I thought about putting this one-shot in the Shipping Fics section, however, upon looking through it more and it totally doesn't break my shippy heart to say this, the hints are more-or-less there if you squint, but it's not the main focus. All it is is just one of those “friends doing what friends do best in their own way” stories, and I felt Wizardmon and Gatomon would fit the bill the best. I've always liked their relationship, and was always curious as to what it was like prior to their first appearances, at how it was they just clicked.

So it's nothing more than just a little whimsical moment(s) that came to mind as I was thinking it up for about the last month. Made an attempt to keep them in character as it has been a while since I last wrote them, let alone studied them until the past two weeks, but I missed writing about the two. So yeah, here you go.

Also, the original inspiration was Ranma ˝'s first ending song, “Platonic Tsuranuite”, which was what the one-shot was originally named after. Thought I'd throw out some fun trivia there.

Also I hate the title. Just bleh, I wish I kept to the original intent.

PG for brief alcohol substance and consumption

*~*~*

Whimsical Night

Dust. Her senses had grown accustomed to it a long time ago. The castle was filled with it except in Myotismon's quarters, and the outside world wasn't any better, just with dying trees and fog. If it hadn't been for the occasional scouting missions, she would have forgotten what the sky looked like.

Gatomon never liked the sky regardless.

“Yo, fur ball!”

Although not as much as DemiDevimon.

“I have a name, Batboy,” she spat at the round bat as he zipped around a corner.

Eh heh heh, shut up,” he bitterly mocked, returning the sneer. “The boss has been lookin' fer ya—don't bother, he's out feeding.”

She sniffed, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. “I know, I was purposefully avoiding him.” As she turned to resume her walk down the corridor, she took care in swinging her striped tail at DemiDevimon. It was cathartic to hear him smack into the wall, bringing a smirk to her face.

He muttered under his breath as he struggled to keep his balance. “Y'know, I don't give a bat's wing about ya, but y'know better than ta ignore Lord Myotismon.”

Gatomon scrunched her nose. “Thanks for caring,” she snarked. “What's Myotismon going to do to me, anyway? I'm lieutenant of the Nightmare Army, after all.”

Peering from the corner of her eye, the feline gloated at his seething jealousy toward her title. The fur on his lower body and his antennae bristled as he bared his fangs at her. “D'at gives ya no excuse!”

“So? The worst that happens to me is no dinner.” She ignored the hollow grumble in her stomach when she said it, flicking her wrist. “I please Myotismon enough that he can't lay a finger on me whenever he feels like it.” Not wanting to speak to him any further, she moved for the staircase.

She barely passed the third step when the Evil Digimon whispered out, “Word 'round the grapevine says otherwise.”

A chill ran up her spine as she spun to glare at him. “It's lies, and you know it!” she hissed.

“Wait, ya weren't talkin' 'bout Wizardmon in that sentence?”

Paws curled into a fist, she leapt for him, not even scraping a talon as he swerved to dodge. “Take that back, Dingbat!”

DemiDevimon mocked a laugh in between his usual snickers, yellow eyes glinting. “How long have we worked together and ya have of yet ta catch on ta my lying habits?”

Gatomon felt a flush rise to her face, her ears flattening against her skull as her claws flashed in the firelight. “We're just friends,” she growled, whiskers twitching.

The bat spat in disgust, though she could've sworn there was slight disappointment in his expression. “What good is dis 'friendship'?” The word looked like it physically sickened him to say. “D'ere's no merit ta it.”

She held down her shaking hand, eyes narrowing. “If you have nothing better to do than to spread rumors, Myotismon or Phantomon have some tasks no one's taken yet.”

He was quick to refuse. “No way am I cleanin' da dungeons! D'at's Bakemon work!”

“Then shut your trap.”

“Prissy!”

“Batters!”

DemiDevimon sputtered, wavering in his place. “Now ya just playin' dirty!”

Pulling down an eyelid and sticking out her tongue, Gatomon hurried up the stairs. Halfway, she glanced back to see if he was still following, and expelled an exasperated sigh, shaking her head. “What ruffled his fur?” she grumbled. “Probably needed to release some steam.”

For the past month, recruitment had been below expectations, leaving many on edge. Myotismon hadn't been in a good mood as of late, and the low numbers only served to frustrate him further. She had of yet to give her report, but she had seen the outcome in the other Digimon, so she had hesitated the entire day. It was possible he had been expecting her and had to send DemiDevimon to fetch her after a while, though how odd that neither Phantomon nor Nanimon had tracked her down, if that was the case.

Feeling the old scar throb beneath her glove, Gatomon rubbed it as she stepped out onto the next floor. Two passing Bakemon scarcely shot her a look at first before one did a double-take. “You're not here to give out cleaning orders, are you?” he immediately inquired, visibly anxious. His companion grew worried as well, nodding vigorously before shaking his head.

Not wanting to deal with them, she simply answered, “No,” and hurried off in the opposite direction.

“Then what's a lieutenant like you doing up here?” the same Bakemon called out after her.

“What's it to you?” she snapped, shooing them away. “Thought I told you idiots,” she then added under her breath.

In both hating and liking the hierarchy in the Nightmare Army, Gatomon had always felt she had gotten lucky since arriving long ago. Living quarters were assigned based on ranking, and with the castle's labyrinth design, it was ideal to be close to the ground floor as possible to jump on orders quickly. It wasn't unheard of for even long-time inhabitants to be forgetful and take a wrong turn and get lost, although it was limited only to those who didn't walk the halls as often as they should.

The room she approached was near another stairway to where most Bakemon and the occasional new recruit dwelled, so the corridor was sometimes crowded, if not noisy. Her ear twitched at the sounds of what could be a scuffle, but paid it no heed when she knocked. “It's me,” she declared, curling her tail close just as a few Numemon tumbled down the stairs in a hurry. The door immediately opened into a dimly-lit room, allowing her to slip inside and push it shut, muffling the angry yells of whoever was chasing the slugs.

Her nose wrinkled from the scent of fresh spices, huffing quietly at the vacant room. It was better than dust, but she wasn't as used to it. Spotting the tattered cloak laying on the bed and the sun staff resting against a post, she strolled around a bookshelf for the open balcony. Her face slightly faltered at the sight of Wizardmon crouched before a small, smoldering cauldron hanging over an open fire, fixated on a levitating old book open to what she assumed to be whatever he was working on. Objects or ingredients (she couldn't tell) were laid out around him in peculiar places when usually they'd normally be crowded together in reach.

“What are you up to now?” was her first question before she lightly coughed, her eyes watering.

He just shrugged, still skimming through the book. “I had time to kill, you could say.”

“You skipped out on your post for this? Really?”

“It's better than standing around watching out for no threat whatsoever.”

She kept her paw up to her nose and mouth, wondering how he could tolerate the smell. “So... what are you doing?”

“Oh, just experimenting.”

Gatomon couldn't tell if her head was hurting from trying to make sense of what he said, or from the smell of the unusual thick, blue smoke coming from the pot. “You're going to get caught.”

“What makes you say that?”

“We're outside, anyone will see the smoke.”

Wizardmon glanced over at her from beneath his hat's rim and pointed up. She looked to find it swirling in a ring several feet above, staying at an even level. “Wha...?”

The magician chuckled under his breath. “That's what I've been doing, Gatomon.”

Her ears lowered. “Making a smoke ring?”

“Had you been here five minutes sooner, you would've seen it rain.”

She shot him a nonplussed expression when he returned to the book. Never in a million years could she ever see herself understanding him and his eccentricities. While he never lied to her, it was hard to tell if he exaggerated or spoke in some wizard's code she couldn't decipher.

Then she watched as he drew out a bottle of alcohol from his vest to drink its contents only to spit it into the cauldron, immediately snapping back when sparks shot out. The smoke thinned for a moment before turning gray and crackled with electricity, the ring quickly spiraling into a funnel. Wizardmon's grin flashed for a second before he released his cowl and flipped a page over.

“Not bad. Remind me, Gatomon, to get the vintage wine for later.”

Gatomon deeply frowned in slight regret her closest friend probably had some screws loose.

“Don't you ever get tired of all of this?” she muttered, not meaning to sound bitter.

“Do you ever get tired of having shouting matches with DemiDevimon?” the magician slyly countered, corking the bottle and tucking it back.

“You could hear it?” she asked in brief surprise, then scoffed, shaking her head. “I didn't start it this time.”

“I know you didn't, but that's not answering the question.”

Her glare bored into him, though he pretended not to notice as he poured in clear liquid and stirred for the smoke to lighten and calm. Crossing her arms, she leaned up against the entranceway, her eyes darting over to a dark, empty corner of his room. “I don't like him, so making him mad has at least kept me sane.”

Gatomon more-or-less understated, unsure how else to word it. Annoying DemiDevimon was nothing more than a habit, and it was her only habit. Myotismon's training was nothing more than a way to break one's spirit and turn them into husks for easy control. Thus, “fun” wasn't a word even whispered inside the walls, for it was purposefully beaten out of them from day one. Not that enjoyment didn't exist, it was harder to find and keep it, and watching the small bat pitch fits had been her favorite pastime prior to Wizardmon's recruitment.

“Good answer, I agree. That's why I do my magic.”

She shivered at his optimistic tone, clutching at her arms as she hung her head. “It's not the same.”

At the corner of her eye, his shadow moved as she heard him stand. “When it comes to satisfaction and sanity, it is.” She glanced over with a sniff, glad the air was clearing up. “We both have our likes and dislikes, even if they're not the same.”

With a shrug of her shoulders, the feline threw her arms behind her head. “I guess.”

Carefully taking the cauldron off to throw a thick cloth on the fire, Wizardmon stepped over to the wall to pour the contents out. “So, why didn't you report to Myotismon today?”

She had hoped he wouldn't bring it up. “I dunno,” she mumbled. “I'll do it after he's rested.”

Gatomon could've sworn the zippers on his jumpsuit glinted in accusation before he glimpsed over his shoulder. “I take it you enjoy getting into trouble with Myotismon.”

She forced herself to laugh. “Your sarcasm is getting better.”

“I think you're mixing up sarcasm with seriousness.”

That shut her up, though it didn't prevent her from scowling at him. He wasn't like the other minions where she could put on a mask and none would be wiser (if they cared). Wizardmon was the most difficult to hide things from, putting even DemiDevimon to shame, and he mostly used Evil Whisper to draw out what he wanted.

With a wave of his hand, the Wizard Digimon gathered the items and carried them into the room. Gatomon found herself mesmerized at the floating objects as they lined up inside the cupboard beside the bed or on the shelves by the books while he dropped the cauldron into a corner. He then turned to her, disappointment in his stance and expression. She returned to frowning, not moving from her spot.

“Gatomon—”

“Don't say it, Wizardmon,” she snapped. “I know, and I don't care.”

He laid a hand on his hip. “You can't keep doing this,” he resumed. “Myotismon has fumed all day, and here his top henchman skipped out on her report. I know recruitment has been low as of late, but we all know those news are small potatoes.”

“His Nightmare Army is pretty much at full capacity,” she muttered. “We don't have enough room for more mouths to feed.”

“I am not concerned about that.”

She scoffed in displeasure. “I can take care of myself, one more whipping's not going to kill me.” Tilting her head, she added, “Besides, because I am lieutenant, he can't do much to me. He'd strike the lower ranks before turning on me.”

Wizardmon didn't look convinced. “He's biding his time, Gatomon. He's waiting for that one mistake to give a good excuse for punishing you.”

“Worry about your own skin for once,” she hissed, her tail whipping sharply. “You're just as reckless as the rest of us.”

“Fair enough.” Gatomon blinked at his simple response, thinking he was going to counter it. He strolled for the bed to pick up his cloak and attach it to his cowl, shrugging his shoulders back. “Regardless, it's not going to change a thing, new recruits or not. Most of them don't survive their first week anyway.”

She slowly inhaled as she glanced away, her ears lowering slightly. It was a harsh truth she hadn't grown accustomed to, even though she wasn't the one in charge of training the newcomers. Each time she would run into one and see the life draining out of their eyes, it would bring back memories of her first year living at the castle. It would take weeks to repress them, though they were never buried deep enough for her to forget past wishful thinking.

“If you're troubled by something, Gatomon...”

“It's none of your business,” she interrupted, her whiskers bristling. “Stop reading my mind.”

“Who says I am?” The twinkle in his eye didn't help cool down her stare. “You're just that easy to read.”

Huffing, Gatomon slipped outside and hopped onto the furthest wall to scan the horizon. Nothing but fog for miles—typical. “I hate it when you do that,” she murmured, lightly scratching the brick surface.

She briefly stiffened when he approached, and leaned on the wall himself. “I must be doing something right, then.”

The feline rolled her eyes. “You're persistent, that's for sure.”

“Practice makes perfect, Gatomon.”

Her lips pursed, turning her attention to the light breeze that tickled her ears and neck. Lifting her tail to eye-level, she let it ride the wind, watching the ring ever so slightly move in its place. A sudden glint from it got her to look up at the sky, spotting the full moon peeking through the clouds and fog. Deep inside, she felt her heart squeeze, and emotions pricked the back of her mind as though searching for a weak spot to break through.

“She's a beauty.”

Doing a double-take, Gatomon took notice of the reverence in Wizardmon's gaze, the silver orb a highlight amongst the forest green. She couldn't recall the last time he looked so relaxed. “Wai—huh?” she stammered out, unsure what she heard.

A smile transitioned in his eyes when he darted them over to her. “Not one to moon-gaze, hmm?”

So it was just another one of his moments. “What's so great about the moon?” she huffed, growing a bit irritated.

“Its presence allows for stealthier, but powerful magic.”

Of course it was magic-related. “I meant by itself,” she amended flatly.

“The moonlight is the reflection of sunlight.”

She was losing him again. Nodding nonchalantly, she just shrugged to wave it off. “Uh... okay...”

Propping her chin, her eyes trailed to the gray courtyard below. Vegetation was scarce on the grounds, and any that were there were just skeletal branches from neglect. Green dots she presumed to be Numemon were bouncing around, looking rather panicky as another dot, more brown in appearance and was louder, hurried after. She perked her ears in their direction, just catching on the yells of a frustrated Nanimon trying to get them to stop so he could knock them senseless.

He was probably drunk again, which would explain the loss of control over the fleeing Digimon.

Gatomon jumped back into her current scenario when Wizardmon broke the silence. “I thought I would ask, but may I borrow your ring for a moment?”

She turned to him, brows furrowed. “Huh? Why?”

“I want to practice a spell.”

As much as she trusted him more than any other Digimon, his abrupt approach made her hesitate. “...okay. What spell? Is this more 'moon magic'?”

She caught a glimpse of his stitched lips curling in a smirk. “You got me, ha ha.”

Running her paws along her face, she grumbled into her gloves, “Sheesh, Wizardmon...” Scoffing through her nose, she slipped off the item from her tail and handed it over. “Do what you want.”

Resting it in his palm, Wizardmon concentrated intently on it, his eyes steadily growing sharper and brighter. Gatomon felt a wind pick up, watching as his hair, cloak, and hat started to flutter and gently whip about. Like it was heating up from the inside, the ring pulsed a blue light, and levitated while slowly spinning in place. Keeping it in the center, the magician moved his hands around in a circular motion, his fingers constantly flexing in different signs, a similar glow emitting through his gloves. Small, ethereal spheres soon were passing through the ring as it picked up speed and blurred, edges flickering.

Then with a hum and a sudden flash of light, the wind died and the blue glow dissolved into sparkles that blinked out of existence, leaving the ring behind. It dropped into Wizardmon's awaiting hand, looking ordinary as before. Gatomon realized her mouth was opened and immediately closed it, but still stared at it, waiting for more.

“So...” she cautiously started to say, “...what'd you do?”

An all-knowing expression on his face, he held it out to her to take. “A protection spell.”

She nearly dropped her ring. “What? You mean that light show was all for protection I don't need?”

For a split second, Wizardmon looked a little hurt at her words. “I'm not going to be around forever,” he said, his quiet tone striking a soft spot. He took it from her to return it to her tail, smoothing out the violet tuft of fur doing so. “All it is is just a little part of me to take with you where I can't follow.”

“You inserted part of yourself into my ring?” she asked incredulously, slinking away from his reach.

He held back a small laugh. “No, that'd be creepy.”

“Agreed, please don't insert yourself into whatever you want to mess with next.” Then she trailed off, her face faltering.

“That was an interesting turn for the weird.”

Her friend's calm reaction didn't help. “I just realized what I said, don't rub it in.”

“We're going further down that Rabbitmon hole,” he continued in mischief. “Quit while you're ahead.”

A vein twitched in her temple. “Hey, you're the one who pointed it out.”

He yielded by throwing his hands up, visibly fighting back a smile. “Just saying.”

Giving him a vexed look, Gatomon cast her eyes to the sky, still able to make out the moon through the fog. “Have I ever told you I hate looking at the sky?” she quickly changed the subject, her voice leveling out.

“You have not.” He immediately became intrigued, which brought her to raise her brows. She had to learn to stop being taken aback by him. “Why do you say that?”

Shrugging, the feline sighed. “I dunno. It just makes me angry. That, and...” She glanced over, meeting his soft gaze. “...it feels lonely.”

Wizardmon briefly nodded, casting his eyes to the moon. “Interesting...”

She searched his face for a moment before looking away, absentmindedly picking at a crack in the wall. “But I can't tell which I hate the most, the sky or the fog,” she half-joked, trying to lighten the mood.

Gatomon hoped bringing it up would lift the weight off of her shoulders, but deep down, she began to feel self-guilt. What little of her past she had told him were bare bones, Wizardmon never knew of her utmost feelings of her experience. As much as she wanted to let it go knowing the sky never did anything to her, she was stuck in the mire of spite, unable to progress.

“Hold tight, Gatomon.”

Before she could voice her opinion on what he meant, he threw his arm around her midriff and jumped off the balcony. “Hey, wait! What are you doing?!” she screamed, staring wide-eyed at the ground below as they ascended.

“We're going to take a little trip.”

“Have you lost it?!” She thrashed in his hold, swinging a punch without another thought. His recoil to dodge allowed her to slip where she immediately sunk her claws into his suit, her fur sticking up on end from the scare. “I'm not going anywhere! Put me down!” she yelled, scrambling up for the highest point.

He trapped her in a bear hug when she was passing his shoulder, peering down at her. “We won't be long.”

She buried her face in him to block out the wind and vertigo, already discombobulated from it passing through her ears. “What's this have to do with anything?!”

“This spur of the moment? I'm just trying to lighten the mood.”

She shot daggers at him, upset he found it amusing. “You should've asked!”

Wizardmon readjusted her so she could face forward, holding her close to his chest. “You would've said 'no'.”

Feeling flustered, Gatomon couldn't find the words to retort, scrunching her eyes shut with a quiet whimper. The night air steadily grew cooler the further they rose, even shivering when they passed through what she thought was cold fog before forcing herself to peek. It didn't look like much, and her eyes still were being stung, but as soon as they cleared it, she gasped at the cloud below, confused and amazed at how it didn't feel as thick as it looked.

“You're not afraid of heights, are you?” Wizardmon noted in concern.

She shook her head, feeling the water droplets sticking to her fur. “N-No... this is just too sudden.”

He soon came to a gradual stop, in which Gatomon was aware once her insides caught up with her were cold. Deeply breathing to calm herself, she gently peeled her claws out of his clothes and turned to look up at him only to focus on the moon. Despite the heavy atmosphere weighing down on her, it was as though she was lifted and lost all feeling taking in the silver rays and twinkling pinpoints of light that covered the dark sky.

Reclining into the magician, she rubbed at her eyes, still keeping them on the spectacle before her. “Has the moon always been this bright?” she breathed out.

When he spoke, his voice was calm like the surrounding air. “You do not have to look at the sky itself, Gatomon. There are many things filling it that you can look for.”

Frowning in thought, she peered up at him, a small skip to her heart upon meeting his gaze. “What are you saying?” she queried, drawing her arms in close.

She watched a smile brighten his irises. “Whatever it is that's been bothering you about the sky itself may never go away. However, when you refuse to look up, you miss out on experience.”

The feline dwelled on it when she returned her stare to the moon, scanning its surface past the light. Somehow, she had forgotten the moon was littered with marks that looked like dark stains on an otherwise nearly-white circle. Tilting her head every which way and squinting, she thought she could make out shapes. Her gaze then drifted over to the sea of stars, making the effort to look past the vast surrounding space, although she still couldn't ignore the ache throbbing in her core.

“It's different up here,” she started, “it's nothing like how it is on the ground. However, you're right, I don't think I'll ever get over it. I appreciate you bringing me up here, Wizardmon, but I can't assess everything I first see like you do. I can't see beauty in everything when I was never exposed to it from the start.”

If he was saddened by her words, he didn't show it. “Then let's make a deal,” he declared, sounding a little hopeful. “Once a week, I can take us up here for stargazing, and teach you the constellations and how to read them. I can also go out of my way to take you out to see a meteor shower. And in return, we can do what you want while you stay on Myotismon's good side.”

Gatomon put a claw to her chin, raising a brow at him in suspicion. “This sounds like a compromise, or a bribe.”

Wizardmon chuckled. “You can say that.”

“Anything I want, did you say?”

“I did.”

Her fanged smirk gleamed in the moonlight. “For breakfast tomorrow, I want smoked mackerel and DemiDevimon's head on a platter.”

He promptly humored her. “Rare, medium, or well-done?”

She stuck out her tongue. “It's not like I'm going to eat his head. I just want to mount it on my wall for target practice.”

“Okay, this is overkill.”

She feigned a pout. “Killjoy.”

“I'm sorry, did I ruin the mood? Let's revive it, shall we?” Without warning, he sharply dropped down to earth.

Throwing her arms around his neck, Gatomon was too startled to even scream, though she managed to squeak out, “What's happening?!”

Though she doubted he heard her over the whistling wind, she was perturbed by his smile, getting a feeling she fell right into one of his tricks. She hesitated to look down, and immediately regretted it, finally letting out a long, strained yell. As they passed through the fog, Wizardmon slowed while her voice caught up to her. Even before he was close to the ground, she released him to land shakily on her feet, stumbling forward until she spun around to glower at him.

“Why'd you do that?!” she shouted, struggling to find her balance and breath.

With a sly look, he only shrugged as he straightened his hat. “To get down here quicker. I had to choose between loop-de-loops or free-falling.”

Gatomon vigorously shook her head, mouthing and flailing her hand as she gestured to the sky. “Are you mad, Wizardmon?”

He reached inside the cowl to rub his neck. “On the contrary, I developed quite a euphoric high.”

“I saw d'at!”

Her fur standing on end, the white cat swerved her hardened stare in DemiDevimon's direction as he approached them. She hissed under her breath at the devilish sneer he had plastered on his face. “Good evening, DemiDevimon,” Wizardmon greeted like normal from behind.

“Don't 'good evening' me, I saw ya drop out of ta sky!” He rapidly glanced between them, fangs bared. “Why aren't ya at post? Ya weren't tryin' ta escape, were ya?”

“You're jumping to conclusions, we're just out for an evening stroll. Well, flight, a'zit is. Was, I mean.”

It was subtle, but Gatomon caught hint of a slur when he was correcting himself.

The bat wickedly smirked. “Ah, elopin' now, are we?”

“What's it to you, Butter Ball?” she then snapped, hands on her hips.

A vein popped on his temple. “It's d'at kinda attitude d'at ruffles my tailfeat'ers!”

“You don't have a tail.”

“D'at's not da point!” he yelled, flapping his wings harder. “Youse two were outside boundaries, and I'll have ya know it's against ta rules. Ee hee hee, Lord Myotismon's gonna have a ball when he hears 'bout dis!”

Gatomon got into a striking position, claws pointed at him. “You wouldn't!”

He “tch”ed, making an aside glance and mutter. “It's not like everyone else doesn't know about youse two's midnight romps.”

She trembled, her face heating up. “Shut up, it's not like that!”

Wizardmon kept her from pouncing by clasping her shoulder. She directed her glare to him, but he ignored it. “Well, thank you for your concern, DemiDevimon, but le's be clear here: it really is none of your business.” He sharpened his stare and lowered his voice, though he was beginning to sway.

“So ya are elopin'!” DemiDevimon exclaimed in triumph, looking as though he made the discovery of a lifetime. “D'at's even more rule-breakin'!”

The magician cast his eyes to the sky in thought, bobbing his head to-and-fro. “Y'could say that, but I prefer the word 'datin''.”

The Evil Digimon cackled and did a small jig, clenching his talons like he was pumping a fist. “Oooh, juicy! Da boss is gonna love dis!”

A heavy sigh expelled past Wizardmon's lips, his brows furrowing in discomfort. “Well, I can' take it anymore. Since you caught us, we both have confessions t'make.”

The bat paused in mid-dance. “Hmm? What'dya mean, I have all da info I want.”

Wizardmon then dropped to his knees where Gatomon noticed his ear was tinted red. She moved to steady him until he drew out the bottle from his vest. “Y'see, the evenin' flight was more uv'an afterthough',” he began, his speech now more slurred than it was, making even the feline blink. “We were jus' havin' a good time, us two an' this bottle o...” He held it up to the moonlight and squinted, a hiccup stifled in his throat. “...iz'it whiskey or sake I swiped? It all tastes same t'me.”

DemiDevimon leaned in for a better look, narrowing his eyes. “Now ya stealin' from ta kitchen?” he noted in a tone of disbelief. “But why drinks? Why not a fiesta and have all da dipping sauce ya could eat?”

“It crossed our minds, but wha's past is past.” He nonchalantly shrugged, and then swung the bottle side-to-side for the liquid to slosh around. “There's still enough lef' fo' a few mo' refills. I'd return it myself, but I'm afraid I wouldn' be able t'control myself. Y'eh the only sober Digimon 'ere, would you kindly take this back fo' us?”

It took all her willpower for Gatomon to hold back a snicker, not wanting to ruin the mood and thus the trick. She tried to drink it all in, wanting to store it in her memory archives.

The Evil Digimon was glancing back and forth like he was catching on to the act. “Hmm, d'at's pretty temptin',” he mused. “Still doesn't excuse swipin' drinks and flyin' off toge'ta.”

“It can jus' be our lil' secret.” Unexpectedly, Wizardmon threw his arm around the feline's shoulder. She tensed under his touch, fighting back the urge to push him away as he pressed his warm cheek to hers. “We'll invite you nex'time, won' we, Gatomon dear'st?”

Once they made eye-contact, his wink was scarcely a flicker. Lips pursed the thinnest they've been that night, she darted her eyes between him and a high-browed DemiDevimon. “Erm... yes, of course, Wiz... zie.”

An uncomfortable silence hung over them as the three maintained eye-contact with one-another. Her lips twitching, Gatomon thought about hypnotizing the bat to hasten the moment, however, her frenzied mind made it hard to concentrate. She continued to play along by reaching up to take his hand for good measure, involuntarily swallowing when he squeezed back.

Sniffing, the bat then stuck up his nose—or lack there-of. “Hmph. Wizardmon always keeps his word. Alright, d'en, I'll take dis back. After I take my share.”

It was a struggle to uncork it once he snatched it from Wizardmon, and he nearly choked on it, but DemiDevimon managed to down a couple of big gulps. He scowled at the bottle, disappointed. “Not even vintage. Ya keep d'at promise, and I'll keep my big mouth shut. Should be an interestin' night.” With one last big smirk and snicker at their postures, even mocking them by puckering his lips and fluttering his lashes, he flew off, though not for the front entrance.

When he was out of sight, Wizardmon dropped his façade, brushing away his bangs. “Of course he takes it for himself,” he snorted, shaking his head. “He won't recall a thing after that. Who'd have thought he'd be a closet drinker?”

Gatomon momentarily started snickering, trembling in mirth enough to bump her forehead on his shoulder.

He patted her back with a smile of his own. “Let it all out, Gatomon.”

She struggled to breathe and talk, pressing a hand to her chest. “I... I can't believe that worked!” she wheezed, shaking her head.

A contented sigh escaped him. “Gullibility is such a fragile concept.”

“It's almost like... ha!... you knew what he was going to say.” Wiping a tear from the corner of her eye, she grinned up at her friend. “That was amazing, Wizardmon. Thanks for that.”

His irises glinted with amusement. “Thank our lucky stars it was DemiDevimon. If it was Phantomon, the only way to convince him was if we were legitimately drunk, or lip-locked.”

Choking on another giggle, she quickly pushed herself away and stepped aside to hide a rising blush, smoothing down her fur and whiskers. “You know, heh... he may forget this moment, but that still won't stop him from making comments like he did earlier.”

“Ah, I remember that. Well, not much else we can do about it.” Standing up, he dusted off his knees. “They're rumors at best, the novelty will wear off eventually.”

“Still won't stop me from beating his smug face in.”

Quietly chuckling, Wizardmon held out his arm in an open gesture. Gatomon stared for a moment before stepping into his hold, snagging onto his suit when he floated. She shot a glance upward to avoid looking at the ground, noticing movement was rather light and swift as he moved for his balcony. It dawned on her she couldn't feel the breeze, whether it was because he flew so quickly, or if it was his doing. From what normally could've been heavy or suffocating, the warmth and weight of his presence was oddly soothing.

Upon remembering how she felt during their impromptu flight, she pushed the thought aside, figuring it was just colder higher up.

Once in reach, she hopped onto the wall before he landed for a stretch. “Hey,” she sighed out, “if I agree to your promise, will you stop taking me on random flights without my permission?”

“Of course.” His eyes crinkled from a crafty smile. “Even though I know you enjoyed it.”

Gatomon lolled her head back tandem to her eye-rolling. “Well, I don't think my stomach did.”

As if on cue, it growled, much to her chagrin.

“I have a remedy for that.” Reaching inside his vest, Wizardmon pulled out a slice of bread and a handkerchief. Bundling it up nicer than he should have, he handed it over.

Giving him a look crossed between berating and thanking him for also swiping food from the kitchen, Gatomon accepted it. “I'll just pretend you have another world in there.”

“Actually, since you mentioned that—”

A sudden chill froze her to the core, and she whipped her head to look out at the horizon like there was impending doom. Beside her, she sensed Wizardmon's teasing aura be completely overridden by somberness, his movements stiff. “It looks like Myotismon's on his way back.” It was a cold remark, void of any intimidation or reverence that would've been present in the other minions. “I shall have to greet him at the gate.”

Her paws subconsciously clenched, but she sternly nodded. Briskly moving for the exit, the glint of her ring caught her eye.just before turning the corner. A question sparked at the remembrance. “Oh, about your self-insert protection spell, how permanent is it?”

It was brief, but her callback drew back out a smile from him. “It was my first time performing the spell,” he said, a fact that surprised her. “It may be for a day, one month... a year. It may be a one-time use, it may not work at all.” He then shrugged in apology.

The small shock wore off, leaving her indifferent. She let out a “hmm” as she shot one more look at her ring. “I was just wondering. Sorry if I got a bit resentful about it.”

“It's fine.”

With a curt nod, she left the room, wrinkling her nose the moment she let go of the doorknob and the familiar dust filled her nostrils. It was always the least-anticipated part of leaving his quarters or even returning from the outside, something she should've been used to by now. Perhaps if she did it more than each time Myotismon went out to feed or whatever else he did during the waxing of the moon, her body wouldn't be so quick to complain.

She ate on her way down, steadily coming to a realization it was oddly silent. Not a Bakemon or Numemon was seen, nor could she catch a peep from any of the other minions. DemiDevimon for all she cared was passed out wherever he had gone, and it was for the best she not run into either Phantomon or Dokugumon. It was good to know she wouldn't be interrupted from her thoughts, yet she wondered where everyone was. It wasn't uncommon for most of the Digimon to sleep on the job while Myotismon was away, yet the castle was hardly ever empty. Going through the schedules in her head, she couldn't think of any special meetings, and if there was an emergency, she and Wizardmon would've seen everyone line up on the grounds.

Gatomon then scoffed to herself, studying the brick and mortar as she passed and finished off the last morsel. “Everyone's probably gathered downstairs for some reason,” she muttered to herself, tucking the handkerchief inside a glove for safekeeping. Then she smirked. “Or they all got lost somehow. An empty castle doesn't scare me.”

She knew no fear, but loneliness was engrained into her for as long as she could remember. It wasn't an emotion she was proud of knowing, it was one she came to hate the most. Staring down at an empty corridor only served to remind her of her Rookie years, memories she wished she never had. Yet, she chose to still wander, getting lost in melancholic reminiscence before startling herself back to reality before Myotismon's door.

Old habits die hard, it seemed.

Staring at the brazen double doors, she couldn't help wondering why she had found her way to his room. It didn't make sense to feel “guilty” for not reporting in when she should have. Staying on his “good side”, as Wizardmon had worded it, was more plausible, but it was more suicide than amending a wrongdoing. Even as lieutenant, she always felt he was more harsh toward her than any of the others. She experienced near-deletion more under his care than when she was on her own—that she could recall.

Raising a paw to knock, Gatomon hesitated, a prickle at her neck. “He's not even in, yet,” she whispered, trying to psych herself out of it. “It's not like he comes here soon as he gets back.”

His presence permeated the air before he even came in her line of sight. The feline fearfully eyed down the hall, just scarcely making out the contours of his figure as he calmly approached. Gasping, she fell facedown to the floor and shut her eyes, her ears lowered. “Myotismon, sir!” she greeted, fighting back a whimper.

She realized she was trembling when his shadow fell over her. Remembering she was directly in front of the doors, she hurriedly scooted backward to give him room. His footsteps paused moments later, his cold stare burning the back of her head.

“Are you aware of your tardiness?” It scarcely passed as a question, designed to point out her mistakes instead of asking for her own response.

What little room was between the floor and her forehead was closed when she nodded. “Yes'sir.”

“Then why would you bother showing yourself to me?”

Despite how cool his tone was, it gnawed at her. He was always good at holding back the full force of his vitriolic remarks. “Because... I finally found the courage to give my report.”

She flinched when he sneered, “Your lack of good recruits said enough.”

Gatomon gathered a little courage to steal a peek of his boots, the metallic emblems giving off a menacing glare. “I'm sorry, my Lord,” she mewled out. “I had stayed out a few days longer, but it wasn't enough.”

“Then you should've stayed another month.”

Nodding, she ducked her head. “Yes'sir... I'll remember your wise advice.”

The silence that followed only served to frighten her, her insides twisting from the pressure. “I had expected much from you, Gatomon,” Myotismon drawled, “and you failed me.” He then let out a huff through his nose. “Too bad, you were doing so well up until that point.”

She didn't like the hidden meaning in his words. “I'm sorry. I'll double my work load to compensate.”

“Triple it.”

She glanced up at him, realizing one second too late she made a mistake. Her heart clenched at the gleam of his icy stare that punctuated the shadows across his face, his lips curling in disapproval. Immediately dropping her eyes, she disguised it as a bow. “It shall be done, sir.”

His cape rustled from when he swung it around him. “Very well. Now leave my sight.”

Gatomon obeyed, quickly rising to her feet and turning to walk away, keeping her head down. Before she got far, from behind came the unmistakeable whistling of his Crimson Lightning swinging in her direction. She reacted throwing a hand up as a shield, a bright flash of red flickering in her peripheral vision.

No pain came, just the sharp slap of the whip on the marble.

Her eyes remained glued on the area where it landed, mere feet away from her. Hesitantly, she looked over at Myotismon to find him stunned in his place, a rarity in itself. She winced when they made eye-contact, but he only narrowed his eyes in what she guessed to be suspicion. With a twirl his cape around himself, he disappeared into his quarters, the doors clattering shut.

The cat's knees quaked as she hobbled backward, forcing her to lean up against the wall to breathe. Reviewing the moment in her mind, she knew for a fact she was in range of the whip, it had been right on top of her. It had been too fast for her to take in, yet she could have sworn it had suddenly swerved at the last second.

A gentle glow at the corner of her eye distracted her, looking over to find the source was her tail ring. Reverently, she slipped it off to hold in her hand, feeling the warm vibe emitting from within until the light faded. Turning it every which way, she frowned, wondering what provoked its activation as she didn't will it to happen.

Gatomon then took notice of the moonlight streaming in from the window before her, enveloping her in a gentle caress. Through the thinning fog, she found the moon comforting, and although it was further away, it wasn't much different from when she saw it up-close. She rested there, feeling a small smile frozen on her lips as she directed her thoughts toward it, even mentally apologizing for the neglect.

Also, she then added, more as a note to herself, remind me later to let Wizardmon know I'll take up on his deal.