Daneel Rush: Finally, the moment I've been waiting for! Rika says a bad word on this chapter!
Takato: This is supposed to be the last chapter, right? *sweatdrops*
DR: Indeed, my friend, and it has some nice Rukato moments for you to enjoy. Believe me, it's gonna be memorable!
Rika: Why do I believe you're not saying that the good way…?
When Rika's Fist Meets Takato's Face
The sun shone brightly in what seemed to be the perfect summer day. Most people were probably in their houses, relaxing after a week of hard work, some others maybe preferred going for a day at the beach, while others just decided to hang around a park, fooling around. But there was a group of people who weren't doing any of that. People joined by one same concept: Digimon. And that Sunday, that group of people had decided to join together in a huge coliseum, where the expected Digimon Card Game Tournament would be held. However, not even a fifth of the people in that place were contestants. Most of them were just fans, guests or people who came to support their friends, those who were about to show their Card Game skills. And speaking of the contestants, they were held in a large room, where some sort of preliminary raffle was about to take place. And among those contestants, there were two familiar figures to us: Rika Nonaka and Ryo Akiyama, who were standing near one of the corners, in a group pretty much separated from the rest. Ryo was there of his own free will. Rika was there because, in her own words: "I'd rather be with Mr. Perfect than having to bear that bunch of annoying brats". And I must say, Rika's point of view was pretty accurate, as the group she had in front of her couldn't have more variety. Boys and girls (mostly boys) from 8 to 15 years old, all of them together, as there is no age difference when it comes to the Card Game. It's just a matter of skill.
"Scared?" Ryo asked softly.
"Why should I be scared?" Rika replied exasperatedly. "Wanna know what scares me? Your happy-happy face. That's scary."
"I enjoy being your friend too, Rika."
"And who said we were friends?" Rika snorted, just before the judging committee walked in the room. Five people she had never seen before…no, four people she had seen before, and a familiar face. She easily recognized the man in care of the Comic Shop where she buys all her cards. She immediately admitted she never thought of having him as a judge. Should she consider it an advantage? Having someone you know in the jury? She still didn't know…
For Rika, the next twenty minutes were considered minutes of absolute boredom. She didn't care about the raffle, and she didn't need to know who would be Card-Battling with. They could introduce themselves right before the game, if she was in a good mood, that is. The part that made her feel a little curious was when the jury asked for everybody's decks. "Tournament Rules", they said. But she still wondered why did they need all of their cards. Surrendering to her curiosity, she walked to the only member of the jury she knew and made the question.
The man quickly turned his body, and in the last second Rika could notice he tried to hide something. However, she just ignored it, as she thought it had nothing to do with her doubt.
"Oh…oh! Miss Nonaka, what a surprise! What…what can I do for you?" Also ignoring the man's obvious nervousness, Rika replied in her normal tone of voice (cold and expressionless).
"I wanted to know why you need our decks."
"Oh, that! Well, we are registering everyone's decks, and that way we can make sure the contestants will only use those cards. To avoid cheating, you know." The man replied, a little more confident. But as he noticed Rika still had suspicions, he continued. "Don't worry. You'll have your deck of cards back in no time."
Feeling a little better (just a little), Rika decided to leave the man do his job. After all, the sooner she left him alone, the sooner she would get her deck back, right? However, her mood went back to the cold zone when she heard the judge's final sentence.
"You know, the contestants get to see their relatives before the contest. Why aren't you looking for them?"
Great, just great…
While Rika walked through the crowded place, watching how the participants happily talked to their family and friends, a disgusting feeling went all the way down her esophagus, until it decided to remain at the bottom of her stomach. A pain she had grown used to feel, and grown used to ignore. She had already stopped worrying about her family joining her in contests like that one. Besides, her mother and grandmother, even if they felt somehow attracted to Rika's hobby, they'd probably be too busy to visit her. She had always entered the contests by herself, played them by herself, and won them by herself. Those were her victories, no one else's. But the feeling grew stronger when she could distinguish the image of Ryo Akiyama and his family, as he obviously received the last words of support.
Gosh, I hate that guy…wait a minute…what are you doing, Rika!? You can hate him for always having that sickening smile, or that cool attitude of his, or the "Legendary Tamer" reputation he's got, but you can't blame him for having parents! That doesn't make him better than you! That just makes him…luckier…
Rika fought the sudden urge growing inside of her, an urge that moved from the heart to somewhere behind her eyes. As much as she tried to rip off the memories of her father, the one who had created her, and then abandoned her; she just couldn't. And when those memories became stronger, and the sadness and pain filled her soul, that's when she had to prove that she was strong. No tears, Rika…you cried enough when you were a little girl, but now you're a big girl…show them, Rika, show them you're the best…
Rika's meditation was suddenly interrupted when someone placed his hand on her left shoulder. Rika had to look back, just to realize it was one of the people in charge of the contest. A young brunette, a female who seemed to have her mother's age, or a few years younger, maybe.
"What is it?" Rika said, with the best modals she could work out.
"You're Rika Nonaka, right? Someone's here to see you."
Rika took several seconds to process the information she had just received. Someone had actually gone there to see her? To wish her luck!? Who could possibly be? Rika analyzed every single possibility, but she ran out of them after she rejected her mother and her grandmother. So, she followed the woman until they reached the same room she had just come out of, the meeting room. And the person she found there was the most unexpected.
"Good morning, Rika."
She inclined her head slightly to her right, in what Takato translated as her way to express gratitude (if he was right or wrong, we'll probably never know). But Rika still couldn't believe Takato was in front of her. After all, they hadn't talked to each other since that day at Shinjuku Park. However, the Takato Matsuki she had in front of her was the same nice, happy Tamer she had learned to respect. As a Tamer, of course.
"What…what are you doing here?"
"The same as all those people out there with the other contestants, Rika. I'm here to give YOU my support, and to watch you win this tournament."
Rika couldn't believe it. For the first time, someone had gone to offer support. For the first time, she would have someone from the audience to look at. For the first time in her life, she realized…she had a friend.
Takato was about to say "you're welcome" when another person entered the room. He was surprised to realize it was, in fact, the Shop Owner, but Takato's surprise was nothing compared to the man's surprise.
"Miss Nonaka! Oh…I…I thought you were alone…"
Oh…you would have preferred to find her alone, won't you? What are you gonna do? Why do you waste your time? Sooner or later I'll reveal your little plan…
Almost as if the man could read Takato's mind, he shot him a threatening glare, invisible to Rika, but implying an obvious message. Don't mess with me, Matsuki…
"Here's your deck, Miss Nonaka." The man said, handing Rika her trademark leather belt, with the pocket full of Digimon cards. Rika just put it on, but Takato's sharp eyes, looked at it with utmost care, then he looked at the judge, then at the pocket again. And that's when he found out. Barely visible from one of the sides, he could see the first card of the deck. He recognized the word "Flood". A "Flood" card? Rika doesn't have a "Flood" card… Takato waited until the man left the room, while shooting daggers at him, to ask the Ultimate question.
"Rika, why did that guy have your deck of cards?"
"Some sort of Cheat Control. They registered all he decks. If one person uses a card that wasn't registered, it's considered cheating." Rika answered, seemingly uninterested in whatever Takato could be thinking.
That's it! Takato finally concluded. Now my wild guess says…
"Who's your first opponent, Rika?" Takato asked again.
"Why do you care, Goggles?" Takato just shrugged. "Look over there." Rika said. In front of them, covering an entire wall, there was a tournament chart. Takato realized it was a sudden death competition: winner goes to the next round, loser says bye bye. But what caught Takato's attention was the name of Rika's first opponent. Yes, just as he thought (and you too, probably), the paper said "Ken Sagara".
So…he changes Rika's deck, she gets disqualified and little Ken wins a match he was bound to lose…clever, but predictable…and that's why I got this…
He placed his hand on one of his pockets, making sure the deck of cards was still there. A brilliant thought he was still proud of. An act of genius he still couldn't believe. The product of a night of hard work. A deck of cards exactly like Rika's. He had totally memorized Rika's deck the day he had spent with her.
But now…how the hell do I get to change the decks so that she doesn't notice?
Why the secret, you ask? Well, if he wanted to be a hero, and Rika to be proud of him, he couldn't tell her in that moment. If there was something he had learned from Hollywood movies, it was that the hero always saves the girl in the last second, when everything is lost (even though he didn't need to go that far…his Tamer adventures could have taught him the same thing…). And suddenly, he designed a plan. It was risky, and he would probably get hurt, but he could succeed. Okay, here I go! Ahh…if he just had known, he would have probably thought it twice…no, he would have done it anyway, forget it…
"So…good luck, Rika!" Takato said cheerfully, at the same moment he hugged her as tight as possible. WHAT THE!? That was Rika's first thought, but then, her body and soul focused on one thing: getting rid of the Gogglehead.
"What the hell are you thinking, Gogglehead!? Let me go!" But Takato ignored her pleas and skillfully took the deck out of his pocket with his left hand. Then, with the same hand, he carefully opened the belt's pocket. And that's where the pleas became threats.
"If you don't want a slow and painful death, you'll better let me go, Gogglehead!!!" Takato slowly removed the fake deck out of the leather pocket, but when he proceeded to the next stage of the mission, things got ugly. Rika had switched to "shaky" mode. Takato had to struggle with all of his might so that Rika wouldn't get free.
"LET ME GO, GOGGLEHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Rika said loudly, so loudly that Takato feared someone would enter, so he slid the new deck as fast as he could inside Rika's pocket, and he succeeded.
Takato was still mentally celebrating his victory, when he noticed Rika had stopped moving. A second later, a lethal second later, he knew the reason: Rika had moved…and Takato's left hand was placed on her rear.
Whoa, soft…wait! No!!!!!!!!
"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING, GOGGLEHEAD!!!!!!!???????"
In a matter of nanoseconds, Takato was two feet away of her. The problem was, he was still on what I call "anger zone". He never saw her fist coming.
TWACK!!! (Or, in Batman, the original version: KAPOW!!!!)
The next thing he knew, he was on the floor, when suddenly Rika's face covered his range of vision. On any other occasion, lying on the floor with Rika on his lap would have been a pleasant experience, but the burning rage in her eyes and her clenched fist ready to kill, that added to the popping veins on her head gave Takato a whole new, different idea. I'm so dead, I'm so dead, and I'm so dead…
"All the contestants please walk to the stage. The Tournament is about to begin. I repeat, all the contestants please walk to the stage. Thank you." A female voice echoed through the whole place. For Rika, it was just an announcement. For Takato, it was song from the heavens, sang by angels playing their little harps, as Rika immediately stood up and walked to the door. Takato slowly stood up and looked at her, at the same moment she opened the door. Right the moment before she left, they exchanged a last glance. Just an instant and the door closed.
Did she just look…deceived…disappointed? Maybe even…sad?
Yes, that's what he thought, but his mouth said something completely different.
"YYYYYEEEEEEOOOOOOUUUUUUUCCCCCCCHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!" he shouted as he covered his face with his hands. But if he had a broken nose, he'd deal with it later. He had to look for a seat in the front row.
***A little bit later***
"And now, for our next match, we have Ken Sagara against Rika Nonaka! The competitors please get on the stage."
Well then, Rika, this is it. Prove them why you're the "Digimon Queen"…
Rika walked to the stage, followed by a boy around her age, obviously Ken Sagara. He had short, black hair; big, black eyes, and he seemed to come from a very rich family, or at least that's what his outfit said. However, and much to Rika's please, he seemed to be very nervous. A slight smirk covered her face when the crowd cheered. It was a feeling she enjoyed every time, as it was the prize for being one of the best Card Players in Japan. But her smirk disappeared when she noticed that one of the people in the crowd was clapping and cheering harder than the rest. Right in front of her, with a huge smile and a big bruise on his face, she saw Takato Matsuki.
Does he have no shame at all!?
Ignoring him, Rika took her seat in front of the Gaming Table, and immediately proceeded to take out her deck. But she couldn't help but looking at Takato again. After all, he was the only one who had gone there JUST for her. The moment their eyes met, she noticed his smile had widened when she had took out her deck of cards, and she unavoidably wondered why. Looking away, she saw two of the judges approaching to her and the boy named Ken. One was a woman she had never seen before that day, and the other was the Shop Owner she had known for a long time, even if she still didn't know his name, not that she really cared, though. Just as the woman declared Ken's deck was the one they had registered, the other judge look at Rika's deck. Rika obviously noticed the look in his eyes. He was…shocked.
Rika could hear a chuckle right behind her. She didn't need to look back to know it was Takato. So, she focused her attention on the judge, who still had a totally idiotic look on his face.
"Is the something wrong, Mr. Sato?" the female judge, who had approached to the place, asked. However, the man didn't respond. He just looked at Rika's deck, with the same look of surprise.
"There can't be anything wrong, Miss." Rika said. "This is the deck I brought for today." By then, the puzzled audience, who had no idea of what was taking so long, was already trying to listen to the conversation.
"Is this Miss Nonaka's registered deck, Mr. Sato?" the woman asked. This time, the shop owner, Mr. Sato, answered with a nod.
"Yes, but…" Suddenly, a spark of comprehension shone in his eyes, and he looked at one of the people in the audience. Immediately, everybody's eyes were focused on a young boy with brown hair and goggles, with a big smile on his face.
"Looking for this, Mr. Sato?" Takato said calmly, as he showed another deck of cards. "I'm sure you recognize it…let me see…Flood, Gekomon, Impmon, Secret Crush…" he smirked as he continued naming cards. Now everyone was puzzled, Rika more than anyone else.
"How…how did you do it!?" shouted Mr. Sato, right before exchanging a glance with a man that looked pretty much like Ken Sagara. Rika immediately concluded it was Ken's father. Takato walked to the stage, and now everyone could see him. Everyone had their eyes on him. But Rika noticed he looked incredibly comfortable. Obviously he knew something she didn't.
"Well, as you already know, I knew of your little complot with Mr. Sagara over there…" Takato began, and Rika saw that Mr. Sato completely lost its cool. He was sweating and breathing heavily, and the other judges looked at him in shock. "A complot?" That was pretty much everybody's thought at the moment. Takato removed his smile, and continued, this time with a surprisingly serious expression.
"When I came here today, my friend Rika here told me that the judges had taken all of the contestant's decks, and then I saw that Mr. Ken Sagara, the young boy in front of me, was Rika's first opponent. I knew that Mr. Sagara, Ken's father, had paid you to help Ken win the tournament, so you had to get rid of Rika somehow. With her deck of cards, it was easy to change it for a crappy one, like the deck I have on my right hand, and then she'd lose. I don't know what you would do for the next rounds, as you couldn't use the same trick twice, so I had to stop you right now. My guess is that if I look in your pockets, I'll probably find Rika's REAL and registered deck."
Takato slowly walked in front of Mr. Sato, who by then was being held by the other judges, so that he would try to beat the crap out of Takato. Ken Sagara exchanged looks between Takato, Mr. Sato and his father, who was also being held by policemen who had arrived to the scene moments before. Takato searched through Mr. Sato's pocket, and exclaimed a little shout of victory when he showed everyone another deck of cards. He spread it on the table, and every body could see it was exactly like the deck Rika had. Rika looked at Takato, who just replied with a smile. She still couldn't believe what had just happened. What kind of person she was looking at? Who was really Takato Matsuki? She wasn't in front of a Tamer, or in front of a friend, she was in front of a mystery. A mystery she now wanted to reveal. The next one to talk was the same female judge from before.
"But if this is Miss Nonaka's real deck, then what about the one she has now?"
Everyone looked at Takato again, obviously interested in his answer. Takato seemed to enjoy the attention, and took his time to look at everybody in the room: all of the judges, one by one. The policemen and Mr. Sagara. Then, he looked at young Ken Sagara, who now seemed very frightened. He looked at Mr. Sato, who was obviously dying to now when had Takato ruined his seemingly perfect plan. However, he didn't bother to look at Rika.
"I was with Rika when Mr. Sato gave her back her belt, which already had the fake deck." He said, as he once again showed the false deck he had taken out of Rika's pocket.
"Right after he left us alone, I changed the false deck for my own deck, which is exactly like Rika's. Of course, Rika doesn't know when I did it. It cost me the most embarrassing moment of my life, but hey! It was for a good cause!" he said cheerfully, looking at Mr. Sagara, the man who had said that last phrase some weeks ago. Rika looked at Takato, a puzzled look on her face, as she reconstructed the events right after Mr. Sato had left the room. And realization dawned on her.
Just then, Takato looked at Rika again, and the look on her face told him everything. I love you too much to do something like that to you, Rika…I respect you…as a Tamer, as a colleague, as a friend…and as the woman I love…
"So, I guess the game is over. Why don't Rika and Ken begin their match, now that everything is cleared?" Takato said.
***A ton of hours later…***
Sunset was upon them. The day was almost over, and it was time for the boy and the girl to remember the events of that day. A whole plot to fix the Digimon Card Game contest had been revealed, and after that the tournament had continued without obstacles. Mr. Sagara and Mr. Sato ended up in the police station, and little Ken had followed him soon after losing his match against Rika. Daddy had a lot of explaining to do, after all. Takato had been praised by almost everyone in the coliseum, and he had gotten a pretty nice reward for his good job, a reward he was NOT going to share with Henry. Everything had turned out well, after all. Everything, but two things. One, Takato had been praised by everyone but the very person he wanted to the praised from. And second…
"I'm sorry about that second place, but you've got to admit Ryo's good. Very, VERY good." Takato said. Rika looked at him, and Takato was happy to see that she didn't have a sad expression. It was the same, cold Rika he had met, and fallen in love with.
"Yeah, he's good…" she replied, and Takato felt jealously growing in his heart. Oh, great, now she'll probably admire him, and they'll start to hang around together, and…
"You know what does that mean, don't you, Gogglehead?" Rika asked, interrupting Takato's thinking of possible ways to get rid of Ryo Akiyama, and he just shook his head. He had no idea what she was talking about.
"Well, it means I have to practice a lot harder. Everyday, if possible, and you are gonna help me, Goggles." She said with something that partially looked like a smirk.
Wha…what!? Me!? When!? How!? Man! I'm confused…
"M…me?" Takato asked shyly. Rika sighed in defeat.
"You can't get any slower, can you? Of course I'm talking about you! Who else am I going to ask, Dumb and Dumber!?"
Takato couldn't believe it. SHE was asking HIM to go to HER HOUSE, and to make thing better, EVERYDAY! It was like winning the big lottery of love. If that wasn't his chance of getting Rika to notice him, he didn't know which was.
"Well then!" he said cheerfully, which surprisingly released a chuckle from Rika. "Tomorrow at dusk, soldier! I'll make you a winner! We'll show that Ryo Akiyama who's the one and only Queen of Digimon Cards!"
"It's 'Digimon Queen', Goggles." She replied, smiling.
"Whatever." He replied, mimicking Rika's tone of voice. Before she could say anything, they stopped right in front of Rika's home. Takato and Rika exchanged a glance, and Rika made the question she wanted to ask.
"Why didn't you tell me, Gogglehead?" Takato just looked at her with his almond eyes and replied.
"You didn't need to know, Rika. And if I had told you, you would have looked for that poor kid Ken Sagara, and beat the crap out of him, even if he didn't have anything to do with the complot." Rika let go a laugh, and Takato smiled. He loved her even more when she laughed. In the few occasion she had actually laughed, that is.
"You're probably right, Gogglehead…since when do you know me that much?" Takato shrugged. The best answer he had for that was: "Since the moment I fell in love with you, and worshipped every one of your thoughts, your actions, and your feelings." However, he wasn't going to say THAT. Not yet, at least.
"Anyway…" Rika continued, and Takato noticed a faint shade of pink Rika was trying to hide (Of course, he won't say anything). "…thanks…for everything."
"Don't worry, Rika…I just did what I wanted to do." In that second, Takato saw how her blush transformed into a glare. A deadly glare, as a matter of fact.
"I hope that doesn't include touching my ass, Gogglehead, because if it does…"
"No, no, no! That was an accident, I swear! You were moving too much, Rika!"
"You were hugging me, Gogglehead! What else did you want me to do!?"
"Errm…hugging me back?"
"Aw, shut up, Gogglehead! Good bye…" she concluded as she opened the door. Takato couldn't help but smile, with the security of a strengthened bond between the two of them. One step closer to his final goal: Rika's heart. As he prepared to walk away, he slid his hands in his pocket, and touched something he had totally forgotten.
Rika immediately looked back. It wasn't everyday that you hear Takato swearing loudly.
"What's wrong, Goggles?"
"I…I forgot to give you this…I was supposed to give it to you before the Contest…I thought it might have helped you…"
He handed her a Digimon Card, which she immediately hid in her pocket. Knowing that Rika wouldn't look at it, he sighed and started walking.
"Goodbye, Takato…and thanks…"
Takato looked back…but Rika was already gone. Now he was sure she had said his name. However, he kept the "Yes!!!" for himself, as he walked away, with a big smile on his face. And thank God he didn't shout, because when Rika closed the door, she didn't walk inside the house. Instead, she leaned on the wooden door, and took out the card Takato had given her. Ignoring the design, she immediately moved her eyes to the description.
"Opponent must draw 2 cards from their Online Deck at the beginning of every Attack Phase. Reduce 100 points from their score every time a Power Option card is drawn."
Then, she looked at the design. A blue background, and a beautiful white shield, which looked very familiar. A concluding thought filled Rika's mind when she saw the symbol in the middle of it and the name of the card in big, yellow capital letters: "The Aegis".
Not bad, Gogglehead…not bad at all…
Rika: *Grabs Daneel Rush and tries to strangle him* You made me punch my Gogglehead!!!!
Takato: *tries to help Rika* And I didn't get to kiss her!!!
DR: *Barely heard* But…you got…to touch her…
Rika: *Hits DR on the head* Yeah, and that, too! *Releases DR*
DR: *Deep breath* Air…air!!!! Ahem…don't tell me you didn't like it, Rika…
Rika, Takato: *Blush*
Takato: But I didn't get to kiss her!
DR: Gee, you're so impatient. Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed reading this fic as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's so cool to write Tamer stories, I'm dying to do it again. So, expect another story VERY soon!
Rika: Well, at least we got some review, and the Rukato still gets to go on…
Takato: Yeah! Rukato rules, besides what I said to Jeri's… *blushes*
DR: Wasn't that a clone? *Rika shrugs*
Next Chapter: (Wait a minute, wasn't this fanfic over? Maybe, but the Rukato has to continue!) A week after the events from Card-O-Rama!, Takato decides to look for the best gift for Rika, mostly because he ignores when is her birthday, but anyway…will a letter from his good friend Jeri help him find the perfect gift to get Rika's heart once and for all? Don't miss the beginning of Takato's amazing solo adventure, in the first chapter of the second story from the "Tamers Forever" series: "OmniTamer!"