Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
Trusting You with My Back
A Digimon Tamers story by Crazyeight
Fourteen year old Takato Matsuki pushed up his pair of yellow rimmed goggles as he broke free from the surf, pulling in that much delicious air into his lungs, savoring every bit of it. He sunk back down to his chin and swam there for a moment, pushing his arms and legs just enough to remain afloat, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness.
Until something came up from underneath him.
Takato let loose a surprised squawk as something large rammed into him, hitting the back of his left leg and continuing to plow upwards until he flipped over onto his back, his vision drowning, literally, in a flurry of water. The sound of the ocean that came from seashells was nothing compared to the sudden pounding his ears heard. From years of long practice, he stilled his surprise and quelled any panic before it could start and quickly reoriented himself, pushing himself back up to the surface. Upon breaking, he spewed water into the air, gulping air by the gallon and turned a fearsome glare onto a giggling, crimson-scaled dinosaur with bat-like ears sitting on the top of his head.
"Guilmon…" Takato groaned, wiping water out of his eye with one hand while he cleaned out an ear with the other. "You did see me, didn't you?"
Guilmon merely ducked his mouth underneath the water and began to make a bubbling humming sound. If he had anything to say, it was clearly drowned out. He looked up at the teen with his big, golden eyes, and with a heave of water-logged laughter, Guilmon immediately turned and dove forward through the water, his great, muscular tail propelling him away. Takato stared at him, flabbergasted at the lack of response from his partner.
"As Henry would say, 'you are incorrigible!'" he called out to the dinosaur. Whether Guilmon heard him or not, Takato wasn't sure, as by now the crimson dinosaur was putting his all into making his getaway. He shook his head in quiet exasperation and amusement. "Man, what does incorrigible even mean?" he muttered to himself as he strove forward, aiming toward the beach up ahead.
Takato stepped onto the sandy beach, water falling from his red swim shorts and leaving a trail of dark spots around and behind him. He shivered slightly as the air, warm before he took his dip into the water, cold now that he was out of it, touched his skin. Well, a few minutes in the drying sun would change that, and he would be back in the water in short order. He looked over his shoulder, searching for Guilmon and quickly spying him playing with a number of children as they tossed a volleyball through the air. He chased after it. Takato smiled, but somewhat worriedly as he knew Guilmon would be at that for hours and would be difficult to extract once it was time to leave.
He never runs out of energy, and he never seems to get cold either. Aren't reptiles supposed to be cold-blooded?
Of course, Guilmon was anything but a reptile. The same held true for dinosaurs, of which Guilmon was modeled after, but he wasn't that kind of creature either. He belonged to a race of digital-based life forms otherwise known as digimon, and they broke the rules just as often as they obeyed them. Guilmon was a particularly special case as Takato had literally created him with nothing more than a pad of paper.
Well, a pad of paper, colored pens, and an extra-dimensional device known, rather unimaginatively as a 'digivice'. But that is a story for another time. Things have changed. Nearly three years had passed since he and Guilmon became what is known to the world at large as 'partners', a term reflecting the connection between a digimon and their 'Tamer'. This partnership entwined the fate of two worlds, the home of the digimon and that of humanity and all the creatures that lived beside them on the good planet Earth. The world had become a different place—was still becoming a different place. But for now, status quo reigned, if only for the moment.
But how long would that be? No one can say for certain, and not all the experts in the world can say otherwise.
However, the world aside, there is one change that anyone can agree on. When children begin the transition into adulthood, changes abound. Takato was taller now, his body starting to become more defined, his shoulders broader, and, much to his distress, his voice became much more liable to croak. It was a sad fact, and as such, Takato made great efforts to prevent this embarrassing occurrence from happening in front of his friends. More importantly, in front of her.
His eyes looked up and fell upon two girls, one lying and another sitting on a pair of towels—two of his closest friends, Jeri and Rika, the latter of whom sat beneath an umbrella for shade. Smiling, Takato bee-lined toward them, his own towel, one of close to a couple dozen, lying between them.
Takato took a moment once more to wonder just how that had happened, having not picked up on it when everyone set up camp, but he quickly dismissed it as a coincidence. As he approached, one of the two girls, a homely, pretty-looking girl with brown hair that fell to her shoulders, looked up at him with amber-colored eyes and waved at him, smiling in her olive-green, two-piece swimsuit. Takato raised a hand back to her, one foot clumsily catching upon a small rock in the sand, causing him to quietly curse in embarrassment. For an instant, he felt like changing his course towards the men's bathroom.
Increased self-consciousness had been one of his many changes, and it was not a pleasant one to have. Knowing that, and knowing that the other girl sitting next to the first, would most definitely call him out on it, Takato swallowed and summoned his courage, continuing on his path and…
"Ouch! Watch it!"
Takato blushed furiously and ducked away from the female beachgoer whose foot he accidently stepped on and quickly sped-walked over to his towel, planting himself as gracefully as possible.
"Man it's hot out," he proclaimed, closing his eyes against the glare of the sun that shone down on him.
"But you were just in the water," giggled the brunette.
"That's because he made a doofus out of himself…again," said the other girl, a fiery, red-haired beauty who stood out in sharp contrast to the first girl; pale skin and accentuated curves. Her hair stood up, tied in a pony-tail that had been her trademark style for as long as Takato had known her, and longer from what little she told others about herself. Cracking his eyes open, he turned toward her. She spied him from out of the corner of her eye and turned toward him, slipping down a pair of sunglasses to eye him with shining, violet eyes.
"Thanks Rika," Takato said, giving her a small smile. She smiled back.
"Anytime," she glanced up at the goggles still sitting on his head, and her eyes took on an amused glint to them as she continued, "Gogglehead." She turned back to the book in her hand. "Really though. You've been losing track of your feet a lot more lately." She chuckled slightly and reached up to adjust her bikini, pulling it back just enough to show off some skin before settling it back down, and sending a fresh bout of heat washing through Takato's face. "And it's not like I have to pretend that I don't know the reason behind it," she added, glancing at him with a knowing smirk.
"Rika!" the other girl scolded, though a laughing smile graced her features as well, in spite of her best attempts to hide it. Takato could have sworn that steam was pouring out of his skin now.
"All right, all right," Rika said apologetically. "I'll stop messing with his head, Jeri. The last thing we need from him is suffering from heat stroke or something from all the blood rushing to his face. Jeez."
Jeri smiled with something akin to relief on her face before turning to Takato with a devilish grin.
"Hey, Takato?" she began, picking up a bottle of suntan lotion. "Would you mind doing my back for me?"
She waggled the bottle back and forth for emphasis while Rika's eyebrows shot up in amazement, impressed that the girl would even go that far, even on a joke. Takato's eyebrows matched the arcs of the redhead's, though his surprise was more along the lines of shock. A thousand electric pulses exploded in his brain all at once and, almost against his will, Takato's eyes dipped ever so slightly downward towards Jeri's bikini line. He forced his crimson eyes, his face now matching them, up to Jeri's swiftly, but with what felt like greater effort than any battle he had ever fought in defense of the human and digital worlds. Seeing this, Jeri's smile widened and she narrowed her eyes into cat-like slits; playful, as though having caught a prize.
Takato was obviously not the only person to have changed over the intervening years.
"And afterward," she continued, deciding to step it up a little, "you can do Rika's."
A fuse blew and for a second, Takato was left sitting there, stunned and confused before tilting his head to one side.
"Hey!" Rika exclaimed, snapping her book closed and sitting up, her amazement gone in a flash of lightning, replaced by anger. "What are you…?"
"You deserved that," Jeri giggled, sticking her tongue out at the girl. She glanced over at Takato, her expression becoming a little bit more jittery. "So…um…would you…?" She looked away, a small blush blooming on her cheeks.
"Uh…huh? Oh! Yeah!" Takato bobbed his head up and down a little too enthusiastically. She passed him the bottle and lay herself stomach down on her blanket. She still had a bit of a nervous look to her face, but she was smiling all the same. Takato poured lotion onto her back and the muscles on her back tensed at the sudden, unexpected contact of cold liquid. The tension increased slightly as she waited for Takato's hands to come down, and increased even further as soon as his palms met her bare skin. She quickly relaxed though as Takato began to spread the suntan lotion around, and her smile transformed from one of nerves into a thin line of pure content and bliss.
Takato, for his part, was a complete nervous wreck. His arms felt as though they wanted to tear themselves off and start hand-running for the horizon, which was a bad enough feeling when it felt like his hands were shaking badly enough to want to do the same thing on their own. Of course, with the way he was feeling he would probably end up joining his limbs. A thousand images raced through his mind, some of them brought about thanks to Kazu Shiota, a mutual friend of theirs, none of which did a thing to calm his nerves.
She feels so soft… he thought in amazement, slipping his hands underneath the string of Jeri's bikini that wrapped around her back.
That didn't help either.
After what felt like an eternity, Takato withdrew his hands. Jeri looked up at him with a happy look sparkling in her deep, amber eyes.
Takato, not trusting his voice, nodded and smiled. Jeri lidded her eyes in gratitude.
"No…" Takato croaked, and he coughed, clearing his throat. "No problem."
Guilmon had buckets pouring from his body as he pulled himself free from the water, waving goodbye to the children he had been playing with earlier.
"Whew! Guilmon! What'd you do? Bring the ocean with you?" crowed a familiar voice from a short distance to his left. Turning in its direction, he saw a deeply tanned boy with dark hair with what appeared to be a cream-colored, rabbit-like digimon sitting on his shoulders. Guilmon smiled goofily and laughed at the rabbit.
"I was just playing with some kids, Terriermon," Guilmon laughed. "But now their parents have to go, so I'm looking for Takato." He looked around, a worried look falling over his golden eyes. "Where'd he go? He didn't lost did he?"
"He's over there with Rika and Jeri," chuckled the boy that Terriermon rode, pointing over in the direction where all the towels were.
"Thanks Henry." Guilmon's eyes lit up as he spied his partner.
On Henry's shoulder, Terriermon looked over in the direction that Henry had indicated. A small grin graced his features.
"Ohhh…so that's the reason why he hasn't joined everyone in the volleyball game yet." He giggled. "Man, Henry. You'd better do something fast, or he's going to become a lady's man so fast he'll outdo even Ryo!" He giggled again. "Not that I think that'll ever happen of course. All he ever does is stumble over his own words and Rika's about as subtle as a cruise missile…"
"What are we talking about?" asked Henry, looking at the rabbit digimon with a raised eyebrow.
"Hen-ry! Don't play dumb. Just look at that scene and let your imagination run with it! Takato's sitting over there with two ladies and…" Terriermon stopped speaking as his eyes widened to the size of small moons. "Whoa! He's…holy cowmon! Jeri's letting him put suntan lotion on her back! Oh man! Jeez! He's totally just killed her now! "
"Uh…hah?" Guilmon was confused. As a matter of fact, that had become increasingly the norm these past few years for the poor digimon. "Wait. He's hurting Jeri?"
"Huh?" Terriermon looked down at him, baffled by this response. "Hasn't Takato told you anything?"
"He's not hurting Jeri," Henry said, rolling his eyes and patting Guilmon on the head. "He's just helping her. Terriermon's just letting his imagination run wild on him."
"Henry! If that's my imagination going nuts than may Zhuqiaomon strike me down. And since I remember whipping the fire out of him when we first biomerged, I'm pretty sure that says something about my grasp on reality. Momentai already!"
"How can I?" groaned Henry. "You're off in your own world again."
"Hey! Why do you say that like it's a bad thing?"
"Because it's you, that's why. Anyway, I've got to go to the bathroom."
"Suit yourself, Henry," giggled Terriermon, toppling off his partner's shoulder and down onto the sandy ground. "In the meantime, I'm going to have Guilmon escort me back to the game so that we can, you know, give Takatomon some privacy."
Henry raised an eyebrow at that. After a moment he shook his head in exasperation.
"Somehow, I don't think I even want to know."
Terriermon placed his diminutive hands on his hips and huffed.
"Sheesh. Someone needs to momentai. Why does he think I'm always up to something?"
Guilmon scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Because you usually are?"
"Hey! I resent that remark!" He hopped up onto Guilmon's shoulder. "Now c'mon. We got a game to win and the other side needs a bad player. Mush!"
"Hey, Jeri!" called out Ayaka, a coppery-haired girl as both she and a brown-haired teen named Kazu approached at a jog, sand kicking up from their feet. "Kenta's taking a break from the game and we need another player to fill in for him. You want in?"
Jeri smiled and got to her feet. "Sure." She looked over at Takato. "Do you want to come along, Takato?"
"Yeah, Chumley!" laughed Kazu, planting one fist on his hip and another around Ayaa's shoulder. The girl looked at him with a look that was part revulsion and, surprisingly, part gratefulness. Takato couldn't help but chuckle a little at the sight.
Guess she's still not used to her relationship with Kazu, he mused. Well, if what Kazu told me about how she started it is true, she's got every reason to be.
"I'll be there in a little while," Takato said, raising a placating hand. "I…ah…I need to rest a little bit."
Jeri nodded in understanding, perhaps in a way intuiting that she had pushed him a tad bit far with her request.
"Okay. See you out there."
"How about you, Rika?" Kazu asked, turning to the self-proclaimed Digimon Queen. "Ryo's out there cleaning up the girl team. I bet you'd want to try and take him out, right?"
Takato raised an eyebrow. "Wait. The teams are divided by gender?" He glanced at Ayaka. "What was Kenta doing on your side?"
"He got the short straw," Ayaka grinned. "And Miki wanted him on the team anyway to even things out." She turned to Rika hopefully. "Renamon's helping out too."
Rika grinned herself and took off her sunglasses. "I'll be along in a few minutes. Just give me a second."
"All right," Ayaka said, taking Kazu by the hand while pulling it off from around her shoulder. Spinning on a dime, she pulled the boy back in the direction of the battlefield. After a moment of silence, during which Rika picked up the bottle of lotion, Takato let out a small laugh.
"Renamon playing volleyball, huh? I think I might check that out."
"You should have seen her last week when it was just me and my family out here. She got along real well with my cousins. It's good that she's loosened up a bit."
"Really?" Takato raised an eyebrow at that. "I haven't noticed." He suddenly realized how rude that must have sounded, and he raised his hands in a placating manner. "I mean…uh…"
"Take it easy, Takato," said Rika, rubbing lotion on her arms. A small grin made itself known on her face. "You don't seem to change much, do you?"
Takato reached up and adjusted the goggles on his head. "I guess not," he smiled. "Is that a bad thing?"
Rika glanced at him with an amused look. "Only when it makes you look stupid."
She poured some more lotion into her hands and moved down to her legs, stretching them into an elegant, shapely line. Takato found himself watching for a moment before he jerked his eyes away, blushing sharply while humming quietly to himself. Rika noticed all the same, in spite of his efforts.
"Like right now," she resumed. As her hands moved up to her knee and toward her thigh, she glanced at him, a teasing shine in her violet eyes. "Renamon isn't going to take offense to you saying you 'didn't notice' her change. Even after all this time, she doesn't exactly hang out with you on a regular basis, outside of fighting rogue digimon of the week. But this is something you should know already."
Takato scratched the back of his head nervously. "Sorry."
Rika snorted as she moved up to her shoulders. "What's there to be sorry for? She trusts you. Jeri trusts you. They all trust you."
Takato noticed that she didn't include herself in that list. He felt almost hurt by that.
"Um…so…what about you, if you don't mind my asking?"
Rika didn't respond as she moved her hands to her stomach. "You worry too much," she resumed. "Like always. And right now, that makes you look stupid."
Takato looked at his friend, perhaps the closest human friend he had, and after a moment laughed. "Yeah…that's me." His expression became contemplative. "But things have changed a lot, haven't they? Who would have thought that Ayaka would have picked Kazu of all people as her boyfriend?"
"Don't think I haven't gone through that enough times as it is. But she likes him. Trusts him. I guess that's enough."
Takato thought about that for a moment, nodding a little as he did so. It was funny in a way, how close he and Rika had become as friends over the years. Once, when his first adventure as a Tamer began, if he had to choose who his best human friend was, he would have said Henry, and before that Kazu, but over time Rika slipped into that category. Rika was as supportive as any of the others, but she always told him what he needed to hear, as she was doing now, as she seemed to think he needed to be told something, which undoubtedly he did.
There was no beating around the bush when it came to Rika.
Although sometimes I wonder if she thinks I can't take care of myself, he thought, remembering a time that Henry told him about where she had charged almost blindly into the park to rescue him from a malevolent entity known as the D-Reaper after it had taken on Jeri's form. Of course, he had needed rescuing then…
"Anyway, in answer to your question…" Rika continued, shifting onto her side so that she was lying stretched out on her towel. She tossed the lotion over her shoulder and Takato's fumbling fingers forgot for a moment that they were everything but graceful, and caught it. Reaching up she began to untie her bikini. "…I trust you with my back," she finished, rolling onto her stomach and placing the ends of her bikini on the ground.
Takato looked at her, flummoxed and utterly baffled.
"Uh…wha…?" he said intelligently. Rika chuckled as she looked at him, resting her chin on her forearms.
"What? Do you need a written invitation or something?" She flexed her back muscles and lifted her chest off the towel, rising ever so slightly that for an instant, Takato could have sworn that he saw…
"I'm just going to put on some lotion now," he mumbled more to himself than to anyone else, his cheeks flaming once again. Rika, unable to contain herself, broke out into a laugh, burying her face into her arms.
"You're such a Gogglehead," she proclaimed, lifting her face again, surprising Takato as he got down next to her. She shifted again and lay her head back down on her arms.
Jeez Jeri, she thought quietly to herself as Takato, with much confusion, began to ply his hands on her back. Thanks for that.
Terriermon used his great, floppy ears as hands to toss the volleyball over to the other side of the net. Wiping one paw over his forehead he turned and cast a look over in the direction of Takato and Rika. A couple minutes had passed since Ayaka and Kazu had returned with Jeri in tow, explaining that they would be along shortly.
What's taking them so long? he wondered, placing one paw over his eyes to blot out the glare of the sun. He leaned forward, narrowing his eyes. A moment later they widened in stunned amazement.
"Holy Momentai!" His jaw dropped in shock. "Takato's killing Rika now!"
The shadow of the volleyball fell over him and before he could continue his series of astonished expletives, it crashed into him, knocking him into the sand.
A/N: After the heat wave from last week, I got itching to do a one shot that dealt with a beach situation. It's little cliché, I know, but I just wanted to have some fun. Took a little while to work out how to handle it, as I kept making it more complicated than it needed to be, almost falling into my style of depicting nearly an entire day from start to finish. I had to remember that all I needed was the beach and everything after that simply fell into place. Sometimes simplicity is best, something I've been lacking with my work lately. So this was a nice breath of fresh air. Can't remember the last time I did a one shot without turning it into a novel. XD
Hope you enjoyed my latest fic, and see you all next time. :P