on the fence

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The title is from the Dave Matthews Band song "Ants Marching." Great listen while you're reading this.

Contains spoilers up through "Duel with a Deva" [17]. This baby is my first tribute fic to Henry, and the basis for my rendition of his character.

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On the Fence

by Sameshima Shuzumi

Takato came into my life pretty suddenly.

I should have known it would be that kind of a day. Terriermon begged to come to school with me after one hour too many with Suzy. We spent just as much time arguing about it. Itís not that I canít hide him; more that he canít hide himself. Around third hour, we had what we thought was a fire drill. When we came back in, everyone was whispering about the principal finally losing it, talking to a cardboard box and then pulling a fire alarm. Terriermon chose that moment to wander off, so I almost missed the kid with the goggles running away from the scene.

I perched Terriermon on my shoulder and slipped away to look for him. The kid was from Miss Asajiís class. He had a couple of friends, and was too runty and awkward to fit in with the popular crowd. Thatís not really my assessment of him now, but when youíre in elementary school you have to figure out who the bottom-feeders are, and whoís really worth hanging out with.

We finally caught up with him running from the kitchen. He looked like heíd lost his best friend. I kind of said so. Then Terriermon had to go and say he wasnít very much of a tamer. His eyes started leaking right there. So that was my first impression of him. A really emotional kind of guy.

I donít get very emotional myself. It doesnít make sense to wail about something I canít change. Besides, by then Iím throwing myself into getting around it. When you live in a high rise and watch all the people going about their lives, it gives you a different perspective. So many things that seem so big are really rather small and insignificant.

Then again, the biggest things can come in the smallest packages.

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I still have the game where Terriermon came from. Sometimes I find it unwrapped, so I know heís been into it. I think heís kind of curious about it. Heís an amazing little guy. Heís not really a best friend, the way Takato treats Guilmon. Truth be told, heís a messy, impatient, opinionated smart alec. Heís a living being, and my responsibility.

A pet? Iím not sure. We had a dog when I was younger, in the other apartment. Terriermon reminds me of that dog. He always hugs tight with his floppy ears, and climbs all over me like Iím a jungle gym. Sometimes he looks up at me like Iím the only one in the world. When he isnít making fun of me, that is.

"Mo-mantai, Henry, mo-mantai!"

Iím pretty laid back about most things, but not the people (and digimon) I care about. And Iíve never felt so much anxiety about anything or anyone like Terriermon. Heís so fragile. Anytime, one of those big monsters could rip him away, or one of those goons in dark glasses could suck him into the sky. Shatter his data like glass. For weeks after he appeared, I couldnít bring myself to use one of dadís disk erasers. It was as though I was afraid heíd be sucked down the drain with the bathwater.

But since heís digivolved, Iíve gotten better about letting him go. He knows Iíll only make him digivolve when itís absolutely necessary. We read each otherís emotions so well. Itís funny, considering how loud he is and how quiet I am, weíre both pretty sensitive about emotions. We just donít show it. Or at least, Terriermon clowns around and goes along with things instead of showing it. He certainly doesnít let Suzy do all those things to him because he wants to keep our cover. He knows I canít deny my little sister anything that makes her happy. Heís really doing it for me.

Anyway, I wasnít really sure what to make of Takato. Such an average kid, a good kid, kind of kooky sometimes. We hit it off amazingly fast. Usually I play it cool for a while. I donít open up to people right away. The thing was, Takato needed so much help. Guilmon was like a doodle off a notebook... which is exactly what he was. Just as kooky as his tamer, too. One of them was going to run into trouble sooner or later. Both of them? Definitely.

Before I knew it, Takato was calling me in the middle of the night for help. I just had to go. Who else would help him? Not Rika. Sheíd wanted to fight everything in sight, including Takato and Guilmon. She and Renamon had their own problems. What a pair. They deserve each other. I really admire Renamon, though. If I had designed my own digimon, it would probably look like her. Smart, savvy, silent. Terriermon once said she was kind of like me, but with more firepower and less politeness. Sheís someone I can work with; maybe between the two of us weíll figure out whatís going on. Unlike me, she actually knows what to do with her long limbs. I kind of slouch around, as tall and thin as I am.

Agh, whatís wrong with me? I canít stick to the subject. Takato. My best friend, and not just because our digimon like each other. He tags along, he cries a lot, heís too enthusiastic, he gets carried away. But heís also got incredible willpower, bravery, and a real sense of wonder. A true dreamer. I donít want to protect him, like my siblings. I donít want to fight him, like Rika. I donít want to take care of him, like Terriermon. I just want him by my side.

"Good or bad, Henry, weíre in this together." No oneís ever told me that before.

I guess thatís it, then. As much as I canít imagine myself without Terriermonís warm weight on my shoulder, I canít imagine going through a day without stepping on Takatoís shadow. Itís strange that heís the leader (not just because heís got the goggles.) Heís so uncertain about his place in the world, his role as a tamer. And yet... after so many false starts, I see him slip effortlessly into that place where movement and mind are one. Itís a martial arts thing, and very hard to do. My dadís worked on some katas for years before mastering them. But Takato just dives in. And Guilmon goes with him.

Takatoís bond with his digimon is just incredible. When Growlmon battled a Deva for the first time, and Takato fainted, I could almost feel him reaching out to his digimon. We were all scared out of our minds, then. The sky was ripped apart. This thing had come out of it which the D-Arcs couldnít read, and whatever it was, Kiyubimon and Gargomon were no match for it. Takato kept going. All he thought of was Growlmon. When it was finally over, he wrapped himself around that huge claw and cried. I felt this big pit in my stomach, watching him. Terriermon must have made a crack about it, because I remember hugging him closer. If the rascalís joking, he must feel better. Iíve cried over him too.

ĎSo whatís the problem, Henry?í Thatís what Terriermon would say. ĎTakatoís your friend, he loves his digimon, whatís the big deal?í

Well... best friends tell each other everything, right? Iíd assume that. Iíve never had a best friend before. I had friends in elementary school, but we moved away, and I was too tall and smart to really fit in with a lot of groups in elementary school. ĎMore matureí is another way of putting it. Sensei says Iím mature enough to know what I still need to learn. I really want to get this lesson right.

I think I should tell Takato Iím gay.

Iím pretty sure I donít like him that way. Iíd only go for someone more like me. Anyway Iíve seen him in his swim trunks and heís just not... well, heís just not a looker. Not sure if heíd be hurt or relieved if I told him that. Knowing Takato, probably both. Besides, he and that girl Jeri seem like each other. But Iíve never told anyone, and I just...

I donít want to lose him. Takato just doesnít hide his feelings. If he were in any way repulsed, even if he hung out with me and talked to me, Iíd still see it in his eyes. Oh, and heíd definitely freak out. Takato would freak out if I told him I was getting new sunglasses.

I donít dare practice on Terriermon. He canít keep a secret, and then heíd want to know why I was keeping it. Iím not really afraid of being hated. Just noticed. I can go around with Terriermon perched on my shoulder because Iím unobtrusive. I like watching the world, not being the center of attention. Iíve gotten used to it as the second youngest in the family. In any case, I have no reason to tell Terriermon. Being gay doesnít affect my abilities as a tamer.

On the other hand, it doesnít affect my abilities as a friend.

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"Hey Henry! Whatcha doing?"

"Just thinking, Terriermon. What are you doing? Suzy get tired of you already?"

"I wish. Sheís with your mom and big sister."

"Ah. Come up here."

"You shouldnít leave the window open, Henry."

"Why, are you afraid of heights? At this altitude, your ears would make great parachutes."

"Very funny. No, it makes your lap cold."

"Thanks a lot."

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There goes the sun. Thereís the crowd of people going home for the day, running through the bridges and avenues, rushing in and out of the subways. I donít know how wise it is for three kids and their digimon to protect this city, but weíre glad to do it. Even Rika. This city is where weíre growing up. Itís where our families are, where our digimon first met us, where we met each other. Even if we move away, weíll remember this place.

Dad will hopefully come home soon. Maybe I can talk to him after dinner. Terriermon wants to turn out all the lights, shine a flashlight on him, and grill him. I really shouldnít leave him on the couch when my older siblings are watching movies. He picks up the weirdest things.

Big floppy ears wrap around my torso. I can feel how muscled they are. Iíve grown to respect the strength Terriermon has. He is pretty small, even for a Rookie level digimon. But heíll stand up to the biggest bullies if theyíre picking on his friends.

He reminds me of Takato.

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"Terriermon, can I tell you a secret?"

"Of course!"

"You actually have to keep it."


"Iím serious, Terriermon. Itís really important."

"You know you can tell me, Henry. Iím your friend."


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