Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.

Tamer's Requiem: Book 0: Toys, Snowmen, and Digimon

A Digimon Tamers story by Crazyeight

Chapter: 1

Takato smiled as a small flake floated down in front of him, gradually making its way to the ground. Breathing in deep, he closed The door to his family's bakery behind him, so as to prevent his mother from yelling at him about 'heating the outdoors' and hefted the two bags of bread in his hands. Taking a look around him, he took off down the crowded street. His eyes grew brighter as he took in the bright lights of the Christmas decorations. If there was anything that he loved more than digimon, his friends and family, it had to be the Christmas season. He couldn't quite explain it, but there was just something about the holiday that made everything seem so much more fun.

Knowing Rika, she would probably tell me it's because I'm a 'little boy'.

Takato smiled at the thought of his red-haired friend's once-adversarial-now-playful way of telling him he needed to grow up. How serious she was about that depended on the situation, as during calmer times she tended to take his childishness in stride and, as he noticed from time to time, even grinned—a stark contrast to the more stressful times when they had been fighting bio-emergences that threatened to wreck their home city, Shinjuku barely two months ago.

Hmmm… mused Takato as he wove through the crowd, bee lining towards Shinuku's park. I wonder what Rika thinks about Christmas? In his mind's eye, Takato immediately came up with an image of Rika as a character from a western story he had heard about by the name of Scrooge, shouting "Bah! Humbug!" over anything that remotely smacked of good will and friendship. He immediately berated himself for it though, remembering that she was far from the highly aggressive girl who first came looking to fight just for sport.

Well, I have Terriermon to thank for that, he chuckled, adjusting his grasp on his bags of bread. That guy is always teasing someone. Even Ryo hasn't escaped unscathed, and he's the Legendary Tamer!

"But all in good taste," he remembered Terriermon saying after one of many scolding's by his friend and Tamer, Henry Wong.

Well, I'm sure she likes it just fine, he thought to himself, rounding a corner. I mean, what kind of person doesn't like Christmas? It's a fun, harmless holiday. Hmmm… Come to think of it, we haven't even been friends for a full year yet and there's not a whole lot that I know about her. Er, except that she really likes digimon?

Takato frowned as he pondered the thought. He supposed that he was worrying a little too much about it as they hadn't been friends for very long, but he was the type of person who worried endlessly about every little detail. Even more so when friends—not to name anyone—tended towards the occasional outburst whenever he got a detail wrong or unknowingly stepped on their toes.

Although he never said it out loud, Takato sometimes felt being friends with Rika was more dangerous than the digimon they fought.

At least it's worth it, he thought as he neared the park. Picking up a cheerful tune, Takato began whistling. He kept it up for a while, nodding cheerily to passer-byes until finally he came to a familiar stairway that led up a rough, well-grown hill that hid a small, concrete hut up at the top. His smile widening, Takato raced up the stairs, taking care to not trip lest he spill the contents of his bags all over the place. As he approached the hut, he heard some strange noises coming from the hut, and the sound of laughter. Raising an eyebrow, he slowed down just enough to get an idea about what he was hearing.

Clapping? Takato picked up his pace until he was at the hut's entrance. Both of his eyebrows rose now as he saw a sight he hadn't quite expected. Sitting in a circle were Renamon, golden furred kitsune digimon, the previously mentioned Terriermon, and Guilmon, crimson-scaled reptile with a large, hazard symbol emblazoned on his chest. The latter two laughed noticeably while Renamon leaned against the stone wall, her gloved arms folded across her chest. In the middle of the trio was a small, giggling, cream furred, bouncing digimon with large, outstretched ears that Takato recognized oh-so well.

Calumon…

As though the thought had been an actual call of his name, the tiny digimon stopped in mid-bounce and his eyes lit up, spying Takato.

"Hellooo!" he shouted with glee. "Hey look everybody! It's Takato!"

"Hey Takatomon!" greeted Terriermon, waving his arm-like ear at him. "You just missed one heck of a party. Renamon sang and everything!"

"Uh…" Takato felt a little dumbstruck as he unlocked the cage door to the hut and entered. "Hang on. You'll have to run that by me again. Renamon sang?"

The vulpine digimon's eyes turned towards Takato with what he could only hope was an amused glint.

"I do sing," said Renamon in a tone that sounded surprisingly amused. "I just don't sing often. It's not…usually called for."

"Oh." Takato chuckled and rubbed the back of his head nervously. "Well, I'm sorry I missed it. That would have been something to see.

"Uh-huh," nodded Guilmon exuberantly. "She has a very nice voice."

"Uh…" Takato blinked as Renamon's gaze turned towards Guilmon before finally looking back at him, an amused glint appearing in her eyes.

"Satisfied?"

"Hey, I never said that I didn't believe you. It just…came as a surprise, that's all." Feeling as though Renamon's piercing gaze was going to bore a hole in him, he chuckled anxiously and placed his bags on the ground. "Uh…a-anyway, I brought some food for you Guilmon. Um…the rest of you are welcome to share of course…"

"All right!" exclaimed Terriermon as both he, Calumon, and Guilmon dove forward, all but ripping into the bags—albeit Guilmon with a little more self-restraint than his two companions. Nonetheless, the bags, left to the tender mercy of the ravenous digimon, were swiftly on the fast track to being destroyed.

"Um…" Takato blinked. "I wonder if I should declare grocery bags as an endangered species?" he asked to no one in particular.

"At least Guilmon's eating habits aren't as bad as they used to be," observed Renamon, getting to her feet.

"Well, there's that." Takato smiled before a thought occurred to him. "Hey, is Rika here? I didn't see her when I came up."

"She is otherwise busy at the moment," replied Renamon matter-of-factly. "The holiday season has taken away much of her free time it seems."

"Huh." Takato furrowed his brow and tilted his head to one side. "Well, I guess I can see that, but I thought she had the holidays off just like everyone else."

"I believe she counts her free time a little differently," said Renamon, a small, barely-visible smile appearing on her face. "There are times where she wants to be left alone, and the Christmas season does not allow for that as much as she would like since school ended."

"Ah. Yeah." Takato bobbed his head in understanding. "Catching up with all the homework and tests we missed fighting the D-Reaper wasn't exactly easy. But I'm sure that she'll be fine. Rika's always good at pulling off the impossible."

Renamon's smile became more visible. "I'm sure if she was here, she would thank you for that sentiment."

"Or box your ears for them," pointed out Terriermon just before he shoved another piece of bread into his mouth. Takato scowled at the rabbit-dog digimon.

"Hey!"

"Momentai! No need to get defensive, Takatomon. I'm just kidding, that's all. Sheesh. The two of you need to lighten up."

"Do you want anything, Renamon?" asked Guilmon in-between mouthfuls, looking up at her. The vulpine digimon shook her head.

"No thank you. I had something earlier, but thank you for the offer. Now, I'm afraid I must go." Bowing slightly towards the digimon and Takato, Renamon faded from view.

"Man," breathed Takato as she departed. "I don't think I'll ever get used to how she does that."

"You're telling me," said Terriermon as he audibly swallowed his food. "I come down here to hang out with Guilmon here, and the next thing I know she shows up, saying that Rika kicked her out because she was wrapping presents."

"Do you think Rika got Renamon a present?" asked Calumon, looking up from his piece of Guilmon Bread.

"Why else would she do that? Henry did the same to me, so I know he got me something." Terriermon tapped his paw against his lips. "I wonder if I can find where he's going to hide it. He's surprisingly good at being sneaky."

"What did you get me, Takato?" asked Guilmon, looking at his Tamer with wide, expectant eyes. Takato laughed and rubbed his partner's head.

"Sorry, boy. But if I told you, then it wouldn't be a secret."

"Yeah," chimed in Terriermon, hopping onto Takato's shoulder. "That's how Christmas works. Remember what I told you?"

"Yeah…" Guilmon lowered his head and pouted. "But I still wish I knew what I was getting. Then I could have dreams about it. My dreams are always boring."

Takato gave his partner a sympathetic look. "Tell you what. On Christmas Eve, I'll see if you and me can bake a cake. Just something we can do together."

Guilmon's eyes seemed to light up at that. "Yeah? A nice, big cake?"

"Sure." Takato flashed a wide smile and spread his hands out. "The biggest you've ever laid eyes on."

"Easy there, Takato," said Terriermon worriedly. "You don't want to get his hopes up…"

"Huh? Why not? My parents live at a bakery after all."

"And you've gone this long without cluing in on his enormous eating habits? Just how did you survive this long without going bankrupt?"

"Point taken," frowned Takato.

"Hey, Takato," urged Guilmon, tugging at his partner's sleeves. "Can we make it…a Guilmon cake?"

Takato laughed. "Anything for you, buddy."

"Takato…" warned Terriermon.

"Oh." Takato laughed. "Right."

Takato trudged home, humming a Christmas tune quietly to himself while next to him Guilmon and Calumon ogled the shops and bright lights. The smell of pastries was thick in the air, and both Tamer and digimon enjoyed them to their fullest. Christmas was, without a doubt, the most wonderful time of the year.

Hanging out with my best friend, who is also literally a dream come true, and to get him back just in time for Christmas…what more could I ask for?

As per usual, whenever Takato chose to ask the universe a question, it was quick to provide him with an answer.

Upon approaching the main entrance to his families bakery, the door slid open and out walked a familiar girl with brown hair and amber eyes. Takato almost immediately became rigid in surprise, but he was quick to calm himself down.

At least whatever passed for calm as far as he was concerned.

"Jeri!" exclaimed Calumon happily expanding his wings and jumping off Guilmon's head towards the girl. She caught him in her arms and brought him close to her coat.

"Hey guys," she replied as Calumon snuggled into her grasp.

"H-Hey Jeri," Takato laughed, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. Inwardly he felt his heart tremble as his face inexplicably began to feel warm.

"Hi Jeri," greeted Guilmon cheerfully, waving a claw at her. "What are you doing here? I thought Takato said that you were going with your parents to visit your grandmother."

Jeri smiled at the pair. "I am, but I wanted to run a few errands before we left. Just so you know," Jeri raised a finger to her lips and winked at Takato. "Mrs. Claus left you two presents."

"Aw, thanks Jeri," replied Takato, feeling a little bit calmer now. "You didn't have to…"

Jeri giggled.

"It's the season for giving Takato. And I wanted to leave something for everyone. I just…" Jeri cast her eyes downwards and rubbed the toe of her shoe into the ground. "…wanted to show everyone how happy I am to have them as friends."

"Jeri…" Takato now began to feel a little flustered and ashamed. He hadn't gotten her anything.

The girl smiled up at him. "Just remember, you two can't open yours until I get back. I want to see your reactions when you see what I got you."

"Uh…" Takato blinked. "…okay?"

With another giggle, Jeri nodded. "Okay. Well, I'd better get going. My family's going to be leaving soon." She looked down at Calumon. "Would you like to come with me?"
"You bet!" exclaimed Calumon, his eyes widening even further—a surprising feat for the tiny In-training level digimon.

"Ah…soon?" Takato mentally checked the time before taking a look at the bags his friend was carrying. "Um...how soon? Do you need me to deliver the rest for you?"

Jeri shook her head, still smiling.

"No thanks Takato. I…" Jeri suddenly blushed a little as she continued. "…I saved the best for last."

"Huh-wha…?"

Jeri made no sign that she heard Takato's questioning reply or not, as she quickly spun around and began to make her way through the Christmas crowd, leaving the boy just standing there with one hand hanging in the air and his mouth likewise dropped open in utter surprise. Guilmon looked up at him before finally nuzzling him.

"Takato? Are you all right?"

"Huh? Wha…? Ah! G-Guilmon? Did…did you just hear what she said?"

"That she saved the best for last," replied Guilmon. "So that must mean it's a really good present, right?"

"I…" Takato looked down at Guilmon and then in the direction Jeri left, looking completely and hopelessly lost. "…I…ah…"

The bakery's door opened once more, and within short order the voice of his mother, Mie Matsuki filled the air.

"If you're done standing in front of the main entrance, we could use you in the back to help make more bread. Unless you think blocking customers is going to help…"

Takato's shoulders slumped as he groaned. "…I give up…"

Takato lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling in deep thought while below him, Guilmon looked through a pile of manga, though in this case focusing on the pictures while trying to decipher what was going on. Takato sighed mentally. Girls. He just didn't understand them.

I wonder if there's some book out there that can explain them to me. Oh well… Jeri did get me thinking though. I haven't thought about getting anyone any Christmas presents. I mean, I got everyone holiday cards, but... I don't know. Shouldn't this year be a little extra special?

This year was different from most. After all, they were Tamers and they were all friends. That should count for something.

It's a little bit late though, he mused. Jeri, Kazu and Kenta have both gone off to visit their families; Ryo's…uh…wherever he lives. Takato frowned, not liking that but feeling helpless to immediately remedy the situation. Henry's going to be leaving to visit his grandparents soon. Impmon…I wonder if he and his partners will still be home. He doesn't exactly tell anyone what his plans are. Hmmm…

Takato closed his eyes in thought. He wanted to do something for his friends and he wanted to have a good time with them before they all went their separate ways. A little late for most of them, but there was no helping that right now.

Hmmm…what to get them. I can give something to Kazu, Kenta, and Jeri when they get back. Kazu and Kenta are pretty easy. I know Kenta's had his eye on that Digimon Heroes poster for a while now, and Kazu's always going on about that Machinedramon card. Henry should be pretty easy too, since he loves games and computers. Uh… Takato's mind paused for a moment. Actually, do I have the money for that?

Getting up from his bed, he climbed down and made his way over to his desk, opening up a jar that had all of his currently saved and hard-earned yen. As he counted out bills and coins, he continued to create a list in his mind.

Jeri's going to be a little tricky. Um… Maybe some flowers? No, she might not like that and…er…she might take them the wrong way. Takato blushed lightly as he began to sort through his savings at a slightly faster rate. I'll work something out. And Rika…um…Rika…

Takato paused in his siftings. Just as he had earlier, he came up against a wall about what he knew about the red-headed Tamer. Digimon cards seemed too predictable, and at the same time, a small part of him wondered if he should even try. Due to the economic differences between them, would he even be able to get her something she could like? This last thought he brushed aside with little effort, as he had come to know that at least when it came to this, she would recognize a gift from the heart. The question though was…what?

Takato scratched his head.

I am such a dope, he berated himself, turning towards the calendar. So close to Christmas too. Am I even going to have enough time? I don't even know what kind of things she likes.

As the wheels in his mind turned, a thought occurred to him. Why not have her show him the sort of things she liked?

Getting up from his chair, he headed towards the door.

"Be right back, Guilmon."

Rika sipped from a cup of tea as she leaned against the doorframe of her room, wrapped in a comforter to keep warm. Lowering the cup, she looked up at the sky. It was swiftly becoming dark and already the first stars were beginning to appear. She smiled at them and took another sip from her tea.

"Quiet night," noted the voice of Renamon as she materialized next to the girl. Rika nodded.

"Can't have a Wild One rampaging every night," she replied. "But I'm not complaining. This season can get a bit hectic sometimes without some digimon wanting to take over the world."

"From what I have seen, I can agree with you," replied Renamon with a nearly invisible smile on her face. "Still, I suppose it's not without its charms."

"Never said there wasn't, Renamon." Rika glanced at her partner. "By the way, don't even think about looking for the present I got you. That's one gift that's going to stay unopened until Christmas no matter how hard you look."

"Rika, do you believe that I would do that?"

"I don't know," grinned Rika. "This is your first Christmas, right?"

"Actually," began Renamon, "we celebrate Christmas in the digital world as well."

"What?" Rika raised an elegant eyebrow in surprise. "That's news."

"Why so surprised?" asked Renamon, taking a seat next to the girl. "We digimon are created from human data and dreams."

"It's just…not something I expected. At least," Rika gave an awed smile to the vixen, "I wouldn't expect you to celebrate Christmas in the digital world."

"Good to know that I can still surprise you," replied Renamon, her azure eyes sparkling teasingly. Rika chuckled and tapped her fingers against her teacup.

"I'm glad you're here, Renamon," she said after a second.

"As am I."

"You know, as much as I hate to admit it, I didn't think that you and the others would make it back after you were taken away. It looked like the end then, especially after Yamaki sealed up the portal we needed to bring you back." Rika frowned and looked down at her teacup. "Great. And I promised myself I wouldn't stay angry at them."

Renamon regarded her partner with a curious look. "A little early to have New Year's Resolutions, isn't it?"

"Did Grandma tell you about that?" Rika hmmphed and pulled the comforter closer around herself. "Well, I made mine early. I don't care to be restricted by dates and stuff, especially if I want to change. Why wait?"

"Why indeed?" replied Renamon, a soft smile once again gracing her features.

"Exactly. That's why I'm taking your being here now as an early Christmas present." Rika chuckled. "Good thing Takato drew him those claws he has. Best present Guilmon ever gave me and he probably didn't even know what Christmas was."

"He does now. Terriermon and I filled him in about the digital world's version today." Renamon tilted her head, choosing her next words carefully. "I…sang."

Rika pulled the comforter up to her mouth to muffle her laughter.

"Now that's a sight I would have liked to see. The last time you sang, we were Sakuyamon."

"All you have to do is ask," said Renamon, causing Rika's eyes to rise. After a moment, her lips curved upwards.

"I'll have to take you up on that sometime."

The pair allowed a moment of silence to hang between them, enjoying the sun's final moments as it sunk beneath the distant horizon. After several minutes had passed, the sound of a phone ringing from inside the house broke the silence.

"Rika!" came the voice of Seiko Hata, the girl's grandmother. "Phone for you! It's Takato!"

Rika heaved a sigh and parted her comforter.

"Great," she said, standing up. "I'll bet he's got some story about how he's lost the present he got from Jeri or something. Or maybe lost the present he got for her."

"Don't you think you're not giving him enough credit?" asked Renamon. "He might just want to talk to you and wish you a merry Christmas."

"I wouldn't put it past him," she replied, heading off.

"Which one?" asked Renamon teasingly. Rika smiled, but chose not to answer. Entering the house, she took the phone with a quick thank you and placed it against her ear.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Rika!" came the familiar voice of Takato on the other end. Rika at once wanted to resist the urge to roll her eyes and smile. The boy's voice, despite always being so cheerful that it practically invited a smile always sounded far too happy for its own good.

"That's me, what's up? Did you need something?"

"Uh…a-actually…I was…ah…just wondering… Um…I know this is on short notice and everything…"

Rika shook her head, the corners of her lips tugging into a smile. She was rapidly losing the battle. "Are you going to get to the point anytime soon?" she asked, placing one hand against her hip. In a last ditch effort to gain something of a victory, she settled on a smirk. "You know I don't bite."

There was dead silence on the phone for a moment, causing Rika's smirk to drop.

"Takato?"

"Huh? Ah! Yeah. I was wondering if you wanted to do anything tonight! You know…Christmas shopp…er, I mean, um…you know, just hang out and have fun. Visit some shrines…you know. Fun stuff."

Rika raised an eyebrow, wondering what was going through Takato's mind. He knows that just about everyone's going to be gone so…what is he thinking?

"Um…sure. Yeah. Is there any place you want to meet?"

Rika nodded as Takato named off a place. "All right. I'll be there soon. Okay. Bye."

With that, Rika hung up the phone, a contemplative look on her face. Renamon materialized next to her.

"Are you going out?" she asked.

"Hm? Yeah, it looks like it." Rika pressed her lips together, furrowing her brow. Renamon noticed it and tilted her head to one side.

"Is something the matter?"

"I'm not sure… But…" Rika shook her head slightly. "…I think Gogglehead just asked me out on a date."


A/N: So I started doing some writing and then I had a thought, since Christmas is coming up, why not add another Christmas story to the TR series lineup? Only this time with a bit more of a plot behind it. Elements to this story have been touched on in previous TR books, so I decided to take it back a few years as a prequel for the holidays, just for a little bit of lightheartedness. The Tamers are all twelve again. Noriko isn't in the picture, Lumemon is still Lucemon and in the digital world. Ayaka and Miki aren't Tamers yet and their respective partners haven't even appeared. Some things I'm going to be pulling from the Digimon Tamers Christmas songs, invoking Santamon (though whether or not he appears has yet to be determined) and Renamon singing (yes, believe it or not, she did sing) while other things are going to pulled from ideas I've had kicking around for a while now, but never found the time to have an outlet for. The cast is going to be small this time around, though we might see small bits about what the others are up to as time and plot permit. There will be some Rukatoness, but due to operating within the fanon established in the following books, it's not going to go very far.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy this latest fic, and this, as well as 'Return of Shadows', will be updated as time allows. 'Till next time. :P

-Crazyeight


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