Rating: PG -> PG-13

Warnings: [violence] [language] [het] [shounen-ai]

Pairings: Takeru/Ken & Ruki/Legolas

Notes: Oi minna, not this but the next chapter is the chapter when Digimon starts to have a little more to do with the plot. Sorry it took so long (I had a few people ask about it) but I had to do a lot of setting-up before I started messing around with the Digimon plot some more. ^.^;; Besides that, the Digimon stuff actually gets more involved during "Digital" and "Destiny", the two other fics in the trilogy. Did that make sense? One can only hope...

Dedication: Syenite Kai! My very first reviewer and a very supportive one at that! ^-^ Oh, gomen Syenite-san... no Ken/Legolas... ^^;;

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon (any seasons, characters, places, situations, etc.) or Lord Of The Rings (any of the books, movies, characters, places or original plots.) I'm messing around with them a bit, but that's all.

Company
Chapter Nine: Warming
by Senashenta

There was a general feeling of relief to have stone and dirt under their feet as opposed to snow. Takeru, at least, was grateful to be relatively warm again, even though he lost his excuse to be close to Ken in the process.

It had taken only a handful of days for them to backtrack and get to the Mines; as soon as they had turned around to start back the snow had eased against them. Gandalf said it was Saruman's doing, and both Takeru and Ken (as well as Ruki, though she continued to distance herself from most of the others and never said anything) knew almost instinctively that it was true.

Whoever Saruman was, he was just as powerful as Gandalf -- and twice as dangerous.

Somehow, during the trek -- though Takeru and Ken could only guess as to how --Legolas had managed to charm Ruki into being relatively friendly toward him. Now the girl would speak with him softly as they walked; Ken (though Takeru wasn't quite so giving) was glad that she had finally managed to make a real friend among the company. But even though Ruki's attitude had changed slightly, Renamon's had not; the fox-like digimon still vanished habitually, and appeared again only when she felt like it.

And she still scared the crap out of Takeru almost every time. He had come to the conclusion that she enjoyed it.

The area outside of the Mines of Moria was somewhat desolate for Ken's tastes. During his reign as the Digimon Kaiser, he had been unthinkably cruel and his life had revolved around desolation. Now that he was no longer like that... he preferred green grass and healthy trees to the dead sticks and dry shrubs that surrounded the entrance to the Mines.

The bluenette shook his head sadly, wondering what could have killed the grass and other plant life nearby. His amethyst eyes wandered over the lake that bordered the giant walls of the outside of Moria Even the waters -- without the aid of sunlight sparkling on it's surface -- were dark and dead.

"And so is the meaning of midnight." The Child of Kindness whispered softly.

Takeru's hand came down lightly on his friend's shoulder, and he squeezed gently; "very poetic." He said, smiling, "but you've always been that way, haven't you? I just never saw it before we got here..."

Ken's head turned very slightly; "what way is that?"

The blonde's fingers bushed the edges of Ken's hair, "graceful," he whispered; "beautiful-"

Ken's eyes widened and his face colored. He silently but feverishly thanked whatever deity existed in Middle Earth that he was facing away into the lake and that no one else could see him blush. "...thank you..."

Takeru smiled again, and then blinked. <Shit. When did I suddenly get to be so damned sentimental? Daisuke would die laughing if he saw this. I was never this way with Hikari, was I? There's just something about HIM that...> he sighed and lowered his hand to his side; "there's no need to thank someone who's telling you an obvious truth."

"...still..." the bluenette fought the heat in his cheeks. "I just..."

"Ahem."

Takeru and Ken both jumped like frightened rabbits, and whirled on the person or persons standing behind them; Pippin and Merry stared at them, and a giggle was all either managed before cringing from the glares they received.

"Can we help you?" Takeru demanded.

"W-e-l-l..." Merry drawled, grinning, "what are the two of you doing over here all alone..?"

Ken's face flushed again and Takeru had to fight down color that attempted to seep into his cheeks. He normally didn't blush, but the knowing look on the faces of both Hobbits was managing to get to him... he glared harshly in response.

"It seems to me, would you agree Pip-?" Merry continued; "that two people alone in the dark would have plenty of opportunity to-"

"Merry!" Aragorn's voice interrupted; "Come over here and help Sam to unload the ponies."

The Hobbit looked disappointed, but nodded and ran over to where Sam and Boromir were removing everything -- including the tack -- from Bill and Ben. Sam looked sad to see them go, but, as Boromir had stated; the mines were no place for even one pony, never mind two.

Takeru shook his head and turned his focus to the water after another quick glance at Ken.

Gandalf's voice was murmuring in the background, as the wizard tried to open the gate to Moria; the blonde spun around to watch as Gandalf and Frodo inspected the doorway.

Next to them, Ruki leaned against the stone wall; Legolas was standing next to her and watching the lake with interest. Gimli was seated on a nearby rock with his axe propped over his knees. Boromir and Sam were gathering the packs they had taken from Bill and Ben, probably to remove what they would be taking with them into the Mines. Merry was watching them work and Pippin was standing beside Ken, who was watching Gandalf and Frodo along with Takeru. Wormmon and Patamon were laying in the shadow of the rock Gimli was sitting on, possibly asleep, and only a ball of green and beige wolf fur and tail. Renamon was unseen, as usual, but her voice was close by.

"You can see it, too?" She asked.

For once, Takeru didn't jump. "See what?"

Renamon's arms crossed over her chest and her eyes focused on Ruki and Legolas; "you can see the bond that's growing between them, can you not?" Her eyes flicked toward him; "they have been growing progressively closer to each other as time has passed..."

"I see." The blonde agreed, "why?"

"This is the first time that she has ever warmed to someone this quickly."

"This is quickly? It's been four weeks!"

"Yes, quickly..."

Takeru shook his head. "She really is a bitch, isn't she?"

"No," Renamon told him, "she's only guarded. It took her years to admit that she and I were friends; that I am more than a collection of data, and longer to admit that Takato and Lee were her friends as well. She doesn't like to be open with people and she doesn't trust easily."

"So I see." He snorted, <I still think she's just a bitch.> "Renamon, can I ask you something?"

"...yes."

"Why do you keep talking to me?"

The digimon blinked, "would it surprise you if I said I find you interesting?"

"Hm," Takeru sighed; "not really. Very few things have surprised me for the last week or so."

"Since Ken?"

The blonde have Renamon a sideways look; "not that it's any of your business."

"..."

He crossed his arms, and his gaze drifted to Ken. "I think I may be falling in love."

Renamon's eyes closed, "I think you are, too."

"What?"

The digimon nodded, "falling in love. I think you are as well. It seems obvious. To me, at least."

Takeru was quiet for a minute, then; "I never expected to fall in love with someone so quickly. It's only been a week... but I've known Ken for a long time. Maybe it hasn't been as fast as I thought, after all."

"Love grows over time."

"Hm."

Renamon lowered her arms to her sides, frowning. Her eyes remained trained on Ruki, but now they had moved to her side. "That's strange."

"What is?"

"Ruki's D-Power..."

"What about it?"

Instead of answering, the digimon strode forward, leaving Takeru staring after her. Approaching her Tamer, Renamon stood a few feet away and cleared her throat, catching the attention of both Ruki and the Elf who was standing near her.

"Renamon?"

Renamon nodded toward Ruki's side, "your D-Power."

"Huh?" The girl looked downward, frowning; "wha-? Hey!" She blinked and grabbed the device, yanking it from her belt. Her D-Power, though not making any sound, was emitting the same spinning light she was so used to. "What the hell?" She looked demandingly at Renamon, "Renamon, what-?!"

The digimon shrugged, "I just thought you'd want to know." And then she disappeared.

Ruki glared for a second before turning back to her D-Power. "What's going on?" She muttered under her breath, beginning an inspection it. She turned it over in her hands, trying to figure out what was happening.

"Ruki?" Legolas said, looking confused.

She glanced up and shook her head, "nothing, don't worry about it." She snorted, "the stupid things probably broken."

"What is it?"

"Hn?" A blink, "my D-Power?"

"Yes."

"It..." she trailed off, staring at Legolas and trying to figure out the bast way to explain the device to him. "It's the thing that makes me a Tamer... um," a frown, then; "no, that's not right. Renamon is what makes me a Tamer. The D-Power is... it's... you know, I never thought about it before."

Legolas smiled, "what does it do?"

"Well, in my world it, you know," a shrug; "it helps me and Renamon work together. It gives her power to fight and to evolve. I guess it kind of links me and her together."

The Elf nodded, "a strange kind of magic, yes, but I think I understand."

"Magic? No, it's not..." Ruki stopped, thinking; "actually... yeah. That's the best way to describe it. Digimon and D-Powers are kind of magical, I guess... in a really weird way. No offense to Renamon..."

"Renamon is one of the digimon?"

"Yeah, so are the wolves there. Except that they didn't want to be themselves, here. Hn."

"When did you meet her?"

"Renamon?"

"Yes."

"A long time ago," Ruki considered, "I was eleven then. So around eight years ago."

"Your partner is a life-long friend, then."

The girl nodded, "I think she will be."

Legolas paused, studying her, "Ruki," he said finally, "I take it you don't have many friends like Renamon?"

"I -- no, I don't." Ruki's lips thinned, "and I don't need them, either."

The Elf was silent for a long moment, and both of them listened to the sounds of the others in their company talk amongst themselves and prepare for the rest of the journey ahead. Then Legolas tilted his head to the side and regarded Ruki thoughtfully; "do you really believe that, Ruki?"

"What, that I don't need friends?"

"Yes."

The girl nodded curtly; "of course."

"Hm," Legolas shook his head, "you must have a lonely life."

"No. I'm fine on my own."

"Are you?" The Elf sighed, "maybe you should rethink your outlook on life." Turning, he began to walk away. "Friends are the most important thing in anyone's life," he told her softly, "whether you believe that now or not."

"Hn." Ruki watched him walk off and crossed her arms, directing a glare at the ground as she contemplated what Legolas had said. <What does he know? HIS friends aren't all complete idiots. If he had to deal with Takato and his miserable excuse for a lizard-digimon every day, he wouldn't think that way.> Looking around, her eyes landed on Pippin, who was busily tossing stones into the lake. <Then again, he has to deal with Pippin and Merry, and THOSE two make up for Takato and Guilmon on their own.>

Across the way, the Hobbit heaved another stone into the water, then picked up yet another and reached his arm back to throw it. Silently and on his way past, Aragorn grabbed Pippin's arm, preventing him from tossing the final rock. The Ranger gave him a warning look, and then turned cautious eyes out into the lake.

"Do not," he said sharply, "disturb the water."

Pippin looked confused, but nodded and dropped the stone back where it had come from.

"Idiot." Ruki muttered to herself, rolling her eyes.

"You know," Renamon's voice told her as her partner appeared at her side, "you should probably refrain from judging people before you know them."

"Renamon, I know all I need to know about him."

The digimon sighed, "despite appearances," she said, "Pippin and Merry are very good friends to Frodo. They may be important in the outcome of this quest. In fact," she added, "I feel they will be."

"Oh, come on!" Ruki snapped, exasperated, "you can't know that!"

Renamon ignored that comment, and her eyes flicked the Ruki's D-Power, which was still clutched in the girl's hand. "It hasn't stopped?"

Ruki tisked, "no. The stupid thing's broken."

"I don't think it is."

"How would you know that?"

The digimon frowned, "I feel something."

"Something-? A digimon?"

"I... don't know."

"Hn. That's no help, Renamon!"

"I know," Renamon told her, "but right now I can't tell what it is I'm feeling. But perhaps here, your D-Power reacts to other things than digimon?"

"...maybe."

"You don't sound convinced."

"That's because I'm not."

Renamon shook her head, "you should have learned to trust me by now, Ruki."

"I do!"

"No," the digimon corrected softly, "you don't. Not the way you should, anyway."

"...Renamon, I don't-"

"Shh." Renamon cut her Tamer off, glancing toward where Gandalf and Frodo were still seated near the entrance to the Mines, "listen. Frodo is saying something."

"Hn? What's he saying?" Ruki asked, then snorted and pushed off the wall, heading toward where the wizard and Hobbit were. She clipped her D-Power back to her belt as she walked. "Never mind, I'm going to go and see for myself."

"...as you wish." The digimon nodded slightly and followed in Ruki's wake.

She wasn't the only one who was going to where Gandalf and Frodo were standing. On the contrary, each of the others had also started toward the gates, including Takeru and Ken, though they stood together a moment longer before joining the others.

<Yeah, because they're doing such a good job of fooling everyone with their 'oh us? We're just friends' act.> She thought sarcastically. <Idiots.> Stepping next to Legolas, who was standing near the side of the gates, she crossed her arms again. "So what's going on?"

"Watch."

"-speak friend, and you shall enter? Itís a riddle!" Frodo looked at Gandalf, "Gandalf, what's the Elvish word for 'friend'?"

The magician blinked, then; "mellon."

And on that single uttered word, the writing adorning the archway began to glow brightly, and the heavy stone doors creaked open on their own. Beyond the entrance was nothing but shadows and darkness...

"Well," Gandalf stood, "shall we go?"

~*~*~*~*~*~

Me: *blech* yet another short chapter with nothing happening. Gomen minna! But... you noticed a bit of digimon-stuff in this one, with Ruki's D-Power? Well, it'll be more in the next chapter, and things will get... interesting...

Patamon: Interesting?

Me: Heh, heh... no worries, Patamon...

Takeru: *sarcastically* Yeah, cause you've been soooo good to us this far....

Me: *grin* It'll only get better, my friends! Ja!

 

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