Between Heaven and Earth
A Digimon Tamers story by Crazyeight
"Guilmon, you're eating too much!" admonished a young boy with light brown hair to a red-colored, dinosaur-like creature—a digimon—with a large hazard sign emblazoned on its chest.
"I'm sorry Takato," Guilmon moaned as he pulled his head out of the sack full of bread that served as their late night meal. "But it just smells so good I can't help myself. Every time I see food my head goes all funny."
Takato sighed and shook his head, but the small smile on his face belied his scolding gesture.
"I know boy," he replied, patting the reptile between his bat-like ears. "But it's better to hold off. He glanced up toward the night sky. "We could be out here for a while."
As one, the unusual pair lay back on the roof of the concrete hut that served as Guilmon's makeshift home and folded their arms behind their heads, taking in the night sky and all its wonders…or lack thereof. A few stars made their presence known, but the harsh glow from their home city of Shinjuku blotted out whatever lay amongst the inky blackness that was space.
"I wonder if I could see the digital world if things were clearer," Takato wondered aloud, more to himself than anyone else. Turning at him, Guilmon raised an eyebrow.
"Hah?" the reptilian digimon asked, somewhat confused.
"Huh? Oh, sorry Guilmon. I was just thinking out loud. Henry was saying something once how if we looked really hard we'd be able to see something from the digital world from even down here. He said it was like ripples or something."
"Hmmm…" Guilmon returned his gaze toward the sky, thinking hard on this. "I guess… Seems kind of silly though. The sky isn't made of water." Guilmon let out a heavy sigh. "I'd really like to see the shooting stars though…"
"Me too boy," Takato smiled. "I remember seeing one when we first went to the digital world. It kind of made me think that it wasn't too different from the real world."
"Terriermon says that there are other worlds out there." Raising a claw, Guilmon pointed at the sky for emphasis. "Some of them could be just like this one. Do you think they have digital worlds too?"
Takato's eyebrows rose at the thought. "You know…I never actually thought about it before. Alien digital worlds?" He chuckled as his imagination already began spawning an image of Guilmon with a large, Martian-like brain of the kind he often saw on TV. "Can you see them coming down here in UFO's to say hi?"
His jovial expression fell a little as another thought came to him. Or to attack the Earth? He hated thinking about the bad side of things—and all too often didn't—but his experiences in the two years since becoming a Digimon Tamer have shown him a decidedly darker side to the world that he wished didn't exist. A darker side that Jeri had to face all too soon.
Jeri… he thought, pressing his lips together into one thin line in memory of his first trip into the digital world with his friends.
Unaware of Takato's thoughts, Guilmon pondered on his comment for a moment longer before continuing.
"If they do, I hope they bring bread." Guilmon barked a laugh. "I wonder what alien bread would taste like."
Takato couldn't resist the urge to smile at this and he gave in willingly, dispelling his brief mood.
"If it's good they're going to have to worry about the food bill."
"Hey!" Guilmon pouted. "Takato~! I'm not that bad!" A pause before his ears wilted a little uncertainly. "…am I?"
"I seem to remember a time when you cleaned out the school cafeteria," Takato laughed. "And then Mom barred you from the kitchen…"
"Ohhh…" Guilmon's ears now hung below his mouth. "That wasn't my fault though."
"Easy there boy." Takato raised a hand and placed it on the dinosaur's head again, patting it gently. "We know you mean the best."
"Some of the time," whispered the mental voice of a certain long-eared troublemaker that the pair knew oh-so-well, but it was quickly dismissed by the voice's partner as simply as saying his name.
Great, thought Takato. Now Terriermon has invaded my brain. I guess it's a good thing he and Henry are on vacation right now…
"Hm?" The boy blinked at Guilmon, realizing that he had been distracted and missed his partner's question. "Sorry, what'd you say, boy?"
"I was just asking if you thought any alien-mon would make better bread than Guilmon Bread?"
"Are you two writing a science fiction story or something?"
Eyes widening at the familiar voice, the digimon and young teen sat up to find a red-headed girl and a yellow-furred, fox-like digimon standing at the main entrance to the concrete hut.
"Rika!" Takato called out excitedly. "Renamon! What are you two doing here?"
"I'm guessing the same reason that you knuckleheads are here for," Rika replied, pointing up at the night sky. Next to her, Renamon nodded.
"We heard that there was a meteor shower tonight. Rika insisted on having a look."
Giving the pair a large goofy grin, he rubbed the back of his head, taken aback by this unexpected act on the part of his two friends. "Well, what are you waiting for? C'mon up!"
"Don't mind if we do," Rika said as her vulpine partner lifted her up slightly before jumping onto the hut's roof to join them. Upon landing Renamon set the girl down and stepped back a pace, folding her arms over her chest and turning her face toward the sky. Her eyes, icy-blue, narrowed a little thoughtfully.
"Not really," Takato admitted regretfully. "But there might be something any minute now."
"Uh…well…there's the problem with the city lights and everything. We can barely even see any of the stars!" Takato's face fell a little bit, wondering if they were actually going to see anything at all. "But...But we are early…I think…so…maybe something will change if we wait?"
"We thought we saw a shooting star earlier, but it turned out to be a firefly," Guilmon supplied, trying to be helpful but not really succeeding.
"Well, I'm so glad we have that solved," Rika said with a touch of sarcasm, sitting down next to Takato and draping one leg over the other. "So what was all that stuff about aliens and bread that you two were talking about when we showed up?"
Takato chuckled a little in embarrassment. "Oh, nothing important…"
Rika regarded him with amusement sparkling in her eyes. "Right. We haven't seen each other in weeks and the first chance we get you don't want to talk?"
"No, no. It's not that… It's just…" Takato scratched his cheek, feeling a little bit guilty now. It was true. Ever since the incident with the D-Reaper ended, Rika hadn't been able to hang out with any of the others all that much. It was often that, aside from the occasional bio-emergence or global digimon panic, he and the other Tamers would go weeks without actually seeing her, with the sole exception being summer when the absence of school gave her more free time. "…it's just silly, that's all. You know," he pointed at himself and Guilmon, "just us being us."
"We are kinda predictable, huh Takato?" Guilmon asked. Takato laughed lightly in agreement.
"Hmmm… Well, at least I can count on that," Rika said, glancing away, "though I could do with something to laugh about."
Takato raised an eyebrow in concern. "Why do you say that? Is everything all right?"
"Everything's fine," she said, smiling back at him. "I've just been under a lot of stress, that's all."
"Is being a grade ahead that hard?" He could imagine so, but Rika proved herself to be good enough to pull ahead of even Henry when it came to academics. That she was having trouble seemed impossible to him.
Rika gave a light laugh. "For you it would be, but it's nothing I can't handle," she confirmed. "I just need to unplug once in a while. Tonight seemed like a good night for it." She returned her gaze back to him, her violet eyes meeting his crimson ones. Even in the darkness, Takato thought he saw starlight dancing within them. "Didn't think I'd get a bonus out of it though," she added.
Takato felt his face warm a little, but he returned her smile all the same. "Glad I could help. It's always good to see you, Rika."
Rika's smile curved just a little bit more. "Thanks, Takato," she replied.
There followed a brief moment of silence for the two teens as they both looked at each other. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, Takato quickly looked away, stammering for something to break the quiet.
"Um… A-Anyway, Guilmon and I were just talking about alien worlds and whether or not they had digital worlds and…well, you know how Guilmon is with food…"
"He cleaned house at both of our birthday parties this year," Rika nodded. "I'm almost afraid of what's going to happen when his birthday comes around." She leaned forward to look at the crimson dinosaur, who suddenly cringed.
"Takato? Rika looks scary all of a sudden…"
"You'd better be, because I'm bringing you nothing but healthy food. Carrots and lettuce… Whatever I can get my hands on."
Guilmon suddenly looked confused and tilted his head to one side. "I don't get it."
"He's not a picky eater as long as he eats in bulk," Takato said to Rika, who shook her head.
"I guess Terriermon isn't the only one who's incorrigible," she remarked before turning back to Takato. "Alien digital worlds, huh?"
"I know it's pretty farfetched…"
"As farfetched as there is being one digital world where talking fox's exist?" Renamon asked from behind the trio, still sky gazing.
"Well, maybe not when you put it like that…"
"That's a pretty heavy thought though," Rika said, smirking playfully. Reaching up, she tapped her knuckles against his goggles, causing Takato to jerk back reflexively. "Where's the steam from all that thinking?"
"I thought so." Sighing, Rika leaned back and looked up. "It's something to think about though. Maybe we should ask Henry what he thinks when he gets back."
"I guess…" Takato furrowed his brow slightly.
"What time are the meteors supposed to show up?" asked Rika, pulling out her cell phone to check the clock.
"9:30 I think? Ten?"
Rika frowned. "It's already past ten," she noted, pocketing her phone.
"We just might be in the wrong place for this," Renamon said, turning toward the two teens. "Takato did mention that the city lights might be a problem."
"Yeah, but it's not like we can just go somewhere else," Takato said. Renamon and Rika exchanged a glance. Takato felt a small chill run down his back, and he wondered if they were talking to each other without words again.
"Actually, we've got that covered," Rika smiled, reaching behind her toward a well-worn leather box sitting next to a blue-trimmed arc-shaped device attached to her belt. Pulling out a game card labeled Digimon alongside the device she rose both into the air. The card's color shifted, becoming pure blue with a small, monster-like symbol emblazoned at its center. Takato blinked as she slid the card through a slot on the side of her digivice.
"Digi-modify!" she called out, sparks flashing from the card. "Matrix digivolution activate!"
At once, Renamon was surrounded by a sphere of light that grew, becoming almost ten feet high in height. The sphere shattered in a dazzling array of sparkling light, revealing Renamon's changed form of Taomon. Clothed in what appeared to be priestly garb with long sleeves, her vulpine face had flattened, becoming almost mask-like. Atop her head sat a long, thin, black hat, and behind her, her fox tail swished.
"Shall we?" Taomon asked, raising one hand and revealing a curved symbol in one hand. Rika nodded while Takato looked back and forth, not quite getting yet what they were planning. Before he could ask, a Yin-Yang symbol appeared beneath the four of them as they were surrounded in a protective, glass-like barrier.
"Talisman Spell," Taomon intoned as the barrier lifted into the sky.
"You know, I keep forgetting that we can do stuff like this," Takato admitted in embarrassment.
"If I was in my Crimson Mode I could fly," Guilmon said, approaching the edge of the barrier and looking down at the city as it retreated below. "Wow… It's really pretty."
"It sure is, boy," Takato said, drawing up next to the dinosaur and patting him on the side. "Just be careful, okay? Don't get too close there."
"Don't trust our driving?" Rika joked with a half-smirk, approaching them.
"I do," Takato laughed. "It's just that Guilmon and I are trouble magnets."
"Hey!" Guilmon exclaimed.
"Well, it's true…"
"Not in my book," Rika said, folding her arms over her chest. She shivered slightly as the temperature dropped rapidly from the higher elevation. Seeing this, Takato began to take off his hoodie, causing the girl to give him a stern look.
"Takato…" she began, her tone warning. "Just because you and Dino-boy biomerge into a knight in shining armor doesn't mean you have to act the part."
"I know, I know," Takato apologized, presenting the hoodie to her. "But I'd feel better if you were warm than not. It's better than nothing, right?"
"I'm not wearing 'nothing'," Rika replied, her lips curving up in a teasing smirk. "And it's a little too cold for me to strip down anyway."
"Say wha…?" Takato blinked, taken aback by her comment. Already he could feel heat flooding his face as her words took hold in his mind. Rika shifted and looked away, her own face also red, almost as much as her hair as she realized what she said.
"W-Well… I feel warmer now." she stammered, suddenly embarrassed. Adjusting her arms she laughed lightly. "Really put my foot in my mouth there…"
"If a compromise will help…" spoke up Taomon, approaching from behind and draping the outermost layer of her priestly uniform around the pair. The tall vulpine digimon placed a paw on Rika's shoulder as she met her gaze. "Better?"
"Yeah…" she nodded after a moment, her face still flushed. "Thanks."
"Thanks Taomon," Takato said quietly, shifting a little as he wrapped his hoodie around his waist. The heat in his face retreated a little, but remained. The pair stood like that for a moment, their breath coming out in visible puffs as an awkward silence fell between them. Guilmon looked back and forth between the pair before looking up at the tall vixen. After a second, something seemed to click in his mind and his eyes brightened in realization.
"Is this what Terriermon was talking about when he said you and I were sitting in a tree?" he asked Taomon. The vulpine digimon, noticing the sudden increase in the Tamers' tension at Guilmon's words, closed her eyes and raised a finger to her mouth. Guilmon tilted his head to one side, a bit confused.
"He's still a bit naïve, isn't he?" Rika remarked with amusement from her side of the robe, hoping to throw off the awkwardness. Shifting her grip on the robe she and Takato exchanged nervous glances. Their cheeks were still decorated with crimson, but the atmosphere between them had now loosened ever so slightly, and together they shared a nervous laugh. Taking a deep breath, Rika took a step closer to her friend, bringing the ends of the robe closer together for better warmth.
As they rose into a passing cloud, Rika spoke up again.
"So how's Jeri?" she asked quietly, the night sky obscured by small wisps of cloud. The scene tickled at her memory. She wasn't looking at Takato but she felt his grip on the robe change.
"She's…doing good," Takato replied in an equally quiet tone, his expression changing a little, becoming almost distant. "She says that she's almost done unpacking and is making friends in her new school. She wants to visit everyone as soon as she gets the chance though."
Rika smiled and she nodded. "That's great. It'll be good to have her back again, even if it's just a visit."
Thinking about their friend was hard though. Rika could understand the reasoning behind the decision Jeri's father made to leave Shinjuku—it being a target of regular digimon attacks after all—but it was clear that she wasn't happy with the decision to move so far away from everything and everyone she knew. No one was, but she and Takato especially took it hard.
And why shouldn't they? Those two were head-over-heels in love with each other. Only they couldn't see it… She closed her eyes and sighed heavily. Visits… Rika felt a little bit of anger toward Jeri's father rise up inside her. Even she didn't believe that Jeri would be able to visit much. Takato… You're such a Gogglehead.
"Huh?" The boy raised a surprised eyebrow. "What did I do?"
Rika's eyes shot open, not realizing that she spoke her last thoughts out loud.
"Nothing." She pulled on her end of the robe all the more tightly.
"Oookay…" He scratched the back of his head with his free hand. I really don't get girls, he mused, dropping his free hand back into the space between him and his red-haired friend.
"Do you remember the last time you were in Taomon's shield? How you jumped out to help keep Guilmon from getting fried by Zhuqiaomon?"
"Yeah," Takato nodded, the gears in his mind turning to try and figure out. What did a battle with one of the digital world's Sovereigns have to do with anything?
"I was just thinking about how that was the stupidest thing you ever did…"
Takato frowned, feeling a protest start to rise within him. Before he could even get it out however, Rika continued.
"…but it was a good kind of stupid. I think it's something you should do outside of battle more often."
"You…want me and Guilmon to jump out of Taomon's shield?"
"Rika wants us to do what?" asked Guilmon, whipping his head around in surprise.
"What? No! I'm not…!" Rika resisted the urge to roll her eyes. How can anyone be this dense?! "Look! All I'm saying is," Rika's expression softened a little as she turned to face Takato more fully, "it might be a good idea to take a dumb chance sometimes. I mean…you never know what you'll miss out on if you don't." She paused, searching for words. "Besides…everyone's right behind you. If you fall or something, I'll be there to pick you back up."
As they broke through the cloud and burst out into the night, Rika found that she could barely feel the chill of the wind playing across her face, blowing at the loose strands of her hair as she stared at Takato. There was that heat again. She hadn't meant to say it quite like that, but she stuck with it. It was true after all. She would be there no matter how badly he messed things up. After everything that happened since they became friends, she could do no less.
Rika wasn't alone in her blushing as Takato's cheeks had taken on a bit of red as well, though due to slightly different reasons. In her attempt to drive home what she was trying to say, her free hand had taken hold of his in a firm grasp. The soft yet strong touch of her skin against his sent an oddly comforting, yet electrical jolt through his body. As he so often did under such circumstances, his emotions and thoughts fell together into one big jumble from which entanglement was nearly impossible. What was she saying? What was she saying?
A bright light streaked across the night sky. It was quickly followed by several more in rapid succession.
"Takato! Rika!" crowed Guilmon loudly, breaking Takato's thoughts and waving his arms at the sight. "Taomon did it! We can see the shower!"
Both Tamers let out breaths that neither realized that they were holding and turned to enjoy the show. Neither noticed their fingers entwine around each other as they stepped closer to share their warmth.
Later, with the time striking midnight, Taomon brought them all back down to Earth. Upon touching ground, the force field disappeared and the vulpine digimon glowed, regressing in size and shape until she returned to her original form of Renamon.
"Thanks Renamon," Rika said, and the vixen nodded, a small, barely-visible smile on her muzzle.
"You are most welcome," she replied. "It was an…interesting experience."
"Yeah," Takato laughed. "We need to do this more often. It's been a long time since you hung out with everyone. I think even Kazu misses you."
"Uh-huh!" Guilmon added, bobbing his head up and down exuberantly. Rika chuckled.
"If that's the case, it might be better that he keeps on missing me. But…I suppose I can fit some time in now that I think about it."
With that, she gave Takato's hand, still in her grasp, a little squeeze. As if becoming aware of it for the first time, both teens looked down, Takato's eyes widening slightly and Rika blinking in surprise. They stood like that for a moment, two hearts beating almost as one, unsure of what to do or say about the atmosphere that lay between them all of a sudden, centered around the joining of their hands. After one long, agonizing moment, as though through some unspoken agreement, their hands split apart.
"Um… A-Anyway…" Takato stammered, uncertain as to what he should say now, but feeling that something needed to be said. "…see you…next time?"
Rika glanced up from her hand, her expression soft and mixed with confusion.
"Yeah," she replied carefully before repeating it in a firmer tone. "Yeah. There's another shower tomorrow, right?"
Takato felt as though a fuse blew in his mind. An enormous weight seemed to settle over his shoulders. What is she saying?
"Uh…yeah! I'll be there! Here! I mean here!"
A light blush settled over Rika's face and she turned away. It was time to get going. "Okay. I'll be waiting."
"Rika?" Takato asked just as she began to head off.
"Yeah?" she asked, not yet turning around. The heat in her face was intensifying as the pace of her heart increased. Just what is going on here? she wondered, trying to maintain her previous calm. Something was different now. Something just changed between them.
Takato's hands curled into tight fists as he struggled to get the words out. For some reason, it seemed much harder than normal. "Thanks… Thanks for being here. It was good seeing you again."
Smiling, Rika turned to look over her shoulder. Looking at him, she felt that, yes, something had changed between them. It lay there, invisible, but at the same time she could see it. Standing there, her friend across from him, she found herself wondering if that was even a bad thing. Coming to a decision, she raised her hand and gave him a thumbs up.
"Good night, Takato," she said, giving him a wink.
Takato watched her go for a moment before turning himself. Running his hand through his hair he gave an exasperated groan.
"Are you okay, Takato?" asked Guilmon, looking at him with concern. The teen looked so tense for some reason.
"I guess so," Takato replied, after taking a second to relax before answering. Patting his friend on the head he gave him a comforting smile. "C'mon boy. Let's go home."
As they left, Takato took one last look over his shoulder at the figure of the retreating girl, and he wondered.
Good night, Rika…
Rika could still feel the warmth of Takato's hand in her own as she made her way down the city street; the same warmth that they shared together within Taomon's robe as they watched the meteor shower. It was a familiar, powerful feeling, one that she shared with Renamon when they biomerged for the first time—not as strong, but the seed was there, sprouting roots. She thought about Takato. She thought about Jeri. She thought about herself. She thought about how quickly a change came about since seeing one of her closest friends again.
All from one touch.
"Great," she muttered. "I think I'm turning into Gogglehead."
"Something wrong?" asked Renamon, materializing out of thin air next to the girl, naturally falling into step as though she had been there all along.
"Hmmm…" Rika thought about it for a moment. "No, not really. It's just… I wonder if I went a little overboard back there."
"I thought it was rather nice, showing a friend how much you care about them after not seeing them in a while."
Rika's brow knotted together. "That's…all it was, wasn't it?"
Renamon raised an eyebrow at the note of doubt in the girl's voice. She glanced slightly at the teen out of the corner of her eye, seeing her massaging the hand that had earlier held that of her friends in its grasp. It seemed so odd to see the normally confident girl like this, but then, it was not as though their relationship hadn't been full of confusion and uncertainty in their early days.
"There's no harm in waiting to make sure, if you have doubts," Renamon said after a moment of thoughtful silence. "Who knows? When you do become certain, you may need to take your own advice and take a chance."
Rika glowered at the vulpine digimon. "Taking stupid chances is Takato's job."
A small smile played across Renamon's muzzle. "I've never known you to take anything but a smart one," she replied.
Rika returned the smile, feeling a little bit more certain now. More relaxed.
Guess we'll see what tomorrow night brings, she thought, picking up her pace.
As her smile grew on her face, she found herself looking forward to it.
A/N: It has been quite a while since I last wrote fanfiction. I found myself bitten by the ol' Rukato bug recently so I figured I'd put together a short piece. Many thanks goes to Ruki44 for helping me get through the brainstorming session, as I am rather rusty at writing Tamers stories. Hope you all enjoyed this fic and I'll see you all later. :)