A New Year's to Remember
A Digimon Tamers story by Crazyeight
"Guilmon, stop poking the bag! That's for the New Year's party!" Takato scolded the crimson-scaled dinosaur, whose bat-wing-like ears wilted.
"Sorry Takato," Guilmon—a digital life form known as a digimon—replied. "I just want to see smell the cookies. They're so good."
"Always thinking with your stomach," the teen sighed, smiling at his partner. There were times when the youth was amazed at the level of maturity Guilmon showed, but then there were times where Guilmon was still the same child-like dino that popped out into the human world and raided the school cafeteria.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, Takato thought, adjusting the pair of yellow-trimmed goggles on his forehead. They were cracked and dirty in some spots now, victim of many an explosion and shrapnel, and the black band, now slightly tight around a head that was larger than when he first strapped them on, frayed in places. Takato himself did not escape unscathed from the goggles misadventures, as a thin scar, barely visible above his right eyebrow, could attest. In spite of everything he experienced, he remained in the words of a certain fiery-haired girl with a temperament that matched, a 'Gogglehead'.
The definition varied depending on circumstances, but the point remained; much like Guilmon he changed but more or less remained the same. Takato wasn't the only one. His friends—the other Tamers and their respective digimon partners—had all changed, yet remained the same in one fashion or another.
Raising his hands to his mouth, Takato blew into them, trying to warm them up. It was cold outside, and the lack of sunlight on account of the time being well past sunset did not help matters. He wondered what time it was. I hope we're not late…
"Takatomon!" he heard a familiar voice call out. Turning, a smile already forming on his face. Turning toward its direction, he saw two figures, one, small, rabbit-like in appearance and appearing as a child in size sitting on the other, much taller, human's shoulder, waving an arm-like ear at him.
"Hey Terriermon! Henry!" Takato replied back, waving at the rabbit-like digimon as the pair approached. "Great to see you guys!"
"Hey Takato," Henry, Terriermon's Tamer, nodded with a small wave. He had grey-colored eyes that radiated a kind of quiet, adult wisdom that made him look older than he actually was. In spite of this, an amused, teenage smirk twitched at the corners of his lips, as though he were relieved by his friend's presence. "So you're late too, huh?"
"Ah…?" Takato faltered. "Well…I didn't actually know… I mean, I knew we were tight on time but…" He looked over at Guilmon for help, but the crimson digimon could only shrug his shoulders.
"We had to clean up the mess I made in the kitchen, remember?"
Takato groaned. "Right… Yeah, that one took a while."
"And we had to clean the oven because I burned the cookies."
Henry raised an eyebrow. "You let him cook?"
"My parents were swamped with orders. It seemed like a pretty good idea at the time." He frowned at Guilmon. "And he had to go and eat one batch of Guilmon Bread almost as soon as it was made."
"I said I was sorry…" Guilmon pleaded. On Henry's shoulder, the little rabbit digimon giggled childishly and raised a finger conspiratorially to his lips.
"Better face it, Takato. You're cursed to always be late no matter what. Should fate look like it's going to let you be on time, well…just to let you know…" He leaned forward and continued to speak in a hushed whisper. "…it's just so it can lure you into a false sense of security."
Both Henry and Takato looked at Terriermon with an expression that did not convey amusement over his antics. Rolling his eyes, the rabbit-digimon sighed in exasperation.
"I know, I know… Terriermon…"
"If you know what I'm going to say, then why do you keep doing what will make me do just that?" Henry asked.
"Is that a rhetorical question, Henry?"
The boy sighed. Takato chuckled.
"Look on the bright side, Henry. If Rika gets mad at us we can always just say it was Terriermon's fault."
"In a way we'd be telling the truth," the boy said as they, now four, fell into pace together and continued on their journey. "Do you know how many girls he's stopped on our way here and asked out for me?"
"What?!" Terriermon exclaimed. "Hen~ry! I only do it because you're so tightly wound up all the time! When was the last time you actually relaxed or had fun?"
"I'm pretty sure Kazu would call you the worst wingman ever," Takato pointed out. "You are kind of noisy."
"I don't want to hear that from mister "I've got two girls gunning for me"…" Terriermon huffed, folding his arms across his chest.
"Huh?" Takato asked, honestly baffled. Reaching up, Henry tapped his partner lightly on the head.
"I think that's enough of that conversation."
The group continued on their way down the streets of their home city of Shinjuku, making small-talk as they did so, catching up on recent events, both of them wondering whether or not Kazu would annoy Rika… The teen never missed a chance to agitate their female friend even when he accepted the hospitality of a New Year's Party.
"I wonder if that means Kazu likes Rika," Guilmon wondered as they neared the home of the aforementioned girl. "Like in all those cartoons I watch. They always have a girl be mean to the guy she likes."
Takato, Henry, and Terriermon all exchanged glances.
"I think you've been having him watch too much TV," Henry observed.
"Trust me," Terriermon giggled. "Kazu doesn't have a chance."
"Hey!" Takato protested, laughing. "Kazu could probably pull it off. Anything's possible, right?"
"Right. When pigs fly."
"Says the digital life form from the place where dreams come true," chuckled Henry. He looked solemn for a moment. "Then again, Guilmon might have a point. After all, Ryo…"
Takato nodded, also becoming solemn. "Yeah. She took his leaving the last time hard." Kind of like I was with…Jeri…
The thought hung there, leaving Takato to ponder a million what-ifs and maybes that could have happened. Things changed, even when they stayed the same.
Seeing the expression on Takato's face, Henry gave his friend a sympathetic look and clasped one hand on his shoulder. He didn't say anything, but instead let his supportive silence speak for itself. Still looking somewhat disquieted, Takato managed to put on a recovering smile.
"Don't worry about it. She still sends emails and everything," he said. "She misses everyone. Last time we talked she told me to enjoy the party and tell Rika I said hi."
Hopping over onto the brunette's head, Terriermon did a little dance. "Sounds like someone still needs to take that advice to heart. Momentai! Maybe your luck'll change tonight!"
Henry raised an eyebrow at the rabbit digimon, instinctively catching on to what he was thinking. "Terriermon…" he began in a warning tone.
"What?!" Terriermon asked, ears shooting up in a defensive gesture. "I'm just trying to cheer him up!"
"It's appreciated." Takato gave the rabbit digimon an amused smile and lifted him off his head, passing him over to his partner. "Though I don't think my luck will change tonight." He furrowed his brow in confusion. "Not sure how it'll change anyway…" he muttered.
Terriermon simply looked at him, mouth agape in amazement. "How dense can one guy be?" he asked. Henry shook his head and placed him back on his shoulder.
"Just let it go."
"Well fine," Terriermon pouted. "I've got more important things to worry about anyway. I'm going to do it, Henry."
"Hah?" Guilmon's head looped around to peer curiously at the long-eared digimon. "Do what?"
"I'm almost afraid to ask," Henry admitted, raising an eyebrow while Takato did the same.
"Oh come on, Henry! What have I been telling you all week ever since Christmas?!"
"Is…Is this about when you caught Renamon under the mistletoe?" Takato asked, pointing a questioning finger at him.
"Seriously? You don't get the feelings of girls but you figured that out right away?" Terriermon asked, looking baffled.
"Say wha…?" Takato asked, no less confused. "What do girls have to do with anything?"
"Terriermon, I really don't think that it's is a good idea."
"That's what you say, but I'm going for it. What's the worst that could happen?"
"Renamon punching you to the moon?" Guilmon suggested, raising a claw.
"No pain, no gain," Terriermon rebutted, crossing his arms over his chest and puffing it out. "Momentai. I've got it all worked out. Humans kiss when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's eve, right? I'll just tell her that it's a tradition, just like mistletoe was. I've got it all figured out!"
Henry, Guilmon, and Takato all looked at each other doubtfully.
One of us is going to have to warn Renamon, thought Takato. Might as well be me or Guilmon since Henry and Terriermon hardly ever separate nowadays.
Approaching the front gate to Rika's home, Takato prepared to ring the doorbell when the gate opened, revealing a slim, golden-furred fox with an arrow-shaped head and a large, bushy tail swishing behind it. Dark eyes with blue irises greeted them with a slight incline of its head and it stepped back to allow them entrance.
"Renamon!" Guilmon greeted, waving a claw at her gleefully. "We were just talking about you!"
Well I guess that solves that… Takato thought blankly.
"Geh!" Terriermon squeaked, freezing in place. "Guilmon!" he hissed.
"So I overheard," Renamon replied without emotion, angling an ear toward them, but the barely visible sparkle of amusement in her eyes told a completely different story. "Welcome to Rika's home. I trust you had a safe journey?"
"Well Guilmon and I did," chuckled Takato, rubbing the back of his head. "Henry on the other hand… Well… Terriermon."
"Ah… Of course," Renamon nodded in amused understanding.
"Hey! I resent that! I'm just trying to help out my partner! What's wrong with that?"
"That you're trying to help for starters?" laughed Henry as the group entered the front yard to the Nonaka residence. "I could keep going you know."
"So you're saying all those times I keep you safe from rampaging digimon is bad?"
Henry shook his head, still laughing while Renamon closed the door and led them into the household, where they were greeted by one Rika Nonaka, arms folded across her chest, violet eyes eyeing them reproachfully. A small smirk played across her strikingly beautiful features that caused Takato to come up short in his steps, becoming anxious.
Most teenage boys tended to have nervous belly butterflies when encountering Rika. Her looks, inherited from her mother, certainly had that effect, and even more so as she grew older and began to develop into a young woman. The same would have been true of Takato once before he met her, but having been her friend for the past three years his reasons for pausing had less to do with her almost supernatural appearance and everything to do with the smirk that gave every impression of an executioner at the chopping block.
Guilmon, for his part, was doing his best to try not to appear as though he were hiding behind Takato.
"So I take it you guys have a good excuse for being late?" she asked, approaching them. Her step was graceful like a swan, but to Takato he could only see the picture of thunderclouds building in his mind's eye.
"S-Sorry. I was pretty sure that we'd get out of the house at a good time, but…you know how business gets at the bakery during the holiday season. Everyone wants Guilmon Bread…" He looked over at the digimon whom the bread was named after. He was rapidly bobbing his head up and down, desperate to support his partner in whatever answer he gave, up to and including the end of the world.
Though it's not as if that's completely unlikely…
"Ah!" Takato said quickly before Rika could say anything further. Raising the bag to her he pulled it open, revealing a box. Curious, Rika pulled it out and opened it, revealing a number of cookies shaped like the heads of their digimon partners. The stormy air wavered as she looked up at Takato.
"Did you make these?"
Takato nodded. "Yeah. Fresh out of the oven. Well, as fresh as they can be since they've had time to cool off."
"He had to make them a second time too," Guilmon admitted, expecting to be yelled at but no less willing to sacrifice himself for his friend's safety. "I forgot to pull them out of the oven in time."
The threat of thunder evaporated completely by now, and the girl placed her hand on Guilmon's head, rubbing it comfortingly. "All right, I forgive you two." She glanced over at Takato, her smirk returning again. "But don't think that lets you off the hook. You're giving me a hand getting the food ready."
Henry, who had been watching the exchange, gave Takato and Rika a friendly smile. "I'll help out too if you want."
"The more the merrier," chuckled Takato, relief flooding his body. Rika gave him a light, friendly punch to the shoulder. Terriermon scowled, looking somewhat put out.
"Hey! Where's my and Henry's forgiveness? We're late too you know!"
"I already know why Henry's late, rabbitmon," Rika replied meaningfully as she turned around and, after snatching up Takato's wrist, began to lead them toward the kitchen. "He has my forgiveness unconditionally."
Once more, Terriermon could only stare in surprise as he watched Takato stagger and nearly trip his way into keeping up with Rika's pace, flummoxed by the girl's response. After a moment he huffed in indignation.
"Henry…! I think that qualifies as rude!"
"But no less true," Henry laughed, giving him a light tap on the head.
"…and that was when Guilmon banged his head on the inside of the oven when he tried to pull the cookies out," Takato said, continuing to regale the others with his tale of Guilmon's antics earlier that day as he skillfully chopped onions.
"It hurt a lot," Guilmon supplied, rubbing the top of his head. "I ended up falling out of the kitchen and making a huge mess. And there was a lot of shouting and smoke. I couldn't see where I was going... Takato's mom was not happy."
Rika paused in her cutting up her portion of the vegetables, her face flushing as she laughed.
"I know I shouldn't," she guffawed. "But…" Her words tattered as she struggled to talk. "Ah hah… Wow! That must have been quite the sight to see! Now I wish I was there!"
"I doubt it would have been funny at the time," Renamon pointed out, though a small smile likewise crept across her otherwise stone features.
"You're probably right," Rika admitted. "But you know Takato…" Winking at him, she gave him a playful bump with the right side of her hip. "…he would find a silver lining in it no matter what."
"Well… It's definitely funny in retrospect," Takato agreed tentatively, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment.
From just outside the kitchen, Terriermon watched the scene unfold and could only shake his head in disbelief.
"I still don't get how someone could be as dense as he is to miss the obvious…"
"Well," spoke up a dark, impish-looking creature with a red scarf, gloves, and vicious smiley face tattooed on his stomach, coming abreast to the long-eared digimon, "I may just be talkin' from my own experience, but it could be that somebody who doesn't 'spect somethin' to happen won't ever consider somethin' a possibility. Know what I'm sayin'?"
Terriermon raised an eyebrow at the familiar digimon. "Since when did you become all insightful, Impmon?"
"I don't like what you're implyin' Rabbit Soup," Impmon replied. "Anyways, what's the pulse of the situation here?"
"Party dinner is being made by our partners. The adults are in the living room relaxing." He frowned. "Why're you here? Your partners are too young to be out right now. Shouldn't you be with them?"
Impmon shrugged but gave Terriermon a toothy grin.
"I figured I'd give ol' fox-face somethin' to send out the old year and bring in the new. Besides, I was invited."
"Give Renamon… Hey!" Turning to face Impmon, once an enemy and now an ally—and now possibly turning into enemy again if his suspicions were correct—more fully. "You're not thinking of kissing Renamon at midnight are you?"
"So what if I am?" Impmon asked, digging at his teeth with a toothpick. "I'm sure I'm mon enough for her. Why? You got anything against it?"
Terriermon placed his diminutive hands on his hips, drawing himself up to his full height. "She's likely to launch you to the moon you know. I'd hate to have to dig you out of the lunar crater you made. Travel there is expensive."
"Oh, I'm sure you won't have to do that. Besides, I've got it all figured out. It's somethin' called a human tra-di-tion." Impmon spread his hands out as he emphasized each syllable. "She can't refuse exploring human stuff like that. It's for a good cause after all. I'm helpin' myself figure out how to work with my partners better."
"Why, do you kiss them?"
At this, Impmon glowered at him. "I wouldn't talk so much Princess Pretty Pants," he warned.
"Whatever. But I still don't think Renamon will go for it. She's more likely to kiss Guilmon than you."
Impmon's eyebrows rose angrily. "Care to put your money where your mouth is?"
"Sure." Terriermon smirked, secure in himself. "Tell you what. I'll bet you two hundred yen that you won't get to kiss Renamon when the clock strikes midnight."
"You're on," Impmon scoffed as the doorbell rang and the echo of Kazu's voice trailed over the gate, demanding to be let in while Kenta admonished him for his loudness.
With dinner over and everyone in the living room waiting for the fated hour, Rika opened the door to her room and closed it shut behind her. No sooner did she do so the familiar form of Renamon materialized out of thin air next to her.
"Something wrong?" the vulpine digimon asked. Rika smiled weakly at her partner.
"Just…needed a second," she replied. Pushing off the door she strode into the room. "The party's going better than I expected."
"Takato did well," Renamon observed. Rika chuckled.
"He'd have to. His parents have been slaving him in the kitchen since he was what? Eight? Nine?"
"Nine if I recall his stories correctly," Renamon replied. Her eyes fell on Rika's hands as the girl set herself down and took a deep breath. They were shaking slightly. "Do you intend to go through with it?"
She saw Rika's back tense up at the question before visibly relaxing.
"Of course!" she said perhaps a little too quickly. "I mean, it's just New Years Eve. It's not like a little kiss on New Year's will actually mean anything."
She didn't meet Renamon's gaze however, and dark spots of crimson stained her cheeks. Renamon turned away to give the girl some measure of privacy and stared out the window, a wistful expression in her eyes.
"I suppose it doesn't…does it?" She glanced back at Rika. Uncertainty marred her otherwise confident expression. Her own silence spoke volumes, filling the void between them until Rika drew out her fears.
"Renamon? Is what I'm doing…okay?"
Renamon couldn't help but feel that the girl's mother, Rumiko, or even her grandmother, Seiko, would be better to help her sort through her feelings, but there were times, she knew, that Rika needed a sounding board only to steady herself. Her grandmother and mother had long since guessed the object of her affections and would support her in any decision she made, as would she—indeed, Rumiko was the one who brought up the idea of having a New Year's Party in the first place to test the deeper depths of the waters that she had been steadily exploring for the better part of the last year.
Ever since Takato got his scar, Renamon thought.
"I mean," Rika went on. "I always knew Takato had a thing for Jeri, and I thought Jeri did for him also but…neither of them did anything and then Jeri moved away…" Rika's face screwed itself up into a portrait of uncertainty. She swallowed before continuing. "It's been a while since I last felt this strongly about how I…feel. But…" She pulled her fingers into her palms. "…I don't want to hurt anyone because of this. So…yeah. Is it okay? Am I doing the right thing?"
Approaching Rika she knelt down and placed a paw on the girl's shoulder.
"Few things are certain," she said. "You will only live once. The question perhaps you should ask yourself is what you are willing to live with?" She gave her Tamer a comforting smile. "You know you have friends and family who care about you, and that they know you would never do anything to deliberately hurt them. Including Kazu."
"Even though I kicked him once three years ago," Rika snorted. "And even though I tried to kill Guilmon that year too."
"Well…you were a bit different then. More…rough around the edges, shall we say."
Rika grinned. "That's one way of putting it." Taking Renamon's paw into her hand she gave it a thankful squeeze before getting up. "Thanks Renamon. Time to get back out there. Are you with me?"
"Always," Renamon nodded, her heart soaring with pride toward her Tamer.
The seconds ticked down as the Tamers began the countdown. Rika stood next to Takato, her heart pounding in her chest. She prayed that her face betrayed nothing as she looked up at her friend.
This is it… she thought, gathering her courage.
Turning, she reached up and took hold of Takato's chin, turning his face toward hers. She flashed him a grin while next to her Renamon watched carefully.
"Happy New Year, Gogglehead," she said in a low, calm voice while Takato returned her smile, uncertainly but still oblivious to what her intentions were. The gears were moving though, and Renamon glanced away and over at Henry, who likewise watched the pair with curious eyes, waiting to see what would happen.
Rika's lips parted slightly as she pulled the boy toward her, brushing against him lightly before pressing hard, expressing the full contents of her heart in one simple act.
"Happy New Year!" Kazu and Kenta began to shout, only getting as far as Happy however as Renamon swept a surprised Henry into her arms and did as her Tamer, albeit with a bit more awkwardness due to the difference in the shape of her mouth when compared to the human's.
Pulling away from the blushing teen, Renamon bowed her head slightly.
"Thank you," she said. "Though I…apologize for startling you. I merely wanted to…explore this human tradition." She tilted her head to one side uncertainly as Henry's mouth worked but no sounds came out. "Perhaps I should have discussed this with you first," she added with a touch of sympathy.
"Uh…ah…wha…?" Stammered Henry, still unable to find the words for the moment anymore than the others who witnessed it or those who were just parting from their own kiss and curious as to what suddenly altered the mood. Down below, Terriermon and Impmon, who had just been about to make their move, could do little else than their companions as the enormity of Renamon's actions came crashing down on them.
What…? Why…? When…? Who would'a thought…? Terriermon shook his head and got a hold of himself. He felt a little hurt but…he guessed he could live with this.
If anything, Henry won't be as boring for a while, he thought, deciding to take the silver lining approach
Nudging the nearly catatonic Impmon next to him, Terriermon grinned.
"I think you owe me two hundred yen."
A/N: Happy New Years (Day)! Late yesterday I was struck by sudden inspiration and began writing out this little idea. It's a little bit different from the norm, but when it comes to writing, where the wind blows I follow. Big shout out goes to FortressMaximus for his support while I was entering the next phase of my writing. That last bit between Renamon and Henry was for you :D
Hope you all enjoyed. Until next time. :)