Waking up to a different Sunrise

AN: I'll bet that any of the Digimon fans I managed to get back when I did my first two stories are ready to hang me by now for making them wait so long for this….and my small following of Storm Hawks fans are ready to start PMing me into Oblivion, fearing that I will stop working on my already WAYYY behind schedule works, but I need to branch out every now and then. If I keep writing one series I lose all the know how I learned from the other, which I in turn use for all of my works in various ways. So, I want to assure you that I'm not going to stop any time soon, so don't worry. Now, with that out of the way, I would like to present the next in my series of Digimon stories. It will pick up the following morning that the previous story ended on. I'll tell you now that this one will be a bit different in that it won't be chapter/character focused, but will be time focused, with each chapter covering a specified time period. *This one should be obvious* I hope that it turns out to be at least as good as the last one! 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.

Takato carefully opened the door to what until last night had always been 'his' room. Though usually it was his 'Fortress of Solitude' it was currently under occupation by friendly forces….well, usually friendly anyways.

He knew that if he ever needed help, if his life was on the line, or if he ever needed her, she would be there to bail him out. If it was for a bad reason or if it was for something trivial however, he could expect pain later, but only after she helped him. That in of itself said volumes of their friendship.

Sure, he had known Henry for a bit longer, and they might have gotten along better most of the time, but on rare occasions, Henry had to turn away his calls for aid for one reason or another. And while every one of those few occasions had been for a more than valid reason, Rika still had a four year perfect record of coming through when he asked her to.

Not one time did she make an excuse, not one time did she turn him down.

Not once.

That was part of the reason he enjoyed being around her so much. He knew that she would always have his back. And it wasn't just him that had noticed it either. The others had taken to calling them partners, Kazu and Kenta even suggested that he might be her Tamer, at least until she caught wind of it.

To this day, they still had no idea how Rika, without aid from Renamon, was able to give both Kazu and Kenta wedgies from the school's flagpole, and when asked, said boys would just shudder and change the subject.

Taking a deep breath, he took one step into the room, and waited. He knew that Rika was a somewhat light sleeper, and that he would have to be careful not to wake her.

Renamon on the other hand? He knew he didn't have a prayer of sneaking by her. Hence the 'item' he was carrying with him.

When nothing happened, Takato took another step into the room, then another, and then another.


It was just a brief twitch, and could easily be mistaken for a sleeping spasm, but Takato knew from one particularly painful past experience that an ear twitch was the ONLY warning Renamon gave before quite literally jumping into action.

Gulping, Takato held up the small piece of cardboard he had found in the kitchen like a shield, and waited.

One second passed, two seconds passed, three seconds passed.

Tap tap

Takato grinned and lowered his 'shield'. Sure enough, staring him down were a not quite friendly, but still much less hostile than years before pair of light blue eyes.

"Huh, I never noticed it before, but her eyes are lighter then they were back then…just like Rika's after…"

Seeing the fox's blank expression, Takato snapped to and quietly made his way to the closet. Thanks to his less than sterling attempts at keeping his room clean, it didn't take him long to find what he needed. Just a few pieces of clothes and his lucky sweatbands.

Hey, he got Guilmon, met Rika and Henry, fought numerous Digimon, went to the Digital World, fought one of the four Sovereign AND the D-Reaper wearing them, how much more lucky could you get?

About to leave, he turned to wave at Renamon when he felt a strange wave of calmness wash over him. He didn't know why, but he just felt like, walking. Walking towards the bunk bed as quietly as he could, but walking nonetheless.

"What's wrong with me? I know I need to get out of here, but…I want to see something…I want to see…Rika…but why?"

Now standing beside his sleeping friend, Takato marveled at how different she looked asleep than when she was awake.

Her hair, which had NEVER been seen out of its trademark ponytail, was spread out like a fiery red and gold mane, but at the same time not covering a single inch of her face.

"She's…beautiful…she's smiling!?"

That, while not exactly nonexistent, was a very rare sight. Her smirks were generally always present and her jeers were heard almost daily, but her gentle smile and true laugh were about as rare as a first edition misprinted triple platinum Omnimon card.

There were only three known in existence.

Shaking his head, Takato looked down and was surprised to see Renamon's eyes were actually closed. Not wanting to press his luck, the boy back peddled towards the door as quietly as he could, then closed the door behind him with a sigh of relief.

Back inside the room, Renamon was contemplating her use of hypnosis and dimensional shifting on the boy. It had garnered her a bit more insight into the boy's thoughts on her Tamer, but they were of little use and only added more confusion to what she already knew.

Being a creature of pure data, Renamon, like every other digimon had access to a nearly limitless well of knowledge to draw from. Of course, while this knowledge was of little use most of the time, one thing that Renamon had found useful on many occasions was having what amounted to a built in dictionary. Even though she had a fairly decent hold of the human language, she would on occasion look up a word to get the most literal and explanatory meaning she could for it, as she was doing now.

"Beautiful: adj, pleasing to the senses, very pleasant and impressive to look at, listen to, touch, smell, or taste. Excellent, very good or enjoyable. Synonyms with good-looking."

That in of itself was not odd, as she had heard words with similar meaning used in describing her Tamer before. But going back, she could never once recall hearing that exact word be used. Likewise, she had never heard Takato refer to Jeri as such, instead only describing her as 'cute'.

"Cute: adj, attractive in a childlike way, endearingly attractive in a way that some children and young animals are. Physically attractive in a young manner. Smaller than usual size but nicely arranged or appointed. Shrewd, sharply intelligently or wily."

The two were very similar, almost identical in meaning. But, from what she could tell based on how humans used the two words, beautiful carried more weight, and had more power behind it than cute did.

"Now I just need to find a way to get that through to Rika without having to explain how it is I know this, or why I was looking for the answer in the first place," Renamon thought discontentedly.

Spying was her nature, same as eating was for Guilmon, and telling bad jokes was for Terriermon. Its not that she did it on purpose, it was more of a reflex than anything else. But there had been times in the past where she learned that her partner did not want something she had seen or heard known to anyone, herself included.

"Well, I have an entire day to think about it. Rika's mother will not be happy, but I am sure that I can make my 'recovery' take until after her friend and his son's flight has long since left."

Several minutes passed, during which Renamon tried to solve the enigma that was teenager behavior, when she spied out of the corner of her sight Takato's alarm clock, and smirked.

"Five, four, three, two, one."

The clock turned, now saying that the time was six o'clock on the dot and with that…


"Right on time," the vulpine warrior thought with a knowing smile.

"Huh…what...s…go..in..on.." Yawn

Opening her blurry eyes, it took Rika about a tenth of a second to realize that she was

A. Not in her room, and

B. Not in her usual warm cotton pajamas.

Quickly bolting up Rika looked around the room, breathing like a racehorse. She didn't take well to waking up in an unfamiliar place.

"Rika? Are you well?"

Looking around, then finally down, Rika blinked. "Renamon? What…happened? Where are we?" She asked tensely.

"Don't you remember Rika? You are in the Matsuki's residence, Takato's room to be precise," Renamon replied calmly.

Rika blinked again at hearing that.

"Takato's room? But I thought that was just a…" catching herself, the young redhead's memory finally jogged back in and stopped her from slipping any further than she already had.

"Ugh, that's right. I forgot. Mom's got company," Rika said flatly.

"And trying to marr," before Renamon could finish the sentence, she saw Rika fall off the side of the bed, moved, and caught her.

"Are you ok Rika?"

The now bright red faced teenage girl pulled herself out of her friend's arms and brushed herself off taking deep breaths.

"I forgot that it was a bunk bed," she replied flatly before turning to her friend with an accusing finger.

"You did that on purpose didn't you?"

Renamon just blanked her face before speaking.

"Whatever do you mean Rika?"

Narrowing her eyes, Rika turned and made her way to the door but tripped on something and started falling backwards, back into the arms of her friend.

"Are you sure that you are ok Rika?" Renamon's voice had a slight, almost teasing ring to it, but only someone that knew her very well would have picked up on it.

Now trembling with embarrassment, which she usually disguised as anger, the girl looked down to see just what had tripped her up. Her sights came to rest on a single strip of cardboard lying in the middle of the room.

"Huh? I don't remember that being there last night."

Renamon chuckled. "That is because it wasn't. Takato was carrying it this morning when he came in here.

Rika spun on her heel to face her partner, but before she could let off a torrent, Renamon pointed back at the piece of cardboard with a serious expression.

Now at least curious as to what her friend could possibly think would justify her allowing someone into the same room as her when she was sleeping, she picked the piece up and turned it over.

There, in large bold writing, was Renamon's defense.

'Need shower, need clothes, won't go near Rika, PLEASE DON'T HURT ME!' Tap twice if you can read this.

Rika found herself smiling at the thought of Takato holding up the sign like a shield then bolting out of the room like a scared rabbit.

"Well…I guess I can let it pass. But just this once, don't let it happen again Renamon," Rika said with her 'I'm in charge' voice.

Renamon mealy nodded, knowing that anything else would result in a long and drawn out argument that would only end with her agreeing anyways.

"So what do we do? We're stuck here for an entire day, I can't even go out to fight unless it's an emergency or my covers blown," Rika said leaning against the door.

This was one part of the two teenager's scheme that they had apparently failed to plan out. Renamon knew that Rika's desperation to get out of her mothers latest 'attempt' combined with Takato's general 'run head long into without looking' style of thinking would have this consequence, but didn't voice the matter due to hoping they would work it out themselves. As such, and remembering a few of her conversations with Seiko from the past, she decided not to change her stand on the matter.

"I'm sorry Rika, but for your own good, you need to do this on your own."

"I'm afraid that I don't know Takato well enough to help you with that Rika." Seeing her partner's slightly downcast expression, she added one last bit.

"But I am sure you will find something to pass the time. There is much more to Takato then I think we are aware of."

Rika gave her friend a curious look before catching her reflection in the mirror.

"Ah! I almost went out with it down!" Rika yelped before hurrying back to the nightstand and retrieving her precious scruncy.

"I wonder why she was worried about being seen with her hair down?" Renamon thought as she watched her Tamer go through the usual morning ritual of tying her hair back.

"Since you're supposed to be recovering, why don't you just stay in here. I don't want to give Takato's mom any more reason to toss me out than she already has," Rika muttered the last part under her breath, but Renamon still caught it.

Takato was still trying to recover from the shock of seeing Rika with her hair down. Sure, it had been almost thirty minutes ago, and since seeing it, he had already showered, changed, and loaded the first hamper's worth of laundry for the day, but the image was burned to the front of his memory. It just wouldn't go away!

Tap tap tap

Looking up, Takato was surprised to see someone at the front door of the bakery, taping on the door loud enough to be heard, but not loud enough to cause a racket.

"What on Earth? I know I remembered to flip the sign last night. The sign says we open at seven thirty on Saturdays, what's the problem?"

Moving to the front of the bakery, Takato saw a familiar face standing outside the door.

One he hadn't expected, and actually hoped not to see, at least for a few more days.

Despite having the occasional friendly discussion with her, Takato didn't actually know Rika's Grandmother very well. They had only spoken at gatherings with the entire Tamer group, on the rare occasion that she had stopped by for bread while he was working, or the even rarer event of him being at the Nonaka home. And while she had always been very nice to him, he couldn't help but fear why she would be here at such an early hour.

"It's got to be for Rika! Oh man, what am I going to tell her, I can't lie to her, she's Rika's Grandmother!" Taking a few calming breaths, Takato steeled himself.

"Rika, ok, this is for her, keep your cool Takato. Just don't do anything Kazu would and you should do fine."

"Uh, sorry miss, but we don't open till seven thirty. I just started the ovens a few minutes ago actually so you'll have to come back later!" Takato said through the door while keeping his head down to avoid seeing or being seen by the woman.

The knocking became slightly louder at that point.

Not wanting to risk his parents waking up and meeting up with the Nonaka matriarch, he decided to face her himself. He prayed that someone upstairs was in a charitable mood and not looking for a good laugh.

Opening the door slightly, he stuck his head out.

"Sorry we don't open till, oh! Hi miss Makino! Uh, sorry but, like I said, breads not ready yet."

The woman just smiled the same way she had when he first spoke to her over four years ago. Warm, gentle and kind, it made him wonder why his own Grandmother couldn't be more like her. He couldn't help but notice that like Rika, her eyes closed when she smiled.

"Almost like a fox," he thought idly.

"Yes, I know what time the bakery opens Takato. I've been buying bread from your parents since before you were even born. I just wanted to drop this off for Rika, I thought that she might appreciate having some fresh clothes to wear today instead of wearing what she did last night."

Takato blinked and was surprised to see her holding up Rika's school backpack, which he guessed had the before mentioned clothes inside.

"Uh…thanks Miss Makino, uh I'll leave these by Rika's door," Takato said reaching out and taking the pack.

"Such a kind young man. Your parents must be very proud," Sieko said with her usual warm smile as Takato took the rather light backpack from her.

Takato chuckled. "Uh, I'm not so sure about that, I think they would have a few other words in mind if you asked them yourself," Takato said with a lightly. Is there anything else that you need? I kinda need to get back to work and all…" Takato left the sentence hanging, hoping that she would take the bait and leave.

"Oh I'm sorry, I forgot, you do help your parents in the morning don't you? Then I'll be on my way," with that she turned to leave.

Takato was about to pull his head back, but something caught his attention. A small post-it note attached to the top of the backpack in his hands.


Pulling his head, and the backpack inside, he checked to make sure no one else was in the room or watching him.

"If it's for Rika, then I shouldn't…but what if it's not? I mean, why would she put a note on the outside like that? If it was meant for Rika wouldn't it make more sense to put it inside where she would find it?"

As was usually the case, curiosity overpowered caution for Takato.

Pulling the sticky note off of the backpack, Takato looked around one last time before reading the post-it.

"Stay close to her." Takato blinked after reading the short message. It was definitely not meant for Rika, and he was willing to bet it wasn't for Renamon either.

"But why would she want to give me a message like that? Stay close to her? What is that supposed to mean? Does she mean for all time? Or just for today?" Thinking back, it was very strange that she would have come so early in the morning to drop off clothes for Rika in the first place. Rika was not a girly girl. She had worn the same clothes the entire time they were in the Digital world without complaining once, so he didn't think she would mind wearing something for two days in a row. Something wasn't adding up here, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

"I guess I'll just have to wait and see what today brings," Takato decided.

Turning around he was startled to see a pair of light violet eyes focused on him from the bottom of the stairs.

"Ah! Rika! What are you…I mean, it's nice to see…uh, I mean, its good to see that your up. Did you sleep ok?" The poor boy tried to keep calm, but that was kind of hard for him to do.

It was rather early in the morning, and it wasn't too often that he turned around to see a cute girl in his gym clothes watching him so intently.

"Who was it?"

Takato blinked.

"Uh, who was who?"

Rika rolled her eyes. "The door gogglehead, who was it. I heard you talking when I was coming down the stairs….and why do you have my backpack?"

Takato looked down at the backpack he was holding, and then back up at Rika's narrowed eyes.

"Oh, this? Uh, yeah, about that. See your Grandmother was just here and dropped this off for you, she said something about how she thought you would want fresh clothes," Takato babbled.

"Grandma was here?! WHAT DID YOU TELL HER?!" Rika demanded.

Now fearing for his safety, Takato held out her backpack in front of him as a combination shield/peace offering.

"I didn't tell her anything honest! The only time your name came up was when I told her that I would leave this by your door, I swear!"

Rika studied the boy for a moment. She could tell that he was being truthful, but at the same time, she knew there was something else. Her gaze focused on the tiny post-it note in his other hand.

"What's that?"

"What? This? The note? It's…uh...its instructions, you know, like, for what I'm supposed to do today." Takato congratulated himself on being honest, while at the same time not doing anything that would cause Rika to be more suspicious than she already was.

"He's hiding something, but what? It's not like him to try and hid anything, so it's either something embarrassing, or it's something major." Accepting that she wouldn't be getting anything else out of him (at least for now) Rika took the backpack from him and started towards the stairs before remembering one tiny little detail. A detail that had been on her mind since waking up.


Hearing his name, the red eyed youth looked up to see something had only seen on very rare occasions.

A nervous Rika.

"What did you want me to… do with your gym clothes?" Rika decided to just out and say it.

"Think fast Takato, you don't want her getting the wrong idea about you do you?" The evil imp Terriermon's voice rang through his head with a sing a song tone.

Swallowing, Takato turned away and shrugged.

"Whatever you want. You can drop them in the hamper or keep them if you want to."

Time stopped.

Alarm buzz

"Great going Takato, now she's going to think."

"Excuse me? Mind running that by me again?" Rika's voice caused the rooms temperature to drop several degrees.

"Takato, if you screw this up, she'll never forgive you or let you live it down," a voice that sounded suspiciously like Renamon's admonished him.

Keeping as calm as he could, Takato turned to face her with his most innocent and confused expression that he could muster.

"Huh? Oh, uh, I was just thinking that if something like this ever happened to me, and you kept them, then I would have something to wear…you know…if I ever had to hide out at your place."

"That came out so wrong and pathetic that it's not even funny," Kazu's voice said disbelievingly in the back of his mind.

Rika's expression went from cold and calculating to slightly confused, to his relief, understanding.

"Oh, that makes sense. For a second there I thought…never mind," Rika replied before turning and heading back upstairs.

"She actually believed that lame excuse!?" Kazu, Kenta, Terriermon and oddly, Ryo's voices shouted in the back of his mind.

For several seconds, nothing happened. But as soon as he heard the bathroom door close, Takato leaned against the nearest wall, exhaled, and slid down onto his butt.

'That, was close."

"No kidding," Terriermon's voice chimed.

Groaning, Takato tapped the back of his head on the wall.

"Mom was right, my imagination is a curse."

After a few minutes passed, Takato pulled himself together and started pulling out everything he would need for this morning. He knew his parents would be up soon, and that they would take care of breakfast. All he had to do was get the first batch of bread finished, and the second batch into the oven. After that, he was free to do whatever he wanted, unless it turned out to be a busy day, then he would be stuck back in the kitchen.

"Not like I could do much of anything else with Rika here. This tanks! She's one of my best friends, but outside of Digimon we have nothing on common…do we?"

That one thought made Takato stop what he was doing and actually think.

"Come to think of it, what do I know about Rika? I know she hates girly stuff, and that her dad is a touchy subject, but what does she do for fun? She can't just spend all of her time Taming…can she?"

He knew that she was never seen without her precious CD player, a gift from her Grandmother and the only reason she had yet to upgrade to an IPOD, and that she didn't care much for sports, or people in general. Still, there had to be something…

Looking back at the clock, Takato realized that he had squandered too much time and needed to get into gear if he was going to be finished before breakfast was served.

Sighing, Rika pulled her hair back into a ponytail for the second time this morning. Studying her reflection, she felt that something was off, but she couldn't seem to figure out what it was. Her Grandmother had given her a single change of clothes, her shampoo, brush and toothbrush. Everything she used in the morning, but something just wasn't right.

Looking back down at the discarded gym clothes, Rika rolled them up and shoved them into the bottom of her bag.

"If mom or Grandma saw them, I'd never get a minute's piece for the rest of my life."

Shaking her head, Rika took the backpack and left it back in her…Takato's room for Renamon to guard until they left. No sense in risking anything she mused.

She did think it was a bit strange that Takato would be up so early while his parents were still asleep though. Her mother, on the rare occasion that she actually WAS home, tended to be a fairly early riser, getting up before she did. And by then, her Grandmother had usually been up for several hours already.

"Do they sleep in every weekend? Or is there something going on that I don't know about?"

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Rika looked around for her friend, only to find no trace of him.

"Where did he go? If he flaked out on me, I swear he'll never walk aga," Rika's line of thinking was cut off by a dull thud sound coming from around the corner.

"He couldn't be…could he?"

Peeking around the corner, Rika was surprised to see that Takato was indeed working in the kitchen, presumably making bread.

"Gogglehead? What on Earth are you doing?"

Slamming the dough back down onto the flour covered wooden plank, Takato looked up.

"Oh, hey Rika! Just getting to morning batch done, tt shouldn't take too long."

"Wait a minute, something's not right here." Taking a quick second to look his friend over, Takato soon found the change.

"Her shirt, why did she change back to the broken heart?"

Rika noticed his eyes focusing on something, and guessed what it was.

Slightly red, but still able to focus on the anger from the situation, Rika ground her teeth.

"Ta Ka To."

Said boy just blinked in surprise. "I thought you stopped wearing those after…you know."

Rika's anger disappeared and was replaced by confusion. Looking down, she saw that while he had been staring in that general area, it was the design of her shirt he had been focusing on.

"That's weird, I don't even remember having this one, I thought I got rid of them all after we beat the D-Reaper….and I know I haven't bought any in the last four years…where did this come from?" Shrugging her shoulders, Rika passed off the entire exchange as a combination of chance and the usual Takato being taken for as less observant than he really was.

"Why are you doing that anyway? I thought you only helped on holidays?" Rika asked, trying to move on to a different topic.

Smiling, Takato went back to work on the dough ball in his hands.

"I used to only work on the holidays, or when mom or dad was sick. For the last year though, I've been doing the morning batch. Its how I keep buying cards since mom cut off my allowance."

That made Rika blink in realization.

"Takat, I mean, Gogglehead actually has a JOB?! Since when did that happen?"

Trying to not sound but SO interested, Rika decided to try and see what she could find out about her friend.

"So why exactly are you doing this?"

Not stopping what he was doing, Takato answered her.

"So I can get paid, duh. With all the wild ones that have been coming through lately, it's not like I could get a normal job anyways. Plus, this way I can help my parents out a little. They get to sleep in a bit, and I get to ask for favors every now and then. It's not that bad really."

Riak watched as he kneaded the dough a few times, and then worked it into several rolls. It seemed simple enough, and she had helped out once before, even if it had been a long time ago.

"Could…I give you a hand?"

Takato stopped and looked at her, wondering if it had been her just trying to lighten the mood or something. But seeing her honest and somewhat nervous expression, he realized that she was being serious.

"Uh, sure, if you want. Just grab a hairnet, bandana and apron from the drawer over there," Takato said, pointing with his head.

Opening the drawer, Rika found a small box of hairnets, a green bandana…and a pink apron.

"Ok, helping gogglehead is one thing, but there is no way I am going to be caught dead wearing something pink."

Putting on the hairnet, and tying the bandana around her head, Rika marched back over to Takato.

"Just need to fix one little thing," she said teasingly.

The boy nearly jumped out of his skin at hearing her voice coming from almost right behind him. Looking over his shoulder, he saw she had untied the apron and was pulling it over his head.

"Hey! What's the big idea?! I need that!"

Smirking, Rika pulled the dark blue apron he had been wearing over herself and tied it, then held out the pink one to him.

"Here, you shouldn't mind, since I AM a guest after all."

Takato sputtered as she slipped it over his head and actually tied it for him. His surprise at what was happening overriding the fact that she was actually tying it for him.

"That's not fair! Why should I wear the pink one?"

Rika's smirk grew a bit, but she didn't say anything. Instead, she just started to copy him and do what she had watched him do for the last few minutes.

Now, Takato had seen a lot of things in the last few years that many would call strange, weird, or just plain freaky. But to see Rika Nonaka, notorious Ice Queen, and The Digimon Queen rolling and kneading bread like she had been doing it for years took the cake.

Seeing her friend staring at her, Rika began to feel just a tad bit uncomfortable. So she resorted to the failsafe backup.


"What? Am I doing it wrong or something? Or are you still hung up on the apron? Well? Spit it out already!"

Takato looked down at the dough in her hands, then back to the rolls she had finished.

Rika, seeing his line of sight, figured that she must have messed up on the rolls, and that Takato was trying to find a way of telling her such without coming across like a parent.

"Rika…how did you?"

"Wait a second, how did I what?"

Seeing that Takato's face was not one of dismay or exasperation, but one of shock and surprise, Rika decided to just roll with it. She had years of practice and with using confidence to make luck appear to be skill. Not that she ever used it in Taming or when playing cards, but there were other areas in life it had paid off.

"What? Surprised? Its not that hard once you get the hang of it," Rika said with a honest and somewhat teasing voice. One she usually reserved for the soul purpose of picking on Takato.

The stunned boy just shook his head and started going back to work on his own batch, but mumbled just a single phrase, one that pinpricked Rika the wrong way.

"Jeeze, that's just creepy, she's just as good as."

Due to the stress of last night still being fresh in her mind, and still wanting to fish around for anything she could find out about what had happened between the two, Rika, in true Takato fashion, jumped the gun.

"What? Just as good as Jeri?" Rika spat.

Takato frowned at her tone, but quickly hid it.

"No, I was going to say my mom," Takato replied as he continued working.

Rika stopped, and stared at him like he had grown another head.


Takato, due to being on the receiving end of that particular one word question from Rika MANY times in the past, had developed the ability to figure out exactly what was going through her mind when it was asked. Right now for instance, he was detecting mostly confusion, but a tiny bit of disbelief was also present.

"I mean just what I said. You're almost as good as my mom at this. Dad's the one that came from a family of bakers, mom just kinda…learned from him."

Rika, sensing more to it than that, went back to work, but decided to prod him just a little bit. It was better than just standing there in silence after all.

"How did your mom learn to bake bread from your dad?"

It was a simple question, nothing major, but Takato couldn't help but smirk at the irony of the situation.

"Well, pretty much the same way as you. She just watched my dad a few times, gave it a try, and poof. He didn't really have to teach her much. It only took her about a week to learn what took my dad years."

Rika was surprised by the tiny story, and she felt a bit better that Takato wasn't comparing her to Jeri. But at the same time, she didn't exactly like him comparing her to his mother either.

"What about…Jeri? Has she ever helped you before?" Rika asked, turning her face away slightly.

Takato paused for a moment before replying.

"Yeah, she did a few times. Why?"

There was a slightly pained undercurrent to his voice, one that Rika recognized all too well from herself.

"How good is she?...You know, compared to every one else." Rika added the last bit to avoid making him too suspicious. She knew that Takato was a bit thickheaded, but he was about as far from dumb as you could get.

Takato snickered, but never stopped working.

"Well, Kazu and Kenta are banned for life from ever entering the kitchen, if that helps."

Rika imagined the two buffoons stammering in front of Mia Matsuki, covered head to toe in flour and the kitchen in a state that could only be described as a warzone. Fire pouring from the oven and water shooting out from the sink like a geyser.

Unable to help herself, Rika giggled at the image.

Though he had heard it, Takato didn't say anything. To hear Rika laugh was rare, but a giggle? That was a first, and he didn't want it to make her go back into her 'shell' by pointing it out. So, he just continued.

"Henry's actually pretty good, but he's too meticulous. He tries to make every bun and roll perfect. I can get a whole sheet finished in the time it takes him to do three rolls."

Rika snorted at that one. It lacked any real hostility to it and was more or less her way of agreeing.

"Like I said last night, Ryo's never really been here before, so I can't really say if he's any good," Takato said carefully.

Seeing Rika tense slightly out of the corner of his eye, Takato decided to toss out a bit of humor.

"Though he'd probably run out after putting something in the oven and forget about you know. He's always so busy."

That actually did make Rika laugh. The mental image of a wild one bio-emerging, and him running out of the bakery with his apron still on.

"Jeri…she tried to help…but…not everyone can do it you know?" Takato said briskly.

Her laughter stopping, Rika turned towards Takato. She could see that the subject was obviously painful for him, but something inside her just wouldn't let go. She didn't want to hurt him, after all he was the only person outside her family, excluding Renamon that she ever spoke to about her father. But that tiny voice in her head that was begging her to stop was being overruled by another, much stronger force.

"What? I know she's not clumsy, and she is an alright cook. Remember that cake she made last year?"

Takato's hands twitched as he put the last of the rolls onto the baking pan.

"Yeah, but that's not the same as baking bread." Seeing Rika's confused expression, Takato picked up a small piece of dough that was leftover from the batch Rika had been working with and held it out to her.

"See, dough is tough, it's stubborn and it doesn't want to do anything but stay like it is."

Tossing the piece of dough up in the air, Takato caught it, and repeated the action two more times before holding it out to show Rika.

"See? It won't change on its own, you have to change it."

Takato then put the piece on the counter, and very gently worked it the way he would any other roll, just with a much softer touch than normal.

"But, if you don't use enough strength, then even if you do it right," stopping, Takato pointed at the roll shaped piece of dough. "It will change back into a blob of dough."

Sure enough, just as he said the word 'dough' the roll filled back out into its original shape.

"But, the opposite is just as bad." Going back to work on the dough ball, Takato pushed down hard and crushed the ball flat.

"If you use too much force, then it gets ruined, and you're stuck with a pancake. The trick is to use just enough strength, but not too much, be carful, but not too soft," Takato explained sagely.

Hearing someone clearing their throat, both Takato and Rika jumped slightly.

"I see you two have been busy this morning. Having fun?"

Rika blushed slightly, but Takato just laughed.

"Morning dad, Rika was just giving me a hand since I…kinda overslept," Takato half lied.

Takahiro just shook his head, but was still smilling.

"And giving her the baker's creed too from what I could hear. If you're done for the morning, you can go ahead and wash up; I'll have breakfast ready in a bit."

Both Takato and Rika's stomachs decided to make their presence known at hearing the word 'breakfast'.

"Go on, I need the kitchen to get breakfast ready, and I don't want anyone finding out my secret recipe for ramen. That's a strict Matsuki family only privilege," Takahiro said grinning towards Rika.

Rika raised an eyebrow, but knowing that the sooner he got started, the sooner she could eat; she relented and after removing her apron, bandana and hairnet, followed Tokato out of the kitchen.

End chapter 1

AN: *Whew* It's been awhile since I wrote Digimon. I fear that I've lost my touch with them, but hopefully the characters weren't too OOC here. I know they might seem a little different than in my last work, but that's a combination of it being morning (people are very different in the morning compared to normal) and having (hopefully) developed a bit more as a writer since then. I'm trying to make them more realistic than last time around, and a bit more balanced. Making Takato not quite a dense and Rika not as hostile. I've also given Rika a new twist to her personality; I've made her a bit on the curious side, which will allow me more opportunity for development and digging into what happened between Takato and Jeri not too long ago. Now, she's still a bit self-conscious and uncomfortable with herself, but that comes from her age (the Tamers are 16/17 in this series, aside from Ryo whose a bit older) and her being in 'unfamiliar territory' with her emotions.

Now, as I stated in my last fic, I've got a larger future project in the works. After this one will be two short ones, either one shots or two chapters at most, followed by a series of oneshots for various characters. This will give me time to study and develop my versions of the character for the big fic. I've actually already started dropping a few hints for it in this chapter, but you've got to REALLY look for them.

Lastly, see if you can figure out the double meaning about the 'baker's creed' part. Takato was talking about making bread, but me (as the writer) gave it a second purpose. Feel free to try and guess. If you get it right…I'll think about it, I might give a reward, but it depends. Anyways, thanks for reading, and please leave a review! I accept annon reviews, so don't worry if you don't have a profile!

Till next time, Ja Ne!