Chapter One: Alley Cat

"Please be seated. We will begin the class with a lecture pertaining to the structure of proteins and how it can be altered in the presence of heat." Ms. Monomachi declared as she turned to the board, gliding a piece of chalk across its surface in an attempt to draw a detailed diagram of DNA. The students, groaning in protest, retrieved their writing utensils sluggishly before beginning to copy the note down in their notebooks.

This bites… Rika thought to herself as she leaned back in her chair, balancing herself on its hind legs while staring out of the classroom window. There hasn't been any excitement this week at all! What's a girl gotta do to get some action around here? Glancing around the room to make sure no one was looking, she pulled out her D-Arc from her skirt pocket and kept it hidden under her desk as she searched for information within its database. Low and behold, there was nothing; not a single Digimon was detected in a nearby location. She sighed. It was just her luck to get stuck with these stupid, ditsy girls who only cared about boys. It wasn't like they were going to take their schooling seriously and go on to further their education. In Rika's case, however, she really didn't even have to try and she got good marks. That's why she was so bored; she needed more of a challenge.

Shoving the device back within the contours of her pocket, she closed her eyes and tried to envision herself someplace else, somewhere where she didn't have to listen to her rambling teacher. If only I was battling a Digimon right about now…She said internally to herself as her thoughts began to wander.

"Hey, loser!" a girl whispered scornfully, pulling the redhead back into reality. Before Rika could look over her shoulder she felt the force of someone kicking the legs out from beneath her chair, causing her to fly backwards towards the floor. Catching herself between the two desks, Rika stood over the girl seated behind her with her fist poised, ready to strike her target.

"Why, you…" The girl had locks of brown silky hair and brown eyes, giving her face a rather innocent appeal. Her name was Becka, the most popular girl in the class who was notorious for her dishonesty and deceitfulness. Oh, how she loved antagonizing Rika, since she was the odd one out and all. Everyone made fun of her because of her hair, the way she dressed in her casual clothes, and because she was very much of a tomboy.

"Ms. Monomachi! Ms. Monomachi!!" the girl squealed, pretending to have no part in what was going on.

"Miss Nonaka! I will not tolerate these violent outbursts!" The teacher's voice bellowed, her eyes fixed on the redhead with the spiked ponytail. "Not only are you disrupting the class, but you are inflicting harm on your fellow peer?! Go stand in the hall!" She said crossly, pointing toward the door.

The classroom of girls began to snicker as Rika cursed under her breath while making her way out into the hall, ignoring their remarks as they gossiped amongst themselves with her as their main highlight. Once out of sight, the teacher returned to her previous position and resumed the lecture, an indication for the girls to avert their attention to the front of the room once more.

"Man, I wish I was anywhere but here," Rika said to herself, leaning against the wall in the long, empty corridor with her arms folded and her weight distributed onto her left leg. She hated her school. She had nothing in common with the other girls whatsoever, leaving her to be the object of their ridiculing.

Glancing out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a familiar form standing just outside the window in front of her, signaling for her to follow. "Renamon?" Maybe there's a Digimon close by! Just what I needed! With that, Rika walked over to the window and opened it silently, climbing onto the rooftop where, sure enough, Renamon was waiting for her. "What's wrong? Is there a Digimon around somewhere?" the young tamer asked, removing her D-Arc from her skirt pocket.

"Actually, there's one that just appeared a few moments ago in this area." The fox-like Digimon replied, stiffening slightly. "Only… There's something different about this one. I don't believe that it's very dangerous, but... I think we should approach it with caution."

"Heh. There's nothing we can't handle. Let's go, Renamon!" Renamon moved towards her tamer and fastened her arms around her before leaping into the air, moving faster than one could see. In a matter of seconds, the two figures were standing in an empty alley near the school, where a Digimon, one that looked like a scarecrow holding a lantern, materialized into view. The air hanging over them was damp and heavy, overpowered by the musty smells that were emitted from the rotting garbage which littered the ground at their feet. The path between the surrounding buildings made the alley seem very tight and narrow, resulting in little room for them to maneuver. Not that Rika was worried, though. She was very confident that it would be easy to send it back from where it came.

"Hm…?" The scarecrow, now intrigued by their arrival, abandoned its motion of looking through the leftover garbage and turned its attention over to the odd duo. "Oh, so you'd like to play, huh?" It said in a mischievous tone, cocking its head to the side while placing a finger on its crooked mouth. Its body, held together by what seemed to be an old barley sack, was extremely misshapen. Mounds of straw were sticking out in various areas, and its clothes were ripped and tattered causing them to hang loosely from its frail form. Tipping its old, dusty hat forward, the scarecrow leaped backwards onto the closed dumpster situated behind it and held its lantern off to the side, staring at them expectantly. "Well? What are you waiting for?" It cackled.

"You ready, Renamon?" Rika asked her partner, holding her D-Arc in front of her.

The scarecrow's eyes burned with wonder as it stared at the device, sensing that it was of some kind of importance to its owner. Perhaps it was some kind of…game…?

"Digi-Card modify activate!" the redhead shouted, swiping a card through her D-Arc. Renamon's right arm peeled away quickly, temporarily replaced by what appeared to be a machine gun. "Now, Renamon!"

The fox-like Digimon aimed her gun towards the scarecrow, releasing millions of speeding bullets within its direction. "Aw… That's no fair!" It proclaimed as it leaped out of the way, moving towards Rika. Thrusting its lantern towards the ground, a blinding light appeared that caused the duo to shield their eyes instinctively in response, their actions consequently delayed.

Rika finally opened her eyes only to realize that she was without her much needed device, meaning that they would be unable to continue the battle. Damn! That little thief!

"I thought we could be friends, but it's very clear that you had something else in mind!" The scarecrow seethed, tossing the device from one hand to another.

"Give that back!" Rika shouted, growing very impatient.

"Oh well…" It continued, ignoring Rika's demands. "Perhaps it's because of my ghastly appearance…? Hm…"

"Wait a minute…You're…You're Meldramon, aren't you?" Renamon asked inquisitively as she held her fighting stance.

"Have we met before…? Oh, you must forgive me, for I do not recognize you. Not that it matters. I have other things to attend to right now, and for starters…" Meldramon raised his right hand above his head while holding a green flame, readying himself for attack. "LIGHT OF RECONFIGURATION!!!" The scarecrow tossed the ball of fire towards the human girl in front of him, watching as it concealed her within rays of green light well before she was able to react.

What the hell?! Shielding her eyes with her arms, Rika could feel herself moving towards the ground as her world became much larger than it was previously, almost as though everything was growing in size… Wait a minute… She thought, now aware that her clothes were falling loosely in places that they hadn't before. Everything's not getting bigger; I'm getting smaller! What the hell did that thing do to me?! Moments later she was buried under the layers of clothes, rendering her incapable of being able to see or respond to the situation at hand.

Noticing Meldramon slip into the growing shadows, Renamon ventured after the retreating scarecrow as he faded in and out of view, determined to make him pay for what he did to her partner. She was so caught up in the battle that she didn't even notice the light had dispersed, leaving a pile of Rika's clothes on the ground with a small form moving around in a desperate motion to free itself from beneath.

Alone, Rika finally escaped from her entanglement with little knowledge of the events that had just past. What had happened? Why did she feel so small? Why do I feel so…different? She pondered, flicking her ears. Wait… Huh? Reaching up she daintily touched the tips of her ears…only to find that they weren't in their usual place. Instead, they were situated on the top of her head, pointed at that. She froze. Something was definitely not right…

Peering into a small puddle on the ground she almost fainted upon seeing what stared back at her. Her reflection was…was…a cat?! That can't be right! A cat?! Why the hell would it turn me into a cat?! She probed her mind for all of the possible answers, but none came. The only probable one was that the Digimon had nothing better to do and just liked to cause mischief and chaos. Indeed… She was a cat. A cat with reddish fur and yellow stripes running parallel along her back. The fur on the top of her head stuck up slightly where her spiked ponytail would normally be in her human form, and her eyes were their usual sapphire blue. This can't be happening… This can't be happening! She denied to herself, pressing her ears down with her new, fuzzy paws. This day can't get any worse… I'll pulverize that scarecrow when I get my hands on him!! Wallowing in her disbelief, she failed to notice that there was another presence nearby, until…

Her ears suddenly swerved in the direction where something was fast approaching the scene, bringing to her attention that she wasn't alone after all. Not by a long shot… The gruff, coarse sound of a dog's bark filled her ears, startling her when it emerged from the shadows with its fellow comrades. Baring its teeth, the leader of the pack lurched forward, grunting and growling with each and every step it took. Eyes wide in horror, Rika was somehow able to muster enough energy to flee from the group of hounds, running as fast as her little legs could take her with the dogs right on her trail. This is something I never thought I'd do! I've turned into something that they think is their next slab of meat! When will this nightmare end!?

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Today was like any other day, with a full schedule composed of school, homework, and chores. Nothing really exciting about that. Working in a bread shop wasn't that unusual, either. Everything was pretty much normal for Takato Matsuki. Oh, how badly he wanted a Digimon to appear… He wasn't really taking well to his old life now! Where was the rush, the adventure? Sure, that's what he wanted when he and the others were facing the D-reaper, but this was ridiculous! Nothing at all? What was the point of being a tamer when all you could do was stand around like everyone else?

Takato sighed as he opened the door to his parent's bread shop to let in some fresh air, enjoying the cool breeze that passed over his warm, clammy skin. It was extremely hot in the bread shop whenever his parents were baking, so it constantly felt like being cooked in an oven!

Cars whizzed by on the busy streets as people looked through the windows of neighbouring stores, hunting for ways and means that they could use to spend their money. There was a café, a bookstore, and a restaurant just to name a few. This was the place where many tourists liked to visit, being that there was a variety of stores to choose from. Then he heard faint growling and barks from within the distance…

Out of the corner of his eye Takato caught a glimpse of a reddish cat headed towards his direction with a pack of dogs following close behind, more than ready to have it as their new chew toy. "What the…?"

Ah! Finally! A place where they can't chase me! Rika thought to herself as she pushed herself forward. It had to at least been half an hour of non-stop running, so she was suffering from major exhaustion at that moment.

Takato barely noticed the fuzzy blur as the cat flew past his feet and into the shop, his attention focused on the hounds that followed. The one dog looked like it would rip apart anything it could sink its teeth into! Not wanting to sacrifice any of his limbs, he quickly ran back into the shop and slammed the door shut before letting out a sigh of relief as the pack of dogs slowly retreated, no longer interested in having Rika as their main dish.

"That was close…" he said as he looked down at the cat. "So, what's your name? You're very pretty for a cat."

"I'm not a cat!" Rika tried to say as she clawed the air while batting her tail against the floor. This was going to be a very difficult task… …since her words, to him, sounded very much like 'mews' and 'meows'.

"Takato, what's wrong?" Mrs. Matsuki said as she entered the room. Takato quickly grabbed the 'cat' and shoved it under his shirt, trying to hide her presence. His mom wasn't typically fond of animals, so he had to think fast about what he was going to do with the one that he found. If he released it back outside, he was afraid that she would become dog chow.

"N-Nothing! Just finished getting some fresh air, that's all."

"Goggle-head! You idiot! I can't breathe under here!!" Rika meowed in protest, trying to get out into the open. This was definitely a very awkward moment… for her, anyway. He didn't even know that it was her.

"Are you hiding something?" his mom asked, placing a hand on her hip.

"O-Of course not! Anyway, better get to those studies!" Takato waved as he started to run up the stairs to his room. If his mom found out that he had a cat, she'd make him get rid of it for sure!

Walking into the room, Takato placed his fuzzy friend on the bed and sat next to her, studying her feline appearance. "You know, for some reason you remind me of Rika… Maybe I'll call you Ruki! You don't mind, do ya? It's her name in Japanese." He smiled. If only he knew…

"I am Rika!" She sighed. Obviously this wasn't getting her anywhere, so she had to find another alternative that she could use to communicate with him.

Takato fell back onto his bed, staring up at the ceiling. His thoughts were filled of memories that he had of the redhead with the spiked ponytail, causing him to sigh in reminiscence. He wasn't exactly sure how he felt about her, but the feelings that he had been having lately were really strong and somehow…different. His heart fluttered just thinking about her.

What's he daydreaming about? Rika thought to herself, curling up beside him. She was, after all, tired from her strenuous day, so she really couldn't care less about whether she was a human or a cat at this point. To her surprise, she could feel his hand glide across her back as he ran his fingers through her fur, leaving her without knowing how to react. It was a good thing that she was a cat, since she felt like her cheeks were burning. He really thought that she was a cat!

"My friends… think that she's cold and heartless. Maybe they're right in a sense…" the boy with shaggy hair spoke silently. Rika lifted her head and shot him one of her death glares, almost ready to pounce on him and knock him to his senses.

Why I oughta… She thought as she felt a vein pop from her temple.

He continued. "…but I think they're not seeing everything. She has a big heart, and she's really cute, especially when she smiles and she's happy. I don't know, but lately…"

Rika continued looking at him, baffled. "Eh?"

"Lately I've thought about holding her in my arms…like this." He stated admittedly as he moved his arms around the fuzzy form beside him.

Is he actually talking about me? Rika could feel her heart skip as he pulled her close, somewhat mused with how he was unknowing of the ironic situation that they were actually in. Doesn't he care about Jeri, though? Maybe he just meant he wanted to be close as friends… N-Not that it matters! I-It's not like I love him or anything…right? "Can't breathe…Let go!"Rika squirmed in an effort to make him loosen is grip, but gave up the notion when realizing that it wasn't getting her anywhere; he was asleep. Alright… Maybe it's not so bad… I guess… Closing her eyes she soon accompanied him in sleep, forgetting about the day's past troubles until the dawn of another day…

To be continued…

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A/N: Eh… a little sketchy, I think, but not half bad. It would've come out better if I had more time and if I wasn't so tired!Anyway, if you haven't already figured it out, Meldramon has the ability to reconstruct DNA in an organism, thus causing it to change form. The idea popped into my head a couple of weeks ago, but it actually correlates well with the notion relating to the digimon (in the Digimon movie) that has the ability to revert people into their child forms; if a digimon can do that, then it can also change the structure of organisms! *cough* SO… Yeah. That's all for now! Hope you enjoyed the chapter and don't forget to review! :D

P.S If Rika's line when she's sliding the card through her D-Arc is wrong, please let me know! I actually haven't watched the series since I was 13, and that was a LONG time ago… …Six years to be more precise. Anyway, take care!