I apologize for any inaccuracies regarding the Dubai Fashion Show, to be completely honest I had to make some stuff up. A few housekeeping items: I take great pleasure in reading your reviews, be it praise, criticism, encouragement or advice please know that I read each and every review. As shiftless as I am I also enjoy responding to reviews, but if you aren't logged in when you leave a review I can't get back to you! So please, log in so I can at the very least give you an internet high-five.

Shoulders hunched in disappointment, a grumble escaped from Takato.

"I kinda figured that would be the answer. You can't blame a guy for asking though…"

"Well what were you expecting?" Rika scoffed derisively, "Those islands are for people who can't tolerate having only a metal gate and a security guard to separate themselves and the riff-raff."

"Oh yeah? When I finally strike it rich I'll buy one of those islands and have a twenty-four hour ferry service running between my empire and the mainland, just to spite my tightwad neighbors." A triumphant grin replaced the tamer's frown, the smile encouraged by the malicious simplicity of his plan.

Mirth laced Rika's voice as she lowered her sunglasses to toss a bemused look at the young man perched at the edge of the sandy boulder above her.

"Alright so assuming you do somehow make your billions at some point in the future, what makes you think any islands will be left over?"

Shoulders falling again, Takato fretted for a moment as he formulated an answer.

"Errr…. I'll just buy one of the islands no one wants. Like North Korea or something." Confidence restored, the Hazard Tamer planted his fists on his hips, "Yeah! Like… Takato's Democratic Island of Best Korea! Bingo!"

The thought of a totalitarian island regime run by Takato was too much for Rika to handle, and the teen erupted into a fit of laughter.

Takato, Rika, Guilmon and Renamon had scrambled out onto manufactured spit of land that was comprised entirely of boulders, the structure serving as a massive breakwater that arced out into the azure waters of the Persian Gulf. Behind the tamers and their partners was the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and the club's marina. The breakwater's charges bobbed innocently in their moorings as the sand-colored boulders consumed the energy of the waves that slopped against it.

The reason for the presence of the tamers and their partners on the craggy peninsula was complex at best. Earlier that day Guilmon had spied something from atop the Burj Khalifa that piqued his interest; his exclamation drew the rest of the group. The object, or objects, in question was a group of islands that lay off the shore. While the other two man-made forays into the waters off of the Arabic nation were easily identifiable as palm trees, the two teens and their digimon were not able to immediately discern what the odd clumps of land were supposed to resemble.

It was Renamon who deciphered the oval construction and its misshapen contents.

"It's supposed to resemble the Earth."

With a chorus of "ohhh's" and a mass furrowing of brows, the two tamers quickly achieved enlightenment and hurriedly pulled out their smart began to scavenge the web for information. Guilmon required a moment more of intense concentration, snout pressed stubbornly against the glass, before he too recognized the loose interpretations of Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Upon discovering that one could purchase a portion of a 'continent' for oneself, Takato convinced the group that it was absolutely essential that the get out to the islands and examine them. Faced with Rika's skepticism and the fact that the sun already meandering towards to horizon the ever-buoyant tamer settled for getting as close the islands as possible.

This was why the four companions had endured gusts of saltwater-chilled wind and sand-slickened boulders to venture out to the tip of the breakwater. To an outside observer this may have seemed like an odd venture; why would anyone sally across a pile of questionable rocks at the suggestion of a tousle-haired Japanese teen?

Yet Rika, Renamon and Guilmon were perfectly content with following the excited Takato out into the Gulf. Perhaps they felt the tug of childish adventure that Takato emanated when presented with challenges such as the one before him. His enthusiasm was legendarily unquenchable and as infectious as the plague; even when it became clear that trekking across the breakwater would not bring the smudges on the horizon any closer the group ventured onward without protest.

Rika had considered pointing out to Takato that he may have miscalculated how far the collection of islands was from the shore once they arrived at their current location. But before she could share her and her digimon partner's thoughts the Hazard Tamer had asked Rika if she thought they could rent a boat 'or something' and take the craft out to the islands.

Comfortable silence had embraced the group following Takato's proclamation of his sovereignly desires, the beauty of the setting sun absorbing all attention. The starch-white light of the sun had phased into more pleasing shades of yellow as the star chased the horizon, its beams dancing on the crests of waves as it wandered downwards. The towering superstructures of the fleet of clouds dwelling over the water worked as prisms for the sun's rays, working in tandem with the emissions of the desert to cast a palate of purples, pinks and golden yellows across the sky. The cool air nestled atop the Persian Gulf tussled with the warmer air above it as the sun sank lower and lower, sending the clouds tumbling through the atmosphere. Beams of expiring light momentarily stabbed through the bellowing masses, only to be consumed by the restless collections of water vapor.

Ra slowed his heavenly chariot as its fiery mass kissed the horizon, the bouncing waves welcoming its presence. Tearing her eyes from the spectacle as a sense of urgency struck her from out of the blue, Rika glanced down at the watch wrapped around her wrist.

"Dammit!" Hissed the tamer, breaking the group's shared trance.

"Wha… Oh right! Nuts!" With a heave Takato leapt down from his perch and followed Rika, who was already hopping from rock to rock in the direction of the shore.

After Renamon convinced the third taxi driver that had been brave enough to stop that she and Guilmon were not unholy constructs sent to punish him, the tamers and their partners piled into the taxi's sticky back seat and careened off towards the hotel district. While normally the task of placating the public fell upon the shoulders of her human counterpart, Renamon had proven to be surprisingly adept at mastering languages to the point of fluency. Upon learning that this skill of hers was enviable, the kitsune often leapt at chances to display her expertise.

A terrifying jaunt through Dubai traffic at what felt like twice the speed limit put the group at the foot of their hotel. Even Renamon struggled to maintain her usual grace as the two teenagers and their partners piled onto the concrete, desperately trying to put as much distance between themselves and their unfortunate choice in transportation. The paper bill was snatched from Takato's fingers as soon as he fed it through the miniscule opening the driver had created with his window, and the vehicle sped off with squeal.

"It's like he's never seen a digimon before…" Mused Takato as he watched the car and its unusually sweaty driver tear through a stop sign and disappear into traffic.

"What part of 'we are late' do you not understand goggle-dork?" A hand snatched Takato's forearm in a vice-like grip and dragged the protesting young man in the direction of the hotel's revolving doors.

A bemused-looking bellhop held open the door for Rika as she marched her forgetful prisoner towards the bank of elevators, a crimson and cream saurian digimon in tow. Renamon had regained her poise and was already aboard an elevator, its doors held open by another bellhop that was clearly worried about the quiet kitsune only feet from him. A clatter of claws and squeak of rubber-soles on tile was followed by a soft 'bing' as the doors slid closed, the stomach-churning upward lurch indicating that the vessel was now on the move.

"I didn't know a taxi could go that fast…." Takato rubbed the red welt on his arm that Rika had left behind.

"I told the driver that neither Guilmon nor I had any plans to consume him, but apparently my words were not enough."

Renamon's snide amusement appeared to put Rika at ease, the fiery-haired tamer allowing a wry grin to steal across her features. As they had scrambled back across the breakwater Rika had explained to Takato just how important it was that they were not to be late to the evening's events, despite the fact that she had made it clear that she was not in any way excited about going. As the minutes leapt by her explanations turned violent as it became apparent that Takato would be to blame if they were late. After a particularly visceral description of how she would make use of the convenient location of the world's tallest building to adequately communicate her displeasure, Takato had spent the entire taxi ride dreading reprisal and concentrating the entire force of his being on slowing down time.

Another friendly chime yanked Takato out of his imagination and back into the world of the living. The sense of urgency he had somehow misplaced during the fifteen-second elevator ride sent the tamer leaping out of the elevator and into the foyer of the hotel room the group was sharing. The popularly accepted definition of the word 'room' failed to adequately describe the lodgings that Ms. Nonaka had off-handedly presented several days ago.

Takato had an inkling that their accommodations in this center of Arabic opulence would not be of the standard fair, and his suspicions were confirmed when he exited the elevator for the first time and saw that the decadent marble room only contained two doors. Ms. Nonaka's bored exclamation "girls on the left, boys on the right" sent the young tamer's jaw crashing to the floor. "Penthouse" was a more fitting noun; they were literally occupying half of a floor of what has already an enormous hotel. Each bedroom had its own balcony, walk-in closet and a bathroom which to Guilmon's inexplicable delight contained both a shower and an enormous bathtub.

"Oh yeah, the elevator comes right up to the room…" Chuckled Takato, turning to nervously grin at the young woman that stalked out of the elevator after him.

"Just go get dressed goggle-head." Hissed Rika as she brushed by the Hazard Tamer and made her way to the room she was sharing with her mother and Renamon.

Before she could lay a finger on the handle it turned underneath her grasp; Takato winced as he felt Rika's wordless snarl crash into him.

The door was flung open and from the opening emerged Rumiko, who was doing her best to balance extreme anxiety with a level of composure that would keep intact her airs and graces. Errant tendrils of hair radiating from her otherwise immaculate bun and the wild look in her eyes indicated that the limits of her sanity were being tested.

The screaming energy swirling in Rumiko's eyes, primed to leap out and explode into a verbal tirade, subsided as her gaze passed over Takato. Rika had made it very clear to the young man that he was likely going to be the target of one of her mother's psychotic meltdowns if he carried on in his usual manner. Rumiko, despite her overtly bubbly attitude, had a much shorter fuse than her daughter. Yet her traditional Japanese sense of decorum, a trait she did not share with her offspring, had thus-far spared Takato.

Internalizing the howling tension that just moments ago had threatened to blow out every window in the room, the elder Nonaka instead straightened her back and released a deflating sigh as she gently adjusted her dress with the palms of her hands. Pushing the fabric downwards in well-practiced motions, she sent a flutter of a smile towards Takato.

"Takato do you have a moment?"

The tamer could not help but twitch in horror as the blood in his veins froze solid. A fear of authority was instinctual for Takato, and for good reason. Yet his feet carried his unwilling for towards Rumiko, who had sprouted an unerringly enthusiastic, shark-like grin.

Coming to a halt several feet from Rumiko out of fear of being eaten, Takato gulped as Ms. Nonaka took a step forward and inclined her head so that she could whisper into his ear.

"I in no way am looking to offend you but… well how keen are you on having Guilmon with you this evening?"

The deflation of Takato's entire nervous system resulted in a single vocal exclamation: "What?"

"Well…" The fashionista had clearly put some thought into making her appeal as tactful as possible, "I'm just not sure how well he would… mingle."

The thought of Guilmon in a black tie and dinner jacket sampling horse-de-vours while enumerating the finer points of color theory brought a wide grin to the young man's face. A smile tugged at the edges of Rika's lips, the same image clearly having sprung into her head.

"Probably not very well miss… Ohhhh you're asking if it would be alright if he didn't come tonight?"

"I can mind him." Interrupted Renamon, the kitsune's hyper-attuned senses making her privy to the conversation.

"Of course you can…" The sheer force of Rika's sarcasm could have peeled the lacquer off of the marble floor.

"Excellent!" Chirped Rumiko, Takato wincing as his ears were set ringing. "Everyone off to your rooms then! We have fifteen minutes!"

"Who is Renamon minding?"

Takato pulled the door to the room he was sharing with Guilmon closed and tugged the t-shirt he was wearing off over his head. Temporary blindness did not deter the tamer as he paced rapidly over to closet on the other end of the room.

"Guil do you know what a fash-"

Talking, thinking, and attempting to remove one's pants while walking vigorously had proved to be a task too many for Takato, and the scatter-brained tamer was sent crashing to the floor.

Guilmon's ears flickered in amusement, the saurian digimon no longer as concerned as he once was about injuries resulting from his tamer's clumsiness.

"Do I know what a what is?"

"A fashion show." Grunted Takato from the floor.

With no small amount of wriggling the tamer managed to remove his jeans and tossed the offending articles in the direction of his bed.

Jumping to his feet the young man bounded across the remaining distance to the closet, his bemused and puzzled Digimon padding along in his wake attempting to define a fashion show to the best of his abilities.

"People walk around on a stage in clothes that sometimes look funny… But those funny clothes are important to people like Rika's mom…" Guilmon's plodding logic was his preferred method of explaining things he did not entirely understand, attempting to piece together a plausible definition based off of what he knew.

It was clear that the cream and crimson digimon had a masculine, if somewhat childish grasp of the event at hand.

Tapping his muzzle with a long black claw, Guilmon scrounged his conscience for more information as his tamer flew around the hotel room, collecting scraps of clothing.

"Oh and people wear sunglasses inside! Because… because… well… I don't know why."

"So a fashion show is where people dress up in weird clothes, walk around on a stage and wear sunglasses inside?"

Amber eyes narrowed in concentration, the digimon mulled over his tamer's proposed definition for a moment before certifying it as acceptable with an enthusiastic "Yep!"

A chuckle bounced happily through Takato's frame. The exertion Guilmon put into being as honest and forthright as possible still amused him after years of fellowship.

"And do you want to go watch people dress in funny clothes walk around for hours and hours boy?"

"Well…. Will there be food?"

"There will be, but it'll be tiny little pieces of lettuce on great big plates artistically covered in dressing."

Reptilian features sagged at the very thought of such meager comestibles; Guilmon was not exactly one to admire the food in front of him.

Did I mention that you have to sit absolutely still for the entire show?"

Guilmon's jaw snapped shut with a startled click, "But… Won't Miss Nonaka be mad if I don't go? She's so super nice but she's Rika's mom so she might get mad like Rika…."

Choosing his words carefully, Takato broached the ultimatum and cut off his rambling digimon: "Instead of going to the fashion show tonight, would you like to just hang out here with Renamon?"

This set the reptilian digimon bouncing on his heels, "I can do that!"


"Yes Guilmon-mon?"

"How come… wait. What did you say?" Guilmon cast a scrutinous look towards his tamer.

Suppressing a bark of laughter with the deepest frown he could possibly generate, Takato brushed off his partner's inquiry. Pulling one over on someone as innocent and oblivious as Guilmon was hardly challenging, but boredom drives men to the oddest pursuits.

"Nothing, nothing… what were you going to ask boy?"

"How come we always finish getting ready before the girls do?"

A mighty groan was Takato's initial response to his Digimon's question; the young man shifted his weight around to alleviate some pressure on his sore rear end as he pondered the query posed to him. For nearly fifteen minutes now he had been sitting on the hard marble window-sill of the hotel room's foyer, exactly where Rumiko had told him to be once he had finished making himself presentable.

"Be ready and waiting by six" were here exact words, sent in Takato's direction around the rapidly-closing door of the room across from Takato's.

He had burst out of his own room at precisely six to find a marble-furnished foyer completely devoid of life.

"Because girls have a lot more to do than we do when it comes to big important events like this one buddy."

"Like what?" Guilmon was like a toddler in his persistent-questioning, the saurian Digimon more content with having an answer fed to him than coming up with one on his own.

Unsure of the exact specifics of what went on behind closed bedroom and bathroom doors, Takato could do no more than provide general information that would only lead to continued questioning.

"Ummm…. Hair, make-up, nails…. It takes girls a lot longer to get dressed sometimes because… their clothes are more complicated?"

A solitary ivory claw tapped against Guilmon's muzzle, the Digimon surprisingly quiet as he mused over what his tamer had said with unexpected gusto.

The thump of a bolt popping free from a wooden socket interrupted the Digimon's thought process and startled Takato to his feet. Rubber soles smacking on marble, Takato buttoned the top two buttons on his dinner jacket just as his father had shown to do in an effort to make himself presentable.

Whispering on its hinges, one half on the double wooden doors that separated Rika, Rumiko and Renamon's room from the lobby swung open. The yellow kitsune stood framed in the doorway, mild annoyance emanating from her cocked hips and snapping tail.

Unable to restrain himself, the nervous energy built up in Takato's gut escaped the young man in the form of an explosive sigh.

"Tell me about it."

So unusual was Renamon's snide remark that it produced a blocky chuckle from both Guilmon and his tamer. A stern but knowing look from the fox ninja communicated the extent of her exasperation, and both of the boys lapsed into dutiful silence.

Turning her attention to the interior of the hotel room, Renamon stepped back to allow passage through the door she was holding open.

Emerging as a pair, the mother-daughter duo emerged from their lair with energetic grace. Heels clicking on the solid marble surface of the hotel room's lobby, Takato found himself thankful for the sound as he had momentarily lost his tongue.

Each and every time Rika was forced to dress up for a fashion event Takato managed to render himself speechless, such was the power of his now-girlfriend's metamorphosis.

A short black strapless dress reached down to the middle of Rika's thighs, the provocatively-short dress revealing lace leggings of an exotic pattern. A short, color-matched jacket with long sleeves changed the feel of the outfit from provocative to professional. The look was completed by a tight bun that was constructed with quite a bit more care than usual. Unable to avoid the temptation, Takato brushed his gaze over the top of Rika's dress. To his disappointment her cleavage was unusually absent; the brazen tomboy was fond of flaunting her… assets in situations like this. Lavender eyes snapped up Takato's wandering vision, and the young man blushed as Rika glared at him for his transgression.

As was the case with these occasions Rika's outfit was clearly the result of a conflict between the young tamer and her mother. Whereas Rumiko was hell-bent on dressing her daughter as exotically as possible, Rika countered with an equal and opposite force. The resulting compromise was often a careful balance between the bleeding edge of fashion and a comfortably-conservative look, although as she got on in years Rumiko Nonaka gave more and more ground to her daughter.

The aforementioned fashion matriarch was clad in a comparatively more vibrant and progressive get-up, although according to Rika she had turned in her high-heels a few years ago. Remarkably her outfit more or less matched up with her daughter's, although the elder Nonaka had forgone the leggings and flat colors that her offspring had chosen in favor of navy-blues and soft whites.

Like a storied lioness sizing up a challenger to her pride's alpha male, Rumiko Nonaka tore into Takato with her usual violent once-over.

Hard eyes softened as the traces of a smile crept onto Ms. Nonaka's features, the woman seeming to be pleased with the sharp appearance of her daughter's boyfriend.

"Well don't you look dashing Mr. Matsuki?" Embarrassing one's children is a past-time all parents partake in, and Rumiko never missed a chance to put a bit of color into Rika's cheeks.

Rubbing the back of his head, Takato replied with a nervous grin.

"Thank you Ms. Nonaka…"

"Yeah yeah, let's get going." Rika interrupted Takato and briskly stepped around her mother, the young woman's cheeks tinged cherry-red.

A manicured finger, the nail un-painted, summoned the elevator. The painting of one's nails was something that Rika had apparently yet to find joy in or even reason for, and while manicures were acceptable the Ice Queen's tomboy tendencies disallowed the subject of nail-decoration of even being broached.

"Here we go, off to the grand ball! And this time young Rika actually has a date, how exciting!"