Phase I- Preparation: A Party
Disclaimer: Digimon and all related characters are not mine. The title comes from the song sung by Pat Benatar, written by Mike Chapman and Holly Knight so it doesn't belong to me either. No money, don't sue.
Shortly after Ryo moved to Tokyo, he decided to host a party for all of the Tamers and their digimon at his new apartment. For the last six years, almost every time he came to town, one of us would hold a get-together at our house. Everyone had played host at least once but it usually fell to Jen and Shuichon or me. My mother always got very excited when it was our turn (and she would invite Juri, Shuichon, and Ai over for slumber/make-over parties... ugh! But, at least having a few willing girls to dress up would get her to lay off me for a while... stupid frilly dresses.)
Anyway, Ryo wanted to be the host for once instead of the hosted so he invited everyone over to his university apartment. His apartment and university were in a western suburb about an hour and a half away by train called Hachiouji. Takato's dad drove him, Juri, Kazu, and Kenta, along with several of the larger digimon while Jen, Shuichon, Ai, Mako, and I took the train with their partners posing as stuffed animals. We were lucky that he lived close to the station so we didn't have to walk very far.
When we finally got there, it was a fairly nondescript gray-on-gray building... other than Gaurdromon on one of the fourth floor balconies waving his arms at something inside. Taking in that sight, we made our way inside and up the stairs to apartment D-3. Even if we hadn't had the apartment number, we could have found it from the sounds coming from the inside. We knocked and stepped in, leaving our shoes with the others in the entryway.
The apartment was... small, but tastefully decorated in blues, purples, and grays. It was the size of two rooms, with the first split up into a bathroom and washing machine closet on the right and a small closet, refrigerator, and cooking area on the left. Jen led the way into the second living/bed/study room. Takato, Juri, and Guilmon were sitting on floor cushions at the low square table and Ryo was sitting at the desk under the bunk bed. He waved at us as we came in. He, along with Takato and Juri, were too busy laughing at to say anything. The objects of their amusement was quite apparent when we looked towards the entertainment center where Kenta and Kazu were arguing about what movie to watch... with Marine Angemon and Gaurdromon making faces over their heads. The paused when we came in and Kazu shouted a greeting. Kenta looked a little behind me and to my right then turned away, blushing. Marine Angemon blushed too and hid behind Kenta's head. I turned to see what he had been looking at to see Shuichon imitate Kenta while Lopmon took on a long-suffering expression. Resisting the urge to roll my eyes, I continued inside.
Nodding greetings to the others, I set out a dish of onigiri and a bag of chips on the table next to some already opened food. Part of the fun of these parties was the potluck. The host provided drinks and some food but it was too much to ask one person to feed ten humans and nine digimon so everyone brought something.
Noticing that Renamon was not yet in the apartment, I made my way past the entertainment center, edging past Kenta and Kazu who had resumed their argument, and out the sliding glass door to the balcony. Once outside, I called her name. As expected, she appeared on the rail of the balcony. About half of the people inside turned and looked at us as we entered the apartment.
"No matter how many times I see you do that, it still freaks me out, " commented Kazu as we passed him. "How do you two do it?"
"Like you'll ever know," I replied on behalf of both of us as I moved to sit across from Juri and Takato at the table. Renamon say kitty-corner to me, across from Guilmon. My position offered several advantages... first, it was against a wall so I wouldn't have to move for people to get around me. Next, I was able to easily talk to Juri. And, last, I could observe Ryo without having to look around unnaturally.
Taking advantage of the second and third points, I chatted with Juri and Takato while scanning over to where Ryo was sitting at the desk talking to Jen. The both kept glancing over to where Kazu and Kenta were still arguing about DVD's. Noticing movement above Ryo's head, I glanced at the bunk bed to see Monodramon peeking over the edge with Culumon sitting on his head. He motioned to Terriermon and Lopmon who were heading up there with food.
Kazu and Kenta finally came to a head in their "discussion" and turned to the nearest person, Juri, and asked what they wanted to watch. Juri's eyes lit up and she started digging in her bag. I stifled a groan. Of course she had it with her... I think she's had it with her constantly since she first bought it two years ago. Those two obviously didn't know what they were about to unleash. For the last two years, every time Juri and I watched a movie together, unless I made sure to choose something else beforehand, we would watch "The Labyrinth." Not that it wasn't a good movie... for something American and older than we were. It was dubbed fairly well, the songs were kind of catchy, and it had an interesting story... but nine times seeing it was too many. However, Juri watched it with the same enthusiasm each time. I swear, she had it memorized by now... at least the last couple of scenes. She got a special determination in her eyes reciting, "You have no power over me," along with Sarah. So, I put up with watching it.
Anyway, I resigned myself to a tenth viewing... well, if I stayed where I was, I wouldn't have to watch it, just listen. Renamon nodded to me as she got up to go outside trailed by Impmon... the crowded room was bothering her. Juri, Takato, Guilmon all moved so they could see the TV better, leaving me alone at the table. They took most of the food with them and passed it around to the others as they sat in front of the TV. I leaned against the wall, closed my eyes and listened to the movie start.
"Hey Ruki," said Ryo as he sat down in Renamon's vacated seat. I nodded in his direction and closed my eyes again.
"Seen this movie before?" Another nod.
"Too many times?" he whispered. A smirk and a nod.
"How many?" Nine fingers.
"Ahhh... the things we do for friendship."
I could hear him smiling as he said that so I opened my eyes... and experienced the mixed feelings of gladness and annoyance when I did. Glad because he looked nice smiling... this was one of his real smiles, not one of the fake ones that he sometimes wore in public. Annoyance because of the twinge of excitement in my stomach. Stupid hormones.
"So did you bring it?" he asked. My mouth quirked as I reached in my bag to retrieve 'it.' 'It' was spawned by an idea we'd had last time he'd been in town. Although neither of us still actively competed in the card game, we both still enjoyed practicing and creating strategies. Out of our last discussion, about battling at low levels, came 'it'... the Rookie Deck. It consisted of only Child level digimon and below, with no evolution beyond that. Neither of us had tried it out yet.
So we battled while the movie played, snacking and occasionally throwing out a few non-battle related comments... I learned that his much wondered about major was Computer Engineering and that he had gotten a part-time job stocking shelves at the nearby Jusco. I let out that I had gotten into the Business track at my high school. He was suitably surprised but wished me luck in it. I was not distracted by, but took note of the changes in expression on his face was he played. Each battle was a natural evolution from the one before. It was invigoration to attack and be countered by someone of roughly equal skill. (Not that we were keeping score, but I was winning five to four when the movie finally ended.) He smiled and thanked me when we were done, then went off and talked to some of the others. I felt that twinge in my stomach, cursed my hormones, and started talking to Juri again.
The party ended when Takato's dad showed up to take his group home. Ryo walked with the rest of us back to the train station smiling and chatting away. He looked happy but I could tell that he didn't want us to leave. I made a point to turn around and give him a half smile as we passed through the gate to go to the platform. He held my gaze and gave me a real smile as he waved. Stupid hormones.
Author's Notes: This was the chapter that didn't want to get written... my Ruki-muse kept wanting to work on future chapters and giving me ideas... she's a slave driver! This is just a set-up chapter... stuff actually starts happening in the next one now that the stage has been set. Be sure to read the fics that come before, 'The Difference Between Living and Living Well' and 'If I Fall You're Going Down With Me' because they also help to set up this little future. The city I have Ryo living in is real and so it the college I have him going to (even if I didn't say the name... I found a school for him.) I actually drew out floor plans for his apartment too so I wouldn't get lost... they were based partly on apartments I lived in in Japan and mostly on my friend's college apartment there. Jusco is a real store in Japan... they are quite interesting places and my friend had a job at one during school. Please let me know what you think.