Will you: Wait for her?
AN: Alright, show of hands how many peoplewant to kick the living tar out of me? Just kidding, I know I've been away for awhile, but it wasnt on purpose, life has just been very harsh o me as of late. Ok now, this is the missing events from 'Promise' that was alluded to in chapter nine. The reason it is here in a separate fic is that it didn't fit with the overall theme of Promise. This story will be three chapters long, and will cover the two week gap between chapters eight and nine. The first two chapters occur the week after chapter eight of Promise and the third chapter occurs the following week. Now that we have that out of the way, sit back and enjoy while our hero's squirm and get tortured by the most evil and terrifying foe they have encountered yet. I also want to apologize for this chapter itself, it really doesn't feel as good as Promise left off, but I'll try harder with the next chapter.
This chapter is dedicated to Crazyeight, for giving me that last push to finish this chapter and get back to writing.
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.
*Beep beep beep beep beep*
Rolling his head to the side, Takato groggily opened his eyes to see what time it was. Everything was spinning and blurry, but he was able to make out the number five somewhere on his clock.
"Man why would I set my clock…oh," gulping, Takato felt himself grow more and more awake by the second. Unfortunately it was due to a cold chill crawling up his back and filling his stomach like a block of ice.
"Well Takato, it's been nice knowing you the last few years. Shame it has to end this way," Kazu said solemnly.
"Would you," not even able to finish the thought Takato was cut off by another voice.
"Hey cut that out. He's survived this long, if Rika didn't do him in I'm sure he can take whatever those two can throw at him," Ryo stated calmly.
"I think you're both overreacting. I'm sure it's nothing like that, they probably just want to..."
Takato face palmed to silence the voices in his head. One of these days he was going to find a way to keep them quiet, or so he hoped.
Crawling over the side of his bunk bed, he was surprised to see Guilmon waiting for him completely awake. His tail was swishing from side to side calmly ad his head was tilted to the side.
"Takatomon scared?" he asked innocently.
The teen slumped in response.
"This…just isn't fair," Takato groaned.
Looking down at his and Rika's hands, he gave a light squeeze before releasing hers.
He was surprised to see her push herself up from where they were sitting then offer him a hand getting up.
"I know…it's…a lot…but thank you," she replied cutting him off.
Studying her for a moment he could tell she was struggling to keep everything together herself, but there was an unmistakable flicker of gratitude and relief in her eyes.
"I know you've got work to do…and…I need to…take care of a few things…but I'll see you tomorrow right?" It only took a second for her eyes to widen at what she said. "At school, you know, at school tomorrow…"
Not trusting his voice at the moment, Takato quickly nodded in response.
Shifting from one foot to the other, Rika turned her head before leaving.
"See ya later Takato."
Blinking, by the time Takato pulled his wits together Rika was already gone.
"I…don't think I'll ever get used to that…" Takato thought when he reached up and touched his cheek.
Remembering where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to be doing; Takato shook his head and rushed downstairs, hoping that he wasn't in too much trouble.
Roughly an hour later the phone rang, not an unusual occurrence so he ignored it when he heard his mother answering it.
Fifteen minutes later she entered the kitchen with the cordless phone and said it was for him.
Still not thinking it was anything serious but beginning to suspect it to be something strange, he quickly washed and dried his hands before claiming it from her.
"Hello Takato, I hope I'm not taking you from anything important," the person asked.
Running the voice over in his head a few times he quickly figured out who it was and felt his eyes widen.
"Oh, uh, no mam not at all, I was just about to take a break, it's not a problem at all Mrs. Hata…umm…is…something wrong?" Takato asked carefully. He knew that the only reason she would be calling for him was regarding Rika, and given what had been going on lately he doubted this was a thank you or a congratulations.
"No, nothing is wrong," the older woman replied with her usual warm and grandmotherly tone.
Takato let out a sigh of relief.
"I simply wished to inform you that you are invited to our home this Sunday for a small…gathering of sorts. That wouldn't be too much trouble would it?"
Takato wanted to take back his sigh of relief and strangle it.
Four years of taming and a lifetime of hanging around his friends Kazu and Kenta set off warning bells in his mind.
"Uh…no mam, it wouldn't be…I mean, it isn't, do I need to bring anything…dress up…or…something?" Takato asked, doing his best to prevent his voice from squeaking.
"No, you don't need to bring anything with you, just be sure that you are here by six Sunday morning…and please, don't eat breakfast, it will be provided afterwards."
Gulping, Takato nodded before remembering that she couldn't see him.
"Yes mam, I'll be there, no problem," Takato answered, knowing full well he had just signed his death warrant.
With that the older woman bade him farewell and hung up.
Looking at his partner with a weak smile, Takato nodded.
The red dino tilted his head to the other side before turning and leaving the room.
"Huh, that was weird. I wonder what's up with him," Takato wondered as he made his way to the bathroom to wash up.
If he was going to die, he was going to make sure that he at least left behind a halfway decent corpse.
Half an hour later Takato and Guilmon were making good time in reaching their destination. They might not have visited Rika's place often, but they had been there enough times that they could find it without any trouble.
"Still, I wonder what's going on? Mom and dad were both up already…I can't even remember the last time that happened," he thought to himself as he tried desperately to keep his mind on absolutely anything other than the possibilities of what he was going to be facing.
Suddenly, Guilmon stopped and looked up taking several sniffs.
"Takatomon, its Renamon!" Guilmon cheered pointing up at the tree before them.
Before he could even finish the yellow fox digimon landed on the sidewalk several feet away from them.
As surprising as this was, what followed took the cake.
Deposited from the digimon's arms was a nervous Rika.
"Uh…hey Rika, what's up? You here to make sure I make it on time," Takato joked trying to lighten things up a little.
The young redhead looked away and sighed.
"No...I'm…sort of…on my way to…see your parents…"
Takato blinked in confusion.
"Is everything alright? If it's about me being invited I can just-"
"No, no…no…Takato…I…I'm sorry, this is all my fault, I-"
"Whoa whoa hold up, what's going on? What's your fault?"
Rika groaned then took a deep breath.
"Takato…I…Monday…when I left your place…I told Grandma that I was…that I might have…a boyfriend…"
Using his limited math skills, Takato quickly figured up that she meant him, what had happened, and what this probably was.
"I didn't want to, but I promised that…they were asking me all these questions that morning and I told them that I would tell them when I got back…I didn't have a choice Takato, I'm sorry I didn't think she would do anything like this. Mom yeah but not grandma, I thought she would..."
"Hey it's not like she's going to kill me or anything…right?" he asked suddenly not feeling so sure of himself.
"I…I don't know…I don't know what's going on Takato, I told her…most of what happened then she went and called someone. Next thing I know she hands me the phone and your mom is telling me to show up at your place by six," she said clenching her fists.
The two were silent before Renamon spoke up.
"Rika, if you desire, I can remain with Takato while you are at the Matsuki's."
Takato was surprised not only by the offer, but the possible reasoning behind it. He could tell that she was seriously considering it but was still unsure.
"Rika's more afraid for me than she is herself?"
Narrowing his eyes, he quickly figured up what he could do, and grinned.
"Hey Guilmon, can I ask you for a favor?"
The red dino's eyes lit up and he smiled.
"Sure Takatomon, but only if you give me twice as much bread next week," he replied quickly.
Takato clenched his fist and swore to find out who it was that had taught his best (non human) friend and partner how to extort someone and pass it off as bargaining.
Somewhere in upper Shinjuku
Waking from a dead sleep, Impmon sneezed.
"Fine, I'll give you twice as much bread, but only if you help out Rika ok?" Takato caved from desperation. He knew that it was a gamble, but since Guilmon was all but incapable of lying he hoped that it would somehow help his friend if she needed it.
Guilmon nodded happily when the two shook on it.
"Alright then, hey Rika if you want I'll trade you Guilmon for Renamon for the day," Takato offered with what he hoped was a reassuring grin.
He could see her thinking it over seriously for a moment, and was surprised to see her shake her head.
"I…don't think that would be a good idea Takato…but thanks," she replied before starting to walk away from the group.
"Keep an eye on him for me Renamon, don't let mom corner him alright?"
Takato's jaw didn't drop, it simply fell off.
"Ri, Ri, Rika! What are you-"
Instead of replying she broke into a jog putting more distance between them.
Looking back up at Renamon, he could see a tiny smile on her muzzle but it vanished when she noticed he was watching her.
"Come Takato, Seiko and Rumiko are expecting you," she replied before leaping up and vanishing from sight.
Feeling a tug on his shirt he looked back down at Guilmon.
"Takatomon, do I still get my extra bread? We shook on it," he said innocently.
"What! Why-who…" growling Takato began muttering promises of pain for Guilmon's 'tutor'
Wiping his nose Impmon muttered about stupid dog hair getting in his bed as he turned over to face the other way.
Reaching the Hata estate, Takato gulped before reaching for the doorbell.
Waiting for what seemed to be forever (which he was thankful for as it added more time to his lifespan) the door opened to reveal the aged visage of Rika's grandmother. Her face was passive, a small smile that he knew was always there, but he shivered when he saw the cold stern look in her eyes.
"Yep, I'm dead. It's been nice living but now, I'm dead," Takato thought darkly.
"At least you got to kiss a girl…two actually, but Juri-" Takato ignored the dog bunny in his mind. He didn't need Terriermon making things worse than they already were. He doubted that was actually possible, but he knew if it was, he would be the one to find a way.
"Takato, how nice to see you, please come in," she asked standing back to allow the boy and his partner room.
Stepping in carefully, the boy steeled himself as best he could. He didn't know what was coming, but he knew it had shaken Rika pretty badly.
"May I take your coat?"
Jumping he spun to face the older woman.
"Huh? Oh yeah, sure, hang on a sec," he replied trying to resist smashing his face into the wall. He was trying to make a good impression to at least get in one point on his side, but he knew that boat had launched and was never coming back.
Quickly unzipping his jacket he handed it to the older woman and cringed when he noticed her look the item over before hanging it on the wall.
"And that's two against me, great why don't I just raise the white flag already?" Takato thought to himself.
Feeling a phantom squeeze his hand, that thought was quickly banished.
"Oh, well hello Takato, it's nice to see you again," a way to cheerful for six in the morning voice spoke up.
Snapping his head up Takato felt his stomach turn to stone. Standing in the hallway no more than ten feet away was Rika's mother. Unlike the scant few times he had seen her in the past however, she was actually dressed down quite a bit. A simple white tee shirt and a pair of cutoff shorts.
Very short cut off shorts.
"Ah, go-good morning Misses Nonaka," the boy managed before darting his eyes away as quickly as he could.
"Whoa, hot mama!" Terriermon shouted with a whistle.
"Yep, if anyone could make this worse, he could," Takato though with a grimace.
Following the two women through the house Takato felt himself cringing more and more with every step. It seemed like every time he looked up it was to see something that reminded him of the gap between himself and Rika. Obviously expensive wall hangings, rugs, and carvings dotted the various shelves, walls and floor.
When they came to a stop he noticed that they were in one of the few rooms he had been in before. It was a small 'den' similar to the one they had held Rika's birthday party in some years back. Usually when he and Rika were at her home they stayed in the back yard, but whenever it rained or was too cold to be outdoors this was where she would bring him so they could practice or occasionally just talk.
"Please have a seat," Rumiko offered smiling and holding her hand towards the small round table in the center of the room.
"Ok Takato, you can do this…" Taking a deep breath, the boy moved to the cushion with its back to the door and sat crossing his legs. Guilmon quickly sat next to him on his haunches as always.
Rumiko and Seiko took two of the remaining three seats before Renamon appeared next to Takato.
"Renamon? What are you doing here?" Rumiko asked, clearly not expecting to see the vulpine warrior.
"I wish to be here…for my own interests," she quickly replied.
"Not Rika's?" Seiko asked quirking an eyebrow.
Renamon sat crossing her legs across from Takato and folded her arms.
"While Rika did ask for my presence, my reason for being here is my own, not hers," she answered calmly.
Not knowing if that was a good thing or a bad thing, Takato chalked it up under 'bad' just to be safe.
Reaching for the pot of tea at the center of the table, Seiko poured four small cups and waited.
Sitting as calmly as he could, Takato felt like he was under a microscope. Rumiko might have been in 'normal' clothes, but Seiko was dressed in a very elegant blue and red patterned kimono. While he didn't know much about fashion, Takato could tell when something was expensive, and this was.
"So Takato, how are you? School treating you ok?" Rumiko asked resting her elbows on the table and her head on the tops of her wrists.
"What? Why is she asking about school?" Not sure what was going on, Takato went with his gut instinct, and right now it was telling him to answer anything they asked him.
"It's…alright…a little much sometimes, but it's…ok," he answered carefully.
The younger of the two woman smiled and nodded.
"Rika has complains about the food from time to time, but that's all she seems to complain about," Rumiko added.
That surprised him and apparently it showed.
"Has she told you something different?" Seiko asked as she lowered her tea cup.
Still trusting his gut, Takato spoke.
"She…well, she's always complaining about how boring it is…and pointless."
"Pointless?" Rumiko asked.
"Well, you know, since we're tamers, I think in her mind that is her career or something…she's never said anything about what she wants to do," Takato clarified.
"Rika prefers to think of now rather than what may come. She has stated many times that it is pointless to plan for the future because there is no way of knowing what will happen," Renamon said closing her eyes.
"Rika's plans for the future aside, what about you Takato? I seem to remember you being quite the little artist last time we saw each other," Rumiko asked.
Forcing himself to keep his eyes on hers, Takato responded.
"I've been working on it, still got a long way to go though. I've been sending out some of my sample work for awhile now, but I haven't had any calls back or requests."
"Man this tanks. Why am I getting interrogated by a model dressed like that at six in the morning? Isn't that against the Geneva convention or something?" Takato thought wondering if this was punishment for something he had forgotten about.
"You know, I've got a few friends that might be interested. If you bring me some of your sample work I'll see if I can pull any strings for you," Rumiko offered.
Blinking, Takato didn't respond.
"Well? What do you plan on doing when you graduate? Are you going off to a collage? Have you already started planning what you're going to do?" Seiko asked taking another sip of her tea.
Shaking his head Takato pulled his wits together.
"Uh, no mam, I'm not."
"And why might that be? You do know that with your talent you could probably get a scholarship with very little trouble."
He didn't know why, but there was something about her question Takato didn't like. He was used to being insulted on a fairly regular basis and not all of it was Impmon's fault. He knew when someone was calling his intelligence into question and this wasn't it. There was another layer to her question but he couldn't figure out what it was.
"I have no plans of pursing collage because it might…it's too risky," he answered breaking eye contact with the older woman.
"Risky? Care to explain that one for me?" Rumiko asked tilting her head slightly to the right, exactly the way Rika did when she was confused.
Putting that thought away Takato took a deep breath.
"Someone has to stay, you know, because of the Wild One's always coming through. If all the Tamer's were gone and a big one came through…well, it would be really bad you know?"
"But why you? Out of the entire group, I would think someone like Henry would be better suited for that. If I'm not mistaken he is the most knowledgeable when it comes to digimon is he not?" Seiko asked.
Now he knew she was picking at his intelligence.
"Yes mam, I know that, but Henry…he's wanted to get out on his own for awhile now. He's actually already had several offers made for after he graduates; one of them was even from the Department of the Interior. He might be a tamer, but at heart he's a programmer, just like his dad," Takato defended.
"What about the others? Have any of them made plans for the future?" Rumiko asked leaning forward slightly.
Digging his fingernails into the wooden floor, Takato again meet her eyes as he answered.
"Ryo's already a shoe in to take over his dad's business; he'll always be a tamer though and because the work is so flexible he could do both easy. Kazu is already apprenticing at his dad's shop at the other end of town as well. Kenta…I think Kenta is working on some applications to a few programming collages, Yamaki might be pulling on him though."
"What about your little friend Juri?" Seiko asked innocently as she stirred her tea.
Despite feeling like the wind had just been knocked out of him, Takato answered her.
"She's studying medicine, and already was accepted into a nursing school pending on her graduation."
"So that just leaves you, Rika…and Ryo correct?" Seiko pushed.
"Yes mam, but I don't think it would be safe if only two tamers were on hand. Just because it's been awhile since the last Mega came through doesn't mean it can't happen again," Takato replied not liking where this was going.
"Still, if the two strongest Tamer's are going to be here, why not go off and follow your dreams?" Seiko asked.
"So I guess that makes you my dream girl huh?"
"I already am mam," he quickly defended before continuing. "I work part time at my family's bakery, and I know Yamaki convinced his superiors to start setting something up for us for all that we've done over the years. I would like work as an artist, but I know that's a slim chance of happening so I try to be practical."
The two women seemed to be following a script from what he could tell, and as much as he hated to admit it, he knew he was as well.
"Question is, am I supposed to follow the script or not? Do they want me to say what they expect or do they want something else," Takato thought as he tried to feel out what they were after.
"That...is very mature for someone so young. People need to dream, but at the same time they need to remember that they are just that in the end, dreams," Seiko said setting down her tea.
Thinking he was in the clear, Takato found himself knocked through a loop when Rumiko's eyes shifted, taking on the familiar icy coldness he had only experienced for Rika on a few occasions.
Familiar, but so very, very much colder.
"Takato, what do you know about my daughter?" Rumiko asked, her head lowering so that everything below her nose was hidden from view by her folded hands.
"Wh-what do you mean, what do I know about Rika?"
Rumiko shrugged. "How well do you know her? She claims that you are her best friend, I'm simply curious as to what that means. How much do you know about her? What do you know about her?"
Takato looked from Rumiko to Seiko with a confused expression.
"We are simply…worried about her Takato, Rika isn't exactly like most girls her age, and we are only trying to look out for her. Things have never been easy for her, and this is an especially difficult time for her given…her age," Seiko explained carefully.
"Her age?" Takato asked narrowing his eyes slightly in thought.
After several seconds of silence passed with no one speaking, Rumiko sighed and sat up.
"Takato, how old do you think I am?" she asked seriously.
The term 'deer in the headlights' would have fit the boy's expression perfectly as his face blanched.
"I'm not going to get angry with you Takato, I just want you to answer me honestly. How old do you think I am?" she repeated the question.
Gulping, Takato took a moment to study her face before quickly glancing down then back up.
"Great, it's a no win scenario. No matter what I say I'm screwed," Takato though glumly before making a second quick inspection of her face.
"Ok, she's obviously older than Ms Ashij, but she looks younger than mom…so…man this is hard. She doesn't look any older than…but she's a model so of course she's going to look young."
Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Takato gave his answer.
"I'm not really sure. If I had to guess, I would say thirty, thirty one maybe, but…well…" he trailed off before looking away from the two and focusing on a surprisingly interesting piece of lent on the wooden floor.
He knew he was in for it now. Based on how Rumiko's eyes grew every so slightly and the quick hitch in her breath when he answered he could only guess that he had picked too high of a number.
Hearing the younger of the two women cough and clear her throat to get his attention, Takato looked back up and was surprised to see not a trace of anger on either of their faces. He did notice a certain seriousness to Seiko's posture and expression however.
"Believe it or not Takato you were actually very close, I'm thirty two."
Scrunching up his face Takato tried to figure out where this was going when Seiko spoke.
"Takato, Rika is fifteen, she will be turning sixteen next month, my daughter just turned thirty two last month," she 'hinted' causing Takato's eyes to widen when he figured it out.
"Wait a minute, you mean, you were, and you think I….." feeling a wave of dizziness wash over him it took everything Takato had to stop the room from spinning under him.
"I know you're not like that Takato, but at the same time…" Rumiko left the sentence hanging.
"Last week Rika told us about what happened at the hideout, at least what she claimed you told her happened. We simply wish to hear it from you," Seiko stated as she took another sip of her tea.
"I…all I did was try to help her…I…"
After trying and failing several times to speak, Takato narrowed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"Look, I know you're worried about her, but I swear the only thing I did was dry her feet and hold her until morning came. Rika's my best friend, and I know what she's been through in life. I would never take advantage of anyone like that, especially someone I respect and look up to as much as her," Takato defended. Part of him was angry that they would even think he might do something like that, but a much large part of him felt hurt more than anything else.
"You look up to her?" Rumiko asked, surprise clearly plastered across her face.
"Yes, I look up to her. She's the strongest person that I know, and I thank Kami every day that she decided to by my friend. If it weren't for her I would have died at least a dozen times by now, and the others would have died because of me," Takato sighed looking away.
"Rika…has an uncanny touch when it comes to snapping Takato out of his 'funks' as you call them," Renamon chimed in to the boy's defense.
"Is that the only reason you look up to her? Because you think she's strong?" Seiko asked, genuinely curious.
"I…no," Takato said before shaking his head and continuing. "Rika's always…she always looks out for her friends no matter what. If she's down or depressed, it's hard to tell to begin with, but even then she puts it aside and does whatever she can to help her friends, even if it hurts her doing so. I know she has a hard time letting herself feel anything, and I know she gets confused and upset sometimes doing it, but it never stops her from at least trying. I honestly cant say that about myself, I mean, I try my best, but I've-we've needed her a lot more often than she's needed us," Takato corrected his slipup but knew they had caught it.
"So you like that she's always willing to put her wants and needs aside for you or her friends?" Rumiko asked with a cold tone.
"NO! It's nothing like that!"
"Then tell us how it is, so far the only thing you've said is that you like having her as your friend because she goes out of her way to help others and is strong. To me that sounds more like someone using a person than a true friend," Rumiko stated matter of factly.
Clenching his fists, Takato felt like he was falling down a deep hole. He knew that what they were saying wasn't true, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out what to say to disprove it.
"If you're only friends with my daughter because of what she can give you, do you honestly think I will allow you to date her?" Rumiko asked, her tone gaining an edge to it.
Looking up at the two older women, Takato closed his eyes and tried to figure out what to say. He could feel something slipping away from him, something he knew was important with each passing second.
"No matter what I say it just keeps making things worse and worse. At this rate I'll be lucky if they let me go to the same school as her, come on Takato think!"
Feeling his chest tighten and sweat on his palms, Takato tried to think of something, anything, when a memory flashed across his mind.
"I want you…I want you to listen to me…very carefully…" she continued before swallowing.
Feeling him tense, she moved her hand forward, and then gently closed it around his larger hand.
"As long as I live, no matter what happens, no matter that you do, no matter where you go, I'll never stop…being your friend, no matter what."
Clenching her hand tighter, she continued.
"I'm not the best person out there, I know that, and I'm not exactly…much of a girl…but…everything I have…everything I can give you…is already yours, and has been for the last four years. My friendship, my trust, my support, my strength…and…"
Taking one last breath, she was only barely able to whisper the words, but they still passed from her lips.
"I…I owe her so much…." Looking back up at the two older women, Takato gave them a sad smile as he continued. "Rika has done so much for me, she's always been there you know?" Closing his eyes for a moment, Takato was surprised to both see and feel his thoughts coming together rapidly.
"When I first met her…and every since then, I've always felt this…pain coming from her. It's like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders, but she wont let anyone help her carry it…or…I don't know, sometimes its like there's something inside of her that she wants to let out but just…cant," stopping to collect his thoughts further, Takato glanced at the two women again as he continued.
"She's a puzzle; she tries to help others but won't ask for anyone to help her…and…its hard to even get her to accept help…but when she does…she looks…happy."
"I know that I don't have anything I can give you to prove that I'm not just trying to use her except my word, and I don't know how much weight that carries or what its worth, but it's all I have. I don't just hang around Rika because I think I'll get anything out of it, I hang around her because I want to, because she draws me, and because…"
"Because?" Seiko pushed, hiding a small smile behind her tea cup.
"I…need her," Takato admitted with a tinge appearing across his cheeks.
"Need her?" Rumiko asked, raising an eyebrow just as Rika had so many times before, that knowing 'I've got you' twinkle flashing in her eyes.
"Yeah…I know it sounds…weird, but it's true…I need her…I don't know what I'd do without her," Takato admitted, this time he appeared to be more confused that embarrassed though.
"It's…weird, but whenever she's there, I feel…stronger, I'm not as afraid or worried about how things will turn out. I just…know that everything's going to be ok as long as she's there. I…" pausing to choose his wording carefully, Takato narrowed his eyes in thought.
"I trust her…completely. I know that she'll always have my back, and I know that if she's fighting by my side we'll always win no matter what. I cant think of how else to describe it, it's not so much of a feeling as much as its just…knowing…you know?"
Rumiko and Seiko exchanged glances before returning their attention to Takato.
"You're saying it feels natural to have her at your side?" Seiko asked setting down her tea cup and meeting his eyes.
Rolling her words over a few times, Takato nodded.
"That…fits, I don't know, it's hard to explain. I wouldn't say it feels natural, I don't even know what to call natural anymore after everything I've done and seen since meeting Guilmon, but I can say it feels…right. She's always been, and still is stronger than me, but I just…I don't know, I want to help her, if that means fighting by her side or just being there listening to her vent, I want to. When I need help with something, I don't feel embarrassed asking her, and when she asks something of me I don't feel surprised or awkward, never have actually," he explained.
"I believe what Takato is attempting to convey is that he feels at ease around her, and that he feels it is his place to be at her side, the same as myself but for different reasons," Renamon 'translated'.
"And why do you feel that way?" Seiko asked, her voice giving him no clue as to what she was thinking.
Takato shook his head as he replied.
"I don't know, honestly. When we first met, even though she attacked me and Guilmon I wasn't afraid of her or angry with her, same with the second time we met her…and she attacked…I actually ended up rescuing her life with Guilmon," Takato explained trying to carefully word the second encounter so as not to have it come back on Henry.
"And after that?" Rumiko asked.
"It was the same, I don't know why, but after our first encounter me and Guilmon were just…drawn to her. I still remember how it felt, even after four years, but I still can't explain it, I just know that I had this…gut feeling that I needed to help her, that she needed me, that I was supposed to do something…even now I get that same feeling, it never completely goes away, but it does get weaker from time to time," Takato said, unconsciously clenching his fist.
The two woman seemed to be in deep thought for a minute, but Rumiko quickly pulled things back on track.
"That's all fine and dandy, but you still haven't answered the question, what do you know about my daughter?" she asked, her expression still just as blank as before. Though Takato could have sworn that she was sporting a tiny smirk he couldn't tell for sure.
Blinking, and feeling like he had just been hit with a beach ball, Takato chuckled.
"Where do you want me to begin? Her favorite color is midnight purple; her favorite food is red bean paste buns and umeboshi. She's not a vegetarian but she is picky about her meats. She hates anything fruit flavored unless its actual fruit and she hates energy drinks. She likes soda when it's turning flat but isn't quite flat yet, favors spicy foods and has a secret addiction to chocolate she's been trying to hide for as long as I've known her."
Seeing the two older women's blank expressions, he continued.
"Unless you mean stuff that's actually important, like why she has difficulty expressing her emotions and the fact that it's nearly impossible to earn her trust. In which case I have a few ideas but nothing to back them up," he replied with a tired sigh.
Though he was looking down at the table, he was able to see Seiko's expression out of the corner of his sight, and what he was surprised him. It only lasted for a brief moment, but there was a look of disappointment that quickly shifted to one of something different, something he couldn't quite put his finger on.
Something close to guilt.
"Takato…I'm sure that you have noticed by now that Rika…isn't exactly like most of your friends," Rumiko worded carefully.
Quirking an eyebrow, Takato could only come up with one intelligent reply.
Both Rumiko and Seiko's lips pulled back into the tiniest of smiles when they saw his honestly confused expression.
"It might not seem like a big deal to you, and it really shouldn't be, but…have you ever noticed something strange about her hair?" Rumiko prodded.
Blinking, Takato's brows furrowed.
"You mean that pineapple ponytail she always has it in? How does she get it like that?"
Seiko smiled gently as she shook her head.
"I believe that my daughter was implying that the color of Rika's hair isn't exactly something you see every day."
Takato's eyes snapped at that.
"You mean about her not being pure Japanese right?" Seeing the surprised expression on their faces, he continued. "I knew she wasn't completely Japanese, her hair sort of makes that obvious, but I still don't get why that makes any difference, why would anyone treat her differently just because of her hair color?" he asked, more than just a little hint of anger leaking into his voice.
Rumiko sighed, knowing this was going to be a very delicate matter; she had to be careful here and knew she wouldn't get a second chance if she messed up.
Takato was far from stupid; she knew that already both from what her daughter had told her and her own observations. She wanted to help her daughter, but something's were going to be her responsibility.
"I'll make this as simple as I can for you Takato," Rumiko started before taking a deep breath. "My hair isn't naturally blond, and while the tabloids might say that I dye it to stand out and draw attention to myself that couldn't be further from the truth. I do it for Rika, to help draw attention away from her."
While he might have understood what she was saying, Takato couldn't comprehend exactly why she was saying it or how this tied in to Rika coming from a mixed background.
"Rika…Rika has a lot of her father in her, and because of some…bad choices on my part, she had a difficult childhood," Rumiko continued as she lowered her hands from her face and bawled them into fists at her side.
"I wanted her to have the same opportunities that I did growing up, I wanted her to have the same chances…but…I was…very young, and foolish. I entered her into the same school my mother put me into when I was her age, the best all girls' school in Japan…" smiling wistfully she shook her head.
"But I hadn't taken into account her hair causing problems…I still wish I had hair like hers from time to time, perfectly pin straight, not like this wavy mop I have to deal with every morning," she drifted off topic before taking switching back.
"The problem with the best all girls' school in Japan is that it happens to be…exclusive to those that have the right connections and the right amount of money in their accounts. I had more then enough of both, but…"
Sensing her daughter's distress, Seiko took over.
"Rika's hair marked her Takato, it marked her as not being…pure blooded, pure Japanese," Seiko stressed the word almost as if she were drinking battery acid.
There it was again, he knew there was something else to all this, but for the life of him he couldn't figure out what.
"Because she was different, and because she stood out, they made it hard on her didn't they?" he stated more than asked.
The two women nodded.
Shaking his head Takato found his own hands tightening into fists.
"I know the older generations frown on people mixing themselves with other cultures, but why would that affect Rika? Unless it was the teachers…no, she said it was the other girls in her school, the other students…but I don't get it, why would they even care?"
Licking his lips just to open them, Takato swallowed.
"Not…not to...you know…be nosy or anything…but…why would her…well, why does it matter who her father is? Their aren't that many 'pure bloods' left anyways," he asked trying to get a feeling for what exactly they were keeping from him. Something told him it had to do with Rika's father, but exactly how he couldn't tell.
Rumiko cast her mother a quick sideways glace, but the older woman merely closed her eyes before responding.
"I believe it might be best if you learned the rest from her Takato. She considers Renamon to be like a sister, but I know she has always thought of you as her closest and most trusted friend, even from the very start," she said with a knowing smile.
"Really? Cause for the longest time I couldn't tell if she hated me or was just annoyed with me all the time," Takato replied nervously.
That remark caused an immediate reaction out of the women. Seiko's smile grew even larger while her daughter suppressed a snort.
"Takato, if she hated you, or thought you to be an annoyance, why do you think she invite you into our home after only meeting you two previous times?"
"Uh, well I thought it was because she didn't want anyone to see me talking to her…"
Seiko shook her head softly.
"Then why bring you here, into my home, when she knew I was here?"
That hit him like a bucket filled with cold water.
"She also gave you our home phone number did she not?"
The memory of him asking for her number in case of an emergency flashed across his eyes. She had raised one thin eyebrow, shrugged, and told him what it was without going off on him like he had expected. She hadn't seemed to be nervous or happy about it, he couldn't really tell what if anything was going though her mind at the time.
Then again, this was Rika they were talking about.
He kept repeating the number over and over in his head till he got home and had the chance to write it down. Not that he ever needed to look it up, his repeating it had pretty much branded the seven digit series firmly into his memory.
"I…guess…" he replied, feeling like a complete idiot for never noticing any of that before.
"She even started spending time with you and your friends after school each day."
That one hit like a barrel full of bricks.
"IDIOT! How did I not notice that! I really am a gogglehead," Takato mentally sighed wishing he could slam his face onto the table.
He had tried being nice to Rika whenever they crossed paths, as had the others aside from Kazu, but she never reacted any different to them. Then one day, she was just…there, hanging out with them and following them around. She always kept a little distance from them, not too much so that she would appear to be a stalker, but just enough where a person would know she was part of their group.
But in just a few weeks, she went from keep a good ten paces from them to walking at Takato's left side, rarely ever leaving it.
"Rika never had friends growing up Takato, so she has difficulty when it comes to talking to people her own age. She's free spirited and speaks her mind, but she still has a hard time when it comes to conversing with her peers," Seiko explained what might have been seen as a contradiction, as Rika was not exactly the quietest of people.
Takato frowned when he heard that. He had always known that Rika didn't really enjoy talking much, and she absolutely hated it when others tried to touch her, even just to shake hands, but this almost made her sound like an…"
"She has opened up to you quite a bit…but I can already see that she has still kept a great deal from you even now. Try giving her little pushes every now and then, but let her move at her own pace ok?"
"Wait a minute, that means…"
Eyes wide Takato looked up in awe.
"Takato, if there was anyone I would trust her with, it would be you," Rumiko stated with a warm smile.
"You stood by her, and you have helped her when others wouldn't. Even more importantly, you helped her when she herself didn't realize she needed it or want it," Renamon added, startling the others who had forgotten that she was even there.
Takato was surprised when Seiko then grabbed his hands with one of her own and held them in an iron grip.
"I have seen you and your partner fight in the past, and while I might not understand everything of your taming duties, I do believe there is a reason you become a knight when you fight together."
Swallowing, Takato found himself unable to speak, but nodded.
"How much do you care for my granddaughter?"
A million thoughts passed through his mind at that one question, but not one of them was negative.
"S-she means the world to me…she's my best friend, and I would do anything to help her," he replied nervously.
It was strange, even though he was more frightened now than he had been when fighting inside the D-Reaper, he could feel something pushing him along, little by little, inch by inch, it was small but it was there.
"Then you should have no problem answering me this. Do you love her?"
The 'push' seemed to melt around him. For a brief moment he could have sworn that he felt a pair of arms wrap around him from behind, but they vanished and were replaced with a warmth that flowed over him.
"If you can't answer me now, you won't have the opportunity to tell her later. Rika cares for you, and she trusts you, but if we are going to allow you to court her we need to know that you are strong enough for her. Patience is very important but when she does take that step forward, when she does try to reach out to you, will your hand be there to take hers, will you help her up when she is ready and hold her fast should she slip back?"
Memories of the previous week flittered across his mind. Closing his eyes, he felt himself back in the park, when he saw Stingmon about to kill her, when he was holding her the entire night, his oath, their kiss, and the few moments comforting each other afterwards. Most of all however, he remembered everything she had done for him, just how far she had gone out of her shell and did everything she could in her power to be there for him and to help him.
Clenching his fists, Takato remembered the day the Parasimon invaded and felt a well of disgust wash over him.
"As Gallantmon I can destroy an entire army of Mega level digimon with a single attack, but as myself I can't stand up and prove that I'm willing to be there for my best friend? What the heck is wrong with me!"
Looking back up at the two older women, Takato's face had changed completely. Gone was the unsure and goofy 'gogglehead', in his place was the confident and hardened young man that had fought Beelzemon, that had defied one of the four Digimon Sovereign, even going so far as to point his blade and call him out.
This was the Takato that had led the Tamers against the D-Reaper.
"I swear that I will do everything in my power to help her. Rika's stood by my side for so long, and has done so much for me that for me not to would be like betraying her. She's help me become stronger, she's lend me her strength, and given me her friendship," pausing, he shifted his stance, sliding one knee up and his other leg back into a respectful kneel as he lowered his head.
"I still can't figure out for the life of me why she would choose me, but if Rika is offering me her heart, than I'll repay it in kind with my heart mind and soul. I…I can't say that I love her, not yet because I still don't know if I do or not, not to that degree. But you have my word that I will give her every ounce of strength I can offer her."
Rumiko chuckled, drawing his attention.
"A bit over the top, but not bad. I have to say that I'm glad to see that my daughter chose someone that is so honest."
Now confused, Takato returned to his seat, slightly embarrassed from his little speech only moments ago.
"You said that you aren't ready to tell her that you love her because you are still unsure yourself. That's a very mature thing for someone your age to say Takato."
Seeing his confusion deepening Seiko spoke up.
"You might not realize this, but Rika trusts you completely, and I do mean completely. I already know that she would do anything, would offer you anything, and would give you anything that you asked of her. Even if it is something she wouldn't want to do, she would still do it because of how much trust and faith she has in you."
"Uh, Rika…just…one question…"
"Yes Takato?" She asked, half dreading his response.
"Uh…could I…have…err...I mean, would you mind..,if it wouldn't be too much trouble-" He tried to ask while turning bright neon red.
"I-I...I…I don't think so…sorry. I'm still kind of new to this, and…you know how hard stuff like that is for me. It's going to take me awhile to get used to anything like that."
"She's right, Rika hesitated before saying no…if I had pushed her just a little bit…" dismissing the thought completely, Takato turned his attention back to his friend's mother and grandmother.
"You are a good boy Takato, and I don't think we'll have to worry about you abusing Rika's trust. All that I ask is that you be honest with both her and yourself. She's a strong young woman, but it will take time and hard work from both of you to help her."
Takato was caught off guard when Renamon lowered a large tray that loaded with enough food for a small party to the table.
"Where did she? How? When? Argh how does she do that?"
No one saw the tiny smirk on the vulpine warriors face as she took her seat beside Seiko, no one except the matriarch herself who was hiding her own smirk behind her tea cup.
"Now that we have that taken care of, would you care to join us for breakfast Takato?"
Glancing at his slowly waking partner, and knowing the look in his eye, Takato knew he wouldn't have any other choice but to accept.
Now walking back to his own house, Takato was deep in thought, going over the mornings meeting with Rika's family. Something had been bothering him ever since that previous week, and now it was drawing even more of his attention than it had before.
"Blood, pure blood…why does that seem to matter so much to them? Rika told me she doesn't care about that sort of thing, but…what am I missing?"
It wasn't until he was halfway home that he realized the two women had changed the topic on him and led the discussion in a completely different direction when he tried to push the matter further.
"Her father…who was he? He must have been European for her to have red hair…but isn't red hair supposed to be really rare, suppressive?"
"Recessive not suppressive Takato, and your right. Both parents have to carry the gene for their child to have red hair. But according to Rika it's only her father that isn't Japanese…strange," 'Henry' explained to him.
"I really need to talk to somebody about you guys, there is no way this kind of thing is normal," Takato thought, referring to his friends 'voices' that were now silent.
"Hm? What's up buddy?" Takato asked looking over at his partner. The red dino's ears were down and his overall look was one of sadness.
"Back at Rika's home…you said that Rika was your best friend…does that mean I'm not your best friend anymore?" he asked worriedly.
Takato flashed his partner an assuring smile.
"You're not really my best friend anymore," seeing Guilmon's expression fall even further, he continued "you're like family to me Guilmon, you're like the brother I always wanted…and that mom expressively forbid when I turned five," Takato finished with a beaming smile.
Guilmon blinked several times before speaking.
"Really Takatomon? You really mean it?" he asked excitedly.
Takato nodded as they continued walking.
"But…Impmon said you were my mommy, wouldn't that make me your son?"
Takato stopped for a moment, caught off guard by his partner's statement.
"Oh! Wait, that means Impmon was right, Rika really is my daddy!"
Eyebrow twitching, Takato clenched his fist as he took a deep breath.
A loud cry echoed throughout the majority of Shinjuku.
Many miles away, a small purple Rookie digimon rolled over onto his other side, still deep in sleep as a smile grew across his face.
End chapter 1
Ok, I know this is horrendously late, but I've been up to my neck in work, had two funerals, major adjustments at work and a serious case of writers block holding me back. I know some of you might be disappointed in Takato here, still not confessing love for Rika while she already has (though only to herself) but there is a reason for this and that will become clearer down the road. Let's just say that there are a few positive results from her having suppressed her emotions for so long. The last bit I had to do, not only for humors sake, but because I have a hard time writing Guilmon, strange considering how easy Renamon comes to me, and she's not exactly the easiest character to work with.
Now, you might have noticed that at times both Rika and Takato have 'felt' another presence, this is nothing magical or spiritual in any way, it's their subconscious memories of each other. Think of it as their heart 'reminding them' that there is someone there to give them strength when they need it, they just don't realize it.
I'm sure that I've left you scratching your heads with a few things, but believe me when I say that they will be explained in good time.
Also just to inform everyone, I'm going on vacation next week, so I wont be able to respond to any reviews between Memorial Day and the following Sunday. I again apologize to the reviewers from my other works I haven't responded to yet, but I ask that you please continue to be patient with me, its hard to juggle writing with full time work and some semblance to a life lol.
Be on the lookout for chapter two, 'Will You: Work for him?' in a few weeks at most.
Till next time, Ja Ne!