Takato could feel his legs giving out as he ran along the street. He was late for school again, after forgetting to set his alarm clock the night before.
"Oh man, Ms. Asagi is gonna kill me for being late again," was all he could think about, as he weaved between seemingly innocent people. Takato knew, however, that this was all a grand scheme to delay him as much as possible, and ultimately make even later. In his mind, they were deliberately going this slowly, there was no other reason.
He turned the final corner, and mentally sighed as he saw his school in the distance. As he crossed the road, he found himself blocked by a grey-suited man of average height and build. He had greying hair, and walked with an air of importance. Takato recognised him immediately as his principal, Mr. Kurosawa.
"Ah! I mean, hello Mr. Kurosawa," Takato said, desperately trying to cook up an excuse as to why he was over an hour late for class.
"Mr. Matsuki, are you aware that you are almost two hours late for school, for the second time this month?" The principal asked, before noticing that Takato, in fact, wasn't alone.
Takato was followed by his reptilian friend, Guilmon, who had returned to the real world almost a year earlier. He was a crimson Digimon with large claws, small wing-like ears, and a black Digi-Hazard symbol on his white, insatiable belly. Ever since the D-Reaper incident, Digimon were pretty much common knowledge, but there were still many people who held onto their fears of even the friendly ones.
Mr. Kurosawa, unfortunately, was one of those people. Ever since his first encounter with Guilmon, he'd been terrified of all Digimon.
"Takatomon, I'm hungry, did you bring any bread?" Guilmon asked. Takato wondered how it was possible for something of Guilmon's size to consume so much food in so little time. He was constantly hungry.
"Not now, Guilmon. I'll give some bread later," Takato assured the childish Digimon.
Mr. Kurosawa looked like he was going to piss his pants. "W-well, Takato, I g-guess you'd better get t-to class. Y-you wouldn't want-t to keep Ms. Asagi waiting," he stammered, before turning and walking away, clearly distraught at the sight of the red dinosaur.
Takato sighed. "Is he ever gonna get used to them?" he thought, before running off to class, Guilmon in tow.
As he approached his classroom, Takato tried to cool down, so he didn't look too exhausted as he walked in. It didn't work as well as he had hoped though. He still looked like he was going to pass out as he walked through the door.
"Ah, Takato, I was beginning to worry. Did you sleep well?" Ms. Asagi said dryly, clearly not happy about Takato's tardiness in the last few months.
"I'm – sorry – Ms. – Asagi," Takato wheezed. He looked around for an empty spot, but instead, caught the eye of Rika, one of his best friends. Takato thought he saw something flicker across her face.
"Did she…smile at me?" Takato thought to himself, but quickly dismissed the idea as he sat down next to Kazu, another friend of his.
"What did I miss?" Takato whispered to his friend.
"Not much, just some boring review stuff, nothing to worry about," Kazu replied, equally as quiet. Takato sighed in relief.
The rest of the school day seemed to pass Takato by. He wasn't even trying to listen, just to make it look like he was listening. Sometimes Takato would peek to the back of the room, and see Terriermon trying to hit Henry with small balls of paper. The closest he got was hitting Jeri, who sits right in front of him. She turned around, looking Henry straight in the eye, and Henry turned red as Rika's hair.
"Ooookay, that was weird," Takato thought, but then he turned and saw Rika looking at him. Their eyes met for a fraction of a second before Rika turned away, her face becoming almost as red as Henry's. "And that's even weirder." Takato thought.
As the final bell rang, the Tamers ran out of class and headed for the hideout. Takato finally broke out the bread, but Guilmon ate it all before anyone could get a piece. After a few minutes of talking about the school day, everyone sort of settled into their routine: Takato and Henry would chat in the hideout, Guilmon and Terriermon would play, Kazu, Kenta, Guardromon and MarineAngemon would hang around and do whatever, Calumon would wander between the groups in his never-ending search for cream puffs, and Rika and Renamon would lean against a tree, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. Jeri would sometimes come and play, but most of the time she had to go home.
"I don't know Henry, I really think something's up with Rika," Takato explained to his friend.
"Well, why don't we go ask her then," Henry responded.
"No! We can't do that! She'd…well…" Takato said, feeling his cheeks turn red.
"You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you liked Rika," Henry said. He hadn't really meant it, he was just trying to mess with Takato, but Takato took it seriously.
"I do not! I just…you know…worry about stuff like this. What if she's hurt?" Takato stuttered, turning an even darker shade of red.
"I'm not that stupid, Takato. I think you like her," Henry teased.
"I…well…I never…maybe…I just…" Takato stammered, knowing he'd been found out.
"Well, why don't you just talk to her?" Henry asked.
"Because it's kind of a lost cause, don't you think? Why try if there's no chance?" Takato responded, hanging his head low.
"What do you mean no chance? Takato, you need to stop selling yourself so short, or you'll never be able to pack up the courage and-"
Suddenly, the tamers' digivices beeped, signifying a 'Wild One.'
"We'll finish this talk later," Henry said, "Right now, we have bigger fish to fry."
"Yeah," was all Takato could say. The tamers rounded up their Digimon, and they were off to fight the wild one.
"There it is! Let's get 'em!" shouted Takato.
"Wow, Takato's kind of cute when he takes charge like thi-Did I just call gogglehead 'cute?' There is no way I'm falling for goggleboy!" Rika thought to herself as she ran toward the digital field. She sealed the thought in question away for examination later, as she put her 'Game Face' on. She adjusted her sunglasses, as did everyone else (except Kazu, who had forgotten his), and they entered the field, coming face to face with a wild Digimon, looking somewhat like a dragon.
"Dorugamon, Animal type, Champion level. Attacks are Power Metal, and Cannonball," Rika said, reading the information off of her D-Arc.
"Alright, piece of cake. Guilmon, attack!" Takato ordered.
The fireball hit Dorugamon square in the chest, knocking it off-balance.
Terriermon shot a green ball of superheated air at the wild one, knocking it into a building.
Renamon sent hundreds of sharpened leaves at the Dorugamon while it was stunned.
As the smoke cleared, the tamers and Digimon saw that the Dorugamon was perfectly fine!
"Okay, this might be a little tougher than I thought," Takato said through gritted teeth.
Suddenly, the wild Digimon started to glow.
"It's digivolving!" Rika shouted.
Dorugamon digivolve to…DoruGreymon!
The purple dragon had now transformed into an enormous red dragon, now towering over the tamers and their Digimon.
"DoruGreymon, Animal Type, Ultimate level. Attacks are Metal Meteor, and Bloody Tower!"
"Bloody Tower!" The beast shouted as it attempted to spear Guilmon through its large horn. Guilmon only barely managed to get out of the way.
"Guilmon!" Takato shouted, running toward his partner.
"Guys, I think it's time we biomerged!" Henry suggested.
"Alright then, let's do it!" Rika shouted.
Guilmon Biomerge to…Gallantmon!
Gallantmon Mode Change to…Crimson Mode!
Terriermon Biomerge to…MegaGargomon!
Renamon Biomerge to…Sakuyamon!
The biomerged trio dodged out of the way of the incoming red tail, as they prepared to attack.
"Mega Barrage!" MegaGargomon let loose hundreds of explosives from all over its body, sending them careening toward the monster.
"Fox Drive!" Sakuyamon leapt into the air and sent an enormous ball of blue flames at DoruGreymon.
"Crimson Light!" Gallantmon lunged toward the wild Digimon with his Gungnir.
As all three attacks connected, the DoruGreymon disintegrated into data, seemingly defeated. The trio dedigivolved into their Rookie and human forms, as the data started to glow.
"What's going on? Didn't we beat it?" Takato asked, confused.
The data glow brighter and brighter, until they saw something emerge from it.
"Metal Meteor!" The data let loose a final attack before vanishing. A ball of solid iron, roughly the size WarGrowlmon went hurtling toward the tamers.
As the tamers closed their eyes in anticipation of their destruction, they were surprised to find it never came. Instead, the iron sphere was vaporised by another attack.
"Justice Burst!" shouted Justimon, as he destroyed the Metal Meteor attack.
"Oh great, it's Mr. Perfect," Rika groaned.
"Happy to see you too, Rika," Ryo countered after dedigivolving. "I thought you'd be a little more grateful I just saved your life.
"Oh please! I had him right where I wanted him. I was about to…spring my trap, before you showed up," Rika spat.
"Well it looked to me like you could've used the help," Ryo teased.
Rika turned bright red. "Well…I just…leave us alone, okay?"
"Man, those two are bickering like an old married couple," Henry thought.
"Fine, just don't come crying to me when you're in trouble again," Ryo said, before turning and leaving.
"Uh, Rika, are you okay?" Takato asked nervously. Rika had started shaking, and it looked like steam was going to come out of her ears.
Rika turned to him, and gave him a piercing glare. "I'm fine, just leave me alone," she said through gritted teeth, before turning to leave. "Come, Renamon," she said.
As they walked away, Henry turned to Takato. "Okay, maybe give her a while to cool down before you…you know."
"Henry," Takato said, looking defeated, "there's no chance, okay? She's the Digimon queen, I'm just-"
"Just what? Just Takato? Just a loser? You need to get some confidence, man. Ever since Jeri turned you down, you've been, well, different."
"It's not much, but…you just don't seem quite as happy, you know? I'm just worried about you man."
"Well don't okay?" Takato started getting angry. "I'm perfectly fine, I just need a little time to cool off, that's all."
Henry sighed. "Fine then. If you don't tell her, I will."
Henry looked at Takato deeply. "You need to tell her. If you don't, you'll spend the rest of your life wondering what would have happened."
Takato thought about it for a while. He didn't want to admit it, but Henry was right again.
"Okay, I'll figure out a way to tell her. Man, she's gonna kill me."
Henry smirked. "Well, you never know. Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
Takato turned toward his house. "Yeah, yeah. See you tomorrow," he said, before running the rest of the way home.
As he snuck up to his room, trying not to disturb his parents, Takato thought about what Henry said.
"No, I shouldn't tell her. What if it ruins our friendship? What if she just gets mad at me, like she always does? Then again, she has seemed to lighten up lately. No, I still shouldn't. There's no chance she feels the same way, so why bother?" Takato quickly changed into his pyjamas, and jumped into bed. "Why isn't this stuff ever easy?" Remembering back to when he had asked Jeri out only worsened his situation. Takato and Jeri had agreed to stay friends, but Takato was still a little…muffed about the way it had played out.
On the other side of town, Rika was having problems of her own.
"Ugh! Why does Ryo have to do that? I'm glad he saved us, but does he have to be such a jerk about it? I know he's just doing it because he likes me, but I've made it pretty clear I don't like him back, so why doesn't he just leave me alone? I wish I had somebody to talk to about this stuff, someone who would understand. Takato might understand, but, he's pretty thick. It'd take too long to explain it to him. Wow, I must be going soft. Did I actually consider telling gogglehead about my problems?" Another voice, sounding suspiciously like Jeri's popped into her head. "It's because you like him, isn't it?" The voice teased. "I…uh…no I don't!" Rika mentally shouted to the 'intruder.' "You like him, you like him, you like him!" Jeri chimed. "Well, maybe, but it's not like he'd like me back! He's so stupid, he probably doesn't even know what love is!"
"Rika, are you alright?" Renamon asked, noticing the serious look on her partner's face.
"Yeah, I'm fine Renamon. I'm just thinking about…stuff."
"Anything in particular?"
"Uh…no!" Rika defended, turning a suspicious shade of pink.
Renamon simply smirked and dropped the subject, allowing for a silent walk home.