one point three one. book.
Takato-oniichan has come to the house before, she’s met Ruki-oneechan a few times, and Juri-chan, Hirokazu-kun, and Kenta-kun are all too easily written off as Takato-oniichan’s friends, but Ryo-san is a mystery to her, and with a sister like Jaari-neechan she can’t help but be intrigued by a closed book.
two point two three. child.
He is seven years older than her, just younger than Jaari-neechan, but she has never ever called him Ryo-oniichan (even though Takato and Ruki have become part of the family with the power of honorifics): She never sees him as her brother, he is always just Ryo-san (and at the same time, so much more than that) to her.
three point four nine. hunger.
Apart from playing with Terriermon, Shuichon never really paid attention to Digimon, she’d always just assumed it was a boys’ thing (Juri-chan takes it upon herself one day to inform her that in Ryo-san’s absence, Ruki-oneechan won the D1 Grand Prix Card Tournament this year), but now, as Ryo-san discusses card strategies with the boys and Ruki-oneechan tries very hard to look like she’s not eavesdropping, she kind of wishes she did.
four point nine. king.
You never forget your first modify card: Ryo-san swears up and down he gave her a King Device card (Jen-niichan says it’s a very rare card), but the first time Shuichon pulls it out to slash it, it’s the (apparently even rarer) Queen Device.
five point four one. power.
Until the set it was released in is arbitrarily (so she thinks) declared ‘too old’ and unusable in competitive play, Queen Device becomes her signature card, to the extent that Jen-niichan specifically tailors a deck to combat it, loses anyway, and half-heartedly curses the day Ryo was born.
six point four two. bother.
She doesn’t recognize Ryo-san and Ruki-oneechan’s poorly disguised romantic overtures for what they are or realize why they irritate her so much until years later when she looks back on saving the world with a sense of nostalgia, but until then they make her try that much harder to beat Ruki-oneechan in a card game (and one time, just one time, she actually succeeds on her own merits).
seven point two six. goodbye.
For a new record of five hours, Shuichon hates Jen-niichan for going to see Ryo-san off at the airport without her.
eight point one seven. vision.
One day she’s watching the English dubbed Digimon Adventure 02 VCDs that Jen-niichan got for Christmas from their cousins Jun and Zhang, when she suddenly sees a familiar pair of cargo pants and a shock of brown hair that isn’t restrained by goggles, rewinds the VCD, pauses it, and calls Jen-niichan to check she isn’t seeing things: It’s definitely a younger Ryo-san.
nine point one eight. attention.
It happens again when she watches Our War Game, he’s randomly there on a mountain; so when Takato-oniichan lends her Diablomon Strikes Back, she doesn’t so much as blink whenever those schoolchildren or the kids in the hospital are onscreen, in the hopes that Ryo-san will be in the next shot
(but he never is).
ten point four zero. history.
Tired of her badgering him about why Ryo-san’s on the TV show, Jen-niichan lends her his old WonderSwan Color and his collection of Digimon games from Cathode Tamer to the re-released Brave Tamer with him and Takato-oniichan and Ruki-oneechan in it, but if the V-Pet was any indication, she’s no good with video games, so one afternoon he sits her down and tells her Ryo-san’s Past According to Video Games, Fan Speculation, and Confirmation from the Man Himself.
eleven point one zero. learn.
Jen-niichan’s explanation confuses her so much that in an effort to get it all straight in her head, she writes him an e-mail asking him about it even though Jen-niichan warns her that the oldest Tamer doesn’t like talking about his past.
twelve point two five. shadow.
The one line reply is so cryptic (Cyberdramon is my shadow) that Shuichon’s usually insatiable curiosity concedes defeat and she gives up on understanding why Ryo-san is on TV...for now (Jen-niichan makes another, far more successful attempt at explaining the situation when she’s ten).
thirteen point three six. stop.
Ruki-oneechan’s birthday party is going to be so much fun, and maybe even Ryo-san will come along because he and Ruki-oneechan are friends right, and she’s all ready to go get on the train to Yamanote when the man on the loudspeaker says the trains on the JR lines are cancelled.
fourteen point one two. wait.
Shuichon hates hates hates waiting, and Terriermon soon gets annoyed with her asking him if Ryo-san’s coming to Ruki-oniichan’s party (well, Lopmon would know!).
fifteen point three two. eye.
Then when she has Lopmon back, giant eyeballs start falling from the sky before she can ask him, and Shuichon left her cards at home, and Lopmon can’t evolve without them, and when she starts to panic she wishes for Jen-niichan, Ryo-san, Ruki-oneechan, and Takato-oniichan in that order.
sixteen point three four. sing.
Naturally he only looks up when she suggests Ruki-oneechan should sing, but Ruki-oneechan doesn’t recognize a good thing when she sees it and leaves; so she’s perfectly happy to sing for him again except then Ruki-oneechan’s mom says she’ll sing and Ryo-san goes back to letting Hirokazu-kun think he’s listening (why won’t he listen to her?).
seventeen point eight. thousand.
Jen-niichan disappears into the kitchen, apologizing profusely about having forgotten it was his night to help with dinner, and Shuichon takes the opportunity to grab Ryo-san and make him help her with Final Fantasy X-2 because she’s still lousy at video games: He gets her up to the "1000 no Kotoba" cut-scene so when the song finishes she squeals and hugs him in delight.
eighteen point two eight. fortune.
Otousan brings home fortune cookies that night and Shuichon laughs aloud when Ryo-san’s turns out to be ‘a nice cake is waiting for you’, because as a matter of fact she did make cupcakes at Takato-oniichan’s bakery today and had saved one for him.
nineteen point five. wrong.
It doesn’t make sense for her to feel so sad after she overhears Ryo-san telling Jen-niichan, “She’s like the little sister I never had,” but she does anyway and she hates it (and in running to Jaa-neechan’s room to draw with her, she doesn’t hear her brother’s “really? Ruki is going to be crushed”).
twenty point six. gentle.
She avoids him all night, and the next morning, even though he’s really here for a sleepover with Jen-niichan, he’s unusually compliant with her (she’d bet he knows exactly why she was staying out of his way).
twenty-one point one one. blur.
Concentrating on trying to remember how to get to Aoyama Cemetery on her own (Lopmon is fairly useless on public transport), the train ride is a complete blur to her until someone waves a bouquet of flowers in her face and says, “Earth to Shuichon.”
twenty-two point two one. fool.
“Carrying flowers on a train on White Day,” he smiles at her, “I must look like such a lovesick idiot,” no, he never could, not to her, “but they’re not actually for White Day at all, they’re for an anniversary; I’m going to Aoyama Cemetery,” funny, that.
twenty-three point three zero. ghost.
Together they tend a grave long worn and faded anonymous because neither of them have an actual grave to visit, but while Yehyeh Li died in another country, Ichijouji Osamu died in another universe.
twenty-four point three seven. time.
“It’s been six years tomorrow since he died,” says Ryo-san, “if the time flow between this universe and home are the same,” and, irrelevantly, Shuichon wishes that he’d call this universe home instead of that world from the video games or whatever.
twenty-five point four. last.
“Three years since Yehyeh passed away,” Shuichon offers in return, “but I don’t actually remember the last time I saw him, and otousan says he was getting old anyway.”
twenty-six point three five. sudden.
“Osamu was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was eleven,” Ryo-san mutters abruptly, expressionless.
twenty-seven point one nine. soul.
They pray at the shrine together in silence, and after the customary prayer for Yehyeh Li – he is why she came here today, after all – she offers up a quick prayer for Ryo-san’s friend.
twenty-eight point one three. change.
Even before the embarrassing sex ed classes in school, Shuichon knows she’s truly hit puberty by the way some of the boys have started to look at her, but he doesn’t seem to notice anything different when she goes down to visit without Jen-niichan.
twenty-nine point two nine. safe.
The seven years between them put okaasan under the impression that she’s old enough to visit Ryo-san by herself while Jen-niichan is sick – something about how he’d be a good babysitter for her if only he wasn’t in Fukuoka – but something else makes her feel safe around him (usually), something she never manages to pinpoint.
thirty point four three. god.
Most of the time it’s easy to forget exactly who jogress evolved into Ryo-san’s partner, but after Cyberdramon attacks her and only stops after Ryo-san gets in the way, the oldest Tamer disappears into a digital gate apologizing before she can snap out of the shock that rooted her to the spot.
thirty-one point two two. mad.
This is stupid, she is probably going to regret this, or at the very least if her mother finds out she will regret allowing Shuichon to travel to Kitakyushu on her own, but Jen-niichan would do it without thinking twice, and not just because it’s Ryo-san.
thirty-two point four seven. harm.
She and Lopmon follow him in anyway, grabbing him after Cyberdramon runs off scattering digignomes, and before Ryo-san can pull away she gasps at the deep scratch down his forearm.
thirty-three point one four. command.
“You’re not going anywhere, especially not with Milleniumon,” Shuichon snaps, “you’re hurt.”
thirty-four point three eight. wash.
“It’s nothing,” says Ryo-san, “honestly, I’ve had much worse,” but Shuichon takes a handkerchief out of her pocket and dabs at the blood anyway.
thirty-five point two four. now.
They sit together by the river, and Lopmon wisely leaves them alone: But for once, Shuichon doesn’t know what to say.
thirty-six point two. cool.
So she doesn’t say anything, just scoops her hands into the river, decides that the digital water is cold, and splashes him with it, making him shriek in amused indignation and splash her back.
thirty-seven point four five. naked.
Somehow in her five years of knowing him, Shuichon has managed to never see Justimon in person (she always stayed far away from the D-Reaper but nowhere near a TV, she wasn’t in Ichigaya when the Parasimon attacked, and since then there haven’t been any digital threats strong enough to warrant matrix evolution), but even while she’s slashing her good old Queen Device card, she can’t look away from Ryo-san’s Tamer sphere.
thirty-eight point one. motion.
Inspired by Jen-niichan’s somewhat over-the-top combination taolu and card slash, Shuichon has developed her own card slash over the years, but today she can’t bring herself to care enough to make it look good.
thirty-nine point three nine. torn.
In fact, she’s so distracted by him that she doesn’t quite notice her card snagging in the D-Arc and— oh god oh god oh god she’d had that card for five years why did it have to rip now it wasn’t like she used it in games any more this isn’t fair!
forty point four six. drive.
Later on she still apparently looks as traumatized as she feels, so after a quick chat to Jen-niichan Ryo-san leans over to her and says, “I know you can’t get the Queen Device card any more, but would you like a ride to Mandarake?”
forty-one point one six. need.
They examine Digimon cards until they’re kicked out at closing time, but Shuichon just can’t find a suitable replacement.
forty-two point five zero. believe.
He hands her a booster pack from the newest set, and says, “A little Birdramon once told me that you don’t need the cards or even your digivice, all you really need is belief.”
forty-three point two zero. picture.
In the safety of her own room, she opens up the booster pack and giggles delightedly at the graphic on the first card: It’s like her Queen Device card got serviced and returned to her, good as new.
forty-four point seven. one.
Jen-niichan and Terriermon move out to college, and for the first time in her life, Shuichon is the only child in the house, but when she finds herself wishing for some company apart from Lopmon, it’s not one of her siblings or even Takato-oniichan or Ruki-oneechan.
forty-five point four eight. precious.
As a distraction from her own self pity she enlists Antiramon’s help in plastering her walls and ceiling with photos of her friends (her parents are unimpressed): The photos of the other Tamers and their digimon go on the ceiling for her to look at when she’s falling asleep (especially one Tamer in particular).
forty-six point four four. wall.
She stares at her friendship wall when she rings Jaari-neechan to ask what it means when she’s always thinking of someone and wishing she could see them, she feels awkward around them, and she ends up overanalyzing every interaction with them, and her sister laughs and tells her she’s got a crush on someone and demands to know who it is.
forty-seven point two seven. hide.
Abruptly Shuichon drops the phone, and for several minutes she cannot be persuaded down from a tree in the park, she’s so embarrassed to finally realize that’s what has her stammering like an idiot in Ryo-san’s presence.
forty-eight point one five. hold.
“Okaasan said you’d gone out, so that means you left the phone on hold,” Jaari-neechan informs her cheerfully, “it’s Ryo, isn’t it?”
forty-nine point three three. never.
“But what’s the point,” Shuichon despairs, “nothing’s ever going to happen, he’s turning twenty this year!”
fifty point three. young.
Maybe right now she’s fourteen and he’s twenty-one, but by the time she’s eighteen, he’ll be twenty-five, and it won’t matter so much then, right?