Notes and Disclaimers: Digimon Tamers is the property of Hongo Akiyoshi, Toei Animation and Fuji Television. I'm not the only one to see something between Renamon and Ruki/Rica, but I'm not just talking about, I'm doing something about it. ;-)
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Overwrite File, Y/N?
She stopped the mug halfway to her lips, nearly paralyzed by the sensation. Panting slightly, she put the beer down, and gripped the table edge with both hands.
The feeling came over her again. Gods...she knew she *knew* what it meant, the same way she had known the very first time, all those years ago.
Something was coming.
Ruki felt the spasm pass, and she looked around surreptitiously, hoping no one had noticed. No one had. She laughed a little at herself at her self-consciousness. She hadn't been like that as a child. She let out a little sigh and curled her hand around her beer mug. No, when she had been a child, she had been brash, bold; she had never cared what people thought of her.
She took in a mouthful of beer and swallowed it, reflecting. When had she changed? It wasn't the therapy, which had been laughable. The first therapist had tentatively suggested that she had "intimacy issues." This, after a dozen sessions of sullen silence. Ruki's lips pulled back from her teeth in a nasty smile. One of her favorite memories from her early childhood flashed through her mind. Her second therapist had confidently told her mother that she had "anger issues," even as he rubbed his knee where she had kicked him.
And then it all changed. *She* had come into Ruki's life and changed everything. She had felt complete, happy, powerful and she learned to love...and to lose.
Ruki drank again. It wasn't in the days following the D-Reaper's defeat that had beaten her down, she knew that. For once she had been able to open up to her mother. In fact, she could not have stopped herself from doing so. She had had no strength left in herself then, and more than anything, she had needed her mother to understand how she had loved, how she would love, what kind of a person she really was. And her mother, so relieved that Ruki was alive after all that had occurred, accepted everything she had said.
So, Ruki thought, I was able to come out to my mother at 10. Fat lot of good it did me.
She remembered now, when it began to change for her. The hurt after hurt, the relationships that had ended in tears, all because Ruki was still in love with someone else. And always would be.
The sensation came again, stronger this time. Ruki's hands shook and she curled them into fists.
It was here.
She knew what it was, who it was. But it never was. Her eyes closed and she clenched her body against disappointment.
This wasn't the first time once, on a date, she had literally bolted from a romantic dinner, *sure* that she had felt Her nearby. But She never was. She was dead.
Dead. That was what she had told Takato and Jian when they wanted her to come with them back into the Digital World.
"Renamon's dead!" she could hear the tortured words ring in her ears, scrape through her grief-stripped throat, see the horror and shock in her friends' eyes. But she wouldn't go, just to find that Renamon was fine, was alive, was happier without her. She couldn't stand it. So she had run away and never gone back to the Digital World.
Ah. She remembered now. When it all changed when she had changed - the day her last lover had left her. Jaye had accused her of constantly comparing her to some unattainable ideal. And Ruki, more hurt by the realization that Jaye was right that she had been doing that all along to every woman she had every cared for, screamed back.
"She's not unattainable! I had her once I loved her more than anything else in the world!"
And Jaye had stared, half angry, half victorious, all vicious. "What, that childhood love of yours? You were in love with an animal! How was it with an animal? Did she use her fox tongue on you?" And with a look of pure hatred, Jaye had left her with the final words, "You're disgusting Ruki."
And that was it. It had been over. Ruki had cried for three days straight, then stood up from her chair and hadn't cried since. She hadn't smiled, either. Nor had she been involved with anyone since - or even passed an evening in quiet conversation with friends. She had simply closed herself off from everything and everyone.
Gosh, Doctor, she spoke internally to that first therapist, I guess you were right. I do have intimacy issues. She drained her glass.
She looked up to gain the waitress's attention and stopped. Stopped moving, stopped breathing, stopped everything.
I am here.
She could hear the words as clearly as if they were spoken aloud. Her arm dropped down from above her head where she had left off waving to get another beer and, slowly, Ruki turned in her seat.
In the doorway stood a woman, older than most of the bar's usual clientele. She looked around for a moment, then caught Ruki's eyes. With a slight smile, she approached.
Ruki could not stop staring. The woman had long silver hair pulled into a loose plait. But it wasn't that, or the confidence with which she held herself, or even, Ruki noted, the warrior's grace with which she moved. It was her eyes.
When Ruki saw them, she knew that, without fail, if this was not the woman she hoped, it was still the woman she would follow for the rest of her life.
The stranger came over and seated herself across from Ruki without a word. Her eyes were golden, and they were not at all human. Ruki stared at her, afraid to speak, afraid that it was all a dream.
"Hello," the woman said, and her voice was that rich, deep voice that Ruki remembered. She could feel tears filling her eyes as the woman spoke. "My name is..."
Ruki couldn't take it, she leapt from her seat, tears streaming down her face. "Renamon!" She thought, in one corner of her mind, that everyone was watching, that she was accosting a strange woman; that she was making a fool of herself, but she just didn't care. As she embraced the other woman, she kept saying, "Renamon, Renamon, you've come back!"
The silver-haired stranger did not return the embrace. Instead, she gently detached Ruki and separated herself from the younger woman, pushing her back firmly, but gently.
"I'm sorry. I'm not Renamon. My name is Sakura."
Ruki stared up at the older woman, her vision blurred with tears. "N...no...not Renamon, but, but, you..." she fell backwards into her chair, aware now that everyone was, really, staring at her.
The other woman looked around, then nodded as if making a decision. "Come with me, Ruki." She stood and turned away, while Ruki scrambled for her wallet, left too much money on the table and ran after the departing figure.
The bar's denizens took a final look, shrugged and went back to their own drinks. They'd seen it before. But that older woman *was* striking a real fox.
They walked into a park, Sakura leading; Ruki following, trying desperately to not be desperate. After a short walk, Sakura stopped and Ruki was shocked to see that they stood in a park she remembered well. It was where she had given Renamon a small thank you gift a token of her appreciation. Coincidence?
Sakura looked around. "I remember this place."
"You do?" Ruki asked hopefully. "If you're not Renamon," she asked suddenly, "then how do you know my name?" Suspicion, hope and fear made her voice sharp.
"I was told to look for Ruki."
"Told?" Ruki could not understand. "Are you a detective? Who are you? And why do you look like Renamon?"
Sakura smiled gently. "I am a Digimon."
"You are? But, you..."
Seating herself on a park bench, Sakura gestured towards the seat next to her. Ruki began to shake her head and cross her arms, but thought better of it and sat, perched nervously on the edge of the seat. Sakura turned to Ruki, but spoke towards a middle distance.
"When Renamon left your world and was returned to the Digital World, she had been terribly weakened, forcibly devolved to her weakest form. She, Terriermon and Guillomon all were like...like Digimon children. After a long time, the boys known as Takato and Jian came back to the Digital World...but Ruki never came." Sakura's voice was emotionless - it sounded like she was reciting a memorized lesson.
"The two boys now young men by their own kind's standards - worked with digital technology, to understand more about digi-evolution, to learn the nature of the biomerge, and they worked with their Digimon closely. But Renamon had no one."
Sakura turned her golden eyes on Ruki's hunched form. "We do not blame you, Ruki," she said. "But Renamon was lonely."
Ruki said nothing. She hadn't spoken to or seen Takato or Jian for nearly a decade. After her refusal to re-enter the Digital World, they
had simply grown apart. When she had left school, she hadn't said a word to anyone she had just disappeared.
Ruki had no idea they had reestablished contact with their Digimon. She could feel a cold knot of self-loathing in her stomach. She had never even tried...
"Takato needed an assistant a," Sakura sighed, "a guinea pig, for an experiment. Renamon agreed. She...she was destroyed."
Ruki clutched her chest with one hand and doubled over as the words settled heavily into her heart.
"But Takato had saved her original program, and he and Jian made me. I am not Renamon, but I have her memories, her feelings. And Takato sent me to this world to..."
"Look for me?" Ruki cried. "So you could tell me that Renamon was dead and that it's my fault? Why?" she pounded her fist into the park bench. "Why? Why didn't you just leave me alone?" It was just as she had said to Takato so long ago - Renamon was dead.
There was a long silence, punctuated by Ruki's sobs.
"You still aren't a good listener, are you Ruki?" Sakura's voice was a just a shade sarcastic. "I was told to find you, because I have Renamon's memories and her feelings."
Something in the words made Ruki stop and listen. Something plaintive, something lonely, something longing...something hopeful. She tried to pull herself together, wiping her eyes.
"Tell me about yourself," Ruki prompted. "You said you're a Digimon, but you look human."
"I'm, we're, the next generation of Digimon. Takato said that part of the problem with humans and Digimon was that they look so different. So he built a new program, one that had the evolving abilities of the original Digimon, with forms that seemed more...human. He used what he understood of biomerging, combining human and digital materials. We are part human, but we are Digimon."
"So you still have powers, like...the others?"
Sakura shook her head. "Not like Sakuyamon or Taomon, no. We're more like you humans now. We still evolve from simple states into more advanced states, but we don't need trainers just our own experiences."
Ruki stared, open-mouthed. "Oh my god," she whispered. "Takato, you've created true artificial intelligence."
"Yes, that is what Takato calls us." Sakura nodded, looking pleased.
"You said he sent you to find me?" Something was nagging on the edge of Ruki's mind, something important. She had to figure it out.
"Yes," Sakura confirmed. "He wants me to bring you back to the Digital World."
Ruki looked away. She watched the wind play through the trees, watched the shadows of the branches move along the sidewalk.
"Sakura," she asked quietly. "What was the experiment? How did Renamon die?"
The older woman looked down at the ground. "Takato was trying to send her into this world." Her voice was low.
"So. She died trying to come to see me."
Ruki's hands were clenched in her lap and she stared down at them for a long time. Her eyes must have closed, because when Sakura's hand enclosed her own, they opened up with a start.
"I miss you, Ruki."
"I miss you too." Ruki took Sakura's hand in her own, and leaned her head against the older woman's shoulder. "I loved her, you know. I mean, for real. Not just as a pet, or as a friend."
"I know. She loved you too."
Ruki let Sakura pull her into an embrace as she cried. This was it, she swore, this will be the last time I ever cry over her.
"I'm sorry." Ruki pulled away at last, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. Sakura pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and handed it over. Ruki took it with a smile and wiped her face.
"Still looking out for me?"
"Always." Sakura's voice, Renamon's voice - always calm, always cool - cracked ever so slightly. "I promised."
"Sakura." Ruki realized that Takato must have named her after Renamon's ultimate form. "Thank you. For coming to see me."
"I did not come to see you. I came to take you with me. Back to the Digital World."
"I know, but..."
"You have to come! Takato said that it was important!"
Ruki looked up, startled to hear Sakura's voice so insistent. "Why?"
"Because he cannot come back here without you."
"What? Are you saying that he's been trapped inside the Digital World? Why didn't you say so?" Ruki stood. "We have to save him."
Sakura stood, and put a hand on Ruki's arm. "No, he is not trapped. He simply will not come back, unless he sees you again. And his family is lonely without him."
"His family?" Ruki didn't even know if Takato's parents were alive.
"His wife and children his mother. He has told them that he will stay until you come and bring him home."
Ruki shook her head in wonder, as she pondered the enormity of her old friend's blackmail. "That bastard!" She laughed. "Just like him, really." She shook herself slightly and took Sakura's hand in hers. She turned towards the older woman and looked, for the first time into those golden eyes, without fear.
"You said she loved me."
"Yes." The Digimon's gaze did not waver.
"You said you have her feelings."
"Yes." Sakura moved close to Ruki and stared down at her, her eyes glowing with intensity. "Yes, Ruki. I love you. I have since my memories were Renamon's. And I swear that I will always be there to protect you and love you."
Ruki knew this was madness, that this was a digital creature. But her form was human, and in her not-quite-human eyes was the thing she'd been waiting her entire life to see. Without a second thought, she threw her arms around her lost love reborn and swore, until death and beyond, that she'd be there too, always.
No one saw them kiss. If they had, it would have seemed no more than usually inappropriate; an older woman with silver hair, a younger lover in her arms. Ruki thought about that, even as she pulled away slightly that someone might see them. But as the thought passed through her mind, she realized that she simply didnt care. She smiled up at the Digimon and said, "Let's go let's go to the Digital World and drag that annoying Takato's ass home."
The two women stood together holding hands, as slowly, a little glow appear around them and grew in intensity. When the light became so strong that Ruki could not see anymore, she closed her eyes, tightened her grip on Sakura's hand and stepped forward without a second thought; leaving the park, the night and much more, behind her.