A/N: Okay, yet another Ryuki fic. (something must be wrong with me...) This one has considerable more fluff than my last one, which I decided I wasn't going to continue (mainly because I started writing a second chapter, and it turned out horrible, so I wrote this instead). Enjoy. :)
Chalk on a Sidewalk
The day was cloudy, and Rika ignored the brisk wind, thrusting her hands in her pockets with a frown. It was a Sunday, and even though it was about five in the afternoon, the streetlights were already on, illuminating periodic circles on the sidewalks. Cars flew by around her, the drivers anxious to get to their destinations. She was the only person on the sidewalk, and with no end in mind, she walked in the middle of it, meandering wherever her feet took her.
Once she thought she heard a stick cracking behind her, and she glanced over her shoulder, half-hoping it was her old partner. But the cat, striped grey and black, watched her with glowing green eyes before disappearing into the fog that was settling on the town. Rika sighed. Of course it wasn't Renamon—the digimon was gone, and nothing would bring her back.
Eventually, Rika stopped at a drug store, staring at the dirty sliding doors for a moment before walking inside. The clerk didn't look up from the magazine, and Rika didn't waste her time with meager greetings. Instead, she perused the store, looking at everything just to occupy the time. When she reached the kid's isle, stocked full with coloring books and candy, she paused in front of a pack of chalk. It wasn't particularly special, just a simple box with three orange sticks, but for some reason Rika picked it up and carried it to the counter.
"Just this?" the clerk looked up from her magazine with bored eyes, not even bothering to look at what Rita had picked out. Rita nodded and put some money on the counter, looking out the window behind the clerk as the cash register dinged and flung open. The clerk moved to get a bag, but Rika picked the chalk up before she could.
"Don't worry about it," she said shortly, dropping the change in the tips bucket before heading out of the store. It had started raining while she was inside, and Rika tucked the chalk into her pocket to protect it from the water. She once again started walking, this time starting towards Shinjuku Central Park. At least she wouldn't have to worry about the rain at Takato's beloved shack.
But when she reached the hideout, she didn't go inside. Instead, Rika stared silently at the open gate, the inviting cover from the annoying prickles of rain that mercilessly tapped her bare arms and face. Finally, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the box of chalk, choosing one stick and tossing the other two inside the shack. She turned away from it and walked down the steps, back onto the secluded sidewalk.
Looking up at the treetops and the dark clouds behind them, Rika lowered herself to her knees and eyed the concrete. She studied the chalk for a moment, watching the colored water stream from it as the stick dissolved in the rain. After another minute she lowered the chalk and began to draw. Everything she colored disappeared almost immediately, but she continued until she had used the entire stick, and then she ran back up the stairs to fetch her other two.
She was halfway through the second stick when she realized that the water trailing down her face was warm, not the usual cold pinpricks that she had grown used to. She swallowed and wiped away the tears, raising her hand before her lavender eyes as if to see the offending drips. She only saw rain, however, and so turned back to her drawings, mechanically tracing out images that slipped from her mind the second they were finished.
When her third piece of chalk crumbled into unusable pieces, she tossed it aside and dropped fully onto the wet pavement, lying down to stare at the sky with her hands behind her head. The tears continued to stream down her cheeks, but she ignored them. Maybe if she pretended they were never there, the tears would go away. She closed her eyes and breathed out, unaware of the rain's increasing intensity or the dropping temperature.
But she did hear a frantic voice call her name, accompanied by loud footsteps and splashing puddles. Someone skidded to a stop beside her, and a hand instantly grabbed her left wrist, feeling for a pulse. Annoyed, she opened her eyes and sat up, "What's your problem?" she demanded coldly.
Ryo's deep blue eyes widened as she met his gaze, and he sighed in relief and dropped her hand, "Oh, thank god. Rika, what the hell are you doing out here? It's not exactly ideal weather for an outdoor nap!"
"I wasn't sleeping," she snapped, folding her arms as she studied his attire. He was wearing his trademark red turtleneck, with a sweater thrown hastily overtop, and plain beige cargo pants. He didn't seem to be soaked, as she was, giving Rika the impression that he hadn't been outside very long.
Ryo rolled his eyes, "I'm well aware that you weren't sleeping, pumpkin," he threw in the pet name in an effort to lighten his tense tone, but it had the opposite desired effect. Rika clenched her fist and glared at him.
"I'm not your pumpkin, Ryo," she said through clenched teeth. "What are you even doing here? Don't you have better things to do than annoy me?"
He frowned, "I called your house to see if you wanted to do anything tonight. Your grandmother told me that you'd been gone since four this afternoon, and you aren't answering your cell phone," his eyes darkened. "They were worried, and now I see they had every right to be."
"I don't need a babysitter," Rika got to her feet, wiping the rain out of her eyes. To her relief, she had stopped crying, not that he would have been able to tell anyway. "What I do is none of your business, so stop prying."
"Was catching pneumonia on your list of things to do today?" he demanded, frustrated. "God, Rika, you're going to kill yourself out here, in weather like this." He shrugged out of his jacket and thrust it at her.
She pushed it away, scowling, "I'm not cold."
"Of course not," he glared uncharacteristically at her. "After all, how could the infamous Ice Queen get cold?"
She scoffed, but said nothing. Ryo watched her, his eyes softening as he surveyed her soaked shirt and jeans, her ponytail flat against her head instead of flying wildly like it usually did. He sighed and walked around her, draping the jacket over her shoulders, "Come on, let's get out of this rain before the jacket gets drenched too."
Rika wanted to push it off her shoulders, to thrust it back at Ryo and storm off, but the warmth was too inviting. So she allowed herself to be led up the stone steps and into the hideout, where Ryo led her into the corner and sat down beside her. She leaned against the concrete wall, it's icy surface penetrating through the chill of her wet clothes to make her even colder. She shuddered and drew the jacket tighter around her arms.
"You're shivering," Ryo noted, frowning. "I should have brought another coat, or at least an umbrella…"
"I'm fine," Rika said stiffly, watching the rain cascade to the ground and seep down the slope of the steps.
He sighed and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her into his lap. She blinked in surprise and opened her mouth to object, but he silenced her by rubbing his hands on her arms to warm them up. Rika decided—deep in the center of her mind—that this was preferable to lying on the pavement getting rained on. But she'd, of course, never tell anyone that.
"What were you doing out here, Rika?" he asked quietly, to fill the silence.
She shifted uncomfortably, "Thinking."
"Nothing. Everything. Anything."
He chuckled dryly, and she blushed as his chest vibrated beneath her. Ryo didn't notice, "Care to narrow that down, kitten?"
She scowled at the pet name, but didn't say anything against it. He did it simply to annoy her, she knew, and she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of knowing it did just that. Not a second time that night. "I-I was thinking about… Renamon." Ryo didn't respond, so she continued, her voice a near whisper, like it hurt her to say it aloud, "I miss her."
"We all miss them," he stated, trying to comfort her.
"No!" she wretched out of his grasp, standing up a few feet away. "You don't get it! Renamon was my best friend—the only one who really understood me, who liked me for me. She was always there to support me, to help me when I needed it the most, and now she's gone. Just like that, she's gone. And she's not coming back…"
Ryo frowned and stood up as well, "I understand perfectly, Rika. It's like losing a piece of your own soul." She stared at him with hundreds of emotions running through her lavender eyes, but he knew he had gotten through to her, that she would listen to his words. "Renamon helped you out, was a true friend, but with her at your side you learned so much. You made other friends, real ones that would stick beside you throughout everything. And even though she's gone now, what she gave you remains. You're never alone, Rika, don't forget that."
She sniffed, and the tears were back, falling down her cheeks and landing on the concrete floor with small taps that disappeared in the patter of the rain outside. He took a step closer to her, giving her a slight smile, "I'll always be here for you. Okay?"
Rika nodded numbly, and he wrapped her in a hug, comforting and warm. She buried her face in his chest, and they remained frozen for a few minutes, Ryo rubbing comforting circles on her back. When Rika finally pulled away and wiped her eyes, she gave him a rare smile, "Thanks."
He tilted her chin up and grinned, "No problem. But, pumpkin? Don't think for a second that Renamon and the others won't come back."
"What?" she frowned.
"Our digimon are fighters, through and through. Since none of them were happy to be leaving our world, my guess is that they're fighting like hell to get back," he flicked her nose, and she narrowed her eyes at him. Grinning at her expression, he glanced outside. "Well, now that you're warmer, I guess I'd better get you home. Give your grandmother a call to let her know you're on your way."
Rika rolled her eyes and pulled out her phone, dialing her home number as Ryo walked to the doorway and held his hand out into the rain. Minutes later, after Rika had assured her grandmother—and mother, who had returned home just after Ryo's call—that she was fine and would be coming back soon, she hung up and turned to Ryo. He beckoned her outside.
"Rika?" he stated as they walked down the steps together.
"Promise me one thing?"
She eyed him warily, and he narrowed his eyes, "Don't ever decide to take a nap on the pavement in the middle of a rainstorm. You nearly gave me a heart attack."
Rika smirked, "I wasn't bothering anyone. It's not my fault you jumped to conclusions."
He muttered a curse, shaking his head in frustration. She chuckled, putting her hand on his shoulder to get his attention again, "But if it makes you feel better, Ryo, I suppose I can bring a windbreaker next time."
"I'll take that," he accepted, glancing down at the sidewalk. He blinked and stopped walking, staring at an orange smudge near his foot, "Hey, is there chalk here?"
She shrugged, "I felt depressed. And apparently when I'm depressed, I draw on sidewalks with chalk."
Ryo laughed, "That's my wildcat." He ducked as she threw a punch at him, still chuckling when they emerged from the park and headed back to Rika's house.
A/N: Why chalk? Because that's what my beta told me when I said, "pick a random word". Hope you liked this. Reviews are greatly appreciated! Oh, and if you have any good websites with cute Ryuki pics, PLEASE SEND THEM TO ME!! I can't find any anywhere, and it's seriously dampening my creative talent.