose."

"Why would someone move Etemon's guitar?" someone else wanted to know. "They should have known Etemon would pitch a fit."

"Maybe they wanted to make him pitch a fit," said the first Gazimon thoughtfully. "He sure doesn't treat us right. Fix this! Wash that! Get me my lunch! That dumb guitar is the only thing ol' Etemon cares about. The best way to get revenge on him would be to mess it up."

"Maybe," said another Gazimon, "but if this is what he does for a little scratch, I'd hate to see what he'd do if someone actually broke it!"

"Hey," someone laughed. "Maybe they weren't really trying to break it! Maybe they just wanted to learn to play it!"

That suggestion was met by a round of laughter. The only 'mon who didn't join in was Patch, who was currently struggling with a bucket of water almost as big as he was, bending over backwards to keep it balanced. He couldn't see around it, so it was only natural that he should stumble on the end of someone's mop handle, and he fell, drenching the nearest worker with soapsuds.

"Hey!" he yelped, trying to wipe the soap from his eyes. "What do you think you're doing, runt?"

"Shorry, shorry!" Patch whimpered. "I jusht shlipped..."

"Well, you'd better not shlip again, or what Etemon's got in mind is peanuts next to what I'll do to you!" the other 'mon snapped. He shook himself, spraying everything nearby with drops of water and soap bubbles. "I'm gonna go get rinsed off. If I were you, Patch, I'd go find something to do where you can't shlip on anything... like maybe go bury yourself."

With that, he turned and stomped off. The other Gazimon seemed to take his dousing as a communal insult; they all glared at Patch.

"You are such a klutz," one of them said. "Do you try to make trouble? We might not even be out here if you hadn't made Etemon mad by dropping his breakfast. What's the matter with you, anyway?"

"Patch doeshn't do it on purposhe..." said Patch sadly. "It jusht happensh."

"You really should go bury yourself," a senior Gazimon snapped. "Go on, get out of here! All you'll do here is mess us up. Then we'll have to work even longer."

"But..." Patch protested, but the angry glares he got were enough to squelch any responses. He turned and shuffled away, dragging his tail in the sand. The others went back to working and talking, and he sniffled as he listened to them exchanging insults about him behind his back.

On the other hand, if he wasn't expected to work anymore, that freed him for other things. Trotting on all fours, keeping to the shadows and out of sight, he slipped into Etemon's trailer. Inside, he found Etemon on stage. He seemed to have finished re-tuning his instrument and was now happily rehearsing, too caught up in his music and dazzled by the lights to notice the arrival of a single silent Gazimon. Patch lurked in the shadows, his eyes fixed on the performance, listening... and planning.

~*~

Once again, Etemon's day started with a bong. This time he barely even made it out of his room before his foot came down on the strings of his guitar, and he slipped and fell on his tail. The guitar skidded across the floor once more and crashed into the wall, and a string broke with a high-pitched twang! Needless to say, the event did nothing for Etemon's mood, and the Gazimon spent the rest of the day walking around on eggshells, doing their chores with silent fervor. One act of vandalism could be written off. Two could be seen as nothing but a deliberate insult, and Etemon was beyond outraged. He was in a cold fury now, and nobody knew quite what to do. He spent the day sulking in his room, re-stringing his instrument and plotting mayhem, while his servants squeaked and hid every time he looked at one of them. However, when the sun began to set, he went and tracked down two of them, his senior officers, to have a word with them.

"Hey, you!" he barked.

The two Gazimon yelped in unison. "Yes, Etemon-sama?"

"I've got a job for you," he replied. "I'm not puttin' up with this mess anymore, understand? Tonight you two are gonna hide and watch for whatever rat has been ruining my guitar. You're gonna catch 'em and bring 'em to me. Got it?"

"Yes, sir!"

"Good. Don't you dare fail!"

"Yes, sir!" The pair saluted smartly, and Etemon stomped off.

So that night, two Gazimon hid themselves inside a closet, wedged between a pair of less favored instruments, peering through a crack. At least, that was how they started. After a few hours had gone by with nothing happening, their eyelids had slowly drooped, and they finally slipped off into a doze.

Sometime later, one prodded the other. "Wake up! I heard something!"

"Just five more minutes..." the other one mumbled.

"No, really! Wake up! Someone's out there!"

The other Gazimon opened his eyes and peered into the shadows. At the other side of the room, a little Gazimon was standing on tiptoes, trying vainly to put Etemon's prize guitar back on its hook. Unfortunately, being smaller than the average Gazimon, he couldn't lift it high enough to put it back in place.

"Go on!" he was whispering fiercely. "You've got to go back, or Etemon-shama will be angry!"

"Hey, you!" shouted one of the guards.

Patch jumped, and the guitar fell out of his hands and onto the floor. He pounced on it, trying to stop it from vibrating. The other two Gazimon stepped out of the closet, and Patch backed away in fright.

"So you're the one!" one of them was saying.

"I'm shorry, I'm shorry!" Patch was wailing. "I can exshplain!"

"No need to explain," said the other. "I think it's a great idea!"

"You - you do?" Patch asked.

"Sure! It's about time Etemon got what was coming to him!" the guard laughed. "I think it's pretty funny! Never would have expected it from you, runt. You're smarter than I thought."

"But..." Patch protested.

"You don't have to play innocent," the first guard said. "We think it's a good joke! Come on, let's really freak him out and do the others!"

"But..."

"Oh, that's right, he's too short to reach the rest," said the second guard. "It's okay, kid. You go on and get out of here. We'll finish up."

Patch stared at them a moment, looking like he wasn't quite sure what to say. Then he shrugged and walked off. The other two Gazimon looked at each other, puzzled.

"He doesn't look very enthusiastic," said one.

"Probably because we're taking all his fun." The second Gazimon slashed his claws across the neck of the guitar and grinned as the strings severed. "Let's get moving! It won't be long before Etemon wakes up, and then he'll be in for a surprise!"

~*~

Etemon was never quite sure why his guards took their punishment so stolidly. They didn't seem particularly sorry to have failed in their mission, and he had half a notion to torture them a bit to see if they would reveal any information. However, they insisted that they had only fallen asleep on guard and had thus missed all the action, which was worth a stern punishment, but no more. Besides, he had more than enough to do trying to clean up the mess that had met him when he'd awakened that morning. What he'd found had been a veritable minefield of guitars on the floor, all of them with their strings cut, and he'd had no time to do anything for the rest of the day but re-string them. By the time night fell, he was determined that he would find the perpetrator and bring them to justice himself. At sunset, he banished everyone to their cubbies and gave them strict orders not to leave for any reason. Then he settled himself into his room with the door slightly ajar to wait and see what happened.

Sure enough, around midnight, he heard the distinct sounds of guitar strings being twanged. Very quietly, he tiptoed to the door and peered through the crack, trying to see through the darkness. then he took off his sunglasses and looked again. There in the middle of the floor was Patch, the too-big guitar perched awkwardly in his lap, his paws pressed clumsily to the strings. He was strumming at it, for all the world looking as if he was trying to get music out of it. Etemon was puzzled.

"What in the wide wide world of sports do you think you're doing?" he demanded.

Patch jumped, and his claws slipped, making the strings twang. "Etemon-shama! I wash jusht... jusht..."

"You're the one who's been messing up my guitar!" Etemon shouted.

"No, no, no, lishten!" Patch wailed. "Patch meant no harm, honesht!"

"Oh, yeah? Then what'd you go and cut all the strings last night for, huh?"

"Didn't!" Patch protested. "Never meant to break them! Guards saw Patch trying to put Etemon-shama's guitar away, thought he wash trying to break it! They wanted to help, but Patch never meant to do no harm!"

"Izzat so? Then what were you doing messing with my guitar in the first place, huh? Answer that, ya little runt!"

"Didn't want to hurt it," said Patch, staring down at his paws. "Jusht wanted to play it. Patch wanted to make music like Etemon-shama. Patch is very weak, clumshy little Digimon, but Etemon-shama is powerful. Patch admiresh Etemon-shama. Patch wanted to make mushic like him. That'sh all."

Etemon stared at Patch. Patch stared back with a worshipful expression in his puppy-dog eyes.

"Gimme that," said Etemon, taking his guitar away.

Patch whimpered. "Shorry, Etemon-shama. I won't do it no more."

"That's not what I meant," said Etemon, walking over to the closet. He rummaged around inside and finally pulled out a second guitar. "You can't play something twice your size. Try this."

Patch gawped as Etemon handed him the instrument. "What... what...?"

"You want to learn to play or don't you?" Etemon asked.

Patch nodded vigorously.

"Good, 'cause you're gonna learn from the best! Now, look here, son, you're holding that all wrong. You've got to hold it like this, see?"

"But... but why would Etemon-shama teach me?"

"Hey, are you gonna ask questions or are you going to listen?"

"Going to lishten!"

"Good. Here, let me show you how it's done."

And so Etemon, inwardly rejoicing at having finally found a real fan, sat down on the floor to give Patch his first guitar lesson.