Endless Waltz Chapter One: War
Summery: The Endless Waltz, a dance well known, but seldom recognized, it is an eternal cycle to be repeated by all, from the greatest of civilizations to the lowliest of individuals. War, Peace, and Revolution. This story will tell of Rika's first steps onto the great dance floor of life, and how she began her Endless Waltz.
AN: Well, time to get this show on the road! This story marks the official start of the Rika/Takato ship for my series of stories. The previous stories all had hints and tidbits, but now it's time for things to seriously get rolling. I hope that this story will be enjoyed at least as much as my previous ones, and that I don't let you guys/girls down here. You've given me a lot of praise, and I still don't feel like I deserve it all, but I'm doing my best to live up to ya'lls expectations. This story will consist of three chapters, with the last one tying in to the ending of 'A Valentine's Day To Remember'. After that we're out of the 'past' and into the 'present/future'.
Fluttering her eyes open, Rika tried to banish the evil that was morning sunlight. Unfortunately for her however, despite her angry glares having the power to drive off weak digimon and weak Tamer's alike, she lacked anywhere near the power to scare away the sun.
Rolling over, Rika buried her face into her pillows.
"Stupid sunlight had to go and wake me up from stupid dreams about stupid Gogglehead…." Blinking and realizing just what she had thought, Rika let out a snarling growl as she buried her face even deeper into her pillow, and screamed.
Sure, he was her friend, she knew that, and would freely admit as much. She didn't mind being around him, and she would be lying if she said she didn't enjoy hanging out with him. (Though she would never admit that part aloud.) Spending the night with him had been…interesting, and the following day was like something that had been ripped straight out of some twisted reality show, but she had endured it, she had survived it.
Her dreams however, were another matter.
Rika was territorial with only a few things in life, very few things, but her dreams were probably one of the top three. They were her dreams; it was her mind and her private playground to do as she pleased.
Her dreams were supposed to be filled with glorious battles.
Her dreams were supposed to be filled with pounding Kazu and other weaklings into the dirt.
Her dreams were the ONE place she could completely destroy Ryo, taunt him for his weakness, and gloat about how much greater than him she was.
Her dreams were NOT supposed to be filled with battles between her as Sakuyamon against Gallantmon, or him saving her.
At the very least, he wasn't supposed to be the one that won the battles between them.
It irked her to no end that she had dreamed of him rescuing her three times, and defeating her in one on one combat twice that night.
Looking up, she glared at her alarm clock. Sunday, February sixteenth, again she groaned. Normally they would have had school yesterday, but the teachers had to call an emergency staff meeting, and figured that the students wouldn't mind a two day break. A two day break was usually when she would sleep in and give the others a shot at night patrols, but this time she couldn't do it, she just couldn't go back to sleep, not when she knew what would be waiting for her the minute she closed her eyes.
"This doesn't even make sense, why would I be dreaming about fighting Takato in the first place? Sure we've had words between us in the past, but we would never get out partners involved in something like that, it'd be stupid!"
Thinking back, she tried to remember the specific details of her dreams that night. She knew that one was about the Locomon incident, and another was her run in with IceDevimon, but the third one had been completely out of the blue, having involved him fighting against the D-Reaper of all things.
And that still doesn't explain why I would dream about fighting him…" Rika thought, slightly worried about the dreams implications.
Closing her eyes, she was able to see bits and pieces flash across her mind. The two of them standing atop Hypnos, one standing on each tower, then Biomerging, and battling. It had been a tie for quite some time, but then something happened and he suddenly gained the upper hand, defeating her in only a few quick moments, sending her plummeting to the ground below only to snatch her up before she could hit pavement. The second one she remembered a bit more clearly since it had been her last dream of the night. She remembered that he came to her, challenged her, and battled her right outside her room in her family's backyard. That battle had been far more detailed, for some reason neither one of them were using their attacks, instead only using their bodies and natural weapons, from Gallantmon's Aegis to her staff.
Sakuyamon bent backwards and dodged Gallantmons lance by less than an inch. Gritting her teeth, Rika pushed off with her free hand and used her other to strike Gallantmon across his helmet with her staff.
"Rika! Stop this! I don't want to fight you! Please!"
Her only response was a feral growl. She didn't know why, but she couldn't speak in this dream, she could hear, she could see, she could touch and smell, but her mouth refused to work. Every time she tried, the only thing she could feel was a great bottomless well of seething anger rise up.
"WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?! NO ONE CONTROLS ME! NO ONE! I KNEEL TO NO ONE!"
The thought was almost foreign to her, sure, she'd never let anyone boss her around, but Takato had long ago earned her respect and loyalty, why else would she accept him as leader of the Tamers? There was still the odd occasion where he would screw up, but either she or Ryo would step in and give him a hand whenever that happened, and those times were becoming more and more infrequent. It had actually been over six months since the last such occasion happened and it was a small one. Added to that, another thing that made this dream make no sense was that she knew, she knew that Takato would never try to force her to do anything; no one that actually knew her was stupid enough to do that, he and Ryo especially.
But in this dream, she kept hearing that same thought roll over and over in her mind. He was trying to order her around, he was trying to boss her around, he was trying to make her do something against her will. What, she didn't know, only that it was something that made her angry beyond compare.
Gallantmon took the hit, and surprised her when he fell back and disappeared into thin air, leaving nothing but his red cape drifting in the air before her.
"Please Rika stop, I don't want things to be this way, please!"
The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She could feel cold metal resting against her neck and chin.
She knew it had to be his lance.
Twisting her face into a scowl usually reserved for Ryo, Rika spoke with a voice colder than death itself.
"NEVER! NOT NOW, NOT IN A MILLION YEARS! I WILL NOT YIELD!"
She felt the blade twitch, and despite knowing he would never use it on her, she felt herself stiffen, it was as if some unearthly force was pushing fear into her mind, something was making her be afraid of her friend. For some reason, at that very moment, she was afraid of him, afraid at how he would reply, and more confusingly, she was afraid of how he would react.
Before he could speak or reply however, she woke up from the dream, tired, sweaty, and sore from head to toe. She felt like she had gone two rounds with team leader.
"I…wonder….what would happen if…"
"Rika, are you ok?"
Nearly jumping out of her skin, Rika managed to control her reaction just in time. It had been a long time since Renamon managed to get the drop on her like that, and she knew that her partner and friend had not actually been trying this time. Not wanting her surprise to be noticed, she shot off the first thing that she could think of.
Which she would later regret.
"Renamon, if we were to fight Gallantmon, who would win?"
"Great, now she'll think I'm having confidence issues or something, ugh I can't believe I just pulled off a Gogglehead," Rika groaned mentally.
Looking over her shoulder, she saw that her partner was actually contemplating the matter and giving it serious thought.
Icy blue eyes opened and focused on her light violet irises.
"Why do you ask Rika?" She asked with a quiet, but still direct tone.
Shrugging her shoulders, Rika once again tossed out the first thing that came to mind, which fortunately for her was much better than the last one.
"Just…curious. I was thinking about back when this all started…and now…."
Renamon tiled her head slightly for a moment as she listened to her Tamer.
"And you were wondering if Takato and Guilmon have become stronger since then?"
Rika nodded her head lamely. It wasn't exactly the truth, but it wasn't a lie either, she had actually wondered about that more than just a few times lately, just not in the last few days.
Renamon took a deep breath before answering.
"Honestly, I don't know Rika. They have become much stronger than they were four years ago, but so have we. I would like to think it would be an equal fight, one whose outcome depended on too many variables and factors to take into account and properly guess."
Hearing that strange little voice in the back of her head, Rika pushed the matter.
"Would you…be upset…if he won?"
Her partner walked towards her and knelt down so that they were now eye to eye.
"Only if you were Rika, only if you were," pausing for a moment, Renamon scanned her Tamer's eyes, peered into her thoughts without using any of her abilities or their bond before she continued speaking. "If it angered you that we lost to them, then yes, it would upset me greatly," she replied sincerely.
That answer didn't sit too well with Rika.
"Only if I had a problem with it? Why wouldn't I have a problem with it?" Rika asked, perhaps with a bit more venom than she really meant to.
Not even blinking, Renamon answered her, still peering into her surface thoughts.
"If someone is stronger than you, is it right to be angered by that fact alone? If one wields that power for personal gain, if they use it improperly, then I would be angered to lose to such an opponent, but that is not Takato, Guilmon, or Gallantmon. I follow Takato only because you do Rika, not because I desire to."
Furrowing her brow in confusion, Rika was cut off before she could ask her question.
"If you wished it Rika, I would raise my hand against them willingly and wholly, but only if you desired it. I told you long ago, I stand with you, and only you. My loyalty is to no group, no team, and no ideal, it is only to you."
"She…only follows him because I do? But…why do I follow him? I was stronger than him and Henry put together when we first met, heck, I'm STILL stronger than most of the others combined, barring Ryo….so why did I follow someone that much weaker than me back then?"
Feeling an impending headache, Rika groaned and collapsed back into her futon.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Renamon asked, puzzled by her Tamer's odd behavior.
Snorting at her partner's question, Rika replied half jokingly.
"Yeah, find out why I followed Gogglehead into the sewers four years ago."
When she heard Renamon phase back into the shadows, she figured that Renamon had gotten the joke and left her to be.
If only she knew.
Pulling herself out from her bed, Rika decided to stretch for a few minutes. She had no intention of doing any exercises today since she was so tired, but she figured that a few calisthenics would do her aching muscles some good.
Jumping from rooftop to rooftop, Renamon pondered over her Tamer's strange behavior from this morning. She was still learning about humans, but one thing she had quickly learned was that there were apparently various and random inconsistencies that started with humans soon after they turned fourteen, and lasted until they reached about nineteen or twenty years of age.
At least according to Seiko anyways.
One day Rika would literally be dancing across the air, her feet not touching the ground for hours on end.
Other days however…she hated to admit it, but there were occasions where Kazu and Ryo were fairly accurate with their observations of her Tamer.
"Is she troubled with Takato and Guilmon's growth? No, that can't be it, if it was; she wouldn't have spent so much time training him. Rika wants Takato to become strong, she always has, so it makes no sense for her to be upset with getting the desired results of her time and effort…Does she think that he is stronger than herself?"
That seemed to strike a chord within her Tamer's line of thinking. Rika had been rather vocal about her not wanting to be seen as weak in any way shape or form. But again, that went against her own logic. She desired for Takato to become as strong as Ryo, and Ryo, despite her never admitting to it, was stronger than she. So for Takato to be seen as that powerful would make her even stronger since it was because of her that he became that powerful. It was self defeating to become angered by that.
"Could it be…some kind of internal conflict? If part of her wants one thing, but another part of her is rejecting it….But who would be the best to ask about that sort of thing? I need to be careful how I go about this. Ryo knows Rika better than anyone other than Takato or her own family, but Henry and Impmon understand human behavior better than anyone else. Which would be the better choice?"
Stopping on top of a large branch, Renamon closed her eyes, and grasped for the threads of reasoning that were floating within her mind. One was purple, one was green, and the last was dark grey. All three felt warm to the touch, which to her meant that they all had some credibility to them. Not able to choose which would fit the situation best, she decided that all three would be the best solution.
Opening her eyes, Renamon back flipped and launched herself towards the upper Shinjuku district.
Twisting to her side, Rika counted off in her head. This was her last stretch, then she would shower up and head for breakfast. Something she had been dreading since last night.
"Rika, it's almost seven are you up…yet?"
Turning towards her mother, Rika took a calming breath. She was about to remind her that she had promised to explain everything after breakfast, not before. But the strange look on her mother's face made her forget that thought completely.
"Uh….mom…is something…wrong?" Rika asked, slightly unnerved by her mother's odd expression.
Rumiko entered her daughter's room with a concerned and questioning face, heading straight for her.
Following her mother's line of sight, which happened to be below her neck, she looked down, and for the second time that morning nearly jumped out of her skin.
"KAMI! How did I forget that I was still wearing Takato's gym clothes! Gotta think of something fast!"
"Uh…mom, what's wrong?"
"Brilliant, absolutely brilliant…idiot."
"Rika, why are you…what happened to your gym clothes? I don't remember then hanging off of you like that last time you brought them home to wash."
"What? She thinks these are mine? Ok, I can work with this…I think."
"Oh, uhhh, these aren't my normal ones. I just got them this week; they're for sleeping in, not gym."
"Not a lie, completely and totally true," Rika congratulated herself.
"But aren't they a bit cold for you honey? It's the middle of winter," Rumiko asked as she tugged on the loose top that was halfway falling off of Rika's shoulder.
"No mom, they're fine, really. I just got a little hot last night, I'm ok."
With a slight frown, Rumiko turned to leave, but not before looking over her shoulder back to Rika with a stern gaze.
"You have a lot to explain this morning Rika; I hope that you haven't forgotten that."
Rika sighed and nodded her head in response. She knew that it was going to be a very long day, but at the same time, she knew that she had no choice in the matter.
Moving towards her private bathroom, Rika never noticed the small writing on the back of the shirt she was wearing, the writing that had almost made Rumiko drag Rika into the living room for an interrogation.
Property of: Takato Matsuki Wash only in warm water.
Running up the side of the wall at full speed, Renamon jumped and landed on top of the skyscraper without the slightest hint of difficulty. This was something she had done for years after all.
Spinning on her heel, Renamon faced the penthouse with a determined glare. This was the Tamer dwelling she visited the least frequently, and the only one that Rika had never been to herself. She had only found it by fluke several years ago, but she knew it was the right place.
A glass door slid open to reveal a young woman with mid length brown hair. She appeared to be in her mid to early thirties , and though Renamon had never seen her before, she was able to guess who the young woman was without much difficulty.
"Mrs. Akiyama, may I please speak to your son?"
The young woman nodded her head and silently went back into the home. Several moments later, a groggy and severely disheveled Ryo emerged from the same door rubbing sleep from his eyes.
"Wah? Renamon…do you have any idea what time it is? How did you even find me?" Ryo asked with a yawn.
Renamon carefully scanned the area once over, looking for the boy's temperamental partner before she answered.
"I saw Cyberdramon land here several years ago and the two of you inter the building after a battle."
Chuckling, the boy made his way over to a picnic table situated under an umbrella and motioned her to have a seat.
Waving off the offer, Renamon chose to stand, but she did move herself to be under the shade it provided.
"Well, I take it that something is wrong, or you need something….unless Rika's in some kind of trouble," he asked sharply.
Renamon shook her head.
"No, I am here on my own volition, and though nothing is wrong with her, this does concern Rika."
Leaning back in his seat, the Digimon King settled in for what he knew would be either a long or uncomfortable chat with the Queens partner.
"What seems to be the problem? I can't promise that I'll be able to help, but I will give it my best shot," he offered calmly.
Nodding, Renamon gathered her thoughts together as best she could.
"Rika has been acting…strange lately…"
Immediately, alarm bells went off in Ryo's head. Alarms that every male was born with, and that only the bravest, or stupidest ignored.
"I…see…." Gulping, Ryo fired off the universal potshot to get away from the looming discussion he knew was heading his way like Machinedramon's Giga Cannon.
"Have you tried speaking with her mother or grandmother about this?"
Shaking her muzzle, Renamon spoke.
"They would not be able to answer my questions on this matter….they are not as familiar with Rika's reasoning and thinking process as you are."
That caught the teen's attention.
"What on Earth is she talking about? How could her own mother and grandmother not…unless…whew, thank Kami, it's not that, ok, maybe I can help after all."
"How would you sum up the problem in as few words as possible?" He asked, trying to get a clear view of what exactly he was dealing with here.
Taking only a moment to think, Renamon answered.
"Rika is questioning her motives, and her reasons for accepting Takato as leader of the Tamers."
"Rika…is…what? That doesn't make any sense; she's always backed him up and followed him from the very beginning…unless…that's the problem?"
"Is she having trouble understanding why she follows him now, or why she followed him in the first place?"
It didn't even take Renamon the time to blink for her to answer the question.
"The latter, she accepts that he is a good leader, and that he is strong, now. Her problem seems to be revolving around when the Tamer's first met up and were formed. Of the three, she was the strongest, yet she willingly followed someone much weaker than her at the time," Renamon explained.
Ryo frowned and took a deep breath.
"That….is a very good question. Rika's got a will of iron and she hates being told what to do. Heck, she hates for other people to even give her a hand when she actually needs help. Why would she follow him indeed?"
Ryo respected Takato, and to a degree he even saw the younger teen as something of a younger or less experienced brother. While he and Rika had been champion level players for years, even winning several regional tournaments before becoming Tamers, Takato had only been a novice, and his skills were mediocre at best. His resources were limited, and his collection of cards left much to be desired for a true Tamer at the time, but he hung in there and climbed his way up. After the whole D-Reaper incident, Ryo managed to sit down and have an actual civil conversation with Rika for the sake of learning about the others. He hadn't had the time to get to know them since things had been to chaotic up until then, so he was more than just a little bit curious about his fellow Tamers. He had been pulled away to the digital world and had been away for so long that he didn't even know there were other Tamers. That alone had surprised him for a few days, but he didn't let it show at the time.
When he first met the others as a whole, he thought for sure that Rika had been the leader of the little group. He had known Kazu and Kenta as having played in several tournaments before, and knew of their…less than sterling records. But he had never seen or even heard of the others present.
He didn't have a problem with Rika leading, but he was going to be careful to keep an eye on her, knowing that she was a bit rough around the edges and might have forced the others to let her lead. She was powerful, no doubt about that, but he was just a little more.
So, imagine his surprise when he found that it was not the fierce and dreaded 'Digimon Ice Queen' that led the group, but the quiet and unassuming Takato Matsuki. The boy was obviously still in the fledgling stages of taming, yet he learned and became more experienced with each passing battle at a frightening rate. Ryo didn't want to interfere with the team's internal structure, fearing that such a shift in team dynamics would cause major problems since they were busy handling a crisis, that was why he relegated himself to the role of a supporter, and the team scout.
Back to the conversation after the D-Reaper, he was floored yet again.
Apparently, Henry had been playing the game for quite some time; and was more than up to competition level, he just never had the desire to play competitively. Then there were Ai, Mako and Suzie, who were complete novices in every sense of the word, and before losing her partner, Jeri had only been a Tamer for two weeks.
Takato however, the leader of the Tamers, and the only person Ryo had ever met that Rika would willingly listen to and follow the orders of, had only been a Tamer for a little over two months.
Somehow, in that short span of time, he had earned the trust, respect, loyalty, and friendship of people that had been taming for much longer than he had, people that were far stronger than him.
He had been so stunned by this revelation that he had neglected to ask Rika the very question that Renamon herself was now seeking an answer to.
"Renamon…I'm afraid that I can't answer your question. I wish I knew the answer myself, but I don't. Everything that I know about Rika says that there is no way that she should have, that she would have brushed him off, or she would have made herself the leader at the time. I wasn't there when they first met, so I don't know if something happened that might have influenced her decision, or if there is more to it than that," Ryo answered carefully as he kept in mind the 'unique circumstances' regarding his partner. He of all people knew that there were some things that just happened, and that could not have happened any other way.
"Are you implying that Rika made a mistake in choosing to follow Takato's lead? That her judgment was not sound at the time?"
Not liking the way her question sounded, Ryo was quick to clarify his response.
"No, that's not what I meant, it's just that…" Closing his eyes, Ryo tried to figure out how to say this without it coming across as an insult.
"Rika…hates being told what to do. She respects strength, but at the same time she despises being weaker than someone else. The thought that she would follow or accept anyone as a leader over herself is still difficult for me to imagine. But for her to accept someone that's not at least as strong as her as leader…it just goes against everything I know about her. The only thing I can figure is that it is something more than his skill or strength as a Tamer, that it must have nothing to do with digimon at all. Sorry if that's not what you were looking for, but it's all I can think of," the boy answered honestly.
Renamon nodded apparently finding his response satisfactory. "Thank you for your help Ryo…" Seeing her hesitate, he chuckled and waved his hand.
"Go ahead, ask, I know you've got something else on your mind."
The fox gave him a hard gaze as she spoke.
"I would appreciate it if you never spoke to anyone about what we discussed here today."
Ryo gave a weak laugh at hearing her request.
"And in return, I won't tell anyone about your choice in sleepwear."
Ryo's laughing stopped as he looked down and turned slightly red.
"Uh…you have a deal…um…glad I could help?" Ryo choked.
Renamon kept her face stony, but did not suppress the small smirk that raised its head as she flipped off the rooftop and vanished from sight over the ledge.
When he was sure that she was gone, Ryo got up and made his way back to his room with only two thoughts on his mind. The first being to make his way back to 'dreamland'. The second…
"What's wrong with Kamiaman Rider PJs?"
Pulling her hair back into its trademark ponytail, Rika looked herself over in the mirror one last time. As time had passed, her taste in clothing had changed very little. She had a few 'heart' shirts that were her size, but more than not she stuck to 'Plain Jane' attire as her mother put it. Simple light blues and purples with the occasional red or orange for summer and spring. Today she chose a long sleeved light purple shirt and jeans. Given the circumstances however, she felt more like she was suiting up to go into battle rather than just going to eat breakfast with her mother and grandmother.
"Well, time to face the music I guess. No time like the present."
Leaving her room, Rika silently marched to the dining room. In the back of her mind she could hear Kazu and Kenta playing 'taps' with a drum and trumpet.
"Curse you Takato, your stupid imagination is contagious!" Rika cried mentally.
Sure enough, there waiting for her with matching expressions of concern were Seiko and Rumiko.
"Not until after breakfast, that was the agreement," Seiko said before her granddaughter could speak a word.
Rika was surprised by her grandmother's actions, but she could almost hear the older woman's voice echoing in her mind the moment their eyes locked.
Better get your story straight, you only get once chance, use it well!
Nodding thankfully, Rika took up her spot across from her mother.
Breakfast passed in silence as the three ate without even looking up. Rika felt a bubble of worry starting to form in the pit of her stomach with each passing tick of the wall mounted clock. Sure, she was used to losing odds, bad odds, and even what most would call suicidal odds. But this was something else entirely, this was beyond suicide, this was certain death. If Jupi had recounted even a tiny bit of what had happened yesterday, she was as good as dead. There was a mountain piled up against her and she knew it.
"Kinda like when Takato had to stand up to his mom for you the other night huh?"
Rika narrowed her eyes.
"Shut up…Jeri's voice, I don't need you shaking me down now. If I can't come up with a half decent excuse I'll be lucky if I'm only grounded for the next century!" Rika shot back at 'Jeri'.
In her mind she could see the young girl sitting beside her eating away happily with her usual passive and disarming smile.
"I'm sorry Rika, I didn't mean to upset you, I was only making a comparison. I know you're afraid of what might happen, but don't you think that Takato was too? His mothers at least as scary as yours after all," 'Jeri' defended.
Frowning, Rika replayed the events of that night through her head.
"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?" He called out over his shoulder.
Rika's expression became a bit more serious.
"He….knew before we even went inside? He knew that he would have to face his mother and he still did it?"
Running more of the night through her head, Rika felt another force equal to the bubble of worry start to form alongside it.
"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!"
The new bubble grew.
Remembering what happened next almost made her feel ashamed.
"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."
"Well….we don't have much room Takato, you know that," his mother said casting a sideways glace at Rika, one that the girl didn't like, but chose to ignore for now.
"It's ok mom. I can sleep on the couch, and I bet our carpet is softer than the hideouts concrete floor," Takato offered, hinting at Guilmon.
The bubble of fear was popped by the newcomer.
"He stood up to his mother just to give me one night and day of peace."
Remembering what happened with the 'clothing' issue, and her being locked outside of the room with only a towel, and how Takato and again reacted only out of concern for her and not himself, Rika felt a tug on her lips.
"He had plenty of chances to take advantage of what was happening, but he didn't, he didn't try to cop a feel or even sneak a peek!"
Remembering how he tried to keep her from getting bored the following day, and how hard he had tried to make her enjoy her stay, she felt the tug on her lips pull again.
"Even after Jupi said all those horrible things about him…he didn't say a word…but…the second he focused on me, Takato stepped up and defended me…"
Feeling a slight tinge to her cheeks, Rika was quick to make an amendment.
"Even if he didn't need to, I CAN take care of myself….but it's the thought that counts."
One final tug and her lips curled into a small, but still visible smile. Takato had gone through a lot, and had put up with a lot for her sake.
Now it was her turn.
"No way am I letting Takato go through all that and me just take advantage of it! I'm just as strong as he is!" Rika cheered to herself mentally, not even noticing that she had called him by name, and not 'Gogglehead'.
Pushing her plate forward and setting her chopsticks down, Rika took one last swig of her orange juice before looking up and meeting her mother and grandmothers faces. Gone was every last trace of uncertainty or doubt. She knew exactly what she was going to say.
"So, what do you want to know?"
Rumiko was stunned by her daughter's actions. She knew that Rika was brave, and that she was far from being a coward. But since breakfast had started she had only been giving off vibes of fear and trepidation. Now she was figuratively standing tall with an air of unconquerable confidence.
"We already know about why you had to spend the night Rika, but could you please explain to us why Jupi was in such a hurry to leave yesterday afternoon?" Seiko asked, setting down her teacup and meeting her granddaughters certain gaze with her own warm and knowing one.
It could have just been a trick of her older eyes, but for one brief moment Seiko was able to see a silver and red clad knight standing behind Rika.
"Well, were do you want me to begin? He didn't know a single thing about me, he tried some of the lamest pick up lines I've ever heard in my life, and considering that I hang around Kazu, that's pretty bad."
"Rika, dear, he was just trying to get to know you. Of course he wouldn't know that much," Rumiko tried.
Looking over at her mother, Rika raised one of her thin red eyebrows in an almost haughty manner.
"Mom, he didn't know I was a Tamer, he didn't even know who Takato was. If I had to guess, I would say that he's never even set foot outside a photo set in his life."
Seiko took a sip of her tea to cover her small grin. She had to hand it to her; Rika did have a valid point and was making a good start for her 'defense'.
"That's still not an excuse for you to attack him; it's going to take me some time to get back on good terms with his father."
Rika's eyes widened almost comically before she fell on her back and began laughing. Not cruelly, not her mocking and demeaning laugh, but her genuine soft and 'angelic' laugh that Takato and Terriermon were always trying to get out of her.
"Whats so funny?" Rumiko asked, confused by how Rika was acting.
After another minute passed and Rika managed to stop her spasms of laughter, she pulled herself up and gave her mother and grandmother a very proud grin.
"I wasn't the one to attack him, even though I wanted to. Takato was the one to punch his clock, and he took him down with one blow. Jupi dropped like a bag full of rocks mom, it was pathetic," Rika replied before snickering.
Again, Seiko took a nondescript sip from her tea.
"What? Rika, what are you talking about? Takato wouldn't hurt a fly."
"Unless is happened to say anything bad about me apparently," Rika thought as she once again felt an odd warmth spread across her cheeks.
"Ohhhh but her did mom. He did, I was just surprised that he didn't slug him any sooner with all the garbage he was spewing."
"Garbage?" Seiko asked, quirking her eyebrow in the same manner that her daughter and granddaughter did.
"He was going on about how he was going to get his dad to write up some article on me," Rika stopped when she saw the look on her mother's face. She knew that look, and there was no way she was going to let it grow any further than it was now.
"He was going to paint me as 'Shinjuku's Angel of Mercy' or something like that," Rika said with air quotes before continuing. Her tone suddenly became malicious, and both Seiko and Rumiko were surprised to see how heated her glare became as she spoke.
"He called the Matsuki's a charity case mom, A CHARITY CASE! Takato's not rich, but that's no reason to rub his face in it!" Rika growled.
Seiko reached out and grabbed her granddaughters hand tightly. She knew that Rika was protective of her friends, but even she had not expected it to be to this degree.
"Unfortunately sweetie, that's actually pretty common," Rumiko said with a sigh as she pinched the bridge of her nose.
The raging fire in Rika's eyes simmered down to a 'threatening glowing ember' but it was far from dead.
"What do you mean it's common?" She asked sharply.
"Rika, in the modeling industry, its dog eat dog. Do whatever you can to put yourself above the competition so you stand out. Some do it by adopting children from all over the world, others go into nursing school, and some even sink as low as to use their family's problems as a platform. He probably thought you were just like to rest of the crowd and was getting an early start on your career."
Rika felt her blood turn to molten lava.
"He….thought….that…I….was using….Takato….AS A FREAKING PLATFORM!?" Rika snarled through clinched teeth.
Seeing the room's youngest occupant approaching critical mass, Seiko made a few quick observations before taking action.
"She is angered that people look down on Takato because of his family's social status, but she seems to be even more angered that someone would think that she would take advantage of his trust in her….hmmm…she values his trust in her more than anything else….interesting." Seiko smirked as she witnessed her young granddaughters transformation. Her light violet eyes were burning with rage and her lips were pulling back into an almost feral scowl. With just a little imagination she was able to see tiny puffs of smoke trailing out from her nostrils as her breathing became more and more unstable.
All this added up to only a single, direct, and undeniable conclusion.
"Looks like my dear little Rika has it bad for the baker boy," Seiko thought as she tightened her grip on the young girls wrist.
"Did you tell him otherwise?" She asked sternly. As much as she wanted to cheer her granddaughter on, she needed to make sure there was no 'damage control' to take care of first. As powerful as this sight of her granddaughter was, and as much good as it would do the young boy to see it himself, it would do no good if she hadn't done something to repair his battered ego at the time of the 'Jupi incident'.
Rika's breathing hitched and her scowl shifted into a wicked, almost vulpine grin.
"Oh yeah grandma, I told him alright, I told him good," Rika replied smugly as she thought back to that one moment that Jupi's happy little world came crashing down around him. She might not be comfortable with much in the way of physical contact, but holding Takato by the waist and resting her head on his shoulder just felt so natural to her. His height combined with the size and shape of his shoulder just made it an ideal headrest for her to lean against she noted.
Seiko had to hold back the smirk that was threatening to spread across her features upon hearing that.
"Good, she restored the boy's confidence it seems, or at least she made sure that he knew she was not looking at him as something less than a friend…but I wish I knew what she said or did. I haven't seen her grin like that in quite some time."
"So that's why Takato hit him? Because Jupi thought you were just like the other models he spends all day with?" Rumiko asked, sensing that there was more to the story than was being told.
Rika's fire seemed to almost vanish at her mother's question.
"No…he….didn't…not because of that…" As she spoke, Rika unconsciously pulled her arms halfway up around herself, just enough that she was holding the upper part of her arms.
Seiko and Rumiko both felt their hearts stop.
"What did he say?" Seiko asked with sharply narrowed eyes.
"He must have said something truly vile if it hurt her this badly," Seiko thought darkly.
Looking up at the two older women, Rika blinked to hold back the lone tear that threatened to fall.
"He…said…he said that…I had it all…looks…brains, and more money than a person could hope spend in a life time," Rumiko felt a sense of dread and Seiko could almost feel her heart breaking as she saw Rika's once sparkling eyes become hidden in the shadow of her hairline.
"…the last thing he said was….that it was too bad that dad dropped me on my head on his way out…" As she spoke the cold and hateful words with a half shudder, Rika felt a strong and reassuring arm wrap itself around her from behind, lending her its owners strength. Opening her eyes, she could see that her mother and grandmother were staring at her wide-eyed in disbelief.
"He said that to you?" Rumiko hissed between her teeth.
Seiko said nothing; she feared the consequences of opening her mouth at this time. Her only satisfaction being that the boy got what was coming to him.
"No wonder he was able to put the boy down with one blow…he must have put every ouch of pain he felt that comment make into his fist," Seiko thought.
Blinking, Rika looked down and saw nothing. She could have sworn that she felt someone holding her moments ago, but the only thing there was her own arms.
"That's strange…I could have sworn that…"
"Rika, mother, if you would excuse me for a moment, I have a phone call to make…and several cancelations," she added the second part under her breath, but the rooms other two occupants heard it plain as day.
Seiko let out the breath she had been holding and started to gather the dishes. When she saw Rika's hand reach out however she spoke.
"Rika…why don't you let me take care of these this morning? I'm sure that your friends are up by now. You should go see how they are doing, hmm?"
Swallowing, Rika nodded her thanks and walked back to her room.
"It was yesterday that it happened…so why does it still hurt?" Rika thought as she pulled her favorite blue and red jacket out of her closet and slipped it on.
"It wouldn't be too strange it I went to check in on Takato this early would it?" Rika thought. There was a part of her, a wounded and hurt part that was pulling her towards him for some reason, but there was another part that had just made its presence known the moment she set foot outside of her room and zipped up her jacket.
At first it was opposing the 'hurt' part of her, but then the two joined forces. The one part still wanted to seek out Takato, but only after she took care of the 'other' part.
The part that needed answers, the part that was holding her back from Takato and had since last Friday.
Remembering that she had yet to replace her mobile that she had fallen on fighting the MetalMamamon, Rika hurried to the kitchen and grabbed the phone off the wall. Taking a deep breath, Rika found the strength she was looking for. This was not something she wanted to do; this was something she had to do. Why she didn't know, she just did.
Dialing the number quickly, shoved her free hand into her pocket so it couldn't hit the receiver and hang up the call.
Once, twice, three times the phone rang before it was answered.
Swallowing, Rika took a deep breath.
"Jeri…it's me Rika…I…we need to talk….it's important."
End chapter 1
AN: Oh am I evil or what? I hope that this chapter lived up to the expectations it sowed. Most likely it didn't…but I'm trying right! Like I said at the beginning, this will be a three chapter story, no more, no less. Be on the lookout for chapter two 'Peace' in about a week. It's high time for the events concerning Takato and Jeri to be brought to light (though I have given enough clues that some of you have guessed). Remember people, I accept anon reviews, and I try to respond within the week if at all possible to signed reviews.
Till next time, Ja Ne!