AN: Well, it's finally here. The last chapter of this little story of mine. Back when I first found this site, I never thought I'd be a writer, much less a writer that actually got good reviews lol. I want to thank all of you who have helped me get this far. I'm not going to list my reviewers, that's too much like blackmail to get more in my opinion, but you people know who you are. So to those who it concerns, Thank you. Now, onto the chapter. I know that some of you are probably fidgeting for me to get it over with and 'start the show' but I wanted to let you know I will not be 'revealing' everything quite yet. Everything that has to do with what happened THIS NIGHT, yes, but not events that have already occurred, they will be in future works. So, without further Audi, I present the fourth and final chapter! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon, I own a DVD set of it now (03, the best season ever) but that's it. Digimon and its characters are the property of Bandi Namco Entertainment.
This chapter is dedicated to my reviewers for chapter's one through three, it is thanks to you guys/girls that I managed to finish this story!
Renamon watched as her Tamer paced back and forth across the floor of the unfinished building wearing her usual neutral expression. This was not the first time her young companion had acted in such a way, but it still bothered her for some reason.
The two had become very close over the last few years, even to the point of referring to the other as their sister when among close friends. If Rika had a problem, she knew that she could always turn to Renamon for a listening ear at any time. But on rare occasions such as this, she would bottle up for a short period of time, then act as though nothing had happened and whatever the matter had been was forgotten. And while the events that lead up to these short bouts of 'old' Rika returning varied, they did have one common thread between them.
The boy was an enigma to the yellow fox. Starting out as a rather…poor Tamer, he had learned and adapted to the lifestyle almost as quickly as Rika had herself. Going from being unable to fight a fellow Rookie level such as herself, to fighting and defeating a Champion level in only days, eventually even taking out a Mega on one occasion without Digivolving.
Then there were the changes he had caused to her Tamer. Almost immediately after meeting the boy she had started to change. For the first time that Renamon could remember since meeting her Tamer, Rika actually second guessed herself, her motives, and her beliefs. Before then, never, but after, it began happening more and more frequently. With each passing meeting between the two, she would change a little more.
"Were it not for his influence, I doubt that I would have been able to Digivolve and save Rika from Dokugumon."
But that smirk quickly disappeared.
"Rika was…happy…for the first time. Because of him…but now…what has happened? Ever since Takato and Jeri became closer, Rika has become increasingly more like her old self. Seiko said that friends would help make Rika happier, and it did for a time. But why would it have the opposite effect now? It makes no sense."
"Ugh, where is he? Don't tell me he got lost just trying to get to his own house," Rika groaned in annoyance.
"And yet, even now she is not angry with him. I know that this is somehow his fault. Aside from Seiko and her mother, no one else has the power to affect her to this degree. But if he is to blame, then why does she not hold him responsible?"
Thunk thunk thunk
"He is getting close Rika, I can hear him now," Renamon said as she narrowed her gaze towards the corner he was about to come around.
Seeing Rika's confused expression, she elaborated.
"Gallantmon's armor is not exactly suited for stealth, nor was it designed with speed in mind," she replied offhandedly.
Rika's eyebrow rose even further and was accompanied by a small smirk.
"Renamon, was that a joke?"
"A joke? Was it a joke? I was only pointing out that Gallantmon is not exactly quiet when he runs…but why did I say it in a way Impmon or Terriermon would have?"
She was about to answer when she found herself cut off.
"Ok, here is good," Gallantmon said stepping around the corner and nearly knocking Rika to the ground.
"Hey! Watch it Gogglehead!"
"Huh? Oh, sorry Rika!"
A bright red flash filled the area for a brief second before fading into nothingness, leaving behind a somewhat confused red dinosaur and a very frightened teen in its place.
Renamon's eye narrowed at the boy momentarily before softening.
"It was an accident, nothing more. Still, I wonder why Takato looks so frightened."
"What took you so long? We've been waiting out here for almost ten minutes!" Rika Hissed.
Renamon watched the boy closely for anything that would hint at his current level of distress.
"Something, is not right here."
The sudden shift the boy's eyes took from Rika's face to his home before snapping back to her face. The entire action was nearly covered by a single blink, but to Renamon's trained eyes it might as well have been a lighthouse.
"He is…afraid of her being here. But why? Rika has been here many times before, what makes this time different?"
"S-sorry Rika, but we, we got a little turned around. It's not like I could just run down the sidewalk or across the street." Takato defended.
Renamon caught Guilmon's questioning glance, but shook her head softly.
"And I still need to speak with Guilmon. He is probably still worried about his Tamer from what happened this afternoon."
"How'd you get here so fast anyway? Renamon poof you the whole way?"
Blinking at hearing her name, Renamon quickly went over the conversation she had only halfway been listening to before stepping forward and allowing the light to reveal her presence.
"No, I have not used Kohenkyo since before the battle with the MetalMamamon. Rika ran on her own, while I used the rooftops to avoid drawing attention to myself," she answered honestly.
Seeing the boys surprised expression, she had a sneaking suspicion that things were about to turn downhill, and if his past record was any indication, it would be very fast and probably very ugly.
"You mean you ran the entire way? All the way from the park, to my place?"
Rika nodded with her smirk still in place, even widening slightly.
"And you're perfectly fine? You don't feel like, dropping dead or coughing up a lung?" Takao asked suspiciously.
Renamon had to resist the urge to smash her palm into her face.
"Why does he never learn? I know he is not stupid, but does he ever once think about what he is about to say before speaking?" Renamon thought before groaning inwardly.
Of course, Rika's face changed back into her annoyed scowl. It was not quite as bad as it had been in the past, but Renamon noticed that it seemed to be regaining its former strength each time she used it.
"Four years of work is falling apart at the seams and all I can do is watch," Renamon thought ruefully.
"What? You don't think I could do it just because I'm a girl?" She asked accusingly.
Takato raised his hands in defense.
"No! No! Nothing like that! I was just surprised, that's all….You're in really good shape."
Renamon watched as her Tamer's cheeks turned a pale shade of pink after turning away from the goggle wearing boy.
"I don't understand. Why would Rika be embarrassed by his compliment? She said herself that she wanted him to notice her more; it's why she started her morning exercise routine in the first place," Renamon thought to herself.
She knew that there was still much about humans that she did not quite understand, but for someone to be embarrassed when they received the desired outcome of an event made absolutely no sense to her at all.
"So how do we explain this to your parents? It can't be too often that you have company stay overnight," Rika said as she walked towards the building.
"Hey! That's not true. Henry's been here a couple of times, and me Kazu and Kenta had a few video game tournaments that lasted through till morning. Even Jeri stayed over the night after we took down the D-Reaper."
Rika stopped in her tracks and spun to face the boy with a glare.
Renamon's eyes widened as the pieces started to fit together.
"Rika is jealous of Takato spending time with Jeri! Of course! The reason she has been acting the way she did before she met Takato, is because he hasn't been around her as much as he used to!"
Renamon knew full well how powerful the influence one person could have over another was. The entire group of Tamer's was proof of that. Before meeting Takato, Rika had been cold, unforgiving, and was extremely emotionally guarded, even towards her family. Likewise, before meeting Rika, Takato lacked the self confidence and assertiveness that most knew him by now.
"It's like a cycle. Without her friend's presence, Rika is slowly turning back into her old self, but without Takato, she has no reason to even interact with any of the others. If this continues for much longer, all of their hard work will be for nothing. I will not allow Rika to become that again!"
Knowing that things were about to take a turn for the worst, Renamon stepped in.
"I need to stop this before the damage worsens, but to do that, I need Takato."
Looking up, Renamon pulled herself and Guilmon into her 'between' realm. As long as they were here, time would stand still, and no one on the outside could hear them speak.
" Rika argues more with Takato than she does with Ryo," Renamon baited, trying to see if Guilmon knew anything from Takato's perspective.
Guilmon looked up at Renamon before blinking, and then looked around for several seconds. Once he figured out what was happening, he spoke.
Guilmon smiled. "Can we talk now Renamon? I'm worried about Takato."
Renamon shook her head before responding. "Not yet Guilmon. After they are asleep then we can speak, but not any sooner. Until then, help Takato in any way you can without drawing too much attention to yourself. Is that clear?" Renamon 'thought spoke' since in here telepathy was possible. She could sense Guilmon's concerns, and unfortunately that her suspicions were true, that something had indeed come between Takato and Rika's friendship, but whatever it was, Guilmon either didn't know or didn't understand what is was.
Pulling herself and Guilmon out from her 'between' realm, Reanmon sighed internally.
"I need more information if I'm going to put an end to this. I wasn't strong enough to pull Rika out of it when we first met, but I'll be deleted before I allow her to become like that again," Renamon thought as she focused her eyes on the 'key' so to speak. Both the problem and the solution.
"Oh? And let me guess, Mr. Perfect spends every weekend here too right?" Rika asked harshly.
"I..uh…no. Ryo's never even been here before. At least I don't think he has. You two are the only ones that haven't….well, unless you count Suzie, Ai and Mako, they haven't either, but they have stopped by to pick up bread with their parents a few times in the," Rika cut him off.
"Look, I'm really, really tired. I haven't eaten anything since lunch, and I just want to call it a night. So, could you please cut the useless chit chat and get this over with?" Rika asked as she pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Hmm, even though he is not aware that it is his absence that is causing her to act like this, he is still hurt by her words. So his withdrawing from her is not intentional. But if that is true, why has he removed himself from her in the first place?"
After the Locomon incident, the two had become very close. For many months they would be together for days on in 'hanging out' as Rika had put it. Sure, every now and then he would disappear for a while, but never for any longer than a few days or a week at most. But several months ago, that had changed.
They never 'hung out' anymore, and they would rarely speak to one another, even when with the other Tamers.
Make no mistake, Rika was very brave, and there were few things that could frighten her, but she was still learning how to interact with others. While she was perfectly capable of carrying conversations for lengthy periods of time, she still had difficulty actually starting them with other people. So, with the removal of the one that usually started speaking to her, Rika had become increasingly quiet, and cold towards the others.
She was brought out of her musings by Takato's voice.
"Sorry about that. I guess I got a bit carried away," he said before giving Renamon the once over.
"Can you…uhh…can you pretend that you were hurt? Or that you're tired?"
"Pretend that I am injured? That should be easy enough."
Before she could voice this thought however, Rika cut her off.
"Just act like you would after being around Terriermon all day."
"Act like I would after being around Terriermon all day? What would be wrong with…oh."
Renamon had to suppress the urge to shudder. Several weeks ago, Suzie had given him a joke book, and while at first it had not been too bad, it had quickly become unbearable after he had discovered the horror that is the Knock Knock Joke.
"And he doesn't even bother reading more from the book! It's just the same joke over and over. And it wasn't even funny the first time!"
So caught up in her memories, Renamon failed to take note of how her posture slumped and sagged to the point of looking like a person who had been tortured for weeks on end.
"That good enough?" Rika asked with a small grin.
Takato snickered before nodding. "Yeah, she looks like she went ten rounds with Beezlemon."
"I would prefer to go ten rounds with Beezlemon," Renamon thought with a shudder.
"Uh, Gogglehead, we just got back from a big battle remember? Can you act at least a little tired?" Rika pointed out.
Renamon watched as Takato pulled his shirt out a bit then ruffled his hair. It took only a few seconds, but she couldn't help but notice the way he went about it.
"As quickly as he did that, there is no way that he just came up with it. He has done this before, probably many times in fact. I wonder why?"
"Just don't tell my mom we were in any danger ok? She gets a bit…well, you remember how she is," Takato said frowning slightly before turning back towards his home.
"You coming or what?" Takato called out over his shoulder.
Again, Renamon caught that worried shift in his eyes. Even though he was looking over his shoulder when he called out to them, his eyes had jumped from Rika, to his home, and then back again to Rika.
"Why is Takato so nervous about Rika being inside of his home? He never acts this way when we meet here with the other Tamers. The only difference between those times and now is that the others are not here, just Rika…"
Renamon felt something. She wasn't sure what it was at the time, but it was there. A clue to what was happening, and now she had the opportunity to investigate it.
"That won't matter at all though if Rika forces him further away from her. I must speak to her."
"Come on Renamon," Rika said before feeling a paw come to rest on her shoulder.
"Something wrong?" She asked.
Renamon shook her head. "No, nothing is wrong Rika, but you might want to give him….a little break. He did open up his home to us for the night, and has offered you safe haven from tomorrow, has he not?" Renamon stated.
"Safe haven? Renamon, it's not like I'm being hunted or anything. Besides, you heard him yourself. Everyone else has already spent the night here before, and I've been here plenty of times before. It's no big deal."
"I think it is a much larger deal than you realize," Renamon thought as she remembered the worried expression on the boys face.
"Maybe, maybe not. Just remember, he offered, and you accepted. What you said about being here before is true, but keep in mind that this is the first time you were ever invited," Renamon stressed on the invitation part, as it was the only difference she could pick up on at the moment.
Shrugging her shoulders, Rika walked towards the bakery with Renamon in tow.
"Really? Then where is she? If what you're saying is true then why are you by yourself? I told you that dinner is at eight o'clock unless there is an emergency!"
"Mom! I'm telling you, it's true!"
"Excuse me, Miss Matsuki?"
Renamon quickly took in the environment and tried to gauge the situation as best she could.
"Takato seems to be having trouble convincing his mother about something, but where is…ah, I see. Very clever Guilmon. Use the distraction to speak with Takato's father without being noticed. If Guilmon thinks Mr. Matsuki can be convinced to help us, then I need to keep Takato's mother from noticing them."
"And a little hungry," Rika said clutching her stomach.
The older woman smiled warmly before turning to Renamon.
"What about you? Are you ok?"
"I need to make it seem that I am very weak for this to work. Perhaps if I were to imitate the people from one of the television shows Seiko watches?"
Renamon nodded her head slowly before speaking.
"I am…fine. I just need to rest for a little while."
"I understand, how long do you need, and hour? Two?"
"Here it goes, I hope I am doing this correctly," Renamon thought before taking a deep breath.
Lifting her arm to make it look as though she was going to dismiss the idea, Renamon carefully gauged the distance between herself and the kitchen counter before stumbling forward and gripping the ends with her paws.
"I..am…sorry, but I think that…I think that I might need a bit longer than that," she said weakly.
"I owe this one to you Seiko," Renamon though before 'quaking' her legs for added effect.
"Mom, me and Guilmon found them a few blocks from here. During the fight she was dedigivolved, I saw it with my own eyes. The only time that happens is if they're caught off guard, or if they're completely exhausted," Takato spoke up, adding to the 'act' in his own way.
"Well….we don't have much room Takato, you know that," Mie said with a serious tone.
Renamon's eyes narrowed at the woman's tone.
"It almost sounds like she blames Rika for something…or suspects she is behind something…but what?"
"It's ok mom. I can sleep on the couch, and I bet our carpet is softer than the hideouts concrete floor," Takato offered.
"We need help, come on Guilmon, please tell me you aren't just standing there watching."
"Takato, why don't you give me a hand in helping your friend upstairs? She looks like she's about to pass out."
For a brief moment, genuine shock passed across Renamon's face before it returned to her usual passive face, with a touch of 'exhaustion' for added affect.
Hearing the boy's mother remain silent, Renamon couldn't help the small smirk that crossed her muzzle as she felt her arms being pulled up and onto a pair of strong shoulders.
She allowed a decent amount of her weight to be carried by them, but made sure that she was not simply 'dead weight' as the two guided her towards the stairs.
"The rest is up to you Rika," Renamon thought to herself.
As the trio reached the second flight of stairs, and after Renamon was sure that they were out of hearing range from the boys mother, she let out a relieved breath.
"Thank you…Mister Matsuki…for helping me."
The man shook his head before replying.
"Don't worry about it, and please, call me Takehiro. Mister Matsuki makes me feel old."
Renamon nodded. "I…apologize, Takehiro. Thank you…for allowing Rika and myself…to rest here."
The man waved her off with his free hand.
"I told you it's not a problem. Any friend of Takato's is welcome here anytime. I'm actually surprised that Rika never accepted any of our invitations before. Takato talks about her and Henry all the time," Takehiro said absentmindedly.
Renamon's eyes widened as she immediately shifted herself, Takato and Takehiro to her 'between' realm.
The instant time stopped, she was flooded by various memories and thoughts coming from both the panicking boy and his father. The two were so engrossed with their thoughts that they didn't even realize what had happened.
"What is this? It makes no sense," Renamon thought to herself as she watched the memories fly past her.
She saw Takato's parents giving him the ok for a sleepover, which she remembered hearing about from Terriermon, but had thought only the boys were invited. This scene switched to one from a summer a few years back where he had been bored and his father suggested that he invite one of his friends over, though it struck her a bit odd that Rika's name had been mentioned first by the man.
These were just a few of the numerous memories that flashed before her like a movie. Though the times and circumstances were different each time, they had the same result.
Renamon was careful not to 'think' just watch what she saw to contemplate later. Right now she was gathering information, and could not risk getting caught.
By chance, she noticed Takato looking directly at her, but she paid no attention to it, she was to busy trying to memorize everything.
"It's not anger…it almost looks like…pity? No, not pity, but close…disappointment?"
Hearing the boy's thoughts, Renamon continued to ignore him. Parties, gatherings, breaks from school, they all continued to flash one after another through the last four years.
"Why would Renamon be disappointed about me flaking out on asking Rika to spend the…this doesn't make any sense."
Knowing that the other two were bound to notice things were amiss, Renamon tossed out a distraction, but at the same time, a hint and warning for the goggle wearing boy.
"I apologize Takehiro, but it was…merely a case of bad timing. I'm sure that…had Takato asked…at a more favorable time Rika would have accepted," Renamon replied with a tired voice.
Takehiro 'hmmed' and Takato frowned as Renamon's stare continued to pierce through him.
Then, it hit her. She felt his emotions from those events.
Shame, disappointment, and, just as she had suspected, fear.
"Just as I thought."
Eye's wide, Takato looked back up at Renamon's face.
Knowing that she had almost been caught, Renamon returned the three to 'real time' but softened the glare she had been sending Takato.
"He is afraid of something. But what? And why did I sense so much shame coming from him? Rika looks up to Takato, surly he must realize that by now. She respects him more than she does Ryo."
Renamon's thoughts were brought to a halt when they reached a door at the top of the stairs.
Takehiro used his free hand to open the door, while Takato led the 'exhausted' Digimon inside his room.
Glancing up, Renamon caught sight of the artwork that lined the walls. Pictures of Guilmon and his various Digivolutions were to be expected, but she was stunned by some of the others that she saw.
"For all his faults, he truly does love us. I don't think there is another person alive who can profess this much appreciation for my kind."
"Do you think you can reach the top bunk, or is the bottom ok?" Takato asked, bringing Renamon out of her reverie.
Renamon looked down at the boy, and seemed to think for a moment before answering.
"If I am on the top bed it will be more difficult to get up without making noise."
"I…believe that…I would prefer the bottom bed. I do not…wish to be a burden," she stated.
Takato and Takehiro both let out a sigh of relief, causing her to chuckle lightly so only Takato could hear it.
Lying on her side, Renamon closed her eyes most of the way to make it look like she was sleeping, and watched as the father and son left the room and closed the door behind them.
"I don't hear footsteps, so they must be talking, no need to risk getting caught."
Renamon waited for about a minute before she heard a set of footsteps walk downstairs, then a second set of footsteps follow quickly behind it.
Counting to ten in her head for safe measure, Renamon slowly eased herself up and off the bed. She needed information. Something was wrong, and now she knew it for a fact. Tiny bits and clues had piqued her curiosity, but now she no longer suspected, she knew.
Moving with the silent grace that years of practice had given her across the room, Renamon first examined the boy's desk. She didn't have enough time to dig through it now, but she could at least go through what was on top.
She was disappointed to find nothing but a handful of sketches that were in various stages of completeness. One of Suzie riding on Antylamon's shoulder, another one of Beezlemon, though this one was of him riding the Behemoth.
Sighing, she was about to move towards the closet when she caught sight of a red and gold notebook peeking out from under the desk. It looked like it had been hidden hastily and had fallen out of the bottom shelf.
Picking up the book, Renamon waved it under her nose for a moment and picked up Takato's distinctive scent, but not his parents. She knew this meant that they probably didn't even know it existed, or else they would have at least touched it while cleaning.
Opening the notebook, Renamon's eyes widened.
There, on the front page was a fully colored illustration of Rika riding on her back as Kyubimon.
Though the sight was not strange in of itself, the sheer amount of detail that had been put into this single picture was far more than she had seen in any of the others that lined the walls.
Lacking 'normal' hands, she wasn't able to look at every page, but she was able to flip through the notebook and see a handful of them.
One was of herself and Rika relaxing by the Kio pond outside Rika's home, and another was of Sakuyamon standing back to back with Gallantmon fighting some unseen horde of enemies. Each was more detailed than the last, but they were all an obvious display of an artist pouring out their heart and soul.
"But…why does he keep these hidden? Work like this should not be kept on a shelf, it should be displayed."
Renamon tried to imagine how Rika would react if she were to see these, and the thought alone nearly made her take the notebook downstairs herself at that instant.
In the passing years, as the Tamers had grown, Rika had become a bit…self-conscious. She had grown several inches in height, and her figure had matured quite a bit, but she had expressed disappoint in her physical form more than once. She had kept these thoughts to herself of course; Renamon had only caught tiny pieces of Rika speaking to herself on the matter a few times.
What it boiled down to was, despite not voicing it, Rika had somehow come under the impression that she was unattractive, or at the very least, no one thought she was attractive.
Looking down at the last illustration in the notebook, Renamon knew for a fact that she could blast away that notion and banish it for all eternity.
"But I still don't understand, why does he keep these hidden?"
Hearing footsteps approaching, Renamon carefully placed the notebook where she had found it and returned to the bed. After she heard the footsteps continue however, she realized that it was Takehiro and Mie, not Rika and Takato.
Again, she carefully rose from the bed, trying to make as little sound as possible as she made her way towards the wall. Looking up, she spied an air vent that led to the adjoining room.
"Honey, why are you being so hard on the girl? She hasn't done anything wrong."
Renamon heard the woman sigh.
"When I asked her what happened….her story was different than Takato's."
"Takehiro, this is serious. Takato said that he was fighting when he came across Rika; Rika said that she was fighting when Takato found her. Don't you think it's a little suspicious that their stories don't match up?"
Renamon's breath hitched.
"No, I think you're looking too much into something when there is nothing there to see. From what you told me, they both said they fought three enemies then a fourth one came along. So the details aren't the same, it's not a big deal. Could you tell someone exactly what happened today with every batch of dough we made?"
"I….I know…I'm sorry…you're right. I'm just….I'm worried about him."
"Here it is," Renamon thought.
"I know Mie, I know," Takehiro said softly.
"Every since…ever since Jeri's last visit, he hasn't been the same….what if…what if Rika is taking advantage of him while he's like this?"
Renamon had to force herself to keep calm at hearing that remark. To insinuate that Rika would take advantage of anyone was foolish, but for her to take advantage of one of her friends?
"Mie, you know that's not true. Rika is one of Takato's closest friends. She and Henry were the first friends he made since Kazu and Kenta in the first grade remember?"
Renamon was surprised to hear the man cut his wife off, something he had never done in the past.
"And I for one, am glad. She helped him honey, she helped him more than those two ever could have. She's the one that made him finally stand up for himself. You said it yourself that you wanted him to start acting his age, and he did. All it took was one little redhead to light a fire under him to get him going. I'd say she's been a better influence on him than he has on her."
"Takehiro! He's your own son!"
Renamon heard the man chuckle.
"Well it's true. After they met and she started hanging around Takato, she started acting more like him. Remember last year's victory party they threw? She looked like Kazu slouched down in the chair with her CD player. And I never thought I'd see the day that she would actually play a videogame when Takato first introduced her to us," Takehiro said teasingly.
Renamon smiled at those particular memories. They were among her favorites, as she was sure that they were her Tamers as well.
"But what about Jeri? She's."
"Still Takato's friend, and I don't think anything, including one of them dying will ever change that," Takehiro finished.
"But how can you be sure? Takato is."
"A growing boy who is going to be turning seventeen in a few months. We were younger then him when we first met remember?"
"I…I guess your right. I'm just worried about him. The last few weeks have been so hard on him, and if Rika."
"Mie, listen to me. You can not blame Jeri for how Takato's behavior. We don't even know what happened. But if a girl is what caused him to act like this, then a girl is the only thing that can snap him out of it," Takehiro said firmly.
"Something must have happened between Takato and Jeri…but why would that cause him to avoid Rika?"
Renamon's ears flinched as she heard the distinct sound of footsteps moving from downstairs.
Quickly, the yellow fox moved back to the bed and feigned sleep as the door opened.
As soon as the door opened, she was able to make out two distinct outlines through the slits of her eyes. One moved towards the closet and opened it while the other one seemed to be admiring the room's decorations.
"Where'd you find this? It must have cost you a year's worth of allowance," she heard Rika ask.
A second later, she heard Takato's voice.
"Huh? Oh that old thing? I did it last year. I showed it to everyone, remember? You and Ryo were going at it again…like always."
"His tone is almost as bad as Rika's when she's talking about Takato and Jeri," Renamon thought idly.
"You did this? You?"
Roughly a second passed before Renamon heard Takato chuckling.
"Yeah, well, I know my first couple of drawings were a bit rough."
"But I figured that if I really wanted to get into the illustrating business, you know, designing Digimon cards or maybe even work on the show if it's still running when I finish school, that I'd need to get better," Takato answered.
"So you decided to practice?"
"Yeah, I practice my butt off! I've been going through notebooks faster than mom could buy me new ones. I did all of these."
"And the notebook I found was fairly new….I wonder if there are any others?"
"Ah ha! Found you!" Takato exclaimed proudly.
"I found them! They haven't been worn in a while, but at least they're clean, I promise."
Renamon heard movement, and could see the two moving towards each other. One of the outlines (she assumed to be Takato) handed something to the other (which she guessed to be Rika).
Suddenly, the first one moved towards her and reached under where she was laying.
"He seems to be very nervous about something, I can smell it coming from him in droves," Renamon thought as the boy's head was less than six inches from her face.
"Oh, and uh, about the…uh..…you know, just go through here and take whatever you need; I don't think Jeri would mind."
"Jeri? What does she have to do with this?"
Silence filled the room for several moments before Rika's voice cut through it like a blade of ice.
"Why do you have a backpack full of Jeri's clothes in your room? Under your bed?"
"Rika, she's….hurt? Why would her finding out that Jeri stayed here hurt her? She never had any problems with Jeri staying at her home, or staying at Jeri's. What makes Takato any different?" Renamon wondered.
Renamon heard Takato sigh, and felt a weigh on the opposite end of the bed. Not wanting to risk a repeat of the 'Guardramon Incident' Renmon quickly tucked her tail around her frame, and hoped that no one noticed it.
"Rika…what I'm about to tell you can never leave this room ok?"
For a moment, Renamon gave serious thought to dragging the two into her 'between' world, but decided against it. It was obvious from the boys tone that this was a subject that caused him a great deal of pain. So, for the sake of all he had done in the past for her Tamer, she settled for listening, and not 'observing' this time.
"After we beat the D-Reaper, Jeri…Jeri went through a lot, you know that right?"
"Yeah, she lost her partner, then was used as a container to bring the D-Reaper to our world, then got used as a puppet after it took over. But we got her out of there, well, you did," Rika answered matter of factly.
"Please be careful Rika, I sense that this is not something to be taken lightly," Renamon tried to force the thought onto her partner, and hoped for the best.
"Mostly true, but she was still messed up Rika. Her mind just….it almost slipped, even after everything turned out ok. She needed someone to keep her going; she needed someone to just…be there for her," Takato continued.
"And that was you. Yeah, yeah, I know. You think I-we didn't notice her clinging to your arm every day since then?" Rika replied with a small amount of annoyance.
"No, Rika, you're pushing him away again! Don't do it!"
"Rika, you have no idea what it was like for her. She almost...she almost gave up, several times after that. The reason she stuck so close to me was she had lost her will to keep going. She used it up when she broke free from the D-Reaper. Since then she's spent the night here every now and then, but she's been getting better."
"So that's what Takehiro and Mie were talking about. I wonder why Jeri never told Rika about this? They seem to talk about just about everything else," Renamon thought with a mild shudder.
"So what, you're going out now, big whoop. Damsel in distress gets her gallant knight in shining armor, end of story."
"Rika, please, don't do this to yourself," Renamon pleaded with the Sovereigns, which of the four didn't matter to her right now, only that her Tamer, her closest friend in both worlds, whom had even taken to calling her a sister, not break the cord that was binding her to the boy no more than a foot away from her.
"Going out? What are you talking about? She's like a sister to me."
Renamon let out a breath of relief at the boys tone.
"Ok, so maybe I did…kind of have a crush on her, and maybe she had…a small one on me."
"Crush…crush…I know that I've heard that word used in this context before…but where?"
Renamon quickly gleaned through her memories and found what she was looking for.
Rika had come down with the flu and was sleeping, while Renamon patrolled the Nonaka compound. She saw Takato enter through the front gate and followed him into the house from a discreet distance. Not that she didn't trust the boy, far from it. But with her Tamer ill, she was a bit more protective than usual.
A few moments later the boy left and waved.
About to return to her patrol, Renamon stopped when she heard Seiko and Rumiko's voices from the doorstep.
"Mom, you can't be serious, it's just a little crush, puppy love at most. They'll outgrow it then forget it was ever even there."
Leaning closer to the window, but still out of sight, Renamon heard Seiko's soft chuckle.
The same one she used every tine she was about to finish off some hapless soul in a game of Go, Shogi, Checkers, or Chess.
"I'm not quite so sure of that Rumiko. He's a nice boy, and has put up with quite a bit. Not too many boys his age are willing to go through what he does just to be her friend. Just give it time and we will see what happens."
"We just got too close you know. There's a point when you just know too much about someone, you know them too well, and I guess….I guess we crossed it while I was trying to help her pull herself back together," Takato said glumly.
"Forget about it. It's in the past right?" Takato said as he got up and moved.
"I need to speak with someone that knows more about humans after all this is over. Maybe Impmon can provide the answers that I seek?"
Renamon's finely tuned hearing picked up the sound of Rika's jean's unbuttoning and the rustle of cloth that usually came with her undressing, but going back, she couldn't recall ever hearing Takato leave the room.
Opening her eyes, it took Renamon less than half a heartbeat to find the boy.
He was standing at a slight angle from Rika staring at the small of her back and tops of her hips, but he didn't seem to be breathing. In fact, he looked like one of IceDevimon's 'trophy's' frozen to the spot.
"If Rika knows he's here, then…" Looking up, the vulpine warrior saw Rika's face and tried to gauge it to see if she needed to take action.
First was surprise, then something else that lasted only a moment before she blinked, and finally seemed to lock up with her face turning bright red.
"Uh, Takato," Rika said softly.
"She does not wish for him to see her, so he shall not," Renamon thought before focusing on the boy.
could you…uh," Rika swallowed.
"You are frightening her."
Though it was not a major power, or anything that could be used on the field of battle, Renamon did in fact have the ability to issue weak hypnotic suggestions, though they only worked on those who were very weak or very stupid normally, in this case however, she was counting on something different.
The boy slowly moved his head towards Renamon, and she knew that it had worked. His attention was locked onto her, and though his face was still frozen with an expression of shock, she saw the flicker of pain that flashed across his eyes.
"So it would hurt him to think that he is frightening her. This is becoming more and more interesting by the minute," Renamon thought as she filed that little tidbit away for future examination.
Narrowing her eyes, Renamon gave the 'uh uh ah' expression with her raised hand.
The boy quickly blinked then shook his head.
"Oh, yeah, uh, I'll be down stairs…umm…goodnight," Takato said quickly before turning to leave.
"Hey I still need a towel! And a."
"Way ahead of you, I grabbed that on the way up, just check the closet across from the shower, that's where we keep everything else," Takato said before quickly shutting the door behind him.
Renamon lowered her arm and closed her eyes, processing what she had learned so far for the night.
A few moments later, after hearing her Tamer leave the room, Renamon decided to think back to what had caused all of this in the first place so she would have some idea of what to say to Guilmon.
"I just wish they had chosen a place closer to a tree to eat, at least then I might have a better idea of what happened."
She had seen the group exit the building and go to the back area along with the rest of their class, then spread out a large bed sheet and start eating. A few minutes after they had started, a boy from their class tried to offer Rika a stuffed animal of some sort. Rika waved him off and tried to go back to eating when another one came up, followed by another one, and another one. Soon there was an actual line leading up to her.
Renamon was about to see if her Tamer required assistance when her eyes focused on the nearby form of Takato. The boy shot up and positioned himself between Rika and the line like a human shield, and was visibly shaking. At first Renamon thought he was just cold because of the weather, but that notion died when she saw his clinched fists.
Knowing that Takato's anger was like a signal fire for Guilmon, she took off for the hideout to prevent him from causing a scene, and subsequently missed what had happened afterwards.
Hearing the door jiggle, Renamon focused on the door until it stopped and resumed her musings.
"There are so many things at work here that I don't even know where to begin. What is a cause and what is a reaction to something else?"
Renamon tried putting the various pieces together as she waited for her Tamer to return. It was frustrating to her though, like trying to put together a puzzle that was not only missing several key pieces, but she didn't even have a picture of the complete puzzle to know what she was trying to make.
A few minutes later she heard the door jiggle again, this time it ended with a clicking sound and opened.
Opening one eye, Renamon was able to see Rika facing Takato's backside. The boy seemed to have his eyes locked on something down the hall.
Renamon's ears perked at the girls tone.
"She…is….happy? What happened? I thought she was just going to take a shower? Why is he even here?"
"Hmm? Something wrong?"
"Gogglehead, look at me when I'm talking to you."
"What is she up too?"
Renamon watched as the boy slowly turned to face Rika before meeting her gaze.
"I'm not very good at this, but…thanks."
"Did Rika just thank Takato for something? What happened?"
Again, Renamon felt like face palming. Sometimes she wondered if her time would have been better spent giving Takato lessons on proper behavior in the human world than his Digimon partner.
"Yes, why? Were you expecting someth," before she could finish, the boy cut in.
"No! Absolutely not!"
Several seconds passed before Rika spoke.
"There is something else actually."
"Th-there is?" Takato stuttered.
Renamon's ears rose, trying to identify the thumping sound she was hearing. It almost sounded like Locomon's piston drives, but it was going ten times faster.
"Is that…his heart? That can not be healthy for a human," Renamon thought shaking her head,
"Yeah, something I almost forgot."
"It's getting faster. Rika, what are you doing to him? Are you trying to make his heat explode?"
"If you tell anyone about what happened here tonight, you'll find out firsthand just how I earned the title of Digimon Queen. Kapesh?" Rika threatened.
"Well, it's slowing down a bit, but I still don't think it's healthy…" Renamon thought.
"Oh, and Takato, you need to take a shower. You stink," she added before closing the door.
Renamon shook her head softly and chuckled. She knew that despite how they might have been acting towards each other in the last few weeks, that one small interchange was all it took for her to know that the foundation their friendship was built on had yet to crack in the slightest. The building on top might have been damaged so to say, but it wasn't in any danger of breaking or even bending in the foreseeable future.
"I still need to speak to Guilmon though, if anyone would know what happened between Jeri and Takato, it would be him."
As she waited, Renamon noticed that not only had her Tamer changed into sleeping clothes, but she had already climbed into the top bunk and was making herself comfortable. Seconds later, Renamon was able to make out slow, peaceful breathing coming from above her.
"Rika never falls asleep that quickly. She usually stares up at the ceiling for at least an hour, and that's in her own home. And I know she never even falls asleep when she spends the night at Jeri's, so how could she fall asleep so quickly here?" Renamon wondered.
Waiting for several minutes to pass, Renamon again crawled out from the bottom bunk, and rose to her full height.
Looking down, she was met with a sight she had only seen on a few very rare occasions.
Rika, sound asleep with a peaceful smile on her face. It was not a large warm smile like Jeri's, but at the same time it was much larger that Rika's usual smirk.
It was an honest to Kami smile.
"Relaxed…peaceful…Rika feels…safe here. But why?"
Leaning closer, she watched her Tamer intently, but as far as she could tell, Rika was not exhausted, so she knew that was not the reason behind her falling asleep so quickly.
Adding this to her already large store of unanswered questions, Renamon tried to think of a simple answer, some common thread that they all shared that would explain everything, but as far as she could tell, no one thing would do. They all had gaps or missing pieces that prevented them from suitably filling in that blank spot.
After waiting for several hours, and once she was sure that everyone in the home was asleep, Renamon made her way to the room's window, quietly slid it open, and leapt down to the street below. Checking to make sure that the coast was clear, Renamon opened the back door (which she had jammed slightly to prevent it from closing all the way before Rika had arrived at the bakery) and entered.
It only took her a moment to find the 'feeding pile' for Guilmon, which consisted of everything that had not been sold that day, and picked up a Guilmon Bread roll before smirking.
"I wonder if he can tell the difference between Guilmon Bread and a normal roll in his sleep…." Shaking her head, she made her way into the living room, where she found Guilmon asleep on the floor, and his Tamer on the couch above him.
"That's strange. His smile….it's the same as Rika's." Filing that thought away for another day, Renamon leaned down in front of the red dinosaur and waved the roll under his snout.
Sure enough, seconds later his eyes opened and went upwards, following the bread roll to her paw, and then up her arm to her face.
Renamon, at seeing her friends beaming smile quickly held one finger to her mouth before pointing at Takato's sleeping form, silently telling him to keep quiet. She had questions that she knew the sleeping boy would not want answered, and, while normally she would have respected his privacy, this was a special case.
Rika's happiness was at stake, and that trumped any and all forms of respect or friendship as far as she was concerned. As she had told her Tamer so many years ago, all she wanted was for Rika to be happy, and right now, Takato was doing something that was taking away her happiness. She had no doubt that it was unintentional, as the boy certainly knew enough about Rika that he could hurt her worse than anyone outside of her family. But from what she knew of the boy, and because he himself seemed to be in a rather low mood for the past few weeks, she knew it was purely accidental.
"If he didn't care for her as much as he did, there is no way he could have held onto her with one hand on Locomon." Renamon thought to herself.
Not that she saw him as weak, just that she knew how physically strong he was at the time (having seen him lose to Rika in several rounds of arm wrestling) and knew how much Rika weighed (from carrying her so often) and that there was no other way for him to overcome this difference without some form of emotional connection to her.
Rising from her crouch, Renamon walked out through the bakeries back door and leaned against the nearby wall waiting for Guilmon to arrive.
A few moments passed before she spotted his snout peek out from the opening, and take a few quick whiffs of the air.
"Guilmon," Renamon called out as she held out her 'offering'.
Carefully approaching her, Guilmon accepted the roll, and broke off a piece which he handed back to her.
*Chuckle* "Some things never change," Renamon thought as she took the piece he had offered and ate it in silence.
"Renamon? What happened to make Takato so angry today?" Guilmon asked after he and Renamon had both finished their snack.
Renamon 's gaze was fixed on the moon above as she answered.
"I'm still not quite sure myself Guilmon. But I know that it has something to do with Rika becoming upset today. She was in no real danger, other than becoming a bit uncomfortable. Takato however seemed to be angered by the situation, more so than would warrant. Do you have any idea why that might be?" Renamon asked carefully.
She watched as Guilmon tilted his head to the side, a small mannerism she knew that meant he was both thinking and trying to remember something at the same time.
"Takato always gets angry if his friends are upset. It's the only time he ever gets angry," Guilmon answered before looking up towards the moon.
"Hmmm so Takato loses his temper if his friends are in distress?" Renamon asked after a short pause.
She was surprised to see him shake his head.
"Upset, not angry. Takato only gets angry if they are hurt, normal or inside."
"When they get hurt but not from being hit. Like when Jeri lost Leomon, or when IceDevimon wouldn't let go of Rika."
Flashes of what happened in the underground parking garage were followed by Icedevimon, then those concerning Locomon came to the front of her mind before being followed by the memory of Leomon's death, causing her to shudder.
"If harming his friends emotionally causes that much of a response, I'm not sure I would want to see what would happen if they were hurt physically," Renamon thought. But that led to another train of thought.
"As terrible as his anger might be, it only happens on rare occasions…because it's only on rare occasions that anything can get by him to hurt his friends."
The fox closed her eyes and smiled gently.
"I think I understand what you are trying to say Guilmon." Her expression then became cold again as she looked down at him.
"Hurt inside, hurt emotionally…is that what happened to Jeri and Takato?"
"Guilmon, did something happen between Takato and Jeri? Something that would hurt him badly?"
Seeing him turn his head away from her, Renamon knew that something had happened.
"Takato said not to tell anyone, because it was not bad. But…"
Renamon dropped down in front of Guilmon and put both of her hands on his shoulders.
"Please Guilmon, this is very important. I need to know what happened."
"For Rika's sake, and possibly even Takato's I need to know what happened between them….wait a minute, that's it! Takato has always been protective of his friends, Rika and Jeri especially!"
"Guilmon, what would hurt Takato more, for you to break your promise to him, or for him to find out that he was hurting one of his friends?"
Guilmon turned his gaze down before looking back up at Renamon.
"What do you mean?"
Renamon tightened her grip on his shoulders.
"Guilmon, Takato is hurting Rika. Not physically, but like you said, hurting her without hitting her. As her partner, it is my job to protect her, but I can't do anything if I don't know what is happening. As much as it would hurt Takato to find out you broke his promise, I think that I know him well enough to know how he would feel if he found out he was hurting Rika."
Watching his reaction through his eyes, Renamon knew that he was facing a difficult battle internally, and while she hated using this form of logic against her friend, Rika came first, just as she always had and always would to her.
"Promise that it will help?" Guilmon asked quietly.
"I…I can't promise him that. It might not be fair what I am doing, but I will NOT lie to him."
Renamon's expression became very somber before she answered.
"I can't promise that it will help, only that I can only do as much as I have information to go on. I've picked up bits and pieces here and there, but I'm still missing something, something that I think you know Guilmon. I can't promise that it will help, but I can promise that I will do everything in my power to help," she responded firmly.
"I swear it Guilmon, I will do everything in my power to help your Tamer, but only after I am positive that Rika's happiness is no longer in danger."
Renamon watched as Guilmon nodded his head, the closed his eyes as if he was watching a memory.
"Jeri…was sad. Very sad. She spent a lot of time with Takato, and he was happy. She was…still sad, but she was getting happier, and Takato was happier too. Then, after a long time, she got happy again, but then Takato got sad."
"So Mie was correct after all, it was Jeri that caused Takato to become the way he has, and by extension, Rika. But what happened?"
"Can you tell me why Guilmon? Did something happen between them? Did Takato or Jeri do or say something to change that?" Renamon asked carefully.
Guilmon nodded before becoming silent.
Looking up at his friend with drooping ears and a sad expression, Guilmon spoke.
"Jeri said, that Takato was like family."
Renamon's expression went from focused to completely confused.
"But family always makes a person happy, does it not?"
Searching through her memories, Renamon was only able to come up with a single close match, and that was Rika's father, the one subject that was an absolute taboo when speaking with Rika unless your name was Takato Matsuki, and the date happened to be March 26th.
"No…no that can't be it. Rika's father abandoned her, Jeri has not abandoned Takato, she still goes to school with him and they are still friends, Takehiro said so himself. So it must be something similar, but not exactly the same."
"Like family? And that made him sad?" Renamon asked with an odd tone.
Guilmon nodded again. "Jeri said, Takato was always there for her, that Takato always protected her, that Takato would always be there for her. Then Jeri said thank you for being a brother to her."
After a short period of silence passed, Guilmon spoke again.
"Renamon, why would Takato be happy to have me for a brother, but sad to have Jeri for a sister?"
Renamon was silent for several moments before shaking her head.
"I'm not sure Guilmon. Rika herself calls me her sister, and I call her the same, but she's never been saddened by this. I'm afraid there is still much that I do not understand about humans. But at least I have something to go on now. Thank you Guilmon," Renamon said before looking back up at the moon.
"Humans are so complicated. Takato, why is it that you had to be the one to influence Rika so strongly? Of all the people for Rika to meet, why did it have to be someone that is so different from her?"
"Renamon, Takato was happy today. I pretended to be asleep, just like you told me too, and he was happy when he came with Rika. Do you know why?"
"Why indeed. How would the two of them simply being in close proximity to each other have caused them to act as they had back when they were at their closest?"
Renamon's expression went from deep thought to slightly amused as she met Guilmon's gaze.
"As I said Guilmon, there are still many things that I do not understand about humans. But, as far as I can tell, it had something to do with Rika's being there. What, I'm not exactly sure, but I promise that I will try to figure it out ok?"
"Though it might take far longer than I had hoped…."
Renamon saw Guilmon nod his head, and then reentered the house.
Letting out a sigh, Renamon took one last look at the moon before closing the door (which locked when shut) and then jumping back up to the tiny banister outside Takato's window.
"I forgot to close the window after I left, I hope Rika didn't get too cold," Renamon thought slightly worried as she reentered the room and closed the window behind her.
Making her way towards the bed, she decided to check on her Tamer one last time before going to sleep herself.
Having thought that the day's surprises had finally passed, Renamon found herself getting hit by one last curveball.
Since Renamon had left the window open when she left to speak to Guilmon, the room's temperature had dropped by several degrees. Rika, to keep warm had curled onto her side into a tight ball, and was clutching a pillow close to her stomach, nuzzling her face against it softly with the same gentle smile she had earlier, only it seemed to be slightly larger.
"She looks like she's…holding someone?"
Renamon leaned closer to her Tamer upon seeing her lips move slowly, as if she were whispering to someone.
Renamon's eyes widened.
End Chapter 4
AN: Well? How'd I do? I know that I'm still horribly new to this, but I hope that I managed to at least entertain you with my little work here. To those of you that stuck with me through to the end, I thank you. Hopefully I managed to paint a half decent picture here for you. My idea was simple, take a picture, split it into four separate parts, and then try to make a complete picture by overlapping them. I wanted to show how easy it is to misunderstand or misinterpret someone's actions for various reasons.
Now, don't think that this is the end of my Digimon work, or this storyline. This story itself is complete, but I still have more left to write. For now, I want to finish collecting notes on season 03, and work a bit more on my other fics. Expect to see another oneshot or two in the near future, but nothing this big anytime soon.
Please, tell me what you thought, praise, condemnation, advice or just idle thoughts, they're all welcome. I'll try to respond to your reviews asap. At worst, it will be three or four days till I can respond.
Again, thank you for reading and thank you for your time.
Till next time, Ja Ne!